- It’s a Wonderful Life
- Holiday Inn
- Miracle on 34th Street (original version)
- Christmas in Connecticut
- [tie] Elf and Home Alone
Come join me at Inkwell Inspirations today where I'm blogging about Abigail Adams!
I had a dream last night, or early this morning to be exact. I dreamt that it was my turn to bring football drinks and fruit for halftime (which it is) and that I got to the game—and all the way to halftime!—before I remembered. In my dream, it was an away game (tonight we’re at home) and I ran to the concession stand to buy drinks for the team. And guess what? I had no cash! So I asked if I could use my debit card. They said no.
I remember in my dream looking at the little machine on their table and blinking in wonder. “You don’t take debit cards?” I asked. I pulled out another card. “How about credit?”
The little girl (read: teenager) working the concession stand pulled out a piece of paper. “Yes, we take those things, but not from you. We checked your account balance and it is insufficient.”
“What?!” I cried. I couldn’t tell if I was more outraged by her checking my account or the fact that I knew I had enough money in there for this.
Off I raced with my empty wallet, determined to find a bank and a grocery store. Time cut to my return to the football field where, when I’d left, the score had been 6-6. Our players were making their way to the cars, heads down.
“What happened?” I asked the nearest person.
“45’d,” was the answer. (The six-man football mercy rule.) The other team had scored 45 points (and us, 0) in the time I’d been gone.
I was furious—with myself. In this dream, I berated myself for a head so full of writing that I overlooked what I needed to do for my boys. It was an awful dream, and one of the most vivid I can remember lately. But you can be sure that I won’t forget to send drinks for the football team this evening!
It’s a busy, busy week this week. So much on my calendar that is not my own. And yet I have my own agenda, too. How will it all get done? Inevitably, I get little sleep the night before a week like this. I toss and turn trying to fit all my plans into the coming days, but it feels like fitting pieces into a puzzle of a snow-covered landscape. Finally, finally—after all that wrangling—I give my week to the Lord, asking Him to arrange it, to make time for what needs to be done and to give me wisdom to not worry about the unimportant. It still takes a while to release the need to figure it out, but eventually I sleep.
Why do I do that? Why do I wait so long to do what needs to be done at the very first hint of anxiety?
I woke early this morning, again anxious, but again releasing my day, my week, into the hand of the Lord. After a cup of coffee and another glance at my calendar/to-do-list, I found it manageable, as long as I remain focused. The hours are there to accomplish what I must. But another question lingers: will I use those hours to their fullest potential instead of frittering away valuable time?
With a deep breath and another prayer of relinquishment, I determine that I will.
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Phillipians 4:13
Fall has truly inched its way into Texas. I love this time of year. The nights and mornings are cooler now. My sweet tooth craves candy corn. My dinner menus include lots of soup. I pull out my jeans and my longer sleeved shirts. Football is in full swing. Pumpkin pies will be made and eaten. Summer seems a long, hot dream—one I have no desire to revisit soon.
But mostly what I love about autumn is the promise of winter that tinges the air. I’m so glad God made the seasons to change.
I don’t often pay attention to news items, but this one caught my eye and stirred my passions. A Michigan woman received a notice that if she continued to watch her neighbors children in her home while they waited for the morning school bus, she would be in violation of state law.
Are you kidding me? It seems like everywhere we turn lately the government is trying to get into people’s business. This was a friend doing a favor for other friends. Apparently they often trade off watching each other’s kids. I know what that’s like. I did the same when my kids were small. But Michigan law says some crazy thing like “you cannot have non-family member children in your home more than four weeks in a calendar year unless you are a licensed day-care.” Seems a bit over-the-top, don’t you think? What about an older couple who take the role of “surrogate grandparents” for a younger couple and keep the kids in their home sometimes? Or what if a family takes in a friend of their child’s after school so that child doesn’t have to be home alone? Is Michigan going to threaten those people, too?
I think we’ve lost all perspective in government. In an attempt to ward off any potential abuse in a system, we begin to penalize those who are simply doing the right thing. Being an American and a Texan, I have an independent streak a mile wide, the same independent streak that characterized my forefathers. I know what is right and intend to do it. I expect the government to deal with those who don’t. So it rankles when a government—any government in my United States—makes laws that penalize good citizens in order to possibly deter one or two offenders. (Because of course we know that those who circumvent the law usually find a way to do it, no matter how the law is worded.)
Ok, I’ve vented now. You can return to your regularly scheduled program.
I’ll admit I’m a bit biased. Mary DeMuth is not only one of my critique partners, but she is also a very good friend. For years, I’ve been able to see her books go from idea to first draft to published novel. And while her language has always been beautiful and surprising, what strikes me most in reading A Slow Burn is her growth as a storyteller.
A Slow Burn is the second book in the Defiance, Texas Trilogy. It follows Daisy Chain, in which a young girl goes missing. While Daisy Chain recounts fourteen-year-old Jed Pepper’s struggle to come to grips with Daisy’s disappearance, A Slow Burn delves into Daisy’s mother’s battle with guilt and grief. But lest you think this book is a downer, it is also filled with grace and redemption, sometimes from very surprising places.
As I said, re-reading this book (or rather, reading it in its final, finished form) illuminated Mary’s growth as a storyteller. Not only do her characters live and breath, but each character, each word, each description has meaning that is often revisited throughout the book. The story not only holds together, it forces you as a reader to keep turning the pages. And its final destination does not disappoint. No string is left hanging, no question unanswered—except those that will be revealed in the third and final book!
I’m not the best “book reviewer” in the world, so if you want to see what others are saying about A Slow Burn, check out these blogs.
We went to the State Fair of Texas today. It’s a yearly pilgrimage to fried food and farm animals, with the new car building reminding us we are well into the 21st century. This year, as my feet walked familiar paths, I remembered that our annual journey to this place is not something new.
The State Fair of Texas has been around since 1887, with its initial draw being horseracing. Aerial shows and automobiles became featured in the early 20th century. The Great War and the Spanish flu caused its cancellation in 1918. So as we walked past Big Tex and visited the numerous buildings and shows, I imagined others around us, those who over a hundred years ago enjoyed a similar family outing, a day (or in the case of some people, days) of escape from the normal routine. It feels good to walk paths long trod. It gives one a feeling of continuity. A remembrance that though things change, so many, many things remain the same.
I think there is often a misconception about the real work of a writer. Yes, it seems amazing to some people that writers come up with unusual storylines or characters or that they can write pages upon pages, thousands upon thousands of words, to spin the tale. But that isn’t the real work of a writer. That, my friends, is the fun part. The real work of the writer is in the re-writing.
I finished an 86, 000-word manuscript. I’ve had majorly positive feedback on it. But now it is time to get down to the gritty work of implementing changes to make the story and characters stronger. To make them gripping—and unforgettable. To tell the story in such a way that the reader remembers it long after she turns the final page.
To achieve this lofty goal requires the ability to detatch, to tear apart and build up again, to discard something “good” for the sake of something “better.” That will be my task over the next couple of months. It is make or break time. I can create character and weave a story, but can I do the hard work of a writer? Only time will tell.
I had a blast this year at the ACFW Conference. I connected and reconnected with some wonderful people, learned more about writing, worshiped with 500 other believers and witnessed the hand of the Lord in both my own life and in others’ lives. I came home with memories that will be cherished for a lifetime.
One fun thing was meeting some of my fellow "Inkies" from the new Inkwell Inspirations blog. Before this past weekend, I'd only met one of these ladies face to face, but after the weeks we've spent weeks planning our blog, I'd already come to think of them as friends.
I love writing conferences. There is something so wonderful about being surrounded by so many other people who “get” you. And when those other people also love the Lord, the experience becomes even more amazing!
Over the past 6 years that I’ve been attending conferences, I stand in awe at how much the Lord has done in me as a person and as a writer. I’ve learned and grown in the craft of fiction, but I’ve also learned and grown in my faith. This year, I’m not frightened at the thought of meeting new people or speaking to editors and agents about my work. Not that I don’t have any nervous flutterings over those things, but I’m not afraid. I’m even rooming with someone I’ve only met via email. That’s a huge step for me! So even if writing conferences are never my path to publication, they have been worthwhile endeavors. They have provided great opportunities for learning to trust the Lord and yearly markers through which to see the progress of growth.
I’m so thankful for yet another opportunity to go and to grow!
We walked into church and looked at our programs. The sermon topic: Do not worry.
“I guess that’s a good one for you before you go to your conference,” my husband said.
I shook my head. “I’m not worried. I’m good.”
And I believed that. Until the sermon. As the preacher spoke word upon word, the Holy Spirit sliced through my heart. I was worried. Maybe not about the things I’ve been worried about in past years, but worried all the same.
And a life lived in worry is a life not lived by faith. And whatever isn’t from faith is sin. So I discovered I had some repenting to do. I know whom I have believed. And I need to trust Him for all things.
So the sermon I thought I didn’t need was the one I needed after all. Isn’t God good?
Just a few months after I turned 40 I decided I had to start exercising and eating right. It was a “now or never” moment. So I plunged in.
Two years later, I’m still at it, more faithful than ever (although the eating thing takes a big hit whenever my daughter is around to cook). But here’s the thing: I still hate it. I hate not eating chocolate cake whenever I want it. I hate making myself exercise, whether at home or in the gym. I thought that, after awhile, I’d begin to enjoy exercise. Or at least that I wouldn’t hate it. (I never really thought I’d come to love the eating right thing. I’d live on desserts if I could!)
I’ll admit I that I’m probably in the best shape of my life (or at least getting there now that the girl is away at school!) and that I feel good. So why is it I still dread that exercise time of day?
We finally went to see Julie & Julia. I loved the Julia Child parts. I hated the Julie Powell parts. But let me explain.
At first, I had some sympathy for Julie. After all, I remember that feeling of life slipping away, of wanting to “do” something, to “be” somebody. But as her story progressed, all I could see was a woman becoming more and more enamored of herself, of her accomplishment. The most telling line came when her husband asked, “What are you going to do when you aren’t the center of the universe anymore?”
Contrast this with Julia Child, who enjoyed cooking for herself and her husband, her friends and her family. She wanted to be good at what she did. She wanted to fill her time with something worthwhile. She didn’t cook to become somebody. She knew who she was and was comfortable in that. She pursued her passion, and after years and years of work, her cookbook got published. But her cookbook and television success didn’t define her. It was simply an outgrowth of who she was. The cooking blog seemed the other way around for Julie—a desperate attempt for definition. At least in how it was portrayed in the movie. (I confess I have not read the book, so I don’t know if the movie was accurate.)
The most astounding thing? My 18-year-old daughter told me the same thing the day she saw it. I was amazed. At 18, I was definitely in the “trying to define myself” mode. In fact, I wandered that road for a very long time. After years of inner turmoil, I found my peace by pressing into Jesus. He gave me a deeper understanding of how much He loves me and of what He desires for my life. In Julie & Julia, the contrast between the settled and the seeking becomes so painfully apparent.
I have been so excited to read M.L.Tyndall’s newest book The Blue Enchantress, the second book in the Charles Towne Belles series. For those who enjoy an action-packed romance set in the 18th century on the high seas, you won’t be disappointed!
Poor Hope Westcott. We learned a bit about her in the first book. It was obvious she was a disaster waiting to happen. And because of her numerous shortcomings and insecurities, her redemption is so sweet. The truth of God’s power to redeem both our past and our present come shining through. But least you think that makes for a ho-hum read, the drama in this story is non-stop, complete with a hurricane, a deserted island, and pirates thrown in for good measure.
I will admit that Hope did not capture my heart as completely as her sister Faith in The Red Siren, but I think that is just my personal preference not any fault of the author. And in great “leave them hanging” fashion, Tyndall set the stage for sister Grace’s story. I can’t wait to see what happens to her!
One of my favorite features on my Mac is a thing called Spaces. For those of you who have never seen this nifty option, it basically divides the screen into four “spaces.” You can then place open documents, applications, whatever, into these spaces and switch between the spaces at will, the chosen “space” occupying your entire screen and eliminating the need to constantly switch what is on top.
I think the reason I love this option so much is that it mirrors the way I work in the physical realm. I have different “spaces” in my house in which I tend to do different things. For instance, my small leather recliner by the front window, surrounded by floor-to-ceiling bookshelves tends to be where I read when I don’t want to be disturbed. It is away from the family room, but not beyond its sight. Sometimes it is for quiet weekend mornings of reading the paper with my husband in his matching chair beside me.
My chair in the family room is for the details. My computer lives on the ottoman most of the time. I can sit and work while my family watches TV or does homework. I keep a file basket beside me to hold all the paperwork mom’s have to keep up with—school, music lessons, sports, etc.
In the study, I can write. And edit. And revise. Seriously. A lot of material in a short amount of time. When my computer and I land in the chair-and-a-half, we know it is time to work with words and story.
I’m excited to be part of a new group blog of award-winning, not-yet-published writers that goes live TODAY. We call our blog Inkwell Inspirations. I think it will be a fun, challenging, and informative place for readers and writers. We’d love to have you visit—and stay awhile, if you like!
Those who comment will be entered in daily prize drawings through September and October.
I’ll still post here, but a couple of times a month, I’ll post over there. And don’t worry. I’ll always let you know when.
Isaiah 11 tells of the coming of the Messiah. The beginning of this chapter was quite familiar to me—a stem of Jesse, the Spirit of the Lord will rest on Him—but a couple of verses down it describes Jesus this way:
And He will delight in the fear of the Lord, and He will not judge by what His eyes see, nor make decisions by what His ears hear. (Isaiah 11:3)
Oh, that I would be like Jesus in these ways!
Who would have thought that seven years ago when two wonderful ladies asked me to be in a weekly critique group with them (a group we named Life Sentence) that it would lead to this.
My dear friend Mary DeMuth, then an unpublished author, now a multi-published one, recently started an editing and mentoring service called The Writing Spa. And as of this month, Leslie Wilson and I are joining her team!
I can officially say that I am a freelance editor. Not a destination I ever imagined for myself, and yet one that seems to fit nicely, like a good pair of shoes. If you are a writer in need of some help, come check out The Writing Spa.
Jeff and I will use any excuse to tour a historical site. And to stay over night in one? Well, that’s even better!
Lately, I’ve been reading a lot about the history of southern Louisiana. In the space of a few hours, we got to glimpse the clash of cultures in that region firsthand. In the morning, we toured a Creole plantation house. It was built by a French family. That afternoon, we toured a plantation house built by an English-speaking family originally from North Carolina. A fascinating contrast!
Besides the obvious—French-speaking vs. English-speaking, Catholic vs. protestant—there were some other interesting differences. For instance, Creole houses were painted in bright colors. They had no hallways—one room flowed directly into another. The center doors were not used, though they often stood open. The planters conducted business from their bedrooms, only later using a small dressing room off the bedroom as a designated office space (because their more Americanized counterparts were not comfortable conducting business in a bedroom).
On the other hand, most homes of English-speaking people were painted white. The particular house we visited (and stayed in overnight!) was classic Greek revival with white columns, a large center door opening into a central hall and staircase. Very Gone With the Wind-ish. While in both houses the dining room comprised the largest of the rooms, this house sported two parlors and a library besides the various bedrooms.
Each family viewed their dwelling as differently as they built them. The English-speaking family lived in their house. It was home. For many French-speakers, the plantation house was business, a place to live during planting and harvesting seasons. Many considered “home” to be a house in New Orleans. Not true for all, but more common than for their more American counterparts.
The history represented in both houses is the kind of history I love. To me, the “big” historical events pale in comparison to how daily life was lived out. I love family histories and pictures and memoirs. I loved staying in that historical home and imaging what it would have been like to live there in 1850, 1880, 1910, 1950. We had a lovely adventure into the past at both plantations. I’m glad we got to visit them in the same day.
The season is beginning its change around our house. No, the leaves aren’t putting on their autumn colors or fluttering to the ground. And yet just as sure as new blades of grass signal the advent of spring, we are on the cusp of transformation.
Our oldest is leaving for college. Her departure is the first cold front that promises winter, the first 100-degree May day that warns of summer’s heat. In four short years we will have an empty nest. While we will enjoy the last years of our children in our house on a daily basis, we also plan to prepare for what lies ahead for just the two of us.
The season is changing. And I find that instead of wanting to hold on to the season that has passed, I’m embracing the one to come.
I’ve hit that point in my summer where I am ready for school to begin. I’m tired of no set schedule. I’m ready for things to settle into a routine. It’s not really that I want my kids to go away (which is usually the case), but more that I need some real structure to my life again.
Ten more days. I just have to hold on for ten more days.
We went over Psalm 23 a few weeks ago in Sunday school. I’ve been thinking quite a lot about it since then. What struck me, on this reading, was the first verse: The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.
I’ve always read that verse in context of today’s definition of “want”: desire, crave. Reading with that definition, the onus for the act of not wanting is on my shoulders. But that is not what God meant at all. The Hebrew word for “want” in this verse is the older definition: to lack. “I shall not lack” puts the responsibility squarely on the shoulders of the Shepherd.
I’ve been thinking about that difference in terms of specifics. Look at it in these two sentences:
I shall not crave peace.
I shall not lack peace.
Wow. “I shall not want” does require something of me. It requires me to stop striving. To rest. To trust. To keep my eyes off the things around me—both the good and the bad—and keep them on Jesus, my Shepherd, my Provider. And yet it goes beyond “me,” too. This same statement is made to every believer, so I don’t have to worry that my brother or sister in Christ won’t have everything they need, when they need it. They won’t lack, if Christ is their Shepherd, just as I won’t lack.
I think there is great freedom in realizing “I will not lack” versus “I will not desire.” Our flesh still desires so many things. But the way to combat that flaw of sinful man is by knowing, believing, clinging to the fact that “I will not lack” something vital and necessary to my life because the Lord is my Shepherd.
I’m sure I’ve heard a pastor say all this at some point in my life, but sometimes it takes me a while to get it. And I’m still not sure I get it completely. But isn’t that the best part? I will not lack for understanding—even when it comes a little at a time over the course of many, many years.
Last summer I went on an organizational frenzy. I cleaned out all the closets, cabinets, and panty—even my side of the garage! I found a calendar and filing system that worked for me. I had a place for everything and everything in its place. Why? Because something stirred strong inside of me, pushing me to get it done, telling me I’d be sorry during the school year if I didn’t. Yes, it was the Holy Spirit.
I confess, at the time I thought it might be because something would happen with my book. Halfway through the school year I realized it had nothing to do with that at all. It was simply God’s grace to prepare me for an extremely busy year that was partly of my own making (by not saying no to a few things) and partly the nature of having a senior as well as other kids still in school.
This summer, I haven’t had any fits of cleaning out, but in spite of the fact that clutter and disorganization usually make me crazy, I haven’t been bothered by it. Not yet, anyway. Again, I see God’s grace for the moment. I have been able to focus on writing my book and being with my family and God’s grace has tamped down my normal stress over everything else.
I’m learning that the Lord provides grace in each day. And grace that prepares for what we don’t know that lies ahead. It’s just a matter of learning to recognize it for what it is.
Yes, I’ve been away for a while. Not away from home. Hunkered down at home, actually, finishing my latest manuscript. It’s off for a last look by my critique partner and after I fix what she finds, it will wing its way into the world.
I’ll have more to say about what I’ve learned through that process later on. For now, I just wanted to say that I should be blogging again more regularly now.
Thanks for sticking around!
We spent a couple of days in east Texas with some of our good friends. One morning, Jeff and I ventured into a larger town and wandered through a few antique stores. We love antiques, though we buy very few. Our weakness, however, is books. (Of course!)
We found three books we were willing to shell out $2-$3 each to own. One was a copy of a book I read as a child. It’s kind of an obscure book. I’ve never heard anyone mention it, never found it hanging around in a current library collection. But when I saw it in a dusty back corner amidst a tumble of children’s books, I grabbed it up.
I don’t know if, on a re-reading, it will hold any literary merit at all, but I remember it being a book I truly enjoyed, one that continued to fuel my love of reading—and book-buying, for it was one that lived in my bookshelf for years! I wondered if the author would find a satisfaction in that. She didn’t write a bestseller, but her story meant something to someone. And isn’t that the point?
Actually, I still have titles on my shelves that few people have ever heard of, authors that are not even close to household names. I keep them for the same reason that I bought this one: because the reading of them is a good memory. And somehow I feel I owe it to the ones who penned those stories to make sure they don’t disappear forever.
What is it about a college campus that draws me? For the past two days I’ve been on a local university campus while my sister attended yearbook workshops with her students. She needed an extra driver and thought the time away without responsibilities would afford me time to write. And it did. I got tons accomplished! But just walking across campus and into the student center sent waves of longing through me.
My reaction didn’t surprise me, though. It happens to my husband and I every time we return to our university for a football game or other event. I think it’s a combination of good memories, a beautiful place, the opportunity for intellectual stimulation, and a lifestyle that thrives on relationships. But our infatuation with the college life is more than the campus, more than the classes, more than the lifestyle. It’s all three in combination with each other, none able to be separated out.
Maybe that’s why the thought of sending my oldest to college this year hasn’t seemed as hard for me as for other mothers I know. I’m so excited for her—to get to experience and learn and make lifelong friends. She’s too much like both Jeff and I not to thrive in that environment.
I’d go back to college myself in a heartbeat. And in any capacity—student or staff. Maybe wife of a professor. Hm, that might be the best of all worlds!
In our fast-paced, run-faster world, we sometimes forget to remember that the story of the tortoise and the hare represents a true truth. I’m re-learning that this summer. Instead of having big chunks of time in which to write a book that must be finished in the next month, I’ve had all the normal errands as well as summer stuff as well as kids in and out of the house—sometimes on an hour-by-hour basis. But through it all, I’m writing a little here, editing a little there. Every time I think there is no way I can finish this project on time, I realize that slow and steady is at least keeping pace. I find I’ve done more than I imagined. I discover that perhaps my deadline set by faith can be met, both by the grace of God and my diligent efforts to run the race step by step instead of in frantic bursts.
I think the diligence and self-discipline are the real lessons here. And I know these truths apply to so much more than my writing. They apply to exercising, eating right, Bible study, relationships, money—everything! But I don’t act as if they do. Instead, I hurry, hurry, hurry, doing a slap-dab job at one thing, ready to move on before I should. I forget that the end result of slow-and-steady is the one I am really trying to achieve. I want to cross the finish line not just for the sake of “winning,” but also to hear “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
I went to look up just one little piece of information for my historical novel. I knew I needed it straight from the source my character would have had access to: the newspaper. Two hours and about twenty printed pages later, I emerged.
You see, I’m a sucker for old newspapers. They say so much! The language is, of course, important—what words are used and how. I love one ad I found: Estrayed—one fawn-colored jersey cow. Estrayed! What a great word! The articles are important for what is told and the conclusions that are reached on national and international events and questions, especially from the vantage point of looking back and having more information. The ads are wonderful sources of detail to add texture to a historical story and also good research into what kinds of things were available to the general public at a given time.
Page after page after page of fascinating stuff. And very little of it would have seemed so to the people who read it in “real time.” For me, these pages of the past help round out the picture of life for people that lived through the events we read of in our history books. And for me, the lives of ordinary people are the best part of history.
Trust has been a huge topic between the Lord and I lately. Seems like every teaching I hear, every scripture I read and every conversation I have comes back around to trusting God. Really trusting, not just saying I trust Him.
I have come to that place of trust in some areas of my life. Not so much in others. Just this past week I’ve been sliding into a funk over not having an agent. It seems like everywhere I turn I hear other writers talking about their agents. Writers that are on about the same level I am. And I’ve started feeling left out. I’ve been wondering what I’ve done wrong. Have I not been as persistent as I should? As personable? Is my writing still not up to par?
Now I do know that I am happy none of the projects that I’ve pitched to and had rejected by agents have come to fruition, because I don’t think I would have been happy with those projects and possibly those agents in the long run. I keep telling myself that somewhere out there is someone who “gets” me, someone who, on a professional and a personal level, will champion my work. But right now it feels like finding that person will never happen.
And then it all comes back to trust. Do I trust the Lord to do with my writing what He will—even if that never includes publication? Do I trust the Lord to give me the exact right agent for the exact right project at the exact right time? Do I trust that the Lord can make what He wants happen, with or without an agent in the picture?
I’m grappling with all of that as I finish this manuscript, one that I feel good about, one that has already garnered some attention. And still I struggle. Do I trust God—ultimately and always? The answer is yes, but sometimes getting my head to believe my heart takes a little while.
I love so many of the word pictures in the Bible. They often explain God’s heart so much more fully than mere words would do. Lately I’ve been considering the contrasting pictures in the first Psalm. Those that “delight in the law of the Lord” are described as a tree rooted by a stream. The “wicked” are compared to the chaff that the wind blows away.
Think about that. Can there be two more extreme images? A tree—a flourishing tree, nonetheless—that soaks up water from the nearby stream through its deep roots. It is living. Steady. Immovable. Lasting. It is also beautiful. And functional, providing shade as well as producing fruit in its season.
The chaff, on the other hand, is almost weightless, able to be blown away by the wind. It is the extra but unnecessary part of the crop. The dead and useless part. The waste.
I’ve considered both of these images in the past, but never in their direct contrast with each other, as they are presented in Psalm 1. It really makes you want to be the tree, doesn’t it?
My name appeared in World Magazine this week. They’d asked for submissions of favorite “last lines” of books. I got so excited, because I do have some favorite last lines. But alas, there was a 50-word limit, and my favorite ending required contained a few words more to complete the sentences. So I submitted my second favorite ending, from Gone With the Wind. Four others also submitted this one. Our names appear beneath our entry.
But I still contend that if I’d been able to submit from my first choice, it would have been in the running to win. So since I have the forum to do it, I thought I’d share it here. Below are my favorite “last lines” of a novel. In fact, I’ve often wanted them framed so I could read them as I pass by. They are beautiful not only for their sentiment, but for their poetry.
From The Train to Estelline by Jane Roberts Wood:
I sat on the steps and watched Christobel, who loves Mr. Sully, Berl who has nobody, and Mr. Dawson, who had wanted a boy, watched them dancing, and I said to myself, “Lucy, you could sit here on these steps forever, waiting for things to be right.”
And I got up and walked out to where the dancing was.
I hope instead of spoiling the book, these lines intrigue you enough to read it!
A good movie does what a good book does: it shows, it doesn’t tell. However, sometimes books and movies have lazy writers who tell instead of show. The people who create the Pixar movies very seldom fall into that category.
We saw Up last night. Wonderful movie. But from the “short” before the main feature through the end of the film, I was also fascinated by the mastery of the writers in showing, not telling.
Have you ever considered the Pixar short films? They are completely wordless, yet you don’t just know what is happening in them, you know who it is happening to. The sense of character is extraordinary, even with no words spoken.
I found this to be particularly true of the beginning sequence of Up as well. We see, we experience, Ellie and Carl’s years together in a way that impacts us emotionally. (Ok, I cried.) Having Carl say, “Ellie and I had a good, long marriage. I miss her,” wouldn’t have had the same effect. Likewise, throughout the movie, even the dialogue revealed character with a subtleness of getting to know a new friend.
I highly recommend this movie for writers. But I also highly recommend this movie for everyone else, too. It will make you laugh and cry and inspire you to go back to your life and live it.
I had a great day yesterday. A productive one. Laundry done. Nine pages edited and sent to my critique group. 4175 new words written. I worked out, had some time in God’s word, and even managed to watch a movie in bits and pieces as I folded clothes. But those things, which normally would have defined my great day, weren’t the reason for it.
The best part of yesterday was receiving a call from a friend that morning to pray for her and finding out that afternoon that the Lord had intervened in a miraculous way. Even if I hadn’t marked one thing off my to-do list yesterday, it still would have been a great day just because of that! I love it when the Lord so clearly shows Himself!
I’m not a very good party giver. I prefer to play hostess to more impromptu and casual affairs. On those occasions, it doesn’t bother me that my house is less than stellar, nor do I care that the food is not five-star quality. I just enjoy the fellowship and don’t worry about the rest. But a planned event is a whole different thing in my mind. I get majorly stressed—over the house, the food, the people attending. I want it all to be right. And I want everyone to have fun.
I gave a graduation party two weeks ago and a bridal shower yesterday. As usual, I didn’t feel like either went the way I wanted them to. But as I considered it later, I wondered if my stress colors my perception of the outcome. Perhaps both parties were nice and fun. Perhaps people enjoyed being there. Perhaps everything really did go according to plan but the details that required my attention from beginning to end skewed my view of each party as a whole.
Thinking these things still doesn’t make me want to give a party again anytime soon. In fact, it makes me grateful there isn’t anything like that on my calendar in the near future!
The sheer size and density of each Dickens’ novel intimidates me. I think I’ve said that here before. And yet when I finally take a deep breath and crack open the cover, I revel in the world he creates, marveling at his genius as a writer.
I just finished Little Dorrit. I picked it up after watching the new Masterpiece Classic version on PBS. And what a delightful read! As usual, Dickens ability to create character is almost unparalleled. This one, in particular, used some great devices to show character, whether through speech or mannerisms or thought processes.
For instance, throughout the entire book Mr. Pancks is described in terms of a steamboat. It is amazing how Dickens makes the reader see Pancks by this extended metaphor.
Flora, a woman stuck in the past, runs her mouth continually in stream-of-consciousness dialogue (or rather monologue, since other characters can barely get a word in!) Dickens SHOWS this trait by writing her dialogue with almost no punctuation. Lines after line of it, subject constantly changing, with only the occasional (very occasional) comma and period.
The Marshalsea Prison becomes a character and is even described as one would a person, both in looks and thoughts. It becomes a living, breathing part of that world, not just a “setting.”
Of course, being Dickens, these characters are only a few in a cast of many. I could go on and on concerning the “dream sequences” of Afferty, the unique physical appearances of Flintwinch and Mrs. Clennam and Blandois and “the Bosom.” Add in the irony of the Circumlocution Office and Society and this romping satire of politics and society make this Dickens novel another jewel for both the reader and the writer. But I think my favorites might be the cast of truly “good” characters. Amy Dorrit. Arthur Clennam. John Chivery and his father. These are characters you root for, and ones who do not disappoint in the end.
Have I mentioned how much I hate to work outside? Don’t get me wrong, I love a beautiful yard as much as the next person, I just hate the hot and the dirt and the bugs! But my in-laws love it. When they come to visit, they take on the projects I don’t have the time or inclination to do. Like cleaning out the flower beds and trimming the bushes and re-cementing the mailbox (we had it propped up with bricks!) and staining the deck.
I wish I had some before and after pictures, but since I don’t, here are the after pictures. It’s all beautiful! And just in time for me to give a bridal shower next weekend. Thanks, Bernie and Jane!
I’m at the beginning of an unusual summer for me. Generally, after a school year of routine, I’m ready for a few (and I do mean few!) weeks of unstructured time. However, this school year never felt like it fell into a predictable rhythm for me. Between my volunteer responsibilities and my kids, something urgent seemed to crop up almost daily. Thus, I find myself on the precipice of summer searching for that which, at this point in the year, I usually despise: routine.
This summer, my goal is to find a daily routine that encompasses ALL of my priorities—time with the Lord, physical exercise, writing, and family—as well as a weekly routine that allows me to maintain my home, my relationships, and my sanity. Sound impossible? Probably. But if I can even gain a good foothold this summer, the transition to the school year shouldn’t be overwhelming with just 2 high school boys, both on the same schedules of sports and things.
Of course this is all easier said than done. And I know that even finding a good routine doesn’t guarantee that it will happen every day. After all, life happens. But my routine will never happen if I don’t try!
We’ve been planning all year for a graduation this week. But we didn’t expect two graduations. Earlier this week our Aunt Debby graduated from the Now into Eternity. As Elizabeth crosses the stage and receives her high school diploma, a prelude to the next step in her life, Aunt Debby will be laid to rest 2000 miles away.
We will miss being there with the family. And they will miss being with us. We will miss Aunt Debby when we visit next—miss her laughter and her conversation. In fact, it won’t really seem real that she is gone until we miss her then.
So we will rejoice and grieve at the same time tomorrow. But isn’t that in itself simply a picture of our life on this earth? We take the good with the bad, the happy with the sad. We smile and we cry. Our hearts swell with pride and break with hurt, all at the same time. Yet our God is in every moment. And life goes on.