12/24/2010

Merry Christmas!


O Come Let Us Adore Him!

For unto you is born this day in the city of David, a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 
--Luke 2:11 

12/20/2010

The Attitude of Christmas


I’ve been banging my head against a brick wall, waiting for a breakthrough. Not literally, of course. But every minute of work on my current novel has felt this way. I wanted to get it done. Fast. Early. I wanted it to be at least good—though fabulous would have been better. In the meantime, I’ve been reading through Psalms and contemplating Christmas. And then it all came together.

Not my story, though that would have been nice. No, what came clearly into focus was that my focus had shifted. It had moved from being grateful to the Lord for letting me do what I love to do—write fiction that illustrates His truths—into a desire to be noticed, to be lauded, both for the story and for how quickly I turned it out. Not an attitude that fares well when put up against Mary’s song of praise at being told of her coming pregnancy or the angels lauding the birth of the Savior of men or shepherds leaving their flocks to come worship or kings who gave of their time and their wealth to bless the King of Kings. And when combined with the spotlight of David’s praise of his God even in the midst of dire circumstances, the darkness in my heart became evident. 

I guess I’m discovering yet again that this writing journey is about so much more than accomplishing the writing. It’s about recognizing my characters flaws, my weaknesses, and falling on His grace and strength. It’s about growing my faith and conquering my pride. But even with all of that, it really isn’t about me at all. It’s about God using His work in me to declare His own glory and power and strength. My purpose is simply to praise Him through my life and my words, even if the crafting of both of those things takes longer than I wish it would. And isn’t that the attitude of Christmas—our response of praise to God’s display of Himself all around us?

May your Christmas season be filled with the joy that comes from praising our God.


12/19/2010

A Sunday Psalm

The Lord has made His salvation known and revealed His righteousness to the nations.
He has remembered His love and His faithfulness to the house of Israel;
all the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God.
Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth, burst into jubilant song with music;
make music to the Lord with the harp, with the harp and the sound of singing,
with trumpets and the blast of the ram's horn--
shout for joy before the Lord, the King.
          --Psalm 98:2-6

12/17/2010

Do You Hear Me?


Tuesday night, I writhed in anguish over one of my senior son’s quarterly grades. I’m not one to push at a teacher, especially when it’s a matter of an A versus a B—or even a C. But this was a matter of going into the final thinking he had a 93 average, then seeing a failing grade as his final average due to an overweighted zero on a review sheet it wasn’t clear was to be turned in before the final. (He wasn’t the only one, so I know it wasn’t made clear. After all, the rest in the class are girls!)

It was night when we discovered it. Nothing to do but wait until morning to check it out. And I would send my child in first, as is my modus operandi. (I want them to be ready to face their college professors with their questions, not always rely on their parents as their advocates.) But still, I worried. After all, this is my hard-working son. An average student but not a slacker student. My mama bear hackles rose and I wanted things made right. So in the quiet of the night, I tossed and turned—and I cried out to God. Please, I prayed. Please fix this. Don’t let all his hard work be for nothing. It isn’t right. Finally, I fell asleep.

When I woke the next morning, my stomach already churning over my son’s meeting with his teacher, I opened my Bible to the bookmarked place where I’ve been reading. Psalms. Psalm 61, to be exact. And here are the first words that met my eyes:

Hear my cry, O God; listen to my prayer.
From the ends of the earth I call to you, I call as my heart grows faint;
Lead me to the Rock that is higher than I.

In those words I knew God had heard me. I was still nervous, but more peaceful. We would deal with whatever happened, good or bad, for I knew that my Lord heard me and was working in our behalf, no matter the circumstantial outcome. Maybe there were lessons even in unfairness that my son or I or both of us needed to learn. But I prayed if it came out wrong, it wouldn’t have long-reaching consequences. Not after all of his labor.

My son, ironically, wasn’t worried at all. When he came home almost an hour later, he said it was all good. When I checked his grade online at lunchtime, it reflected the work he had done—he had not only passed the class, he had a fair grade as compensation.

One day I hope my faith will override my tendency to worry. But until then, the Lord graciously continues to remind me that He hears—and that He loves and cares for my children even more than I do. And for today, that’s enough.

12/15/2010

That Moment


This moment arrives every December—sometimes early, sometimes later. It’s the moment when I know that I know that I must finish my Christmas shopping. This year it came yesterday. I scrapped the to do list and shopped with a frenzy. I’d done a bit here and there, but this was the final push. And it’s done. Now I can relax. Or rather, work. This year relaxing takes a backseat to writing, at least until my children all show up at home again early next week.

So when do you finish shopping? Do you set yourself a deadline? Do you wing it? Do you finish with time to enjoy the anticipation of Christmas or do you scramble until the last available minute?

12/13/2010

Christmas Rectial

We went to my son’s Christmas recital on Saturday. I know some find such events tedious, but I’ve always enjoyed them—even more so now because the time is short.
My son began his lessons with this teacher in 2nd grade. Before that, my dear friend taught him sporadically at home. In fact, she was the one who encouraged me to find him a teacher to keep him going. So we did.

When he was younger, I loved the recitals because I got to see where we were headed. This teacher always had several older boy students, so it was good for my son to have role models and aspirations to keep going. In those middle years, it was seeing where he’d come from as we watched the youngest performers and where this road would lead with the older ones.

Now, at 16, he’s one of the older ones. And while the more classical pieces he plays in his lesson domain are not his most favorite—he prefers the two praise bands, school and church, that he plays with—I’m so proud of him for sticking with it. I love the discipline it brings to his playing and the things he continues to learn that help him be a creative asset to those worship teams.

Two more years of Christmas recitals and it will be over. I want to hold on and enjoy every minute until then. 


12/12/2010

A Sunday Psalm

May my cry come before you, O Lord;
give me understanding according to Your word.
May my supplication come before You;
deliver me according to Your promise.
May my lips overflow with praise,
for You teach me Your decrees.
May my tongue sing of Your word,
for all  Your commands are righteous.
           ---Psalm 119:169-172

12/09/2010

What's Waiting Up Ahead?


“It would be so much easier if I knew now that I’d be published later,” said my writer friend and first-time mom-to-be.

As our conversation continued past writing on to parenting, I came back to this thought. “If I’d have known in those early, horrible years that I’d have an awesome almost twenty-year-old, it would have been so much easier.”

And yet in neither case are we allowed to know the end at the beginning. Why? Because the Lord calls us to a life of faith, of trusting in Him for the future—of our work and our children—while we simply obey day by day. We run the race with the finish line veiled in secrecy. And really, would we want it any other way? If we knew difficult things were coming, we’d shrink back from facing them. If we knew good things were coming, we wouldn’t have to push through and learn the hard lessons of suffering and dependence on God in the moment.

And so we put one foot in front of the other, every moment of every day, trusting in the goodness of God and persevering in our pursuit of godliness. And when we cross that finish line, our circumstances won’t matter. It will be our character, forged during the race of life, which wins the prize.

12/07/2010

Racing Cars?


A friend asked me recently about the new novel in progress.

“What’s it about?” she said.

I always feel a little funny answering that question, but I did. “About a girl who ends up driving a race car. In 1916.”

Now you must know: I’m not a car girl and I’m not an adventurous risk-taker (although my drivers ed teacher did nickname me “Lead Foot.”) So this story has been a stretch for me. A fun one, but a stretch all the same.

And yet not long after that conversation I was prompted into thinking through some of my favorite cartoons from childhood and I discovered something interesting: two of my favorites involved race cars! Yes, Speed Racer and Penelope Pitstop.

It’s interesting what they have in common, both with each other and with my story. Race cars. Money. Romance. A bit of mystery. Maybe this book isn’t such a far-fetched tale after all. Maybe it’s my inner child remembering the thrill of something long forgotten.

12/06/2010

Happy Birthday to My Husband!


I met him when he was 19 years old, a confident college junior with plans to attend law school and practice constitutional law. A dreamer wanting to change the world.

Today he turns 45, has been practicing law for twenty years, and after nineteen years of pro bono constitutional work, his favorite branch of the law is now his full-time job. And he still wants to change the world.

His hair is graying a bit—and thinning—though he won’t admit to either. He’s battled eye issues for a year and isn’t as fit as he knows he should be. But he’s a more sensitive and compassionate man than that brash 19-year-old. He loves the Lord and his family more deeply than ever. And he serves others with joy and without complaint.

Happy birthday to my sweet husband. I look forward to many, many more years of loving you.

12/05/2010

A Sunday Psalm

This kind of sums up the Christmas season:

Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord,
let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.
Let us come before Him with thanksgiving
and extol Him with music and song.
For the Lord is the great God,
the great King above all gods.
         --Psalm 95:1-3

12/01/2010

Working Together--Separately


My husband is working from home today. Now I know some women who enjoy that kind of thing. I’m not necessarily one of them.

As much as I love my husband and enjoy being with him, I do not like it when we are both trying to work from the house. Why is that? Maybe it’s simply the jolt to my usual routine—and boy do I thrive on routine! Maybe it’s that a writer’s work often looks like no work at all. I spend time thinking, often while I’m puttering around the house doing things that don’t really matter. Maybe it’s the possibility of being interrupted once the words start to flow—or when I’m struggling to put one word after another on the screen.

Whatever it is, we have certainly not mastered the art of working together separately. Or rather, I haven’t. He seems to do just fine.

11/29/2010

Black Friday


We’ve never been Black Friday shoppers. Well, my husband did convince me to go one year—for a $20 DVD player. He woke me up, drove us to the store, saw the crowd in the store, and stayed outside while I waited in line to pay. Then we went home. Haven’t attempted it since.

But this year my kids decided they needed to experience Black Friday in its truest form. “More power to you,” we said as we went to bed. They went to Walmart.

They arrived at 11:30 in search of the $3 appliances for daughter’s upcoming move to a campus apartment. Not one in sight. What they did see were women stacking their carts with movies (heedless of titles), crockpots, and anything else they could find on sale. Apparently right before they arrived there was even a brawl over Wii games that resulted in police and ambulance presence.

So after bombing out at Walmart, you’d think they’d have learned their lesson and come home to their warm beds. (Did I mention it was in the 30s that night?) But no. Instead, they came home for blankets and chairs and got in line at the sporting goods store. After all, the first 85 people would receive a gift card valued anywhere from $10-$500. As you can imagine, visions of sporting goods danced in their heads. Five hours later they finally arrived home and dropped into bed, having spent their $10 gift cards. (The $500 one went to the person four behind them.)

My daughter loved the rush of it all. My older son (who is very much like his father) hated it but laughed and refused to admit that (after all, he got free headphones out of the deal). But my younger son didn’t mince words. When we asked if it was worth it—the cold and the waiting and the up-all-night—he promptly answered “I’m not doing that again.”

11/28/2010

A Sunday Psalm

Praise the Lord!
Give thanks to the Lord, for He his good;
His love endures forever.
Who can proclaim the mighty acts of the Lord
or fully declare His praise?
      --Psalm 106:1-2

11/26/2010

A Very Different Day


I can’t remember ever spending a holiday without our extended family. I know I’m fortunate in that. But circumstances shifted this year and we found ourselves alone at the last minute. Just my husband and I and our three teenagers.

It wasn’t only the lack of numbers that made it a strange day. It was the quiet. Usually the holiday house is filled with the chaos of children, lots of women in the kitchen cooking and talking, and the occasional murmur from the men in front of the football games that lets us know they are still alive. Once we’ve cleaned up—together—there’s cheering for the Cowboys and the traditional halftime coffee and pies. At the end of the day, we divvy up the leftovers and head into the night, satisfied in both body and soul.

This Thanksgiving, I stressed over doing the whole meal myself, which led to tension that took a while to dissipate. We sat fairly docile as the Cowboys faltered, though we perked up a bit as they almost pulled off a great comeback. The upside: we had LOTS of leftovers, which was good since my husband and boys always complain that we don’t bring home enough of whatever they deem “the good stuff.”

In the end, it was a peaceful day, but not a normal one.

I think I prefer normal.

11/24/2010

Thanksgiving Week


I love the week of Thanksgiving. It’s more than just that day of turkey and dressing and family and thankfulness. It’s a week off of school for my kids, time for us as a family. It’s meeting with friends and shopping and sleeping in. It’s movies and football and laughter and more food. It’s hauling out the Christmas decorations at the end of the week and transitioning from football to basketball. Thanksgiving, for me, is so much more than just the fourth Thursday in November. It’s a week I look forward to year after year.

11/22/2010

The Child That Challenges


This is the child that challenges me—in a good way:

After a hard fought football playoff game, the last game of his high school career, we arrive at the restaurant. The boys had to line up at one register so I could pay their whole bill at once. The seniors took their rights of seniority to get closer to (or right at) the front of the line. Except my son. The senior. One of the team captains. He stood at the back. At the end. Making sure all the younger guys knew what they were doing, keeping them in line. Not complaining or huffing and puffing, no false humility or “please notice my sacrifice,” but truly exhibiting servant leadership.

I love that kid. He very often brings tears to my eyes. When I grow up, I want to be like him.

11/21/2010

A Sunday Psalm

For who is God besides the Lord?
And who is the Rock except our God?
It is God who arms me with strength
and makes my ways perfect.
He makes my feet like the feet of a deer;
He enables me to stand on the heights.
He trains my hands for battle;
my arms can bend a bow of bronze.
You give me Your shield of victory,
and Your right hand sustains me;
You stoop down to make me great.
         --Psalm 18:31-35

11/19/2010

Changing My Thinking


I found myself in our home office yesterday, staring at the papers strewn across the L-shaped desk. Noticing the overflow of the trash can spilling into the floor. The abandoned cups and bowls and silverware and headphones and cds. This office is not my own. I share it with teenagers doing homework and checking their email and surfing facebook. I pushed aside a bit of clutter and found myself thinking I can’t wait for the day when I have the office all to myself.

Then I stopped. I spend way too much time thinking “I can’t wait for the day when ________,” a day I have no guarantee will ever arrive.

That’s when it struck me that my problem wasn’t wishing for some future day—it was which day I was longing for! I should spend time thinking I can’t wait for the day when the Lord will wipe every tear from our eyes, when we will have no need of moon or sun for the Lord will be our illumination, when we worship before the Lamb that was slain. That isn’t futile wishing. That is longing for what the One who cannot lie has promised.

So it isn’t really my thought process that needs to change, just its focus. I can’t wait for the day when that won’t be such a problem for me—the day I will be like Him because I will see Him as He is.

11/17/2010

The Master's Wall by Sandi Rog


I just got a new book in the mail. Nothing astonishing about that. But what is amazing is that I haven’t had time to pick it up and start reading yet! That’s how crazy my life has been lately.

But I wanted to tell you about this book now anyway. The Master’s Wall by Sandi Rog released earlier this month—on the same day that Sandi received the news of the tumor in her brain. A few days later, she learned it was an aggressive cancer. The writing community—including Sandi’s publisher—has rallied around Sandi and her family with prayer as well as physical support. To read a message from her publisher about the fund they’ve set up on Sandi’s behalf, click here.

But back to the book. You know I love historical fiction. Any era. Doesn’t matter. The Master’s Wall is set in 1st century Rome and is the story of a Hebrew slave torn between his desire for freedom and his need to protect his master’s granddaughter. Sounds good, doesn’t it? I can’t wait to get started!

Click here to read a more in-depth synopsis and some reviews. If it sounds good, why don’t you get your own copy? And even if you don’t buy a copy, will you say a prayer for Sandi and her husband and their four children as they walk this difficult road?

Thanks!

11/15/2010

Fill a Shoebox!


I love, love, love the Operation Christmas Child program run by Samaritan’s Purse. Our family has participated for many years and you may have read here before that during my daughter’s first mission trip to Ghana she was so blessed to help pass out these shoebox packages to the village children. When she came home she told us we needed to fill more boxes, even if with less things, because there were never enough for all the children. So we do. We save our shoeboxes all through the year and fill as many as we can. (This works very well during the years of kids with quickly growing feet!) Last year Samaritan’s Purse even implemented a tracking system where if you pay the shipping cost of each box online, you can print the label for it and they will email you later and let you know what country received your shoeboxes.

This is the official shoebox collection week and we are busy getting ours done. So how about you? Are you participating this year? Even one shoebox helps and is so appreciated by the child that receives it.


11/14/2010

A Sunday Psalm

Keep me from deceitful ways;
be gracious to me through Your law.
I have chosen the way of truth;
I have set my heart on Your laws.
I hold fast to Your statutes, O Lord;
do not let me be put to shame.
I run in the path of Your commands,
for You have set my heart free.
       --Psalm 119:29-32

11/12/2010

I Love the Early NIghts!


I know most people hate the most recent time change. I hear it all the time. But I want to go on record and say: I love it!

I know you are gasping and shaking your head, but let me explain. When it gets dark earlier, a couple of different things happen.

First, there is something about dark that discourages people from contacting you with immediate needs for information or action. Dark tends to be like pulling the curtains in around your family. While you still might get the phone call or email, something about it being dark outside seems give you a bit of space. It feels like night. Night is family time. And there is still something people respect about that.

The second reason I love this time change is that I’ve always worked better in the middle of the night. But working at night is not a good option for me these days. My eyes rebel at too many hours in contacts—and I need my contacts to function through the day. And my husband prefers it when I don’t climb in and out of bed, disturbing his sleep. Besides that, my days are full and I’m usually exhausted!

So when it gets dark earlier, my life slows down a bit and my body adjusts to its more natural body clock—and I actually become quite productive!

I know I probably still haven’t convinced you, but I don’t mind. I’ll just enjoy my long evenings doing the things I need to do—at least until basketball season kicks in and steals my peaceful nighttime hours!

11/10/2010

Teacher Gets a Failing Grade


Usually it turns out the other way around. Usually the youngest child gets things or gets to do things way earlier than the older ones did. Maybe I’ve become a slacker mom. Or maybe God is using my overstuffed life to work patience in my child. I don’t know. But either way, I feel bad.

My youngest son won’t get his drivers license on his 16th birthday next week. His brother and sister each got theirs on the day. He will have to wait. He hasn’t complained. Or pitched a fit. Or blamed me. But that almost makes me feel worse! If I hadn’t insisted he get his permit a year before his license, like the other two did, we could have done the driving school in town. But there wasn’t time to take the class last fall. I should have just let him do it in early summer and forgone those five extra months of practice time rather than “homeschooling” him for drivers ed, a course we are frantically trying to completely finish, though he has been driving in bits and pieces for the past year.

I know in the scheme of things it really isn’t that big of a deal. It’s not like I need him to drive—not like I needed his older brother to because their sister was leaving for college. And I know it puts off the inevitable spike in the car insurance, too. I’m trying to find the positives, see the good, but in the back of my mind the only thing I can hear is “Teacher, you failed.”

At least it was only his driver’s license, not his entire education!


11/08/2010

The Angst Over Names


I’ve been angsting over changing my main character’s name. I’d chosen one I liked. One that fit my spunky but kind of offbeat girl. An old-fashioned name (of course), with an unusual spelling. I knew it the moment I saw it. I wrote the synopsis. I wrote the first draft. Then I got my CBD catalog in the mail and read my main characters name—the exact spelling, too!—in a blurb for book releasing next month.

Ack!

Now you may be like my husband and think what’s the big deal? Change it. Don’t change it. He actually said to me, “It’s a character, not a real person.”

That’s what you think! To me, this is a friend. And changing her name is harder than it was to change my own. And yet, like a mother with a new baby, you don’t want to copycat the unusual name of another baby within your circle of friends. You want yours to be unique.

So I’ve pondered. And searched. And talked. And pondered. And prayed. I think I’ve come up with a new name, one that I hope fits my girl just as well as the other. Maybe when the story is edited and polished I’ll discover that should have been her name all along. At least I hope so!

11/07/2010

A Sunday Psalm

The Lord is gracious and compassionate,
slow to anger and rich in love.
The Lord is good to all, He has compassion
on all He has made.
All You have made will praise You, O Lord;
Your saints will extol You.
They will tell of the glory of Your kingdom
and speak of Your might,
so that all men may know of Your mighty acts
and the glorious splendor of Your kingdom.
    --Psalm 145:8-12

11/05/2010

I Hate Grocery Shopping


I went grocery shopping the other day. I know that doesn’t sound remarkable, but I hate grocery shopping. Absolutely hate it. So for the past several months I’ve been trying to spend less time at the grocery store. No, I haven’t been forcing my family to fast, I’ve simply come up with a way to streamline my time. But it about kills me to do it.

You see, I’ve taken to shopping once a month. Kind of. I do the major monthly grocery shopping in one day. That involves a trip to Costco and to Walmart, with a master list of not only groceries but toiletries, too. I spend several hours combing through kitchen and bathroom cabinets in order to make my list. Then, armed with said list and with coupons (the only time in the month I make an effort to use them!), I’m off.

It takes hours of time to shop and load and unload and put away. And at the end, I’m exhausted. (I have to bring my groceries up a flight of stairs from the garage, so it’s an extra workout!) But it’s a good exhaustion because I know that except for a few quick trips to the grocery store that is two minutes from my house (more expensive, but I’m in and out in five minutes!), I’m through shopping for the month. And it only cost me one day instead of three or four.

So I’m done for November—except, of course that I’ll have to do another decent sized trip when I figure out what I’m responsible for at Thanksgiving. Then again, the kids are off school that week. Maybe I will send one of them!

11/03/2010

Too Much in My Head


I’ve written this post about twenty times—on twenty different subjects. And I’ve deleted every one of them. It seems there is too much in my head to say anything worthwhile about anything. So instead of blabbering nonsense, I’ll send you on your way for today!




11/01/2010

That Persistent Weed

 
I generally think of myself as a generous and sacrificial person most of the time. I don’t have a real problem giving money and doing without for myself, whether that takes the form of giving to ministries and charities or paring down my lifestyle for my husband to take his dream job with a non-profit or to give my kids those “little” things (truly—they rarely get the “big” ones!) in life. But as always happens, pride wells up before I fall.

This week reminded me once again that while I might be generous and sacrificial when it comes to money and possessions, I am stingier than Mr. Scrooge when it comes to my time. Why is that? As if I think my time is “mine.” I am not the maker of time. And if my attitude is that of a servant of the Lord, I am not a master of my time, either. I am to do the Lord’s bidding, whatever that entails. And sometimes it entails sacrificing my time to others.

It’s not a pretty side of me, not something I reveal without cringing. But it is the truth. I’ve seen it over and over and over again. And whenever I convince myself I’m doing better, than another situation shows me this is still an issue. I’m tired of pulling this same dandelion out of the garden of my heart. Hopefully next time I’ll be able to sacrifice my time without complaint. And one day maybe I’ll be able to do it with joy.

Do you have an issue that keeps cropping up like a persistent weed? Care to share?

10/31/2010

A Sunday Psalm

Though the Lord is on high, He looks upon the lowly,
but the proud He knows from afar.
Though I walk in the midst of trouble,  You preserve my life;
You stretch out Your hand against the anger of my foes,
with Your right hand You save me.
The Lord will fulfill His purpose for me;
Your love, O Lord, endures forever--do not abandon the works of Your hands.
         --Psalm 138:6-8

10/29/2010

Oh, That Aroma!

For the past few years we’ve made our coffee in a French press. I love making it that way. It’s easy. Very little clean up. And I can make a small amount when it is just me. But since my in-laws arrived last week we’ve pulled out the old coffee maker again. And I’ve remembered how much I love the smell of coffee brewing.

You see, in the French press method you don’t get any of that house-filling aroma. The kind they show on coffee commercials. The kind that pulls you out of a warm bed on a (finally!) cool morning. I’d forgotten how good it smells, reminding me of winter and holidays even though I didn’t grow up with coffee drinkers.

I’m sure when they leave we’ll put the coffee maker away again and go back to our French press. But in the meantime, I’ll savor that smell that weaves its way from the kitchen into my bedroom and gently wakes me to greet a new day.

How about you? Are you a coffee drinker? What method do you use to brew it and why?

10/27/2010

Our Texas Rangers


The World Series starts tonight. And our Texas Rangers are playing. I still can't believe it!

I grew up in a family of sports fans. Some of my earliest memories are eating Thanksgiving dinner between the Detroit and Dallas games, watching college football games on New Years, and listening to Texas Rangers games on the radio. In the summer of 1976 I can remember our family going to a Ranger game to sit in the bleachers. The unusual thing about that trip? It even included my baby sister who was only a few weeks old!

All that to say: we are not bandwagon Rangers fans. I had a t-shirt replica of that old baby blue jersey. I was a card-carrying member of Jim Sundberg’s Junior Rangers. We had bats from bat night. T-shirts from t-shirt night. Gloves from glove night. For our family of six, we could sit in the bleachers and take our own food and have a fun family night that didn’t cost much. (I don’t think I had anything from the concession stand until I was an adult!)

When my husband, a huge fan of baseball in general, arrived in Texas, he immediately became a Rangers fan, joining a group at work with season tickets. We attended the opening day at The Ballpark, me more often in the bathroom than in my seat since I was newly pregnant with my third child. (Maybe that’s why baseball is his favorite game.) We won the lottery draw for the seats to the All-Star Game played there, too. We even attended one of the ill-fated playoff games in the 90s.

As our children got busier and we moved further from the stadium, we gave up our seats, but that didn’t change our love for the Rangers, our hope every spring that this would be the year. And now it is. Such a sweet victory for a life-long Ranger fan and her twenty-three year Ranger fan spouse. The only thing better: A World Series win.

Let’s go, Rangers!

10/25/2010

A True Romance

I love the bride and groom imagery of the Bible. Over and over again, Old Testament and New, God uses this picture to convey His heart toward us—like a bridegroom to His bride. I ran across it again in Isaiah the other day. It made my chest ache and tears spring to my eyes.

“I delight greatly in the Lord; my soul rejoices in my God. For He has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.” (Isaiah 61:10)

“As a bridegroom rejoices over his bride, so will your God rejoice over you.” (Isaiah 62:5b)

I think it’s why an old fashioned romance-leading-to-marriage story always resonates with me. Because Jesus pursues my heart like a suitor, wooing me though I am unworthy of such love and devotion. Though I am incapable to returning it as perfectly as it is given. And isn’t that what a good romance is all about—overcoming obstacles and unworthiness (real or perceived) and receiving a love given without reservation? I used to imagine it was my husband’s job to fulfill my desires for romance. But over the years I’ve come to see that God is the true romancer of my heart. And His romance is perfect. Complete. And never-ending.

10/24/2010

A Sunday Psalm

Blessed are they whose ways are blameless,
who walk according to the law of the Lord.
Blessed are they who keep His statutes
and seek Him with all their heart.
     --Psalm 119:1-2

10/22/2010

A Change of Venue


I’m longing for the library these days. Not to peruse shelves or check out books, although I’m still in need of some research. No, what I’m longing for is the complete quiet and lack of distraction.

Lately it’s been getting more difficult to work at home. That happens when my life gets busy. Suddenly I feel compelled to attack the mound of dishes in the sink or the mountains of laundry taking over my closet. It’s not that I particularly enjoy those tasks, but when my days and nights are packed with activity, undone household chores haunt me. I have to have one area of my life that is order in the midst of chaos.

Thus my need for a change of venue. Where there is no pantry or refrigerator of food calling my name. Where no closet or shelf or drawer or desktop begs to be put in order. Where I can’t stop and just do “one thing.” Where I even have to turn off the sound on my phone and—gasp—potentially miss a rare and usually unimportant phone call or text.

It will be even harder to work from home for the next two weeks since my in-laws will be visiting. It’s not that they would care or interrupt, but I’d feel rude locking my self in a room while they are here. So I’ll be heading for a table and chair near a window or a study room with a door that shuts. Whichever the case, the quiet of the library will embrace me and the surroundings will not threaten to occupy my mind or body with any task other than finishing this book!

10/20/2010

The Silent Governess by Julie Klassen


I had already read one of Julie Klassen’s books—The Apothecary’s Daughter—and thoroughly enjoyed it. So when I was given a copy of another of her books, The Silent Governess, I knew I had to read it. Especially after I’d met Julie face to face!

The Silent Governess did not disappoint. While not as dark as Jane Eyre can be, it follows in somewhat that vein of story—a governess, mysterious circumstances, and a somewhat moody master. What made this story even more fun for me was the setting, because I’ve been there! As I read about Arlington row cottages, a mill, an inn, and an E shaped manor house, I knew it matched my remembrance and my pictures of our trip to the Cotswolds in England. I emailed Julie—and I was right! In fact, Brightwell Court in the book is based on Bibury Court, the E shaped house in the picture below!



Isn’t that amazing? I loved that I’d been to the places being described—and that I recognized them from their descriptions! But more than just the setting held me riveted to the end of the book. Julie wove mystery and romance into one seamless story peopled by memorable characters. This one will definitely remain in my library!

10/18/2010

Homecoming Hoopla!

My husband doesn’t understand homecoming. I guess homecoming hoopla is a Southern thing.  I love the excitement and the pageantry and the big, gaudy mums (which do seem to be a Texas thing). I love seeing the alumni and their parents at the football game. I love boutonnieres and corsages and the slew of parents taking pictures of dressed up couples going off to the dance the next evening.

Since our kids go to a small school, the senior year means an automatic place on the homecoming court. I loved watching my husband escort my daughter two years ago in her formal gown. And this year, I loved escorting my football player son, who didn’t stink quite as bad as I fear he would!

To top it off, we had the excitement of hearing his name called as Homecoming King, with his girlfriend named Homecoming Queen. Quite a weekend! Hope you enjoy this picture of the royal couple as much as I do!




10/17/2010

A Sunday Psalm

Hear, O Lord, and answer me, for I am poor and needy.
Guard my life, for I am devoted to You.
You are my God; save Your servant who trusts You.
Have mercy on me, O Lord, for I call to You all day long.
Bring joy to Your servant, for to You, O Lord, I lift up my soul.
        --Psalm 86:1-4

10/15/2010

No Time to Think

A house full of kids. Fun, but exhausting. I'll be able to think again on Sunday, so I'll see y'all again then!

10/13/2010

Back at Home


It’s been a surreal two days. After ten years of writing, never knowing if anything more would come of it than a sense of having accomplished writing a novel, I found myself in meetings with Bethany House, my publisher, at the their offices in Minneapolis. It was an awesome time of getting to know the people who are handling my book. Walking through the offices, with paintings of many of their book covers adorning the walls, I again felt humbled and amazed.

I knew so many of those books. Read so many of them in ages past. To be numbered among those authors is just beyond my wildest imaginations. And the people! Their friendliness put even introvert me quite at ease. I met so many who could be my friend on a purely social level.

I talked with people about cover design and marketing. I met with editors to discuss the book that is finished and the book that is in progress. I met the woman who dealt with my contract and Julie Klassen, Bethany House editor and author, who I knew only via an email loop—and from reading her book! I even did a podcast interview and took author photos!

Everywhere I turned I could again see the amazing hand of the Lord in this journey, even in the parts that stretched my comfort zone. There will be more stretching to come, I know. But after two days of business clothes and meetings, I’m definitely ready to be back home in my blue jeans, sitting in my comfy chair, computer in my lap, creating stories. And I’m pretty sure my husband and boys are glad to have me back there, too.

10/11/2010

A Balancing Act


I have an interesting week coming up, one that is filled with activity that requires a balancing act like I’ve never before attempted. It has the potential for great fun—or a total meltdown.

I’m meeting with my publishing house this week—my editor, the marketing people, the art people, other writers, etc. I’ll be submerged in my new world as a writer. And while aspects of it are terrifying, I also imagine I’ll love every minute!

At the same time, it’s Homecoming week—and one son is a senior. Homecoming always kind of signals the first of the “last time” of so many things. So there will be dress up days and the big pep rally and escorting my boy who looks more and more like a man onto the field as part of Homecoming Court. The football game and mums and garters and dressing up for the dance and picture taking and corsages and boutonnieres.

Now add in fall break from college—and the daughter coming home with three friends in tow. I love college kids. Love having them in the house. They’ll participate in some of the Homecoming festivities, but they also have their own agenda for the weekend. I hope to get to talk with them, laugh with them, watch cooking shows instead of ESPN!

Three different aspects of my life converging into one very busy week. What I don’t want is to get overwhelmed, to let tiredness or frustration infiltrate my words and mar these special times. I’m praying I can find balance, have realistic expectations, live in each moment, so that when everything settles on Sunday afternoon I can savor every memory and regret none.

10/10/2010

A Sunday Psalm

Out of the depths I cry to You, O Lord;
O Lord, hear my voice, let Your ears be attentive to my cry for mercy.
If You, O Lord, kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand?
But with You there is forgiveness; therefore You are feared.
I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in His word I put my hope.
My soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning,
more than watchmen wait for the morning.
O Israel, put your hope in the Lord, for with the Lord is unfailing love
and with Him is full redemption.
He Himself will redeem Israel from all their sins.
             --Psalm 130:1-8

10/08/2010

Two New Loves

I’m in love—with two new-to-me web applications.

Of course I run the risk of all my readers rolling their eyes and saying, “Duh.” I’m usually the last one to jump on any bandwagon because frankly, if everyone is talking about something, I tend to ignore it completely. (I’m just rebellious that way.)

So here goes.


Google Reader

Thanks to my friend Patti Lacy for alerting me to this free aspect of Google. In Google Reader I can follow a ton of blogs and actually keep up with them! I even put the “subscribe” button on my bookmark bar in my browser. Now anytime I read an interesting new blog, I just hit my “subscribe” bookmark and it adds it to my Google Reader.

How does this help me read all these blogs I’ve subscribed to? First, by not cluttering up my email so that I just hit delete! No, now I go to Google Reader (bookmarked) in my web browser and scroll through the new posts. It marks each of them read as I pass it. Then poof! The “read” ones are gone. Still doesn’t mean I “read” every single post of every single blog, but it is there when I want it and doesn’t stress me out.
           
TeuxDeux

Thanks to Marti Pieper for singing the praises of this “To Do” list program. If you been around here for any length of time, you know I live by lists. I’ve kept them on paper for years. But sometimes I need my lists when I’m on the go. Enter TeuxDeux.

Their web-based application is free. Just sign up! But the really great thing is that for a mere $3 you can buy the iphone app as well. And they sync! And it is super easy to use! While I’m still keeping paper lists as a backup at the moment, I can feel the paperless transition coming now. Check it out: www.teuxdeux.com. It’s awesome!

So there you have it. My two new loves. Because of course I love anything that makes my life run just a bit more smoothly!
            

10/06/2010

The Bad with the Good


Oh autumn, how I love you!

Kind of.

I love the changing colors of the leaves—but I hate raking the leaves that blanket my yard.

I love the coolness in the air—but I hate changing clothes throughout the day as the temperature makes wild swings.

I love football season—but I hate driving to far away games.

I love the tinge of smoke in the air on a cold afternoon, and a fire blazing in my own fireplace—but I hate buying and stacking the wood.

All good things have a down side. All strengths have a corresponding weakness. For the moment, I’m trying to enjoy the things I like about this time of year. But the things that irritate me keep getting in the way.

It comes down to a choice. Will I choose to take the good with the not as good—or will I spoil the good by dwelling on the parts I don’t particularly like? It’s not just an autumn thing. It’s a life thing.

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
                        --Phillipians 4:8

10/03/2010

The College Search


My daughter only had three colleges on her list. We looked at all three. She applied and got accepted to two. She picked one. By late September of her senior year, we were done.

Not so this go-round. I’ve now been with my son to visit six different colleges. My husband took him to another one without me. Seven universities. We still have at least 2-3 to visit—maybe more. And I’m getting tired.

I mean really, how many financial aid lectures can you listen to—especially after we pretty much have it down with one already in college? The dorms are all starting to look the same. And given that most of the schools he’s chosen to look at are small, Christian colleges, they are similar in tone and requirements. I think I could practically give the tours myself now, as long as I had a few key terms unique to that school.

At least football district play is about to begin, so that will table his thoughts of the college search for a few weeks. Maybe by then I can gear up for a few more drives, a few more informational sessions, a few more tours. But most of all I’ll be looking forward to the day when he makes a decision and we can all breathe a sigh of relief that the selection process is over!

A Sunday Psalm

How precious is Your lovingkindness, O God!
And the children of men take refuge in the shadow of Your wings.
They drink their fill of the abundance of Your house;
And You give them to drink of the river of Your delights.
For with You is the fountain of life;
In Your light we see light.
    --Psalm 36:7-9

10/01/2010

Sense and Sensibility


I finally indulged myself. After listening to the music for the past few weeks, I finally watched Sense and Sensibility again. I love that movie. I think it is almost perfect. The writing. The acting. The music. The costumes. The cinematography. I can quote most of the lines, even after not watching it for a while.

I think much of the reason I love this story is the interplay between Elinor (Emma Thompson) and Marianne (Kate Winslet.) I can see myself in both of them. I can be the incurable romantic. Self-centered, impulsive, running on emotion. I can also be the practical one. Taking care of others, downplaying expectations, concealing the depth of my emotions. Yes, I’m both extremes warring in one body. I will admit that the older I get, the less I resemble Marianne. Which is good. And yet, even Elinor learns the value in acknowledging her feelings. A lesson I do well to remember.

If you haven’t ever seen this version of Jane Austen’s classic novel, or if you haven’t watched it recently, indulge yourself. And let me know whom you identify with most!



9/29/2010

The Preacher's Bride by Jody Hedlund


Pretty much any book set in England in any time period has a head start in garnering my good graces. And a book that spins a good story in that setting gains even more ground.

Jody Hedlund’s debut novel The Preacher’s Bride didn’t disappoint. A good Puritan girl. A feisty Puritan preacher. An oft-neglected time period (Oliver Cromwell’s reign and then the return of the king.) Throw in a few cute kids, a lot of conflict and a surprising “Author’s Note” revelation of the historical inspiration for the story and you get a book that will definitely find shelf space in my house! (And no, I’m not going to tell you the historical inspiration for the book. You’ll have to read it!)

I also love the questions that get explored through this story, questions about the role of ministry in relation to a wife and children. I love the change that happens in both the hero and heroine. That neither one starts out nor ends up perfect, but that both are striving to obey and please the Lord. In the process, they learn and grow. They extend forgiveness and have forgiveness extended to them.

The Preacher’s Bride offers a great escape from the present, a great reminder of themes we wrestle with every day, and a great history lesson, all wrapped up in one memorable story.


(In the interest of full disclosure, I did receive a free copy of this book from the publisher.)

9/27/2010

P31 Woman Magazine


I’m not really a magazine reader. Never really have been—except for Seventeen in high school. But just this week I got my first issue of P31 Woman in the mail. I received my subscription when I donated to P31 Ministries earlier this summer. I didn’t think much about the magazine part. As I said, I’m not really into that.

But I was pleasantly surprised. It’s a small magazine. Just about 15 pages, 6 short articles and some ministry news. And I loved it! I loved that the articles were short and to the point. And that each one hit on a very day-to-day issue with a very practical application to consider or implement in my own life.

So now I have something new to look forward to each month. And maybe next time I can savor the issue instead of devouring it as fast as a pan of fresh baked brownies!

9/26/2010

A Sunday Psalm

My prayer for you, dear reader:

May the Lord answer you when you are in distress;
may the name of the God of Jacob protect you.
May He send you help from the sanctuary and grant you support from Zion.
May He remember all your sacrifices and accept your burnt offerings.
   Selah
May He give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed.
We will shout for joy when you are victorious and will lift up our banners in the name of our God.
May the Lord grant all your requests.
    --Psalm 20:1-5

9/22/2010

There . . . Then Gone

This might be the stupidest blog post I’ve ever written.

Or maybe not. 

On Saturday, I was trying to catch up on things—cleaning the house (well, at least the bathrooms), reading through my line edits of Wings of a Dream, answering a Writing Spa client’s email, trying not to stress over the fact that I was 2000 words short of my goal for the week (although I did revise the first two chapters, so that should count for something, right?), and thinking through the week ahead.

In the week ahead, I remembered blog posts. And something really great skated through my mind.

By the time I sat down to my computer again, it was gone. Poof. Completely. I have absolutely no idea what that great idea was even about!

Sigh.

Such is life. My brain is trying to keep up with too many things these days and so it (apparently) dropped the last (and least important) bit of information I tried to shove in. You know, like that closet you open just a crack, squeeze in the lamp you just replaced but one of the kids might need again some day, and lean your shoulder into the door to close it again before the mountain of stuff behind it comes tumbling down.

All that to say I have nothing to say today! Please tell me you can relate!

9/21/2010

And The Winners Are . . .

Thanks, y'all, for taking the time to get to know Stacy Tomisser and for visiting her store at www.chicklingo.com. Bookmark her site for when you need that special something for yourself or for a gift. And thank you to Stacy for her generous gifts to my readers!

Now on to the winners. (Drum roll please!)

"Friends and Family" sign: Karen
"Moments" sign: Richard Mabry
"Sunshine" frame: Nanette

I have email addys for Richard and Nanette. Karen--please contact me so I can have your prize sent to you!

9/17/2010

Meet Stacy of Chick Lingo--And Win Prizes!


I’m so excited today to get to tell you about a fun company and its founder—and to offer THREE really cool giveaways!

Stacy Tomisser is the founder of The Painted Word, a manufacturing company that sells decorative wooden signs to gift stores and has just launched a new online store, www.chicklingo.com, to sell her products, too. I have been pleased to be on both the receiving and the giving end of her products. They are so fun!

Let's meet Stacy:

So glad to have you here, Stacy. Could you give us a brief history of The Painted Word?

The Painted Word is our wholesale manufacturing company.  About ten years ago I began making decorative signs for my home and for friends, just for fun. I have always loved words, sayings and quotes and I wanted to decorate with them. But at that point there wasn't much available in my colors so I created what I couldn't find. Eventually I showed what I was making to a friend who owned a boutique and she loved them and made an order. A very long (juicy) story short - it blossomed into a manufacturing company.  My husband decided to leave his career to come take this on, we hired a handful of wonderful people and here we are, by the grace of God, still standing.

I love that story! So after a few years of wholesale, how did the Chick Lingo online store come into being?

Chick Lingo came about after a long and lively conversation with my fabulous mother-in-law, Jan. She said "Why don't we open an online store with all of your decorative signs and frames?" (from The Painted Word - she and Jim's dad are our business partners in both companies.) I loved the idea of having a retail store filled with my products as well as other things that women would love. Our niche would be products with words, quotes, sayings - I love words! In addition to decorative signs and frames we would also include jewelry, mommy necklaces, etc.  And we needed a name that was different and fun but also described what we are selling: voila! Chick Lingo!


Very fun name! So your family is all involved in the business and I know you often work from home. Do you have one fabulous secret to juggling an at home business and your family?

I don't really have one secret - though I wish I did because that would sound really cool! I guess if I were to pass on some advice it would be learn to step away from the business, computer and phone - unplug sooner than later. It's easier said than done but the work will always be here, my children won't. The balancing act doesn't get any easier, but I've become more creative in how I balance it all because my family means the world to me...they are my motivation to make it all work.

Shoot! I was hoping to find out that one thing that makes it all work! Ok, so to follow up on that, on your craziest days, what do usually end up feeding your family for dinner?

Well on my craziest days I usually make a phone call and have dinner delivered. Sad but true!  But if I know I am going to have a crazy busy day I usually put on a pot of something delicious in the morning.  It's those unexpected crazy days that can throw me for a loop!

I completely understand! So, back to business. What is your favorite product you've ever created?

I love everything that has the "You are my sunshine" lyric on it - I sang it to all of my babies.



Any last words about why you love what you do (because I know you do!)? 

I love being creative, meeting fascinating people, making others smile, hearing someone's story, learning something difficult and new, it's all a gift. I feel God's pleasure when I dream up something new, am kind to a customer or tuck one of my kids in bed.  All my work, as an entrepreneur, mom or homemaker is ultimately for His glory and that makes me truly love what I do.

So isn’t Stacy awesome? Check out her store at www.chicklingo.com but be sure to leave a comment (and email address!) to be entered to win one of the fabulous signs or picture frame pictured in this blog post. Yes—THREE winners will be chosen!

Leave your comment by Monday, Sept. 20 at midnight CST. I’ll draw three names from those leaving comments and announce the winners here on Tuesday!


9/15/2010

Making Some Sense of It


It’s good to recognize our strengths and weaknesses, our giftings as well as those things that are clearly not. In these past six weeks I’ve had the opportunity to do two things I never imagined I’d do: mentor writers one-on-one and teach writing to a group.

Both took me way out of my comfort zone, stirring the nerves in my stomach. Both threw me into an utter dependence on the Lord to accomplish the task. Both gave me the opportunity to share about something I love—writing. But I came away from only one experience with a desire to do it again.

Mentoring.

Even though my hands shook every time a new woman sat across from me. Even though I sat terrified I’d have nothing to say—or that I’d say it wrong. Even though at the end of the day I was physically and mentally and emotionally exhausted. The satisfaction, the gratitude, the amazement broke through the tired, leaving me to bask in joyful peace.

As I taught the writers group, I felt none of those things. In fact, my words slogged out of my mouth as if through chocolate pudding. My thoughts tangled around themselves until I couldn’t tell where one began and another ended. If I read from my notes, it was better, but I hadn’t been asked to give a speech. I’d been asked to teach. When it was over, I just hoped I didn’t sound as idiotic out loud as I did in my own ears. And I rejoiced that the moment was over, never having to be repeated again. (Sorry Mary and Leslie!)

It isn’t surprising, really. I’ve always been more comfortable relating to people one-on-one. I avoid standing before a crowd unless it is as an actress in a role. But I gave it a shot. And I learned more about myself and my God in the process. And I guess that is really the point after all, isn’t it? 

9/13/2010

Can You Hear My Knees Knocking?


Both of my parents are teachers. My two sisters, also. Good teachers, all of them.

I am not.

It’s why I didn’t get a teaching certificate along with my history degree and why I don’t homeschool my kids—a very good decision based on how well (not!) I’ve taught my youngest son to drive! (He tells me he’s learned more from his older brother, who is, by the way, a natural teacher.)

The only time I’ve tried to formally teach anything was a Precepts Bible Study that only my best friend faithfully attended. (She couldn’t exactly bail because it was at her house!) After that, I swore off teaching at any level.

Which was apparently my downfall. Does that ever happen to you? You insist some task or role is beyond your capability and then—maybe right away or maybe farther down the road—the Lord asks you do to that very thing?

I am teaching tonight. Teaching writing. Teaching “Show, Don’t Tell” to be specific. In front of the monthly writers group I help lead. Can you hear my knees knocking? I’m terrified. But my cohorts in crime—my critique partners and writers group co-leaders Leslie Wilson and Mary DeMuth—insist I can do this. And I feel the Lord behind me blocking the exit and cheering me on.

We’ll see.


9/12/2010

A Sunday Psalm

But I am like an olive tree flourishing in the house of God;
I trust in God's unfailing love for ever and ever.
I will praise You forever for what You have done;
In Your name I will hope, for Your name is good.
I will praise You in the presence of the saints.
      --Psalm 52:8-9

9/10/2010

Scripted Freedom

Now that the time has come to write my next novel and to read through the various edits required for my first one, along with the occasional freelance editing and the small responsibilities at my kids’ school, I’m finding myself in a new place of faith. Now my “work” is no longer built around personal deadlines, no longer able to be set aside when life crowds in. I knew this would happen. It didn’t take me by surprise. I even understood that it would hurl me into a world of greater communication with and dependence on the Lord.

But I didn’t know it would be so freeing.

In the past few years, I’ve often found myself lying in bed in the early morning hours, before I am even quite fully awake, praying, “Lord, order my day.” And then I lived my day almost whimsically, taking what came, setting aside this to do that. It was good. A place of learning for me. A new place of faith.

These days, I still pray that same prayer, but I’ve added to it. Instead of just “order my day” I hear myself petitioning, “Give me the discipline I need to accomplish the tasks I’ve committed to do.” Talk about a steep new climb! Now it isn’t just about trusting God, it’s also about changing me—my habits, my patterns, my whole lifestyle—to do what He’s given me to do.

My life is more scripted right now, less wiggle room. And yet I feel so incredibly free. How does that happen? I guess it’s just more of the upside down nature of the kingdom of God. All I really know is, I like it!

9/08/2010

Jesus' Words to Peter

“But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”
      --Luke 22:32

It struck me as I read this verse the other day that Jesus’ perspective of our lives is so very different from our own. Can you imagine what Simon Peter thought of these words spoken to him by Jesus? I can only think his response would have been much the same as mine. He would have heard “I have prayed . . . that your faith may not fail.”

That’s it. Over. Done. Jesus prayed my faith wouldn’t fail, so I’m good to go. We know His prayers get answered. Always. Because He and the Father are one. So while Satan will sift, I’ll be fine.

Maybe, as I imagine I would, Peter completely skipped over those “when you have turned back” words. Because, frankly, who really knows what those mean. After I’m tempted and my faith overcomes the temptation? That’s probably it. Then I can strengthen my brothers with my strong faith. Got it. I know where this is going.

But as so often happens in my life and yours, Peter didn’t know where that was going. And it took him to a place he never imagined he’d be—denying Christ. Not just hedging around the question. Not keeping silent when he should have come to His defense. But out and denial. Not once. Not twice. But three times.

Peter was devastated over what he’d done.

At some point did he remember the rest of Jesus’ words to him? They were such certain words.

When you have turned back.” Not if.

“Strengthen your brothers.” A command. A task to do. Even after such a monumental failure of faith.

And yet hadn’t Jesus prayed Peter’s faith wouldn’t fail?

And that’s where perspective comes in. My guess is that if Peter was anything like me, he assumed his faith had failed in his denial of Jesus. And that meant Jesus’ prayer for him had failed, too. But to Jesus, Peter’s faith hadn’t failed, His prayer was answered—because of the “when you have turned back.”

Faith is so much more than one moment. It is the path we choose to walk or bypass in the course of our lives. Occasionally we stumble off the road. But faith gives us the will to get back on track, believing we can confess our sin, receive forgiveness and walk on, and that God can use us to strengthen others with our stories of failures and restorations.

Jesus’ words to Peter give me hope. How about you?

9/06/2010

My Kind of Quiet


Many people I know love the quiet of the early morning before anyone else in the family awakens. I don’t know that quiet. For one thing, to rise before my husband would mean being up at an earlier hour than I could possibly fathom. But on the rare occasion that I’ve been up—say if he is out of town and it’s just me and the kids—that quiet does nothing for me. I’m in constant anticipation of it being interrupted.

Instead, my favorite quiet of the day is in the morning after everyone leaves for school or work. It’s the quiet after the hustle of morning and before the bustle of evening. It’s quiet that I know will stretch uninterrupted for a period of time, depending, of course, on my plans for that day. Even when someone or something shatters this quiet, it’s an unanticipated interruption. I hadn’t been rendered immobile waiting for the interruption to come. Instead, I’ve absorbed the quiet and then dived into projects and activities I desire to accomplish.

Maybe this is why summer unsettles me. I rarely get that consistent quiet when everyone leaves the house at around the same time for an extended absence. I don’t get my quiet. Then again, maybe it’s good to have my world shaken up three months out of every twelve!

9/05/2010

A Sunday Psalm

Let the morning bring me word of Your unfailing love,
for I have put my trust in You.
Show me the way I should go,
for to You I lift up my soul.
Rescue me from my enemies, O Lord,
for I hide myself in You.
Teach me to do Your will,
for You are my God;
may Your good Spirit lead me on level ground.
    --Psalm 143:8-10

9/03/2010

We have a title!

Wings of a Dream
by Anne Mateer
Releasing September 2011

Now it feels real!!!

Exposing My Selfish Heart

In Phillipians 4:12 Paul says “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty.”

After 43 years of living on this earth—23 of them with a household of my own—I can identify with this statement. Days of scraping together pennies to split an ice cream as a treat when my husband was in law school. Years of scrimping to pay off student loans. Breathing easier, only to have him put aside a regular salary to form a small firm. Months of zero income with three small children. Suddenly enough to take a modest vacation on occasion, to visit our out-of-state family. Overflow for other things—including 4 trips to Africa for our daughter. And now squeezed in again, letting go of little luxuries we’d come to enjoy.

We’ve always been frugal, even in the good times. We’ve been savers, knowing life can turn on a dime. And yet as I consider the journey of these last two decades I begin to see a pattern. We have little, so we trust God to provide for needs that arise. God grows our faith. He also blesses in ways that allow us to get ahead a little, grow our “emergency” fund. But funny thing about those funds—when they are there, so are the needs that require them!

Why has all this been on my mind lately? Because I’ve been selfish. You see, when I got my book contract, it came with a bit of money. Not a ton, but enough that I breathed a sigh of relief, of space between my husband’s new salary and our expenses. But I didn’t count on the fact that Lord continues to prod me to rely on Him instead of money, to not hold those dollars so tightly in my fist. So, reluctantly, my money went toward a new furnace that we weren’t expecting to have to purchase. It wasn’t the way I wanted to spend “my” money. But I’m reminded again of the rest of the verse in Phillipians.

“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through Christ who gives me strength.” Phil. 4:12-13

I certainly haven’t attained to the level of Paul, but I’m learning. I’m learning not to rely on the size of my bank account, big or small. I’m learning that in want and in plenty He gives me His strength to live on. He provides what I need. Always. I just don’t always need what I think I do!

As I type this, the cool air blows on my feet. And I am grateful. As I will be in the winter when warm air cuts through the chill. I have plenty. I always will. For I have Jesus.