Saturday, May 30, 2009

What Frustrates You?

Now honestly, I can't believe how hard televisions are to work nowadays. Why does my TV have four different remote controls? My husband was gone on a Harley ride for a couple of days. All I wanted to do was to watch an old classic--Gone With the Wind. But do you think I could figure out how to play a simple DVD? No!

I called my husband and interrupted his "guy time", but no help on a long distance phone call. Then I called my son, certainly he could help me. But not even my TV savvy son could seem to steer me through all the right buttons. To make matters worse, the TV was stuck on the rolling TV Channel rolling through the times and shows. Even worse, the set wouldn't shut off. The screen just kept scrolling, scrolling, and scrolling . . .

Finally, after two hours of pushing buttons, I gave up. So then I thought, "I'll just watch the DVD on my computer." Now at least it played on the computer, but I couldn't hear it very well. I even grabbed my i-pod ear buds. However, the sound barely projected. Sigh.

I know this is a small thing in the whole scheme of life, but let me tell you, I was one frustrated woman, But even as I write this I smile inside; what a silly thing to upset me. I know and understand the terrible blows that life deals on a daily basis. But even in the most terrible of crises it seems that the small things can tip the scale in an emotional crisis. Why is that?

One thing I can't figure out is why such little things throw me into such a tizzy? But reality check, I was one frustrated woman. What are the little things in life that make you a crazy woman?

By the way, does anyone know how to work the four TV remote controls?

Friday, May 29, 2009

Friday--The Writers' Porch--Wretched Rejection

"A professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit."—Richard Bach.

One of the most difficult things we experience as a writer in process of publication is the rejection letter. One of the analogies of writing is that it is similar to having children. We labor over our words and we protect our creations. Then whammy—someone rejects it. We feel hurt personally. We become discouraged and want to quit writing. We wonder, “Why?”

The truth of publication is almost every writer experiences the “rejection letter.” Here’s my thoughts on the ominous rejection—rejoice. If you have received the “No” letter, then at least it means you have send out your baby for review. Here’s the choice— if you don’t send it out you’ll never be rejected, but you’ll never be published, either.

There are several reasons an editor sends a rejection letter for our precious manuscripts. The reason could have nothing to do with your writing. It might be the wrong type of project for the publisher, or perhaps they recently purchased something similar. Unfortunately, rejections usually do not include the reason for rejection, so we assume the worst—they didn’t like our baby. But wonder if they liked it, but just couldn’t publish it? There’s no way to know.

So, I suggest you send out the manuscript and give it wings to fly. Keep writing, in the meantime, with new ideas and projects. If you get a rejection letter, so what? Keep writing, collect the rejections and wallpaper the room where you write.

Don’t take rejection personally, use it as a springboard. Use it as part of the writing process and learn from it if you can, but don’t quit writing. Writers write, published writers submit and experience rejection. Remember, authors like John Grisham and Stephen King were rejected multiple times, but look at ‘em now. Perseverance in writing, submitting and publication is the key to a writer’s success.

Until Monday,

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Babbling about Books--Thursday--Hidden Joy in a Dark Corner

Hidden Joy in a Dark Corner
By Wendy Blight

Today I have the honor and privilege of highlighting Hidden Joy in a Dark Corner, written by my friend and colleague, Wendy Blight. I serve alongside her in Proverbs 31 Ministries.

When I first met Wendy, I knew there was something special about her. Her spirit shone brightly, and she carried herself with a simple grace and quiet self-confidence. Later, I discovered that she was a former attorney. “But she’s so quiet!” I thought, dispelling my notion of loud mouth lawyers.

I had never heard her “story” until she became a published author. After reading her book Hidden Joy in a Dark Corner, I understood why she was able to carry herself with such assurance—it is her complete trust in Jesus. I will not give away her harrowing story, the fear and the emotional struggles that she faced for years. However, I will tell you it has a happy ending—the Wendy Blight that I now know. I highly recommend the book. I couldn’t wait for it to be released and I could not put it down once I started. Plus, if you are a Kindle reader, it is available on Kindle.

Wendy is holding an online Bible study for her book this summer. Check it out at

Until tomorrow,

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Summer Time Bible Study

For several years I attended Bible Study Fellowship to learn about the Bible and fellowship with friends. This program runs from September to May every year. Every summer I would determine to keep on with some type of Bible study, but usually about the third week in June it would fizzle.

By the time September rolled around, I was out of sorts with myself and feeling spiritually dry. Over the course of about five years, I finally found the answer. Stay plugged into some type of organized Bible study or small group.

So how do you find one? I have the answer. I would like to share with you an online study starting on June 17th. The leader will be Proverbs 31 Ministries own Wendy Blight. The study will be on her new released book, Hidden Joy in a Dark Corner. Check out her blog ( to find out all the details. It's the perfect place to land for the summer until your regular Bible study returns in the fall.

On Thursday I will be highlighting Wendy's book on Babbling about Books. Hope to see you then to learn more about Hidden Joy in a Dark Corner.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Memorial Day in Minnesota!

Popcorn Popping on the Apricot Tree

I looked out the window and what did I see?
Popcorn popping on the apricot tree.
Spring has brought me such a nice surprise!
Popcorn popping right before my eyes.
I can take a handful and make a treat.
A popcorn ball that smells so sweet.
It wasn't really so, but it seemed to be
Popcorn popping on the apricot tree.

After the Happy Birthday song, this is the first song I remember learning as a child. Well, this morning, I looked out my window and this is what I saw!

Remember those who gave their lives for our country. Celebrate our national freedom.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Friday--The Writers' Porch

The Wonder Words

Writers love the wonder of words and ideas. One of the best tips I can give on the path to publication is for the writer to keep a notebook or file folder (that’s what I use) with great words, ideas and Scriptures. Although you think you will remember—there is a good chance you won’t. My favorite way to record those “unforgettable moments” is on an index card. I carry them in my purse and my Bible case. But the most important place is on my nightstand. Because for some reason, those moments, minutes, or hours before I fall asleep seem to be my most creative. Why? I don’t know. Maybe it’s because I am relaxed and my to-do list is put to bed. Whatever the reason, I come up with my best writers’ thoughts at night.

After I scribble down the overheard conversation, the perfect verse, or just a wonderful word, I put it in a file folder with a topic heading. When I wrote my Bible study, Perplexing Proverbs, I had 12 fat folders stuffed with ideas, stories, etc,--one file folder for each chapter. I do this for my devotionals, articles and books.

I even jot down great words that I hear or read. Author Brandlyn Collins posts a creative and intriguing word each day, complete with definition, on Facebook. Fun stuff. (Also, find a great thesaurus to help you discover the perfect words as you write.)

I am not the only one who says so. Here’s a quote to substantiate today’s view of wonderful words.

"I keep little notepads all over the place to write down ideas as soon as they strike, but the ones that fill up the quickest are always the ones at my nightstand. " ~Emily Logan Decens

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Babbling about Books--Thursday

Geraldine Brooks
Fiction (2006)

One of my all time favorite books is Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. I read it as a young girl and several times since. Of course, I related to Jo March, the young aspiring writer. I so wanted to be like her when I grew up—I still do. (Smile).

Because of my well-known love for Little Women, a friend recommended that I read March. It is the story of the elusive Mr. March. The book March chronicles the missing information and history of the father of the little women, Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy.

Geraldine Brooks makes this book come to life with the Civil War details and the emotions that Mr. March experiences. It is evident that Ms. Brooks did her research for the era. Her imagination created a character that is complex. As the reader, at times I liked him, at other times I did not.

I must warn potential readers that it is not a sweet follow-up to the classic of Little Women. It deals with racism, cruelty, and the loss of idealism of Mr. March. The book explains the cause of the March family poverty. It also may change your view of the sweet and noble Marmee. It is a gritty, moving novel intended for adult readers.

So on that note, I am off to sharpen my own writing skills. I do not think I will ever write the next breakout novel, but I sure am going to have fun trying.

See you tomorrow on The Writers’ Porch,

Monday, May 18, 2009

Farrah--My Thoughts

I watched the Farrah Fawcett documentary last week. It brought back memories of Charlie’s Angels and my dreams to be beautiful like Farrah. All right, I admit 30 years ago I was a Farrah Fawcett wanna be—I especially longed for her blonde, layered locks. However, I did not have the poster that sold millions of copies hanging on my wall, though.

But life and time is a great equalizer. As I watched her struggles, it was a reminder that no matter how golden a person’s life seems to be, in the end we are all just human. Only God controls our lives and our destinies.

I lay in bed last night and read from the book, Jesus Calling. (I highly recommend it.) As I read the Scripture verses and the devotional thoughts it brought such peace to me. For all of us, Jesus is only a prayer away. He speaks comfort that only He can give. I think of the Apostle Paul’s words in Philippians 1:21, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” Although the battle against death is terrible here on earth, the promise we have as followers of Christ is that in eternity it will be better than we can imagine.

I do not know where Farrah is spiritually. But I pray that Farrah has found true peace in our God and Lord Jesus Christ.

The Bohemian Skirt

I knew the world was seeing a flash of white thighs and cellulite. Somehow in the gust of a whirlwind, my long gypsy-like skirt flew straight up and over my head. I tried to bat it down, but it stood stubbornly straight up like a corn stalk. It seemed the garment had a mind of its own. The more I struggled to keep it down, the higher it flew. (At least my face was covered and no one would know who owned those stocky dimpled legs.)

The skirt was my favorite attire. I adored the fabric. The colors displayed in the fabric were bright and varied. Dark rusts, velvet black, and fireman red circled around the turquoise satin. Golden metallic threads highlighted the colors like trees on an autumn day. The skirt’s bohemian qualities tickled my eccentric personality. That is, until the day of the whirlwind, because the skirt continued to behave badly.

Later the same day, I was attempting to go through security at McCarran International Airport. For some reason, I set off the metal detector—twice. The security personnel sent me to the “wand and pat down area”. The wand floated across the lower part of my body. "Beep, beep, beep," it warned. I was completely flummoxed. Why was I setting off these metal detectors?

After much wand waving, hand patting, and scrutinizing it was determined that the metal threads in my skirt were the cause of the security breach. What? My unruly skirt seemed intent on deliberately ruining my day. The security guards suggested I not wear the flagrant fabric again to the airport. I agreed whole-heartedly.

Honestly, I couldn’t make this stuff up if I tried.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Friday--The Writers' Porch

Keep Good Records.

I remember when my children were little I thought, “I will always remember who is in this picture.” Now I look back and sometimes can’t tell which of my boys is in the picture. I should have recorded the names, dates and event. But I didn’t.

The same thing happened with I began submitting my writings to various publishers. At first it was easy. One article sent to one magazine. Or a devotion mailed to an editor. I knew I would never forget when and where I sent my book, which I knew inside and out, for possible publication. Ah!

Before I knew it, I was confused and disoriented in my submissions. It was then that I began to keep a record of every submission. I now keep records of who and where I send my manuscripts to and what their response is—if any. (Smile).

One of the things I cannot stress enough is to keep good records of your writing. I have a chart on my computer on which I note the details of my submissions. If you are interested, I would be happy to email you a copy. However, it is easy to set up your own systematic chart. Here’s what I include in mine:

Working Title of Manuscript
Date Sent
Type sent: Query/Proposal/Manuscript
Editor & Publisher
Date Published
Payment (if any)
Type of rights sold
Date of Thank-you sent to editor

Keeping a great writing record jogs your memory as to when you sent it in. This allows you to know if you should send a gentle reminder to the editor if it has been months and you haven’t heard anything. Things do get lost. It also prevents duplicate submissions. Besides all this, if your writing is your ministry/career it proves you are a professional.

Trust me, it takes less time to record your writing projects than it does to try to remember or run a paper trail. So your assignment is this: if you don’t have a way to track your submissions, start one today—before you dot another “i.”

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Babbling about Books--Thursday

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
Betty Smith
(1943) Latest reprint and release (2006)

My stepmother is 72. She loves to read and her all-time favorite book is A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. She has raved about the book ever since I first met her. It was released in 1943 and became a national bestseller. It was made into a movie—a sure sign it was great.

I remember reading it a long time ago. At the time, I didn’t feel it was a “great” book. I remember thinking it was sort of boring. I wondered why my mom thought it was so wonderful.

However, recently I have heard a new buzz about it from my book club. I saw it on the end cap at Borders. It has been re-released. So, I thought I would give it a try again. I downloaded it to my i-pod and listened to it. (The New York accents were perfect in the audio version and made it come to life.) I do not know whether life has brought me new perspective, but this time I truly enjoyed A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.

The book relates the coming-of-age story of its main character, Francie Nolan, and her family struggling against poverty in Brooklyn. The novel is set in the first and second decades of the 20th century, so it is pre-World War I. It begins with a very young Francie struggling to keep her idealism alive in the face of grinding poverty, the comedies and tragedies of ordinary life. Her mother Katie is a realistic woman who works as a janitor in their tenement to make ends meet. Her father Johnny is an alcoholic singing waiter who is more of a dreamer. Along with her brother Neeley, the four of them live in a poor apartment in Brooklyn.

There is a tree that grows outside the tenement of the Nolan home. Francie relates to the tree struggling to living in the abject poverty until she is in late teens. It is a book that proves the truth of Proverbs 13:12.

“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.” (NIV)

I thoroughly enjoyed listening to it in audio format. If you decide to give it a read,or if you have read it, let me know your thoughts.

Monday, May 11, 2009

God2Girl--PWOC Nellis AFB

I want to give you a follow-up from my post last week about my retreat with Nellis AFB PWOC. It was such a blessing to me to serve these beautiful sisters in Christ. As a group on Saturday night we experienced God. The Holy Spirit swooped in and gave a hug from heaven.

Although I shouldn’t be amazed, I always am when the Holy Spirit coordinates an event. At this retreat God picked the right music, the perfect praise dance and the messages. He wove it together seamlessly.

The most moving point of the retreat was on Sunday morning when the women shared how the Lord had touched their lives. The sisterhood of this group was so uplifting. The PWOC from Nellis AFB came from several denominational backgrounds. They attended various churches, but they were in complete unity. They illustrated perfectly the verses found Ephesians 4:4-6,
“ There is one body and one Spirit-- just as you were called to one hope when you were called-- one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” In the final moments of the retreat, we held hands and prayed. I felt the smile of the Lord upon us.

A big thank you to A’doria Smith, the event director from Nellis AFB Chapel--THANK YOU! Also, another big THANK YOU to Liz—the treasurer and emcee.

Finally, praise and glory to our Lord Jesus—He is amazing.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Friday--The Writers' Porch

Speaking Platform

Last Friday I received a question about building your speaking platform. “How do you get your foot (or even your little toe) in the door?”

My recommendation is to start small. Begin with your local MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) group or any other type of mom’s groups. Contact local churches to find out if they have a group. If yes, call the group leader and offer to speak for their group. They are usually in need of speakers and looking for a variety of topics. They may not have the budget to pay for a speaker, but the experience and exposure is invaluable.

Another way to begin is volunteer to speak at your home church. (It will be the hardest audience you will ever face.) Offer to teach a Bible study. Lead a small group. Teach Sunday school. Every bit of experience in front of an audience will help you to hone your skills. I started with leading a home Bible study and gradually my speaking skills led to a speaking ministry with Proverbs 31.

Record yourself and then listen to it. (This is not fun!) But as you listen to yourself you will hear the “um's”, the “really's” and all the other little mistakes we don’t recognize until we hear ourselves speak. Unless you are very thick-skinned, I do not recommend a spouse critique. I think we are too close to our husbands for them to advise fairly. Plus our feelings get hurt. My husband once said, “You sound like you are on drugs.” Thanks, honey. (BIG SMILE).

In the beginning, prepare one or two messages and concentrate on content and delivery. Then pray for the Lord to open the doors for you to get your little toe in the door.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Babbling about Books--Thursday

The Help
Kathryn Stockett

You will probably hear me say this often—“This is one of my favorite books!” The Help is certainly one of my favorite reads this year. A friend had heard great reviews about it, so I downloaded it to my Kindle.

I couldn’t put it down. It is a fiction book based on the civil rights issues in the 1960's. The story is compelling, but moves along with a humor and lightness. The main characters are funny and touching.

As the reader you turn page to page wondering, Where is the plot going to go? What is going to happen to these unique characters of Skeeter, a white woman, writing the memoirs of the two black maids Aibileen and Minny? The twists and turns surprise and delight the reader. It’s been a hit in the reading world. It’s currently #13 on the New York Times Best Sellers.

I am going to recommend this book to my book club. It’s an entertaining yet educational book. The Help is a wonderful book for discussion. It is not yet in paperback since it just released this year, so check it out of your local library—enjoy!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Girl2Girl with the PWOC

Women are the greatest! I spent the past weekend with the dearest group of ladies from PWOCNellis Air Force Base. (PWOC is an acronym that stands for Protestant Women of the Chapel). As only girls can do—we laughed, we cried, and of course we ate lots of great food together.

We delighted in the Lord—and I know He delighted in us, too. When women are together seeking God, becoming authentic and allowing God to change their hearts and attitudes—He shows up! He is indeed a risen Savior.

My heart holds a special place for women who are affiliated with our military. I was the wife of a military man for several years. My first child was born at Kadena Air Force Base in Okinawa, Japan. I understand the unique situations of wives whose husbands are gone on tours of duty. This weekend several of the women’s husbands were deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. It was my privilege and honor to serve them and minister to them as they sacrificially give to our country. But the greatest part of God’s kingdom is that they also blessed me. With joy in my heart, I drove home rejoicing in a God who loves us so much that He created friendships that happen over a weekend, but that will last for eternity. So cool!

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up! Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 (NIV)

Can I ask you a favor? Will you pray for troops and their families today? Pray for their safety and health. Thank God for the people who give so sacrificially. They need and deserve our prayers.

Until tomorrow,

Friday, May 1, 2009

Friday--The Writers' Porch

For the Love of Writing

Last Friday I listed the top ten steps for helping a writer find publication. The number one step is, Do you feel you have to write? If the answer is no, then stop and begin a new hobby. If you need to write like you need to breathe, then write and do not stop. Write because you love the flow of language, witty words and grammar, and not because you want to see your name in print on a book or magazine.

If you cannot not write, then one day you may see your name in print. When publication happens it usually take a long time (years) and with many rejection letters. Learn the craft and persist—do not give. Write because it is your calling, not because you desire a new career.

If you want to hone your writing and speaking skills, if you would like to meet with other writers and discuss the writing life, then I highly recommend coming to the Proverbs 31 Ministries She Speaks! Conference. This conference will help guide and encourage you as writer/speaker/ministry leader. Click on the "She Speaks" link for more information.