A Little R&R

My crazy month of May came to a screeching halt on Saturday. When the school was swept clean from the graduation reception, my duties for the school year ended. So we skedaddled for the country, for twenty-four hours of R&R.

Our friends have a small house/barn on several acres of land southeast of Dallas. We went there and did NOTHING. And I do mean nothing. No TV. No phone calls. No computers (at least, none of ours). Yes, we got email on our cell phones, but we just checked for anything urgent—and nothing was. Nowhere nearby to drive to. No fancy meals to cook or clean up after. Just good friends and empty space. I didn’t even read a book!!!

We laughed, we talked, we slept, we just sat still, sometimes, watching and listening to our almost grown-up children, wondering where the years went. By the time we left there and returned to the real world, my body and spirit had the refreshment it needed to finish out this week of finals and head into summer—into finishing my book and organizing my house. Oh yeah, and chauffeuring my boys to football, friends’ houses, and various other activities while my driver-daughter works!

I’m so happy to have had a respite at the end of a long school year. It’s amazing what a little R&R will do.


The Center of a Tootsie Pop (Or the End of a Tube of Lipstick)

Remember the old Tootsie Roll Pop commercial with the owl in the tree and the boy asking how many licks it takes to get to the center? The owl takes three licks, loses patience, and bites in.

I think tubes of lipstick are the same.

Don’t see the connection? Here’s my question: how long does it take to get to the end of a tube of lipstick? No one ever knows because it so rarely happens. We get impatient and change color or brand, abandoning half-used tubes, never reaching the very bottom. At least I have done so. Until now.

Yes, I reached the end of a tube of lipstick. How long have I had it? Seven, eight years? I can’t remember. I only know I liked the color and it was expensive, so I didn’t want to throw it away. Now I’m not one to reapply my lipstick all day. Just one swipe in the morning if I’m going out of the house. Maybe once in the evening if it’s a social event. Even so, I’ve reached the end. Yes, I have other lipstick in other colors, but this seems like such a significant small event. The end of a tube of lipstick. Like reaching the center of a Tootsie Pop, I never thought I’d get there.



I normally hate movie renditions of books that change the story, but I found myself captivated by Masterpiece Classics version of Cranford that concluded on Sunday evening. I confess, before watching the first part of Cranford, I had never heard of the book of the same name by Elizabeth Gaskell. But after watching part two of this Masterpiece production, I knew I had to read it.

So I did. Before part three debuted across the airwaves.

It’s a short book, written as a series of vignettes of small town life in 19th century England. It is a lovely work of characterization, where one knows the people one is reading about. They come to be friends. But there is no overarching “plot.”

The screenwriters of Cranford decided to add a plot framework around which to structure this movie about a year in the life of a small town. And they did it superbly. The new characters and story lines fit in as if they’d been there all the time. And even while adding new elements to the story, the writers maintained the charm of the original characters and included most, if not all, of the heartwarming elements of the book, even if in slightly different forms.

Of course part of the success of the film version, in my mind, was the absolutely superior ensemble of cast members, led by such names as Judi Dench, Imelda Staunton, Michael Gambon, Greg Wise, and so many more. While the names may not be familiar, I assure you that any fan of classic British literature will recognize faces from productions of Pride and Prejudice, Jane Eyre, Miss Marple movies, and so many other BBC and Hollywood films.

In the end, Miss Matty Jenkyns has become one of my most favorite characters in literature; through she will remain eternally intertwined with Dame Judi Dench in my mind. I heartily recommend both book and movie—just don’t expect one to follow the other in exact measure. Enjoy them each for their own uniqueness.


The Power of Truth in Fiction

I always forget how much I enjoy the Chronicles of Narnia books until I read one again. In anticipation of the coming movie, I picked up Prince Caspian this week. It’s a quick read. And, frankly, not a super exciting one. Not like The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe or The Silver Chair. But as I came toward the climax of the story I remembered why I love these books: they convey Truth.

About 2/3 of the way through the book, Lucy meets with Aslan again. It’s been a year in our time, thousands of years in Narnia time.

“Aslan,” said Lucy. “You’re bigger.”
“That is because you are older, little one,” answered he.
“Not because you are?”
“I am not. But every year you grow, you will find me bigger.”

Knowing that Aslan is a picture of Jesus, isn’t that so true? As we grow, as we see the work the Lord does in our lives, in the lives of those around us, in the world at large, don’t we grasp just a little more with each passing day of the bigness of God? I know I do. And in the context of the story this truth just leaps off the page and imbeds itself in my heart.

How about this one, a few pages later, after Susan has said ugly, sarcastic things of Lucy?

Lucy went first, biting her lip and trying not to say all the things she thought of saying to Susan. But she forgot them when she fixed her eyes on Aslan.

That’s the power of Truth in fiction.


An Encouraging Word

My friend Robin has joined the blogosphere. She swears she isn’t a writer, but after reading her few posts, I beg to differ. Anyway, yesterday she wrote a wonderful post encouraging and cautioning those of us who consistently put pen to paper (or our fingers to a keyboard) to be careful of our words, of how they will affect our readers. It was a blessing to me. I thought it would be for you, too.

Check it out here.

And you might want to check back with her regularly. She has incredible insight into many matters pertaining to life and godliness.


The Past Comes Back

It’s nice to know that after almost 30 years people can forget the awful things you’ve said to them. Especially if you were the student and the other person was the teacher/administrator.

I ran into such a person tonight. It was at a reception at my children’s school. She is the head of the accreditation team coming to evaluate the school. I was at the reception because my husband is president of our school’s Board of Trustee’s.

So there we were. I could have let it go, never mentioned the old connection. But I’ve spent my life desiring, for myself and others, that we not hide the hard or ugly things—past or present. Here, I realized, was a moment in which I could practice what I preached. I introduced myself. Told her my maiden name and waited for the look of horror on her face.

It didn’t happen. Instead she hugged me. She was so excited to see me. She either didn’t remember my angry junior high words or she was gracious enough not to mention them. Instead, we talked and laughed and left each other with a hug.

It’s nice to know that 30 years can change people. And it’s nice to know that others’ memories of us don’t last as long as our own.