Contact Me

If you enjoy my blog and would like to contact me, you may reach me at this email:

Some of my stories are published in:
A Cup of Comfort Devotional for Mothers and Daughters (Adams Media, 2009)
Chicken Soup: What I Learned from the Dog (2009)
Love is a Flame (Bethany House, 2010)
Extraordinary answers to Prayer (Guideposts, 2010)
Love is a Verb (Bethany House, 2011)
Big Dreams from Small Spaces (Group Publishing, 2012)

Thursday, February 25, 2010

What's Your Perfect Book?

I just bought a tall bookcase for my office. It was nearly empty a couple of months ago. Now the shelves are nearly filled with novels I've read recently.
Since I'm taking writing classes, reading books on writing craft, attending writers' groups, critiquing and being critiqued, and practicing -always practicing -to perfect my writing, the next most logical step is to immerse myself in well-written novels.
Want to know what I've discovered?
There are no perfect books. (Except the Bible)
Oh, there are excellent books. Some are crafted so well that I'll stop to read a sentence several times just to savor the artistry of a well-heeled phrase.
Some books have an incredibly well-thought-out plot. The scenes move the story along, keeping me engaged for hours as the author weaves characters and situations.
Some novels have such a powerful or compelling character that I have to read the book over and over.
But, there's always something that doesn' quite do it:
Maybe the romance between two characters just doesn't come to life.
Or the situation isn't plausible.
Or the author could have developed a theme to a greater depth.
The author is so afraid of telling that there's almost none. I'd like SOME narrative, please.
Or the character doesn't move me because he/she seems unfinished.
Or the character's motivation seems silly or unrealistic.
Or the technical aspect of the writer's craft is so obvious that it pulls me out of the story.
Or - and this is a biggy for me- I feel cheated because the beginning convinced me that the rest of the book would deliver. And it didn't.

Some really great books that I believe are close to perfection:
Music and Silence by Rose Tremain
Jack Maggs by Peter Caret
Peace Like a River by Leif Enger
Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden

What's on your list of a perfect book and why?
I'd love to know.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Do I know You?

I got a Facebook friend request the other day. Since I've been adding on quite a few friends lately (Christian authors and friends of friends) I didn't look too closely at the request.
I should have.
I clicked on the "confirm" button, then went on to my other computer activities.
Couple of hours later the "friend" I'd just confirmed posted. I read it. Hmmm, didn't seem like the usual posts I get. So I clicked on the "friend's profile and sat, horrified, at the pictures that popped up.
I'm so new at this whole Facebook thing - and Facebook keeps making confusing changes - that I couldn't find the icon to delete this "friend" from my friend's file.
Bruce came to my rescue and we quickly eliminated the guy from my friend list.
I've made several gaffes lately as I learn to navigate the strange cyber world my kids find so natural. It's simply not my mother tongue; I'll always have an "accent" that quickly identifies me as a foreigner to anything tech-y.
But it made me think how important it is to recognize the "faces" of friends. . . to recognize the pattern of my friends' speech, tone of voice, subject matter, choice of friends.

This stranger who tried to get onto my Facebook had posted a picture of himself that seemed uncharacteristic of a Christian author. It looked more like a mug shot. That should have alerted me right away.The words he chose to use on his profile page said nothing about Jesus Christ, or his faith or his writing career.
As a Christian I'm supposed to be as wise as a serpent but as innocent as a dove. I guess the "wise" part is about knowing and recognizing evil so I don't fall prey to it.
I wouldn't pick up a hitch-hiker, or let a stranger in my front door. But I'd naiively let an evil stranger enter through another "door."
How about you? Are you ever innocent, but not wise when it comes to evil? How did you recognize evil?

". . . his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger's voice." (John 10: 4-5)

Thursday, February 18, 2010


My sister, Lori, used to work in a bank as a teller. One day, during break she happened to mention innocently how frustrating it is when she hears music in her head that won't go away. Her supervisor suspected that Lori had some form of mental illness and urged her to see a psychiatrist.
When Lori told me about what happened at work, I laughed for a long time, incredulous that anyone could be so clueless as that supervisor. Perhaps Lori just didn't explain that the music she heard was inside her head, not some audible stuff that everyone else in the area could hear.
That was some years ago and since then I've told this funny story to many friends.
It was only recently, talking about listening to music internally, that my husband informed me that he does not usually hear music in his brain.
"No, really," he said when I looked unconvinced. "Oh, sometimes I'll get a tune in my head that annoys me for an hour or two. But mostly, my mind is music-free.
Bruce is a musical fella. He's got a Master's Degree in music and is a terrific drummer. But, no, he doesn't usually hear music in his head. He listens to his ipod all day, though.
I'm a musician, too. But, by contrast, my mind plays music constantly, sometimes maddeningly. It can be a beloved symphony, a recently listened-to CD, a tune I've known all my life or my own original musical score, composing itself as I write, sleep, brush my teeth, read a book.
Bruce wonders why I frequently prefer silence to music while I'm working in my office. I tell him, "It's not quiet in here." I point to my brain.
Then there are the little snippets of music that get stuck in your head for hours or even days, sometimes called earworms. Horrible. I usually try to replace the annoying music by conjuring up another tune.
So, I'm doing a little informal poll.
Do you frequently hear music in your head?
Or are you more like my husband, Bruce?
I'd love your comments.

Have a great day and listen to some music.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Pieces of Grandpa

My granddad (on my mother's side) was a wonderful man. He and Grandmommy raised only my mother, but when she had us five kids - in quick succession - he took to grandfathering in a, well, grand way.
Granddaddy ran a tight ship in his beautiful San Francisco home. When we came inside, coats went into the closet immediately. No toys, no books, no nothing lying around. A place for everything and everything in its place.
No running in the house.
No yelling.
Naps strictly enforced.
"Please," "thankyou," "you're welcome."
We loved him.
When we got old enough to handle excursions down town, Granddaddy would bundle us into our coats, every button buttoned, and take us onto the streetcars. We'd get off on Market Street. Traffic was heavy and he'd hold the younger one's hands in such a tight grip that our little fingers ached.
It was a different world back then: no homeless wandering around, no panhandling, no bad smells. I'm sure that dangerous people roamed the downtown area, but we didn't suspect every face that passed us.
Granddaddy took us to the big banks so we could hear his simplified explanation of how money is handled. We walked up and down Grant Street, in China Town, pressing our noses against each shop's glass window to gawk at the strange products and foods. Then on to his favorite Chinese restaurant.
He seemed to know everybody downtown so we heard lots of adult conversations that sounded like, "Wa, wa, wa, wa."
Golden Gate Park, Japanese Tea Garden, Natural History Museum, DeYoung Art Musem, Fleischacker Zoo, the Emporium, the Mark Hopkins Hotel, movies at the Fox.
Such excitement, such education for little kids who lived across the bay in a quiet suburb.
After Granddaddy died, I always felt as if all those special memories were wondrous pieces of him for me to keep safely tucked in my heart.

Now I'm the grandparent. Even though my two granddaughters are still in diapers, it won't be long till I'll be presenting experiences, perspectives, books, memories, restaurants, and photo albums of long-gone relatives. All things to enrich their young lives and fill their minds with a sense of history, of connection to people whom they'll never meet, but who, nevertheless, form puzzle pieces that construct the picture of their lives. I want to enrich my grandchildren by showing them that there are other realities down the street or across the world.

I'll tell them how God sought me. How their grandpa (my husband) shared his faith with me. Why I love Jesus so much. I want to show them my mind and heart before the memory of me is lost through time and succeding generations.

I want pieces of me saved in their hearts.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Never Saw it Coming

Last summer evening my husband and I decided to enjoy the star-filled night sky, relaxing in our bubbling hot tub. It sits on the far northwest corner of our back deck. The deck begins just outside the master suite, then extends east, past the family room, wraps around the corner and ends at the garage. It's a wonderful place to enjoy company, gaze at the mountains or read.

We hung a bird feeder at the far northeast corner of the deck that summer and found delight just watching the finches and sparrows and other bird breeds flock to the fancy bird seed.

After we'd lounged in the hot tub long enough to start becoming prune-like, I stood up and grabbed a towel. Bruce switched off the bubbles and that's when I heard the sound. Rapid click-click-clicks, like when I used to drum my fingers on my school desk in geometry class.
"What is that sound?"
Bruce didn't hear it.
I stared intently into the blackness surrounding us, wishing I'd brought a flash light outside with us.
There it went again: click, click, click, click.
"It's coming from over there," I whispered, pointing to the far northeast corner of the deck.
I climbed out of the steaming water, wrapped the towel around my middle and crept slowly across the deck.
Click, click, click, click, click.
Inspite of the stars, I couldn't even see my hand in front of my face.
Just a foot away from the far east railing, I leaned forward, listening for all my might.
I jumped back quickly when I heard that.
"Bruce, Bruce, hurry up and turn on the light!"
Bruce switched on the light, revealing three big, fierce-looking, and rather annoyed raccoons perched on the wood railing of the deck.
As soon as they were discovered, they turned and scritched rapidly along the railing, down the steps and into the oblivion of a Colorado mountain night.
I laughed nervously. "I guess they were after the bird seed."
Raccoons are cute from a distance, but formidable when threatened.
I said a silent prayer of thanks to God that those critters didn't attack me. I'd never have seen it coming.

Later, I thought about all the other close calls I've avoided in my fifty-plus years. How many other physical and spiritual dangers have I blythely walked close to, around or under, never seeing the potential threat?
Praise God, He sees clearly (and in all directions) in the darkness and can never be surprised by any kind of assault or ambush.

Guess I'll stay close to Him, relying on His "eyes."

"I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." (John 8:12)

Monday, February 8, 2010

Correcting the Course

My mother was a very dramatic woman. When some disappointment came her way, she'd often say, "
Oh well, it's not the end of the world."
Indeed not. Nothing is the end of the world except the end of the world.
How do you feel when something you've pinned your hope on - getting published, getting an award, a job - dosn't happen?
Do you feel as if you've failed and that it's the end of all your hopes and dreams?
Consider Abraham Lincoln, our sixteenth president:
Mother died when he was nine
Unable to pay for college
Patented a device which proved impractical and was never used
Partner in a general store wich failed, leaving him in debt
Defeated in a bid for Illinois general assembly
Defeated twice in bid for U.S. Senate
Courted Mary Todd in secret because her family didn't approve of him
Suffered from frequent bouts of depression
Only one of his four sons survived to adulthood

Yet, inspite of all these disappointment, Abraham Lincoln pressed on to become one of our greatest presidents.

"As a disciple of Christ, failure is not damnation; it's a correction in course." Please post that quote somewhere where you'll see it often throughout your day.
What a blessing that we have a loving Father who'll teach us through our "failures."
Next failure that comes along, say to yourself: "I'm correcting my course."
Teach your family members this quote so they can encourage each other when the next "failure" comes around the bend.
"As a disciple of Christ, failure is not damnation; it's a correction in course."

I've been through tons of "corrections" this year. How about you?

Proverbs 15:32 "He who ignores discipline despise himself, but whoever heeds correction gains understanding."

Thursday, February 4, 2010

To My Dear Friend, Whom I Love

I got an e-mail the other day. It did not begin with the usual greeting: "Hi" or "Dena," or "Dear Dena." Nothing to soften the business-like nature of the ensuing message.
Without the salutation, I wasn't even sure that the e-mail was specifically for me.
The e-mailer knew that I've been under the weather the past couple of days. But no "How are you?"
Nope. Just the terse message, followed by the sender's name. No "love" or "sincerely" or even "respectfully."
Fortunately, I know the sender. I know that she's really a lovely person.
But that e-mail was about as warm as divorce papers.
The tone of the message, without the cushioning effects of the salutation and the other niceties once such a part of Western society's civil exchanges, sounded cold, rude.
So sad that, in our drive to be quick and efficient, we've lost that cordiality.

Now the Apostle Paul really knew how to write a letter. His greetings are warm, thankful, filled with phrases expressing his sincere delight in and love for the recipients of the letter. He'd no sooner get down to business, omitting these loving words, than the Dodgers would dispense with "The Stars Spangled Banner" at the beginning of the game.
Paul begins 1st Cor. like this: "Paul. . . an Apostle. . . . to the church. . . in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus. . . "
Ephesians begins similarly: "Paul, an Apostle of Christ Jesus. . . Grace and peace to you . . . "

Isn't that lovely?
Wouldn't you love to receive a letter that begins like that?
I know I would.
So I going to try to remember Paul's grand and grace-filled style whenever I contact anyone by letter or email. Even by phone.
Let's start a new trend!

Monday, February 1, 2010

I Am The Potter; God Is The Clay?

Genesis 1:26 says "Then God said, let Us make man in Our own image, in Our likeness."

When I was a little girl I won a painting (actually a photo of the painting) of Jesus for learning a set amount of Bible verses in Sunday School.
I hung the idealized illustration above my bed and gazed at it often. In this picture, Jesus is handsome, with kind brown eyes and a beard that's neither too Van Dyke, nor too Charles Manson.
That picture and my sporadic Sunday School lessons - mostly about Jesus and the little children and Zaccheus climbing the sycamore tree - formed my view of Jesus. Jesus loved little children and short men in trees.
The kindness of Jesus and the compassion of Jesus was enough to draw me to Him in faith a few years later. Kindness and compassion were the qualities I deemed necessary to forgive me of my sins and allow me to enter heaven when I die.

Forty years later, through study, through fellowship, through worship and prayer, through experiences in which God has revealed His character, I find that there are no human words to describe the indescribable. I worship Him, hoping to gain further glimpses into His nature. No box, no cubby-hole, no sanctuary, no pastor, or poet or theologian, no character trait, as conceived in our mortal minds, captures His essence.
But we try, nevertheless.
We say:
"My God is a loving God; He'd never (insert what we perceive as an unloving action). . . "
"Well, the God that I worship is (insert descriptive, defining word(s)).
"I could never believe that my God would say. . . (blah, blah, blah).
Note the focus on the "I" and the "my."

Slavery is God ordained.
Woman was created inferior.
Only organ music is acceptable for worship.
Organ music is old-fashioned.

With these beliefs have I made God according to my image in order to have no barrier to what I desire for myself?
So dangerous to try to define God. When we do so, it rains down on our human relationships.

Do I deceive myself, imagining that God is pleased because :
I wear a dress to church,
I don't wear a dress to church,
I march at anti-war rallies,
I march at rallies clamoring for more troops,
I sing only hymns in church,
I sing fresh, guitar-whaling, drum-pounding contemporary songs?

Do I surround myself with only those who are like me and who agree with my theology? Dangerous.
It's likely I'm making God according to my image.

Am I, today, seeking to know God's mind and heart?
Am I seeking to know God as He is, not merely the comfortable God I've always known, or simply as I wish Him to be?
Prayer: Dear Lord Jesus, help me to set aside any cherished ideas about you that do not come from You. Help me to seek You and love You with all my heart, soul, mind and strength. So be it.