Thursday, December 19, 2013

Click Here If You Listen To Music

I'm looking for music, and I am recruiting your help.

I like music. I listen to it practically non-stop, so it's not wonder that the songs I like are becoming trite, worn and annoying. I'd like your help.

I'm looking for songs with good lyrics, that honor God, and have a good, exciting rhythm.

I've found musicians that have a couple of those factors, and such discoveries were exciting.
They are artists like Scott Phillips and Pompton Lakes, songs like Half Acre, Come Thou Fount, Blue Lips, Mr. Pitiful...

But I'm on a quest to find songs with all three.

I used to think that such a thing didn't exist.

So far, I haven't found anything to debunk that original theory.

And that's why I need your help. I realized the other day that I'm probably not the only person in the world who would listen to this music, who would appreciate it. And one of these other people likely has some musical talent, and they created it. I just need to find it.

Suggestions Welcome.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Immediately, Completely and Without Complaint.

Let's not forget about Joseph this Christmas. I think that man deserves a little more credit than we usually give him.

He's basically engaged to Mary, and he finds out she's pregnant. He could have said something, and she would've been stoned to death (oops) at worse, and shamed/shunned at the least (if I understand correctly). He didn't say anything.

He could have divorced her. He thought about it, actually. Apparently, he decided to sleep on it before making a decision and while he slept an angel came to him in a dream and explained everything. He didn't divorce her. Which might mean people thought Jesus was born out of wedlock, and Joseph was willing to live with that.

Those things aside, Joseph was a very obedient man.

When my mom was training my sisters and I in obedience as kids, she would tell us that true obedience means you do it "immediately, completely and without complaint." We weren't supposed to dilly-dally, do things halfway, take the easy way out or whine about it. I'm not at all saying I learned this very well or quickly... there's a reason those words have stuck with me so long (I must've heard them a lot).

Joseph's mom must've taught him this, too (I wonder what the Hebrew words for "obey immediately, completely and without complaint" are). He must have learned that lesson well because his response to God's angelic directions is noteworthy.

Near the end of Matthew 1, the angel tells Joseph, among other things, to call the baby's "name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins." And almost as an afterthought, in the last verse of Matthew 1 it says of Joseph, "And he called his name Jesus."

It doesn't end there. in 2:13-14, the angel comes back and in a dream (Joseph sure seems to sleep a lot! That, or heaven and earth must be on different time zones...) tells Joseph to take Mary and Jesus and move to Egypt. No telling when or if they'd come back. And look at the wording: angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, "Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him." And he rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed to Egypt
The wording of the angel and the description of what Joseph did are parallel. Authors word things intentionally. I take this to mean that Joseph obeyed "immediately, completely and without complaint".
Joseph wasted no time. He didn't wait until it would 'be a good time', he 'rose' and took them 'by night', which sounds to me like he woke up after that dream, packed up, and left.

Joseph didn't stop someplace convenient between Israel and Egypt. He went all the way, and waited for God's command.

Joseph didn't complain about God uprooting he and his family (at least, the complaints weren't recorded, so that's my guess. Plus, it fits nicely with the phrase I learned as a kid).

And then in verses 19-21-- Same thing! Same parallel wording. Same obedience.

The obedience that married Mary.
The obedience that named Jesus.
The obedience that moved to Egypt.
The obedience that returned to Israel.

Immediately. Completely. Without Complaint.

Friday, December 06, 2013

Not Like Playing Telephone

Jesus was born on earth. 
The angels told the shepherds, who went to see it for themselves. 
And once they saw Jesus they told everyone they could find. 

It wouldn't have meant as much if the shepherds heard what the angels said, and then went and told everyone. 

Jesus, in person, healed people and forgave their sins. 
Those people had encountered Jesus in a very real way. 
And once they saw Jesus they told everyone they could find. 

Sometimes Jesus even told them not to tell anyone, but did they listen? No, they went and told everyone. 

Jesus rose from the dead. 
The women ran and told the disciples, who ran to see it for themselves. 
Later, they saw the risen Jesus and they told everyone they could find. 

They didn't do this right away, granted, but once they were anointed with the Holy Spirit, no person, no authority, not even death could keep them from telling everyone. 

What about us? 

Sharing the gospel isn't like playing telephone. You can't just repeat what you think you've heard someone else say, and you don't have to. You can experience, firsthand, the grace, love and transformation of making Jesus Christ the Lord of your life. 

And if you do, don't keep it to yourselves. Be like the shepherds, the healed and forgiven, and the disciples. Go and tell everyone. 

Thursday, November 28, 2013

"Stay in My Head. Stay in my Head"

When I was seven or eight years old, I had a habit of forgetting things. Sometimes I would forget to do my chores, or where I hid my Diary, or an event, a joke or even a conversation I had hoped to remember forever.

 So, naturally, I devised a way to remember them. I would just concentrate on it and poke my head with my finger and order it, "Stay in my head. Stay in my head."

I was so convinced that it worked I taught the method to my sister. To this day, she claims she tried it later that day when I got in big trouble, and she hasn't forgotten it. I, on the other hand, can't seem to remember anything I'd commanded to stay in my head.

Remembering things is still hard for me.

I forget what I read in my Bible.
I forget to send write letters to my family.
I forget the verses that I had hoped would shape my life.

I forget the ways God has answered my prayers.
I forget the goodness of God.
I forget to trust God.
I forget to thank God.

If you were hoping for my new, fool-proof method, sorry. I still haven't figured this one out. But I'm on the journey to it, and I have a feeling I'm close.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Raising Kids for True Greatness by Dr. Tim Kimmel

Since I spend over 30 hours a week with kids, teaching and training them, I decided it would be a good idea to read a parenting book.

Dr. Kimmel compares and contrasts the world's striving for success with God's intentions for greatness.

The 'conversation' Dr. Kimmel and I had through a chunk of the book went something like this:

Dr. Kimmel- It's a process, not a moment
Me- well, that makes sense. Most things in life are, afterall.
Dr. Kimmel- Do you want to know the five attributes of great people?
Me- of course.
Dr. Kimmel- the first is humility.
Me- sounds good!
Dr. Kimmel- another one is gratefulness.
Me- Ooo, that's a good one.
Dr. Kimmel- generosity is also important.
Me- yeah!
Dr. Kimmel- and the one that sums them all up?
Me- well, what is it??
Dr. Kimmel- a servant attitude.
Me- wow, bulls eye! I can already see how these character traits are important and would change lives.
Dr. Kimmel- well, now do you want to know how to raise kids up to embody these traits?
Me- of course!
Dr. Kimmel- model them.
Me- wait-- what??
Dr. Kimmel- I'm serious. Not only those, but also abundant-thinking, being others-oriented, trustworthy, tenacious, courageous and compassionate.
Me- oh dear.
Dr. Kimmel- and the things that wrap them all up nicely are grace and love.
Me- oh, that's all?

And you know what, reader? It makes sense, doesn't it?

Everything starts with how you yourself live life. And although I don't have much of a plan for how to train my students, I know where to start:

With myself.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Gossip in the Park

by Nicole DeVries
Our friendship had a chance that spring
as we walked in the park and shared everything.
Two friends in the park comparing thoughts and life,
sharing ideas and problems, joys and strife.

By the time summer came, we knew each other well,
and there were few comfortable things left to tell.
So, we took the easy escape and became common babblers,
by quickly filling the space and talking about Others.

Always careless, often selfish, were our thoughtless remarks,
every word was soaked up by the hushed, empty park.
Fall came and changed colors, but our whispers stayed the same.
And so we walked, and so we talked, and so we bared every triumph and shame.

We looked forward, each walk, to hearing and sharing
what others were doing, saying and wearing.
It was good and securing to affirm our beliefs,
but the base satisfaction was shockingly brief.

Each word that tore down our view of friends
was like the harsh, bracing, tearing, autumn winds.
The trees became bare; colorless and empty,
just as our talks became predictable and airy.

By the time the winter drifts covered the trees' thick, coarse bark,
whatever had started this friendship had faded to dark
and we no longer walked and talked in the park.

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Don't Stop

Creating art and telling a story are much the same thing. Both need imagination to tell of an idea. Art tells stories, and carefully crafted stories are pieces of art. Often, I limit art to sketches and paintings and computer graphics, and telling a story to a voice and words on a page and movies but they are much more.

Jason Sandberg is a supervisor at a printing company who fell in love with art and storytelling. It happened when he was six years old, holding a Jack Kirby comic that seemed to have come to life. Now, on top of his 'day job', Sandberg pursues art. "I'd like to create art full-time," Sandberg says, "the mix of children's books and paintings should prevent me from getting into a rut."

Sandberg's impressionistic art gives him "a sense of delight and discovery, an opportunity to ponder why the non-real can cause an aesthetic response," while his realistic paintings give him "month-long ice-cream headaches, but I feel stronger at the end." Through it all, Sandberg hasn't forgotten what it is like to be a child in love with art.

When his young daughter showed a fascinated interest in his paintings, he jumped at the change to do a painting with her. It turned into an annual tradition that will serve, as Sandberg says, as "a yearly time-capsule".

Sandberg's paintings tell part of a story. They do not use words, but they do not need to. And yet, he "had the desire to create beyond the moments depicted in the paintings. I wanted to depict a beginning, middle and end." This drove him to picture books-- picture after picture, paired with words, to tell a whole story. That, my friends, is art.

He said, " I have come to the conclusion that the act of making art can't make someone an artist. What makes someone an artist is the inability to not make art, and discouragement or support can't affect that."

That said, maybe you write novels, compose poetry, create youtube videos, paint, sketch, write music, or something else entirely... if you can't seem to stop, you just might be an artist.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Childlike Dependence

Us grown-ups are dependent on God. We just don't acknowledge it because we don't like to be reminded of what is out of our control, and our weaknesses.

We started out like dependent children (dependent on others for literally everything), but gradually we learned to do everything for ourselves, and it seems so pathetic, now, and weak to be dependent on anyone, even God. Paul saw that, too, when he realized God's power was "made perfect" in his weakness-- because then everything points to God.

Too often I find myself trying to live independent of God. And get this-- I get into the mindset that he wants me to. But as I read my Bible I realize he doesn't.

Nope: God wants us to acknowledge our dependence on him. He's the one who sends rain. He's the one who sends us blessings. He's the one that provides for us. And if you just take a moment to read about the life God wants us to lead, (1 Thessalonians 5:12-22, for example) you'll soon realize you can't.

You can't.

You just plain can't. But don't give up. That's the whole point. Paul even says so in the next verses (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24)!

Later, in his letter to the Galatians, Paul tells Christians that we can't be saved by our works (because our lives are never good enough), only by Jesus' love-sacrifice on the cross (because his life was).

Usually, Christians get that. But then, as they live life, they forget. The Galatians did this, too. Paul speaks pretty harshly to them "You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you?... Are you so foolish? After beginning by means of the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by means of the flesh?" (Galatians 3:1a, 3).

Once they became Christians by faith they started trying to live on their own means, not relying on the Spirit, on God.

The second graders come to me at lunch with water bottles, fruit cups and well-closed Tupperware. They just look up at me and hold out their food. So I stop my own eating, take up their problematic lunch portion and open it. Once, I asked one of the 'regulars' if she'd even tried to open her water bottle and she just looked up at me, almost amused, and her 'no' came out half-laugh. Now, I'm all for second graders learning to open their waters and tie their own shoes, but can you imagine if we came to God like that? Without first trying to solve the problems ourselves?

They are dependant. And they know it. 

"If you're happy dependent and you know it clap your hands pray to God. If you're dependent and you know it pray to God. If you're dependent and you know it then your prayers will surely show it, if you're dependent and you know it pray to God."

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

How Seven-Year-Olds Pray

It's a breathtaking, head-shaking wonder when students become teachers. Even more so when they don't even realize it.

Every two weeks a new student gets the 'job' of praying before snack, lunch and at the end of the day. I am blown away when I hear the prayers of these second graders, and I've begun to learn how childlike praying looks.

When they share prayer requests and praise reports in the morning, it often turns into plain-old sharing. There isn't really a request or a praise involved, if you know what I mean. And honestly, at first it bothered me. I wanted to get on with the business of praying. And then one day I had an epiphany-- all too often in my own prayer life I am trying to do business, and not sitting with God and sharing life with him, like these little children do.

A few of the students pray scripture. Let me tell you, your heart does a sort of flip-flop when it hears a seven year old say, "God, please help us today to not turn to the right or to the left. Help us stay focused on our schoolwork, and on you, and to be kind to each other." Wow. They may not know many scriptures, but they make use of the ones they know. What if us knowledgeable, capable grownups took the word of God more seriously, like these little children do, and believed it to the point of praying it over ourselves, our coworkers, our friends?

They pray over things so small they seem inconsequential, and then turn around and pray about things that seem insurmountable. Both are examples of huge faith. They are signs of the little children acknowledging their dependance on God, their trust he hears them through Jesus, and their confidence in his character. They realize nothing is too small for God, nor to big. The catch is, as seven-year-olds, they haven't learned to be independent like the rest of us. They know nothing but dependance, and their prayers show it.

And the beautiful thing is, even us grownups can learn to pray like Little Children again.

"Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven." Matthew 18:4 (read the story here)

What prayers have you heard Little Children pray that amazed you?

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Things Kids Say

Kids don't think they're kids anymore. Eight-year-olds start stories with, "When I was a kid...", and I have to turn my face to hide my snicker. They may not always act as old as they build themselves up to be, but they want to. They dress up in their parent's clothes and tell stories about when they were kids and don't appreciate being treated like kids, or being babied. There is something about adulthood they like, from afar, and they yearn for. 

One day, not too long ago, I was in charge of a group of kids. A few of them were playing Store, as nearly all kids have at one time, and one seven-year-old in particular kept trying to move too fast.The poor kid wasn't watching where he was going, and tripped over chairs and toys.Finally, I stopped him. I said his name in that warning tone I've begun to master, and informed him that he wouldn't trip so much if he moved slower.

 "Mrs. DeVries," he said (the kids have married me off-- I've stopped correcting them because saying, "Miss DeVries" to them makes them think about what they call me and then they forget what their questions were), so "Mrs. DeVries," he assured me with a huge smile on his face, "don't worry about me. I'm a man. I'll be okay."

Thursday, October 10, 2013


I love words. I like combining them to voice thoughts and ideas, finding words with just the right sounds to fit the mood of the topic. Words are meaningful because they impart meaning. These shapes and symbols we have given meaning, sound and purpose to evoke a message and bring images to our minds and spur us to more thoughts of our own.

Words impact me.  When I read words, strung together by an author with craft and intentionality, I pause  in admiration at the skill and the effectiveness in relaying the thought. I keep them nearby to be reminded how someone else phrased something. I have them on my walls, and in binders, and saved in documents. I collect words, and quotes.

Mostly the quotes are about the Christian life. "The brutal, soul-shaking truth is that we are so earthly minded we are of no heavenly use." Leonard Ravenhill.

A good chunk of those quotes are on prayer. "The great souls who became mighty in prayer, and rejoiced to spend three and four hours alone with God, were once beginners." Samuel Chadwick

Several speak about the way life is. "Any idiot can face a crisis. It's the day to day living that wears you out." Chekov

Some are just amusing. "Small choice in rotten apples." Shakespeare (The Taming of the Shrew)

A few are about words themselves. "To find your own writing style, you have to understand and love language. You have to read, listen to, and obsess over words, syllables, vowels, phrases, short and long sentences, the timing of periods, and endless other details." Becky Broadway & Doug Hesse

Words take time. Time to find, use and rearrange. Time to read and soak up. Time to record and remember. You can't slop them together and expect them to resonate the same way. And how unfeeling to gloss over all the hard work of others.

So I collect quotes. And I write.

But I found Philippians 3:8-9 this week, and I'm having trouble coping.

"Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For this sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness form God that depends on faith."

Now, what am I supposed to do with that?

Count everything -- even literacy-- as loss because it's more worthy to spend my time getting to know Christ Jesus my Lord? Surrender the time spent reading and writing and obsessing over words to the more worthy cause of gaining Christ and being found in him?

(It's true that I'd survive just fine without reading. It's also true that the world doesn't need another book. It already has over 22 million.)

God, give me grace, because I don't know if I'm ready.

Thursday, October 03, 2013

Books Start as Ideas

Joseph Bruchac has written more than 120 books for children, adults and teens. He was written fiction, nonfiction and poetry. Nearly, if not all, of them are about Native Americans, or are retellings of Native American stories. Becoming the author of such a wide variety of stories is not a simple task, and Bruchac's secret might be his dedication to his ideas.

When the idea for a song, poem or story comes to Bruchac, he writes it down. He knows that it is easy to forget ideas, so he gets them written down right away, "even if it means getting up in the middle of the night." The spark for this array of ideas might be a job he had, or a Native American story, or any number of other things. Bruchac says, "for example, I was a volunteer teacher for three years in Ghana, West Africa and that gave me tremendous insight into African history, culture and music as well as helping me see my own country in a different light by living abroad."

Bruchac says, "I'm always getting ideas," but I do not think he somehow gets more ideas than beginning writers, other authors, or anyone else; I think he is simply attentive to them, and acknowledges their worth. Many beginning writers throw out an idea before even giving it a chance.

But it doesn't stop with the ideas. Bruchac puts in a lot of work to create his stories, writing a minimum of two hours every day. He shows strong dedication to his writing, and he lets his excitement for it drive him to write for many audiences.

Bruchac has penned picture books, juvenile and young adult fiction, nonfiction, poetry, songs and even articles. Because Bruchac works with so many of his ideas instead of discarding them, he is able to produce such a wide variety of literature.  I asked him about this variety, and he said each type "is different and special in its own way. I just like writing what  I am writing when I am writing it." He also told me that his favorite part about writing a piece is "when that story or poem is literally telling itself to me and I can barely keep up with writing it down."

Even with these ideas and words coming to him at such a feverish rate, not everything Bruchac writes gets published. "I just write what I write and see what happens. Then if I finish something I let my editors decide."

Before Bruchac submitted to editors, before over 120 of his pieces were published and he won awards, he was a little boy writing poetry for his second grade teacher. But it wasn't until college and creative writing classes that he began to focus on the craft of writing. "My father was sure I was making a terrible mistake when I switched my major in college from wildlife conservation to English. He thought I could never make a living as a writer." And yet, it was there, in Cornell University's student literary magazine, that Bruchac's poetry was first published.

That first poem sparked a desire to write more. Since then, Bruchac has become the proof of the adage "write what you know." He looked back on his Abenaki heritage and found a world of possibilities. "I was lucky enough to know many native elders who shared stories with me over the years." says Bruchac, and these stories were the seeds for many of his books.

Every book starts with an idea. Bruchac keeps all those ideas and with excitement creates a story. And after much hard work, those stories become books. Bruchac has been working very hard, then, because he is "just finishing the text of a graphic novel about a young Kiowa man in 1875 who was taken as a prisoner of war to Florida and drew pictures to illustrate the things he experienced and saw. It's working title is Zo-Tom's Sketchbook" But that's not all. Another of his books was just published on October 1st. It is a "steam-punk post-Apocalyptic novel, Killer of Enemies, which has a young Apache woman named Lozen as the main character".

So keep collecting those ideas, no matter what you think of them in the moment. You never know what they'll grow into.

Click here for Joseph Bruchac's website. You can listen to him read his own poetry!
Click here to see the list of books comes up with as written by Joseph Bruchac.

Thursday, September 26, 2013


I used to love setting up winding paths of dominoes and watch as they tapped each other over, one after the other. Spacing them and deciding their paths would take me hours, and I loved to watch and listen as they clicked each other over in a chain reaction. My unpracticed hands would accidentally nudge one domino, of course, and the whole project would topple. I quickly learned to leave a few gaps that I would fill in only when I was ready to set off the domino chain.

I can remember the excitement of placing those last pieces, calling in my sisters to watch, and positioning myself to knock over the first domino. All that hard work would culminate while I watched the snake shift as the dominoes fell, and I would eagerly pick up the pieces and start over.

This week I learned (again) of the good things that happen when we obey God. It doesn't matter how big or small you think what he asked you to do is. Obey anyway, because when you obey God, the 'dominos' he has set up begin to fall. And what a blessing it is to look back and see the chain reaction of encouragement, more obedience and a stronger relationship with God! 

Let the dominoes fall!
And, to let some more dominoes fall, go ahead and leave a comment telling me about it! 

Thursday, September 19, 2013

A Dinosaur Named Cank

For a fun, children's e-book with a dinosaur-turned-pet, check out this e-book: Candy and the Cankersaur by Jason Sandberg (amazon, nook). It may even inspire them to create their own dinos that survived!

Candy's rich, and somewhat neglectant, father gives her a pet dinosaur (a cankersaurus rex). The neighbor boy is jealous and takes some drastic actions, but in the end decides he would rather have friendship.

I couldn't find the 'theme' of the story, I thought the writing could have been stronger in some spots, and Candy's father never seemed to see she just wanted to spend time with him. However, it's a light, amusing read for kids with bright pictures that 'pop'.

Sandberg's other paintings, ebooks, and bio.

Thursday, September 12, 2013


Fall doesn't start until the 22nd yet schools everywhere are in full swing. 
And it's still summer. 
Summer, as a season, is different from Summertime itself. Mostly because of the things it allows you to do. Summertime offers more freedom, whereas Summer means warm weather. Usually. 


"It's a Small World" we sometimes say
when we meet someone we hadn't expected. Like when you babysit the kids of the woman who was the camp nurse at your old church's summer camp when you were in elementary school.
But sometimes it's more accurate to say,
 "What a Big God!"


I want to be a writer.
Someone who writes.
It'd be nice to get published, too, but that's not what I mean. I want to write even if I don't get published. I want to find strings of words that resonate, pick imagery that sticks and tell stories worth hearing.
Not all writers get published. Sometimes writing for the sake of writing is enough.  

Thursday, September 05, 2013


When we learned of my dairy intolerance a year and a half ago, the only substitute 'ice cream' I ate was vanilla. There was almond vanilla, soy vanilla, coconut vanilla and so on; but it was all vanilla. And I didn't mind because I didn't know anything different. It was the only flavor I ate for about a year.

But then, my mom bought me Mint Chocolate Chip coconut ice cream.

After the first bite, I sat there, almost shocked, staring at my bowl. My mouth watered as it burst with uncontrollable flavor. I can't remember if I shoveled it into my mouth or rationed it, but both seem right.

New ice cream flavors are a novelty. Rare, long train rides are, too. Even new textbooks and, as a writer, new story ideas.

But they are only a novelty because of their infrequency. Once they happen more often, the novelty becomes routine and the monotony sets in.

Then, the scenery becomes too familiar and the train-sickness sets in, textbooks become dry when they aren't moistened with reader interest, and writing a story takes hundreds of hours of hard work.

And no matter how many new flavors of ice cream you buy, you always get used to them.

But, I don't believe the novelty has to wear away.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Interview with Ruth White

Late at night Ruth White sat, pecking away at what she describes as her "clunky, black Remington typewriter". In those early days, before her career revolved around writing, she wrote whenever she had a chance, using her childhood for inspiration. "My father was a coal miner," she says, "and at the time of his death in 1948, our family lived in a coal camp called Jewel Valley." Since then, White has written thirteen beautiful books for pre-teens, but it wasn't an easy journey.

Life after her father's passing became rough because her mother was unable to find a job in such a small, mountain town. "But we had books and an occasional movie in nearby Grundy," White says. She and her sisters particularly liked Doris Day, Debbie Reynolds, Roy Rogers, Dale Evans and Gene Autrey. Then, she and her sisters acted out scenes from these movies, and from books, to make their own fun. White comments that they "became creative by necessity." When I asked her how she kept track of all her memories for use in her books, White said, "I really don't know how I keep track of all those memories, but whenever I need one, it's out there."

White went to college in the sixties with no idea what she would major in. "In fact, I didn't think I would last in college for four years, mainly because I had no money. But somehow I worked my way through." Towards the end of her college experience, she decided to become a teacher. She taught 7th and 8th grade language arts for ten years, earned her librarian's degree and was a school librarian for another ten years, and then for eleven years she was a librarian for a private metaphysical library. "All those positions influenced me in different ways," White observes.

"I was also a wife and mother during those years so you can imagine how difficult it was to pursue a writing career. But once again, I  managed." She write whenever she could, and spent many evenings at that Remington typewriter. Finally, her book Belle Prater's Boy won a Newbery honor in 1997, and she was able to leave her 9-5 job and become a full-time writer.

White recently published a love story for adults that she says is based on her "mother's early years living on an isolated mountaintop in Southwest Virginia." It is called Diary of a Wildflower, and can be found on Kindle.

White also commented on what she has learned about the craft of writing, saying, "I have learned that the real writing is done in the re-writing," White muses. "The first draft is just a sketch of what I want to say. In the second and third and sometimes tenth and twentieth drafts, the actual sculpting takes place."

Thursday, August 22, 2013


It was the summer before I left for college. Thirteen cousins were over for the week, and mom had some things she needed to get done at the house. So the younger kids were at another aunt's house for the afternoon and the rest of us decided to spend one afternoon at the public pool. Mom dropped us off planning to join in a couple hours.
            A group of us rushed, without running, toward the diving board. The concrete was rough and sediment-y under my toes. I could feel the sun baking my skin. We stood in line at the diving board, making half of the line ourselves, and called out types of jump suggestions to each other. "Cannon Ball!", "Can you do a jacknife?", "Dive as far down as you can!" and so on. Finally we went back to our chairs full of damp towels for a rest.
            A group of them were sitting there, doing nothing.
            "Come on!" I challenged one cousin who was probably seven at the time, "Why aren't you swimming?" I expected a complaint about the water being too cold.
            "The lifeguard told me I couldn't." She mumbled.
            "What? Why?"
            She shrugged.
            "Which one? Take me to her?" I followed, not sure what to expect. Her older sister followed, too. She stopped next to a lifeguard on the edge of the pool, far enough away to stay out of it and let me get between her and the life guard. "Hi, my cousin said you told her she couldn't swim? Why not?" I was completely confused. And out of my element.
            "T-shirts aren't allowed in the pool." The lifeguard responded.
            I wish I could tell you what the lifeguard looked like but I have no idea. I'm not even completely sure it wasn't a he. I was too focused on trying to breathe steadily and understand what was going on and avoiding confrontation.
            "But they have to wear T-shirts-- it's a family rule." I tried to explain.
            I'm a dedicated introvert. I don't like standing out, I don't like being the center of attention, and I really don't like talking to strangers or being wrong. Generally, I feel drained by people and I need to get alone to recharge and feel more like myself. But there is no rule saying introverts have to hide away and stay out of conversations and stay away from people. I do enjoy being around people, to an extent. I like small groups of people where I don't feel challenged. But this was not the case that summer day. I was not able to ignore the problem and go on swimming or hide under my towel. If I didn't stand up for my cousins, there was no one here who would.
            The lifeguard tried to get back to watching the swimmers. "Sorry, it's a pool rule."
            "I don't understand." Why was it such a big deal to them?
            "Would you like to talk to the manager?"
            No. "Yes," I said, ignoring myself. My cousins were here for one week, we wanted to swim, my mom wasn't going to be back for a couple hours-- we weren't going to just sit under an umbrella that whole time, and we weren't about to go swimming without our cousins who had to wear T-shirts.
            I followed the life guard inside to where the offices were, and a couple sisters and cousins followed me. I'm not sure who all followed, I wasn't paying attention. I was too concerned about standing up to a stranger about established policies.   
            The lifeguard went into a room and came out with the manager. She was in her early twenties I think, and was wearing a lifeguard T-shirt, a name tag I didn't read, shorts, and one of those red lifeguard fanny packs.
            "What's the problem?" She asked, seeming genuine. The lifeguard left to get back to her post outside.
            I took a deep breath and tried to go slow. "My cousins were told they can't wear their T-shirts in the pool, but it's a family rule and their parents aren't here so they can't like ask for permission or anything." I held my arm. It was cold in this air-conditioned hallway.
            "Let me explain. We have this rule for a couple reasons. First, we have to know the swimmers are actually wearing a swimsuit, so white T-shirts are ok."
            I-- yes me-- actually interrupted. "But that defeats the purpose."
            "Actually, white T-shirts still keep you from being burned."
            "I didn't know that, that's cool. But the whole thing is it's a modesty issue and a white T-Shirt does nothing for modesty."
            She wanted to explain the rest of the reasons. "The fibers on the T-shirts will also get caught on the water slide and will slow it down, and also potentially rip the T-Shirt."
            Interrupting seems to be habit forming. "OK, I could tell them they can't go on the water slide. I think they'd be willing to do that…"
            "Well alright, but there's still the dyes in the T-shirts. They leak into the pool, and although they won't necessarily change the color of the water, we have to keep the pool at a specific pH and if we let everyone wear T-shirts it will be nearly impossible to keep up with it."
            By this point I was just indignant. I didn't understand why this lady couldn't just let my cousins swim. I didn't care that my face was red and that my palms were sweaty, I was too busy defending my cousins.
            "There are only five of them here- that can't be enough to mess it up…"
            She seemed to be surprised that I was being so persistent. Or maybe it was just me that was surprised. At any rate, she said "I just can't let you do this all summer-"
            I was so close. "They're only here for the week, and we're only planning to be here today and only for a few hours." It came out in a rush.
            "And no water slide."
            I nodded.
            "Alright then. Just for today."
            "Thank you!"

            She went back into the room, and we went back outside. I remember we were all excited, glad we had been given permission, glad I had somehow succeeded. We gave the OK to the cousins who hadn't heard the news yet, with the caution that they could not go down the slide. They scampered away smiling, but I just sat in the chair wrapped in a towel, trying to calm my heartbeat, wishing I hadn't needed to talk to anyone.

Thursday, August 08, 2013

Food For Thought

108745From the book, "Our Father Abraham":

"The Church, firmly planted in Hebraic soil, finds its true identity in connection with Israel. The Church is fed, sustained, and supported by this relationship."

"One may say that for a Gentile to have a right relation to God he must humbly accept and appreciate a Jewish Book, believe in a Jewish people, thereby taking on their likeness through a commonly shared stock."

"Gentiles who had come to faith within the earl Church joined themselves to God's ancient people. They had to adjust to Israel, not the reverse."

Thursday, August 01, 2013

What (July) Smiles Are Made Of

-fireworks over the lake
-how sound carries so far and clear over water
-new journals
-new notebooks
-job interviews
-s'mores with diary-free chocolate
-an evening of just Grandma and I
-reading letters
-writing letters
-stationary, of all kinds
-the soreness from water-tubing
-collecting, organizing and analyzing data
-summer reading
-volunteering at youthgroup
-cooking and cleaning to worship music (especially my a cappella and Jon Foreman pandora stations)
-learning, of course. (This month, it's the Jewish roots of Christianity.)
-driving the boat
-the Bible Study I'm in, IMPACT 25:40
-the recency look with my hair in a bun
-getting back into routines
-talking with a college friend, about dreams, and the future, and the past
-making lists
-the people that read my blog :)

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Magnifying Glasses

I've liked mysteries for as long as I can remember.

I collected The Three Cousins Detective Club books, vowed to read the library's Boxcar Children mysteries collection and  inhaled Encyclopedia Brown. I made treasure hunts for my sisters and created clues for them to follow. I watched Diagnosis MurderMurder She Wrote, Mattlock, and so on.  

More recently, I've read many of Agatha Christie's, and watched NCIS and NCIS LA. And even more recently my sister introduced me to Castle

(When I began listing all these books and shows, I realized I might have a problem... it's hard to ignore it with all these links...)

But I don't watch every mystery show out there. I have some restraint. Plus, there are some I can't stand.

I was young when I started watching Diagnoses Murder, and I remember distinctly the episode that freaked me out and made me stop watching. In that particular episode, the victim had been killed through a poisoned energy drink.

It's the same reason I'm having difficulties deciding if I like the show Castle. It's too real.

In NCIS and NCIS LA they're dealing with military problems, and terrorists, and things very far removed from my everyday life. When the energy drink gets poisoned, when the neighbor or husband murders, when a civilian tries to do the right thing and gets killed, it's just too real. It feeds my imagination too much, and I can freak myself out.

There has to be at least one clean show out there that's about solving mysteries, not murders.
Is that too much to ask for?

Thursday, July 18, 2013

They Never Came to Rivendell

I am reading The Lord of the Rings. It took some time getting started, but I love the prose, the characters, and the world Tolkien created. Last week while I sat there with the book in my hands I came to a part that made me pause.
"they missed a dark and dangerous journey. But they also never came to Rivendell." (From, Tolkien's The Fellowship of the Ring, Chapter 11 'A Knife in the Dark').
He's talking about the ponies. The Bad Guys let them loose so the Hobbits and Strider would have a difficult time leaving town, and Tolkien says the ponies were lucky because they got out of the adventure before it became serious and life-threatening.

But he doesn't leave it at that. He adds the sad little clause that they also never made it to Rivendell. You almost feel bad for the ponies. Sure, they had a nice easy life-- but they never came to Rivendell.

The Hobbits, on the other hand, withstood the 'dark and dangerous journey' and got to rest in Rivendell.

Sometimes we have to trudge through hard, sad places to make it to better ones.
Sometimes you have to be chased by Black Riders to make it to Rivendell.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Much Much Too Busy for You

I'm applying for jobs, I'm  working at the library, I've got my nose in four or five books, and I'm working through some content in my own manuscripts.
So, dear blog and readers, I'm posting briefly with a veggie tales song that came to mind.
I suppose this makes me not a good neighbor?

(skip to about 45 seconds into the song)

Thursday, July 04, 2013


I first heard of the book Kenny and the Dragon during summer reading last year. For the first few weeks I was able to sit in during story time and hear the first chapters of the story. But then there were several weeks when I did not sit in, and I missed the middle and end of the story. Several months later, I found the book at a thrift store and snatched it up eager to find out what happened. I finally picked it up and finished the story a couple weeks ago.

There is a mouse family who farms and has sheep. The son, Kenny, reads a lot. He does not always distinguish between non-fiction and fantasy. His father finds a dragon on their land, Kenny finds it, learns his name, Grahame, and discovers that Grahame isn't like other dragons. But the town finds out there is a dragon and wants it killed. And Kenny doesn't know what to do.

It's a kids book, so it obviously has a happy ending, but there's a lot in between that's got merit.

But at the end of the book Kenny mentions a book called The Reluctant Dragon, written by some old English guy. It turns out to be a real book. So I found it and read it, too. I was expecting a long, tedious and over detailed novel, but found a quick read by, you'll never guess, Kenneth Grahame.

Kenny and the Dragon was based on Mr. Grahame's kid's story The Reluctant Dragon. The stories are quite similar except for a few details. Mr. Grahame's story is sandwiched between a few paragraphs on either side about two kids; it is a story their neighbor tells them. The characters are not named, except for St George who comes to slay the dragon.

I liked Mr. Grahame's story as a beginning. It had room for so much more detail and elaboration (ironically, what I feared it would be overflowing with), it felt a bit flat and vague. I liked what Mr. DiTerlizzi did with it in Kenny and the Dragon, but the original story was interesting, too.

What is better? The original, or what someone built off of it? Does originality stop after the initial idea, or does it include what subsequent people add on, out of their own creativity?

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Blame Game

Blame is often shifted. Responsibility is avoided.

Responsibility for anything and everything is passed along like a hot potato. That is, when the outcome was negative. It's quite the opposite if things turn out favorably. But, if it doesn't turn out well, or if something was forgotten, or if something wasn't done right, suddenly no one stands up to admit their involvement.

We want to seem blameless. We don't want to be held accountable.

Pies that turn out bad. Well, the fruit wasn't ripe. Progress that is slow. There aren't enough people helping. Books that are lost. Someone else must have moved it. Food that isn't ready. She didn't get the food out of the freezer in time for it to be cooked. The appointment that was forgotten. He didn't remind me. The anniversary that was forgotten. Well, it's been awfully busy around here. And on it goes.

Sure, there are many factors. And maybe you aren't solely responsible, but if you had any involvement, stop hiding behind others and things you can't control. Be accountable. Be dependable. Be responsible and take responsibility.

Stand up in honesty and take responsibility for the things you did have control over.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

On Opinions

Sometimes, I'm quiet because I don't really have an opinion on the issue.

But not usually. No, usually:

I am quiet because I am so opinionated.

I can get out of hand. Easily.

Don't mistake my silence on the topic as having no opinion.

Oh, don't you worry. I've got an opinion, and it's backed up with all sorts of facts, oversights, misunderstandings and personal prejudice. Just like yours.

I've just learned to value relationships more than hoping everyone will agree with me.

I'd rather not strain the relationship, so I'll keep my opinions to myself.


Thursday, June 13, 2013

A Freewrite on Perfection

It can't exist because it would involve feeling happy, which you can't really do (or at least understand) until you've felt sad. And feeling love, which doesn't have the same impact unless you have something you don't love. And some of the most beautiful things are there by accident, which wouldn't happen in a perfect world because no one could mess up, and because of destruction, which also wouldn't happen. And, to make matters more complicated, everyone would have their own idea of what a perfect world would be. Maybe you don't think a perfect would would involve happiness or love. But I do. And if you don't, we can't have a perfect world because we don't agree. So, a perfect world cannot be constructed. However, with the right attitude, people, and a good deal of effort, I do believe we can experience moments or even hours of it. It would involve selflessness, happiness, and love as a foundation.
What else would it involve for a perfect world?

Thursday, June 06, 2013

Never to Meet You

After a good book, people sometimes wish they could meet the main characters in real life. They are the brave, graceful, humorous, interesting characters.  I would list some, but that would be counterproductive.  Because, what fun would it be to describe everything wonderful about them? You probably already love them too. 
These are some main characters I never want to meet:

Alice, from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
I suppose it wouldn't be too bad to meet Alice, but if I had the choice I'd much rather meet one of the characters I listed above. On top of  things happening to Alice rather than her making thoughtful decisions to progress the story, she kept eating and drinking as labels indicated, almost without caring what the consequences were.  She didn't seem to care about the consequences, and went wherever the other characters pushed and pulled her. 

Meg, from The Time Quartet Series
I didn't mind her in A Wrinkle in Time, I suppose, but I couldn't stand her in A Wind in the Door. I suppose I could try a reread, since I stopped reading the series over three years ago. Meg cries a lot. She is lazy, annoyingly stubborn, selfish, and pities herself at every turn. If I got to make friends with book characters of my choice, Meg would not be on my list. Calvin and Charles Wallace, however, would be very near the top of the list! 

Katniss, from The Hunger Games series 
Actually, I liked Katniss quite a bit after the first book. But with each new installment I liked her less. She becomes hard, only maintains friendships for selfish reasons, and doesn't seem to enjoy anything about life. She became so small, passive and uninterested. And I have no desire to meet her. Maybe pre-Hunger Games Katniss, but definitely not the post-Mockingjay one. Nope. 

Henry, from Journey to the Center of the Earth
For most of the book I didn't mind him. He felt obligated to go on the journey but was lethargic and pessimistic. He would have spurts where he burned with eagerness at the prospects of finding the center of the earth, but he oscillated back to his spiraling black hole of despair, believing they'd never get back and never should have come. Henry was inconsistent and changed opinions of the trip between sentences. 

Friday, May 31, 2013

The Stuff (May) Smiles Are Made Of

~Graduating college
~Listening (and singing along) to the Wicked soundtrack while cleaning the dinner dishes with sisters
~Getting a license to drive motorboats, sailboats and wave runners
~Renting a few good movies and watching them with sisters who end up loving the movies too
~When I get to go to work and be creative
~Making it a crafty Mothers Day
~The roar of fans at U.S. Cellular
~How the windows are always open, night and day, and they give a background noise of wind, trees, and birds. Even at 4am
~Friends. It's that simple
~ Playing ultimate frisbee, when I thought I'd never be able to again
~Reorganizing. Something about taking away clutter and moving things around.
~Third graders! And when they ask if you remember their name (even though you've only been away for a month :) )
~ Cleaning the kitchen with younger cousins, and coming up with a (brilliant) idea for a childrens book, even if she's the only one who ever sees it.
~ Keeping a writers journal

Thursday, May 30, 2013

The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster

Be attentive.

I finished The Phantom Tollbooth this week, and loved it.
It's one of those books you can't believe you've never read once you've finished it.

It was full of wonderful plays on words that left me smiling and laughing.

And, mostly, what I got from it was the message 'be attentive'.

Maybe your town wont actually disappear if you stop paying attention to the beauty in it, but it might as well. Maybe you wont actually jump to the Island of Conclusions, but you lose the same amount of time when you jump to conclusions than if you had jumped to a real island.
Pay attention to words. To numbers. To how you spend your time. Pay attention to colors and sounds and people.

Be attentive.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Boat Licenses

Based on a few laws and when I was born, I can legally drive motorboats. But, I cannot drive wave runners. And my sisters cannot legally drive either.
So, earlier this month, three of us traveled to a boat safety class. Rules of the Water, basically.

The morning of the class was cold. Very cold. Not normal May weather, cold. We couldn't find any travel mugs, so we put our early-morning tea in normal Christmas mugs and took them with us to the class. We got there just in time, but to sit together we had to sit in the sixth row.

The class was led by the deputy of the town, in the marina. Did I mention it was cold outside? It was also cold inside because the marina does not have air conditioning, or heat. I was thankful I'd last-minute grabbed my Olivet sweater (which says 'alumni, and which I may now 'officially' wear), and wishing I still had a blanket in the trunk of my car. My nose was cold to the touch within minutes. I wished for gloves. At least my teeth didn't start chattering until after we'd taken the test.

When all three of us were done with the test, and the deputy had signed our licenses, we ran to the car and blasted the heat. We drove back, and huddled together until we were finally warm again, hoping we'd get a lot of use out of these licenses.

So if you need to know how many times to toot your boat's whistle to tell another boat you're going to give way to the right, or you want to know which end of the boat you should detach from the dock, considering the current flow and wind direction, let me know -- and I'll consult the booklet we got at the class.

Thursday, May 16, 2013


The day feels long, stretching before you like a brilliant void. Like a black hole of nothing. You want it to be over. You ache because of the worthlessness of those twenty four hours that seem to have slowed for your personal torture.

The day feels long, stretching gloriously before you. Whispered conversations, ideas, and plans that seem to take seconds. Time walks peacefully next to you as you breathe deep and take life one crisis at a time.

The day drags. It is monotony. It is merely routine. Day after day drags dreadfully, dubiously.

The day prances playfully, like the sunshine. Adventure lurks, laughing and giddy, around every corner, every bud, every breath of wind, and birdsong.

Length boils down to perception.

Thursday, May 09, 2013

Be Creative, They Tell Me

You'll come up with something. We want to see what you come up with on your own. We don't want to influence you. Just be creative. Go for it.
But it's not that easy.

Here are the rules you must follow. And your deadline.
Your creativity has to fit in this box.
And don't forget about these rules.
But it's not that easy.

Creativity is hard to define. I don't know about you, but I need a few parameters. When everything in the world is an option I go on overload and can't decide which way to be creative. As if it's something you decide. But the other extreme is when there are so many parameters you can't breathe let alone wiggle and get creative.

Creativity is complicated. 

Thursday, May 02, 2013

Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli

My freshman year, a friend told me that her favorite book was Stargirl. A year or so later I was book shopping at a thrift store and saw the book. I decided to buy it, but it sat unread on my shelf ever since. Until this week.

It was one of those books where you couldn't predict the ending. Once in a while I predicted something during the book, but I could never pin how I thought it would end. There are many good thoughts, and some very good writing. Once in a while I read a phrase that seemed corny, but overall they were few. The characters, even Stargirl, were believable.

The book speaks about conformity, about staying 'who you are', about the value of friends.

When Leo needs to decide between friends, Archie advises him to think about whose company he values more. This gives Leo a lot to think about.

And me.

It made me think of James 4:4, and even Galatians 2:10 to an extent, which I'll let you read on your own.
Because like Leo, we have to make a decision. And if we apathetically don't decide, that is our decision.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Of course, when I say 'I', I mean 'you'

When was the last time I sat and observed clouds grow, and shrink, expand, and move across the endless sky?
When was the last time I took a breath so deep I could smell the wind?
Have I ever tried to taste each flavor in my lunch? Each one.
Why don't I pause to... to notice anything? When did I become so caught up in just glazing through each day?

When was the last time I worked hard for the sake of working? Not because something needed to be done. But because hard, diligent work is rewarding. Because work is good.
When was the last time I looked at a tree or a carpet or an animal and tried to count the colors?
Have I ever listened to the patterned tick of a clock and marveled at Time and wondered who invented the concept of it and noticed how much happens in five minutes, and how little happens?
Why don't I search the crisp night sky for new constellations that no one thought of before?

Thursday, April 18, 2013


Each day of the week has its designated chore.
For example, Monday is sweeping and taking out the trash, and Tuesday is laundry.
This works wonderfully when I actually take the time to do these things on their prescribed day, but all too often I mannage to run out of time and I end up cramming them all in on Friday or Saturday. Or, just waiting until next week to do it.

But not every daily activity should be considered a chore. I don't want my relationship with God to become a chore-- something I schedule and later try to catch up on. I want my relationship with God to be something I eagerly invest in because I love an value him.

The tricky part isn't in wanting such a relationship, but making it happen. And I've found that to keep relationships from becoming chores, I have to be intentional. When my intentionality slouches my devotions and prayer become a habit, become motions, become a chore. When I am intentional about exactly who I'm meeting with, everything changes. To keep my relationships from becoming chores I have to keep up with, I have to have the right attitude. 

Don't let your relationships with God or people become a chore. When you do, they aren't real relationships anymore.

Saturday, April 13, 2013


My mantra this semester:
-God's got this-

My screen saver is a slideshow of various nebulae. When I begin to feel overwhelmed or nervous I sit and watch the pictures change. See all the beauty. See God's handiwork. See the intricacy and care.

And I can take a deep breath and remember that the God who created the universe, that huge, awe-inspiring universe, created me. And this world. And he's got this. No need to worry.

What happens in my life doesn't surprise him. God can handle whatever happens in my life. And because I am God's, I can laugh at whatever dangers loom in the future, albeit the unknown. God's got this.


Orion; Mystic Mountain;  Carina; S106; NGC 2060

Thursday, April 11, 2013


The Unknown frightens me.

And I'm face-face with it right now.

It isn't big and bold, glaring at me from every corner. No, it is slippery and smokey, hiding and creeping up.

'What to do' isn't what frightens me. God has given this summer purpose, and I've got a few clear ideas about 'what to do'. That isn't the part that has me checking the dark corners of my mind and turning around with a start.

'Will it be okay' is the part that keeps me on my tiptoes and puts a few butterflies in my stomach.

Will it be okay. I know God has promised to come through but something about it makes my heart beat faster. It's how I imagine I would feel in that moment before bungie jumping or sky diving. Not when your feet first leave the firm ground- I've already done that. I trusted God enough to jump into this, and I'm sure he'll catch me. But I can't seem to escape this feeling. Like that moment when gravity hungrily pulls you back to earth, and you wonder if this really was such a great idea while you feel like you're leaving your organs behind.

Will it be okay.

I will probably never have the courage to bungie jump or sky dive. But I don't need to.

Obeying God is plenty of an adventure.

And I know the bungie will stretch all the way out and pull me up again, the parachute will open, God will come through. 

My fear doesn't change that.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

How That Reading List Crashed 'n Burned

Last week, I posted about all the wonderful books I planned to read during my spring break.

So far, total, I have read three pages. Maybe.

I did a few other, more worthwhile (gasp) things instead. For example, I spent some time on my collage campus. Because I am student teaching from home, I have been on campus only two occasions this semester. I visited with a few friends, played games (Scrabble, Skee-Ball, Dutch Blitz), began watching two movies (Two Towers, and Sherlock Holmes, Game of Shadows. We didn't finish either of them), made food (you should try this), and marveled that I wasn't reading. I was also invited to a prayer service at a local church my last night on campus. It started at 7, and I planned to duck out around 8. The next morning was going to be very early for me. It turns out, this service was the first in a planned three day revival. And I didn't leave until 10:30, and I left truly blessed. I didn't get home until after midnight, which is very, very late for me, and managed about five and a half hours of sleep. Of course, the next day consisted of a few naps.

I also celebrated Easter with some family. We took separate cars, and I left half an hour after my parents and sisters. It was starting to snow; everything was slippery and visibility was pretty low for a while. I saw many cars in ditches and on the side of the road, a reminder to drive carefully. I had gotten ahead of the storm by the time I came to my exit. There was another vehicle on the side of the road about a quarter mile before the exit. The driver opened the door, and I was astonished at how similar she looked to my mom. So astonished I checked my phone. 17 missed calls. I pulled over on the shoulder, and called her back. She gave me directions and I picked up my dad and sister at the gas station with a full, five-gallon gas can.

Yes, there are still a few days left of my Spring Break. But I'm not going to miss opportunities with family and friends so I can read more books. That is an important lesson I have learned about reading. It can always wait.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

How My Spring Break Reading List Came To Be

When I came home from student teaching yesterday and set down my bag and Teachers Manuals, I noticed one of the books that had been on my bookshelf was on the floor. I called to one of my sisters (16 years old) in the other room and asked if she'd been looking through them again. Of course, she had.

She proceeded to come in and sit in front of my shelf. I was thinking, 'oh, not right now. I have so much to do for school tomorro!'. But I didn't say it outloud.

She started pointing to different books on the disorganized shelf. "I've read that one, and that one, I haven't read that one yet."

We compared which ones she had read to the ones I had read. I can't resist book-talk forever, you know. "Okay, scoot over." I sat down crosslegged next to her, and started taking piles of books off the shelf.

"What are you doing?"

And I explained how I was organizing them into books I have and haven't read. Then, I divided the pile I haven't read up again- books I want to read next week during spring break.

And they are:
The Golden Goblet by McGraw
Our Only May Amelia by Holm
The Sisters Grimm by Buckley
and The Pickwick Papers by Dickens, athough I'm planning on that one carrying over into the summer.

And, for kicks, here's a picture of my newly-organized bookshelf.

And, Yes. I consider this organized.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Knock Knock, Whose There?

My younger sisters and I would sit around the table with mom for lunch. I was probably seven or eight at the time. We would sneack our chips into our sandwhiches because we liked the crunch they made. We always avoided the crusts, nibbling as close to them as we could get. There was no good reason, we just did. We would cover all of our fingers in Bugles and eat them one by one, biting off one tiny bit off the tip at a time.

One day we decided to, between bites, knock on the underside of the table. We thought it sounded like someone at the door, and we liked to trick mom. She would always say, "Oh! Someone's at the door," and get up and walk through the house to the front door, and come back. She would shrug and say, "Hmm, they must have gone away." And we would try to shrug our shoulders innocently and continue eating. And a few minutes later one of us would knock on the underside of the table again, and the rest of us would snicker as mom got up and checked the door again.

Confession? I only found out a month or two ago that she had known all along that it was us. Gotta love moms that play along!

Thursday, March 07, 2013


This book came to me on high reccomendation, so I eagerly inter-library loaned it. 
I've read several books on prayer, and this one was different. I'll let you weigh a few of the differences and decide for yourself if you should find the nearest library.

'The Circle Maker' is filled with light humor. Humor is not the foundation, and it does not hinder the message- it is the tone of the author. 

There aren't methods, it itsn't a how-to, and there is no step-by-step formula presented. There are ideas. And stories. Many, many stories of prayers of all shapes and sizes answered. The author focuses on specificity as an important- and often missing- aspect of prayer. 

The author is a masterful writer. The book is built out of stories, and Mr. Batterson invites the reader into them so smoothly. They leave images in your head, rather than phrases. Those stories of answered prayers will stick with me for quite some time; more inspiration for me to circle my own prayers and not give up on them, even after 'seventy years'. Because our God, He answers prayer. 

Thursday, February 28, 2013


Last week I read a very predictable book. About half way through the story I guessed the final twist to the story, and I wondered if I should even keep reading. I did, just in case there would be another twist I hadn't seen coming. 

There wasn't one. 

(Granted, I do think the target readers are younger than I. But still...)

This got me thinking about predictability in books. I am also reading 'Journey to the Center of the Earth'. Much of this book is predictable, too. I mean, I'm assuming they make it to the center of the earth, aren't burned up by lava, find awesome things, and make it back home safely. 

The difference between the two books is character development. 

The characters in 'False Prince' were interesting enough, but I never became familiar with them.  Everything I learned about them was surface level and while the plot was predictable, moment by moment actions and reactions of the characters were not. 

On the other hand, 'Journey to the Center of the Earth' took time developing the characters and what drives them, familiarizing the reader with the nuances of their character (without drowning the reader in them unnecessarily) . I have an idea in my mind of how each character will respond to different circumstances, and I am eager to find out if and how the journey -the plot- affects the characters. 

Is it too much to ask for a plot that has a few unpredictable twists and turns, and also a reasonable amount of  character development? Too often I think we get one at the expense of the other. 

I am on the lookout for a book, any book, that has good character development and an interesting plot. I'm sure there have to be some. Any ideas?