Leaving No Evidence

We spent Friday raking leaves. Last fall, our first in this house, we gathered 22 bags full from the front yard alone! This year, my teenaged boys, who grew up without mature trees that dropped their leaves, reveled in the piles.

But 23 bags later, a mystery. Friday, the bags surrounded our already full trash cans (no trash pick up on Thanksgiving Day). No problem. Trash Day would arrive on Monday and all would be well. Then Saturday I glanced out the breakfast room window. I couldn’t place it at first. The trash spot in the alley looked so—normal. Trash cans filled with black bags, waiting to be carried away. Nothing else.

Nothing else.

No 23 bags of leaves. Vanished. Gone.

Did someone take them? They must have. But we didn’t notice unusual noise in the alley at any time—and it would take a little while to load 23 bags. How did they know they all held leaves? Did they come searching for such things specifically—or did they watch us frolicking in the bright autumn sunlight, the crisp air stinging our hands as we worked and laughed and played?

It’s kind of spooky, if you ask me. 23 bags of leaves. The mystery still gnaws at me, probably always will. I’ll never know what happened to those bags. I’m sure someone took them on purpose, for some reason. I’ll have to make something up and use it in a novel someday!


Cold and Wet

It’s 38 degrees outside—and dropping. A drizzly mist is falling. It’s the perfect day to sit in front of the fire, drink hot chocolate, listen to Christmas music or watch Christmas movies and decorate the house. And I’m . . .


Oh, no. Today we are driving two hours to a high school football playoff game! I’m gathering long underwear, hand warmers, scarves, hats, gloves, boots—anything that might ward off the wet-cold of the day. And I so hate being cold!

But when your kids are there, so are you. I’m sure it will be fun. Ok, maybe FUN is too strong of a word, but it will provide “remember whens” for years to come. So while you are cozy inside your house today, think of me in the freezing rain, cheering for my team. And try not to laugh too hard.


A Glimpse of the Future

We went to my cousin’s wedding this weekend. I love weddings, as most women do. But until now I’ve sat in pews thinking wistfully of my own wedding day, of how young and idealistic we were, how the years that stretched out before us are quickly flying by.

This time, I had none of those thoughts. Instead, sitting next to my three teenagers, I realized how close I am to being mother of the bride or groom! I watched the parents, noticing their graciousness to their children and all the guests. I mentally took notes of service arrangements and reception ideas. Of course, all my husband could see was dollar signs!! (Thank goodness we only have one girl!)

But instead of depressing me, the thought encouraged me. One day in the not-too-distant future, my children will stand at the altar, young and wide-eyed, looking forward to the coming years with the one they love. The thought doesn’t sadden me, but it sobers me. It drives me again to my knees, praying that God will work in the hearts of each of my children so that they can bring into their marriages unselfish hearts toward their spouses and humble hearts toward the Lord.


A Must-See: Bella

We saw an incredible movie this weekend. Bella is the story of a young woman who finds herself alone and pregnant and the man who risks his relationship with his brother to be her friend. It is a movie that celebrates life and love, family and friendship. It is real and emotionally powerful—and subtle.

Yes, subtle.

As I writer, I strive for this—to tell the story and let my audience connect the dots to discover the greater, overarching truths the story illustrates. The writer and director of this movie managed this superbly. They told a compelling story that drives home the sanctity of life without using any of the buzz words generally associated with such a theme.

But the subtlety of its theme isn’t the only reason I enjoyed this movie. Its excellence extended to every aspect of the film—the writing, the directing, the acting. Nothing second-rate or hokey about this film and frankly, you can’t say that about very many movies these days. Oh, and did I mention that there are no offensive scenes or language? Yet the feel of reality is all over this film. I assume it garnered the PG-13 rating because of the thematic elements.

This movie is the first offering from new production company Metanoia, whose mission statement declares they desire “to make movies that matter and have the potential to make a meaningful difference in people’s lives.” I’m already looking forward to seeing what they come up with next!


Creating is Messy

I was cleaning up the kitchen the other morning—yet again. Not that I’m complaining, mind you. I can clean when I don’t have to cook, and even consider it the best end of the deal. But when my daughter cooks, she doesn’t give a thought to the mess she leaves behind. When she is finished, it looks like a Texas tornado has hit my kitchen.

So after piles of dishes, I was down to wiping the countertops (and the appliances, and the backsplash, and . . . you get the idea) and lamenting the mess that comes from her creations. As I swept crumbs into the trashcan, it hit me: creating is messy, whatever the medium. Painting. Sculpting. Cooking. Even writing. When I get in a writing frenzy of creation, papers and books are often strewn from room to room, linking them like beads on a necklace.

It helped, realizing that her mess is simply a by-product of her creative process. It makes it easier to clean up after her because I know how she feels. I understand the creative urge, the need to see in visible form what exists in your head and heart, the complete focus on the creation, the oblivion to everything else around you.

So cook on, my girl. I’m right behind you, soapy rag in hand.


The Grocery Store Dilemma

I get lulled into complacency in the summer time. When I do my big monthly grocery shopping trip (stocking up on staples such as bread, cereal, and toiletries) I bring home bags piled high in the back of my car and then watch as they disappear up the stairs and into my kitchen. Sometimes I even have help unpacking the bags and putting the groceries away.

But once school starts I live with the inevitable dilemma: do I shop with the crowds on the weekends, when my kids are home to help unload, or do I shop in peace but carry all the bags myself. Every time I try one way, I swear the other is better. Today I shopped in peace, checked out in a reasonable amount of time, and then ended up making about ten trips up and down the stairs to the garage, arms sagging with bags. To top it off, I’ve had a nasty cold, so the effort quite wore me out! Then, after all that, I still had to unload the bags that now covered my kitchen table and the majority of my countertops.

I guess I should be grateful for the extra exercise, but I imagine the chocolate I ate to console myself canceled out any benefit from climbing the stairs. Oh, well. I guess it’s back to fighting the crowds. At least for next month.