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


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?


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!


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.


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


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!


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!


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!


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


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!


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.


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.


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


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.

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!


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


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


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!