It takes two

As a writer, I consistently trumpet God’s plan for marriage.  I have five books under contract with Oak Tara, and my publisher recently said I should expect “a flurry” of books coming out soon. All champion married love.

About two decades ago when our youngest son was in high school,  a conversation at the lunch table revolved around the importance of having two parents in the home. He was horrified–no one agreed with him that fathers and mothers added different dimensions to parenting, and each was essential. He’s a father, and recently we revisited this theory. He affirmed his position, rejoicing that God had given him a helpmate to mother his son and affirming her value in the family.

Tragically, many young people today don’t experience God’s plan for a family. This Sunday, our pastor taught on the Song of Solomon–I’ve  never heard a sermon on that beautiful, neglected book. He said, the source of most marriage struggles, and the beginning of most heartbreak, can be traced to the church’s neglect to teach God’s plan for marriage.

For my male readers, I commend C. J. Mahoney’s book Sex, Romance, and the Glory of God. Another good one: Sex Begins in the Kitchen, by Kevin Lehman. And I repeat my constant theme: Sacred Passion. It’s God’s Idea.

I’m currently working on the Hope House Girls Series, which will tell the stories of each of the girls in the maternity home where my heroine began her journey.

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The Seed of the Righteous

The Seed of the Righteous.

Inspirational Weekend

First, Oak Tara has published the anthology of romantic short stories. It is called: I Chose You, and it is available on their website (oaktara.com) My story is in it!

I just posted on a count my blessings site the centuries of inspiration Handel’s Messiah has provided. I am still floating after attending a marvelous performance at the Duke Chapel. I knelt there fifty years ago in my first step to relationship with God. We also attended Blacknall Memorial Presbyterian Church, where God apprehended me on Maundy Thursday, 1962. I was a Duke student. Throughout my walk with Christ I have been unfaithful at times, but He has never been faithless!

We visited en route with my sister, my precious niece and her gracious husband in Charlottesville, VA. and Joe’s two cousins in Durham, N.C. Lot of driving but a wonderful, meaningful trip.

Cover and back cover copy of the book

Cover and back cover copy of the book

His Brother’s Wife

Novel to be released this month

Oak Tara has sent my novel to the printer, I’ll have books in my hand in time for the West Virginians for Life convention October 13, in Fairmont, WV. The book that I have been referring to as Jonathan and David is being published under the title: His Brother’s Wife. Sounds a bit more intriguing, doesn’t it?

You may go onto the publisher web site: oaktara.com to order.

Title:  His Brother’s Wife

Author:  Charlotte S. Snead

6 x 9  pp. 160

$14.95

OakTara Category: Romance

[back cover copy] 

 

Is Angelique a gold-digger—or an angel?

Jonathan is determined to find out.

 

When David Carter, a wounded war veteran, is gunned down in the streets of Washington, D.C., his twin brother, Jonathan, loses his best friend. Convinced that the Army nurse David met at the rehabilitation hospital and recently married is only after the Manhattan Carters’ wealth and power, Jonathan charges into Angie’s office at Walter Reed to deny her the estate…only to find out that David hid his family’s origins from her.

 

The sister-in-law Jonathan had refused to meet for months confounds his expectations. Frail, beautiful, blond Angie claims she wants nothing to do with the notoriety of her husband’s prominent family. But Jonathan is determined to fulfill his twin’s last request—to care for his wife—which now includes an unborn child.

 

As their two worlds collide, and the media is stirred into a feeding frenzy, Jonathan’s heart is stirred by unexplainable longings for home and family. But will his twin’s lovely widow ever be able to see him—without seeing his brother?

 

A tender tale of courage, triumph, and lasting love

in the most tragic of circumstances

 

F1C027020 FICTION / Romance/Contemporary

 

[Barcode: ISBN 978-1-60290-352-4]

 

Recalibrating

Joe and I had a big week last week. Friday, almost two weeks ago, our son and his precious wife gave us an 8 pound, 5 ounce grandson, 21 ½ inches long. (I told my daughter-in-law she didn’t have to bring her son into the world half-grown.) Because, after twenty hours of labor, she had to have a C-Section, and her mom was there, I waited until she was settled at home, and—at their invitation—I went to Lexington,
Virginia, to make my acquaintance our precious boy. Of course he is beautiful—he looks just like his daddy!

Birth and death—two occasions to recalibrate.

Calibrate:

to adjust precisely for a particular function

to measure precisely; especially : to measure against a standard

When we recalibrate, we check ourselves against the standard, synchronize our watches, so to speak—we don’t take our temperature with a thermometer stuck on 97 degrees.

 

On Thursday, Joe and I attended a memorial service for a high school classmate of his who died and was interred at Arlington Memorial Cemetery, our national cemetery across the river from D.C., the burial place of multitudes of our military. Lou was a retired rear admiral. The memorial service was at their long-time church where Lou had served as an elder. The large sanctuary was packed, many of his Naval Academy classmates were there, and many who had served with him during his distinguished career—tells you the kind of guy he was. In the photo display, we saw a picture of a uniformed leader on the deck of a massive warship and a grandpa, laughing and cuddling with a pile of kids. That was Lou.

It was a beautiful service—I love the Presbyterian funeral service. Many of you know Joe grew up Presbyterian, and I found a meaningful relationship with God in that tradition. Their funeral is called: a celebration of the resurrection, and they are never sad because their focus is on our eternal life. Hence, it is more a graduation, a passing on to larger life, real life. Reunions with loved ones who’ve gone before. Freedom from pain. Joy unspeakable and full of glory. Something to look forward to. One of Lou’s sons is a musician, and he led a parade of grandchildren from four years old to teenagers to the front of the sanctuary where they sang: “I’ll Fly Away.” And the congregation joined in the chorus: “I’ll fly away, o glory, I’ll fly away. Hallelujah, by and by, I’ll fly away.” We said farewell to a father whose legacy of faith carried down to the third generation, and their pastor urged us to take this time, at the end of a well-lived life, to re-calibrate our own lives. To realize the sands of time continually flow through the hourglass of our own mortality, the time will come when we will all face our Maker, and to prepare for that.

After the church served a lovely lunch, we reconvened at Arlington for the military funeral. My dad was buried at Arlington, and I know of no more meaningful service that the one we give our fallen heroes. The casket is placed on a horse-drawn wagon, and we walked behind that caisson to his final resting place. After a brief graveside ceremony, and a 21-gun salute, three volleys from seven guns, a young officer presents a flag to the next of kin, his wife, Julia.

As parents we face a recalibration every fall as our kids start a new school year. Did we send them out from the safety of our homes with love enough, with moral integrity enough, with faith enough to face the choices they will make this year? The years our children remain under our instruction are short and pass quickly. Make the most of it moms. Hug them, kiss them, teach them. Play with them, correct them, and be a role model for them. When we do come face to face with our Maker, He will judge us for what we have done to the least of these, our little ones.

The saving grace for all of us miserable failures, is that He will help us every step of the way if we ask him. Recalibrate today. Bring your struggles to MOPS and let us help you with our burdens, and God help us all to be better parents!

 

 

 

God at the Spa

What I learned from God at the spa.
God goes to the spa? did you know that? He lives in those Who ask him to be their Lord, so He accompanied me to the spa last week.

Before leaving for the Greenbrier for Joe’s medical meeting, I harvested from our lush garden. Somewhere over the squash, I felt a sharp sting and within minutes I had a flaming patch on my chest right below my collar. Ouch! On our way, I purchased some Benadryl spray to sooth the infernal itching. It felt cool and good when I sprayed but shortly it began again, so I sprayed and sprayed.

When I had a facial at the spa, the lady asked what caused that angry welt. She turned the bright light they use to find clogged pores and lo and behold she found a black stinger and gently removed it with a gentle prick of her tweezers, and the healing began.

Search me and try me, Oh,Lord and see if there be any wicked way in me. Remove my sin, Oh God so that I may serve you in holiness.

Mentor’s Moment

Mentor’s Moment 05.01.12

This time of the year always sneaks up on me. I can’t believe it’s May already and our MOPS year is almost over! Where did the time go?

Every year I think we have the best girls ever, and the next year I feel the same way. I have appreciated getting to know each one of you. I honor the seriousness with which you approach your mothering. I know you care deeply about being the best mother you can be. Your children are blessed to have you for their moms.

I try to remind my MOPS moms that you were chosen to be your child’s parent. Out of all the women in the world, He chose you to be their mothers, and of all the children in the world, he chose those particular ones to be your child. It was a match made in heaven.

Inevitable those times will come when you don’t know what to do or how to deal with a particular issue. You might be convinced you can’t handle this. Your child needs someone with more patience, more smarts, more musical ability, more . . . .  But that’s when you go to Him, reminding Him that He gave you this child and seeking His help. Maybe you need a friend or a mentor to give you advice, but you will be able to meet that child’s needs better than anyone else, because God just doesn’t make mistakes.

I hope when we don’t have regular meetings during the summer you will keep in touch. Call one another, have lunch and play dates, maybe even some mom’s nights out. Call me about using the pool. Call me or JoAnn or someone in your group if you need a shoulder to cry on. Don’t do mothering alone.

Hopefully we will see you next fall and throughout the summer.

Be blessed!

 

Aside

 Recently our pastor preached a series on stewardship. God is the Owner and giver of our gifts: money, talents, and time–they belong to Him. Let’s think about that.

Do you think the holiday greeting “Many Happy Returns” has anything to do with the hoards of shoppers at the mall returning unwanted gifts the day after Christmas?

 Our God-given gifts, which are always the best ones, are marked: “not returnable.” When He gives a gift, He doesn’t want us to take it back for a refund, even though we are sorely tempted to throw them away at times. May I share with you some of my best gifts?

 1) The man I married—although all of us have longed for an exchange every once in a while, after too many years I realized God didn’t give me the easiest, the most romantic, the handsomest, or the richest, but He did give me exactly what I needed. My husband can stand up to my strong will, correct me when I am wrong, and he has never failed in his unconditional love for me. It takes a strong man to be married to a strong woman, and we all need to be challenged when we are charging in the wrong direction, yet Joe has never wavered in his commitment to me and our children. Thank you, God for the gift of Joe.

 2) The children He sent me–hey, some were not the easiest, some were, in fact, quite challenging, and every last one of them was expensive! Yet my oldests’s nurturing kindness poured into her siblings, how could I have raised them without her? They still call her to talk, and how I love to spend time with her to this day. Our second daughter’s special needs brought me closer to God, and her hard work to overcome them and to learn taught us all perseverance. She is the bravest person I know. Our first son’s’s critical bout with spinal meningitis was part of his father’s journey back to God, and his gentle soul and ready laugh has always been a well of peace. our middle son’s’s strong will challenged his mother’s own and required us to hold on to God, while his merriment brought us a depth of joy we would never have known without him. And our youngest, words fail me to portray his innate goodness, much like his father’s, his strong sense of right and wrong, his loyalty, the depth of his commitments. He inspires me. Thank you, God, for my children.

 3) My family of origin—that, too, not always perfect and certainly not what I would have chosen, but God, in His Sovereignty, knew what I needed: the genetic gifts, the experiences, the obstacles all have shaped me into who I am today. Some years ago I could not be thankful, but as I have processed all of who I am today, forgiven where forgiveness was due, and extended the mercy I have received, I am thankful for my parents and my sisters, and I love them.

4) My church family—all the needy saints that come to this spiritual hospital (including me) to be treated of our sin-sickness. When I travel I miss my fellow-believers, our Sunday school, our worship, the love and acceptance I experience here, the preaching that hones and perfects me, the opportunities, including the Mothers of Preschoolers, to reach out and serve. Thank You, God, for Centerbranch Assembly of God.

And I could add number after number—each one of my precious younger sisters, who come to MOPS because you know “mothering matters,” and you want to be the best Mom you can be for your kids. How I respect and love each one of you! So take a moment to look at your best gifts, maybe the ones you would like to return at the moment.  Then stop, bow your head, remember where those gifts have originated, and thank God for your gifts.

 

 

 

 

Raising your freak out threshold

Raising Your Freak-Out Threshold

 

Many of you know this summer Joe and I went to El Salvador with the teens from our church. The only thing that keeps me younger than being a mentor mom is being a chaperone on a youth mission trip! Joe particularly caught on to the expression “freak-out,” and has repeatedly said that the trip raised his “freak-out threshold.”

 

If you have never left the good old USA, or only traveled to secluded resorts that keep you away from the poverty-stricken areas of other countries, you can continue to be Charmin-dependent and oblivious to the blessings of our country and its privileged life-style. While you have toddlers, generally your husbands are building their careers, and money doesn’t come easily.

 

Some of you may be on WIC or food stamps, and if you qualify, you should be, but let me hasten to add in the United States what we call “poverty level” is not poor by the world’s standards. We walked down a ravine to the river, watched the women wash their clothes, the kids bathe, and  then haul that same water in containers on their heads and climb back up the mountainside to serve that filthy water to their children.

We worked on a water project. An amazing little church of sixty people is spearheading a project that will bring water to over 15,000 people! They have prodded the government officials, shamed the water company, and invigorated the community to build four water tanks that will gravity-feed water to homes in three communities. As an aside, on the way home the steward on the plane, a full-grown adult, was shamelessly flirting with our beautiful little girls, 14, 15 years old. In the course of the conversation as we shared what we were doing, he expressed amazement that four communities within 45 minutes of San Salvador, the capitol, did not have running water. We left our comfortable lives, flew to Central America and dug for five days to help his fellow-countrymen have safe, potable water, and he was oblivious to the needs in his back door.

 For four days, we lived in a cinderblock building with partitions, men on one side, women on the other. Because the teen girls’ freak-out threshold for bugs was really low, they pushed all the beds into the center of the room—away from walls where bugs might be crawling—so we slept like kitties in a litter. Being a loner who protects her privacy, my freak-out threshold was maxed out! The most fun part was we did have one flush toilet, but it was in the men’s section, and the bathroom door would not close. It is really hard to release pee in the middle of the men’s bedroom. Fortunately, they were sound sleepers—at least that is what they said. We had to hike down the mountainside to find more privacy for our big jobs in the school latrines. (One of our teens asked her mother before the trip: “just what are latrines, anyway?” Boy, did she find out!)

 Talking about all our experiences coming home, we alternatively laughed and cried, amazed at how normal a very primitive lifestyle is for our new friends, those precious people at the Church of the Good Samaritan. We ate in the open-air dining room at Pastor Miguel’s house while the rain pattered on the tin roof above our heads. The chickens scratched in the yard beside us, and one of our guys took a picture of the goose. . . from the table. . . as we were eating. The girls learned how to make tortillas over an open fire in the kitchen, which is all they have for their cooking.

 Joe declared that his “freak-out threshold” would certainly be elevated—and we do certainly have nothing to complain about in this country. All of the things that used “freak him out” are nothings in comparison. And I must say when we were wandering around Clarksburg in the dark of the night trying to find Gwen’s house WHEN SHE WOULD NOT ANSWER HER PHONE, his threshold was not crossed, and believe me it would have been before our trip. Our brethren south of our borders have a lovely expression we need to make part of our vocabulary: “no problema!”

 Climbing to the top of the mountain where the tank site was located, the locals laughed and joked—even when carrying concrete fence posts. They smile all the time, making us embarrassed to whine about our petty inconveniences. Hey, as moms we have no life—no problema, they will grow up one day. Maybe we don’t have that new dining room suite, no problema, at least we are not eating on a Formica table with chickens a few feet away. Maybe you haven’t had a day off in weeks—no problema, at least you are not carrying foul water on your head for your babies to drink.

 Here at MOPS we hope you will get some sense of relativity, a respite that will restore our perspectives and raise our freak-out thresholds. Let’s have a really great year, we can laugh together, and cry together, and put some balance in our lives.