Thursday, June 30, 2016

Thoughtful About . . . When We're Pressed


Life is hard. So often we feel pressure. People are pushing us. Prodding us. Poking us. Sometimes, when circumstances are weighing heavy, we get that tight feeling in our chest, right? Or in our stomach. Stress. Overwhelm.

We get tired.

We get frustrated.

We react.

But how do we react? Or the better question, how should we?

In his sermon last weekend, my dad used this analogy, and it really struck me. Take an orange and squeeze it, press it--what do you get? Orange juice. Not apple juice. Not grape juice.

Take a sponge and squeeze it, and what do you get? Whatever liquid it has soaked up.

Take a plant and press it, and what comes out? The oils or fluids from inside the plant.

Now, take a piece of rotten fruit and squeeze it, and what comes out? Rot. Decay. Stench.

Getting the picture? When pressed, what comes out of a thing? What's inside it.

So let's take that back to us. What comes out of us when we're pressed? (Yes, the comedian in me said, "Blood and gross-squishy-red-stuff." [Bonus points if you get the Phineas and Ferb reference.] But let's be serious, LOL.)

What comes out is what's within. So if we're frustrated, that frustration comes out. If we're unhappy, we spew unhappiness. If we're bitter, that bile is just going to come oozing out of our mouths. But is that all that's inside us, even when we're not at our best?

When we're people of faith, there is always Something else inside us. Someone else. The Holy Spirit lives here. He's inside me. Jesus is inside me. So with them, what else is inside me?

Love. Joy. Peace. Patience. Kindness. Goodness. Faithfulness.

When we're pressed, squeezed, put under pressure, when we're poked, prodded, and pushed, that is what should come pouring out of us--that should be what's within us.

Humbling, isn't it? When you're feeling the pressure of life, are you greeting it with love? With joy? Do we greet evil with goodness? Prodding with patience? Are we, when we're at our lowest, when we're been squeezed so much by life that the pain is palpable, shining with faithfulness?

If we're not, than that says something about what's inside us--and about what isn't. We can't pour out what we don't have; and we can't have good fruit inside us yet spill out rot and decay. If that's what's coming out, it's because that's what's within.

And if that's what's within, then we need to do some serious work on ourselves. We need to turn those rotten spots over to God and let Him prune them away. We need to plead with Him to fill us with the good stuff inside.

And He will.

Until our cup runs over with His light. It'll spill right out of us . . . and right into the world. And then, when we're pressed, people will see Him.

I can't think of a more beautiful way to show people who Jesus really is.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Song Unheard Contest

Time for a fun contest I'm launching! Read on to learn about your chance to have your work appear in one of my novels published with Bethany House! (But not like you might think...)


 

WHAT I NEED: an original melody to feature in book 2 of the Shadows Over England series, A Song Unheard (just the tune, no lyrics needed). It can be as short as 15 seconds or as long as 2 minutes.

HOW YOU ENTER: grab a recording device (cell phones work great!) and hum/sing/whistle/play me a snippet of melody that YOU have come up with! Upload to YouTube and then send me the link: on Facebook @RoseannaMWhite OR on Twitter @RoseannaMWhite OR via email at roseannamwhite@gmail.com. You can also upload to Dropbox or Google Docs and share with that email address if you don’t want to use YouTube. On social media entries, be sure to use the hashtag #SongUnheard and tag me!


HOW IT WORKS: I have 25 years of musical experience, so I’ll take your original tune and transcribe it into a melody for a violinist to play. That means you don’t have to know the first thing about how to write music—you just have to be able to hum . . . or whistle . . . or go “La la dee da” . . . or play a different instrument, if you prefer.

Submit your tunes to me (all entries MUST be original or you will be immediately disqualified) by Sunday 14 August 2016. I will listen to all submissions and choose a shortlist of fabulous melodies. I will then set up a page where readers (and listeners) will vote for the winner! (In order for the contest to be guaranteed, I must receive at least 25 tunes to choose from.)

As I’m writing A Song Unheard, I’ll also be turning the winning melody into written music. It will be included in the book, as will a link to a violinist performing your song!

WHAT YOU WIN: The creator of the winning melody will receive:
o   Infinite glory. I mean, come on, how many people can say they wrote a song featured in a novel?
o   Coolness. See above.
o   Credit in the book for composing/helping to compose the song
o   A signed copy of A Song Unheard when it releases
o   Exclusive A Song Unheard swag
o   A $50 Amazon gift card

GUIDELINES: This is to create a song that my heroine will have written in the course of my novel. The setting is Great Britain in 1914, in the opening days of World War I. I’m looking for something poignant and soul-soothing. This means that you should avoid rock and roll, jazz, and anything else that was not invented yet. ;-) If you’d like to know more about the story, scroll down to the “About the Book” section at the end of this post. Again, no words required, just the melody!

DISCLAIMER: I reserve the right to tweak any melody that wins to make it the correct length/style for my purposes.


Frequently Asked Questions

Q: I really don’t have to know anything about music to enter?
A: Absolutely not! I know plenty, so all you have to do is send me a recording. I can do the rest.

Q: What if I do know how to write music? Can I send you the written melody?
A: Sure, though you must also submit a video or sound recording for people to vote on. And if you send it already written, and you win, I’ll ask you to sign a simple contract giving me permission to publish it, since copyright of music belongs to the person to put it to paper.

Q: What formats can I submit my video or audio recording in?
A: The simplest method is probably to upload it to www.YouTube.com and just send me the link, either via email, Twitter, or on Facebook. This is fast and free! But you can also send an MP3 or WAV file to me at roseannamwhite@gmail.com, or upload to a file system like Dropbox or Google Docs and share it with that email address.

Q: Can I send you something played on a different instrument?
A: Absolutely! Just keep in mind that this is for a MELODY ONLY. So if you sent in a cool piano piece with chords all over the place and intricate harmony, I might appreciate it, but I won’t be able to make it work perfectly for a violin soloist. I want this to be a song that people can go around humming when it gets stuck in their head. ;-)

Q: How long should it be? That’s a wide range you gave.
A: Very true. I give a wide range because a single snippet of melody is fine—I can build on that. Or if you’re a budding composer and want to send me a full song, you get Super Awesome Points. ;-) I just need it to be short enough to include the whole thing on a single page in my book.

Q: Can I enter more than one song?
A: Absolutely! Enter as many original melodies as you'd like! 


About A Song Unheard

She’s a prodigy—but no one knows it. Willa Forsythe has scraped herself up from the mean streets of London, but only through guile…and fingers as quick to steal as they are on a violin’s strings. But now, with the Great War gripping Europe, she has a new job. She has to steal from a master violinist to force him to accept an offer her boss has made him.

He’s a celebrity—but it doesn’t matter. Lukas De Wilde worked all his life for fame and glory on the violin, but when war traps him outside of his native Belgium, he would trade it all to save his family. He must, at all costs, get his brilliant little sister out of Belgium before the occupying Germans realize that she’s more than just another twelve-year-old girl. He will do what it takes to earn the money to save them…but he dares not trust anyone, even if they seem to be a friend.

She could destroy his family. He could destroy her dreams. Or perhaps, if they can figure how to work together and accept the grace of God, they can create something more beautiful than either could ever fathom.


Contest runs from July 1 - August 14, 2016. Early entrees will be accepted but late ones will not. All entries must be ORIGINAL. Chances of winning are dependent on the number of entries. This will not be a random drawing, but rather a winner voted by choice. No purchase necessary. Entries from around the globe are welcome.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Word of the Week - Chintzy



If you look up chintzy, you'll find that it means:

1. of, like, or decorated with chintz.
2. cheap, inferior, or gaudy.

But these days we don't all know what chintz really is, right? I had some vague recollection that it was a kind of fabric, but that was where my memory ended. I was, in fact, correct--chintz is a brightly colored cotton fabric that is then glazed, usually used for upholstery or drapery. The word has been in use since 1719, from Hindi. It began as the singular chint, but was soon used in the plural form. No one's quite sure why it was spelled with a -z instead of an -s to make it plural, but there you go.

This fabric was made quite cheaply in India, which made it very common . . . and hence looked down on. George Eliot was the first to use chintzy in a disparaging sense, in 1851.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Remember When . . . It Was Time for a Tea Party?

It's time for the June tea party at Colonial Quills! We just realized my April release, The Reluctant Duchess, hadn't been featured in one yet, so I got in on the fun. =)

The main action will take place on the CQ blog, where we're virtually dining at the Jefferson Hotel. Just head over there to leave comments for the participating authors, which will enter you in the many giveaways!
http://colonialquills.blogspot.com/2016/06/june-tea-party-at-jefferson-hotel.html


THEN . . . come chat with us live on Facebook! The Facebook party will run from 5-8, and I'll be kicking it off at 5:00 on the dot. Bring your questions, comments, and silly statements, along with a picture of what you'll be wearing to our virtual tea party. (I'll be hunting up my tea gown for the day too!)

Hope to see you around the Colonial Quills sites today!

Monday, June 20, 2016

Word of the Week - Tab


Tab is a little word with a long history. I looked it up to check on the age of the phrase "keep tabs on" and found that the word itself goes back to Middle English, where it meant "a small strip or flap of material," interchangeable with tag. From the mid-1400s on, that was the word's sole meaning for hundreds of years. It began to be used as a verb in  1872, when it simply meant "to affix a tab to something," again as an alteration of tag.

It wasn't until the 1880s that tab also took on the meaning of "an account, bill, check," and this came about, it's thought, as a shortening of tabulation rather than anything to do with the original word. Or perhaps a shortening of tablet--as in, the paper that you write on. Regardless, this is where my phrase came from. It's a figurative sense of this tab, but was originally used only in the singular--you would "keep a tab on someone" from about 1890 on.

Tab, as in the key on a typewriter or computer, is from 1916. As a verb meaning "to designate, label, or name," it's from 1924.

So in some ways, this word has a downright ancient history...but in other ways, it's surprisingly modern!

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Thoughtful About . . . Being "Too Young"


It's a busy week here in the White House. David's birthday was on Sunday (and I'd like to give a big shout-out of thanks to the Penguins for winning the Stanley Cup that day, which made a fantastic birthday present for that die-hard fan. When they won, I looked over and said, "Happy birthday! See what I got you?" Oh yeah. All me. ;-) Ahem.) Friday is our 15th anniversary. Sunday is my sister's birthday and Father's Day.

Yes, much to celebrate this week. And as I look over at that man I love so much, I know I've already said many, many times how much I love him. I've mused endlessly over the years about love and anniversaries and how I wouldn't change a thing.

And I still wouldn't change a thing. Just the other day, we were talking about how we're at the age where people look back on their teen years and think, "What in the world was I thinking?" But I don't. I still look back on my teen years and nod. I knew what I was thinking and doing. I was responsible. I was mature. I was determined. And I was right. I think I've earned the privilege of saying so at this point, LOL.

See, the world told us then that we were too young to get married. We were too young to know what we wanted. We were just too young, and we'd pay for it. We had people aplenty saying it wouldn't last and asking us why we didn't just live together.

And I shook my head, anger rising. I shake my still, and still feel that anger. This world, that condemns so quickly, is so very off. This world deems it acceptable to sleep with someone but risky to commit. This world tells young people that they can't make decisions to stay with one person for the rest of their life, but they can decide to give their bodies to countless people if they so choose.

This world is backward.

And it still frustrates me when I hear people saying, "You're too young to be thinking about dating so seriously. You think you're in love, but you don't know what love is. It won't stand the test of time. Do you have any idea how few people actually stay married to their high school sweetheart?"

But think how different our world might look if we taught our kids what real love looks like--sacrificial and brave, selfless and strong--rather than telling them they can't recognize it. Think what our world might look like if we taught children to make good decisions rather than telling them they don't know how. Think of what it could mean if we gave them confidence in who they are rather than telling them all their lives that they don't know their own minds and can't be trusted.

Think how different the world would be if we taught people to respect marriage as something created to make us holy rather than to use it as a tool to gain our own happiness.

Because a good marriage has nothing to do with the age of the people going in. It has to do with the emotional maturity of the people going in. And we live in a world where emotional immaturity is the order of the day. We live in a world that preaches personal happiness above all. We live in a world of "You're Worth It" and "Put Yourself First." These are antithetical to a good marriage. A good marriage is about telling the other person that he is worth the sacrifice. It's about putting her first. It's about going through each day asking, not "What's in it for me?" but, "What can I do for you?" It's about knowing that God didn't design this sacred union to make you happy--He designed it to draw you closer to Him and to make you stronger together than you can be apart.

Do I think most 18-year-olds today are ready for marriage? Um, no. But it has nothing to do with how long they've been on this earth and everything to do with how they've spent the time they've had here. I think 150 years ago, 18-year-olds were absolutely ready for marriage. I think 350 years ago, 18-year-olds were considered past their prime. I think much of our opinion on this comes from the very newfangled idea of adolescence and teen years and the place we've given that oddity in our society. Historically, this idea of in-between didn't exist. There were children. There were adults. You were one, then you were another. The goal of the first was to prepare them to be the second. These days, we hurry our children through those early years (put them in school earlier and earlier, teach them to read earlier and earlier, cut back on play time...), but then we tell them to slow down (you're too young for that, you don't understand this, it's just your hormones, not your heart...). Is it any wonder kids are confused? We rush them out of the time they should spend a few more years in, but then we tell them to put on the brakes. We've created a limbo for our young people that has no responsibility and yet huge expectations.

If I had my "druthers," society would focus on teaching youth to handle responsibility rather than telling them they can't. We'd teach them to think and reason rather than to react with nothing but emojis. We'd teach them to look ahead rather than to hit the backspace key. And we'd stop judging maturity based on how many years a person has lived and start judging it based on the decisions they make.

The world told me I was too young to get engaged at 17. Too young to get married at 18. The world thought I should have just given my body to the man I loved, that that would have been more responsible than waiting for sex and marrying young. The world told me it wouldn't last, and that marriage is a failure unless I'm 100% happy every day.

The world is stupid.

I wasn't too young. I made the right choices. And while I would indeed say that I'm happy a huge majority of the time, it's because I know that happiness isn't to be found in what I get--it's to be found in what I give. And because my husband and I both understand this and both deem it worth fighting for, we've got 15 years under our belts already.

There are bumps in the road. Facing them has nothing to do with how old we are--it has to do with Whose hand we put ours in as we do. Each other's...and God's.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Remember When . . . Characters Were Contradictions?


Sometimes the publishing industry seems a little strange. A Lady Unrivaled is getting it's final copy edits at Bethany House, in preparation for being sent to press so it can release in September. A Name Unknown is going through its first edits there now. I have turned in my synopsis for approval for the second London Shadows book, A Song Unheard, and am doing research for that one now . . . even though it's a year and a half before it'll come out.

As I'm brainstorming characters and plots for this new book that I'll begin writing soon, I realize that a lot of my planning takes the shape of contradictions or oddities. For instance . . .

In A Lady Unrivaled, my characters are:

A young lady who has always been enamored with romantic tales who . . .
Is afraid to trust her own judgement and fall in love.

A gentleman who is ashamed of his past and determined to be a better man, but who . . .
Will never confess the truth of who he is and his artistic "habits" to anyone.

A ballerina willing to do absolutely anything to hold onto the life she fought to achieve, but who . . .
Can never get her Russian grandmother's voice out of her head.


Then we have A Name Unknown, where the characters are:

One of London's best thieves on a mission to steal information from a wealthy gent in Cornwall, but who . . .
Has a sense of justice that insists she fight for someone being wronged, even if she intends to wrong him too.

A best-selling adventure novelist with a heart of gold and an enormous faith, but who . . .
Can't put a coherent sentence together when speaking and is contemplating changing his name to avoid political fallout.


So now, here I am planning out A Song Unheard. Thus far, my characters are:

A former urchin and current thief who  . . .
Is also a violin prodigy, sent into an orchestra to steal from its lead violinist.

The most brilliant cryptanalyst (code breaker) in Europe who . . .
Is only an eleven-year-old girl.

A charming violinist accustomed to smiling at the right people to achieve his aims who . . .
Is nursing a gunshot wound from an attempt to rescue his little sister (see above).


See now, that last one doesn't come off quite how I want him to, LOL. I'm still figuring out my suave Lukas De Wilde, discovering what makes him ticks and motivates him. The idea of having him be injured actually just came to me the other day--through the book, he's going to be fighting to save his sister and mother from the German occupation of Belgium. But I had to figure out why he hadn't done so already.

I rather like the answer that he tried--and failed. And is still feeling the effects of that failure. Effects that will, happily for me but not for him (mwa ha ha ha), also impact his career, in which he's put his hopes of future success in his endeavors. He has to play, to earn money to go back to Belgium for another rescue attempt. But playing becomes difficult when one has a serious wound in one's shoulder...


So there you have it--a peek into how story shapes up in my mind around characters . . . and their contradictions.


Monday, June 13, 2016

Word of the Week - Aspirin


No, I don't have a headache. Not today. ;-) But this a word I'd looked up to make sure I could use it in a 1914 setting, so I thought I'd share the interesting pharmaceutical history that went along with it.

Aspirin was a trademarked name, created in 1899 by German chemist Heinrich Dreser. It's from the Latin spiraea, or "meadow-sweet," the plant from which it's derived.

Here's the interesting bit. According to German law, prescriptions had to be filled exactly as written. So chemist companies would trademark very easily-made drugs that were made from common items, using household names for things that were easy for doctors to remember. Doctors would then write a prescription, and they would have to be filled as written. No generics for them! So these companies were then making a lot of money from very simple items.

I find it interesting that, in the U.S. at least, "aspirin" is certainly not considered a brand name; it's the rather generic name for that type of medicine, which any company can then make. I wonder if the same is true these days in Germany...


~*~

On a totally unrelated note, the paperback of A Stray Drop of Blood is finally available on Amazon again!

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Remember When . . . The London Shadows Series

Many of you probably saw this on Facebook on Monday, but in case you missed it . . . I'm super-excited to share that my next series (beginning July 2017) has its official titles!


The series itself will be called London Shadows.

I love this. My editor recommended something that has "London" in it as immediate branding of the setting, and after toying with a few ideas for a few days, this is what I came up with, and I'm so glad they liked it. The "London" comes because, though the majority of the books aren't actually set in London, my main characters are all from there, and it greatly affects who they are. Because they're not upper-crust London-dwellers. They're former urchins . . . they're the underbelly of London . . . they are the shadows. Not to mention that the name hints at the mystery and suspense that will be threaded through the series, and, if you're getting very deep into it, the shadow of war over all of Great Britain in 1914.

So that's the series . . . but what about each book?

My original plan was for The Name Thief, The Music Thief, and The Time Thief. I liked these quite a bit, but the team at Bethany House wanted the titles to immediately evoke the era, and while these sound cool, they certainly don't scream "historical romance!" A very valid point. So I sent in a list of alternative titles for each book, and I'm thrilled with the ones they decided on:

A Name Unknown
A Song Unheard
An Hour Unspent

 These sound much more historical-romancey . . . plus they have the same rhythm as The Lost Heiress, The Reluctant Duchess, and A Lady Unrivaled, which should give readers a sense of continuity as we switch to the new series. Which means I'm one very happy girl. =D

A Name Unknown will release next July (2017), following thief Rosemary Gresham as she leaves London for a job unlike any she's done before--she has to steal a man's good name. She heads to Cornwall (where I will be heading in September, SQUEEE!) to the home of Peter Holstein, suspected German spy. But what she finds is a man who stutters so badly he can barely speak, not one filling important ears with German sentiments. She finds a man with secrets, but with a faith unlike anything she's ever seen. What she finds is a good man . . . and so how can she steal his good name? Peter, meanwhile, is debating changing his name to the nom de plume he uses for his popular adventure novels that he writes in secret. But would even that convince his neighbors to trust him and remind them that he is English at heart? As he digs into his family history with Rosemary's help, he seeks to discover why his family first left Germany to begin with . . . and whether it will ever again be enough to be simply Peter Holstein.

I'm just now doing my research for book 2, A Song Unheard. This one will focus on Rosemary's "sister" Willa Forsythe, who is sent to Wales in autumn of 1914 to infiltrate the Belgian Symphony Orchestra, who was brought to Wales by two wealthy sisters to save them from the German occupation of Belgium and bring arts to their principality. Willa, a violin prodigy who has never had a day of training in her life, is eager to rub elbows with these world-class musicians . . . even if her true purpose there is to steal from one of them, so that he's forced to accept the help of her boss in getting his super-intelligent little sister out of Brussels . . . and into British Intelligence. Among lessons in music, hints of the Belgian Resistance, and a foray into Belgium to steal his sister for him, Willa and violinist Lukas will learn more about themselves than they ever thought they could . . . and unleash music inside Willa capable of soothing more souls than just her own.

The final book is just barely an idea, LOL. An Hour Unspent will feature the older brother of my clan of thieves, Barclay Pearce. He will be issued a challenge to steal an hour from Big Ben's clock tower, and his research in how to do so will take him to the door of the clock-maker who helps care for the iconic clock--and, inadvertently, to the aid of this clock-maker's daughter, Evelina, a suffragette who is frustrated at how the war is stifling her cause. This one will delve into how clock-makers found new uses for their talents in this time of war, helping to create weapons rather than timepieces, and also on how these fierce suffragettes turned their attention to the war effort as well . . . and accomplished more for their cause in so doing than any of their marches or rallies had ever achieved.


I'm so excited for this series!!! And will soon be launching a contest related to A Song Unheard, so stay tuned for that (tuned . . . ha. Punny.).

Monday, June 6, 2016

Word of the Week - Ballet



This past weekend was full of ballet for my family, as my daughter danced in her theater's spring show, La Fille Mal Gardée.

I've never looked up where the word ballet comes from because, well...it's obviously French, right?

As it turns out, yes and no. The English word--which dates from the 1660s!--does indeed come from the French ballette. (I find it interesting that we say it as the French would if it were a masculine noun, but the word it comes from is feminine, and that T would have been pronounced. Does anyone speak French and know if they still use the -ette ending or if they've also changed it to -et over the years?) But that French word came, in fact, from Italian.

The Italian root is ballo, which just means "a dance." This is also where our ball comes from.

Though the word has been in use for a long time, from what I can see in the history of other ballet words (jete, plie, arabesque, etc.), the form we know and recognize today seems to have taken shape in the 1820-30s.

Made super-famous, of course, by the Ballet Russe, which of course everyone knows from reading The Lost Heiress--and you won't want to miss A Lady Unrivaled, which features the ballet even more. ;-)

Not that any of those prima ballerinas could possibly be as beautiful as my sweet Xoë. (Biased?? What do you mean???)


Thursday, June 2, 2016

Thoughtful About . . . The Mismatched


When I got married, I filled out a registry. A wish list. It had on it all the things one would expect--dishes and cookware, sheets and towels.

All of them, sets. Matching.

Off-white plates with flowers around the edges. Matching cups. A set of cutlery. Glasses that complemented. Things designed carefully to look good beside each other. That wore a uniform. That were all the same in their perfection.

Over the years, plates and bowls and glasses have gotten broken. Cutlery has, somehow or another, vanished. This piece and that piece have been lent out and forgotten. Over the years, our collection of dishes has been subtracted from and added to.

Now it's a hodgepodge. It's a mixture. A motley array of mismatched this-and-that.

And I love it.

I've heard before (though I don't honestly remember from whom) the statement, "I just want dishes that match!" At the time, I commiserated. This seems like a good thing, you know?

But when I pause to think about it . . . which coffee cup is my favorite? The Disney mug I bought for myself when I was 14. The one that has no match. Is part of no set. The one that's unique. It fits my hand, and I like how much it holds. I've even caught myself, when in a rental house for vacation or in my church kitchen, always seeking out a mug that's different. That won't be confused with anyone else's. That's unique and inviting.

Still, I was somewhat surprised when my kids, a couple years ago, began the following conversation:

Rowyn: "Can I have that spoon instead of this one? That one's my favorite."
Xoe: "Really? I don't have a favorite spoon. But I have a favorite fork. It's the one with the stars on it."
Rowyn: "You can have that one. I like the little one with the flowers."

I smiled as I heard them talking oh-so-seriously about which of the mismatched cutlery they preferred. Why?

Because they both favored the unique pieces. The one-of-a-kind ones. Yes, that's part of it.

But also because only then did I realize that their favorites were my least favorites. That the ones that don't please me aesthetically for one reason or another, they find beautiful.

And that this is something I never would have learned in this particular way if all my silverware still matched.

When we're surrounded by the same, we're not given the chance to find our preferences. When we have only that perfect set, there isn't room for individuality. When everything matches, nothing stands out. Not that there's anything wrong with a matching set of dishes, LOL. It's certainly a handy way to buy something you need.

But there's something so beautiful in the mismatched. There's something freeing. Something encouraging.

Because I don't know about you, but I don't quite fit in a set. Right? We're all a little different. A little off. A little bigger or smaller or cracked. We're different colors. Different shapes.

And that's how we're supposed to be. Because different people find different things beautiful. We have different needs. My favorite will not be yours, necessarily. And that's good. That's right. We all appreciate different facets of this beautiful world. For different reasons that invite us in different ways.

God didn't create much of anything in neat, orderly sets. He created a wild profusion of beauty. He created the this-and-that. The hodgepodge. Mismatched. Mountains and valleys, rivers and seas, deserts and rain forests. And He declared it good.

I'll probably never have a matching set of dishes again, much less cutlery or glasses. And you know what?

It's good.