Friday, February 26, 2010

One Question Friday

Every Friday I’m going to ask a question. The questions I choose might be ambiguous on purpose. The goal is to have you answer the question according to your beliefs, where you’re at in life or a circumstance that might have recently impacted you. The only thing I ask is that you provide an explanation for why you answered the way you did.

It is my hope to understand you better through this and also to gain a greater understanding of humanity and how people make decisions.

Pick a planet...

Mars, Saturn, Uranus, Jupiter, Neptune, Earth, Venus, Mercury, Pluto?
Pick a planet…any planet.

*photos by flickr
**I wrote about the King of New over at Exemplify

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

One Year

Yep. That’s how long I’ve been blogging. I guess it would be a year and a day if we’re being technical, but again…I’m not a super technical person.

On my first blog post I quoted this Chinese proverb, “Be not afraid of growing slowly, be afraid of standing still.” (Not to confuse you, but I also really like the lyrics to U2’s, Stuck in a Moment—“I’m not afraid of anything in this world. There’s nothing you can throw at me that I haven’t already heard.” But that’s a different post for a different time.)

I originally began blogging in hopes to document movement—my thoughts that move. Did my thoughts move over the course of the last year? Yes.

Here’s how—

I’ve become a skilled lady in waiting. Anyone who has ever sent a query or entered a contest knows exactly what I mean. I’m referring to writing, but I wait in other areas of my life as well.

I told a truth, though the telling proved difficult and uncomfortable.

My Doritos-lovin’ friend, Boundaries helped me take my schedule off the torture rack.

I encouraged my husband in his role as spiritual leader of our home.

Friends have come out of the cyberspace woodwork and I’ve been blessed to understand technology in a different light. I made face time with friends a priority as well (and even met a critique partner).

I committed to caring less about what people think of me and caring more what God thinks of me.

Death loosened its grip on me. Or I loosened my grip on it. Over a year ago my father was diagnosed with lung cancer. Wondering when is enough to drive anyone mad. I learned to surrender the when to God. We all have a when. It’s what we do with the not yet that matters.

I focused where I spent my time and attention. My kiddos got more of it.

I learned to listen to trustworthy voices.

I’ve cooked dozens of new recipes, refurbished six pieces of furniture, quilted two pillows, continued mentoring the senior high girls, set clear goals for my life, spoke for a MOPS group, joined a mom’s prayer group, participated in Bible studies, read over thirty books (and enough blogs about publishing to equal thirty books), wrote two books, hacked away at editing a book, wrote for numerous online sites, got word of forthcoming publications for four of my stories, wrote over a dozen book reviews, went to a book signing for the Chicken Soup book my story was in, and met wonderful people along the way…

Met wonderful people along the way.

I would not have grown in many of the above areas if not for the accountability, love and support I’ve garnered here and in my life beyond the computer. Thank you for your role in my growth.

To God I give all glory and praise.

Have your thoughts moved in the past year?

*bonus (this one has less to do with thoughts than state of mind)…I potty trained my youngest child, therefore deeming my house almost a diaper-free zone
**My thoughts have fluctuated in how they’ve moved. I wanted only to include the positive direction they’ve moved over the past year, but assuredly I have mountains to grow yet.
***photos by flickr

Monday, February 22, 2010

Backyard Finds

The other night I had a dream about a backyard find. (If you want to get technical the find originated in our front yard, but who needs to get technical about such things?) Remember digging for buried treasures? I recall spending hours roaming through Wilton Town Forest behind our house, flipping over rocks and raking aside leaves in hopes to find an ancient artifact. Ah, the joys of childhood.

A beautiful pond took up most of our front yard. My dad had creatively built a raft out of an old fence so my sisters and I could Huckleberry Finn-it around the pond. Some of my favorite memories are from floating on that gray raft. I paddled out there whenever I wanted to be alone or when my overactive imagination kicked in. On that raft, I provided guided tours for the numerous “passengers” behind me anxious to learn about the flora and fauna of our property. On one such tour I discovered something unusual I’d never seen before in my years of navigating.

Beyond unusual.

Gelatin brain-like creatures suctioned to a dozen rocks under the water. Holes pocked the surface of these alien beings. And of course, like any good tour guide would, I investigated the find. Having made my way around the pond, aware I was surrounded, I did what any kid with an overactive imagination would—I took it upon myself to rid our pond of these vile intruders. One by one I exorcised each hardened jellyfish-like creature, plagued with bad acne. And this was not an easy task. I shimmied the duck-billed end of my paddle between the rocks and the aliens to dislodge them, keeping them from doing more harm. And so what came of it? Twenty or so of these floppy, destroyed beings drifting with the ripples to the edges of our pond.

My dream the other night brought me back to my war with the aliens in our pond. In my dream they really were aliens implanting themselves in a small New England pond. What a story for a science fiction writer (of which I’m not, so I won’t be attempted it)! Clearly I’ve not lost my insane Pop Rock-inspired imagination.

Since, I believe I’ve unraveled the mystery of the aliens in my pond during my youth (funny how I’m the only one in my family who remembers these visitors). After doing a little research, I’m convinced the frogs I thoroughly enjoyed catching each summer, were attempting to procreate.

I, my friends, sorrowfully admit I think I just might be a frog killer.

That confessed—did you ever find anything unusual in your backyard (or front yard, since we’re not being technical)?

*I apologize that frogs were harmed during the making of this post
**If you look at picture #1 closely, it looks like the “frog eggs” are now trying to make their way up that weeping willow…

Friday, February 19, 2010

One Question Friday

Every Friday I’m going to ask a question. The questions I choose might be ambiguous on purpose. The goal is to have you answer the question according to your beliefs, where you’re at in life or a circumstance that might have recently impacted you. The only thing I ask is that you provide an explanation for why you answered the way you did.

It is my hope to understand you better through this and also to gain a greater understanding of humanity and how people make decisions.

The question—

Comfort food or adventurous cuisine?

*photos by flickr
**I went to the library over at
5 Minutes for Faith today

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Roaring Lions, Cracking Rocks…by Warren Baldwin

Blogging friend, Warren Baldwin recently sent me his book, Roaring Lions, Cracking Rocks and Other Gems from Proverbs. On the first page I could tell the book would bestow pages upon pages of wisdom. I was right. I thoroughly enjoyed reading Roaring Lions as a devotional. It is the perfect book for that with short titled chapters that drive each point home with personal examples and life applications.

My respect for Warren grew immensely as I leafed through the pages. I admire books with the ability to bring relevance to Scripture. Roaring Lions impacted me so positively I’ve been encouraging my husband to read it. The book provides wonderful stories detailing familial roles, trusting God’s will and learning wisdom in relationships and so much more. I found myself underlining on almost every page.

As I was halfway through Roaring Lions…I dealt with a specific situation that required me to seek God’s will time and time again. I’m certain God used the Scripture and reference emphasized in Roaring Lions to help me discern how to take next steps.

To quote from the book, “Wisdom means knowing how to communicate value, love, and dignity to others. Wisdom means caring about others in your life and working to serve their needs.” My need to read a powerful devotional book was met after reading Roaring Lions. It is a wise book from a wise author. I’m grateful I’ve connected with Warren and I’m grateful he sent along his book.

And now for a brief interview with Warren:

Wendy: What is the most influential book you've ever read (other than the Bible)?

Warren: I read a lot of books and many of them have made deep impressions on me so, that is a tough question to answer. But, if I had to pick one I would say “The Road Less Traveled” by M. Scott Peck. He addresses a lot of moral and spiritual issues in very helpful ways. I don’t agree with everything he says in the book, or how he approaches some things, but overall it’s a very helpful. I read it in my early 20s and have read it several times since.

Naturally I read a lot in my fields of interest. But I’ve learned to not limit my reading to what I like, am comfortable with, or even write about. Everything we read and study can have bearing on what and how we eventually write. I didn’t imagine that books I read on history, politics and even criminals would eventually end up as illustrative material in a book on Proverbs, but they did. Reading widely expands our thinking and perspectives.

Wendy: Can you describe the moment you understood you were to write a book and how that process went for you?

Warren: I have wanted to write a book for about 25 years now. I started several, but they never seemed to get off the ground. Plus, I didn’t feel like I had enough substance of my own to draw from. About five years ago I did an in depth study of Proverbs for classes, lectures and a radio program. It was during that study that I could see a book, actually several books, on Proverbs. Right now I am working on a follow-up volume to Roaring Lions, Cracking Rocks, and a 13-week study for teenage Bible Classes.

Roaring Lions, Cracking Rocks developed from writing material for my daily radio program. I would pick a proverb, study the meaning of it in commentaries and Hebrew dictionaries, and think about how it applied to life today. Reading other books helped to illustrate the meaning for today.

After the book was finished it took about 2 years of editing, rewriting, and finding a publisher. At one time the book sat in my computer for about 6 months before I was motivated to work on it again, and at another time on my office floor for 5 months while I tried to figure out what to do with it. Several times I almost said, “Forget it.” I’m glad I didn’t!

Wendy: What is the best advice you can offer writers and/or those in pursuit of God?

Warren: The pursuit of God means we get to know God: his nature, personality, values, etc. A great insight into the heart of God is given to us in Exodus 34:6,7. When Moses asked to see God, God revealed his heart. Later, we are given the person of Jesus as the ultimate revelation of the Father. As we walk in the steps of Jesus we will focus on the Father. And, since Jesus was so concerned about people, he ministered to them and built a community of followers. As we become more like God/Jesus, we will find ourselves intimately involved in community building and maintenance. I think that is an indication that we are in active pursuit of God. Becoming like God does not make us better ascetics or monks; it makes us better husbands, wives, parents, friends, neighbors, Sunday School teachers and church leaders.

Read, study, think, pray, talk to people. A basic premise of Proverbs is that wisdom is learned/gained in community (family-church-neighborhood). Knowledge can definitely be gained in personal study and reflection, but it is only when we apply what we have learned to the give and take of relationships that it becomes wisdom. Godly wisdom is righteousness and skill at living, and living means we rub shoulders with others, and even bruise elbows in the process. From the good and the bad, the sweet and the sour of relationships with others that we learn and grow.

In a sense, Jesus is the ultimate personality that Proverbs wants to develop.

Thank you Warren, for your book and this interview.

Website for Roaring Lions:

Monday, February 15, 2010


The following resonated with me:

“Last night, before my arraignment, I started shaking. Not shivering, but the palsied kind of seizure that even made the guards bring me to the infirmary for a free nurse’s check, not that she could find anything wrong. It was the sort of tremor that astronauts get when they come back to earth, that a hiker suffers after coming back down from Kilimanjaro—a bone-deep chill that has nothing to do with cold and everything with being moved from one world to another.”
from Vanishing Acts by Jodi Picoult
I can’t say I’ve encountered a “palsied kind of seizure” but my kneecaps have trembled to the point they’ve threatened to pop off. I’ve shuttered with utter joy, overwhelming confusion, deep pain and indescribable elation. And I believe during each of these life defining moments I did move from one understood world to another.
Here is an abbreviated list of times I shook—
13 Parents sit me down in the living room (we hardly ever go in there) to tell me my older sister has a cancerous brain tumor.
15 My first kiss. I was a loony mess.
15 (weeks later) I find a newfound freedom in a relationship with Christ.
22 I survive a terrifying car accident. Picture…blindsided, hit gravel, jump gulley, airbag smacks me back, play blind Frogger with three lanes of oncoming traffic, wind up perfectly parallel facing oncoming traffic in their shoulder lane. Unharmed.
22 Fiancé informs me his territory will be in Seattle. My parents are in Florida. Can you say leave and cleave?
23 Undergo major surgery one month prior to wedding.
26 Baby born
28 Baby born
31 Baby born

*I’ve experienced other intimate and/or life defining times, but I’ve opted not to disclose them for various reasons.

Congratulations to Sarah who wrote In the Eye of Deception! You win Thin Places. Your memoir sounds fascinating. Thanks to all those who participated! I was informed making the decision was grueling. Sarah, please send me your address (email found on Facebook badge down to the right).

Do you remember a moment when you shook?
*photos by flickr

Friday, February 12, 2010

One Question Friday

Every Friday I’m going to ask a question. The questions I choose might be ambiguous on purpose. The goal is to have you answer the question according to your beliefs, where you’re at in life or a circumstance that might have recently impacted you. The only thing I ask is that you provide an explanation for why you answered the way you did.

It is my hope to understand you better through this and also to gain a greater understanding of humanity and how people make decisions.

The question…

Yesterday or Tomorrow?

*photos by flickr

*Feel free to swing by 5 Minutes for Faith to read what I wrote the other day about cleaning the mess
*Don't forget to check out the Name Your Own Memoir contest in yesterday's post to get a free copy of Thin Places

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Thin Places by Mary E. DeMuth

*Special Thursday Book Review Post*

Thin Places by Mary E. DeMuth is probably one of the most honest books I’ve ever read. Here is one author who trumps the fear of revealing life mistakes, vulnerabilities, and pain for the betterment of the reader. As I read this book I thought of how God told Paul, His power is made perfect in his weakness. Mary provides chapter after chapter of confessional stories, while indirectly encouraging readers to examine their own spiritual growth.

When I read in the first chapter how the Celts define a thin place, “a place where heaven and the physical world collide, one of those serendipitous territories where eternity and the mundane meet. Thin describes the membrane between the two worlds…where we see a holy glimpse of the eternal—not in digital clarity, but clear enough to discern what lies beyond” I knew I’d enjoy this book immensely. And that I did. Mary’s memoir seamlessly flows as she details some tragic and life-shaping events in her life and how they became thin places.

Mary DeMuth bestows a gift. She invites the reader to partake in the journey with her. Her writing is conversational in nature, to the point where I wondered more than once when she crawled inside my head. Her life is a testament to God’s healing and His loyalty. I understand this powerful memoir as a selfless act of obedience. It’s a brave work written by an honest soul.

I enjoyed the book so much I want you to read it…so I have a challenge for you. I loved the title Mary chose and the reasoning behind it. In three sentences or less tell me what you’d name your memoir and the significance behind your reason. I’ll have my writer friend review the comments and select the most capturing title.

If you win I’ll send you Thin Places for free! Challenge ends Sunday. I’ll announce the winner on Monday.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Words Are Like...

I finished reading The Book Thief last weekend. Powerful book with deep-rooted messages. I found the writing beautiful and the descriptions creative (swampy eyes). I cried after the standover man chapter. It was evident throughout the book the author believes in the power of words. I do too.

Words are like…
Kaleidoscopes…dazzling others with their shifting affects
Chameleons…fooling others with deceit
Tires…capable of
treading lightly or wearing away
Pool sticks…with the power to set things into motion
Brown eggs…rare and treasured in their fragility
Corn on the cob…shucked to reveal deeper meaning
Scythes…slicing into hearts
An empty bench…waiting to be discovered
A reflection...revealing things of the heart
Ginger root…snapping the senses to life
Disease…spread unintentionally, causing great harm
Dandelions...a weed one moment and a wish the next
Water…for the thirsty
Birds…taking to flight


Here are three powerful quotes on words--
"Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless." — Mother Teresa
"I love writing. I love the swirl and swing of words as they tangle with human emotions." — James A. Michener

"I have hated words and I have loved them, and I hope I have made them right." — Markus Zusak (The Book Thief)

Your turn. Words are like…

*photos by flickr

Monday, February 8, 2010

Write by Lyrics

You’ve heard of paint by numbers? Today I’m throwing a little write by lyrics at you. If you’ve hung around here awhile you’ve discovered I have an endless tunnel of thoughts in this here noggin of mine. You humor me by reading some of them. And I thank you for it. Makes the tunnel a little less dark.

And now for the lyrics bit. I’m a music lover. I have hundreds of songs memorized. It’s hysterical to watch my children demonstrate my musical memorization habits.

Whoa oh oh, what’s music got to do with it…writing that is? Just another fun way to relay ideas. I’m certainly not an expert, but here is a list of some things I’ve learned about writing a novel:

  1. You Can’t Always Get What You Want—One of the number one must-haves in a book is conflict. You need a character that wants something but for one reason or another is unable to have that thing.
  2. Wake Up Little Suzie—Your story needs to move. You want your readers to stay awake while reading your book, not drift off in a dreamy drool-drenched sleep. Wake up Suzie by adding those can’t always get what you want scenes regularly.
  3. I Want to Hold Your Hand—Get your readers to like or empathize with your main characters early on in the story (preferably page one).
  4. Save the Last Dance for Me (one of my favorite songs btw)—Work hard to involve your reader. Help your readers feel engaged with your story by inciting a connection with your characters.
  5. Poker Face—Implement suspense throughout your work. Drop a well-timed clue here. Leave a hint of something there. But don’t fall into the trap of tell. Give ‘em glimpses.
  6. A Little Less Conversation and A Little More Action Please—On the heels of the last one, avoid exposition. Show. Action is good. Dialogue is good, but only if it moves the plot forward.
  7. I Walk the Line—Follow a plot. Don’t wander aimlessly from scene to scene. Adhere to the story goal. Don’t sidetrack and rabbit hole your readers into confusion and frustration.
  8. Ain’t No Sunshine—Don’t write an elaborate description of weather just for the heck of it. Plant it there for a purpose, if you must plant it there at all.
  9. Into the Mystic—Take your readers somewhere they want to go. Make it easy for them to have a mental adventure. Choose an intriguing setting, riveting characters, a yeasty plot…
  10. I Can’t Get No Satisfaction—Keep ‘em scooting in their seats. Make ‘em want more. Don’t give ‘em satisfaction…that is until the end. Satisfy ‘em then.

Any lyrics you've learned that apply to writing?

*photos by flickr

Friday, February 5, 2010

One Question Friday

Every Friday I’m going to ask a question. The questions I choose might be ambiguous on purpose. The goal is to have you answer the question according to your beliefs, where you’re at in life or a circumstance that might have recently impacted you. The only thing I ask is that you provide an explanation for why you answered the way you did.

It is my hope to understand you better through this and also to gain a greater understanding of humanity and how people make decisions.

Ready for your question?

Wavering decision or confident indecision?

*photos by flickr

Taking Time

college applications                 homecoming                            flag football                basketball             SATs   ...