Twelve Mighty Orphans

I don’t often read non-fiction. When I do, my preference is either history or biography—both for pleasure and research for novels. Early in December, for my husband’s birthday, we gave him three books he asked for—1 biography, 1 history, 1 a combination of history and biography. Well, after he read the combo, he told me I needed to read it. So I did.

And what an enjoyable experience! Twelve Mighty Orphans by Jim Dent is the ultimate underdog sports story. Beginning in the depression and continuing into the days of WWII, Mr. Dent, an engaging sportswriter, tells the story of the underfunded (or should I say non-funded), undersized football program at the Masonic Home, an orphanage in Fort Worth, Texas. He interweaves the story of football with the biographies of key players. It is an engaging and fascinating read, both from biographical and historical standpoints. In fact, I learned much about the history of the city I grew up in from this book!

So if there is a sports fan or a history buff in your life and you’re wondering what a good read for them might be, try this one. I think they’ll be glad you did.


The Last Week of December

I have a love/hate relationship with the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day. Let me set the stage for you. I love Christmas. I love the decorations and the presents and meditating on various facets of Jesus’s foray into our world to bring us life and hope. But, of course, being the Mom, most of the preparations fall to me. And after five weeks of parties and programs and shopping, I’m tired.

So what I want, in that week after Christmas, is to rest. To let everything go and just “be.” But then the other me raises her head—the organized me. I don’t get a frenzy to “clean out” in the spring time, like normal people. For me, that feeling always hits the week before a new year begins. I have this insatiable desire to begin the new year fresh, with closets organized and files weeded of old documents and everything in its place.

Somehow I wish I could have a “week after Christmas” to rest and a “week before the new year” to clean out and organize. But, alas, they are the same week. Some years the rest wins out. Other years I breathe a satisfied sigh when the last closet is straight and accessible. Which will win this year? Who knows. Considering that the next two days I’ll be at a basketball tournament, son and daughter both participating, it might be neither one!


The Gift

I was reminded this week of a Christmas story I wanted to share with you. It is a story that began the Christmas I was 17 and, I thought, finished when I was 21. But several years ago when I needed to speak at a women’s retreat, the Lord brought the story to mind again and showed me a spiritual truth in it that I had not seen before. Now I’d like to share the whole story with you.

I always had a penchant for books. And really long books were my favorite. So digging around under the Christmas tree my senior year of high school, I found a book-shaped package with my name on it. I thrilled at the thickness of it. I wondered what it could be. I pondered day and night until curiosity got the best of me. One day when no one was around, I took my package into the bathroom and locked the door. Then I carefully unwrapped it. Heart pounding with excitement, I turned it over.

Jane Austen, the cover read, followed by what appeared to be several titles. Who in the world is that? (Yes, even in my AP English class we didn’t read her.) I had a vague sense that she had written things long ago. Disappointed, I re-wrapped the book and set it back under the tree.

Christmas morning, I unwrapped it and pretty much tossed it aside without another thought. Fast forward three years. I’m in college now, majoring in history, minoring in English. I take a class called The English Novel where I read Emma by Jane Austen. I’m hooked. I love this woman! Even then it takes a little while to connect her to the dust-gathering monstrosity of a book on my bookshelf. I pull it down. The book contains all of Austen’s works. I am amazed. I am thrilled. An unexpected gift that was already mine!

Many years later, the Lord brought this story to mind and I saw it in a whole new light. I realized that often we receive gifts from the Lord that puzzle us. We have little to no understanding of what to do with it, why it is important. We toss it aside, let it gather dust, until one day something triggers a memory of that gift and makes it suddenly relevant. And often, like my Jane Austen collection, not just relevant, but a treasure.

So as you unwrap your gifts this Christmas, remember that some gifts take time to appreciate. And remember that the gifts God gives to us are never without reason.


A Christmas Luncheon and A Precursor of Days to Come

It’s been a C R A Z Y week and half! Sorry I’ve been silent.

Last Tuesday, Mary DeMuth, Leslie Wilson, and I hosted a table at the Friends of the Library Christmas luncheon. It was a table filled with—what else? Writers! Five other writers joined us for a yummy lunch and great conversation. Wish you could have been there!
I’ve had a fun few days hanging out with my youngest—my 13 year old. His brother and sister are off on a mission trip (more on that when they return) and it’s been fun to have him all to myself. It’s a little preview of what it will be like in just three and a half short years, when he is the only one left at home. And it’s been great. He’s been incredibly amiable and I think is reveling in our alone time as much as I am.

I’ve still got Christmas errands to run and writing to get done, but I promise you will hear more from me soon. Until then, take time to notice the sights and sounds of the season all around you and enter into the joyous celebration of the birth of our Savior.


Tis the Season

The tree is up, the lights are on. It even turned cold outside—finally.

This is the week of Christmas frenzy before things settle a little into what I hope will be a fun, yet restful, family Christmas. I realize we haven’t many left like this. This year and next, then my daughter will be in college and I know how quickly things can change! My first Christmas after high school, I had a serious boyfriend. By the second Christmas in college, he was my fiancĂ©. By the third Christmas, I was married. So I take nothing for granted.

So this week I will help host a table of fellow writers at the Friends of the Library luncheon here in town, spend an evening with the lawyers and spouses from my husband’s new firm at the Christmas party, watch my niece perform the lead in a Christmas musical at school, travel to my son’s basketball game, get my two high schoolers and my husband off on a mission trip to the Texas-Mexico border, and drive kids from our school to two days of local mission opportunities.

From there, my calendar is blessedly empty—except for the orthodontist appointment where both my boys will get their braces! We plan to bake and watch Christmas movies and play games and look at Christmas lights. And I intend to cherish every minute of it.


Freshman Year Football

This is the image I will remember from my son’s freshman year of football (he’s #32.) In our small school, all the football boys are on the varsity team, but, of course, some of the younger ones don’t play much, if at all.

So I watched my son on the sidelines. What I saw was an encourager—both to those coming off the field and those standing on the sidelines, like himself. He often grabbed the water bottles to hand to the boys on the field during a timeout or when they came off the field for a short rest.

His penchant for encouragement and helpfulness earned him the respect of many of the older boys, including the one he stands next to, a senior affectionately known as “Big E.”

It’s been a hard season in some ways: my son loves to play, not watch, and that got frustrating at times, and this team was slated to repeat as state champions, but they lost last weekend in the semi-finals to a team they’d demolished only a few weeks before.

But what I’ll remember most from this season is this image—my son, skinny and not overly tall, standing out there with the big boys.


A Serial Christmas Story

A couple of months ago, several authors of historical fiction, both published and unpublished, came together (via the Internet) with the idea of writing a serial Christmas story that reflected both their love of historical fiction set in Europe and their faith.

I’m so pleased to announce that the first installment of this story is up at http://www.homebychristmas.blogspot.com/. The installments, 13 in all, will post every other day from now until Christmas. On the in-between days, the bio of the author of the upcoming installment will be posted.

So click on over. I guarantee that after just a couple of posts, you’ll be hooked into the story set in late Victorian England. My part posts December 5.

Happy Christmas reading!