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, April 29, 2010

We lived on Long Island for about five years. That's when the kids were little.
The schools were always on an austerity budget.
We had one lone policeman patrolling mucho square miles.
They used to turn off our street lights to save money.
At the time (and this was 20 years ago) we were paying about six thousand dollars a year for property taxes. I don't know why. We sure weren't seeing the benefit.
But someone was enjoying our six thousand dollars.

I saw a little example of this kind of robbery and waste just last week when I was flying to and from San Diego.
It was bad enough when they started charging fifteen dollars per bag. Now it's twenty-five dollars.
I don't know why.
I gotta print my own ticket. And if I don't do it close to the twenty-four hours prior-to-departure time, they stick me with a number four.
That means I have to wait until all the overhead bins are taken by overstuffed carry-ons 'cause nobody else wanted to pay the twenty-five dollars per bag to check their luggage.
I go up to the do-it-yourself check-in kiosk. (they used to have someone there to answer your questions) and tried to scan my e-ticket.
Didn't work. (No one's there to help, remember?)
So I type in my confirmation number instead.
A guy steps forward behind the kiosk and instructs me to lift my bag onto the scale.
He's about a foot taller and looks like a line-backer, but I've got to do the lifting.
For my twenty-five dollars, the man puts a sticky tag on my bag and checks to make sure I'm who I say I am.
I'm the last person to board 'cause I got stuck with a number four on my boarding pass.
I click my lap belt, take out my four dollar, one ounce bag of airport chocolate covered almonds (remember, they don't even give you free pretzels anymore) and my book.
I plug in my courtesy headset and listen to - no, I can't listen 'cause the headset doesn't work.

I don't mind spending the money to travel, but I'd sure like to get the same amount of service I used to for the same amount of money.
Why is life like that?
Why does everything decompose: society, governments, services, courtesy, price of gas, price of education, price of everything?

God doesn't break down. He never grows grumpier, or greedier, or chincy-er.
He's always the same, you can always count on Him, He never gives you second best, He's the best and He offers the best.
Why can't the world be like God?
"Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights who does not change like shifting shadows." (James 1:17)

Monday, April 26, 2010

Plan B

I should have known better.
I ALWAYS have a Plan B.
Go hiking: plan for rain or a sprained ankle.
Have company: plan two entrees and two desserts, just in case they hate lasagna or pie.
Teacher suggests ten books in your bibliography: have fifteen.
Stash a gallon of water and a warm blanket in the trunk of the car, just in case.

I took my big bag. Even paid the twenty-five dollars to check it at DIA. (That 's a whole 'nother blog)
I was thinking San Diego: sunshine, beaches, LaJolla shopping, hot-tub chats with my daughter.
First day was cool, overcast, threatening rain.
Rained almost the whole week.
Had to buy a sweater. Stuck indoors till Saturday when we finally got out to Coronado for a stroll and lunch on the terrace at Terrazzo Italianio.
I was not prepared for the cool, rainy weather.
Does life ever catch you unprepared?
Don't even answer; I know what you'll say.

God's never unprepared.
He even had a plan B for when we sinned.
Actually it was PLAN A. He already knew we'd fall. "He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world." Ephesians 1:4
God sees every day before it arrives because "in Him was life, and the life was the light of men." John 1:4
He even arrived on this earth equipped for everything He needed to do:preach, heal, die, resurrect, send the Holy Spirit. Matt. 4:23, Matt. 26:2, Matt.28:6.

When you come down to it, we're the only ones who need a plan B.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Crafty Writing

Before I knew anything about vocal technique I'd listen to any singer and think, "wow, he's really good." Then I started studying voice, attending concerts, performing in shows and concerts, hanging out with other singers. After a few years I got to be a pretty discerning listener. I could literally feel what a singer was doing with his diction, his breathing or if he was struggling with tension or fatigue, if his Italian or French pronunciation needed work, if he was true to the style of the classical or romantic or contemporary piece.

Then I started writing. I attended my first writer's conference.
Oh, I'd been reading all my life. I read a wide variety of classical novels, contemporary fiction, Christian fiction, non-fiction, etc.
My professors in college all said that I was an excellent writer. Non-fiction, that is.
I wrote my first novel and pitched it to a professional critiquer.
She said it would help if I read a lot of books. I composed my face and thanked her for her helpful comments on my writing.

She meant well, but honestly, did she think I wrote in a vacuum --that I'd never opened a book before I attempted my own?
I know what she meant, however. That it's extremely helpful to read others' writing and see how they handle dialogue, structure a scene, hook you with compelling characterizations, etc.

But before you can read with a discerning eye, you have to know what to look for. I wish my critique lady had said: keep taking on-line writing courses, read and study some good books on the craft of writing, hang out with other writers, get into a good critique group, take a good writing course, talk to professional writers.
Then, start reading books with the eyes of a writer, not a reader.
Armed with some writing tools, and reading a new book just about every three or four days, I'm really starting to get it.
Now, each book that I read teaches me another little aspect of the craft.
So now, the biggest advice I'd give a new fiction writer would be:
  1. study a good book on the craft of writing
  2. open a novel and start finding all the techniques the writing book touches on
  3. write a scene using the new techniques you've just read about, and noticed in the novel.
  4. Have it critiqued.

You'll be amazed at how quickly your writing craft will grow. Happy writing!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Loser? Not!

I love this picture of Kiri grappling with the other woman at a jiu jitsu tournament. (Kiri ended up winning the tournament.)
To the untrained eye it appears that Kiri is winning because she's on top.
Actually, I happen to know that in jiu jitsu the winner is frequently on the bottom. With the firm ground behind you, you have lots more control. Kiri usually wins when she's the one with her back to the ground, and her opponent is on top.

To most people, it sure looks like Satan is in control. Crime, political corruption, disease, natural disasters, family and societal destruction. Everywhere we look we see evil seemingly the victor.
Sure looks like Satan's on top, winning the "tournament."
But the wise believer knows that appearances can be disceiving.
When Jesus hung on the cross, His disciples wept.
When His body was laid in the tomb, it sure looked like that was the end of the dream of a messiah.
But hidden from the physical eyes of Jesus' disciples, a whole spirtual war had been waged and won. The proof? Jesus' resurrection.

That's why we can believe Him when He said:
"I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." (John 16:33)

"Now may the Lord of peace Himself give you peace at all times and in every way." (2 Thess. 3:16)

"Peace to all who are in Christ." (1 Peter 5:14)

Thursday, April 15, 2010


From my study window I'm watching a garage get constructed right across the street.
It's a fascinating process.
First, the guy digs a big, wide hole.
Then some other guys go inside the hole and nail boards in a nice regular north-south and west-east pattern. This takes a lot of time. If it were me, I'd slap those babies together and be done with it.
But they're really careful. They do lots of measuring.
Next, a cement truck arrives, backs into the driveway and slowly deposits its sludge into the hole. I can't see what the men are doing but I hear much shouting of instructions back and forth.
This also takes a lot of time.
Two days later, another truck arrives with long pieces of lumber. I don't see it happen, but the next time I look, the wood sits neatly stacked on the side of the driveway.
It sits there a full day with no activity.
Building a garage sure makes me impatient. What a lot of time just spent measuring, waiting, delivering, stacking, more waiting.
Can't those builders see I'm anxious to see the building go up? I want to see the actual garage.
Finally, when I come back from my lunch break, I see a couple of boards standing up above the foundation. Couple of hours later: a basic frame.
This morning the walls are completely up. I notice that the builders have made the style of the garage and the roof match the rest of the house.
I hear nailing and pounding, but I can't see too much. They're inside the structure, doing mysterious construction-guy things I can only guess at.

In the two weeks it took to erect the garage, a full two thirds of the time was spent just measuring and laying the foundation. The rest went up quickly.

I thought about it this morning, how long it takes to prepare anything: applying masking tape in preparation for painting,
measuring and cutting out a pattern to sew a dress,
practicing the rudimentary strokes of the drummer,
learning the craft of the writer.
Such discipline, such persistent practice, such careful preparation for the final --and much faster --dash to the end.
But the foundation has to be carefully laid. If it's not, then the rest lies on faulty ground.

My life as a believer, too, is being carefully measured, mapped out, filled in.
Christ is laying a foundation. He takes His time, frustrating me with delayed answers to prayer and augmented time in the stinky trenches.
I am like a two year old filly. He pulls on the bit, reining in my enthusiasm to to cut corners and just "get to the finish line."

Because He wants the job to be perfect.
And He is the expert builder.

1Cor. 3:9 "By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as an expert builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should be careful how he builds. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ."

Monday, April 12, 2010

In God Alone

My twenty-one year old daughter is an athlete. Kiri discovered jui jitsu when she was dating Wayne (now her husband). With a world famous trainer, talent, and consistent grueling practice, Kiri has moved up the ranks quickly. Last year she won both the Pan Ams and the World Championship jui jitsu tournaments in her weight and belt.
Kiri won the Pan Am Competition again just last week.

This week she's on her way to the tiny middle eastern country of United Arab Emirate to compete in the Abu Dhabi world competition.

I'm a mom.
And I'm scared.

Jui jitsu is mostly a man's sport. The guys that come to these tournaments are big --usually tattooed --tough, macho, with muscles most of us didn't even imagine existed.
Fortunately, Kiri doesn't have to spar with those guys.
She wrestles other women. But the're tough, too.
Injuries happen. Some of the choke holds the competitors use make you lose consciousness. Arms get broken.
This traveling to an Arab country makes me even more nervous.
I'm glad Wayne's going with her.

My fear for my daughter shows just how far I still need to grow in trusting God's loving protection and provision.

Kiri is my Achille's heal, my weak spot, my missing chink of armor. If ever the enemy wants to make me fearful, all he has to do is send a little fiery arrow of imagination right through that little unguarded spot in my spirit. He "helps" me envision all the terrible things that could happen to my precious daughter.

But my fear drives me to my knees. Kiri and I are both little chicks that have learned to scurry under the wing of Mother Hen.
There is is no security greater than the security provided by our Heavenly Father. No greater love, no greater wisdom, no greater grace.

Kiri will be gone for an entire week and during that time this is the scripture I'll be reading, praying and clinging to:
"My soul finds rest in God alone;
my salvation comes from Him.
He alone is my rock and my salvation;
He is my fortress, I will never be shaken." (Psalm 62:1,2)

You parents know the fear I wrestle with. What's your most precious comforting Bible verse?

Thursday, April 8, 2010

They Get You Each Time

One of the best thrillers I've ever seen (and seen and seen and seen) is "Night of the Hunter." Robert Mitchem -- one of the scariest guys on screen in the forties, fifties and sixties --plays the classic wolf in sheep's clothing, a murderous con-man posing as a man of the cloth so he can work his evil without the townspeople suspecting him.

He worms his way into the good graces of a young widow with two children so he can find out where her deceased husband hid money from a bank robbery.
When the widow discovers his plan, he murders her then chases and terroizes the two children as they flee down-river.

As many times as I've seen that movie and know that eventually the boy and little girl are saved and the bad guy gets his, it still makes my heart quiver.

Why do we watch some movies over and over? Why do we read some books and never feel the urge to read it again, while others draw us in each time we open its pages?
When I watch Robert Mitchum riding a stolen horse down that stark depression-era road, singing "Leaning on the Everlasting Arms," I want to shout: "Run! Hide! He's coming. He's going to cut you up with his knife!"

The director --I believe it was Charles Laughton, --did something with the set, the actors and the music and the camera angles that make you feel you're those two kids and Robert Mitchum is going to get YOU!

There's so much in a good movie to be gleaned and studied for the writer. How can I use words to create that same kind of "You are there" experience for my readers?

Writers, what is your favorite trick for bringing your readers into this kind of intimate emotional experience? What is the book or movie that most draws you? I'd love to hear your comments.

Monday, April 5, 2010

People are people, God is God

We had a snow storm about a week and a half ago. Big, wet flakes so typical of early Spring in the Rockies. The weather-man predicted that one with great accuracy.
Then he said it'd be nice and warm last week.
Good! I'm so sick of winter. I'm looking forward to some warmth.
I started envisioning myself sitting on the back deck, reading a good book, soaking up some much-needed vitamin D.
The warm weather never panned out. Instead, I watched the cool clouds rise, surmount Twin Sisters, then roll down and settle into the forested depressions between the peaks. Temperatures hovered around thirty degrees. Gale-force winds buffetted our cedar walls. Occasional hail pelted the windows.
Weather-man, I hate you!
Isn't it like that with all of our human relationships? My friends and associates are wonderful people when they deliver on their promises. Big failures when they don't.
Why are we surprised when people disappoint? Why do we expect people to be like God?
I once heard a sermon that has stayed in my head for over twenty years. Yes, it was that significant.
The message was simply: People are people and God is God. Don't get the two mixed up.
No one can predict the weather with 100 percent accuracy. Only God can.
No one can love me perfectly and consistently. Only God can.
No one --including the weather-man -- keeps his or her promises all the time.
No one --including me --always tells the truth, always says the wise thing, always exhibits perfect patience, perfect control, perfect courage, perfect peace.
People are people.
God is God.
Don't get the two mixed up.

"As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts." (Isaiah 55:9)

Thursday, April 1, 2010

My Cat, the Gardener

I have a plant. I don't know what it is. It sits by my east-facing sliding glass window, looking very happy.
How do I know the plant is happy?
It's green and sleek, nary a brown spot, keeps growing upward and outward.
And it makes babies.
I've snipped off the babies, when they were ready to leave Mother, and repotted them.
So I now have lots of this don't-know-what-it-is plant.
Tidus, the cat, loves this plant. I can't keep him away from it. It must be tasty because he keeps chewing the tips of the long leaves.
I've tried shewing him away, yelling at him, spraying him with a spray-bottle.
But each morning there are plant shreds lying on the tiled floor next to the what's-its-name plant.
But the plant is happy.
It keeps growing upward and outward.
I've said in an earlier post that cats are like God. (I'm not being blasphemous, really. You'll have to read that post.)
Cats like to prune. And so does God.
Tidus has helped my unknown plant thrive by his constant pruning.
God makes us thrive, too, by pruning the old, dead places in our hearts, clearing the way for new growth.
Helping us grow upward and outward.
So that we keep on making "babies."

"I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful." (John 15:1)