Moving . . .

Almost exactly 7 years ago I started a blog called Five Bazillion and One: One More Blogging Writer Amidst Five Bazillion Others. Little did I know where 7 years would take me! Today I'm moving to my own domain name! From now on, you can find my blog posts and so much more at www.annemateer.com. Come on over and check out the new place! I hope to see you around there often!


Professor Horner's Bible Reading System

You know I’m a reader. Years ago, when I picked up and read my Bible from beginning to end, just like I would any other book, my love of Scripture went from a bud to full bloom. My favorite way to read the Bible is still straight through, from Genesis to Revelation. I love seeing the big picture. But this year, my husband wanted to try Professor Horner’s Bible reading plan. He asked if I wanted to do it with him. 

This system involves ten “lists” of Bible books. You read a chapter from each list per day. (Ideally. The whole point is to get in the Word, not be bound to a “have to.”) It’s a bit hard to explain, but you can read about how and why Professor Horner has been reading this way here. (Hop on over there and read it. I’ll wait.)

Anyway, I didn’t want to report back until I’d tried it for a few months. I’ve been on track since January and I have to say I’ve loved it! While I’ve read the entire Bible through several times, this has me more saturated in Scripture than ever before. But my favorite part is the juxtaposition of chapters on any given day. A chapter from Leviticus might be on the same day as a chapter from, say, Romans—and one might give some small insight into the other. For instance, have you ever noticed how much the Psalms echo Job? I love that! Since each of his ten lists vary in length, you are never reading the exact same chapters up against each other. It is always changing. Therefore, there is generally some new relation to be made from one book of the Bible to another. 

That may not all make sense exactly, but this post isn’t really an attempt to get you to try Professor Horner’s system. My goal, like his, is simply to testify to the fact that time spent in the Word of God is practical and valuable. Whether reading fast or slow, Old Testament or New, Gospels or Prophecies, it all reveals who God is and how I am to live in response to that. And the more I read, the more His word illuminates itself and His character and my own imperfect heart. His truth becomes part of who I am. Through it, I am transformed. 

Oh—and one more little tip? Professor Horner’s system is one of several Bible reading plan options on the Youversion Bible app, so you can even keep up when you are on the go! 

So what is your BIble reading system? Do you have one? 


A Sunday Psalm

I will remember the deeds of the Lord;
yes, I will remember Your miracles of long ago.
I will meditate on all Your works
and consider all Your mighty deeds.
Your ways, O God, are holy.
What god is so great as our God?
     --Psalm 77:11-13


Love Finds You in Annapolis, Maryland by Roseanna M. White

On Christmas Day, I spent one of my two Amazon gift cards. One of the books I purchased was Love Finds You in Annapolis, Maryland by Roseanna M. White. Now I confess, this book got kind of lost in my to be read tower, given that I had so many friends release books in January and February, not to mention the fact that I was struggling through my own manuscript, thus curtailing my reading time. But finally, finally I got to this one!

I knew I wanted to read this book from the moment I heard it was set in the years following the American Revolution. During college, the American Revolution was my era of obsession. I wrote my senior honors thesis on Abigail Adams. My first ever completed novel (I still love the story line but the story itself needed major work!) was set during the American Revolution. It isn’t an extremely popular time period for novels, however. At least not at the moment. So you can see why I jumped on this title!
And Roseanna didn’t disappoint me in the least! Not only did I love all the history woven into the story, but the characters were memorable and the dialogue was fantastic!

 On the one hand, I wish I would have picked it up right after I bought it. On the other, it was worth the wait so I could enjoy the read. Either way, if you are looking for a fun and interesting historical romance, check out Love Finds You in Annapolis, Maryland. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed!


In My Weakness

I’m a word girl. When I have to look at too many numbers, I go a bit cross-eyed. And I tend to make mistakes. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to count and recount things because I couldn’t get the same answer twice. Even with a calculator! Of course most of those wranglings have been on my own, with no one the wiser. But on occasion my number sense (or lack of it) shows up in a more public domain and I find myself red-faced and apologizing profusely. 

Like this week, when I realized I’d miscounted on sending out contest entries to be judged. And I realized it on the day of the deadline. Half a dozen entries didn’t get to their judges until hours before I needed them back with scores and comments. Not good.  

Fortunately, all involved offered grace upon grace. So much so that it pricked a bit of guilt for my own grumblings over the inadvertent mistakes of others. It was a good reminder that we all have weaknesses, places in which we need the grace of others more often. That’s not a bad thing. It teaches me humility, though sometimes it feels like humiliation! And this time, I gained a new understanding of God’s power being perfected in my weakness. (2 Cor 12:9) I always thought that meant His strength in me would overcome the weakness. And sometimes it does mean that. But this week I recognized that He also shows Himself strong by the way others—brothers and sisters in Christ—respond to my weaknesses. How else but by the power of the Holy Spirit can a person be gracious in the face of others’ mistakes? 

So I will not berate myself for my weaknesses, though I do all I can to shore them up. For the Lord steps in and makes things right when my efforts fail, sometimes showing His power in me, sometimes in others. Maybe that’s why He gave me a chef and a math teacher as children! 


The North Avenue Irregulars

My kids grew up enjoying so many of the old live-action Disney movies. We have great memories of Davy Crockett, Mary Poppins, Swiss Family Robinson, Gus, The Apple Dumpling Gang and many more. Most of these we watched on videotape (remember those?), but I’ve tried to keep my eyes open for the DVD versions of some of our favorites. 

Recently, one of those popped up at a good price on one of my favorite DVD websites (Deepdiscount.com), so I bought it. Then the other evening, when my son and his girlfriend were trying to decide what movie to watch out our house, I mentioned that one. My son jumped on it. 

If you have never seen The North Avenue Irregulars, do yourself a favor and get a copy. It’s a hoot! An unlikely team of a pastor and six of his lady parishioners help bring down a gambling ring in their town. I’ve never watched without laughing. This time was no different. And yet it was. This time, I noticed something else in this obscure little film that our family loves: it has stellar story structure. 

It starts with good conflict that leads naturally into the main conflict. There are clear goals, clear obstacles, clear turning points in the story. I watched in amazement, having only remembered it as a funny story with great acting. I never imagined I’d sit through such an enjoyable story structure class! Makes me wonder what other blasts from the past I should re-watch.


A Sunday Psalm

Commit your way to the Lord;
trust in Him and He will do this:
He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn,
the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.
            --Psalm 37:5-6


Off My Desk

Since you are all probably sick of me complaining about how book #3 has eaten my lunch in the writing of it, you’ll all be glad to know that I got it off my desk on Wednesday. Yes, I finally hit send. I know it isn’t perfect, but it’s better than it was. It will be good to have another set of eyes to see all the weaknesses in the story. By the time I get it back, I’ll be ready to dive into it again. For now, I'm rejoicing in having it off my desk. I can breathe a sigh of relief!


The Mother Road by Jennifer AlLee

What do I love about Jennifer AlLee’s books? Her characters are so real. First The Pastor’s Wife. Now, The Mother Road. (And coming in the fall, A Wild Goose Chase Christmas.)

The Mother Road is the story of two estranged sisters who take to Route 66 on a road trip to visit their parents. Besides being 13 years apart in age and miles apart in education, career, and faith, the two woman have in common that both of their lives have taken turns they didn’t expect. Dealing with the fact that their mother has Alzheimer’s adds to the complications in their relationship. 

Like our real life relationships and situations, the issues Natalie and LIndsey face do not have easy solutions. But also like our real lives, the Lord provides others who give grace when things fall apart and support as they try to untangle the knots that bind them. 

The Mother Road is a great read I highly recommend. 


Happy (late) birthday, Aaron!

As we celebrated our risen Savior yesterday, our family also celebrated the birth of our first son. Nineteen years ago, God gifted us with our second Maundy Thursday baby, the second time in two years that we spent Easter in a newborn haze. So I love when the calendar rolls around so that one of our two spring babies gets to celebrate life on Easter! (Yes, spring is a busy birthday time at our house!)

Although a day late, I wanted to say happy birthday to my buddy, my little man who now towers above me! We couldn’t be more proud of the man he is becoming. It’s all by the grace of God. We love you, Aaron! 


A Sunday Resurrection Psalm

Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices;
my body also will rest secure,
because You will not abandon me to the grave,
nor will You let Your Holy One see decay.
You have made known to me the path of life;
You will fill me with joy in Your presence,
with eternal pleasures at Your right hand.
        --Psalm 16:9-11


Considering the Cross (Again)

Many years ago, the reality of Jesus’ physical suffering on the cross hit me with a vengeance. It drove me to my knees and birthed a greater love in my heart for the One who took the punishment that should have been mine. That’s a huge thing for a girl who has an extremely low threshold of pain! Each year as we approach Good Friday, I again go to the foot of the cross in amazement of what Jesus would go through to save me, a sinner. 

But this year a new thought deepened that meditation. A couple of weeks ago we visited  my brother’s church to celebrate my niece’s and nephew’s baptism. Their pastor, Dr. Jeff Warren, spoke of the suffering of Jesus during the crucifixion, how His that horrific physical suffering paled in comparison to the spiritual suffering of being separated from the Father. The reality of that slammed into me like never before. 

Think about the mystery of that—the triune God separated for a moment in time, the Son forsaken by the Father. What kind of ripping apart did that cause? It makes my heart hurt and tears rise just to consider it such a thing with my finite mind. That, Dr. Warren asserted, was Jesus’ struggle in the garden, the reason He sweat drops of blood. Physical suffering would be hard, but Jesus had told His disciples not too much earlier not to fear those who could kill the body only. Yet to choose to hang on a cross and know that the sin laid upon Him would cause the Father to look away—that was the greater cup of suffering to bear. 

Dr. Warren’s thoughts, however, did not end there. It ended with the fact that Jesus endured that momentary separation from the Father so that we would never know that pain, never have to suffer that same way. We might suffer physical pain beyond what we think we can bear, but once we are clothed with the righteousness of Christ, the Father will never leave us, never turn His face away. I don’t know about you, but that truth drives me farther than my knees. It drives me to lay my face to the ground in worship of my Savior. 


The Hosea Love Story

This series of videos was produced to lead into each of the 6 part sermon on the book of Hosea at Irving Bible Church. I know the young man who made the videos. I had no idea the Lord had gifted him in visual storytelling. Each clip is 2-3 minutes long, all scenes, no words. So powerful and so appropriate to remember as we look toward our remembrance of the purpose of and love behind Jesus's death and resurrection.

Take a quick 15 minutes and watch the whole series. I hope they touch you as deeply as they did me.


Promise Me This by Cathy Gohlke

Long ago, at the ACFW conference in 2008, I met Cathy Gohlke. She found me in a dark moment, full of tears. The Lord used her to encourage and comfort my heart—and also to change my direction back to writing the historical fiction I loved. I devoured her first two (Christy Award-winning!) books, William Henry is a Fine Name (Civil War Series #1) and I Have Seen Him in the Watchfires.

And then I waited. And waited. And signed my own contract. And waited some more. Finally, this past February, what I’d been waiting for arrived! A new Cathy Gohlke book in my mailbox!

Promise Me This is a sweeping saga of the best kind. Opening in 1912 with the maiden voyage of Titanic, it closes in mid-1919, the world thoroughly changed by war and influenza. But while it is a gripping story of characters caught up in circumstances beyond their control, Promise Me This also presents a beautiful picture of sacrifice and love, one that is particularly poignant as we begin the Passion week. Annie’s and Michael’s journeys on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean will not be quickly forgotten.

I highly recommend this book by this wonderful writer.


A Sunday Psalm

Let the morning bring me word of Your unfailing love,
for I have put my trust in You.
Show me the way I should go,
for to you I lift up my soul.
Rescue me from my enemies, O Lord,
for I hide myself in You.
Teach me to do Your will, for You are my God;
may Your good Spirit lead me on level ground.
      --Psalm 143:8-10