Wrangling the Beast

This has been a week of full out editing on my 2013 release, with at least another week to go. Not easy, but fun. I like to see how the story and the characters come more clearly into focus. Once it is the best I can make it, I’ll send it to my editor, who will find other weakness that need to be strengthened. And I’m so grateful for that! 

I believe this is the most complex story I’ve tried to write in the past 12 years. Not easy to do in first person, but I though I considered third person with multiple point of view characters for this story, it still seemed to beg to be told from Sadie’s point of view. And so it goes. I humbly covet your prayers this coming week as I finish wrangling this sometimes thrashing beast into submission. 



My daughter turns 21 today. It isn’t that this makes me feel old, knowing I birthed my first child over two decades ago. It really doesn’t. In so many ways, I still feel 21 myself, even though I know I’m much older than that. :) 

So why is it that I’ve been ignoring this milestones birthday for my eldest child? I’m not sure, exactly. But whatever my hidden angst over my daughter’s birthday, I can truly say that I am amazed at all God has done in and through her. I never imagined when I held that little girl in my arms so very long ago—with her wailing to be out of my arms!—that the Lord would use her to effect such lasting change in my own faith and character. And I never imagined how tight a hold she would gain on my heart. 

I love you, baby girl! Enjoy your  21st birthday!


Paid Apps

Let me just start by saying I’m extremely frugal. I rarely pay for anything I can live without. (Of course there are times I say “cost be hanged” and get what I want, but that is very rare!)

Anyway, suffice it to say, this trait extends to the app store for my phone. I usually don’t even look at the paid apps! But at the recommendation of two people I trust implicitly (my husband and my best friend), I actually spent money on two apps—and I’ve never regretted either purchase.

PrayerMate—my husband told me about this app. It is a structured, yet fully customizable way to keep up with your prayer list. You can list requests to pray for everyday or categories to pray for every day, then specify how many of the requests in that category to pray for each day. (Then it scrolls through all of those things repeatedly over how ever many days it takes to cover them all.) The possibilities are endless. Plus, it is right with you all the time. Someone asks you to pray, you can put the request right on your list. You can lock it with a password if there is sensitive information. It is so convenient to log in whenever and wherever you are and remember who you want and need to pray for. It’s awesome! Cost: $2.99

MotivatedMoms—my BFF knows how much I hate to clean house. Almost as much as I hate to cook. But at the first of this year, I knew I had to somehow get a handle on things. She suggested this app. The price made me balk—especially when I realized they make you buy it again each year. But after using it for the past three and a half months, I think it’s a steal! Much cheaper than a housekeeper! :) 

Motivated Moms is a to do list (Yes, another one.), but it is focused on the house. Not only does it have daily tasks listed (yes, you can delete the ones that don’t apply to you and add ones that do), but the beauty of this app lies in the weekly and occasional tasks that get assigned a day— you know, the stuff you never actually remember to do. (Again, you can add, delete, or change a to do date.) With this app, not only have my bathrooms, floors, and kitchen stayed relatively clean on a weekly basis, but I find it now takes less time to do those tasks because I haven’t let things get out of hand. Also, I’ve done things I would never have done--like clean various shelves in the fridge or wipe down the kitchen cabinets or the front and top of the washer and dryer. I confess, I rarely do everything listed on a day, but each task I get done is more than would have happened on my own, so I don’t worry too much about the rest. I know some of those occasional tasks will come back around again and I’ll have another chance. I generally work hard to get most of the daily and weekly tasks done on any given day. And once I’ve marked off most of that day’s tasks, I then mark off the one task called “house” on my TeuxDeux list. (You’ve gotta love cascading lists—the generality on the main list and a more detailed list to mark off elsewhere! And all of my list apps are grouped in the same folder on my phone.) Cost: $9.99 That’s for the year, but well worth it. 

There you go. The two apps that pried open my wallet! What about you? Do you use any paid apps that are worth every hard-earned cent? Let me know about them, too! 


A Sunday Psalm

Sing to Him, sing praise to Him;
tell of all His wonderful acts.
Glory in His holy name;
let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice.
Look to the Lord and His strength;
seek His face always.
        --Psalm 105:2-4


Visiting Another Blog Today

Hey y'all--

I'm blogging today at my friend L.A. Freeland's blog.

Come on over and visit!


North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell

For a long time I’ve heard friends talk about the BBC version of Elizabeth Gaskill’s novel  North and South. When I found it at Costco (bundled with Cranford, which I love, and another Gaskell story, Wives and Daughters, I decided it would be worth getting. After all, my husband and I find ourselves at home alone a lot lately and we always love a good BBC period drama!

Oh. My. Goodness. It was like a cross between Jane Austen and Charles Dickens—two of my favorites! A bit on the depressing side, but for me a couple of scenes rivaled the understated romance in the old version of Persuasion (Amanda Root and Ciaran HInds), which melts my heart every time. 

As I did the first time I saw Cranford, I searched out the actual novel of North and South, which I found free for my kindle. The book may or may not live up to the movie. We’ll see. But this is definitely one I will watch over and over again!


Kindle Bargains!

Wings of a Dream and some of my other favorite Bethany House historical novels are $2.99 on Kindle, for a limited time!  See the titles below!


A Sunday Psalm

When I am afraid, I will trust in You.
In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust;
I will not be afraid.
What can mortal man do to me?
         --Psalm 56:3-4


Pioneer Literary Club

I got to visit with the ladies at the Pioneer Literary Club in Kerens, TX, on Thursday afternoon. Such a fun time! Here are a few pictures.


Choosing My Way or God's Way

I’ve been reading through I Samuel again. I love how so much of David’s story is about before he became king—living and learning in light of a future promise. 

Anyway, I was in I Samuel 24, reading again how Saul was chasing after David and went into the very cave where David and his men were hiding in order to relieve himself.  David, of course, cut off a piece of Saul’s garment, though his men urged him to kill the man who sought to end his life. David not only chooses not to harm his enemy, but also persuades his men to not to rise up against Saul. He does however, tell Saul what he has done (or rather, refrained from doing.) 

Then I read this in verse 10: “Behold, this day your eyes have seen that the Lord had given you today into my hand in the cave . . . and I said, ‘I will not stretch out my hand against my lord, for he is the Lord’s anointed.’” 

Do you know what struck me about that verse? The Lord delivered Saul into David’s hand. David recognized that. But David didn’t assume that was an opportunity he was meant to capitalize on. He still had a choice. Was the Lord offering up Saul for David to kill him—or was he offering up Saul to see if David would trust Him and His plan, to see if he would show compassion to his enemy? 

I don’t know about you, but often if a situation falls in my lap—especially one of deliverance from hardship—I, like David, assume the Lord has done it. However, I rarely stop to ask myself if moving forward and springing myself from adversity is the Lord’s will in that moment. I just do it, thinking more of my own comfort than of God’s plan. But maybe I need to take a lesson from David. Maybe I need to stop, to talk to the Lord in spite of an advantageous (to me) situation and make sure it is His way. Like David did. 


Some of My Favorite Apps

If you are like me, you often curse the technology which is supposed to make our lives easier and frequently doesn’t. However, there are times when I find something that actually does what it’s supposed to do and really does benefit my life. So I thought I might share some of those things with you. Mostly these are apps—for phones, web browsers, computers—some paid and some free. But the thing they all have in common is that I have come to depend on them in some way, so I thought you might need them, too! (I won’t try to do this all at once, just every now and then.) 

I thought I’d start with free apps on my phone. I have an iphone, but I know that many of these apps are available for other types of smartphones, too, and some of them I’ll also discuss another time in web apps as well, for a couple of them sync with their web app.  

So—on to free apps. 

I love free, don’t you? Especially when it is something worthwhile! Mostly these involve productivity in some way, not things like social media or games or reading apps or such, though of course I love those apps, too.

Here are some of the apps I can’t live without:

TeuxDeux - keeps a to do list by day (syncs with online). It works so much like I used to keep my paper to do list that the transition was a cinch!

MapQuest - I couldn’t go anywhere without it! The turn-by-turn instructions have saved me from getting lost so many times!

LoseIt! - weight loss/maintenance program that tracks the calories you eat and those you exercise off, with settings to track your weight and to set it for different weekly goals. Using this, my husband has lost almost 40 lbs and I’ve lost over 15 lbs since mid-October! 

AroundMe - determines your location, then lets you see what is nearby—categories like gas stations, restaurants, coffee shops, etc. It has been a lifesaver on many a trip for us. 

Evernote - I’ll talk about this one more in computer and web apps as well, but suffice it to say my whole life is in this program! From anywhere I am I can find receipts, information, travel agendas, whatever I have sent to this virtual filing cabinet—and the powerful search function means I can actually find what I need!

There you go! I’m sure there are more, but those are my most used apps, ones that have truly made my life a bit easier. Maybe one of them will be exactly what you need, too. I'd love to hear some of your favorite, free apps for your phone!


A Sunday Psalm

The mouth of the righteous man utters wisdom,
his tongue speaks what is just.
The law of His God is in his heart;
his feet do not slip.
    --Psalm 37:30-31


An Odd Spring Break

Unless we happened to take a family vacation during spring break, that week off of school has always meant kids in and out and around the house. But for the first time, all three of our kids have different spring break weeks! 

Next week, our youngest will go on a mission trip to South Texas with the youth from our church. The week after that, our older son will either travel to Florida to visit a high school friend whose parents moved there after graduation or he’ll be with his university’s basketball team (he’s one of the student assistants) at the NAIA national tournament. And finally, the week after Easter, our daughter will road trip it to Florida with some of her sorority sisters. 

Three different spring break weeks. Three different sets of plans. No one home. Spring break--no matter whose--will feel very, very strange around my house this year. 


I Promised PIctures!

I'm not a great photographer. In fact, most of the time I forget to take pictures! But here are a few of my favorites from our trip. I never imagined I'd enjoy it so much!

Water Lilies at Queen Elizabeth Botanical Gardens in Grand Cayman

Pedro St. James in Grand Cayman

View from Pedro St. James

Good Hope Plantation in Jamaica

View out the front door of Good Hope plantation house

Our ship at the Pier in Ocho Rios, Jamaica


Labadee, Haiti


Two happy, rested people! :)


I'm Back!

And just where have you been? You might be asking. I’ve been on a wonderful, week-long, unplugged cruise with my husband! It was part business for him, speaking at a conference on board the ship, but it was a glorious time of rest and reconnection for us both as well as a time to fellowship with other Christian attorneys and their wives. 
I’m playing a bit of catch up now--made slightly more crazy by the opening of the varsity baseball season--but I promise I’ll post some of my favorite pictures and memories of the trip very soon. While I had a great time away, I sure did my all my friends that hang out with me around here, too! 


A Sunday Psalm

The Lord is righteous in all His ways
and loving toward all He has made.
The Lord is near to all who call on Him,
to all who call on Him in truth.
He fulfills the desires of those who fear Him;
He hears their cry and saves them.
    ---Psalm 145:17-19


At Every Turn catalog copy

At Every Turn by Anne Mateer

Caught up in a whirlwind of religious fervor when two missionaries speak at her church, Alyce Benson impetuously pledges three thousand dollars to mission work in Africa. She's certain her wealthy father will simply hand her the money. But when he refuses, she must either stand up in front of the congregation and admit failure, or raise the money herself.

Alyce harbors a secret passion for speed and automobiles. It's 1916, and the latest advancements in car engines allow some to post speeds upwards of seventy miles per hour! When she discovers her father's company has sponsored a racing car that will compete in several upcoming events--races in which the driver will be paid and could win as much as five thousand dollars in prize money--she conspires with her father's mechanic, Webster, to secretly train and compete.

But as Alyce comes across needs in her own community, money slips through her fingers faster than she can earn it. And when her friends cast aspersions on Webster's past, she believes she might have trusted the wrong man with her secret. Will Alyce come up with the money in time, or will she have to choose between her promise and the man who holds a piece of her heart?

September, 2012