Ship Shape

The ship’s sail looked dingy and tattered. It, and the ship itself, had seen much better days. Yet it stood almost proudly in the marina, like a symbol to the other boats in the arena.

My sons were always more interested in the newer, shiner crafts when we visited. But me, I was drawn to the old ship. No matter how many times I’d seen it, it captivated me. The boys would probably say that was because the ship was one of the few things in our home town that was actually older than their father. I think my wife is the one that put that idea into their heads.

The ship was a piece of history. It had seen more than I ever would. Each hole on the sail said so much. Yet it had survived. It still lived.

Again, that was more than I could say for myself at times.

The plaques in front of the ship told a little of its story. It had been battle scared as it defended our country. On her last voyage, only three crew members had survived and brought her home. Each scratch on the hull, each tear in the sail was displayed as badges of honor. It had to be a lonely life, being the only one left.

It was a lonely life.

I had to tear my eyes away from the old ship and her torn sail. My boys needed my attention. If something happened to them….

They were laughing over the antics of the ducks playing among the boats. The oldest, my nine year old, had his mother’s laugh. My seven year old had her smile. And the baby, my four year old, had her red hair and blue eyes. For a moment, it was like she was still there. Smaller versions of her, a more boyish version, perhaps, but  still her. Spending time with them was the best was way I could have her alive.

It was not the way I wanted her, but it was the best I could have.

Review of OCEANS APART by Karen Kingsbury

   Conner Evans has a perfect life in Florida with his wife and two daughters. A highly respected airline pilot, Conner feels beyond blessed. News of an air tragedy over the Pacific Ocean reminds him how fragile life can be. But it’s been so long since he flew in that area of the world that Conner is sure he knew no one on that flight. He goes on with his life, not letting that one plane crash affect his life. Until the phone call from a strange lawyer. There was someone on the crashed plane that Conner knew, a flight attendant he had shared one night with nearly a decade ago. She has left Conner with the one thing that she loved and cherished in this world- her eight year old son, Max. The son Conner never knew existed.

   Over the past five years I’ve read many Karen Kingsbury books. I thought I had reached the point where I would not have another “new” book by Karen Kingsbury to read until she published another. In fact, I was so disappointed with her most recent series that I was not sure I wanted to read anymore. Then I came across “Oceans Apart”.

And I suddenly remembered all of the reasons I have enjoyed Karen Kingsbury’s work.

Her characters are real people, who just happen to be Christians. Conner has lived his life by hiding his indiscretion from his wife. Michele, his wife, suffers from self-esteem issues and forgiveness. They are not perfect, but they still love God. They have made mistakes, but they still know God loves them. They are enough like me to make them feel like friends. I loved reading about them.

Of course, saying that I read about these characters at all is not completely accurate. I didn’t read “Oceans Apart” so much as I listened to it. “Oceans Apart” is one of the books that I’ve recently listened to on The narrator, Joyce Beam, brought the characters to life, just as much as Karen Kingsbury’s words did. It was a very enjoyable experience, one I would highly recommend.

The Birthday

Jillian woke up early that Friday morning, earlier than she meant to. No matter what she tried, she couldn’t get back to sleep. Maybe that was for the best. The dream she was having were not exactly pleasant.

She climbed out of bed and headed for the kitchen. After starting a pot of coffee for her husband, she poured herself a glass of orange juice. Then Jillian made her way to the window in the dining room.

This was her favorite spot in the whole house. Rick had fallen in love with the basketball net and the patio with built in BBQ grill. But all Jillian needed was one look at the cushioned bench and the lakeside view beyond the window to know that she wanted to live here.

She spent countless moments at this spot. Jillian’s Bible and notebook were kept on the window ledge. Looking over the lake as the sun rose over the trees, she felt close to God. She couldn’t begin to count the times she’d come here to pray for her sons of thank God for his protection over her family.

Not this morning, though. The only thing on her mind was the date-October 14- and how she would ever get through it.

She didn’t know how long she had been sitting there. The sitars had slowly disappeared as the sky beyond the lake changed from midnight blue to indigo to varying shades of pink. Subtle noise from the kitchen told her that Rick was awake. Jillian sipped her juice. She figured she should see if he needed help with breakfast, but she couldn’t tear herself away from the view outside her window. More than ever before, she needed to feel God, needed to see that he was real.

Rick slipped quietly behind Jillian and kissed her cheek. “Good morning,” he said softly.

“Hmmmm,” Jillian said. Her gazed never moved from the sunrise.

“Beautiful morning.”


“You ok?” rick asked after a few silent moments.

Jillian turned to face her husband. “Am I ok?” she asked, hoping she heard the words wrong. How could she be ok this morning? For that matter, how could he?

“Mom, where’s my soccer short’s?”

“I can’t find my chemistry book.”

The voices were followed by two sets of footsteps pounding down the hall. With Cameron and Reese awake, Jillian’s quiet time was over for the day. With one final glare at her husband, who looked as if he didn’t know what he possibly could have done wrong, she headed for the kitchen. She picked up the chemistry book from beside the telephone book, and then headed to the laundry room to pull the shorts from the dryer. She handed them to the boys and headed back to her bedroom. In a way she was glad to get moving. The sooner the day started, the sooner it could end.

Jillian pulled on an old faded pair of jeans and a comfy old sweatshirt, and then rejoined her family in the kitchen. She picked a blueberry bran muffin, only half listening to the conversation around her. At that moment, she wasn’t concerned with soccer playoffs of chemistry exams. She didn’t feel like talking about her errands or adding items to the grocery list. All she wanted was to spend the day in bed, alone with her tears.

Or maybe sharing her tears with Rick, who still seemed to not know the significance of the date.

Curling up was not option. Jillian had too many responsibilities. She didn’t have the luxury of hiding. Not that she could hide from the pain.

There were reminders of that pain everywhere she went. A teller at the bank was celebrating a birthday. Baby week at the supermarket meant infant pictures in every aisle. She passed a mother and daughter walking hand-in-hand as she made her way to the dry cleaners. Jillian couldn’t help feeling that she should have been celebrating a special birthday. One of those infant faces should have belonged to her daughter. She could have been holding her little girls hand as she learned to walk.

Through it all, she wondered if Rick was having the same thoughts. Did he know what today was? Did he think about her at all?

Was he so wrapped up in the boys that he had forgotten about their daughter?

Jillian pulled into the driveway late that afternoon, mentally exhausted. She managed to keep the tears at bay, and now that she was home, she was ready to stop fighting them. Yet she couldn’t rest. She still needed to cook dinner, wash laundry, bake peanut butter brownies for Reese and head out to Cameron’s game.

As if on autopilot, she carried Rick’s suits to their closet, and picked up laundry from Cameron and Rees’s rooms. It wasn’t until she had filed and started the washing machine and began to look for brownie ingredients that she looked toward the dining room table.

In the center of the table was a crystal vase, filled with pink flowers.

They reminded Jillian of the wildflowers Reese used to pick for her when he was younger. She noticed a card on them, and reached for it. The name “Mackenzie” was printed across the front. Jillian’s hands trembled as she slipped the card out of the envelope. Tears blurred her vision, but she was able to make out the words.

“Happy first birthday, My Mackenzie. I will always love you. Love Daddy.”

Jillian felt a hand on her shoulder. She hadn’t heard anyone, but she knew it was Rick behind her. He gentle rested his chin on her shoulder. “I haven’t forgotten,” he whispered. With arms around her, Jillian couldn’t fight the tears any longer. She turned around and buried her face against his chest and let the tears come.

Embracing Issues

Something occurred to me this morning.  While I was sitting here writing, I began to feel like satan is really trying to attack me.

Back in December, I had back surgery.  There are issues from the back problem that necessitated the surgery that have not gone away yet.  Some days, these issues are a bigger problem than on other days.  Today is one of the days when the issues seem huge.  They almost seem big enough that there is not much point in fighting them.  A part of me just wants to curl up in bed, hide under my covers, and just hide from everything.  Let the problems take over or fade away, whatever.  I’m sick of dealing with them and I don’t want to deal anymore.

I took a mini break in my writing to refill my drink bottle.  That’s when it hit me—the issues that bother me are more of a problem when I am working on my relationship with Christ!

They were a huge deal at family camp in July, when I looked forward to sitting in chapel services every day.  They were a huge deal in the days after camp, when I could still feel God right beside me, flowing through me, and working in my life.  And they have been a huge deal today as I have been working on a preteen devotional book that I feel God is really pushing me to write.

I wrote two devotional pieces, and while I wrote them the issue grew to the point that I had to walk away from the computer to deal with it.  Twice it happened.  The last week, when I was working on other projects, the issue didn’t act up like this.  But today, when I have praise music playing and I am focusing on what God is leading me to do, the issue pops up in a glaring, jarring fashion.

Once I realized the connection between my writing and the issue, I wasn’t quite as annoyed with it.  In fact, I felt almost proud of it.  I must be doing something right.  Otherwise, satan wouldn’t be trying so hard to discourage me and stop what I am doing.

But guess what, satan?  YOU DON’T WIN!!!!  I’ve read the end of The Book.  I know beyond a shadow of a doubt what is going to happen.  No matter what you throw at me, your future is written.  And it’s not a future I want to be a part of!!

So I am giving myself over to God today.  My life and my writing are in His hands.  That matters more to me than any health issue that might stand in my way.  My God is bigger than all that!!  I am so grateful to be in His care.


Family friendly.

This morning, I am wondering just what that phrase means.  I thought that I knew, but after hearing something on the radio this morning I am suddenly not so sure.

After I dropped my sons off at school this morning, I turned on my favorite non-Christian radio station.  Yes, I freely admit that I listen to music at times that is not worship music.  I am careful about what I listen to, whether the boys are with me or not.  Why? Because as much as I adore love songs, I don’t want to listen to something with dirty lyrics.  “Garbage in, garbage out.”  When I am writing, I like to listen to music that matches the tone of what I am writing.  So when I am in the middle of a romance, I like to listen to love songs.  It just puts me in the right mindset to write about it.  This particular radio station is a light rock station.  I know when I turn it on I am not going to get any hardcore, head banging music.  It might not all be sappy love songs, but much of it is.

Anyway, this morning the DJ said something about this being a family-friendly radio station, playing music that parents and kids can enjoy together.  Then he introduced a Boys II Men song.  The title of the song?  “I’ll Make Love to You.”

Sure, I knew all the words to the song and I found myself singing along.  At the same time, the idea of listening to this song with my 5-, 8-, and 11-year-old sons had my head spinning.  I am not saying there is anything wrong with the song, but are those lyrics seriously appropriate for children?  Even as I sang along, I kept thinking how glad I was that the boys were not in the car with me.  Especially the part of the song that says, “Throw your clothes on the floor, I’m gonna take my clothes off too.”  That is so NOT something that I would like to explain to my kids.  We are already in the place with my 5-year-old where we have to convince him daily that wearing clothing is a good thing.  If he heard those lines, oh, I can just imagine seeing him fling his clothes all over the house.  “The song said to, Mommy, so I know it’s gotta be ok.”

Yeah.  NOT.

To me, family-friendly is something that is appropriate for all ages.  It doesn’t involve alcohol, vulgarity, nudity, foul language, or sex.  Yes, my personal definition of family-friendly also involves a focus on living for Christ.  That part of my definition doesn’t apply to everyone, and I am ok with that.  Not every family centers on Christ as mine does.  I don’t turn away from something just because it doesn’t involve Christ, and I don’t make my sons turn off TV shows and movies that are not Bible based.  For example, the boys like to watch Disney shows like Lab Rats and Pair of Kings.   These are shows that are made for kids, programs that I would consider to be family-friendly, even though they don’t talk about God.  Those I will allow the boys to watch.  But The Big Bang Theory, while funny, is not something I will let them watch.  It might be just fine for an adult, but the sexually infused comedy is not appropriate for elementary aged children.  It is not something that I would consider family-friendly.

So, am I being over protective?  Am I over reacting about the radio station this morning?  I don’t know.  But I don’t understand how a song about an adult activity like love making can follow a family-friendly announcement.

Once Upon A Dream

I wrote this one as part of a writing assignment.  Hope you enjoy!



I once dreamed about a big blue bird. Why, I couldn’t tell you. Might have had something to do with watching Sesame Street with my son all day long. And I mean ALL DAY LONG. I tend to baby him when he isn’t feeling well. He’d had is tonsils taken out the day before, and didn’t want to do anything but watch Elmo and cuddle with Mommy. Made it kind of hard to do much of anything, but on day veggin’ out with a three-year-old isn’t really a wasted day.

Yeah, right. Tell that to my husband. When he came home from work our son was sleeping. Know what was the first thing he said? He didn’t ask how my day went of how Kyle was feeling. No, it was, “Didn’t you do anything today?” Let’s see…..I made Jell-O. I spoon fed Jell-O to a boy who didn’t want to drink anything. I sang and danced with Elmo and friends. I cuddled with an ill-feeling child. I read stories. I forced pain medicine down a toddlers throat (not an easy thing to do, let me tell ya!). I played Chutes and Ladders and Candy Land dozens of times. In between it all, I found time to wash a load of laundry, throw dinner into the crock-pot, dry the laundry, make iced tea, pay a few bills, and fold the laundry. Under the circumstances, I thought I’d accomplished a lot.

“Did you put the laundry away?”


When I finally fell asleep that night, I dreamed a nine foot tall blue bird with Cookie Monster’s appetite was chasing my husband.

Too bad I woke up before he was caught

Review of “Coming Home” By: Karen Kingsbury

   The Baxter family has had more than their share of ups and downs. Through it all, their father, John Baxter, has been a rock for all six children. With his 70th birthday approaching, the children- now all married and with kids of their own- plan to gather at the home where they grew up to surprise him with a family party. Even the children that moved to California and Texas plan to attend, and they all look forward to a fun week of celebration. But an accident changes all of their plans- and lives forever. This crisis is more than they have faced before, and without leaning on each other and their faith in Christ, they may never survive it.


   Like many Karen Kingsbury fans, I have enjoyed reading about the Baxter family. Over the course of 22 books, these characters felt a lot like my own family. I was anxious to read the final book about the Baxter’s. Anxious and sad all at once. As much as I wanted to know how this family’s story would end, I didn’t want to see the story end.


   This is a book that I borrowed from the local library, but it is one that I certainly want to add to my personal library. If you’ve never read a Karen Kingsbury book before, I highly recommend this one. It’s not necessary to read the other books about the Baxter’s o understand and enjoy “Coming Home”. However you may find it necessary to have a box of tissues on hand while you read this.


   I sure did!

Twitter Diet

I saw a Twitter post this morning that really irked me.  The post, from Today Show, reads like this (sorry, I don’t know how to post a link to the exact Tweet):

Video: @MichelleObama “scolds” Olympic gold medalist Gabby Douglas on her eating habits. 

                Seriously?  “Scolding” her over what she eats?  It’s not like Gabby eats junk food all the time.  OK, so I am not with her at every meal (or at any meal for that matter) but just a look at her tells me that she is good about what she eats.  No one who subsists on a diet of pizza, fast food, and snacks could do what Gabby has done in gymnastics.  I have a feeling that a diet like that would cause a body to bounce in a completely different way than Gabby’s does!

I did view the video.  (If you want to see it for yourself, you can click the link in the Tweet or you can click this link to see it right on The Today Show site.)  On a Tonight Show appearance, Jay Leno asked Gabby how she celebrated her gold medals.  She said that once the competition was over, she splurged and had an egg McMuffin.  Mrs. Obama said something about hoping it was at least on a whole wheat muffin.  I see that this was all done in a joking manner and it was meant in fun.  But that doesn’t make it any easier for me to listen to.

Maybe it’s my struggles with food that have me so upset about this.  But I think that Mrs. Obama is way off on this one.  Oh, I understand her intentions.  In this country, we do have an obesity problem.  Fast food is convenient, but it causes many health problems.  Many people can improve their overall health by skipping Egg McMuffins, as well as any other breakfast (or lunch or dinner) item that can be purchased through a drive thru.

But is one little fast food sandwich really going to hurt someone like Gabby Douglas?  In my mind, the problem with food comes from saying, “No.  You absolutely cannot, under any circumstances, eat that food.  Not ever.”  That is only going to increase the craving for it.  (Now, I know that people with food addictions have certain things they absolutely must avoid in order to recover from their disease, but those are food the individual identifies, not foods that are identified for them by other people.)  If Gabby, or any other person—athlete or not—for that matter, eats a fast food breakfast every day, yeah, that’s a problem.  But one little sandwich is going to hurt.  Gabby Douglas is a smart girl.  She knows what it takes to keep her body in competitive shape.  “Splurging” after a gold medal winning performance isn’t going to hurt her.

In fact, it seems to be that her indulgence is much less dangerous than the partying and alcohol that other athletes indulge in after winning at the Olympics.  (Just take a look at what Hope Solo has said about celebrating after the 2008 women’s soccer team won gold.)  Honestly, which mode of celebration would you prefer to see your daughter take part in?

Gabby DouglasJay LenoMcMuffinMichelleObamaOlympic Games

Fears and Faith

Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should.  Colossians 4:4, NIV

When Paul wrote these words, he was in prison.  He’d been jailed for preaching about Christ.  Still, he was asking other Christians to pray for him, to pray not only that he would be released from prison, but that he would be released from prison in order to continue preaching the gospel.

Wow.  How many of us would do that?

In all honesty, I don’t know if I would.  I’d love to say yes.  I’d love to say that it doesn’t matter what satan throws my way, I will not be silent.  I will share the love of Christ in face of any and all adversity, even from a prison cell.

But does the life I have lived up to this point prove that?

For years, I kept silent when I knew that I was being called to write.  Even now, when my fingers itch to type out stories of God’s love—both true stories from my life and imagined stories from the lives of characters I’ve created—my mind shuts down.  I don’t know that “shuts down” is really the right way to describe it.  There are so many ideas floating around in my head that I don’t know how I will ever get them all down on paper.  Oh how I would love to spend a day doing nothing but getting these ideas out of my head!  Then I could start crafting them into something meaningful, something that just might be useful to someone.  But the fear….  That fear is always there, holding me back, keeping me from doing what I want to do, what I am convinced that Christ wants me to do.

I am not sure that it really a fear of failure.  That doesn’t seem to really capture it.  It’s a fear of being judged.  I am scared that I will write something only to hear, “What do you know about it?  You’ve never lived that life.”

I’m scared that people will see the words I’ve written and see the life I’ve lived and realize that the two do not always mesh.

I’m not perfect.  I know I am not.  There are a lot of things in my life that need help.  Luckily God is in my life to give me the help I need.  I know He loves me and that He is guiding me.  Still, though, I have the fear that I am not good enough.  It scares me to think that my faith in God may not be enough, not when someone looks at how I live my life.

Does that make any sense at all?  In my head it did, but once I see it on the screen in front of me, it seems a bit odd!!  I am so glad that God knows my heart.

This morning, I’d like to ask you to please pray for me.  Pray that I can stay focused on God and silence the fear within me.  Pray that I can use the words God has given me for His glory, to clearly proclaim His love of me and His love of others in every sentence I write.


You know who is reading this post today.  Each person is in a different position to serve You and show Your love today.  Please give each one the strength, courage, and faith to share You clearly—whether in words or in actions—with everyone they meet today.  Help us to claim a little piece of our world for You.

In Jesus’ name, Amen

A Review of Davis Bunn’s HIDDEN IN DREAMS

Dr. Elena Burroughs- a leading authority on dream analysis- is starting a new life in Florida. Just as she begins to settle into her new job, an unexpected visitor stops by. Shortly after, Elena begins to have a series of dreams- very detailed, specific dreams of worldwide financial crises. She isn’t sure what is more frightening- the dream itself, that others are having the same exact dream, or the fact that dream is coming true.

  “Hidden in Dreams” pulled me in from the very first page. Just when I thought I had figured out what was happening and where the dreams were coming from, the author threw in another twist. I loved not being able to guess what was coming next!

  Though Davis Bunn and many of his characters are Christians, the book itself was not “overly religious.” I liked how non-believing characters were encouraged to consider their might be a “higher power” at work in the universe. The Christian element was there, but the suspense, the story itself, was the main focus. In fact, I think many Christian today could learn a lot about how to live from Elena. She made no secrets of or apologies for her faith in Christ. But never once did she force her beliefs on others or think less of someone just because he or she didn’t hold the same beliefs.

  How much better would this world be if more Christians walked in faith like that, rather than just talking about their faith.