Monday, December 19, 2011

In Excelsis Deo

When Annika was little, she made an angel out of two clear plastic balls (one for the body and one for the head). White lace, curly blonde hair, gold halo and wings completed this creation of which she proudly presented to me.

I, of course, oohed and ahhed like any good mom.

A few years later, she stuck that angel right at eye level at the center of our Christmas tree. At the same time, she declared it looked just like her Momma. (Keep in mind, the two very round balls...the one for the body much bigger and rotund than the one for the head.)

I very discreetly moved the angel to the back of the tree.

Well, not so discreetly.

In fact, quite forcefully while ignoring my daughter's dismay. (I know, not my finest parenting hour.)

This year, we waited to put up the tree until just a few days before Christmas. Then we were too tired to decorate it, so we decided to wait until the morning.

But the morning got busy with last minute crossings off of lists and children who slept in because they could, so as I left for work, I pleaded, "Please just decorate the tree while I'm gone."

They did.

A wonderfully, gloriously bejeweled tree greeted me when I got home.

And I appropriately oohed and ahhed like any good mom.

But I guess I didn't look very closely, because when I went to turn off the lights this evening, guess what was stuck right at eye level in the center of the tree?

Monday, September 19, 2011

Sometimes God Sends a Blue Pickup

We were moving from the land of perpetual frost (at least so it seemed in the winter) to the land of perpetual sun.

The Midwest to the West. In February or maybe March.

My baby's nanny graciously agreed to drive with me, and we picked up my just turned-five-year-old who had been with my parents in Montana. We laughed and sang and talked (even the baby in her cute almost-one chatter). Looking forward to seeing my husband, my kid's daddy, who had moved ahead of us. Just enjoying the adventure.

Until we hit a blizzard in Wyoming.

At night.

Far from our destination.

Far from any town or exit at all.

Hands white-knuckling the steering wheel, I squinted into the barrage of snow suddenly pounding the windshield. The wipers, doing their best to keep up, groaned against the heavy wet flakes. And my kids whispered their fear while the nanny sang softly.

I prayed. Even as the darkness closed in. Even as semi's roared past, spraying my already troubled windshield. I couldn't see. I was tired. I had two kids relying on me for their safety.

I cried out to my God.

An old ranch pickup passed us. Rusty. Blue. Dented. Again spraying wet. But then it pulled in front of our car and slowed. Two red tail lights, like a beacon, seemed to say, "Follow Me."

Follow Me.

I trained my eyes on those lights. Not knowing if we were still on the road. Trusting that we were.

Then as suddenly as the blizzard started, it stopped. The road was clear and dry. The skies without moisture showed stars again.

An exit appeared seemingly from nowhere. And the pickup, blinking its signal like a wink to us, drove away.

Its job fulfilled.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Multitudes on Monday

Wow! I can't believe that it's been two weeks since the last post,
and here it is MONDAY again.

I'm going to just start with the list and hopefully blog later this week.
Here's the link to the blog that started it all:
For some reason, my link button doesn't work. Anyone know why?

11. Miss B returned from camp and filled with stories about new friends.

12. Miss A working with preschoolers at VBS. She's amazing with the little ones.

13. Safety for both in light of what's going on in this world. They are bathed in prayer every day.

14. Dinner, bluegrass music and conversation with a favorite aunt and uncle.

15. A wedding of friends that allowed us to catch up with other friends.

16. A church who loves us.

17. A goofy golden retriever who stopped at the sidewalk and didn't get hit by either car (even though the rabbit kept going, dodging both as well).

18. Paying off a credit card!

19. Lazy summer days for the kids. Sleeping in.

20. Air conditioning!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Multitudes on Monday

On Saturday's blog, I mentioned my new favorite author, Ann Voskamp. I'm totally intrigued by her writing. It's vivid, unexpected and riveting.

Awhile ago, Ms. Voskamp started what she calls Multitudes on Monday. A time for listing and counting the blessings of life. A time to give thanks for the minute, as well as, the abundant. She challenges her readers to find one thousand of these.

I'll admit I'm a glass half empty person. I tend to see all sides of a situation and dwell on what if's. But, I'm going to try this. At least for awhile. On Mondays.

Will I make it to one thousand? I don't know. But today's, the first ten, will be no-brainers. Easy.

1. an incomparable God who gives unspeakable joy

2. a crazy-talented, God-seeking man who has loved me for over two decades

3. two amazing, creative, sensitive and smart kids who still let their mom hug them

4. a non-leaking roof over our heads, especially during this summer of rain

5. jobs that pay for that roof and food for those kids

6. a church community who comes every week to listen, learn, and absorb

7. an extended family who supports, laughs, cries and allows us to be who we are

8. friends who break bread with us

9. good health in the grand scheme of life, even with medical issues

10. our basic needs met on a daily basis

I am blessed.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Two New Books

Today is a two-fer.

First a second blog post.

Second a first look at books recently published by author friends.

Hold onto your hats!

FLIRTING IN SPANISH: What Mexico Taught Me About Love, Living and Forgiveness by Susan McKinney de Ortega

You've heard me gush about this book before, and now it's finally available to the public. Here's the Publishers Weekly review:

In 1992 the author, the daughter of champion NBA coach Jack McKinney, was teaching English to Mexican teenagers when she met 19-year-old Carlos, who ardently pursues her despite the age and huge cultural differences.

She resists at first, due to their divergent backgrounds–Ortega’s childhood was one of summer vacation rentals and white gloves at Mass, while Carlos was a high school dropout who didn’t have running water until age 10.

But when she realizes that she is surprised a man could be kind to her like her father, “I didn’t feel like a nervous wreck of a person anymore.”

It’s not an instant happy ending as Ortega contends with the extreme poverty Carlos and his family live in, the machismo culture, and her own lingering doubts, with one foot in Mexico and the other wavering.

When she finally achieves hard-won contentment, it’s a joyous moment.

Love, love, love this book! And I'm sending out a huge congrats to Susan!

BORN TO BE A DRAGON - Eisley Jacobs

Do not meddle in the affairs of dragons, for you are crunchy and taste good with ketchup...

This is a new MG (middle grade) book by a local Denver author. I haven't had the pleasure of reading it yet, but I'm totally intrigued by the premise. The following is from Ms. Jacobs' webpage:

The true beginning of a dragon's life starts in his tenth year. During the Rising Ceremony, Lord Edric judges the hatchlings according to the mark branded into their flesh at birth by the first light peeking through their shells. Legend says the one with a dragon shaped mark will be great. But when Deglan’s mark morphs into a dragon, instead of pride, fear ripples through his scales.

Afraid for his safety, Deglan’s parents order him to leave and follow the human voice in his dreams. His path collides with ten-year-old Meia, whose constant dragon dreams have scared away all but her current foster family.

Discovering secrets from both their pasts, Deglan and Meia must learn to fight together to save the dragons from extinction before Lord Edric can stop them.

Huge congrats go out to Eisley as well!

If you get a chance, please look for both of these books. FLIRTING can be ordered through all the major outlets (Amazon, B&N etc.). DRAGON can be ordered at Eisley is also doing an amazing online publishing party right now.

Happy reading!

Has Writing Ruined Reading?

I've always been a reader (well, at least since the ripe old age of 5).

I used to bring a book with me almost every where I went. Sometimes to the chagrin of my mother who once gently pulled me aside and said, "Please don't take a book to Youth Group. It's kind of insulting to the Youth Pastor."

"Heidi, get your nose out of that book and look at the beautiful mountain, valley, rain, major league baseball game, etc." were also words I often heard during family vacations.

Kind of funny, since my mom was an English teacher, and her mother a one-room school teacher before her.

But reading opened up worlds for me.

Who knew what adventures awaited a little girl named Half-Pint who traveled in a covered wagon to a new home? Or the four Pevensie's who found imaginary lands through the door of a wardrobe.

As a child, I raced through desert sands on the back of an Arabian horse, and solved mysteries with a young girl detective.

As a college student, I pondered Heathcliff & Catherine's love while their moor's harsh winds whipped around me, and Oliver's want for family while I walked his London streets.

As an adult, I still fall asleep most nights with a fresh adventure or romance swirling in my brain.

However, after writing Pearl, books have taken on a new edge.

Sometimes as I'm reading about what happened before the actual story, I find myself screaming, "Backstory. You're using backstory." Or, I'll subconsciously (1) count adverbs.

With better, more engaging writing, I'll wonder, "How does she do that? Put words together to make phenomenal, picturesque phrases?"

(The most recent author who has caused me to suck in my breath in wonder is Ann Voskamp -- her blog link A Holy Experience is to the right. Click on it. You won't be disappointed.)

So, to answer the original question, (Has writing ruined reading?) I must admit that yes, sometimes it has. But mostly, it has enriched my reading experience.

I now dismiss poor writing quickly.

But rich writing intrigues me more fully.

And shouldn't engaging the reader be the sole intention of the writer?

Monday, May 16, 2011

Water for Elephants

My mom was in town this weekend.

Like most times when she is here, we packed in as much activity as we could. A band concert with A. Shopping. A choir concert with B. Shopping. Church. Shopping. The Melting Pot.

Then Sunday night, I said on a whim, "Let's go to Water for Elephants."

We hesitated. After all, Mom's flight left early on Monday morning.

And we were pretty satiated from the cheese and chocolate fondue.

Sidebar Recommendation: The Bananas Foster White Chocolate dessert fondue.


But we went to the theater.

If you haven't read Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen, go get it.

Right now.

From a bookstore. Download it on Kindle.

Read it.

The premise is about a young man, Jakob Yankowski, whose parents are killed in 1931 on the day of his final test to graduate in veterinary science from Cornell. He runs away and joins a circus (sounds cliche, huh?). However, Gruen brings to life the small circus life during The Depression.

The descriptions are amazing. The plot riveting. The conflict stellar.

Read it.

Then go see the movie.

Reece Witherspoon.
Robert Pattinson (I will admit to being back on Team Edward :)).
An elephant.
A controlling ringmaster.

Good stuff!

What's Up with Pearl/Frost/The Book that Must Be Named?

Two agents have the MS (one has a full; one a partial). I haven't heard from either. :( Which begs the question:

Is no news, good news?


Is no news, no news?