Monday, November 29, 2004

The Tree is Up

The Christmas tree is up. Bryan Duncan sings from the stereo... "And everyone would have a friend, and right would always win, and love would never end. This is my grown up Christmas list..."

I'm tired, hot and blurry eyed. We had a time with the tree lights this year. Picking the tree was easy. Found one we liked almost right away. Got it in the stand right (oh, now Johnny Mathis is singing, "I'll Have A Blue Christimas") on the first try.

Then the lights... the dreaded lights. I get them on only to find out half of one strand is burnt out. Tony took them off while I went to Walgreens to get new ones. You know, that should be the rule - just spend the ten bucks and buy new lights every year.

I'm moving away from my designer Christmas tree. I still use the burgundy and gold ornaments, but have also started collecting specialty ornaments from Hallmark or wherever. I haven't done any other decorating and the way I feel now, the tree is enough.

I'm tired and going to bed.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

A Heart of Thankgiving

It started this morning. I braved the scale. I did not gain weight! Amazing. A miracle. After all the Guate food. I felt for sure I'd put on ten pounds. But yeah, I'm didn't!

So, I took a long walk this morning, cleaned house, did laundry and edited today. Actually, today was a scene rewrite so that's a little slower and tedious. I'll reread tomorrow to make sure it's a sane scene.

Dog Injuries abound - I let the dogs out the back door this afternoon for their usual romp at 3:00. But Pal did his "I'm in trouble" crawl, so I knelt down outside the door and called him over using my sweet voice. He's such a weird dog. He comes over, I love on him and he goes out. I stand to go in. The screen door swings toward me and catches the back of my heel. Yeeeooww. It hurt like the dickens. It's a nice cut. Fortunately, no stitches this time.

Thankfulness - Thanksgiving is less than two days away. I'm thankful for so many things. The love and grace and peace of the Lord. The blood that covers me. The Cross. The Father. The Lover of my Soul.

I'm thankful for Tony, Dad, Mom, my brothers and sister, and their families. Grateful for Christmas songs and the memories they invoke. Who knew Johnny Mathis would forever tap a distant place in my heart? I'm thankful for sunny days, for after hurricane generators and ice. For the Pinky Promise gang, and for friends like Joan, Cassie, Carrie, Laura, Jer and Ezra, and Renee whose phone calls start and end the same way they did twelve years ago. For Sheree who for sure is living a future chic lit or romance by Rachel Hauck.

I'm thankful that I get to do what I love for a living - no matter how many times my confidences crashes and burns. I hear it's a sign of greatness. (ha!) Yeah, sure there's the odd occassion where someone's blog lands them a Random House contract, or where God downloads a story idea to someone, but for me, it's the flash of inspiration followed by hours of loving persperation. I'm thankful for my own writer's journey.

I'm thankful for Publix and convertible Cabrios. For the chance to always have a ten or five in my wallet to buy a Diet Coke. For the power of God's Word that never fails. For the fragrance of His sacrifice.

More tomorrow....

Monday, November 22, 2004

Random thoughts

Did you hear about Breakup Babe getting a book deal with Random House just from her blog? Her blog!

And here I am straining and planning, digging deep, thinking, praying, trying to come up with a new angle for my next story while editing an existing one I want to really shine. Add to that a testimony from a friend who told me she woke up one day and saw this ticker tape thingy pass over head and bam! just like that God downloaded an 8 book YA series.

I'm happy, really happy for these people. I'm starting a new blog though. Confessions of a Boring Boggger. Or, how to blog when your life is plain, every day, ordinary. I have it too good, I think. Really. My marriage is great, my family is great, my health is great, my friendships are great, the Lord is great and good to me! I mean, no angst, and pardon me, but I'll keep it that way.

Aren't their millions of other out there like me who would want to read about it? LOL. Probably not.

Ohio State Beats Michigan - Did I mention that the college football season is over and I MISSED it! I think I've seen three games this year. Whaahhhhh! I was so hoping the Ohio State, Michigan game would be this coming Saturday. But on the drive home from Miami Saturday night Mandy told me Ohio State beat Michigan. Poor Mandy, a Michigan fan, showed character by telling me. Disappointed, I think, "Okay, I'll catch the Florida, Florida State game." But , oh, no. That game was played Saturday too! Between hurricane's, conferences and mission trips, most Saturdays were filled. I'll have to catch the bowl games.

I Peter 1:2 - I have my favor answer. Peter writes, "... may grace and peace be your to the fullest measure." Grace is unmerited favor. I mean, think about it. Jesus dying on the cross for my sins is unmerited favor! Every thing about God the Father points to unmerited favor. God becoming man, God making a way for man to come to Him, God appeasing Himself with Himself. It's awesome. So, I have favor, unmerited favor in the form of Grace. I'll take it to it's fullest measure.

Editing - Did a good bit of editing today. I stopped when I had to rewrite a scene to include Macy's friends. I'll do that tomorrow when my head is clearer. I was reading some interviews by chic lit writers on an am really humbled to be joining them. I'm in great company, especially among the Steeple Hill Cafe authors. Wow! I'm excited. Tracey Bateman quoted me in her chic lit interview. Cool, eh?

Around the house - I got no housework done today. But I will tomorrow. Tis the plan. Cassie is still here which is super-duper fun. She can stay as long as she likes. Oh, it was so fun last night. I played the keyboard and sang, she played her upright bass. It has such rich, deep sounds. I will miss her when she goes to KC in January.

Well, I'm not feeling so great so I'm going to bed. Something I ate, yesterday, in America. Not Guatemala, America!

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Dorothy was right, there's no place like home

Home! Wide, paved roads, air, carpet, real Diet Coke, my own bed, ability to flush toilet paper, my dogs & cat, Cassie and I talking until 3:00 a.m., ah, home.

Santiago - Our time in Guatemala went very well. We shopped twice! The hardships of modern missionary life. We spent Monday and Tuesday up in Santiago where the people are direct descendents of the native Indians. They still live much like their ancestors. Tuesday afternoon we had a blast flying kites on a hilltop overlooking several moutainsides and villages. It was cold and windy. The local children ran and played with us. I gave my kite over to the cutest little guy named Victor! He could fly that kite. Of course, I couldn't resist launching into a loud version of "Let's Go Fly a Kite."

We gave up kite flying when the sun set and my Dr. Martens were covered with dust to go back to the missions camp. After Pat Black prepared a wonderful meal, Mike built a bonfire and we sat around, reflecting on our time in Santiago. After everyone shared, we payed for Mike, Pat and their team. That was really good.

Peronia & CasaVerde - Wednesday and Thursday we did VBS at CasaVerde. Long, exhausting days but the kids packed the House. We probably had a hundred kids each day - Wednesday the little ones, Thursday the preteens. The kids are so cute, enduring, living in squalor, torn, dirty clothes, but smiling, always smiling. I met this one little boy named Franco. I can't describe his cute, bright smile as he wondered the streets with his brother and cousin.

Variations on a theme - Greg wasn't feeling well Wednesday afternoon, so I went back to the missions house with him after lunch. With several kid free-missionary free hours ahead of me, I decided to take a steam and get a massage! Yes, right there on the missions field. I shopped on Monday, knew I would shop on Friday, why not a mid week pamper? All for fifteen bucks! Relaxed, I was ready to go back for the evening meeting. Meanwhile, Tony became a human jungle gym for the kids, and after we got back to the room, we had to ban his clothes to the bottom of the dirty clothes bag. I'm sure our missionary forerunners are turning over in their graves. Ha!

Wednesday & Thursday night we ministered to the youth of the Terrazas church, and at their childrens crusade. Again, good nights. The teens love us, hung around to talk to us, gave us gifts. Amazing. The pastor of that church is visiting New Covenant in January.

Friday we shopped more and visited the Presidential palace and the city square. There were pigeons every where which gave me opportunity to launch into another Mary Poppins number, "Feed the Birds."

That night we had a wonderful reflection dinner with Chris Schoff and the team. Here are my thoughts:

I went to be obedient to the Lord. But pieces of my heart do not remain in Guatemala. I'm not connected other than to the missionaries who serve there. I love coming along side of them, helping them in their ministry and reminding them we are for them. They are not forgotten. Of course, it's always good to laugh with the children. They are worth the trip.

We ate, ate and ate some more - Lots of Guatemalan food. Good, good food. I could fast for a week. I'm still full. I did get a great recipe for guacamole.

Photos - I'll load up photos. Check them out.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Hola, desde Guatemala!

It's a beautiful Monday morning in Guatemala City. The weather is fantastic. Cool and breezy, sunny, like a fall day in Kentucky or Tennessee. But the tree leaves are still green and lucious. Chris says this is the dry season and soon everything will be brown.

We arrived Friday and set up at the missions house. A very, very nice missions house with a pool, sauna, steam room and massage therapist. Welcome to missions life in the twenty-first century.

Saturday we did a children's ministry workshop all day. I stood-in for a team member who didn't come and taugh a fifteen minute workshop on story telling. That was fun. Greg introduced me as a famous writer. WhatEVer.... (Well, not yet anyway....;)

That was a long, very tiring day of mostly sitting around on hard metal chairs. We prayed for the people at the end which was good. Tangible presence of the Lord.

Sunday Gary, Greg and the kids headed up to Santiago and Mike Black's ministry. Tony and I went with Chris to Terazas to speak at Mario's church. We had a four and a half hour church service, so I guess it went well. The Lord opened up the prophetic during worship. It's weird 'cause it's so subtle and my emotions and head didn't seem to connect, but my spirit was awake and in-tune. The Lord was able to by-pass my human systems and use me to bless His Guatemalan beloveds! I found out two of the words given, that seemed rather generic, were in fact very specific.

One man and his wife were told by the Lord to pray over a financial situation for seven days, then He would give them the answer. Sunday was the seventh day, and the Lord gave them their answer. He said he would give the man ideas on how to make money, and how to teach people to make money. He would bless the man financially for the Kingdom of God and for his family. Amazing! Truly God is an awesome God!

Tony did a great job speaking, as always. Very good word on Christ dwelling in us! Col 1:27.

Sunday night I spoke in Peronia. Such a different type of environment than we are used to in the States. Fire crackers going off outside the window, children fussing, people talking, but I kept right on preaching.

Omar interpreted for us Saturday and Sunday morning. We met him over eleven years ago and now he is almost thirty and a successful professional. He'll be in Orlando next week with friends, so we invited him over for Thanksgiving dinner. They thought going to the Parks during an American holiday would be a good time - no people. Hahahahaha. We had to warn him.

So, yesterday Tony and I were with Chris without the rest of the team. That was nice because he's an old friend and we don't get to spend much time with him. So, spending a day, without all the others, renewed our friendship. I'm grateful to the Lord for this time.

Today we head up to Antigua for "tourist" day. We'll meet the team at the Blacks, then head out. We will stay in Santiago until Wednesday morning, then return to the missions house. We'll do VBS in Peronia. Friday is another tourist day. Tony and Greg think we should hang around the missions house and get massages. What a testimony for the kids to share. lol. Seriously, we're probably going to go to the city market to shop.

I'm grateful to be here. I didn't want to come for several reasons, but I know the Lord wanted me to be here - if for yesterday alone. Not for my sake, but for the Kingdom's sake. When I said "Yes" to the Lord and agreed to partner with Him to establish His Kingdom on earth, I did it with my whole heart. Not with conditions. Not with clauses I would go if the time was convenient for me. I said, "Yes!"

So, the timing wasn't ideal on this trip. But the Lord knew my schedule and needs way before I did. I am confident He will see me through, successfully. He's given me all I need to do the task at hand.

Well, better get cleaned up and ready for the day. Continue to pray.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Sometimes a wasted day is a good day

What, you say? A wasted day is a good day? Lemme explain. I spent the afternoon in the library editing my chic lit. Reworking, rewriting, thinking, digging deep. When it was time to leave, I walked out to my car thinking, "Well, it's okay, but not great. Have to keep working."

Then, it hits me. I know what the story needs. Yes, of course! It's perfect! I email my editor and she liked it, too. Yeah, I'm on my way. So, the afternoon is wasted in that I have to undo some of today's work, but now I know what to do.

So, you want to be a writer? ;)

I led worship tonight for the Healing Service. It was good, but my voice doesn't last as long as it used to. Singing for two to three hours used to be no problem. Now, my voice gets gruff and tired after two hours. We sang Arms of Love as the closing song and I could not get the volume I had during practice. I haven't been singing as much during the week, so I'll need to do that.

Tomorrow, is our Fire Dweller leadership meeting, then I guess I should get ready for Guate! I'm going to bed now so I can get up early and write. I was going to fix my edits tonight, but am too tired. I don't want to goof 'em up.

Peace out.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Day after day

This week is going by fast. I missed the RWA meeting tonight cause I needed to stay home and take care of stuff. Wow, just remembered. Dishes are in the sink! I had lunch with CJ and picked up my Premier Jewelry order.

Before meeting CJ, I ran an errand and was talking with a friend, Rose Marie, who told me she was leaving for California tomorrow to meet her son for the first time, ever! She gave him up for adoption 39 years ago. The son got in touch with her this spring and one thing led to another. Rose Marie was really nervous and I just put my arm around her and prayed. To my knowledge, she does not know the Lord, but she was crying when I said Amen. I know the Lord will be with her.

It rained today, so I built a fire in the fireplace and edited. It was nice and cozy. Greg came by to borrow the truck so he and Chris could get a new washing machine. Between the hurricanes and one of their sons leaving the water running in a plugged up sink - thus the flood - they are getting a new kitchen. Woo hoo.

I finished Confessions of a Shopaholic. Very good. Now I need to get the sequal. I love Sophie Kinsella's style.

I'm going to bed.

Monday, November 08, 2004

Today, we celebrated

Signed - I signed my Steeple Hill contract. Big smile. Tony and I celebrated by going out to dinner at Texas Road House. First time I've really celebrated a contract. I'm so grateful Karen, Krista and Joan believed in me and this book.

Speaking of... worked on edits today. But, it's going well. I feel good about how the story is shaping up.

Still Boarded Up - Driving down San Philippo tonight, convertiblized, I marveled that some houses are still boarded up. I don't know how people can stand it. I mean, the front windows are boarded. Not the garage windows, or the back windows. The front windows. It's like living in a cave. When we came home after Frances, it was midnight and raining, but we took the boards off.

Football - I have not had near enough college football this season. Not one Ohio State game, nor Big Ten. So sad. Between the hurricanes and busy Saturdays, I haven't had time. Plus, OSU stinks this year, so we are not getting any of their games down here. I don't have ESPN and even the love of football won't make us buy a bigger cable package.

Guatemala - Leaving Friday for 8 days. Tony and I speak Sunday twice. We are going to team teach for the first time in awhile, and with a translator! Should be interesting. We will help with the kids VBS and ministry times, of course. But we don't have any other specific chores. I'm looking forward to seeing Chris Schoff and spending time with him. I'll try to blog before we go, but we shall see.

Sunday, November 07, 2004

The Art of Hearing God

I attended Streams Ministries (John Paul Jackson 101 Course, The Art of Hearing God Thursday night, Friday and Saturday ALL day. Literally. While much of the course was basic, it was great to be reminded of every day things we forget in our walk with the Lord. The biggest "every day thing" we must have? Character! Character, Character. Character matters.

The big take away for me this weekend was a reminder to Listen to others. Really pay attention to people's heart and words. Also, to watch for my response, maybe even "fast" words. Our culture is so used to venting, speaking, emoting when we should really just be silent. One of the instructors gave a great example on listening. Had me laughing even today because it's so reflective of our society. He said, "You're talking to a friend at church who's telling you he really had break through with his boss this week, and as soon as he stops talking you say, 'Did I tell you about my Throne Room experience?'"

I laugh because it's so true. I used to call it Spiritual Olympics. Everyone telling their stories and after awhile it just sounds like one-upmanship.

At the end of the seminar all the Streams people prayed for us. I had dinner Friday night with three of the instructors, so they knew a little about me, but their prayers were good. But this one woman did not know me at all. I think I said "Hi" to her. When she prayed for me she prayed for "the stories and the music." Pretty impressive. God is so good.

But the consistant word I got during prayer sessions this weekend was relax, rest, and that God's given me all I need to do what He's called me to do. I know this will surprise some of you (ha!), but I'd been fretting over my next chic lit. I have a lot of ideas, but I'm not sure they are good enough. But, driving up to the church for Saturday's seminar, I decided, "Lord, you are in control. You can give me stories, contracts, whatever. I just want to be faithful to You." I don't want writing or any "thing" to steal my peace and take away my passion for Jesus.

Oh, that was another take away from the weekend: Peace is the potting soil of revelation. We have to be rooted and grounded in the love and peace of the Lord.

A few laughs - I had a few laughs sitting next to Tina Z and Helen.

Reading - I'm reading Confessions of a Shopaholic. Very funny. The British terms make it even funnier.

Editing - Good headway on my chic lit edits last week, but I'm still on the first part of the book. I'm ironing out some plot and timing issues. I definitely think the story is stronger, but am a little embarrassed I submitted it with the weaknesses. But, I'm learning and next time will be better. I'm learning the balance between trusting God and leaving my writing career up to Him, and "doing" the work. I have to do the work, sure, but He has to lead the way. :)

Hello to my son, Eric. I love you and miss you. Thanks for calling the other night.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

It's official...

... I'm procastinating. I don't know why, if I did I wouldn't be procrastinating. I am a little tired. I stayed up until after 1:00 a.m. editing and checking on the election. Then got up at 6:30 for prayer. Does that qualify me for sainthood?

My confidence is a little low. What is it with writers and low confidence. Some one send me an e-slap: ;)

After I came home from prayer, I had some ACFW stuff to do, and a friend called. Then I felt grody from being up so long, so I took a bath. (Though I did pop into the shower this morning at 6:40.)

Now I'm eating low fat potato chip crumbs. Can you say desperation?

I'd better get going before Oprah temps me at 4:00. We have youth tonight. Then tomorrow night through Saturday night I'm at the John Paul Jackson 101 "Hearing God" seminar. I'm looking forward to it. I'm taking this so I can qualify for his 201 and 202 seminars on dream interpretation.

Ok, okay, I'm writing, I'm editing, I'm writing, I'm editing....

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

A writer, a geek, and a coffee house

I went to House of Joe's after prayer this morning to check email and work on Anywhere edits. Planning to meet CJ for lunch, I didn't want to go all the way back home. As usual, someone is sitting on the couch next to the outlet, so I sat at the counter.

I order an Irish Breakfast tea from A.J., plug in and boot up. A few minutes later, this guy comes breezin' in. He sets up with a nice new Mac. He tells me about grabit and other down load programs. "Wow," I say, sorta interested.

"I'm a geek," he says without turning red faced. He was a pretty interesting guy. Lived all over, in London and Japan. I'm trying to write between conversation bits, email and IM's. CJ IM'd to determine a lunch time and place.

Lesson learned. Writers should not go to places where their might be Geeks.

After lunch with CJ where I choose $100 worth of free jewelry from my Premier party, I stopped by Barnes -n- Noble to use Tony's gift card. Twenty whole dollars for books. I totally went in the buy Bridget Jones Diary 2, but remembered I wanted Shopaholic, and then I saw Sweet Potato Queens' Book of Love and put down BJD 2. I mean, after all, I do live in the USA, and I do live in the South! Though, I do love BJD's voice.

I voted on the way home from lunch and Barnes -n- Noble. The poll was busy, but I didn't have to wait in line. I'm happy to note the President is leading in Florida. Apparently, the I-4 corridor voted this year - Daytona to Tampa. Yeah, baby. Redneck country. I wonder how many pollsters call "Bubba"and ask him how he was votin'?

Cassie came over to use the "prayer room." Our guest room. She's praying and preparing for her teaching tomorrow, and watching the election results with us. I think I'm going to go into my room to edit Anywhere. Watching too much news is bad for me. Fogs up my rose colored glasses.

I walked again to night. Third night in a row! Ain't ya proud? It was dark on my way home, again. I've got to leave the house by 5:00 to beat the night!

Well, Presidential election aside, the edits must go on!

Monday, November 01, 2004

Put your left hand out, no your right hand, no left

I'm not used to the time change yet. Twice during my nightly walk, (ok, not every night, but some nights), it's been dark by the time I turned toward home.

Tonight, a car goes by when I'm on Weldon, almost home. The car stops. YIKES. Backs up, DOUBLE YIKES, and a guy sticks his head out the passenger window. But I'm not afraid. I'm carrying a twig for defense.

"Hey, can you tell me how to get back to San Phillipo?"

Sigh. Sure, I can do that.

"Turn around," I said, "go to the second stop sign and turn left." Now, I'm motioning with my left arm, telling him over and over, turn left. "The road curves around into San Phillipo."

"Got it. Go to the second stop sign and turn left."

The driver turns the car around. I watch them drive away and realize they need to turn right! Facing the opposite direction, motioning with my left hand, I said left. But it's right!

"Turn right," I yell. They keep driving. "Hey! Turn right." I run after them, sorta, two steps, maybe three. "Right. Hey, turn right."

They turned left. I ran the rest of the way home. Tony say's I should wear a sign around my neck, "Warning, can't tell her right from her left."