Saturday, December 27, 2008

Puppy Love

Isn't this a face you can love?Bayle (pronounced Baylee) is five months old now. She's about 95% house trained (yippi!), and she's learning basic commands. Next week she starts puppy kindergarten.

We think she's been channeling Belle because she's finding all the sunny spots in the house, regardless how difficult they are to fit into.
I think my new character, Libby, needs to get a new puppy. Maybe a Jack Russell Terrier named Bayle.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas

From my home to yours . . .

I wish you the best of the season. Joy. Hope. Love. Peace.

Reflect on the true meaning of the day--that Jesus came to this world as a babe to save the lost and lonely. He bridged the gap between man and God so that we can have communion with the King of Kings, Lord of the Universe, and Lord of our hearts.

Savor moments with loved ones, smile at a stranger, make a Christmas wish. And please remember that Christmas must be found in your heart, not beneath a tree or wrapped in shiny paper with bows.

Have a merry, blessed Christmas!

And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled 'till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store? What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more?
~Dr. Seuss

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Glen Eyrie Writers' Summit

Start making plans and saving your money to attend the 2009 Glen Eyrie Writers' Summit this June 14th-17th.I attended this seminar in 2007 and LOVED it! It's run by four professionals who know their stuff and are generous in sharing their knowledge and wisdom. Angela Hunt, Nancy Rue, Kathryn Mackel, and Alton Gansky provide a lively mix of instruction, encouragement, guidance, and fun.

There are four featured workshops: fiction, public speaking, nonfiction, and screenwriting.

Oh, and did I mention it's held in a castle?The whole experience is wonderful. I plan on attending, and I would love to see some of my writer friends join me. The conference fee is $288, plus lodging.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Divine Humanity

For as long as I can remember, my mother placed a reproduction antique postcard on the table next to her nativity set each Christmas season. A few years before Mom passed away, she gave me the nativity set, and in the box was that postcard. It contains a sentiment written by Phillips Brooks, a man known as the greatest American preacher of the 19th century and writer of the Christmas hymn, O Little Town of Bethlehem.

Each year when I read the postcard, a thrill of joy bubbles up from my heart. At this beautiful time of year, I wish you a similar thrill of joy. . .

“Lift up your eyes to the great meaning of the day, and dare to think of your humanity as something so divinely precious that it is worthy of being made an offering to God.

Count it as a privilege to make that offering as complete as possible, keeping nothing back; and then go out to the pleasures and duties of your life, having been truly born anew into His divinity, as he was born into our humanity on Christmas Day.”

Since I was a very young woman, I have given myself, heart and soul, to my Lord. I offer each of my days to Him. And in a most humble way, I think of my writing as something so divinely precious that it is worthy of being made an offering to God as well.

I hope you ponder this beautiful sentiment, and I pray that it draws you closer to the heart of God during this precious Christmas season.

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 08, 2008

Recept voor Romantiek

Recept voor Romantiek AKA Searching for Spice, Dutch edition!

Linda snakt naar een spetterende affaire – met haar man. Hun huwelijk is goed, maar de romantiek is ver te zoeken. Daarom probeert Linda op alle mogelijke manieren het vuurtje aan te wakkeren. Dat verloopt niet volgens plan…

Linda en Jerry zijn 24 jaar getrouwd. Het leven is goed – maar zo saai… Linda besluit dat haar huwelijk meer passie nodig heeft. Helaas is Jerry een no-nonsensetype en begrijpt hij niet wat zij van hem wil. Dat leidt tot hilarische misverstanden. Bovendien claimen haar werk, kinderen en vrienden haar, waardoor elke poging tot romantiek gedwarsboomd wordt. Dan raakt hun dochter op school in de problemen en krijgt Linda een beangstigende pijn in haar borst. Opeens gaat het van kwaad tot erger met haar huwelijk…

What a pleasant surprise to have a box of Recept voor Romantiek show up on my doorstep!

Searching for Spice is now available in the Netherlands. How cool is that?

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Introducing Bayle

I decided to give my heart away to another dog. Big surprise to me. I thought Belle would be our one-and-only dog, but . . .

So, let me introduce our new puppy, Bayle. Her name's pronounced Baylee, and it means beautiful, just like Belle does.

She's four months old and is a Jack Russell Terrier, like Belle was. Isn't she a sweetie pie?

Here she is with daughter #2.
Actually, I think the entire family is falling in love with her. As are neighbors, co-workers, ect.

This is a short video of Bayle romping in the snow we had this week.

Friday, December 05, 2008

You Can't Always Get What You Want . . .

I wanted a new kitchen table because my design colors changed, but I still had that 1990s-oak-top-white-legs table. Ugh.

So, daughter #2 and I went out shopping. We found a gorgeous Italian Mosiac table that would look great. When I told my husband that it was only $2,000, he just laughed and walked away. That kinda led me to believe that I would not be encouraged to purchase that beautiful table. Which is really too bad because it's so attractive, it's something that my kids could fight over after I'm gone.

We hit the malls and furniture stores again. If I liked the top of the tables, I found the legs to be too skinny. I kept saying, "If only this table had legs like the one I'm replacing." After a few days of not finding something perfect, I got the bright idea to strip and stain my table, and then it would look like the one I liked in Pottery Barn.Here are my darling daughters' staining it.

Unfortunately, the stain didn't work out. It was blotchy. See it below? Bleck!!

Then I decided, what the hey -- I'll paint it purple!

And that's what I did. I'm happy with the way it turned out. Purple is an accent color in my kitchen and family room (If you click on the image you can see the purple in my wallpaper border by the door to the yard). The table legs are a deep brown as are the new chairs. And a neat thing is that the chair legs are the same color wood that's in the adjacent family room.

And then, I painted the computer table that's behind the table to the left.

So, perhaps you can't always get what you want, but usually you can get what you need. Ahh, contentment -- with what I've got.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Riven by Jerry Jenkins

Ever since I heard it was coming out, I've been eager to read Riven by Jerry Jenkins. Riven is the story of two lives converging in an unexpected place and, for each character, an unexpected 

Reverend Thomas Carey has steadfastly devoted his life to the Lord's work, despite the fact his ministry was disappointing and thankless. He was never welcome beyond a few years at any of the churches he pastored, and traveled from one church to another with his sweet, optimistic wife Grace. 

Brady Wayne Darby is a young man with a rough past and a dismal future. It seems that every time Brady has the opportunity to make a good choice, he blows it. 

The story spans 17 years. You follow the Careys' trek from one dismal assignment to another. They occasionally interact with their daughter, a young woman who walked away from her faith, much to their heartbreak. Thomas eventually ends up as chaplain at a state penitentiary. Meanwhile, the story also chronicles the misadventures of Brady Darby from the age of 16 when he's a small-time hood until he lands in prison, condemned to death for murder. 

As was expected, Jenkins moved the story along with skill. It's not a popsicle and rainbow story, and in fact is a sober tale. The end of the book really picks up when the two men's paths cross and they become unexpected friends. 

The story opens with Brady walking to his execution chamber and then backtracks to show us how each man ended up at the same place. By the time the book brings you back to death row you've learned about faithfulness, hope, and redemption. It's a rough, dismal journey at times, but one worth the read. 

Here's the first chapter:

Adamsville State Penitentiary
Death Row

With the man’s first step, the others on the Row began a slow tapping on their cell doors.

The tiny procession reached the end of the pod, and the rest of the way through security and all the way to the death chamber was lined on either side with corrections officers shoulder to shoulder, feet spread, hands clasped behind their backs, heads lowered. As the condemned reached them, each raised his head, snapped to attention, arms at his sides, feet together.

What a tribute, he thought. Who would ever have predicted this for one who had, for so much of his life, been such a bad, bad man?

October, seventeen years earlier
Touhy Trailer Park

Brady Wayne Darby clapped his little brother on the rear. “Petey, time to get up, bud. We got no water pressure, so . . .”


“There’s a trickle, so give yourself a sponge bath.”

“Ma already gone?”

“Yeah. Now come on. Don’t be late.”

At sixteen, Brady was twice Peter’s age and hated being the man of the house—or at least of the trailer. But if no one else was going to keep an eye on his little brother, he had to. It was bad enough Brady’s bus came twenty minutes before Peter’s and the kid had to be home alone. Brady poured the boy a bowl of cereal and called through the bathroom door, “No dressing like a hoodlum today, hear?”

“Why’s it all right for you and not for me?” “Whatever.”

“Straight home after school. I got practice, so I’ll see ya for dinner.”

“Ma gonna be here?”

“She doesn’t report to me. Just keep your distance till I get home.”

Brady rummaged for cigarettes, finally finding five usable butts in one of the ashtrays. He quickly smoked two down to their filters, tearing open the remaining three and dumping the tobacco in his shirt pocket. Desperately trying to quit so he could stay on the football team, Brady couldn’t be seen with the other smokers across the road from the school, so he had resorted to sniffing his pocket throughout the day. If he couldn’t cop a smoke from a friend after last class and find a secluded place to light up, he was so jittery at practice he could hardly stand still.

Brady grabbed his books and slung his black leather jacket over his shoulder as he left the trailer, finding the asphalt already steaming in the sun. Others from the trailer park waiting for the bus made him feel as if he were seeing his own reflection. Guys and girls dressed virtually the same, black from head to toe except for white shirts and blouses. Guys had their hair slicked back, sideburns grown retro, high-collared shirts tucked into skintight pants over pointy-toed shoes. Oversize wallets, most likely as empty as Brady’s, protruded from back pockets and were attached to belt loops by imitation silver or gold chains.

So they were decades behind the times, even for rebels. Brady—an obsessive movie watcher—was a James Dean fan and dressed how he wanted, and the rest copied him. One snob called them rebels without a clue.

Brady scowled and narrowed his eyes, nodding a greeting. The fat girl with the bad face, whom Brady had unceremoniously dumped more than a year ago after he had gotten to know her better than he should have in the backseat of a friend’s car, sneered as she cradled her gigantic purse to her chest. “Still trying to play jock?”

Brady looked away. “Leave it alone, Agatha.”

“More like a preppy,” one of the guys said, reaching to flick Brady’s schoolbooks.

“You definitely don’t want to start with me,” Brady said, glaring and calling him the foulest name he could think of. The kid quickly backed off.

Brady knew he looked strange carrying schoolbooks. But the coach kept track.

The trailer park was the last stop on the route, and the yellow barge soon drifted in, crammed with suburbia’s finest: jocks, preppies, and nerds—every last one younger than Brady. No other self-respecting kid with a driver’s license rode the bus.

In a life of endless days of open-fly humiliation, this boarding ritual was the most painful. Brady took it upon himself to lead the group. They could hide behind him and each other, avoiding the squints and stares and held noses as they slowly made their way down the aisle looking, usually in vain, for someone to slide over far enough to allow one cheek on the seat for the ride to school.


“. . . brewery . . .”

“. . . smokehouse . . .”

“. . . B.O. . . .”

Brady neither looked nor waited. His daily goal was to find the most resolute rich kid and make him move. Today he stared down at the short-cropped blond hair of a boy who had been trying to hide a smile while pretending to study. Brady pressed his knee against him and growled, “Move in, frosh.”

“I’m a sophomore,” the kid huffed as he made room.

On the way home, Brady would ride the activities bus. There he would for sure be the only one of his type, but football earned him his place among the jocks, cheerleaders, thespians, and assorted club members. Wide-eyed at first, they seemed to have grudgingly accepted him, though they still clearly saw the trailer park as a novelty. One evening as he trudged from the bus, Brady had been sure everyone was watching. He turned quickly, only to be proven right, and felt face-slapped. At least the trailer park was the first stop at the end of the day. 11 a.m.

First Community Church
Vidalia, Georgia

Reverend Thomas Carey knew he would not be getting the job when the head of the pastoral search committee—a youngish man with thick, dark hair—dismissed the others and asked Grace Carey if she wouldn’t mind waiting for her husband in the car.

“Oh, not at all,” she said, but Thomas interrupted.

“Anything you say to me, you can say to her.”

The man put a hand on Thomas’s shoulder and spoke softly. “Of course, you’re free to share anything you wish with your spouse, Reverend, but why don’t you decide after you hear me out?”

Grace assured Thomas it was all right and retreated from the sanctuary.

“You tell her everything?” the man said.

“Of course. She’s my—”

“She knows we saw you at your request, not ours, and that we didn’t feel you warranted a visit to hear you preach?”

Thomas Carey pressed his lips together. Then, “I appreciate your meeting with us today.”

The committee chairman pointed to a pew and leaned against another as Thomas sat. “I need to do you a favor and be frank with you, Reverend. I can tell you right now this is not going to go your way. In fact, we’re not going to bother with a vote.”

“That doesn’t sound fair.”

“Please,” Dark Hair said. “I know these people, and if I may be blunt, you rank last on the list of six we’ve already interviewed.”

“Shouldn’t you poll the others on their—?”

“I’m sorry, but you have a three-year Bible college diploma, no real degree, no seminary training. You’re, what, in your midforties?”

“I’m forty-six, yes.”

“Sir, I’ve got to tell you, I’m not surprised that your résumé consists of eight churches in twenty-two years—the largest fewer than 150 members. Have you ever asked yourself why?”

“Why what?”

“Why you’ve never been successful, never advanced, never landed a church like ours . . .”

“Surely you don’t equate success with numbers.”

“Reverend Carey, I’m just trying to help. You and your sweet wife come in here, I assume trying to put your best foot forward, yet you look and dress ten years older than you are, and your hair is styled like a 1940s matinee idol.”

Dark Hair extended his hand. “I want to sincerely thank you for your time today. Please pass along my best wishes to your wife. And be assured I meant no disrespect. If it’s of any help, I’m aware of several small churches looking for pastors.”

Thomas stood slowly and buttoned his sport jacket. “I appreciate your frankness; I really do. Any idea how I might qualify for a bigger work? I don’t want to leave the ministry, but our only child is in her second year of law school at Emory, and—”

“When there are many Christian colleges that would give a minister huge discounts?”

“I’m afraid she would be neither interested in nor qualified for a Christian school just now.”

“I see. Well, I’m sorry. But the fact is, you are what you are. None of your references called you a gifted preacher, despite assuring us you’re a wonderful man of God. If you cannot abide your current station, perhaps the secular marketplace is an option.”

5 p.m.
Head Football Coach’s Office
Forest View High School

Brady hadn’t even thoroughly dried after his shower. Now he sat in Coach Roberts’s cramped space with his stuff on his lap, waiting for the beefy man. Every player was listed on a poster on the wall, his place on the depth chart and his grade in every class there for all to see. Brady knew what was coming. He should have just skulked out to the bus and, by ignoring the coach’s summons, announced his quitting before being cut.

But he knew the drill. Never give up. Never say die. Keep your head up. Look eager, willing.

Finally Roberts barreled in, dropping heavily into a squeaky chair. “I gotta ask you, Darby: what’re you doing here?”

“You asked me to come see you—”

“I mean what’re you doing trying to play football? You’re a shop kid, ain’t ya? You didn’t come out as a frosh or a soph. I smell smoke all over you.”

“I quit, Coach! I know the rules.”

“We’re barely a month into the year, and you’re makin’ Ds in every class. You’re fourth-string quarterback, and entertaining as it is for everybody else to watch you racing all over the practice field on every play, we both know you’re never gonna see game time. Now, really, what’re you doing?”

“Just trying to learn, to make it.”

Brady couldn’t tell him he was looking for something, anything, to get him out of the trailer park and closer to the kids he had despised for so long. They seemed to have everything handed to them: clothes, cars, girls, college, futures. No, he wasn’t ready to dress differently; he took enough heat from his friends just for carrying books and playing football.

“Listen, your teachers, even the ones outside of industrial arts, tell me you’re not stupid. You’re a good reader, sometimes have something to say. But you don’t test well, rarely do your homework. What’s the deal?”
Brady shrugged. “It’s just my ma and my brother and me.”

“Hey, we’ve all got problems, Darby.”

Do we? Really? “Like I said, I quit smoking, and I’m trying to get my grades up.”

“Look, I want to see you succeed, but frankly you’re a distraction here. I rarely cut anybody willing to practice and ride the bench—”

“Which I am.”

“Yeah, but this isn’t working, and I don’t want to waste any more of your time.”

“Don’t worry about wasting my—”

“Or mine. Or my coaches’. If you’re determined to get involved in some extracurricular stuff, there’s all kinds of other—”

“Like what?”

Coach Roberts looked at his watch. “Well, what do you like to do?”

“Watch movies.”

“Don’t we all? But is it a passion for you?”

“You have no idea.”

“You want to be an actor someday? study theater?”

Brady hesitated. “Never thought of that, but yeah, that would be too good to be true.”

“Now see, with that attitude, you’ll never get anywhere. If you want to try that, try it! Talk to Nabertowitz, the theater guy. See if there’s a club or a play or something.”

“There’s rumors about him.”

“Do yourself a favor and keep your mouth shut about that. Those artsy people can be a little flamboyant, but the guy’s got a wife and kids, so don’t be jumping to conclusions, and you’ll stay out of trouble.”

Brady shrugged. “I’d be as new there as I was here.”

“Oh, I expect you’d be a sight among that crowd, though there’s all kinds of behind-the-scenes stuff I’ll bet you could do. But I need to tell you, football is not your thing.”

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

WFTJ Christmas Party

Today the gang from Words For The Journey, Rocky Mtn. Region gathered for our annual Christmas party.
I'm sitting next to one of my favorite dudes, "Booger," aka Darcie's little angel. He's a regular at WFTJ and is always a happy boy.

We reserved a private room so we could make as much noise as necessary to have fun -- and we did! The fun started just as we arrived at the restaurant. The hostess was told that we were the writers, and we reserved a private room. "The writers? The writers?" she asked. Apparently there was a disconnect when the reservations were made. Who ever took the call wrote down our reservations as Riders. They were expecting us to rumble up on our motorcycles. Ha!

We had a gift exchange, played a fun story game (we each wrote a snippet), and were entertained by Robbie Iobst's Christmas Writer's Medley. Treat yourself, and take a look. I particularly like the second song, "Writer Blogs," sung to the tune of "Silver Bells."