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

CHALLENGING BAD BEHAVIOR

Winter Blues

The three doves arrived together. Attired in sedate grays, charcoal, and taupe, they reminded me of Victorian matrons gathering for high tea.

Doves

While one hung back on the rail–perhaps watching for a friend who was to arrive separately–the other two waddled directly to the bird feeder and happily helped themselves.

Happily, that is, until the larger bird began to stalk the other aggressively.

Who can say what started it?

Perhaps her companion told her the truth about that dress making her rear end look big. Or maybe she took the biggest sunflower seed–the very one the Queenie had her eye on.

Whatever the case, the aggressor meant business.

Some Girls Love Drama

I watched the victim back up one, two, three steps until she was standing on the table. Apparently, that wasn’t far enough because Queenie hopped off the feeder onto the table, sending the skittish dove to the rail.

Queenie didn’t stop there. Oh, no. She followed her prey onto the rail, landing close enough to intimidate without committing to a fight.

DoveSquawkI watched the unfortunate recipient of her ire edge away while Queenie inched forward in pursuit.

 Blessed Are the Peacemakers

Just as I was considering opening the door to interrupt that nonsense, the third dove made her move. In a flurry of wings, she placed herself between the tormentor and her quarry and sat down.

DoveLadies

Actually, I think the rescuer must have said something to Queenie because she suddenly acted all nonchalant–fluffing her feathers as if nothing had happened–like she was simply grooming herself.

DoveLadies3

Pretty soon, the rescuer began to preen, too.

And finally, the recipient of all that bad behavior relaxed and followed suit.

Looking for Insight

Wm Hazlett Quote

As I watched that little drama unfold, I wondered what had gotten into Queenie.

Did she get up on the wrong side of the bed that morning, perhaps succumbing to the Grumpy Winter Blues? It was a cold, overcast day.

Why didn’t the victim stand up for herself?

 


You can’t be against bullying

without actually doing something about it. 

Randi Weingarten

One Little Bird Can Make a Difference

I also thought about the courageous bird that stepped in. Who was this rescuer and why did she intervene? It’s not easy to challenge a bully. She risked being attacked herself.

And I noticed something else.

That incident did not break up the trio. They remained on the rail a long time afterwards as if taking in the view.

Who’s to say what transpired? Maybe Queenie made a quiet apology.

Hebrew 1214

We Are Women, Watch Us Gather

I’m not an expert on the habits of doves, but I do know that women are social creatures. We join clubs and form groups. However, we all know that being in the same club doesn’t guarantee close friendship. In fact, sometimes we encounter people we simply don’t like or who don’t like us.

When not on our best behavior, women are usually more subtle in our rejection than Queenie. We may ignore that person, make snide remarks, or try to freeze her out in hopes she’ll get the hint and go elsewhere. We’ve all seen or experienced it. (That’s why “Mean Girl” movies are not categorized as fantasy.)

Dove4

The Nature of Kindness

Kindness is always in order. Even the smallest act has the power to lift the bestower, along with the receiver. Sometimes it plants seeds of friendship, but even when it doesn’t, it will be remembered.

When we encounter mean-spirited behavior, I hope we’ll take a stand like my brave little visitor. I hope we’ll say something to stop it and befriend the target. Stepping up will probably stretch us, but the process will build our character.

I find myself praying for God to give me the courage to walk in the power of His kind of love.

You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family.

Matt. 5:9 (MSG)

SHOUTS OF SPRING

red-budsI love spring, don’t you?

Although it seems too soon, she decided to arrive early this year. And she’s done it with a shout.

Every trip in and out of my neighborhood has been glorious. Each week something new was in bloom.

I meant to stop and take pictures, but I was in too big a hurry to get to an appointment or take care of an errand, so I never got around to stopping. The hedgerow of bridal wreath has gone green–their tiny white flowers long blown away. The tulip trees are a bit bedraggled. (Like me on a bad hair day, they wouldn’t appreciate being photographed.)

But new wonders greeted me today, so I stopped and took some pictures. I thought I’d share them with you.

pink-tulips
These beauties live up the street from me. Next year, I hope to have pink tulips, blue hyacinths, purple violas, and yellow daffodils. One can dream.

A Few Shots from our Yard.

violas
These girls have been blooming since late November.
forsythia
Our forsythia was later than others in the neighborhood.
azaleas-2
By the time we return from a little getaway this week, our azaleas should be in full bloom. Pray it doesn’t freeze.

Isn’t it nice that everything doesn’t bloom at the same time? We get to savor the variety of colors and scents longer. I’m still waiting on some daffodils, and my lilies are beginning to sprout green leaves. We lost our dogwood, but I look forward to passing that grand old tree up the street when it’s full of blossoms.

I’ve been thinking.

For now, I’ll just be satisfied remembering the beautiful bridal wreath, japonica, and tulip trees I passed by earlier.

That kind of remembering brings to mind snapshot moments of my daddy’s flowers. You know, long ago spring days when waves of daffodils and hyacinths sprang up, and japonica, bridal wreath, forsythia, and a redbud tree softened the edges and corners of our yard.

Japonica was my favorite bush–its pinky-red blossoms almost shouted hooray as they burst out of those bare branches. Maybe it was because we were starved for color–it seems like it bloomed first. (You can see a bit of japonica in the next photo.)

Mama cut jonquils, hyacinths, and sprigs of each shrub for the table. I wish I had one of those bouquets now and that I could sent one to you, too.

There can be more bouquets.

Although I can’t share my mother’s flowers with you, we can enjoy my friend Pat’s. I love them because they are so much like the ones that graced our table. Aren’t they pretty?

pats-poseys
Photo used with permission of Pat Laster.

Memory is such a precious gift. It links us to the past, reminding us of people, treasures, and joyful times that we can tap into at any moment.

And as long as we are blessed to wake up each day, we have the privilege of making new ones. After all, every day offers fresh wonders–if we will just look around us.

Maybe I’ll plant japonica and bridal wreath so I can make my own old-fashioned bouquets.

What’s your favorite spring posey?

Remember to extol his work, which people have praised in song.  Job 36:24

 

A WHOLE LOT OF LOVE GOING ON

change-calendar

Today’s the 28th of February. Are you ready to flip the page on your calendar?

Although the shortest month of the year, February was always big at our house because of my birthday on the 14th, as was May for Will’s. It still is. As usual, I started celebrating early over lunches, dinners, and coffee dates. I loved being with everyone who wanted to help me celebrate.

Valentine’s Day fell on the second Tuesday, the day my writing group was to meet at my house, so heart-pansI decided to make a cake for the meeting.

What fun to use my mother’s heart-shaped pans and copy a Valentine cake from the February issue of Tea Time, a beautiful little publication devoted to the art of creating memorable tea parties. You can see theirs at Tea Time.

In fact if you want a clue as to what my decorations looked like, you’ll have go there because I FORGOT to take a picture of it. (But the group can vouch for my slightly lop-sided strawberry hearts.)

heart-cake

Although my hearts weren’t perfect like Tea Time’s, we had a great party–even if I do say so myself.

happy-birthday-to-me
My guests surprised me with cards and little gifts.

Several folks read some serious pieces they had written about the love of God that seemed appropriate for the month dedicated to love. After all, writing about Him is the central purpose for our getting together.

But God put his love on the line for us by offering his Son in sacrificial death while we were of no use whatever to him. Romans 5:8

Afterwards we laughed and talked over cake, candy, and coffee. It was a joyful celebration. I wish you could have been here. 

Looking back at the month, I asked myself if I made good use of the time.

Concerning revisions to Thomas’s story, I confess, I didn’t do much on that front. But I spent lots of time with family and friends or thinking about th consider that a high priority.

And I did ponder Thomas’s fate as I crafted Valentine boxes to give as little gifts and bookmark favors for the writing group that were inspired by the February issue of Better Home and Gardens.

heart-bookmarks
You tuck a little piece of candy inside.

valentine-boxes1

 

There’s no doubt about my enjoying all that crafting.crafting

I  also read a blog, Novel Rocket, every day and considered the advice of successful writers. As I cut and pasted pretty papers, I pondered what I might need to cut or add to Tom’s life to fill out the plot. How I could enhance his character so you’d know him better. How to add atmosphere for a greater sense of place.

revise

Today, the craft supplies are back on the shelf, and I’m returning to Thomas–or Tom. (His mother still calls him Tommy.) The’s jury still out on what I’ll call him in the final version, but at the moment, it’s Tom. Maybe you have an opinion on that.

All in all, I’m happy with the way my February began, progressed, and ended. But I’m also eager for the  next thing, which is March. I know it will be filled with lots of love, too.

And once again, I find myself praying to the One who loves me best.

Lead me, Lord. Help me complete what we’ve begun. Guide me in all I do in the coming days.

That’s my prayer for you, too.

May God lead you in the way you should go today and everyday.

The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, And He delights in his way.

Ps. 36:23

DREAM

 

not-afraid

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.

dream1

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.

dream2

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.

dream3

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.

fc13a-steve2527sfireworks2
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

IMG_4443.jpg

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.

valentine-jpg

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.

 

candy-russell-stover-ruffle

 

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.
little-free-library3

 

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

wintertrees

 

 

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.

tree3

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.

quiet-time

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