Thursday, July 31, 2008


I'm one of those people who needs margins in my life, plenty of time and space to separate activities. I'm making a margin right now.

I'm coming down off 4 days of learning, talking, encouragement, and reconnecting at the OCW Summer Coaching Conference for Christian writers. I sat at the feet of Melody Carlson for hours on end, gleaning from her wisdom and experience. I sat at the dinner table with editors from publishing houses like Kregel, Bethany, Focus on the Family, and Harvest House. I talked with agents and writers and teachers, Christians all.

These conferences are always so charged with emotion. It takes courage to take a story out of your head, put it on paper and hand it over to be either enjoyed or rejected. Vulnerability doesn't always feel good.

But these words are treated gently at OCW. Gently and with grace.

Tomorrow I will start back to work, polishing, creating, writing again. But for this afternoon, I'm just going to breathe.

Friday, July 25, 2008

50 things about me

This one's from Shelli. Play along if you want.

1. Do you like blue cheese? yes
2. Have you ever been to Yellowstone Park? Yes
3. Do you own a gun? no.
4. What are your favorite songs? Be Thou my Vision, Blessed be Your Name, Before the Throne of God Above
5. Do you get nervous before doctor appointments? no
6. What do you think about hot dogs? It's my goal in life to never eat one again.
7. Favorite Christmas song? O Come, O Come Emmanuel
8. What do you prefer to drink in the morning? Irish Breakfast Tea
9. Can you do push ups? the girly kind
10. What was the name of your first pet? Yoyo
11. What's your favorite piece of jewelry? the necklace my husband got me in South Africa
12. Favorite hobby? writing, scrapbooking, gardening, reading... how am I supposed to choose?
13. Secret weapon to get the opposite sex? apparently, all I had to do was exist :-)
14. Do you have ADD? nope.
15. What one trait do you hate about yourself? lack of self discipline
16. What's your middle name? Kay
17. Name 3 thoughts you are thinking at this exact moment? my foot itches, I need to call the massage therapist, how did our bank account empty so fast this month?
18. What did you buy yesterday? Nothing!
19. Favorite vegetable? anything fresh out of the garden
20. Current worry right now? next week's writing conference commute
21. Current hate right now? the constant mess
22. Favorite place to be? on foreign soil
23, What did you do to bring in the New Year? pretended it was Christmas Eve
24. Name three people who will complete this? Sandi, Dad, Lori
25. Believe in God? Absolutely
26. Do you have an unusual skill? not really
27. What shirt are you wearing? blue t-shirt
28. Do you like sleeping on satin sheets? I don't think I ever have
29. Can you whistle? yes-but not a dog whistle, which I'd love to learn
30. Favorite color? greens and blues
31. Would you be a pirate? no, but my kids would
32. What songs do you sing in the shower? it varies
33. Favorite girl's name. I'm not allowed to show favorites on this one.
34. Favorite boy's name? right now it would have to be Elijah Hugh
35. What's in your pocket right now? no pocket
36. What made you laugh last? sliding down the water slide with my daughter
37. Best bed sheets as a child? well-worn
38. Worst injury you've ever had? I might have broken my ankle, but it's up for debate
39. Who is your loudest friend? Shelli :-)
40. Do you like where you live? mostly
41. How many TV's do you have? 2, soon to be 1
42 . How many dogs do you own? one
43. What would you do if you hit a deer while driving? I've done this while driving a borrowed car. I think I waited to see if the deer would get off the road (she did), then I drove to where we were staying muttering "Oh no, oh no, oh no" or something like that until I saw my husband and then I started bawling.
44. What is your favorite book? I can't choose.
45. What is your favorite candy? I like a bunch of kinds, but right now, Whoppers
46. Favorite Sports Team? the USA in the upcoming Olympics
47. What were you doing at 12 am last night? reading
48. What was the first thing that you thought of when you woke up this morning? Good-bye Honey
49. What songs do you want played at your funeral? You choose. Do you think I should donate my body to science?
50. Does someone have a crush on you? I hope so.

The High Dive

Watching the kids at swimming lessons this week reminds me of my early times at the pool. I was afraid to get my face wet, afraid to open my eyes under water, afraid to jump off the edge of the pool.

And the queen mother of all, afraid to jump off the high dive. From the water, the high dive didn't look so high, but as I climbed up the ladder, I found myself questioning the decision to climb. Once someone else started climbing the ladder behind me, it was too late to turn back. You don't want to known as the kid who chickened out on the high dive.

From the end of the board, it felt like the world was swaying. The bottom of the pool looked so far away. So many thing could go wrong. What if the water didn't slow my fall? What if I did a belly flop? What if I accidentally inhaled?

I fear a lot more things now that give me that same feeling. Boring grownups things like what if my husband loses his job or what if my kids don't turn out right or what if homeschooling was the most colossal mistake?

I think the high dive reminds me that often the fear of something is worse than the threat. As far as I know, no kid ever died jumping off the high dive at our pool. And in my past experience, there's never been a time, no matter what my circumstances, that God didn't sustain me until my feet could touch the bottom.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

A Blast from the Past

Ever have those moments that remind you of way back when? Like when you hear a song you haven't heard in a while? Or smell hot tar that reminds you of summer walks with Grandpa?

I stepped into my childhood yesterday at the Bonanza Shooting Gallery. It was exactly like the gallery I used to love to shoot at down at the Olde Tyme Mall. Only both of us are about 30 years older. I've got to say, much as I hate to see myself age, at least I'm not musty, dusty, and threadbare like the skunk that kept spraying me every time one of the kids hit his target. In the scheme of things, I've fared better than the animatronic, state-of-the-art (in the 70's) shooting gallery.

The grand prize, then and now, was to hit the target on the player piano player and make him have to play.

I'm not sure the kids caught on to the wonder and charm of this blast from the past. The fun of it was not in the actual experience, but in the memories.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Third Place Causualty

Most Americans have a third place. Your first place is your home. Second place is work (though my second place is church). And third place is that home away from home where you feel comfortable hanging out.

My third place closed down.

Cafe D'vine was a coffee shop connected to our local Christian bookstore. I could get a cup of chai or a blackened chicken wrap and type away at my work in progress. Or I could meet a friend there for a leisure chat. I could walk next door to the bookstore without stepping foot outside. It had a fireplace, a lending library, and a whole room full of smiling faces.

I was in there a month ago. The place was full. But today when I went, the sign on the door said that because of the economic downturn, Cafe D'vine is closed.

Where will I find another third place that's so perfect for me? Will it be Bubble Fusion, the funky east meets west tea shop? I doubt it. The purple suede psychiatrist couches don't exactly lend themselves to open conversation. Another tea house up the street just closed down, too. Brewed Awakenings is too far, Starbucks is too noisy, the library doesn't encourage visiting.

I'll probably end up at Barnes and Noble, though its corporate feel lacks the homey atmosphere of Cafe D'vine.

Do you have a third place? Tell me about it. And enjoy it while you can.

Thursday, July 17, 2008


I've confessed to being a list maker before. I love the sense of accomplishment when everything gets crossed off the list. I like the security of knowing I'm not forgetting anything.

Turns out, my youngest is a list maker, too. Before she even knew that words required vowels, she was scrawling out lists. I'm constantly finding scraps of paper around the house.

One recent list read:

Another, an 8 1/2" x 11" paper, had one small word in the center:

The other day, she was going to spend the night with a friend. "Pack enough clothes for 2 days," I said.

"Why don't you just write down what I need on a list?" she suggested, "Then you won't have to keep saying it over and over."

Why don't I just do that? So, I did.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Made For Each Other

Did you ever see such happiness on one face, such trust on the other? Welcome to the world, Elijah! We can't wait to meet you.

To see more pictures of my new nephew, visit his daddy's site.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Two Advantages

Two good things about losing 3 teeth in a week (according to the loser)

1) You can slurp gaspetti real good.

2) You can drink through a straw without having to put it between your teeth.

I wish I'd had my camera!

We took the six-year old on an impromptu outing today, to an outdoor fair with booths and games and bouncy houses. She took her turn on the blow-up slide, raced me on the obstacle course, and jumped for a few minutes in the bouncy castle.

The last choice was the inflated Velcro wall. She watched another little girl dress in a funny suit, run at the wall and bounce off.

"You wanna try?" I asked.

"Mm-hmm." She kicked off her flip-flops and let the attendant help her into a Velcro suit meant for someone 6 times her weight. She couldn't even move. No way could she jump.

"Maybe I should throw her against the wall," her daddy joked.

The attendant said he could. The child gave her approval.

"One, two, THREE!" He tossed her out and up.

And she stuck.

Like a fly on flypaper. Like a starfish on a rock.

She had to be peeled down one limb at a time. She laughed at first, then went quiet.

In the car on the way home, she gave her opinion. "I stuck better than anyone else!"

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Name That Tune

I've known for a long time that different songs share the same tune. The ABC Song, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, and Baa Baa Black Sheep, for example, all roll along to the same notes.

The Battle Hymn of the Republic has been used as a tune for all kinds of irreverent songs.

Here's one I'd never noticed before.

I may never march in the infantry,
ride in the cavalry,
shoot the artillery.
I may never fly o'er the enemy,
But I'm in the Lord's army!

And, equally fun to sing, but not in church...

Great big globs of greasy, grimy gopher guts,
Mutilated monkey meat,
Chopped up parakeet.
Alligator eyes swimming in a pool of blood,
and I forgot my spoon!

I'll never be able to sing the first song again without ending it with, "But I remembered my straw!"

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

A Touch of Honesty

Alas, not every dinner is as perfect as last night's. Tonight, the menu looked more like this:

Guy: 2 slices of leftover pizza, the last slice of blueberry pie
Me: A glass of malted milk, a handful of raw kale, 1 asparagus spear, 4 grapes, a chocolate bar
Child 1: a kiwi and something else, I think
Child 2: a cup o'noodles, a handful of strawberries
Child 3: a peanut butter and honey sandwich, potato chips

I feel neither as full nor as satisfied as I did last night. I'm not near as proud of my prowess as gatherer or provider. But the random stuff in my fridge is mostly gone.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Hunters and Gatherers

I derive great pleasure from placing food on the table that I planted, harvested, and prepared.

I am a gatherer.

In the past few days, I've picked strawberries, spinach and lettuce from my garden, and harvested kale and radishes along with my mother and mother-in-law from a friend's garden.

Tonight's dinner (eaten outside in the sunshine which has finally shown its face), consisted of Walla Walla sweet onions and kale, a green salad from the garden with fresh radishes, blueberry pie (picked last summer), and fresh-baked baguettes.

The meal would have been incomplete, though, without the provision of the hunter. The piece de resistance was a moose roast, a melt-in-your-mouth cut of meat that would never have made it to table if it was up to us gatherers.

I suspect each of us is, to some extent, either a hunter or gatherer. Are you?

Thursday, July 03, 2008

I Miss the Rains Down in Africa

I lay awake last night listening to the thunderstorm, the first night storm in over a year.

I miss the rains down in Africa - the boiling clouds overhead, the hope of relief from the heat, the crack of thunder and the drumbeat of rain hitting the hard, red clay.

Last night, I was homesick.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Time Flows Downhill

Like a snowball that starts at the top of a hill and gains speed as it grows and descends, time seems to accelerate as it rolls along.

For those of you marking time with me, my twins will turn 13 tomorrow. I think my pregnancy with them lasted longer than this whole 13 years. I want to hold back the clock. I want to deny that their time at home is more than 2/3 done, that in 2 years they'll be begging for their driving permits, that they might be taller than I am any day (I know - no big accomplishment!).

I want to dig my heels in and slow time down, but I know it doesn't work that way.

I wonder if Methuselah thought the last 300 years of his life flew by in a wink. I wonder if Adam said, "I'm 412... no, wait. Make that 422. I lost count."

I wonder if Jessica will wish away being 13 in order to land on 14, her ideal year. She wants to be 14 forever.

Don't we all.