Change. I've learned to embrace it, ride it out til the end. Sometimes I'm kicking and screaming, other times weeping with my eyes clinched tight. Once in awhile I ride like a dog in a car, head out the window snorting what life has to offer. Mother to young adult children, a marriage of thirty years, and a desert to mountain to valley waltz with God have shaped me into someone I never imagined I'd be. Life is short and I want to live it. Tears, sighs, laughter and change. Every morsel granted to me. Scrambled, shaken or stirred.
Thursday, December 27, 2007
I didn't think to ask for front teeth this year since I am in possession of mine, but the goggles might be on my list for next year. Especially if they are magnifying.
I don't know this cute child, but Mr. Microsoft does. So I borrowed her since I thought she fit quite nicely with both my bent toward the twisted and the thought of the day. Great gifts.
My Christmas oozed blessings. I mentioned my bookshelves in passing the other day.
My husband delivered. Big time. I've snapped some pictures that I'll post in the very near future.
My daughter-in-law (and son) gifted me with a pan. Some wouldn't consider this a great gift. But, my daughter-in-law watched me do my burn avoidance dance when cooking in my favorite pan a few months ago. A favorite pan I can't toss. The handle is gone and has been for years, but if the hot pads are thick enough, it can still be used. And if it can still be used, it seems that the purchase of a replacement is extravagant. Her thoughtfulness birthed a guilt-free gift.
Now, the only thing that will get too warm when I cook is my heart.
She may have to wrestle the old one out of my hands and force me to part with it, though.
My oldest daughter gave me slippers with warming packs for tired, achy feet. My husband wrapped an assortment of lip balms and chocolates. Are you beginning to see why I feel especially loved?
We received two gifts of money that will move the remodeling to the next level.
My brother gave each of my children a journal and used the first few pages to pen his thoughts and memories of who they were as children and how he sees them as they have morphed into adults or near-adult.
So far I haven't mentioned the cleanliness of the house or the Martha Stewart-like food presentation. Oh, we had candles and goodies galore. But the good stuff, the keepers were the slivers of time and laughter and shared memories.
I played and lost five games of Settlers of Catan. The winners and losers laughed until fudge came out our noses. (Not really, but I do like the visual.) The scent of cinnamon rolls and coffee filled the air while we prayed together and read the Christmas story Christmas morning. Candlelight filled the church sanctuary on Christmas Eve while we sang Silent Night.
Now, I wait for the next celebration. Visitors are coming to stay. More laughing, more eating, more memories just waiting to be built.
I do love this time of year.
Hope the rest of 2007 is especially wonderful for you and yours.
Tuesday, December 25, 2007
Sunday, December 23, 2007
Friday, December 21, 2007
Thursday, December 20, 2007
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
Kelly's Blessed Christmas Moments with and without Children....
I can't compete with Angela's eloquence so I'll just share some of my favorite in-living-color dysfunctional parenting Christmas moments with you.
One of my all-time favorite pictures of my two oldest children is actually a short series of pictures. In them, the four-year-old attempts to take something from the one-year-old's clenched fist. Both children begin upright with expressions of sheer determination. The last picture shows no faces, just the adorable backsides of a victory in progress. I suppose, in hindsight, I could've put down the camera and intervened. But, alas, I did not. I chose to snap the wrestling-under-the-Christmas-tree-struggle, frame it and continue to laugh about it twenty years later.
Today, a friend forwarded an e-mail full of pictures with Santas holding crying children. I forwarded to all the slightly twisted people I know. I don't know why I find that hysterical. Could it be that I identify with the mystified and discombobulated Santa? (Oooh, another story idea. I'll have to share before Christmas. ; )
Another favorite picture...when our oldest was two. We went to visit Grandma and Grandpa who had a perfect toddler - sized wooden reindeer that was intended to hold magazines. It didn't hold a single magazine the entire time we were there. Jordan was on that thing every time we turned around. It eventually occurred to me that I needed to snap a picture since it'd make a great Christmas card. Being a toddler, he was not interested in posing when I requested that he do so. Since I towered over him at the point in life, he sat. But he was not amused.
Good news, there is hope for me. Favorite picture number three has no weeping! None. Just four smiling faces and a huge hole in the wall. Rob (Have I mentioned that we've been remodeling something for the past twenty-six years? ) decided to replace two living room windows with one big door. On a warm and sunny (Iowa warm and sunny, which is still real cold for anyone further south) December afternoon, he cut a six foot "mouth" in the side of house. The kids were fascinated, the dog was fascinated and I had several sets of felt antlers and a desire to send out pictures with our Christmas cards. Voila!
Finally, I have no picture for this memory, but it is burned forever on my brain. If you are a big PETA supporter, you may not want to read it as it does involve something worse that felt antlers on an animal's head....
We used to travel to my parents for Christmas Eve. On the way home one year, with kids dozing in the back seat already dreaming about sugar plums (Are those any good? Are they edible?) Rob and I watched the bright moon illuminate miles of virgin snow. The world was covered in diamond dust. Large, fluffy flakes fell out of the sky. The crunch of snow, the rhythmic breathing of sleeping children, and instrumental Christmas carols the only sounds that touched the silent blanket of beauty.
As we passed a field, on an expanse of untouched, moon-kissed glitter against an indigo back drop, there stood a massive white-tailed buck deer. Tears sprung into my eyes as I took in the awesome 3-D Christmas card photo in front of me. I silently thanked God for His artistic heart.
"Whoa!" I heard rumbled from the driver's seat. I turned to smile at my husband, to share a connection over our Christmas gift from God.
My husband, eyes glued on the deer, simply said. "Wow! I wish I had my gun. That rack has to be at least ten points."
I hope your Christmas season is full of lasting, picturesque memories.
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
On the seventh day of Christmas, my true love gave to me....
God's Gift of Uniqueness
by Tosca Lee
I used to hate my name. “Tosca” was too unusual. “Moon,” my middle name, was just downright embarrassing. “Lee” was all right, though it still set me apart from the rest of the Caucasian kids in my school. In an era when Christy Brinkley graced the cover of every fashion magazine, I did not wish to accentuate my different-ness.
The name I really wanted was Marie--probably because others had it and that meant I could at least buy one of those door plates for my bedroom door or license plates for my bike, which was my litmus test. As it was, they sure didn’t have plates for kids named “Tosca.”
In junior high, my friends called me “Weird Tosca.” I didn’t like that so much.
These days I teach about talent in my work as a consultant. I talk about the strange, quirky things that not only set people apart, but have the potential to make them great. A friend said to me once, “Stars have points.” He’s right. And when we blunt our points, we lose the defining characteristics of our unique mark in and contribution to this world.
Opportunities work much the same. It’s the unique ones that seem to hold the greatest potential impact. When my main character, Clay, bumps up against the opportunity to hear the story of creation from the viewpoint of a Demon, he is terrified--intrigued, but terrified. And so he resists. While his reaction might be in keeping with any sane person’s, it’s also a human reaction to the unusual. But in this case, it’s the unusual that might just might save his soul.
How has God revealed to you your uniqueness? And what, most importantly, is He telling you to do with it?
“You need to know something more about Elohim: he is the ultimate force of creativity. He is the author of diversity.”
--Lucian, Demon: A Memoir
Tosca Lee is the author of Demon: A Memoir and of the upcoming Havah: The Story of Eve. For more information visit http://www.demonamemoir.com/
Tosca writes a breath-taking tale in Demon: A Memoir, one of my 2007 favorites.
After reading 111 books in 2007 I have a few thoughts on uniqueness.
I like to read other reviews after I post my own, and what I've found makes me scratch my head. It seems that taste and interest is as diverse as...well, uh, as people.
I might give three stars and a smile to a book that others have raved about. Other books that crack me up, or twist my heart, leave some cold and stone-faced.
Do you ever wonder if you have words worth sharing? Whether the way that you see things is valid or even interesting? I do. Often. I compare myself with others, and usually find myself paling in the comparison.
But then again, I don't sing on the worship team, either. Nor do I play my violin. Why? Because I gave up during the training process. I don't trust my voice to sound like I'd like it to. My fingers don't remember the positioning. Oh, I could ask someone to help me to use my voice. I have two books to remind me how to play the violin.
Maybe the key is not giving up. Maybe just plugging away and trying and practicing and failing and growing makes the difference.
Shall we embrace our uniquenesses? Shall we let our weirdness show? Shall we bloom?
I think I have a New Year Goal in my post.
Monday, December 17, 2007
God's Gift of Unconditional Acceptance
Clearly God Incarnate wasn't choosy. He wasn't born in a palace, but to a simple peasant woman bearing the stigma of a pregnancy conceived out of the bonds of matrimony. He wasn't even born in his own town, but endured a long ride to Bethlehem in his mother's womb only to be born in a stable among the livestock. Even after his ministry began he owned one robe and proclaimed himself homeless when He said, "Foxes have dens, birds have nest, but the Son of God has no place to lay His head."
If we used some TV preachers' standards today, Jesus clearly wasn't blessed by God. He didn't have the finest clothes, transportation or housing. Even most of His disciples weren't exactly candidates for a PhD. Clearly He must not have had enough faith if that's all He was getting from His Father!
But Christ isn't choosy and that is good news for us. For there isn't a single human being who can impress Him into shining His light of grace upon them. The stockbroker on Wall Street stands level with the illegal immigrant who picks strawberries. The evangelist in fine suits or sparkly dresses looks eye-to-eye with the busdriver. And the homeschool mom stands shoulder to shoulder with the prostitute. His love demands He looks above the good and the bad, and His arms are always open, ready to receive us when we are ready to receive Him. Sometimes we run back into His arms many times in one day and He doesn't care if we've showered or put on the latest fashions, He's only looking for a contrite heart. That's it. A heart that says, "I'm sorry."
This Christmastime, rest in the fact that you can't impress Christ. He doesn't care about our beautiful cookies or the fact that our trees look designer coordinated. He isn't impressed we ran around to ten different stores to find the perfect present for Aunt Sue. He just wants us to love Him, just as we are, for when we do, we incarnate Him in the here and now, and there's no telling what He'll do through us.
Lisa Samson is the author of Hollywood Nobody (NavPress, 2007), For more information visit http://www.lisasamson.com/
It's true that God is righteous and just. But He is also merciful and fair and He boiled His rules down into two statements. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength and your neighbor as yourself.
If I love Him, I believe that His promises are true. Therefore, I believe, no matter how things look, or smell, or feel, He is working out details for my own good.
That He would bend to work in the details of my life shocks me.
Who am I that He would care?
No royal blood pumps through my veins. My father doesn't own an oil field. My works, at best, look like the Martha Stewart reject pile. I laugh too loud at inappropriate times. I stumble over my words.
My finances are pitiful and my housekeeping skills...ugh. But He wants my heart, soul, mind and strength.
Like the Little Drummer Boy, with a whole lot less talent, I'll offer my gift up. But in tattered paper with a crooked bow. "Here it is, God, my heart, my soul, my strength and my mind."
Sunday, December 16, 2007
There is now a footnote in Nebraska history with his name on it. Yes. But is that fame?
Remembered are those whose lives were taken and tainted by his selfish actions.
The lost grandma or grandpa will be remembered. Grandchildren will cherish Christmas memories, birthdays,Thanksgivings and vacations. Recipes or traditions will be passed along, jokes and tales will be shared and labeled as Grandma's or Grandpa's.
The mother or father ripped from the fabric of the family will be remembered. The deeds, the words, the intimacies will be mourned and missed. The smile will be flash frozen in the minds of sons and daughters. A scent may linger triggering memories of vacations, meals or events. Advice will carry on and continue to be passed down.
The son or the daughter will be remembered -- famous to the family and friends left behind. Inside jokes, special bonds, details of the lives they lived intertwined with a family who loved them and will continue to love them.
Heroes and loved ones are remembered in vibrant color and surround sound.
The perpetrator of this senseless act will become a black and white footnote in Nebraska notoriety.
Saturday, December 15, 2007
It's not that I don't care. It's that I care so much.
I've helped emotional basket cases until I couldn't tell where they ended and I began and I had to step away to save my own sanity.
I made eye contact with a two or three-year-old-girl one day. I watched her walk down the hall and smile over her shoulder until she disappeared around the corner. My heart broke for her because her little face was dirty and her adult seemed harsh. I still pray for that child, years later, and my eyes still fill with tears.
My friend just surrendered an eleven-month-old foster baby back to the conditions into which it was born. A mother who has no children though she's given birth eight times. An addict who was clean for four months and therefore earned her right to a child she poisoned with drugs.
To say that Red Letters - a Faith that Bleeds sucker punched me is an understatement. I didn't want to read the statistics of pandemics and poverty. I live so far away. What can I do for those dying in Africa and India when I can't seem to make a difference in my own neighborhood?
But Tom Davis tells the truth without leaving bleakness and hopelessness behind. Little steps towards help and healing are all it takes. After presenting the history and the medical details of AIDS and extreme poverty, Tom then encourages and charges believers in Jesus to offer cups of water and mercy to the "least of these."
I appreciated the practical help options and I appreciated Tom's charge.
If you have someone who is difficult to buy gifts for then buy them this book and make a donation on their behalf.
Red Letters -- with a little work -- could be a great small group/youth group discussion piece. Make Red Letters a building block for a learning project -- try something like looking into the provided medical and historical information regarding AIDS and then making it personal. Assign each person in the group to bring a local story and then as a group do something about them. Or decide as a group to begin a weekly five hour fast and/or one less pop or coffee purchase then pool your money and "adopt" a child or ministry. Take it outside of church. Why not start a "healing" fund at work. Maybe those who are involved could take turns making treats from Fair Trade products, selling them, and sending the proceeds to an organization. There are additional suggestions in the back of the book. Selling products made in a third world country to help supplement income is one of the options.
I'd suggest Red Letters to anyone who is sick and tired of feeling selfish, or who is disgusted with a society made up of millions of people who are out for Number 1.
Warning: This is a heavy, but quick and well-written read, and it will leave readers feeling convicted.
Davis wondered what the world would look like if we all chose to do something to help others. As I watch out my window at the falling snow I can't help but realize that one tiny, unique snowflake falling from the sky, mixing with other unique snowflakes, within hours, even minutes changes the face of a neighborhood. Couldn't one good decision after another mix into a warm blanket of love and charity that can change the world? I think so. If you do too, then start today.
Friday, December 14, 2007
I find it fascinating that the aging process tends to choke out imagination.
A child grasps the concept of Santa Clause and the truth of Jesus with an open, excited heart.
There are exceptions, but as a rule, a child is all about curiosity and delight. Trust and innocence. And an adult? Duty and responsibility? Greed and cynicism?
So what happens?
Imagine this scenario.
“Hey, Johnny, you look so pensive, what’s up?”
“I’m just thinking I want to be bitter and selfish when I grow up.”
Not. Likely. Remember the commercial with the little girl with thoughts full of ballerinas and the cryptic words, “No one dreams of being a junkie when they grow up.”
Is it that we no longer believe in magic? Realize that life isn’t a box of chocolates after all?
So can we, as adults, responsible and cynical adults, embrace the magic in life again? Not hocus pocus fake magic…but real magic.
Every morning is brand new. Babies continue to be born. Curiosity and imagination are housed in the minds of children. And they are willing to share. God gives us puppies, kittens, sunsets and oceans to delight our senses. He created cocoa and coffee beans and strawberries. Tiny, nearly invisible works of art fall from the sky and land on our lashes and noses. Why? Because God is creative and He is behind what we consider magical and whimsical and pure.
Don’t look to the retailers for magic. Don’t dig in your wallet for it. Look up. Bend over and make eye contact with a child. Laugh. Make a snow or sand angel. Love.
I hope your day and your new year will be full of childlike expectation and delight.
You gotta love someone who's favorite lines come from The Princess Bride. It's nearly inconceivable. Thanks, Karen, it was great visiting with you.
Fiction character you would most like to be or most identify with and why?
Winnie the Pooh. He got to go around all day saying cute things like "Oh bother!" or "Tut, tut! It looks like rain.", no one cared that he was fluffy and just a bit on the, um, dense side, and his friends loved him deeply. Plus he's got a host of quirky, fun friends who go along on adventures with him. Oh yeah, I'd love to be Pooh. I even like honey!
Favorite turn of phrase or word picture, in literature or movie.
"No more rhyming and I mean it!"
"Anybody want a peanut?"
Second only to: "Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya. You keeled my father. Preepare to die." and
"You keep using that word. I do not think that it means what you think it means."
(All from Princess Bride)
What makes you feel alive?
Nature. And animals. A walk through the Redwoods or along the Oregon coast; playing with my dogs; closing my eyes and lifting my face to the Oregon sunshine; the sound of rain on the roof; the feel of fog when I walk in it...it all feeds my spirit.
Favorite season and why?
Autumn. I love the colors and fragrances, the coolness of the morning air, the faint scent of wood smoke in the air at night, the hint of the coming Christmas season...It could be autumn all year round and I'd be happy.
Which compliment related to your writing has meant the most and why?
The letters from women who've read A Test of Faith, saying they were helped through their mother's death by this story. I wrote it because, when my mom died, I went looking for a book to help me deal with the loss and grief. There wasn't anything. NADA. Not for a woman losing her mother. So I used my own experiences in the hopes of letting other women know they weren't alone--and that someone understands just how difficult this loss is for a woman.
What criticism has cut the deepest and why?
The PW reviewer who made snide comments about A Test of Faith. It hurt because this book means so much to me, and because I so want it to help other women. But when you pull AToF up on Amazon, what's the first thing you see? That PW review. I had to just let it go and trust that God would put the book in the hands of those who really needed it and would be helped by it.
What would you do today if you knew you had only a week to live?
Use my mileage plus miles to fly my family and best friends to my house, then spend the week with them, talking and remembering, laughing and crying, playing board games and croquet (a family favorite), singing together, and planning my memorial service. I don't want a funeral, especially not an open casket one. I want a memorial service with pictures of me with my loved ones, so folks remember me alive. Not laid out in a casket. (I mean, come on! Have you ever been able to answer "yes" to that dreaded funeral question: "Doesn't she look natural?" Usually I want to look 'em square in the eye and ask right back, "Is the sky blue in your world??")
What is your favorite word?
Family. Followed by the close second: Friends.
What word annoys you more than any other?
Any word spoken in malice or stupidity, intended to hurt. Words are just too powerful to use them as weapons.
Super power you'd love to borrow for awhile?
Flying. I'd LOVE to fly. I dream about it, and even after I awake from those dreams, I still remember the sensation. Can you imagine it? Being able to soar through the skies like an eagle? Oh man...where do I sign up??
None of 'em. Hey, they're chores. Cleaning, laundry, taking out the trash, picking up puppy poo...blah blah blah. Hate 'em, one and all.
HOWEVER, there are things other people consider chores that I consider relaxing pastimes: gardening, walking the dogs, washing the car, even vacuuming (love the immediate gratification). What can I say? I'm easily entertained.
Grammatical pet peeve…sound off.
The multitudes who use you and me when it should be you and I. From country western songs (which I love) to Law and Order: Special Victims Unit (which I watch all the time, along with all the other Law and Order shows), they just can't seem to get it right.
Describe something you can see, hear, taste or feel without telling us what the item is.
Soft, like clouds beneath my fingers. I bury my face and inhale, filling my senses with the fragrance that is both wild and docile. Strength and gentleness. I rest my cheek against blended soft and prickly, feeling the warmth beneath, the slow up and down as breath is drawn in, then released. The low sound of trust and contentment rumbles from within, drawing a smile from me...and I close my eyes. Cherishing. Time is running out. Moments like this are drawing to and end, and all that will remain are pictures. Oh, they'll capture the joy, the love. Even the personality. But not this. Not the feel. The scent. The sounds. The visceral experience that is uniquely us. So, for this moment, I let myself linger.
And prepare myself for the coming goodbye.
Frizzy hair, purple scarf and a book – make a character.
Heck, I AM that character!
Swirling leaves riding the icy wind, danced up Liesel's skirt.
The leaves weren't the only things stirred up by the breeze which now carried the cloying scent of death.
She turned, draping her scarf over her head, letting it shelter her chilled cheeks...and hide her face. She didn't want them to see. The pain. The sorrow. The anger. It was hers, not theirs. They had no right to it, to the dissection and analysis she knew they longed to apply. No, her thoughts, her feelings, they would stay tucked away, deep within, kept safe until she could study them. Take them apart herself. And one day, God willing, understand. Why she felt as she did.
After all, he wasn't the first man she'd killed.
Nor would he be the last. But for some reason, killing him had been hard. No, more than that. Devastating. Exhausting. Even...regretful.
And if she didn't figure out why, she just might be out of a career.
Thursday, December 13, 2007
I, too, appreciate His patience.
I'm beginning to wonder which of God's gifts I appreciate the most, now that I see them paraded before me.
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
Especially since it hits too close to home.
One of my life verses is Joel 2:25 (New King James Version) “So I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten, The crawling locust, The consuming locust, And the chewing locust, My great army which I sent among you.
Pretty heavy. Pretty powerful and very true. My regular readers know bits and pieces of my life. In a nutshell, my husband and I were good church kids who, through a series of circumstances and very poor choices, set out to ruin our lives and each other.
After we suffered a lot of painful consequence, God got our attention.
Is there a sorrow greater than regret?
And then He helped me make Psalm 139 mine.
It’s interesting that the picture of a snowflake was chosen for today’s devotional. I’ve found some photos of snowflakes, all of them incredibly unique and exquisite, and I’ve framed them and written parts of Psalm 139 around the pictures and am giving them as gifts.
Rachel sees hope and promise in pennies that proclaim His trustworthiness. I find hope and promise in snowflakes that proclaim His sovereignty and power.
I hope you find Him and His restoration within this Christmas season.
I'm impressed with the seamlessness of this third- in-the-series book. I do want to go back and grab the first two, not because I feel like I missed something, but because I'm sure the stories are equally compelling.
What Lies Within is full of conflict and challenge which makes it a speed read. Those who love to turn pages should check further into this story.
Pet lovers, you're in for a treat. Karen is an animal lover and it is very obvious in the true-to-life details of pet/human interaction.
Finally, there is a sweet love story that should get the romance lovers' hearts afluttering.
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
After sighing wistfully over both the lovely picture and Wanda’s profound message – I laughed.
I tend to collect. My aunt gave me a beautiful glass jar one year for some occasion. It had a cool wire handle and bright red metal lid and on the outside of the jar someone had opaqued a section of the glass with a soothing cream and painted, in bold script, the word “Simplify.”
I cleared off a section of table space, set the jar in the middle of it and sighed at the peace that surrounded me at the stark yet elegant beauty.
Shortly after that, the jar disappeared under a mound of the debris of daily living.
It was nice while it lasted, though.
I think that’s why I love candles so much. I can pretend the dark shapes that surround them are simply shadows instead of stuff.
Wishing all of you a simple Christmas – full of blessing and wonder.
Monday, December 10, 2007
Celebrating the true meaning of the Christmas season, Glass Roads Public Relations is proud to introduce to you the twelve days of Christmas. Twelve inspired devotional thoughts written by some of the best and brightest authors in the Christian industry.
On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me....
The Gift of Honesty
God's Gift of Honesty
by Mark Littleton
As a new Christian, I wasn’t really prepared for the stark truth about my previous life. Rummaging in my closet, I came across several shirts I had shop-lifted a couple of years before. I immediately remembered several items from the same heist.
Standing there trembling, I was unsure about what to do. I prayed, “God, what should I do about this?” It seemed the inner voice spoke immediately: “You need to return them to the store.”
I didn’t need to reflect much on it. I knew that was the right thing to do.
I packed up the items, drove to the nearby Bamberger’s store at the Cherry Hill Mall and found security. I explained what I’d done and offered to pay for the items. The guard smiled. “Every now and then we get one of these,” he said. “I’ll find out the prices and you can pay.”
A few days later, I got the call. Over sixty-five dollars in charges. In 1972 dollars, that was a lot of money. I sucked it up, though, wrote out a check and dropped it by. The guard thanked me for my integrity, saying, “I wish there were more like you out there. But shop-lifting costs us big-time. Just the same, I respect what you did.”
I went away feeling like I’d pleased God. There were other things I would return in the coming days, and it was always difficult. And costly. But the peace of mind and heart I received were all worth it. To say nothing of the witness to unbelievers, one of whom invited me to come visit him his family in Switzerland after I sent him back the stamps I’d stolen while babysitting his children years before.
I’m glad I didn’t have to return shoplifted shirts. Instead, my shoplifting bug was crushed early in life.
One day my friend and I went to the grocery store with her mom. Not unusual in itself. What was unusual was the whispered comment as we passed the Brach’s display. “Grab one and put it in your pocket.”
My friend was taller than me and had three older brothers. She’d proven her superior whupping skills before, so I grabbed. As the chocolate cream drop slowly softened in my pocket, all sorts of yucky rumblings were taking place in my little six-year-old psyche.
It ended up being a bittersweet relief when my friend’s mom caught us huddled by the fence with sticky wrappers in hand and chocolate breath. We were hustled back to the car and driven to the store. Each of us carried two pennies and a candy wrapper to the cashier under the watchful eye of “mom.”
Wonder if that little incident branded my friend’s soul? I’ll never forget it.
Sunday, December 09, 2007
Simple, mundane annoyances. Little tweaks in our well-made plans. Is there a day that goes by that doesn't have its share of script changes? Some chafe and make us grit our teeth -- others are just mere bumps that we barely notice.
Those little bumps saved several lives on September 11th.
I'm very aware that those who died or were injured weren't saved by minute details and that maybe they were in the the line of fire because of a tedious series of circumstances and choices. I also struggle with the eternal weight of that statement.
When a September 11 happens, when a December 5th happens, I can't help but stop and wonder about the details in my life and the God behind them. How many situations have ended up benign by mere seconds? On the flip side, how many things have gone bad because one foolish choice eventually rolled into a huge snowball hurtling down the mountain of bad ideas?
Life is in the details. Yes. Never more true than while pondering the circumstances of a tragedy.
Friends and relatives shared the following stories. I know at least one person in each story. Two of the people, if circumstances were been different, would've left large holes in my life.
A mother feels the sudden need to pray for her grown son -- specifically that he'll be sensitive to God's prodding. Minutes later the son wanders in the men's department at Von Maur. After speaking with a salesman, the son wanders toward suits. The thought that the suits will be too expensive flits through his mind and he reverses his course and heads toward the mall entrance. As he walks down the corridor he hears construction noise. A nail gun? But the reality of the sounds soon becomes very clear.
A doctor spends her morning off running errands and looking for Christmas gifts. The hospital pages her yet again. A patient, anxious to get home, needs to see her as soon as possible. She calls the hospital and tells them she'll make one more stop and be right there. Across the crowded store, the doctor sees an old friend. Torn by the decision -- strike up a lengthy conversation or get to her patient -- she chooses to leave and take care of her patient.
A twenty-two year old girl's cell phone rings. Normally, she doesn't answer when she's in a hurry, but she does on December 5th. A friend, wondering if they could get together. It works for both their schedules, so the friend puts off going to Von Maur. Christmas shopping was Plan B, but since her friend answered the phone, Plan A won out for the day.
Three people who weren't in the line of fire because of little details. Circumstances that seemed so insignificant may have saved their lives.
Thank you, God, for being mindful of little details. Help us to trust you. And comfort those who mourn.
Friday, December 07, 2007
Fiction character you would most like to be or most identify with and why?
I would most like to be Princess Leia of Star Wars fame. Okay, not the hair, unless it’s the hair she had in Episode VI, when she had that long braid. And I’d love to have the body that could pull off the metal bikini she wore when she was a slave to Jabba the Hutt. I want to go zipping through the galaxy with Han Solo, zapping bad guys with cool laser pistols. And she’s a princess! Who doesn’t want to be a princess?
If you could ask any person, living or dead, a random question -- what question would you ask of whom?
I would ask the Apostle Peter why he fell asleep in the garden while Jesus was praying. I have this (totally unspiritual) theory that it’s because he was full from the Passover dinner he just came from. When God gave the Jewish people the rules for the Passover dinner, he told them to serve a lamb and eat it all. They had to clean their plates. Okay, so that means if the cook misjudged, everybody had to eat more than they wanted. Well, around my house when we have a big family dinner and everybody eats too much, the guys all go off into the other room and fall asleep in front of the television. And the Passover celebration also included several ceremonial cups of wine, not just one. So I just wonder if a full belly and several sips of wine might have had something to do with Peter’s uncontrollable dozing. (I am totally aware that there’s no spiritual basis for this at all, but I do wonder!!!!)
Some out there in writing land have strange rituals. Share yours.
I don’t have any strange rituals, but I do require complete silence. I can’t listen to music, and even having a television on in the other room drives me nuts. It helps that my kids are grown and gone, so the major noisemakers have left the house. But my husband sometimes makes enough noise for a dozen kids. Even a door slamming in the other part of the house jerks me out of my story and sends a jolt of teeth-grinding irritation through me. I tend to be fairly grumpy when I’m interrupted during writing, so my poor husband has learned some self-preservation skills. He tiptoes all day long, God bless him.
Favorite turn of phrase or word picture, in literature or movie.
This isn’t really a “turn of phrase” but one of my all-time favorite book openers is from The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. “There once was a boy named Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it.” I just love that! I immediately know Eustace’s personality without reading another word. That’s great characterization!
What period of history intrigues you the most?
I love British history, especially the time of Henry VIII. So much happened during that era that reverberated through the entire world and across the centuries since. Henry was the first monarch to split from the Catholic church. He created the protestant Church of England and made himself the head of the church, all because he wanted to dissolve his marriage so he could marry his mistress. He fathered Britain’s most famous monarch. I’m just fascinated by that era, and my favorite city in the world is London because there is so much history from that time period there.
What would you write if there were no rules or barriers? (epic novels about characters in the Bible, poetry, greeting cards, plays, movies, instruction manuals, etc.)
I’d write epic fantasy novels of adventure and daring-do. I absolutely love the Lord of the Rings, but I want my fantasy novels to have a futuristic feel instead of an old-world atmosphere. I want to create entire worlds with their own cultures and societies, where the people are human enough that we identify with them but alien enough to be intriguing. And oh yes – I want there to be a princess who gets to flit around the galaxy… oh. Never mind. That’s been done.
What makes you feel alive?
My family makes me feel alive. The way my husband locks eyes with me across a room full of people and I know exactly what he’s thinking because we have shared so much of our lives together. The way my daughter calls me every day because I’m an important part of her life. The way my son hugs me by picking me up and swinging me around, just like I used to do to him when he was little. And of course, I love the way God lets me know that He’s always right beside me, showing me where each step goes and assuring me that He knows what’s around every corner on the path in front of me.
What word annoys you more than any other?
You’uns. It’s a Kentucky hillbilly term meaning the plural of ‘you.’ Even educated people from the hills of Kentucky hang on to this term after they’ve learned better, and I think it is the most ignorant-sounding words I’ve ever heard. It sets my teeth on edge.
Grammatical pet peeve…sound off.
Ooooh, I absolutely hate it when people use the past tense of verbs incorrectly. For example: “The grass needs mowed.” No, it doesn’t need mowed, it needs to be mowed. Or it needs mowing. My husband does it, and even though we’ve been married 17 years I have not been able to train it out of him. Sometimes I think he does it on purpose just to irritate me.
Societal pet peeve…sound off.
People who walk through the grocery store talking loudly on their cell phones. I don’t want to hear about your date last night, or what you’re fixing for supper, or the contents of your spice cabinet. This is even worse when people use that Bluetooth earpiece, because then they feel the need to shout. You know the movie What Women Want? When Mel Gibson (be still my heart!) is walking through the shopping mall and hears the thoughts of every woman he passes as though they were normal conversation, it just about drives him insane. I’m afraid that’s what our society is coming to – only we won’t be thinking, we’ll all be walking through the mall shouting into our cell phones. When that happens I will become a hermit. I will buy a piece of mountain property somewhere and dig a cave beneath tons of rock and dirt where the satellite signals won’t reach, and I’ll live there.
Pick a Genre - Describe a kiss….
THE FIRST KISS
By Virginia Smith
“Hold still while I kiss you,” Jake whispered.