All Creatures Great and Small

Years ago, I was struck, I think, by the poetical nature of the titles: All Creatures Great and Small, All Things Bright and Beautiful, All Things Wise and Wonderful, And yet, as a child spying them on the shelf at my grandparents’ house, I assumed they were boring, stodgy old books, unworthy of my attention. Not until years later did I learn the nature of those books—the memoirs of a veterinarian. That confirmed my first impressions. Certainly there was nothing in those books of interest to me. 

Until I saw the BBC series based on the books. Then I fell in love with the characters. But I still felt little use for the words that birthed them. This summer, that changed. On a trip to Pennsylvania I picked up a copy of All Creatures Great and Small in a coffee shop/used bookstore as I waited on my latte. I read the first page and was captivated by the words and the images they evoked. This was a book I could read! I showed it to my husband, who concurred. We bought the book. 

My husband got it first, needing something to read on the plane ride home. He loved it—but he left it in the pocket of the seat in front of him as we exited the plane. He asked me to find another copy. I finally remembered. He finished it. I set it on my stack to be read, finally picking it up a couple of weeks ago. 

The rest of the book lived up to the first page that had enthralled me. James Herriot’s use of language and imagery and description and humor keep me glued to the pages of this fascinating trip through time and space to experience Yorkshire of the middish-1900s. I enjoyed every page, both for what was said and how it was said. Now to find the rest—and the time to enjoy them!




Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!

From Our Family to Yours!


An Unseen Gift

Sometimes I wonder how my almost adult child can do so many good things and then turn around and do so many stupid things. In fact, the more I contemplated that the other day, the angrier I got. One moment she seems to be maturing into a responsible adult. The next, she seems as clueless as a two-year-old. I found myself wanting to lecture, lecture, lecture. I wanted to tell her how disappointed I am in some of the choices she has made lately—nothing horrible, just irresponsible. 

Fortunately, she wasn’t home. As I stewed, imagining my righteous anger toward her, a still, small voice reminded me of something: I do the very same things. I don’t like to admit that. None of us do. But even now, even though I know I have grown up a lot in the past twenty years, I still do stupid things, say stupid things, make stupid decisions. I end up having to apologize. I end up wondering when I will ever learn. Suddenly I saw my righteous anger as what it truly was: self-righteousness. I’m not that much different from my daughter. It’s just that my stupidity shows itself less often. At least I hope it does. 

So for Christmas I’m giving her a gift: I won’t berate her for her actions, I will simply love her through the consequences. She may never even recognize that she has received this gift, but I will know it has been given. Just another step in my own maturing process.


It Matters

It took me a long time to realize that I mattered to God. I mean really mattered. These days, I am very comfortable in that understanding. At least I thought I was. 

I spent Saturday morning at a wonderful brunch where our hostess fed us amazing food then asked the ladies around the table to tell something surprising that God did for them this year. I don’t always share in these types of situations. I didn’t know all the women in attendance and I get a bit shy. But after awhile, I knew I must open my mouth. 

I shared how God had surprised me this year by giving me encouragement in my writing—from contest finals to a story published in a book, even the encouragement of an award-winning author who met me in a great disappointment and showed me that, even then, God saw me and my writing. When I finished sharing, this statement came out of my mouth: “It surprised me that God would encourage me in something that doesn’t matter. If I don’t take care of my family or something like that, those things matter. But my writing? In the big picture, it doesn’t matter if that happens or not, yet God specifically encouraged me in that over the course of this year.” 

The room went silent. Another woman jumped in. “But it does matter. That’s what I’ve seen in every story shared—it all matters to God.” 

I thought about her words as I drove home. I have had the attitude that my writing is kind of a “throw away.” I’m not published, it isn’t my job, it seems to be just for me, and doing it doesn’t displease the Lord, so I keep on. But my writing isn’t important. Doing or not doing it won’t make any great impact on the important things in life. 

Or will it? Given the incredible encouragements the Lord has given me this year, I think I have believed a lie. My writing does matter to the Lord. It apparently matters very much! If it were truly a “throw away,” something with no eternal value whatsoever, something that will not specifically bring glory and honor to His name, would He so overtly encourage it? I think not! Something of great value—to myself or someone else—lies in telling my stories and telling them well. I think I’d better take that as seriously as God seems to. 


Friends of the Library Christmas Luncheon

What better way to advertise our writer's group--and promote our books!--than to host a table at the annual Friends of the Library Christmas Luncheon. This was our second year to participate. This year, we themed our table A Scrapbook of Christmas Firsts. It had the same feel as the book's cover! Leslie even got to speak for a few minutes on the origins of some of our Christmas traditions--and she sold several books in the process. Enjoy the pictures!


The Bishop's Wife

I do love Christmas movies. I watched one of my favorites last night: The Bishop’s Wife. Cary Grant is an angel that comes in answer to David Niven’s prayer for help and guidance. David Niven is the Bishop who wants to leave a lasting mark on the kingdom of God and to His glory by building a grand cathedral. To that end, he spends his time and energy in raising the funds to build the glorious edifice. He neglects his wife and daughter and forgets the place from which he has risen. 

But through the angel, God shows He cares more about the people in Bishop Brougham’s life and the Bishop’s relationships with them. He cares more about the Bishop helping people than building yet another building. In the end, when the Bishop has submitted to God’s answer to his prayer for guidance, he gives a sermon about giving of ourselves to the Christ Child, not just each other, at Christmas. 

I love this movie for so many reasons. For one, it emphasizes that in our “doing” we cannot forget the “being”—that if our relationships suffer in our work for the Lord, then maybe we aren’t pursuing the right thing. It reminds me that our relationships are truly the only things that last in God’s economy. They are our treasures stored up in heaven. And it reminds me that when we pray, sometimes the Lord answers in ways we don’t expect, redirecting our efforts that we thought so worthy and good into something we didn’t expect, but something so much better, so much more worthy to be called His doing. 

If this movie isn’t on your usual Christmas watch list, be sure to catch it on TV or DVD. It is one of the gems of the season for me.


Please Excuse . . .

To Whom It May Concern:

Please excuse the lack of blogging at Five Bazillion and One. The writer has been inundated with football details throughout the playoffs, culminating in the state championship game this weekend, Thanksgiving, one doctor visit for herself, one doctor’s visit for her child (to cast the broken hand), one band program, one mission dinner, two basketball games, and, well, life in general.

She should be back to thinking—and writing—again next week. Unless Christmas trips her up, too!



As we traveled to and from our football playoff game this weekend, I unwittingly participated in a wonderful writing exercise. With two and half hours of highway driving each way, the kids in my car wanted a movie to pass time. Of course they could all SEE the movie from the back seats. I was relegated to LISTENING to the movie. 

Have you ever listened to a movie? It’s quite an interesting exercise, especially for a writer. Of course, I had seen both of these movies before, so it wasn’t hard to picture the pictures, but there is something about not having the images flickering in front of you that really brings out the words that are spoken and emphasizes the way the story is told. 

Now both of these movies had excellent acting, which helps tremendously. After all, the words written by the screenwriter must be spoken with the unique inflection of the character. But even the best actors have a hard time making flat dialogue come alive. 

These movies didn’t have that problem. The dialogue was witty and real and sarcastic and even silly sometimes, but it worked. It didn’t give information dumps. It didn’t tell too much. It didn’t bypass emotional moments. It felt like how I want the dialogue in my books to sound in my readers’ heads. 

Try it sometime, even if you aren’t a writer. Close your eyes and hear the movie instead of watching it. It’s amazing the things you can discover about the characters just through the words they say—or the things they don’t say!