Monday, October 16, 2017

Word of the Week - Career V. Careen

The other day, my husband asked, "So what's the difference between career--as in to career down a hill, the verb, and careen?"

To which I brilliantly said, "Uh . . . er . . . I don't know."

So naturally, I had to look it up. And it's SO INTERESTING!

Let's start with career. We all know it mainly today as the noun--our job path--right? But that's a derivation of the original meaning dating from the 1530s, which was "a set course to run." A horse would run down a career in a joust, for example. Or a runner might sprint through the career in a race. It's from the French carriere, and before that the Latin cararia, and is the same root as words like "carriage" and "chariot." (Who knew?!)

About 60 years after the noun entered English, the verb joined it--meaning "to charge at a tournament," from that idea of the horse running the career. By the 1640s, it had taken on a broader meaning of "to move rapidly, run at full speed."

So our notion of career-as-a-noun is actually directly from that original noun definition--it got broadened to mean "general course of action" by around 1600, and hence more specifically "course of one's public or professional life" by 1803.

So what about careen? Dating from the 1590s it's from the French cariner, which is in turn from Latin carina, which is literally the keel of a ship. So to careen was to turn the ship on its side and expose the keel--first in the sense of an inspection, but later came to be any time the ship tossed from side to side. By the 1880s it had taken a turn toward the general, and was applied to anything tossing from side to side, especially at high speeds. But apparently it wasn't confused with career until the 1920s. Before that--perhaps because ships were still such a standard part of life (my musing, not the official one)--the two were never used interchangeably.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017


I announced this Monday via Facebook Live, but in case you didn't see it there, I'll share here too! Lots of exciting news in my world. =)

I've signed two new contracts that will be keeping me quite busy. First of all, another series with Bethany House! This one is called The Codebreakers and is about England's cryptanalysts of World War I, referred to as "Room 40." For fans of my Culper Ring Series, this will have some similar elements to the spying and codes we all loved there, but combine it with the world of my English-set books. In fact, you'll be getting a sneak peek into The Codebreakers' world in A Song Unheard and An Hour Unspent! Needless to say, I'm super excited to get to work on this one! Room 40 achieved some amazing things during the war, and I can't wait to incorporate them into my novels. =)

But that's not all I'll be writing! I also signed on with Guideposts to work on one of their continuity series. These are available to Guideposts subscribers only, but if you get the magazine, you've no doubt seen their offers for their books. I'll be joining with 7 other authors on a series called The Secrets of Wayfarers Inn, set in modern-day Marietta, Ohio as three friends open a B&B in a historic inn and discover mysteries connected to its being a stop on the Underground Railroad. History loving me is really looking forward to combining secrets from the past with a tale set here-and-now. =)

And my Facebook Live Season Two will be beginning on Monday October 16! Big thanks to everyone who filled out the survey asking what you'd like to see in Season Two--based on your recommendations, we'll be starting out with some deeper diving into history. The Culper Ring will kick us off, since everyone responded so well to it during my Book Chats.

Hope to see you on Facebook next Monday at 7 p.m. EST!

Monday, October 9, 2017

Word of the Week - J

Okay, so it's more a letter of the week. ;-)

My curiosity over the letter J began in part when I saw a Facebook rant, claiming that we're all in big trouble spiritually because we've forgotten the true name of the Son of the God--that it was Yeshua, not Jesus.

The Greek scholar in me immediately took note...especially because there's no "sh" sound in Greek, so I kinda laughed. The way Jesus is spelled in Greek is more like "Iesus." (Pronounced "Yay-soos.") Depending on the part of speech. Like all other words, names change in Greek depending on how you're using them. But regardless, no "sh" sound. Now, I assume it would be present in the Hebrew...and given that the stories of His life were written in Greek, I'm also assuming He heard His name pronounced both in the Hebrew and Greek fashion--and so far as I know, He didn't raise a fuss about it.

But I digress. How, I began to wonder, did we move from pronouncing it with a Y to pronouncing it with a J?

Well, that's pretty fun. See, in both Greek and Latin, it's actually spelled with an I (or the Greek equivalent). But I contained, in both languages, a y sound at the beginning of words many times, because it's a natural slur of the tongue--say "ee-ay-soo" out loud. It sounds like "yay-soo," right? So there we go.

J was actually the last letter added to the Latin alphabet (which English, or course, uses), and it was at first just a swash version of I, used when I came at the end of a sequence, especially a number. For instance, 13 would be "xiij" to let you know that was the end of the number. It had no sound of its own, it was interchangeable with the I.

It wasn't until the Renaissance that a scribe named Gian Giorgio Trissino began differentiating the two and assigned J a sound of its own--the soft "j" sound like in "jam." From there, it also took on other sounds, like in "Taj Mahal"--and still retained that "y" sound in words like "hallelujah."

It's worth noting, however, that in many languages, "J" still keeps that "Y" sound as its primary one--consider German, for instance. And then in Spanish, we get an "H" sound for it.

My conclusion? Jesus didn't show any great issue with how His name was pronounced at the time, insisting on either a Hebrew or Greek pronunciation, so I really doubt He gets upset that Trissino developed a new sound for the letter J which subsequently changed how His name was said by certain people groups using the Latin alphabet. All the same, it's quite interesting to realize where the J came from, how its sound has changed over the centuries, and how that took us from "Iesu" to "Jesus."

Friday, October 6, 2017

Friday from the Archives - Imperfect Seashells

Today we're going back a mere 3 years, to when my family had just returned from a vacation to the lower Outer Banks of North Carolina. This is a reflection that comes back to me each and every time we vacation and go out scouring for shells. Especially since, even as the kids age, their definition of "beautiful" is still so much wider than my own. Hope you enjoy their outlook as much as I do!

Last week, my family had the joy of vacationing in Hatteras, on the southern tip of the Outer Banks of North Carolina, as far south as one can go before needing a ferry to continue. We basked in the sun. We played in the waves. We relaxed.

And we collected seashells.

The kids had been looking forward to that part for weeks. When family asked them what they wanted to do on vacation, their answers were: (1) play mini-golf, (2) get Sweet Frog frozen yogurt, and (3) collect seashells.

One small catch--the beach by our house had virtually no shells. For the first few days, they collected about 5. And at least two of those came from the strip of rocks and shells beside our condo rather than the beach, LOL. On Wednesday night, a few had washed to shore, and as we were out hunting ghost crabs, the kids grabbed up all the shells they could find. Very few were what I would deem keepable, but they were the only ones we'd seen, so...

Then on Thursday, we got an off-road driving permit and took the Jeep out onto Buxton point, behind the Hatteras lighthouse. This sandy peninsula was populated by other 4x4s, surrounded by blue-green water...and littered with big, beautiful shells. Eureka!

Now, I've been collecting shells for a lot of years...but always had limited space for bringing them home. So I had to come up with criteria for what I kept and what I left. For me it usually comes down to color and shape. I'm a sucker for pinks and purples. And for whole, unbroken shells. I like the kinds that have swirling patterns. And the ultimate find, of course, is a whelk.

My kids though...they would pick up the ugliest, weirdest looking things! Ones I would have tossed back in a heartbeat they clung to with fierce determination.

The broken ones. (But Mommy, look at the cool pattern it makes along the break!)

The common ones. (I can use it as a shovel!)

The ugly ones. (But look, it has fossils in it!)

The ones just like the other twenty they already kept. (Oh cool, now it's a collection!)

At first I tried to reason with them, to impose my logic. (Ha! LOL) And on some, we had no disagreement, like the perfect little whelk we found on Friday, our second day at the point. Or the ones with holes that Xoe can turn into necklaces.

But those others...

As I walked the sand, as I kept my eye out for what I deemed the perfect shell, I stopped arguing with the kids. Let them pick whatever they wanted right then--but we'd have to sort through them before we left. No way could we take all those buckets- and bags-full home! There wasn't room in our Jeep.

And yet, as I walked the sand, I knew I wouldn't have the heart to take away the shells they loved, just because I didn't see the beauty in them. In fact, the more I saw the mangled shells they chose, the more I loved those kids.

Because they see beauty where I saw scars.

They see purpose where I see brokenness.

They see what it looked like whole where I see the jagged edge left behind.

They see potential where I see hopelessness.

They marvel at the size where I screw up my nose at the color.

They are so, so much closer to looking at things through God's eyes than I am.

Because let's face it--we're not the pretty, perfect seashells. We're the broken ones. The scarred ones. The mangled ones. The shattered ones. The ugly ones. We're the ones discerning eyes would pass over. We're the ones perfection has long ago left behind.

And God loves us. Not despite our flaws, but because each crack, each track of worm-eating, each place where the sand has rubbed us raw...those are part of us. Part of what makes us who we are. Part of what God loves. He can see the whole, unbroken creation we are in potential...but he can also see the way he can use us in our brokenness. Because of our brokenness.

Yes, we came home with buckets and bags of seashells. And to be honest, I still shake my head at some of them.

But I'm glad. I'm so glad my kids picked up the ones I never would have. Because it proves that their eyes, their hearts, their imaginations go far beyond what I can see. And I thank the Lord that he's given them a bit of his vision. Because if they can find the beauty in this...

...then I know they also see the beauty in us. Just like our Father.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Just for fun . . . Punkin Chunkin

Usually I prepare my week's blog posts on Sunday. But I didn't yesterday. Why, you ask? Because we were out of the house by 7 to head down to my family's farm. The first Sunday of October every year, they run a Fall Festival full of pumpkins, apples, crafts, and hayrides.

Naturally, this event is just begging for some good old fashioned Punkin Chunkin. ;-)

A few years ago, we built a massive slingshot and ran some Chunkin to support some missionary friends of ours who were planning a trip to Bulgaria. This year, the same group from my church decided to finish the trebuchet they've had in the works for years, in order to support a mission trip to Houston in a couple weeks. My uncle and his wife suffered from the flooding so many residents did--they're kinda of long-distance members of our church, watching the broadcast every week, so we're sending some men down to help them repair their home. And once they have boots on the ground, they'll see what else they can do to help out in the neighborhood too!


So it started with some very fun flinging of pumpkins and watermelons. Though we were a bit nervous at the start when we couldn't get the sling to release the things--it had worked fine on Friday!--it was soon goinging like clockwork. My husband (the one in the red shirt in the video), calculates that we ended up sending over 300 pumpkins to their deaths in that poor field over the course of 6ish hours, averaging 2-3 flings a minute in our busy hours.

And he's already planning for next year. ;-)

Just so you know why there was no Word of the Week today, LOL. But I'll get some other posts ready for later in the week, I promise!

Friday, September 29, 2017

Faith from Fiction

I'm happy to announce, if you haven't seen it yet, that I've participated in a collection of devotionals that bring out the faith messages in our fiction. Each of the 10 bestselling authors in this little e-book have chosen two of their stories and begin their selection with a short quote from them, then expound on the faith message behind it, summing it up with the Scripture that inspired it.

Faith from Fiction is now available for $0.99, so go grab your copy and dive into reflection on the Word to be found in our stories--because we all know fiction is the best way to learn. ;-) All profits will be donated to Samaritan's Purse!

The authors in the collection include:

Melanie Dickerson
Janice Hanna Thompson
Leah Atwood
Christy Barritt
Heather Blanton
Lynnette Bonner
L. N. Cronk
DiAne Gates
Jenn Faulk
Roseanna M. White (hey, I know her!)

You can find it at (I'll post the other links as they go live):

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | iTunes

And if you think you recognize the hand of the cover design, you're right. ;-) I volunteered my services for the cover and had fun creating it. We decided on autumn colors because, well, it's autumn, LOL. Here's a larger version...

We hope our inspiration blesses you!

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Thoughtful About . . . The Journey to Mom

Over the last few months, a landmark change has come upon me. It started gradually--now and then, out in public. And then it became more common even at home. And now I know it's here to stay.

My daughter has stopped calling me Mommy and now calls me Mom.

It's a strange thing in a way, isn't it? I mean, we all know our grown-up kids aren't going to keep calling us Mommy. (Though I know plenty of girls who keep calling their father Daddy, the Mommy thing inevitably goes away. Hmmm.) So obviously there will be a transition. But as we change diapers and navigate toddlerhood, as we prepare them for their first days of school, this isn't really a question any of us ponder too much, right? 

But my daughter, being a mini-me in some ways, actually seems to have put some thought into it. I'd noticed quite a while ago that when she was talking to her friends--especially her older friends--she'd refer to me as "her mom." Which was obviously fine. But then a few months ago she said something to me...I don't even remember the conversation. But it was something that, in retrospect, felt as though she was asking permission to change what she called me. I honestly don't recall the words. Maybe she had asked me if I used to call my mother Mommy, and that led to when I stopped? I don't know. I guess at the time, it didn't seem important to remember the exact conversation. But I recall kinda smiling as she walked away. Realizing that my girl is growing up. And loving that she was taking care with this.

And so, Mommy has vanished. And quite often, when I hear her call out, "Mom!" it feels so...deliberate. Almost proud. As though she realizes she'd taken a step toward adulthood, one that she could choose when to take.

There are moments when I feel as though it should make me sad, or at least emotional--a chapter is over, finished. But instead, I feel proud too. I'm not sure I can explain why. Perhaps because in Mom, for us, there's a new depth to our relationship that couldn't quite be when she was younger. I love that she sits down and just chats with me. That we rejoice together over stupid things like pumpkin spice coffee creamer and cream cheese. I love that we talk about stories and that as soon as she finishes a book she loved, she shoves it at me and tells me I have to read it too, so we can talk about it and rent the movie.

I love that though there are mom-moments aplenty--the ones where I'm saying, "Go take a shower. Do your math. No, I mean it, do your math. Stop yelling at your brother. Just dry the dishes and stop moaning about it!" there are other moments too. Friend moments. Moments when we laugh together, when we talk about honest-to-goodness things that matter, when I realize that my little girl is growing up into a young woman that I love getting to know.

I guess part of me always wondered, as I wrangled these kids of mine through screaming fits and sleepless nights, what kind of relationship we'd have as they grew up. Well, we're discovering that now. And though she's only almost-12 and we've still got those teen years ahead of us, I pray that what we're building now will only get stronger. That these little people I love so much will become big people I respect. That each year, though it brings changes and challenges, will bring a new layer of depth too. Beautiful depth.

Now, interesting will be to see if/when my son makes this change, given that he rarely ever calls me Mommy anyway--he calls me Mama. Will that stick around? Who knows. But I'm sure loving the discovery with these two silly kiddos of mine.

It's a journey, always, this parenting thing. Nothing ever stays the same for long. But it's one that I love more, the longer we travel it together. 

Here's to the road. And to the people who travel it with me.