Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Missing Dad

Wish you were here!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


I love this time of year when winter has given up its icy grip and summer has not yet smothered me. Grass and plants grow so fast I think I could see it if I only had the patience to watch. The fig and walnut trees put out new leaves every day. Beans and peas and all the other little seeds, tired of laying in the dark beds, are stretching out their arms toward the sun. By next week, the spinach and lettuce will be ready to be turned into salads of succulent baby greens.

By the end of this week, the kids should be finished with their school work. They can already taste the freedom, though the last few pages of math and science hold them down.

I know how they feel!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Put One Foot In Front of the Other

Ever since I wrote my silly poem the other day, I've had the song "Put One Foot In Front of the Other" in my head. Christmas re-runs in May. Yikes!

LoveMercy noted that my hiking moral seemed to parallel my writing life. No coincidence there. Last month I was at a meeting of the local chapter of ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers). We went around the room and everyone shared their recent accomplishments. One friend finalled in a prestigious contest. 6 or 8 had books under contract. 2 had their new books, recently published, to share with the group. 1 had just received a photo of her new book cover. 1 had signed with an agent.

I unlocked the door for the meeting. That's it.

I went home from that night wondering why in the world I've wasted so much time and energy on a dream that may never come true. I was ready to give up.

But now, with a manuscript out there being evaluated as a finalist, I've found new energy. I'd love to have the whole manuscript ready and polished for the summer OCW conference, so I've given myself a strict goal of how many words I have to write each day in order to have the manuscript ready.

2000 words a day, no excuses, until the end of June.

Wish me luck!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Angel's Rest

Climbing the mountain,
I switched forth and back.
With shoes on for hiking
and water and packs.

Only 5 miles,
but oh what a hike.
Made me wish for a zipline,
a plane or a bike.

Exhausting and sweaty,
I started to doubt
I couldn't continue.
I was all tuckered out.

So I sat by the path,
too fatigued to stand up.
Too ashamed to turn back
from so close to the top.

Would I make it or fail?
Was I strong or too weak?
When I turned the next corner,
I had conquered the peak!

moral: Don't give up. You're almost there.

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Thursday, May 14, 2009

A Little News

Usually, when I get a call from a stranger, it's someone from the police guild, my alma mater, or another non-profit. This morning, though, I got a different sort of phone call.



"I'm calling to tell you your novel has been selected as a finalist in our unpublished novelists' contest."

"Oh, that's great," I said. But inside I was shouting, "Yippee! Whoot! Whoot!"

I have 2 days to take the judges' suggestions and return a polished draft of my work. Winning would be great, but even placing in this contest gives me a foot in the door when talking with agents and editors this summer.


This was a game going around Facebook a couple of months ago, but I didn't want to be too much of a follower. After a couple of months, it's a retro game, right? So that's cool?

How to Play: Google your name and the word NEEDS. (So I google "Patty needs.") Check out the top ten results. Share them here if you want. Or don't.

Here are mine.

1. Patty needs no introduction.
2. Patty needs to understand that there are three objectives she must stick to or else her planning will fail.
3. Patty needs Jenny Craig, weighs "2254 lbs."
4. Patty needs to know that God's judgment is not based on popularity.
5. Patty needs a job that overpays!
6. Patty needs a home.
7. Patty needs to grow up and rethink her friendships, her ethics and her ability.
8. Patty needs a drinking gang.
9. Patty needs help with new glasses.
10. Patty needs to fill out her profile but is not feeling sassy enough to do it.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Living History

I have a theory that if you don't tell your kids something is boring, they won't know it is. It's worked for our history lessons over the years.

Learning about the Civil War? Go to a battle re-enactment.

Lewis and Clark? Stand on the places they stood on their trip West.

Visiting Nana in New Mexico for a month? Be sure to go fossil hunting, try on different outfits at the Indian Cultural Center, and visit as many pueblos as you can.

Can't make a trip? Read excellent books that relate history as a story, not just a series of facts.

We've reached the end of our history curriculum and I'm getting worried about what we'll do next. Now that the kids will be doing high school level work, does it have to be boring? One of them recently wrote a paper about Alexander Hamilton and, I'll tell you, there's not much information about him that's written in an interesting way. By the time I was done helping her with her paper, I remembered very clearly the glazed-eyes boredom that always used to come over me in history class.

In fact, that's ALL I remember from my history classes - how boring they were.

So, the challenge is, how do we take history to the next level without losing its story, the part that makes it live?


Monday, May 11, 2009

Standing Thirsty at the Source

I can't imagine a thirsty man standing by a spring of glistening water and leaning down every so often to take a tiny little sip. Still thirsty, he stands back up and refuses (or forgets) to drink. 

I've been that man lately, reading a Bible verse here, sampling a story there, but refusing to quench my thirst. The other day a friend and I opened our Bibles to read a single verse and I felt the refreshment. I wanted to open my mouth and drink in huge gulp fulls of cool relief. It's all there, everything I need to eat or drink, and I know it's there. But I stand thirsty at the source. Thank God the outflowing of his truth and grace don't depend on my consistency.

Friday, May 08, 2009

At the Feet of Giants

Sometimes giants come in small packages, like Jeanne, who at 4 foot something is one of the few people I can look down on. Jeanne has lived a long, productive life. She spent her first six years in Africa, back when a trip to Africa meant a weeks-long voyage on an ocean liner. She first came into our lives as a great supporter of our mission. She was the lady who, tirelessly, helped send out newsletters and who wrote thank you notes on our behalf. She was at the hospital when our first children were born and declared herself their grandmother. Just this week, she completed her memoires. She's not selling them, but I'm looking forward to being one of the few recipients of this very special book.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

From the Pages of History

How often do you get a chance to sit at the feet of someone who made history? Someone who is actually part of a chapter in your history textbook? We're not hoity toity cultural snobs, but when we heard Desmond Tutu was coming to town, we bought our tickets to see him right away.

Desmond Tutu changed the face of Africa.

Our first visit to Africa was to Johannesburg, South Africa, a place torn by the injustices of Apartheid. We were given the privilege of staying in the homes of three families - one English, one Afrikaans, and one coloured. I couldn't tell you the names of the white families we stayed with, though they were kind and hospitable. But the Africas (yes, that was their name), made us feel like family in their home in a coloured township. I think we were the first whites to ever stay there, or at least it felt that way as people watched us walk down the street. We drove through the streets of Soweto and saw the fields where blacks were "necklaced" with burning tires. We saw the hospital not far away where great advances in organ transplants were taking place... for whites. Meanwhile, our host spent over a week in the sparse ward of an under-equipped hospital waiting for someone to see him about a kidney problem.

So, to sit and listen to Desmond Tutu, a man who worked to end Apartheid, whose work on the Truth and Reconciliation Council in newly integrated South Africa helped that country seek forgiveness above retribution, was indeed a privilege.

And beyond being a privilege, it was a pleasure. Despite all his honorary degrees, his Nobel Peace Prize, his endless list of accomplishments, Archbishop Tutu has a terrific sense of humor and an ability to connect with a crowd. I'll cherry pick a little to keep the pearls of wisdom I agree with and leave the rest, but on the whole the evening was enlightening, interesting and fun! The highlight, for me, was hearing him pray the prayer of St. Francis of Assisi, first in English, then in an African tongue (I'm guessing was Xhosa because of the clicks), before he led us in a chorus of Amens.

The Prayer of St. Francis
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love.
Where there is injury, pardon.
Where there is doubt, faith.
Where there is despair, hope.
Where there is darkness, light.
Where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master, grant that I may not
so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved, as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive.
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned.
It is in dying to self that we are born to eternal life.

Forgiveness above retribution. Peace over war. Truth. Amnesty. Love for each other. Amen.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Hidden Treasure

I picked up a book from my nightstand this morning, one of those that's been shuffled to the bottom of the stack over and over for the past 3 months. One I wasn't too excited to read.

And you know what? I think it's going to be good. I love finding a hidden treasure buried amongst the books I already know and love. It's like finding money in your pocket when you pull out your winter coat in November.

Shh! I'm reading!