Grasshopper or Giant?

Shades
Nice Shades, huh?   (Don’t worry. I didn’t buy them.)

I’ve Been Traveling

Many of you know I was in Nashville a couple of weeks ago for the American Christian Fiction Writers’ Conference. The venue was the Omni Hotel, which is down town. It provided very nice accommodations, I might add.

Top Notch Offerings

It was my first national conference. Best selling author, Ted Dekker, was the keynote speaker. In addition, other authors, editors, and agents who have also made their mark in Christian publishing taught classes. What a wonderful opportunity to grow as a writer.

The event provided me with my first chance to talk with two agents and an editor from Tyndale House about my novel. (You might remember my Woo Hoo Facebook post that the editor invited me to submit a book proposal.)

Pretty heady stuff.  Until I began to put that proposal together and think about my limited outreach and the odds of their deciding to publish it.

But write it, I did. And I emailed it to her last Friday.

And now I’m waiting.

The Truth

To be honest, I felt quite insignificant in my own eyes all week, but I pressed on with life. I attended a one-day conference, edited the book, and worked in my flower beds.

I tried to stay busy because I didn’t want to make the mistake that ten of the twelve spies who scouted out the Promise Land made. They allowed fear to color their thinking (Numbers 13).

You may remember, they described themselves as grasshoppers in their own eyes when they saw the giants in the land.

So I girded my loins with scriptures about courage, faith, and the truth that with God all things are possible. I confided in friends and asked for prayer.

Remembering Who’s In Charge

I also reminded myself that from the beginning this has been God’s project.  So I will trust Him with the outcome. And no matter what happens, I’ll remember that it isn’t every day someone is invited to submit a proposal to a publishing house. If Tyndale decides to pass, I’ll look for another. In the meantime, I’ll keep on writing here and working on other projects.

You Asked, so Here Goes

Some of you have asked me how you can help me in my quest to find a publisher. So here goes.

If you’re a praying person, say a prayer for me to have favor, to not grow weary, and that I’ll continue to trust in God’s plan.

Many of you have told me you follow me on Facebook. I love that, but it would also help if you sign up here today to follow this blog by email.

Social media numbers are important. So if you enjoy something, making a comment is nice.

If you especially like a post, sharing it with friends is wonderful.

All of those things will give me a boost.

But most of all, I want to thank you for reading what I write. It means more to me than you’ll ever know.

I consider you to be very special friends.

Now It’s Your Turn. Tell Me

Have you ever felt like a grasshopper in the face of a God-given opportunity? If so, I’d love to hear about it.

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous.

Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged,

for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

Joshua 1:9

DREAM

 

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I’ve already told you how I overdid it last year. Traveled too much. Rushed from one thing to another so that by Christmas, I was tired and discouraged. But looking back, I see how family and friends encouraged me.

One kind gesture came from my writing friend, Cindy, through a small Christmas present. She may not have realized it, but her gift was three-fold—a long lunch, a heartfelt note, and a small star-scattered dish.

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I’m sure Cindy chose this little saucer for its message.

Her note reminded me of how much I’d accomplished in the past year. She listed specifics, one-by-one.

Then we ate a lovely Trios’ lunch and talked about our families, writing challenges, and our friendship. By the time lunch was over, I had a new way of looking at the past year—and a new appreciation for why I was weary, along with a deeper love for Cindy. Thank you, friend.

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That little dish sits in my bathroom now where it holds the jewelry I’m favoring these days. I rotate bracelets, earrings, and necklaces, so something is always resting there.

However, I’ve noticed something. Occasionally, it gets so full of pretty things that I can no longer see the image emblazoned on its surface.

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Isn’t that how life is sometimes? We get so busy with good things, pretty things that we forget to dream and reach for the stars.

Not that pretty things are bad in themselves, but they have a way of distracting us from the main thing.

Do you or did you have a dream? You know, a perhaps an even secret desire to do something or follow a path that seemed impossible.

Maybe you’re actually living your dream now. If so, I say, Bravo! because it takes commitment and concentration to follow them.

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Photo by Steve Rucker

Or maybe like me, that dream keeps getting lost in the shuffle or covered up by things that seem to take precedence for one reason or another.

Does it feel like it’s too late?

DREAM!

If that dream is from God, it’s not too late.

He still has plans for you, for me.

His timing doesn’t always coincide with ours, but He’s never late.

… though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry.  Hab. 2:3b

And I remind myself that the reality of that dream may look different from what I expected, but He is faithful. So I believe it will be better.

I hope you’ll let God revive the dream He gave you long ago or plant a new one in your heart.

Delight yourself also in the Lord, And He shall give you the desires of your heart.

Ps. 37:4

 

HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY

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One passed me as I entered the grocery store. Head down, clutching a bouquet, he trudged toward the parking lot like a prisoner going before a firing squad. Inside, men of various ages milled around the floral section and frowned over candy displays. One young fellow confidently shifted an armload of pink roses so he could study the Valentine cards, but he was the exception. Most of those guys looked anything but self-assured.

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I watched them, hiding my smile as I remembered my husband’s early attempts to please me on Valentine’s Day. I can still see him clutching a vase of red roses as he strode through a sea of women toward my cubby at work.

His expression was so hopeful that I made over those beautiful flowers. But I’d like to believe I would have raved even if they’d been half dead.

 

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I’d like to believe that the women those men labored to please today will respond like their gifts are absolutely PERFECT.

If they knew how hard their sweethearts worked at choosing them, they would.

 

 

However, if the truth be told, some of those women won’t be able to hide their disappointment.

Expectations can trip us up—even make us behave less admirably than we should.

camiliasMake us forget how loved we really are.

You know. You had your eye on that diamond drop—even hinted at it, but he produced a pearl pendant instead. You forced a smile and hoped he wouldn’t see your disappointment.

Maybe you forgot there wasn’t room in the budget for diamonds.

That actually happened early in our marriage. Afterwards, we discussed how we couldn’t afford diamonds.

It still makes me blush.

But  it was a turning point. I’m happy to say I’ve learned that my husband is the kind of man who’s more comfortable buying me a card and a giant Dove or Hershey bar than shopping for diamonds.

You know something?

I love chocolate. The more, the better.
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These days, I shop for my own diamonds.

That’s because he’s busy renovating my bathroom.

Or building a Little Free Library.

Or enlarging a window in our kitchen.

 

Or the absolutely most romantic thing of all—writing me a love note on the lawn with grass seed. (It made my stoic friend cry.)

love-note

That’s the kind of love I wish for you.

Of course, a bouquet is always nice, too. I’ve been known to buy my own.

Happy Valentines Day!

 

Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God

has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

Romans 5:5

 

 

SIMPLE CONVERSATIONS

 

road

Do you ever have conversations with God? You know, just talk to him as you drive along or walk down the street by yourself.

I do.

All the time.

It’s different from praying in church or over a list of people and concerns.

It’s more like talking to a friend.

Stay with me here.

Before you call me crazy and jump off this page, hear me out.

I can’t say I’ve ever heard God’s voice audibly. And I can’t exactly explain how I differentiate what I hear from my own thoughts, but I’ll try.

Be Wise

For one thing, as a Christian, I know there are lots of voices out there. So I use the Bible as my point of reference when I evaluate what I think I’ve heard, mainly the New Testament. (Lots of things have been done in the name of God that He had nothing to do with.)

If it involves important decisions, I run it past someone I respect spiritually. I also ask myself if it’s just my wishful thinking. And I do my best not rush into anything.

How Do Answers Come?

Sometimes I get my answer when I read or hear the same thing several different places. (After the third time, I really pay attention.)

Or a Bible verse may play over and over in my mind the way one did at the beginning of the year. If you missed that post, you can still read it here.

Other times, an answer will come in the form of a new thought that leads me to do a little research, which gives me a new perspective.

Consider the Trees

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As I walked down the street one afternoon recently, I heard,

Slow down.

No need to rush.

Look around  you.

See the deciduous trees?

This is their season of rest.

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I began to look closely at the beauty of barren branches. Some reached upward like slender ballerinas.

 

Others stood guard like sturdy He-men, arms outspread.

Some were old and ragged, missing limbs. Others leaned in one direction, stretching toward the sun.

Each was beautiful in its own way.

tree4Questions Are Okay

“But Lord,” I said, “aren’t they doing something that I can’t see? Like putting down roots deep in the earth?” (And, yes. I talk to him the way I might talk to you.)

Look it up, I heard.

So when I got home, I Googled What do deciduous trees do in winter?

I found, according to Mother Nature Network, Northern Woodlands and several other sources, deciduous trees go through a dormant period in the winter similar to animals hibernating.

Webster’s Dictionary notes dormancy as being marked by a suspension of activity. It’s a resting phase in which essential life processes continue at a minimum rate.

“Okay,” I said. “But if that means you want me to slow down even more, you’ll have to help me let go of saying yes when I shouldn’t, falling back into striving, and measuring my worth by what I achieve.”

What I Heard

Just meet me every morning with your Bible and your journal. Sit with me. Be present to Me. Tell me what’s on your heart. Then listen.  Allow Me to restore your soul. I’ll show you how to be present in the moment so that later you can be truly present to those around you.

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Be still and know that I am God.

Be still and know I am.

Be still and know.

Be still.

Be.

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Just BE in the presence of the Great I AM.

My Answer

“Here I am, Lord.”

What about you?

Can you identify your own particular season of life ?

I’d love to hear about it.

 

And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,”
when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.

Isaiah 30:21

 

HEARTS EVERYWHERE

I love heart-shaped things.

I see them everywhere, all the time, but especially at this time of year.

hearts-true-shape
This little red stone is the only thing I brought home from the Crater of Diamonds State Park. (You may have to tilt your head to see its heart shape.)

Just this week, I marveled at how often hearts appear in nature. From the dried pods hanging from a tree, a piece of quartz in a neighbor’s flowerbed, to the African violet leaves in my den.heartcollage

Terry picked up this rock heart on a work site. Do you see it?

heartrock

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A bit of moss

Hearts are everywhere.

And I love them—probably because my birthday is February 14, the day of hearts.

I’ve written before about how my mother made me heart-shaped birthday cakes. I’m going to use those same pans to bake a cake for my writing group that meets on Valentine’s Day.

Through the years, friends have given me all sorts of heart gifts.

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Thanks to Grace Johnston, I have a wall of framed vintage Valentines.

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Even if Valentines Day wasn’t my birthday, I would love it.

Remember making Valentine boxes for school parties? We colored away with red and pink crayons and adorned them with paper doilies and ribbons.

This week I made a Valentine box.

It started with the last shoes I bought.

Fergalicious Westin Booties.

The box top was so pretty it made me think of the boxes we used to decorate.

fergalicious

The next thing I knew, I was digging out craft items I picked up on clearance last year. I repurposed cupids and hearts from cupcake kits and added ribbon, gluing and taping to my heart’s content.

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The curves in the crown reminded me of a flower punch I picked up for a pittance at Tuesday Morning. I dug it out and I made a bunch blossoms, stacked them together, fluffed them up and added button centers.

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Here’s the final product.

 

fergie-valentine-box

Prissy.

Perhaps a bit overdone.

But I had a blast.

May I spend as much time working on the condition of my heart–especially when I find it challenging.

For the Lord sees not as man sees:

man looks on the outward appearance,

but the Lord looks on the heart.”

I Samuel 16:7b

LET’S DO LUNCH

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Do you like to go out to lunch with friends?

I do.

After I retired, I ate out a lot.

A. Whole. Lot.

During one period, I repeatedly ran into our new minister at restaurants all over town while he was getting acquainted with church members.

One day, he said, “Dorothy, you must eat out every day. Everywhere I go, I see you.”

I’m pretty sure he rolled his eyes when I laughingly quipped that was because I had a Lunch Ministry.

A MINISTRY OF LUNCHES

It’d be a big stretch to say I have a lunch ministry in the sense that I’m an all-wise counselor. I’m not. But in another sense, there are times, I’m a pretty good listener, and we all need a safe place to talk about what’s bothering us.

 We learn which people are safe–which people will keep our confidences–by experience.

ARE YOU SAFE?

I wish I could say I’ve always been a safe listener, but sadly, I remember two specific instances in junior high when I let friends down after they confided in me by telling another friend. Looking back, I think it was because in both situations what I heard was too much for me to handle on my own.

But I should have gone to an adult instead of sharing it with a peer, who unfortunately passed it on to someone, who promised not tell but did–you know how that goes. Offering apologies afterward felt inadequate.

However, I learned from my failure. After seeing the pain I caused–and having borne the brunt of other people’s loose lips myself, becoming a trustworthy confidant became a lifelong pursuit for me.

HEART CONNECTIONS

God seems to show up when we honestly share our lives and faith over a simple meal. And although we rejoice at one another’s victories, I’ve come to see that it’s seldom our accomplishments that bind us together. More often, it’s when we dare to share our fears, failures, and pain that we form strong heart connections.

642a7-heart2bchainThrough the years, I’ve been the recipient of encouragement and good advice as often as I’ve listened. Some of my most precious friendships grew from such times.

These days, I’m more likely to meet for coffee than go out to lunch. Oh, wait a minute–I did go out to eat twice this week and gathered for coffee once. So I’ll just say, it’s not what we consume or where we get together that counts as much as whether we offer one another a listening ear and compassionate heart. And I’m always up for praying for God’s answer to our problems.

What about you?

Do you like to go out to eat?

If you’re interested in doing lunch, give me a call.

 

The Lord God gives me the right words to encourage the weary.
Each morning he awakens me eager to learn his teaching;
he made me willing to listen and not rebel or run away.

Isaiah 50:4-5 (CEV)

 

FULL MOON

 

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Did you see that full moon this week?

I was mesmerized by it as we drove home Wednesday evening. It wasn’t its size, nor was it the color that caught my fancy.

I loved the way the clouds glided across its face, casting it in shadows.

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Something about this moon stirred memories.

In truth, I don’t really remember when I first became aware of that beautiful orb and the face that seemed to be etched on its surface.

But I was young.

Years later, as I watched a toddler grandson rattle his baby bed and point as he babbled over and over, “There’s the moon!” I sensed a shared experience–perhaps a universal wonder.

Who doesn’t remember reciting I see the moon and the moon sees me, God bless the moon and God bless me.

Hey Diddle Diddle, the cat and the fiddle, the cow jumped over the moon.  The little dog laughed to see such a sport and the dish ran away with the spoon.

When we got home, I went outside and watched the changes in the sky.

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I found myself singing.

Songs my parents taught me: Shine on, shine on harvest moon up in the sky    

By the Light of the Silvery Moon  (Surely I heard that one on Hit Parade.)

Blue Moon, I saw you standing alone

Did you know Elvis sang Blue Moon in 1954? So did Frank Sinatra, and later Rod Stewart recorded it.

Echoes of It must have been moon glow way up in the blue transported me back to a drill routine on the Searcy High School football field. (I wish you could have seen us. Or you may have been there with me.) You can hear it  here.

Then there was Moon River from the movie, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, way back when Audrey Hepburn and George Peppard were in their prime. If you haven’t seen it, check Netflix.

Fly Me to the Moon, Dancing in the Moonlight, and Moonshadow came hard on its heels.

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Bad Moon Rising by Creedence Clearwater Revival takes me back to a time when I was trying to figure out who I was–who I would become. (Thomas, the main character in my novel, likes that song.)

It’s Only a Paper Moon from the movie Paper Moon with Ryan O’Neal and his daughter, Tatum, reminded me of our preteen Maria.

I could go on and on. Google songs about the moon and you’ll come up with at least 40.

But back to my point.

The moon is ever with us, yet ever changing.

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Isn’t that how it is with many things we experience?

Fleeting, ethereal moments slip through our fingers. There’s no way to grasp them, but if we savor each one, we will remember.

I hope you saw the clouds sliding across the moon Wednesday night.

It was a bit magical.

What about you?

Do you have a favorite song about the moon or special memories of it?

When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them? Psalm 8:3-4 NIV