That's Not Fair!

“Life’s not fair.”

Chances are that at some moment, you’ve said this to your child. I know I have. And when we say it, we genuinely want our children to know that life isn’t fair. That you have to make your peace with that or forever be miserable.

And yet . . .

How many times have I complained that my child didn’t get the recognition/award/privilege they deserved? How many times have I ranted against a coach, a teacher, a director that treated my child unfairly? Too many to count!

Several years ago the incongruity of this struck me. While telling my child “life isn’t fair,” I then got all in a wad when things didn’t proceed in a manner I perceived as “fair” for my child. Which would my child incorporate into his/her thinking—my words or my actions? Research and ancient wisdom tell us that actions speak louder than words. The answer is clear. 

So I began training myself to view things differently. After all, life isn’t fair. It isn’t any more fair in the adult work than in the kid world. How do I want my adult children to respond to that fact of life?

I want them to trust God’s sovereignty, God’s justice, to believe that God is always working in their lives, through every circumstance. Now I try to approach my feelings of “unfairness” of others toward my child in a different way. I ask the Lord, “What do you want my child to learn from this situation?”

Sometimes that answer is very clear. Sometimes I can see no reason. But either way, I pray. “Lord, open my child’s eyes to whatever it is You want reveal or refine in them through this situation. Let them trust You, even when life isn’t fair or justice seems thwarted.”

Yes, there are still situations that boil my blood, but whenever they crop up, whether in real life or to relive in my mind, I repeat my process, my prayer. Because I don’t want my grown-up children wallowing in the excuse of “unfairness.” I want them walking in the freedom of faith in a God bigger than man’s choices, man’s prejudices, man’s preferences, a God who endured the ultimate “unfairness” in his crucifixion.

I want them to be like Jesus. 


A Sunday Psalm

Let those who love the Lord hate evil,
for He guards the lives of His faithful ones
and delivers them from the hand of the wicked.
Light is shed upon the righteous
and joy on the upright in heart.
Rejoice in the Lord, you who are righteous,
and praise His holy name.
   --Psalm 97:10-12


Whisper on the Wind by Maureen Lang

I remember back when Bodie Thoene’s Vienna Prelude came out. I’d never read anything quite like it. It had romance and adventure, action and intrigue all on the epic stage of World War II. I devoured all her subsequent books, loving every one. Since then, I’ve read many good books, but none in quite that same vein.

Until now.

If you read my blog regularly, you might remember my review of Look to the East by Maureen Lang a few months ago. Well the second book is here (or almost here!). And it is a doozy!

Whisper on the Wind is set in Belgium in World War I. Isa Lassone has smuggled herself back in to German-occupied Brussels while other people are desperate to get out! In her quest to rescue the man she loves and his family, she finds herself instead entangled in the underground resistance newspaper. Suddenly there is more at stake than just her heart!

As with the Thoene books I love, Marueen Lang has found a balance of romance and adventure that is sure to thrill almost any reader. And in a period of history often forgotten. 


The Green-Eyed Monster

I find myself envying my daughter lately. I’ve never really done that. Never lived vicariously through her. But as I recently lived day after day after day with the unexpected jumping in and scrambling my life as I prefer it to be, I found myself green with jealousy.

After all, she’s a college student. With no one to worry about but herself. No real responsibilities except getting to class on time and making the grades to keep her scholarships. No need to drop everything should someone else need something. No one depending on her to make things run smoothly. No time and energy and money spent when an issue like air-conditioning arises. (Don’t you wish your house had a permanent maintenance man?) No need to figure out what’s for dinner, even though that does mean eating cafeteria food. No one desiring her to fit her life and schedule around theirs.

See what I mean? I keep thinking that being an empty nester will be nearly the same thing, but my friends assure me that isn’t so. And so I sigh and watch her carefree life, knowing she doesn’t appreciate the lack of people and things all vying for her attention. And yet—it drives me to pray. Not only my grumbling heart, but also for her. For there will come a day when she walks in my shoes, sacrificing her wants, her wishes, for the family God will bless her with.

And I pray she will do it far more graciously than I. 


Surrender the Heart by MaryLu Tyndall

Who doesn’t love a good adventure on the high seas? It’s hard not to when it comes in the form of a MaryLu Tyndall book! Thanks to MaryLu’s generosity (and that of her publisher!) I received a copy of her latest book Surrender the Heart. And it did not disappoint.

As a reader, I love how MaryLu blends adventure and romance and spiritual truth. As a writer, I marvel that she does it in books where almost the entire story takes place on a ship!

While MaryLu’s previous books have revolved around pirate characters, Surrender the Heart takes a new direction. Set in the War of 1812, where the fledging American navy bested the powerful British navy, this is a story of a reluctant patriot and a passionate one. But it is also about facing deep fears, accepting God’s unconditional love for us, and trusting Him with our lives.

With characters that capture your imagination and a stunning, surprising adventure at every turn, I think you will enjoy every moment you spend with Marianne and Noah.


A Sunday Psalm

Sing joyfully to the Lord, you righteous;
it is fitting for the upright to praise Him.
Praise the Lord with the harp;
make music to Him on the ten-stringed lyre.
Sing to Him a new song;
play skillfully and shout for joy.
For the word of the Lord is right and true;
He is faithful in all He does.
The Lord loves righteousness and justice;
the earth is full of His unfailing love.
      --Psalm 33:1-5


As the Clock Ticks

I try to catch time
To hold it
To make it bend to my will.
Instead the days race by
Hours fleeing
Minutes flying.
In the chaos I’m caught between
Wanting time to stand still and
Wanting to jump over calendar squares.
People come before work
Yet deadlines loom.
Houses don’t clean themselves.
Families have to eat.
And so I pray:
Multiply the moments.
Help me discipline my days.
In that plea I must rest
Believing the Maker of Time hears my cry
And answers.
In His time
Not mine.


Back to School Thankfulness

It’s been a crazy week, with a bit more craziness to come. But for now, I’m sitting alone in my house, quiet except for the music playing on my computer. I always look forward to the calm of the first day of school. Though this year I only have a few minutes to revel in it before I must force myself from my chair and run through this day, still I sit thankful. Thankful for a daughter that loves her college life. Thankful for a senior son that is open to whatever future the Lord has for him. Thankful for my baby boy who has another three years at home. Thankful for my husband who gathered us all close and prayed before the boys embarked on another school year.

God is good.


Oh the Things Moms Will Do

I’ve spent the past week running all over creation looking for a pink necklace. Not just any pink necklace, mind you, but one almost the exact dark hot pink of the sandals from the clearance rack. After all, if you are wearing pink sandals with a black and white dress, it stands to reason that your necklace should be pink, too. Right?

Lest you think I got caught up indulging my inner diva in me, let me assure you, I did not. I embarked on the quest for my daughter.

Let me explain. She’s never been a girly girl. In fact, she’s really been a tomboy most of her life. But all of sudden, at 19, she is conforming to the social norms. So for the first time in my life, I really, really feel like the mother of a girl. And the girl who has disdained pink in any form, now begged me to find that perfect pink necklace while she spent the week at Glorieta with her college friends.

What’s a mom to do? Go shopping, of course. And of course no one had what I needed. Not until in a desperate attempt to not disappoint, I checked the necklaces at Walmart. And wa-la! One—count it, one—necklace that worked. Yes, one style, but ONE left! My only consolation? It was on clearance for $3. If only I hadn’t already spend four times that amount in gas going to all those other places!


A Sunday Psalm

I do not hide Your righteousness in my heart,
I speak of Your faithfulness and salvation.
I do not conceal Your love and Your truth from the great assembly.
Do not withhold Your mercy from me, O Lord;
may Your love and Your truth always protect me.
   --Psalm 40:10-11


Back in Time

I went on a researching trip the other day. Back to the library of my alma mater, to the site of my first post-college “real” job. (Ok, so it was the only “real” job I ever held!) But besides a very fun lunch with former co-workers I hadn’t seen in almost 20 years, my favorite part was my time in the West stacks. 

You see, when they updated and added on to the library building, they left the original one, incorporating the old into the new. Thus, the West stacks are the old library—even before I was there! No windows. Old study carrels. No computers. Narrow staircases leading from one floor to the next, unless you are brave enough to get on the small elevator that services that building.

The dust and eerie quiet and the buzzing florescent lighting brought a thrill. My fingers touched books held by long-gone co-eds and cataloguers, making me feel a part of all those who had used those books and walked between those shelves over the years. Because while I love the history I find in the books, sometimes what I really love is the history of the books. Wondering who held them, read them, checked them out—and why. Did they get a good grade on the paper? Did they discover the answer to a question that plagued them? Maybe they gossiped or flirted or cried behind the open covers.

In the end, I had more to do than time to do it, so I’ll be making another trip back. But that doesn’t bother me. That library draws me. I think it’s because I feel more than other people’s history within its walls. I also feel the ghost-of-me-past walking alongside. Idealistic. Full of dreams of what life would bring. A few years ago I wouldn’t have wanted to meet that girl again. These days, she’s a welcome companion. Maybe because I recognize so much of her in my children. Maybe because after all this time some of those dreams are being fulfilled. Whatever it is, I’m glad my path has taken me back to that place, for so many reasons.

What about you? Is there a place that evokes that idealistic, full of dreams, on the cusp of life you? Or is there a place where history feels close, as if you could pull aside a thin curtain and step into another era?  


Lady in Waiting by Susan Meissner

I’ll admit that I’m a sucker for almost any novel that toggles between a past and present story, especially when that author has navigated that device well in the past. And since Susan Meissner’s The Shape of Mercy is still one of my favorite books, it’s no wonder I snapped up her new one, Lady in Waiting, the moment I saw it. (You, on the other hand, will have to be a lady in waiting until it actually releases in early September!)

Lady in Waiting is the story of waiting, and of choices, in the lives of two very different women: Jane, a 40 something mom living in Manhattan and Lady Jane Grey, the teenager who ruled England for all of 9 days before she was imprisoned and later executed at the order of her cousin, Queen Mary. Jane tells her own story; Lucy Day, dressmaker, tells Lady Jane’s story.

Susan does an amazing job of weaving together universal themes that effortlessly span the gap of almost 500 years as well as capturing the pull that history has on those that love it. So if like me you love not just history in the books but also the unknown history of things, too, you will love this story.

As usual, I’ll stop there since I don’t want to spoil it for you. Instead, I’d like you to experience Lady in Waiting for yourself. And as always, I’d love to discuss when you are finished reading!


Car Shopping

When I was young, I thought car shopping would be fun. But that was before I understood about things like budgets and car insurance and gas mileage. And before I realized that I had married a researcher and a planner.

Now I dread car shopping. I know it will take weeks or months not only to find what we want but also to decide to actually plunk down the money for it. At least that’s how it’s gone for five of the six cars we’ve purchased in our married life. But there was that one . . .

When our van, which we loved, developed issues almost overnight, expensive issues, more money than we wanted to spend for the age of the car issues, we had to make a decision—and fast! We drove to the dealership to look at a van exactly like the one we owned. But we couldn’t decide. So we drove, on a whim—and we don’t do anything on a whim!—to another dealership. And there was a just-turned-in two-year old Suburban, loaded with amenities! Given the ages of our children at the time, we knew this was the last moment in our lives we could justify buying a Suburban. We looked at each other, locked eyes, and decided. We wanted that car!

We bought it in a day. Signed, sealed, and almost delivered. (They had to clean it up first.) And we’ve never regretted it. Then again, we’ve never regretted any car we’ve purchased. So I guess as we begin round seven, I’ll rest in that. Slow or fast, we’ll do what we’ve always done: set a price limit, look around and pray hard. 



Adjusting to the Journey

I’ve spent the summer trying to find my “sea legs” in regard to my writing. You see, for the past ten years it has been on the periphery. Not that I didn’t work on it. I did. More and more in the past few years. But never before have I had to work on it. If things got crazy around my house, I’d just set writing aside for a little bit—or at least I wouldn’t stress over how little I managed to do.

With a contract, things change. Not that my family isn’t supportive. They are. But finding our collective “sea legs” is taking some time, too. That could be because this summer was unlike any we’ve ever had, all going in different directions and being gone more than we were home. But whatever the case, it doesn’t negate the fact that we must all adjust our thoughts and our actions to this new way of life.

For me, part of it is a scheduling issue, trying to carve out the needed hours to do what must be done. But part of it is a writing issue. I have a short summary I wrote for the 2nd contracted book, but now I have to flesh it out into a whole novel. I don’t usually do those kinds of things before I start writing! And yet I know I must, for the clock is ticking toward the deadline and I don’t have time to start and stop over again and again like I have in the past.

So if you think about it, please pray for me—for us—as I find my “sea legs” for this new journey. I know they’ll come. The knees are getting less wobbly already. But the time has come when I need to stand strong and firm and move forward in spite of the unfamiliar rocking of the boat on the waves. 


She Speaks Conference

I had the opportunity this past weekend to be a part of the She Speaks Conference put on by Proverbs 31 Ministries. I didn’t go as a participant. I was invited to attend in my role as a mentor at The Writing Spa. But that didn’t keep me from being impressed with the conference and changed by the few sessions I attended.

First, I was impressed not only with the professionalism of those running the conference and speaking at the sessions, I was also impressed with their accessibility, their humility, and their authenticity. They welcomed Leslie and I in as a part of their team even though they’d never actually met up before. We didn’t just meet colleagues; we made friends.

We did attend the three general sessions where we heard vibrant, relevant messages by Lysa TerKeurst, Angela Thomas, and Karen Ehman. I was challenged to pay attention to my reactions, to trust God with my calling, and to remain true to my First Love. In each instance I took away a nugget of truth I knew God meant for me.

But the thing I think I will remember the most about this was the weekend was that I didn’t pull away in fear when the Lord’s plopping me in the midst of a circumstance that challenged my comfort zone. Me, the introvert, spent 9 hours on Saturday consulting with writers I’d never met until they walked into the room. And every time I thought I had nothing to say, the Lord sent words careening out of my mouth—words of truth cloaked (I think! I hope!) in love.

Someday, perhaps, I’ll attend this conference and sit through all the sessions. But if I only go back in my Writing Spa role, I’ll be more than satisfied. After all, what could be better than a weekend spent as a vessel of the Spirit of God continually being emptied and filled. 


No Place Like Home

27 of the last 44 days. That’s how many days I’ve been out of town as of yesterday. Never in my life have I packed so much travel into such a short period of time! Not all the trips were business. But they weren’t all pleasure. Most trips were planned. Two were last minute. Two trips involved driving. Three involved airplanes. I have to say: I’m exhausted—and so glad to be home!

But in these whirlwind six weeks, I feel as if I’ve become a seasoned traveler. I can pack for up to 6 days in two carry on bags. I can throw a suitcase together in a matter of hours. I can whisk through security without stress. (The only thing I still can’t do is ride a commuter prop plane without white-knuckling the armrests!)

I’m glad to have a couple of weeks to catch my breath before a short trip to drop our daughter at college. Then everyone will start school and I’ll be back to blessed routine—at least until my next trip!


A Sunday Psalm

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.
May Your hand be ready to help me,
for I have chosen Your precepts.
I long for Your salvation, O Lord,
and Your law is my delight.
    --Psalm 119:171-174