818 Pages Later . . .

I did it. I slogged through Bleak House by Charles Dickens. I say “slogged” not because I didn’t enjoy the experience. I did. Thoroughly. But 800 pages of ANYTHING becomes a bit wearisome after awhile. (When the bookmark doesn’t seem to move after hours of page-turning, well, you get the idea.)

But I’ve experienced the euphoria before, and knew the pay-off would be worth it. I slogged through Les Miserables and War and Peace—the unabridged versions, mind you—on my own initiative. In all three cases, the story, the characters, the themes, the writing made it worthwhile. For a writer, missing these stories would have been like a world traveler missing the pyramids while in Egypt, Big Ben while in London.

Take, for example, these examples of imagery in Bleak House I might have missed:

“Thus, night at length with slow-retreating steps departs, and the lamplighter going his rounds like an executioner to a despotic king, strikes off the little heads of fire that have aspired to lessen the darkness.”

“In Lincolnshire, the Dedlocks of the past doze in their picture-frames, and the low wind murmurs through the long drawing-room as if they were breathing pretty regularly.”

See what I mean? Who would want to miss writing like that—let alone compelling stories and memorable characters?

What lengthy works of classic literature have you conquered? I’d love to know, because I intend to keep adding to my list.

But not until at least next year!


Closing the Deal

I’m about to run out the door to close on our old house. I’m still shocked. It all happened so quickly.

Two weeks ago, we had an offer on our house—with a difficult negotiation. We thought we were closing Sept. 14th, just in the nick of time for our IRS payment, due the 15th. Then, lo and behold, the closing was suddenly pushed up to today! Over two weeks early! We are elated, and in awe of our incredible God, who meets our needs.

And on top of it all, we had RAIN—yesterday and today. And for those of us in certain parts of Texas, that is truly a miracle. Our 100-degree-days streak was snapped and all our thirsty plants are soaking in the needed moisture.

It’s been a long summer, but in spite of all the difficulties, we’ve not only survived, we’ve grown. We’ve grown closer as a family. And I have grown, spiritually. I learned to pursue Jesus instead of the solutions to the circumstances and found Him more satisfying than ever before.

So to those of you out there in the midst of difficult and trying situations: Hang On! Pursue Jesus! He will reveal Himself in amazing ways.


One Toe Before the Big Splash

I’ve never been one of those people who can jump into a cold swimming pool. I have to ease in. First my toes, then my whole foot. Inch by inch I wade into the water, my body getting used to the temperature in small doses.

That’s why I love it when my kids start school on a Thursday. It eases us into the school routine. Kind of like that first swim of the season. For two days we’ve done the school schedule—the getting up and getting ready, the after school car pools and practices, the earlier bedtimes. Now we get the weekend to recover before we hit it full-force, dive in with a resounding splash.

Five days at a time.


Encouragement from the Ultimate Encourager

I’m in a Ladies Bible Study right now. It’s on encouragement. One of the things we’ve talked about is that God encourages us. Have you ever received specific encouragement from the Lord? I did. Just the other day.

Wednesday morning I woke up, still trying to shake the whole “fretting” thing. I asked the Lord to give me some encouragement from Him—today. Something concrete. Something only He would know would encourage me. Something only He could orchestrate.

One of the things I’ve wanted to do this coming school year is Meals on Wheels. I drove groups of students to do this during our “mission” days at school last year and loved it. In looking at my schedule, I figured that Fridays worked best for me. When I emailed my friend on Wednesday to find out the volunteer coordinator, she forwarded me an email she had received THAT MORNING looking for a driver on FRIDAYS!!! Talk about concrete encouragement. And quick, too.

So I’m signed up, ready to drive. Actually, my mother and I are splitting the route, each taking two Fridays a month. I’m thrilled to be able to serve others this way. But I’m even more thrilled at the answer to prayer, at the encouragement I received from Father God. Encouragement tailor-made for me.


Fret Not

The second half of Psalm 37:8 says, “Do not fret, it leads only to evildoing.”

I’ve been fretting a lot lately. Fretting over my daughter’s unresolved health issues (and the new one that cropped up.) Fretting over my husband’s new position as President of our small school board. Fretting over finances. Fretting over my unsold house. Fretting over my work being considered by an agent.

Apparently this isn’t the first time I’ve drowned in a deluge of fret. The verse I quoted at the top had already been underlined in my Bible. So I guess this fretting business is a continual thing for me. Well, I don’t guess—I know.

So how do I stop fretting? I get frustrated when I read David’s admonitions to “wait for the Lord.” Hebrews 6:15 tells me that Abraham “patiently waited” and received his promise. But for me, to wait is to fret. I need practical, active combatants for this fretting. Otherwise, I’m doomed to evildoing.

So I’m going through the Psalms now, marking down the specific things that will keep fret far from me. Things like declaring His righteousness and His praise all day long (Ps. 35:28), delighting myself in the Lord (Ps. 37:4), setting the Lord continually before me (Ps. 16:8), giving thanks to Him and singing praises to His name (Ps. 18:49). And the list goes on. I’m eager to discover more practical ways to combat the fretfulness that so often overpowers me. Because above all else, I don’t want to indulge in an activity that leads to evildoing!

So join me in a “fret out.” Leave the fret behind. Let’s journey together into holiness and righteousness and peace, leaving evildoing in its fretting form far behind.