The Advent of Christmas

I love Christmas. I love the decorations and the celebrations and buying gifts for all the people I love.

We try to make time for Christmas parades and charitable shopping as a family. I love the baking—which my daughter does so well. And the eating—which I do way too well. I love a crackling fire on a cold winter’s night, a Christmas movie or music playing, a hot drink in my hand.

I love traditions. Some of our traditions come from my family of origin. Things like the candy-tied-on countdown to Christmas calendars my kids use that are just like the one I used as a child and setting each child’s Santa gifts and stocking in a different part of the living room on Christmas morning.

Some come from my husband’s family. Like opening a gift on Christmas Eve.

Others are all our own. Like attending a Christmas Eve service and watching our store of Christmas movies through the month of December.

Most of all, I love watching those around me enjoy the sparkle and wonder and laughter that tends to abound in December. I love imaging the birth of my Savior on a starry night in a rude stable, Mary and Joseph trembling with awe and probably more than a little fear.

I even love waxing nostalgic about the past year as it wanes, remember the goodness of God in bringing us through times of trial as well as times of abundant blessing.

So my prayer for you—and for all of us—is that the wonder and joy of Christ’s birth be evident all season long. And that it would amaze us in new and surprising ways.


The Susans

I’ve read a lot of books over the past couple of months. Two were standouts. Both authored by women named Susan. Both of whom I met at ACFW this year.

Susan Meissner’s A Seahorse in the Thames was a lovely read. Its characters enthralled me with their depth and vulnerability. She drew me in from the first scene and never let go. I met Susan briefly at ACFW and she seemed to be as lovely a person as her words suggest. I’m looking forward to tracking down some of her other work.

Susan May Warren’s Sands of Time convinced me that I could like romantic suspense. It sat on the bottom of the stack of books I brought home from ACFW, and after reading several not so inspiring books, I reached for Sands of Time as I ran out the door for a road trip—not expecting much, especially the time to read it. But we hit traffic. And I’m so glad we did! Susan’s book was suspenseful and insightful. It gripped and held me. And I didn’t find myself editing it in my head! What a joy! I sat next to Susan at the awards banquet at ACFW. Delightful woman. Funny, kind, inspiring. The kind of person who could be a friend. I will definitely find more of her stories to cuddle up with this winter.

So do yourself a favor—consider trying a book by a Susan. Meissner or May Warren. Either will be a treat to remember.


My Thanks

For a daughter who is growing up,

For sons who stand for right,

For a husband who is in my court,

For my Lord and His sacrifice.

For friends who make life’s journey fun,

For family who always cares,

For writers who’ve encouraged me,

For dreams I’ve learned to dare.

For all these things I’m thankful,

These things make me glad

That I know the One to be thankful to—

The One who holds my life in His hand


It's a Season

Just a season. At least that’s what I keep telling myself.

Not the holiday season.

Or basketball season.

Not the flu season or the season of the year.

It’s a life season. Perhaps you know the one. It’s the all-of-my-kids-are-busy-and-none-of-them-can-drive season. I haven’t felt this discombobulated since all three were in the toddler-preschool years! I know part of my frustration is coming to an end soon—four months, to be exact, when we go from 15, 13, 12 to 16, 14, 12. But that doesn’t help me now.

Even moving closer to school, I feel like my days are spent running here, there, and everywhere. I keep reminding myself that when your kids are close in age, this happens. At least I’m not dragging a little one around while I do it!

The real problem is it cuts into my writing time. And I do know which is more important—so I drive. But I get restless inside after days of not writing. I feel jittery and anxious. Nothing a day with my characters wouldn’t fix, but when?

So I have high hopes for Thanksgiving week. No school. No sports practices. Amidst a doctor’s appointment on Monday, a birthday party on Monday/Tuesday, cooking for Thanksgiving on Wednesday, eating and visiting with family for Thanksgiving on Thursday, and a football playoff game on Saturday, maybe I can manage to put words on the page.

Or not.


Moaning and Groaning

I really didn’t mean to torture myself. I knew the week after my writing frenzy, I’d need to catch up on things like laundry and grocery shopping and doctor’s appointments, etc. No writing allowed. So I did the next best thing—I picked up a writing book to read between times.

Big mistake.

NEVER read a writing book right after you’ve sent off a manuscript! I’ve moaned and groaned my way through Sol Stein’s How to Grow a Novel as the deficiencies of my sent story become clear. I found myself lamenting “if only.”

But alas, the deed is done. I must take a deep breath and begin work on another story, this time taking into account the things I’ve both learned and been reminded of as I read on writing. Every story gets stronger—at least that’s the goal. I want my final work to be eons above my first one.

It’s a more “normal” week at my house. Time to get back into routine. Time to pound out words on another story. Explore other characters. See what the Lord has for me to learn this time around—about writing, about myself, about Him.


In the Mail

I handed my baby to the postal worker this afternoon. I left it reluctantly, even though I feel better about this book than any other I’ve written thus far. In fact, I went back to my car and cried. I’ve never done that before. Usually when I send things off, I’m anxious, jittery. This time, however, thankfulness welled up in me. I cried because finishing this book has been a deeply spiritual experience.

Last Friday, my task seemed impossible—finish the revisions on this book to fulfill a request from an agent. I sent an e-mail to a group of friends and family that have been praying for my writing for a couple of years.

And guess what?

They prayed!

How do I know? I felt the result of their prayers. Strength and stamina that could have only come from the Lord flowed through me each new—always spent by evening, but renewed each morning. The story crystallized under my fingers. Although I wrote 6-9 hours a day, from last Saturday to yesterday, I also managed to feed my family, cheer at my sons’ last football game, be at a family birthday party, attend church and my weekly prayer group, and have lunch with a friend. No way I could have done all that (and been fairly nice to my family in the process) without the Lord doing it through me.

My faith grew this week. My realization that God has indeed gifted me in the area of writing grew as well. (Even in the hard work of it, I loved playing with words and spending time with my characters!) I drove away from the post office with overwhelming peace. Whatever happens with this book—or any of my writing—is completely in the hands of the Lord.

After all God has done this week, I believe that more than ever before.