I don’t do anticipation very well. Anticipation of something bad has always led to fear in my life. Anticipation of good has often led to disappointment. So how do we walk through days full of anticipation of something looming on the horizon of our lives? Of something we know, for better or worse, is coming?

Lately I’ve been remembering the days of anticipation before the birth of my first child. The anticipation wasn’t so strong the day I learned I was pregnant. Or even a few months later. I knew I had to wait at least nine months, so the anticipation heightened as the time drew near. I quit my full-time job two weeks before my due date. Every day of those two weeks was filled with anticipation—and little else. I remember feeling restless, eager for something besides the impending birth to occupy my mind and yet unable to settle into anything else for long.

I feel that way these days, too. And yet, nearly twenty years later, I’m thinking that anticipation shouldn’t rule me. I should be able to move forward, to accomplish all that is required of me on a daily basis without succumbing to the inactivity and indecision of anticipation. Isn’t that what it means to not worry about tomorrow? To be able to live each day, each moment without that cloak of anticipation binding my hands and feet?

So I’m trying to do better, trying to live in the now, trying to anticipate only what the Lord would have me to do, not what lies ahead to experience. Help me, Lord!


A Sunday Psalm

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


It's In the Details

I’m a detail person. I didn’t always know this about myself. In fact, at a crucial job interview when I was twenty-one, my prospective boss said, “Are you a detail-oriented person?”
“No,” I replied, very matter-of-factly. Maybe almost with a bit of disdain. After all, everyone knows that “detail-oriented” means “boring” or “nerd.” And I was determined to be neither of those things.

The Lord graciously let this woman see past my words to my personality and I got the job. It did indeed involve myriad details, all of which I juggled with aplomb. Whether I liked it or not, I recognized that I am wired for detail.

But lately it seems like I’m drowning in a sea of details. I’m not talking about saying “no” to things. I’m just talking about the details of life that must be attended to by someone. Things like when a bill isn’t correct and you must call customer service to get it straightened out. Or when one doctor’s appointment leads to another. Or when you change your provider of ___________ (you fill in the blank) and the list of who needs to know this snowballs until you feel like Indiana Jones running from a giant boulder. Sometimes it’s just the weekly or monthly task of making a grocery list and figuring out what you are going to feed the family or taking care of the car registration, inspection, oil change, tire rotation.

I don’t want to spend every waking moment dealing with the details. I want to read or write or spend time with the people I enjoy. But I have a hard time doing those things when the details of life become all consuming.


The Pastor's Wife

Have you or your spouse ever put your job or ministry before your marriage? Have either of you ever felt like you couldn’t find your place—and your spouse didn’t fully understand? Have you or your spouse ever held to yourself a hurt that needed to be shared?

If you answered yes to any of the above questions—and my guess is that if you’ve been married more than a few days or weeks, you did—then you will be able to identify with Maura and Nick Shepherd, the main characters in Jennifer AlLee’s novel The Pastor’s Wife. I know I did! My husband and I struggled at the beginning of his career with the balance of work and family.

I met Jennifer over three years ago at an ACFW conference, and now she and I both contribute to the Inkwell Inspirations blog. She is a lovely person and a great writer. And I’m glad I can also call her my friend.

But I have to admit, when I agree to accept a free book before publication, I do it with a bit of trepidation. What if I hate it? What do I do then? Just a few pages into this book, I knew that wouldn’t be a problem!

Real without being raw, this engaging romance warmed my heart. Here’s the back cover blurb:

Maura Sullivan thought she knew what she was getting into when she married son-to-be-pastor Nick Shepherd. But when “the other woman” in her marriage turned out to be her husband’s congregation, she ran.

Six years later, she’s back in the small community of Granger, Ohio, for the reading of a will that names both her and Nick as beneficiaries.

Now Maura must face the husband and the congregation she left behind.

I hope you find as much pleasure in their story as I did!


Thank You, Tekeme Studios!

I've long admired the work of George and Ashley Weis at Tekeme Studios. Then I met Ashley face to face at the 2009 ACFW Conference. If our common callings as writers didn't unite us, the fact that she was pregnant with her third child in three years would have. After all, I've lived that life.

But imagine my thrill when the Lord dropped a bit of money in my lap and then nudged me to take the plunge and ask Ashley and George to redo my website/blog! So here it is, the debut. I hope you like it as much as I do.

Thanks, Ashley and George, for managing to put me on the page (or the screen) in a way I could never have articulated but which fits me perfectly. Y'all are awesome!



Are you watching the Olympics? In spite of the influx of professionals into the venue, I still love the pageantry and the stories of athletes from around the world that overcome great odds. Like the lone participant from Ghana—that country’s first ever winter Olympian. He’s a skier. His nickname is The Snow Leopard. Or the young American ski jumper that received his trip to the Olympic qualifying trials as his Christmas present from his family. He didn’t even make the medal round, but I imagine that didn’t much matter. Of course there is tragedy, too. Like watching the faces of the other athletes from Georgia as they paraded into the arena after losing their teammate to the luge accident.

More stories will surface in the next few days. We’ll cheer for those who have persevered through hardship or loss. We’ll watch as some favored to win their events will, indeed, win. We’ll watch as others, considered long shots, rise to the occasion and end up on the podium with a medal circling their necks and the emotion of watching their country flag ascend flickering across their faces. It’s a good thing the Olympics only come every two years. I’m not sure I could stand the suspense or emotion any more often than that!



Are you ever afraid to ask God for something? I am. I find myself afraid I’ll ask for the wrong thing and then God will give it and I’ll be in a mess. Or I get afraid that if I ask, I won’t get an answer. Or the answer won’t be what I want to hear. Or I don’t ask because I think I don’t deserve to recieve anything. Or because asking might mean I haven’t yet conquered self.

But is any of that really true? I’ve been reading in the book of Mark lately. In Chapter 7 the Syrophonenician woman came and asked Jesus to heal her daughter. She wasn’t even deterred by His not immediately saying yes or no. She persisted. And Jesus healed her daughter.

In Chapter 9, the disciples become confused by Jesus’ words about what will happen to him, about his impending death and resurrection. Verse 32 says “But they did not understand this statement, and they were afraid to ask Him.” They didn’t understand, yet they were afraid to ask.

Chapter 10 closes with the story of blind Bartimaeus. He called to Jesus, asking for mercy. When Jesus stopped and took him aside, Jesus said, “What do you want me to do for you?” Bartimaeus asked to receive his sight, and he received it.

As all three of these stories swirl together in my mind, I remember Jesus, who even knowing the Father’s plan for him, asked in the garden, “If it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will.” (Matthew 26:39) He asked for the cup to pass, but also asked that the Father do as He pleased.

Then I remember the verses that I’ve pondered since my teenaged years. “Now suppose one of you fathers is asked by his son for a fish; he will not give him a snake instead of a fish, will he? Or if he is asked for an egg, he will not give him a scorpion, will he?” (Luke 11:11-12)

So many times I am like the disciples. Afraid to ask. Afraid, maybe, to hear the answer—even sometimes afraid Jesus will grant my request. And yet—of all the examples above the only one turned down flat was Jesus’. But He didn’t mind, for He’d qualified it with “not as I will, but as You will.”

If the Word of God is to be taken as a whole, then I must conclude that God wants me to ask. That He will not give me something to my detriment if my heart is seeking that which is good in His sight. That while He may not say yes to my request, He is not offended by it. Indeed, while He knows my need or my desire before I ask, He sometimes deems it necessary for me to voice the question. I just need to ask.


Sunshine Award

So how fun is this? Steena over at Chocolate Reality gave my blog a Sunshine Award. Here's the cool part about this for me--Steena often reads and comments on my "Critique per Week" post I do at the Wanna Be Published blog. But I had no idea she'd found this blog! Anyway, part of the point of this award is to pass it to other bloggers I know. So here goes.

Rules to Accept the Award:
Put the logo on your blog in your post.
Pass the award onto 12 bloggers. (Yeah, I didn't manage 12. Time crunch)
Link the nominees within your post.
Let the nominees know they have received this award by commenting on their blogs.
Share the love and link to the person from whom you received this award.


Freezing Toes, Eating Woes

I thought I was crazy. Or at least completely lacking in self-control. But today I found a scientific explanation for my behavior of late. And that was comforting.

You see, until December, I’d been doing so well eating right. At first I blamed my lapse on my chef daughter being home from school. And that was part of it. But she’s been gone a few weeks now and I’m still struggling. The most frustrating part was that I could do fine for several days—even weeks. Then I wanted to (and did) eat everything in sight. I literally couldn’t help myself. But then I noticed something: my binges came as the temperature dropped.

I’m very cold natured as it is. And we’ve had an unusually cold winter this year. The result? I eat. Not just food, but carbs and sweets. So today I looked up cold weather and appetite and found an interesting article on WebMD. It said that when the temperature drops outside, our body temperatures drop. (Boy does mine drop!) One way the body knows to raise that temperature is to increase the appetite. Food helps the body increase its temperature again. Especially carbs and sugar.

Now, being the biology boycotter that I am (I took Life Science in 7th grade, but no Biology beyond that.), I had no idea my body worked like that. I only knew I couldn’t quit eating this winter. I still need to have a bit more self-control in what I consume. And I need to find a way to get warm enough to exercise, which wouldn’t be a problem except that I’m too cheap to turn up the heat in the house! But at least now I know I’m not crazy.


Reading vs. Writing

Catching up after Christmas and doing another round of edits on my book didn’t leave much time for reading in January. In fact, I only read two books. I can’t remember the last time that’s happened. I tend to average 4-5 books per month. I have for years and years. Yet here am I with February half-gone and I have yet to close a back cover and wish the story hadn’t ended.

It’s a hard thing, I’m learning, to balance the reading and the writing. I love to read. I hate not to read. And yet there are only so many hours in a day. And this coming from one who always reads at least a chapter before bed and carries a book with me at all times for those “unexpected” free moments! My “to read” stacks are growing higher, even as I’m longing to re-read some old favorites. How did I get in this mess?

Oh, yeah. I wanted to write. Isn’t every dream a double-edged sword? And here is mine. Maybe I need to talk my husband into a beach vacation this summer, even though neither of us cares for the beach. At least it would be time with nothing to do but read. Unless, of course, we found a historical site to visit.

On second thought, maybe a research trip would be as fun as a reading one!


My Epiphany

I thought I had this writing thing down. The real writing. Like at the request of a professional who expected to see it in her inbox.

All through the summer and fall I’ve written and edited by faith. Truly. I trusted that Lord would make a way to get it done in a timely manner. That I could take Sundays completely off. That I could put down my work and engage with my family and friends when I needed to.

But when January and a different request arrived, it was as if I hadn’t learned anything at all! I plunged in, starting with an unrealistic deadline for myself. With that date fixed in my head, I figured I had to work constantly to get there. I started in the morning and worked late into the evening with few breaks. I only took time off to attend my sons’ basketball games.

For ten days I worked. Then, as I lay in bed, jittery, frantic, unable to sleep, I had an epiphany: I wasn’t made to work 24/7. You’d think I’d know that, but I guess I didn’t. Not really. I thought if I used all the hours available to me in a day, I’d finish more quickly. But it doesn’t work like that. Not when you don’t eat right or sleep right or exercise. Not when you have no down time and no interaction with others.

So on the 11th day, I stopped. Not stopped working, but stopped working non-stop. I took regular breaks, ate regular meals, exercised. And in doing so, I accomplished as much or more than when I pushed myself over the limit. And the end result was better work. My husband concurred when I told him my plan. His support helped me give myself “permission” to take breaks.

I really hope this lesson has taken root now. And I hope it is a lesson I needed to because deadlines imposed by others and not myself hover on the horizon. But whatever the case may be, I know that by pushing myself to the brink of exhaustion and frustration, I’ve also pushed to a new level of trust in the Lord. I work hard in the time I have to work but I have to trust Him not only to give me the time to work but the creativity and freshness of mind I need for that time.


Gleaning Historical Tidbits

I love learning about history. Not the history you learn in textbooks, necessarily, although knowledge of those things is an important background. I love the little things. The obscure things. Things important to the people of a specific time and place but not noted by the country or the world. That’s why I love the Dallas History Conference.

This year we learned all kinds of cool things—about the fact that SMU had a medical and pharmaceutical school that opened and closed its doors before the undergraduate liberal arts school had its first class, about the red light district in Dallas from 1910-1913 and the efforts that brought about its demise, about the outlaw Shilo Scrivnor, about the long-forgotten Long’s Lake pleasure park, and about “Dad” Garrett and his inventions. What? You haven’t heard of most of that?

Precisely! Isn’t that fun? While none of those actual topics may find their way into my stories, I learned lots of little things—like the name of one of the biggest employers in Dallas in the early 1900s, several bank robberies that occurred in Dallas in the late 1910s and early 1920s, what hospitals were up and running in Dallas in the early 1900s and some of early medical men whose legacies remain today. I learned some of the history of traffic signals and radio stations and fire and police alarms and an African-American newspaper. Tidbits that can enhance a story and that are just plain fun to know!

Here’s a bonus for you: Did you know that the first car in Dallas was delivered by train to Terrell then driven to Dallas? It took 5 hours and 10 minutes to make that drive!

Someday I’ll have more time to research on my own, but gleaning from the research of others is an amazing thing, too. I’m so glad I live in a place where I can take advantage of that!



Living the Dream

My husband has always been a far-seeing man. When I met him, he was nineteen. Unlike most college students, he wasn’t living for the next day or the next party. He was living for forty. The perfect age, he told me. You’ve paid off your education and are seasoned in your career. You have a family and a house. Life is good at forty, he told me.

And he was right. Almost.

In spite of reaching those goals for forty that he set way back at eighteen (or earlier), he wasn’t quite living his dream. Two years later, he thought he’d found it, entering into a partnership with a godly man and a great lawyer. For two years we've loved that situation, one he had envisioned long ago that combined Christian lawyers and good legal work. Even so, something still niggled at him. A new judicial seat was created in the area. A public servant. Not his ultimate dream, but something that had always appealed to him. So he pursued it, even knowing it was a bit of a long-shot. And then the unexpected happened.

Out of the blue, he was offered his dream job.

What, might you ask with bated breath, could that possibly be? When my husband made his plans for law school all those years ago, his dream was to practice Constitutional law. Of course as time passed, he realized that such a career doesn’t often pay the bills, especially student loans that covered a private college education and a private law school education. So he plunged into the world of business litigation. He enjoyed it and he was good at it. But on the side he indulged his true love, using his pro bono hours to write letters and briefs and argue cases for causes of religious liberty. And he loved it. He felt he was using his talents in the service of the Lord and others.

As of today, he takes the helm of legal activities at the Liberty Institute. He will get to live his dream—practicing Constitutional law on a daily basis. It’s quite a shift, going from private practice to working for a non-profit entity. But we are so proud of him and so excited for his new adventure, even if we are sobered by the thoughts that he is moving to the front lines of a huge spiritual battle. 

Sometimes you really do get to live that dream that the Lord has dropped into your heart, even if it takes a few years longer than you imagined.