Two Cool Resources

Little did I know when I waxed eloquent on my wonderful little book of telling me how things were done or used in the past that that book was only the tip of the iceberg to come my way! 

In a move that I can only describe at Providential, two books came into my possession in the past few days that not only contain great information, but they apply specifically to the time period I am currently writing a novel about! How cool is that?! 

First, I discovered on my best friend’s bookshelf a reproduction of the 1908 Sears Roebuck Catalog. What an incredible resource! Descriptions—and pictures!—of everything from furniture to clothing to farm tools to transportation needs. Wow! 

As if that wasn’t exciting enough, last night my daughter received an early graduation gift from my mother’s cousin. It is a 1905 copy of The White House Cookbook. This huge volume has not only recipes from the time, but butchering information, home remedies, household tips, entertaining and etiquette advice and so much more! 

For a novel that revolves around a home in 1918, these two sources will add so much texture to the story. And that fact that they both just dropped in my lap makes me think I’m on the right track, too!


Hurry, Spring!

Usually, at this time of year, I’m hanging on for dear life to the last blustery days of winter. I’ve always like winter. But as I get older, I find that changing. I’m so ready for spring. I’m ready for my feet and hands not to be cold. I’m tired of carting around coats. Fortunately, in Texas, we have already had a few days to wet our appetites for spring, but then winter comes roaring back in. I’m tired of it. I’m ready to be warm. But don’t get me wrong—I’m not ready for summer!


The Excitement of Information

My family has learned to indulge my excitement over the strangest things. Like the book I found at Barnes and Noble this week. It’s called Back in the Day: 101 Things Everyone Used to Know How to Do. In one or two pages dedicated to each “thing,” the author tells you step-by-step how to do it. It is simple, straightforward. A great way for a writer to understand how someone would go about doing a task that is completely unfamiliar to those who live in the “modern” world. At the very least, it’s a jumping off place to know the questions to ask. At its best, this book provides the actions needed for a character in historical fiction to do what was common knowledge in their era. 

What kinds of things are these, you ask? Things like shearing a sheep, defending a castle, treating a battle wound, making a barrel, forging a sword, baking bread, addressing royalty. You get the idea. I was giddy with excitement over all the information! 

My husband and kids laughed and gave me that look that said, “Yes, you are weird, but we love you anyway.” 


Changing My Thinking

I often think of my words in terms of novels, blog posts, short stories, and articles. When I do this, I forget that sometimes—perhaps most times—my words are meant for a more personal mission. 

At this moment, several people in my life are going through some very hard times. Financial issues. Health issues. Marriage and family issues. I often pray for these things. I consider it such a privilege to lift my friends and family before the Throne of Grace. But I confess that I do not often enough use my words to send an encouraging note, whether handwritten or via email. I forget that the skill of communication I’ve been given is to be used in private as well as public arenas. 

I’m not sure why this is the case. Each week after our Moms in Touch prayer time, we always write a short note to the teachers and staff who have been prayed for that week, letting them know what we prayed for them and encouraging them as they do their jobs within our school. Why don’t I think to do this after my personal prayer time? 

Perhaps it’s a matter of changing my thinking, of making it a habit. Perhaps it is a matter of listening more closely to the nudgings of the Holy Spirit. Whatever it is, I intend to remedy the situation. After all, now that this has come to my attention, I know what is the right thing to do. To not do it would be sin. 


Playing Catch Up

Yes, I’ve been silent for a whole week now. I thought this would be the week that my life finally returned to “normal,” whatever that is. I thought I’d be able to fall into the routine I’ve been planning for this school year since August. But, alas, it didn’t happen. Or maybe it did. 

Mainly, I’ve been playing catch up as well as tying up a few loose ends from last week’s volunteer stuff. And I didn’t realize quite how big of a hole I’d dug for myself! So blogging fell to the bottom of the priority list. 

I’m feeling better now, though, especially with the thought of Monday’s holiday to help me get back on track. Of course baseball is about to start, and even though only two of my three are playing, it is two different teams with two different schedules. Plus it is the beginning of spring—the beginning of birthday season around here as well as all the spring events as we wind down school. So maybe “normal” won’t happen this year. And next year, with one less child at home, I’ll have a “new normal.” 

One thing is for sure: my life is never boring!


The Importance of Time

I watched a Food Network Challenge with my kids last night. It was a cake challenge, eight hours for a pastry chef and assistant to design and create an elaborate cake for a specific occasion or theme. Four teams. Four cakes. The winner gets $10,000. 

But in this challenge, the unforeseen happened. With one hour left on the competition clock, a chef passed out. The clock was stopped. The ambulance was called. The chef regained consciousness, but left on the gurney to get checked out at the ER. 

This chef’s assistant, however, was now on her own with the daunting task of putting on the finishing touches. The chef from another team spoke up. His cake was almost finished. He could help finish the cake for the chef that was ill. The competition resumed. The helping chef’s assistant finished their cake, then he, too, came to help complete the ill chef’s cake. 

When the time came for each chef to stand before the judges, here is what one of them said to the chef who left his own work to help another: “I applaud your time management. Because did your own work so well, you were available to help someone in need.” 

Her statement hit me square between the eyes. I’d had a discussion with a friend that very afternoon about time and what it should be used for. When I stand before the One who judges my work, will he applaud my time management? At this moment, the answer would be no, because the point is not “am I getting everything done,” the point is “am I meeting my responsibilities with excellence and thoroughness in a timely manner so that when a true need arises I can be available to help.” 

Notice that this chef would not have been expected to pick up the slack for another chef who simply chose to over-embellish their project and ran short on time. In fact, that happens all the time in these competitions. No, the other chef stepped in when the unexpected happened. And he was able to do so without sacrificing his own responsibilities and without stress because he had planned his project carefully and used his time wisely. 

That’s where I am today—needing to get things back in perspective, needing to do the things I have been called to do so that I have time and energy available when a true need arises. I want to be a good and faithful servant of the Lord, not one weighed in the balance and found wanting.


Intricate and Elaborate

BACKGROUND NOTE: Some of you have asked if I’m reading through the Bible in a year. The answer: yes and no. Several years ago, I decided the read the Bible straight through, from Genesis to Revelation. It was an amazing experience. By reading it as I would any book—from cover to cover, in order—I was able to clearly see threads of thought, images, words, and know how they strung together from Old Testament to New. I’ve read through several times now, never with a specific timeframe in mind. It has taken me anywhere from 4 months to 2 years. And because the Word is “living and active” (Hebrews 4:12) I recognize different truths and images and words on every reading. So, with all that said, here are my thoughts for today . . .


As I have been considering my reading in the early books of the Old Testament—you know, the “boring” ones—a new thought struck me. God spends a lot of time telling Moses (and us) His plans for the outfitting and care of the Tabernacle, His dwelling place with Israel. His plans were both intricate and elaborate. 

Because of Christ, the dwelling place of God is no longer a tent or temple. According to Paul in I Corinthians 6:19 our bodies are now the temple of the Holy Spirit, of God’s Spirit. We are His dwelling place. So what do these two things mean? Here are some things that occurred to me:


  • Intricate --  Each piece of the tabernacle had a intricate design, everything from the priestly garments to the structure of the tent to the pieces of worship within. The designs were so intricate that they required master artisans to do the work. If we are God’s dwelling place, why do we imagine that God’s attention to the intricacy of detail has changed? Why do we see our lives as a series of unrelated events or think God is only concerned with the monumental pivots in our lives? He is the Master Artisan. He has created His dwelling place both for beauty and for glory. We are that place. And the intricate design He is hammering away in us to create may not always look beautiful until we see the finished product. But in His hands, it can be nothing less than glorious.
  • Elaborate --  God could have just set up a small tent, maybe with the Ark of the Covenant, and have been done with His dwelling place. Instead, it was an elaborate work, layers of fabrics and precious metals and stones. It was large, as a place. It was elaborately staffed and moved. While we are each created with an intricate design, we are corporately the elaborate expression of God’s dwelling place. We are layered together as believers, each with different functions, different placement, different duties, to become His body, the place where His Spirit dwells. No one thing is unimportant, though some do their work in concealment, as the wooden frame of the tabernacle was covered over with gold. The picture and function of God’s dwelling place was, and is, elaborately designed. 

As my life takes its ups and downs, as seasons of life and work ebb and flow, I’m trying to remember that God is working both an intricate and an elaborate plan in and through me because I am His dwelling place, the representation of His glory. And seeing all He did to make the tabernacle a place that reflected Himself, how can I believe He does any less for me, who He has already created in His image? You and I are His tabernacle. He is busy implementing His design. And He does all things well.