Thursday, March 28, 2013

Thoughtful About . . . A Family of Love

I sat here for a good while this morning debating what to write about. It's Holy Week, my favorite time of year. I love reflecting on all He's given us, on His amazing love in giving up His life to save ours. I think I've had some nice insights over the years, LOL--and I've shared most of them already. ;-)

This year, my weekend is packed to the brim with activities, from egg hunts to a seder-style dinner tonight at church. But what I'm most looking forward to is a concert linked not so much to Easter per se as to the love it represents--and which some friends of ours are living out in the most amazing way. As I sat here debating, I realized I wanted to introduce you to Todd and Erin and their kids. We belong to the same home school group, and this past year have been attending a small bible study with them and two other families with small kids, so we've been blessed to get to know them. I realize most of you are too far to come to the concert, but these folks could use your prayers! So here's an article I wrote that appeared in the local paper the other day.

A local church is teaming up with a local family to help bring a brother and sister home to Frostburg from Ethiopia.
Frostburg residents Todd and Erin Vogtman are a couple with a lot of love to give. Married for thirteen years, they met in college when both were studying to be teachers. In addition to now being a primary school teacher, Todd is a talented singer and guitarist. Erin, a gifted artist, spent years as a public school teacher as well and now home schools their four biological children.
Many see this family with four kids already and wonder at their interest in adoption—especially international adoption. But for Todd and Erin, it isn’t a matter of simply wanting more children, it’s a matter of wanting to improve the lives of children who otherwise would have nothing. “We believe that those who have much, hold much responsibility to give. And just living in this country puts us as some of the most privileged people in the world,” Erin says on her blog, One Sought Me. “Parenting is such a fun adventure full of laughing and learning. We know firsthand how fast time flies when watching kids grow and how precious our time is as parents to our interesting and unique kiddos.”
Though the Vogtmans have immense respect for those who work in the foster care system of our country, they could not escape the realization that even those who have the least in America are so often richer than the majority of the people in third world countries. And while every orphan is in need of love and protection, those born in underprivileged nations have virtually no chance for betterment aside from what comes in from other nations. These are children who could very well starve and die before reaching adulthood if no one feels the call to step in. Todd, Erin, and their kids felt that call.
But the Vogtmans discovered as they began research into international adoption that it’s a difficult path, especially when a family already has four biological children. Their choices on where they could apply soon dwindled down to a few, and they eventually settled on Ethiopia. They have at this point been approved for adoption and hope to have their new brother and sister with them by the end of 2013.
Adoption, however, is a costly calling, and so area businesses and churches are teaming up with the Vogtmans on their loving mission and sharing in the task of fund-raising. And what better way than to draw on the talents the family already has? With that thought in mind, Full Gospel SDB Church, located on Hazen Rd, invited Todd to perform at their monthly Saturday Night Alive program. Admission is free, but a freewill offering will be taken up, all proceeds to go to the Vogtman adoption.


For those of you online and too far away to come support this amazing family, I do invite you to check out Erin's blog, One Sought Me. If you feel so led, there's a donation button in the right corner. Every little bit helps!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Remember When . . . Your Name Appeared?

I have no clue what color-scheme will used on the cover,
but for purely inspirational purposes, I made a blue title banner ;-)
I'm on the downward slide (okay, so there's nothing slide-like about this mounting battle, LOL) of Circle of Spies, and having SO MUCH FUN with these characters! But wow, is there a cast of them necessary! I'm still at that point where I doubt my own ability to draw all my character threads together in a nice little bow by the end of the book--which is also the end of the series, remember--so I'm spending some time gnawing at fingernails over here (metaphorically, anyway). And making copious notes about "Don't forget to include Elsie at the end! Don't forget that Barbara needs to be involved in this! Don't forget to give Granddad Thad a role in this part!"

But one thing I'm having especial fun with in this one is using names of real people for my characters. I don't usually do this, but as my awesome editor found a few redundant names in Whispers from the Shadows (three Henrys? Really, Roseanna??) and we started plugging in names of folks at Harvest House for these mentions, it turned into a pretty fun game. She gave me the challenge of including "Barbara" in a book sometime, and I took her up on it...which got me thinking.

Marietta, my heroine, had no real female friends. Which can work...but I already did that in Ring of Secrets. I really shouldn't have another loner female character in the same series. So yes, she needed a friend, who could be named Barbara. But who was this woman? How does she enter the story? I decided somehow or another that she would be tied to the brother Marietta lost at Gettysburg, the one she loved above all. And then at our fabulous writing retreat, my critique partner gave me the idea of using a photograph to alert Mari to her presence in her life--a perfect solution, though that likely makes little sense to you right now, LOL. Resulting in, voila, exactly the friend I needed Marietta to have! And a lack I hadn't realized was there until someone issued me that challenge of including a name.

So then I had the brilliance (inspired by the aforementioned critter Stephanie Morrill and her next book, The Revised Life of Ellie Sweet) of including YOUR names in this thing! Well...your spy names. =) Not that I'm going to have that many spies, but every time I need to name a minor character, I'm pulling from that list. (So if you haven't left me a comment on my Spy Name Game with yours yet, you'd better!!) I'd already assigned one of the names to a role I needed, an innkeeper in Western Maryland. I had a decent idea of her personality and grinned when I realized she'd be saving my hero's life at the climax.

Then yesterday I had this realization. Namely, that all my bad guys are Confederates. Yet I don't want to paint all Confederates as bad guys! And while I know that I also have another Civil War-set manuscript here that is entirely Southern, where "Yankee" is the equivalent of a curse and the highest insult my characters can use, um...readers of the Culper series don't know that, LOL. And I don't want to come off as hating the South, which I most assuredly do not. So what I need is a wonderful, amazing, God-fearing, heroic Confederate character in this thing...and my inn keeper is just the one to play the part!

So when some of you ask me how I come up with my ideas...this is a new one for the list, LOL. Quite a few twists and quirks of Circle of Spies have come about solely as I contemplate NAMES, of all things! Who knew? So seriously, if you haven't already, create your spy name!! Never know how it might inspire me. ;-)

Monday, March 25, 2013

Sick Day (And Reminder)

I spent a goodly portion of the weekend fending off the stomach bug going around, and then last night fell prey to a nasty sore throat. So I'm taking a sick day.

But don't forget that my big Box of Secrets giveaway ends this weekend! Better hurry to get your entries in!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Thoughtful About . . . The Nature of Faith

The Christian Martyrs' Last Prayer, painted 1883 by Jean-Léon Gérôme

My church has been doing a study of the book of 1 John leading up to Easter. It's such a rich little book, full of the foundations and mysteries of faith. And as I read it and study it out, it does indeed make me pause to examine what this thing is that fills me.

This past week we were on chapter 4, and as we discussed it, we got on the subject of searching for proof of faith...and by contrast, the extreme doubt of everything that entered with the modern period. And I began to wonder if the two were related.

In the late 19th century, science was expanding by leaps and bounds. Discoveries were made constantly, technology was rapidly evolving, and even literature was responding with amazing, fantastical books that explored the what-ifs of this changing world. What if we could travel to the center of the earth? Or under the sea? Or back in time?

Fueled by this new understanding, religion began asking the same questions. What if we could prove life after death? What if we could call up the spirits of those gone before? What if we could cross that veil? Cue the Spiritualism movement, with its tea party seances and knockings and rappings and rather frightening invitations, like when they would produce a child who couldn't read or write and invite a spirit to use his body to convey a message with a pencil. Yikes!

I can understand why the idea of proving faith would appeal. Just think--it they could produce scientific evidence of heaven and hell, of the spiritual world, then who could possibly doubt them??

And yet directly after that came the skeptics. The movement that not only questioned faith, questioned God, but questioned their own existence. As a professor at my college said in a seminar one night, "I just can't talk to you anymore if you're going to say such things." The skeptics took questioning to a whole new level, literally doubting everything. How do you know the sun will rise tomorrow? You can't prove it will. How do you know you're still you when you sleep? Are you still conscious of yourself? (Insert Roseanna replying in that seminar, "I'm not conscious of any moments when I'm not conscious of myself" and earning riotous laughter...)

Now I can't say that these desires to prove and to doubt are actually linked, but I'm going to speculate. What if they are? What if, by searching for that proof of faith, we remove all certainty? What if when we question that most basic human yearning for something greater, we end up knowing nothing at all?

Questions are natural. Doubt is natural. The seeking of proof is natural. But the more I ponder it all in relation to faith, the more I think faith is not meant to ever be proven. Because faith is the proof. It's the evidence of our hopes. It's the substance of the unseen. Faith is itself a thing, a force, a form, an ideal. One of the few things that can exist purely within us.

Yes, people can question its existence. Just like they can question love, life, their very existence. They can question anything. But just because you doubt the laws of physics doesn't keep them from operating. Just because you doubt yourself doesn't mean you wink out of being. And just because you questions faith and God doesn't mean they're not real.

Some things demand proof, yes. And some things are the proof. I've come to the conclusion that faith is often miscategorized. Don't ask me to prove that an apple will fall--take it instead as the proof of gravity. Don't ask me to prove faith is real--take it instead as the proof of our hope in the Lord.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Remember When . . . People Moved Fast?

Between Ring of Secrets and Whispers from the Shadows there's a gap of 34 years or so. Substantial when you consider how characters age, but in terms of changes in the world itself between 1780 and 1814, it's fairly simple. Fashions changed quite a bit (bye-bye powdered wigs! LOL), language became slightly more modern. But technology underwent no huge changes. They still traveled by ship or horse, and that was pretty much it.

But between Whispers from the Shadows and Circle of Spies, I have a gap of 51 years. And it was a busy half-century! I'm still trying to wrap my mind around the differences of this world, the world of 1865. The world where we now have telegrams to communicate so very quickly. Still not as fast as cell phones, granted, but a message got to someone within a day rather than weeks or months. For that matter, people got themselves moved in a day instead of a week or month!

As I was reading a diary of someone involved in intrigue during the Civil War, that hit me over and over. That this guy just hopped a train to New York from Washington at the drop of a hat. That a trip to Canada was no big thing. That it wasn't any more difficult to go from Baltimore to D.C. then than it is now. (Maybe easier, given the traffic these days, LOL.)

In terms of my story, this means I have the ability to make it cover more distance more easily. That I can send my villain out and about for a week and then back when I need him. That messages can come on the day of an event without it being coincidence. Though not quite instantaneous like our world so often is today, the pace of 1865 was so much faster than in previous generations--and that's both overt and subtle. I'm have a lot of fun trying to integrate the mindset that came along with it, too.

The realization hit me pretty solidly at the tail end of my writing retreat, when I paused to think, "Hey, my family in this thing owns a railroad--I should probably incorporate trains!" And when I sat back to think How?, oh the images that came! So we're looking at a showdown on the rails. Not Western-style, with gun-slingers jumping all over the cars and dodging tunnels, but the climax is going to be on a train. And someone's going to get tossed out of it.

And he-or-she is only going to survive it because of a friendly local who helps out. Which brings us to a fun bit. ;-) Have you generated your spy name yet? YOU SHOULD!! I'm going to be pulling from this list of names to name some of the minor characters in Circle of Spies, and you might just see yourself in there! Not necessarily as spies...but you never know. =)

Monday, March 18, 2013

Word of the Week - Snoop

There's an awful lot of snooping going on in my current manuscript, so as Marietta and Slade go peeking into things Devereaux doesn't want them too, I had to pause to look up the history of the word. =)

I discovered that the verb came first, debuting round about 1832. It's American English, and carried the original meaning of "to go around in a prying manner." Definitely fits my undercover detective's behavior, LOL. Conjecture is that it comes from the Dutch word snoepen, which means "to pry." Interestingly, the association there is to "eat in secret, eat sweets, sneak." Oh yeah--sneaking dessert. That's my kind of snooping! ;-) The precise definition of "prying into others' business" is attested from 1921.

In the middle of those, about 1891, the noun form joined the party, meaning "detective." And the adjective "snoopy" followed four years later. Leading, of course, to the cartoon in 1950. ;-)

Don't forget that a new installment of A Vow Fulfilled goes live today!

Read Chapter One
Read Chapter Two
Read Chapter Three
Read Chapter Four
Read Chapter Five 

Read Chapter Six

Friday, March 15, 2013

A Vow Fulfilled & Giveaway! (Chapter Five)

Read Chapter One
Read Chapter Two
Read Chapter Three
Read Chapter Four

Don't forget to leave a comment on each chapter for a chance at the big giveaway!

Chapter Five

Leroy Gaskins, a man Celia recognized as the sot fired by William’s father, emerged from the woods. “I don’t think I’d sign that, ya’ll.”

Turner dropped his hand from Celia’s mouth.

After Gaskins wiped his greasy face with a red handkerchief, he tucked the rag into his torn pants-pocket. “Seems I got here just in time.”

Turner’s hand wrapped protectively around Celia’s arm as Gaskins gestured with his gun for William and Mabel to back up closer to Reverend Bachman. “Unlike your gun, Mr. Owens, mine are loaded. Might as well toss yours aside. That was a darned fool idea ya’ll concocted. Makes me wonder what young people get taught these days at university.”

What did he mean? Celia shivered against Turner and he squeezed her arm, reassuring her.

Gaskins’ cheroot glowed as he inhaled on the cigar. “And careless, waggin’ your tongues in an establishment like Poogins. Any waterman on the Ashley or the Cooper rivers could repeat your little plan. Anyone ends up dead here today, they’ll be lookin’ for at least one of your sorry selves—Owens or Cane. Shoulda been called Cane and Abel. Amazin’ to me that your pappy hated your grandpappy Owens so much that he wouldn’t even claim his name, Mr. Cane.”

Celia looked up into Turner’s face, a muscle in his jaw jerking as though in agreement with the filthy man’s words.

Gaskins scratched his scraggly brown beard. Swamp oaks and cypress trees rustled overhead, Spanish moss casting eerie shadows from the torches now planted in the soft swamp earth. Behind them, the freed men shifted weight, seeming to consider their options.

“Once yer daddy got that ring back, me and my Maggie set our plan a’goin’. Invited our niece, Mabel, to Charleston.”

Insects buzzed around them, and tree frogs began their song.

Mabel Holloway backed away, even closer to the minister, bumping into him. The two fell down into the pluff mud, spattering their clothes, and stirring up the sulfurous odor of decomposing saltmarsh.

“Oh! Look what you did. I detest this nasty swamp dirt’s smell.” Her friend’s voice, absent the Southern accent, revealed her Yankee roots. “I never agreed to anything, you horrid man. And I am not your niece!”

Mr. Gaskins tilted his head sideways. “Oh, it’s true all right. ‘Best-looking and most gentlemanly man’ ya’d ever met, were your exact words when I introduced you to William at the store.”

“I said no such thing you addled-brained—!” Mabel kicked her feet from beneath her skirt and blew a tendril of dark red hair out of her eyes.

William assisted Mabel to her feet and brushed some of the mud from her gown. He acted entirely too familiar. Celia would never have allowed her former beau such liberty.

Disappointment coursed through her, sticking in her chest. Her friend had deceived her. “You’re not from Richmond, then, are you? Nor a graduate of Miss Witherspoons’ Academy?”

Mabel laughed but a tic commenced by her right eye. “New York, I’m afraid, but we moved south when Father died. Mother was a maid at Witherspoons’ and I heard a lot. When Aunt Maggie brought us here . . .”

Dizziness threatened to spill Celia into the dank swamp mud, too. So her friend really was this foul man’s relation. Mercy!

Turner released Celia’s arm and gently pressed his fingers against her wrist, his touch as natural as breathing.

Mabel’s eyes bored into William’s, their down-tipped corners pleading forgiveness. “I thought I’d use enough information from those spoiled girls as entree into the right circles when we came to Charleston. But I never asked him to kill anyone. I cannot believe my aunt married this ruffian.”

Nor could Celia.

One corner of Gaskin’s mouth tugged upward. “Seems Miss Mabel didn’t understand another person would inherit part of Mr. Gregory Owens, Jr.’s property. ’Parently neither did Mr. William here, till that ring got returned. His grandpappy set up some stipulations.”
“Is that a Southern tradition?” Mabel held out a fair, ungloved hand toward Celia. “Your cousin told me your own grandfather set up his inheritance so he will inherit all the Sheldon property.” She gestured around and Celia’s breath caught at the movement amongst the swamp oaks’ branches.

Gaskins continued his harping. “Amazin’ how much Owens loved his son. William this and William that. Gets tiresome hearin’ all that prattle ‘bout a spoiled soft-handed man what ain’t done a lick of work in his life.” Wobbling, he raised his gun overhead.

Slithering movement above – must be a snake. Celia shuddered into Turner, his hand circling her wrist—staying her.

William moved a half-step forward. “Seems to me you’ve been imbibin’ a tad too much liquor tonight Mr. Gaskins. Which is why Father released you from your job at our establishment.”

“T’weren’t from my infernal alcohol habit, no sir. T’was from my uncooperative niece.” Gaskins gestured with his pistol toward Mabel.

Celia gasped—as angry as she was with Mabel, she didn’t wish her harm. Turner released his grip.

Mabel wiped back tears then shook her finger at Celia. “Some of this is your fault. If not for your soft Christian heart, befriending me when no one else would, and bringing me around into Charleston society, I’d never have been accepted. All those names and relations I worked so diligently to recall availed little till you took me under your wing, Celia. Except with William. He loved my stories – was so kind to me.”

Celia couldn’t believe William’s broad, affectionate smile for the woman who had deceived them all. “Mabel, darlin’, I don’t mean any disrespect, but I knew all along you weren’t kin to half the people you claimed.”

Her friend tried to step away from him but his hands secured her. “Why not?”

Blue eyes twinkled as he gazed at Celia’s now-former friend. “Because they’re my kinfolk, you silly girl.”

“I am not a girl.”

Celia gave Mabel a hard appraisal. How old was she truly? Behind Turner, something rustled in the undergrowth.

Lord, please, don’t let it be a gator. Those creatures terrified her. She spied some of the greens the slaves’ root doctor liked to gather. Why, she’d never be out in this swamp unless she was with Mama Teensy, looking for special vegetation for healing. Her hands shook and she clasped them together.

“You have to believe me.”

Gaskins rubbed his head, eyes closed tight, face pained. If only someone could knock him aside. He opened his watery eyes and glared at Celia.

Please Lord, send us help!

“I thought it’d be so easy. Mabel’s a true beauty. It had to have been your piety and your fortune, Miss Sheldon, ‘less he prefers those pale washwater looks of your’n.”

Turner bent and whispered in her ear. “The drunken man isn’t able to see well, my beauty.”
“Where’s that ring of your grandpappy’s?” Gaskins lurched forward, toward William. “One wedding means one cousin inherits. I want to be sure it’s the right couple.”
Celia covered her mouth, sure she was going to start screaming any moment now. She swatted at a mosquito. No, she must be calm.

Mabel Holloway’s features hardened. “You could have had any young man in Charleston, Celia Sheldon. But you had to flirt with the one man I fell in love with, didn’t you? How many times had I shared my feelings with you about William?”

Turner squeezed Celia’s hand, his dark hair falling across his forehead as he leaned toward her. “All will be well,” he whispered. “Have faith.”

Mabel’s eyes flashed at Celia. “I hoped you would go after my latest beau. William and I talked about everything. He believed if I accepted Miles’ engagement offer, you were so contrary you’d pursue the one man I had.”

Under no condition would Celia have chased after Miss Holloway’s beau. Heat rose up her neck.

Crossing her arms over her ample chest, Mabel fixed her gaze on William. “Why did you tell me that, then, Mr. Owens, if you intended to marry Miss Sheldon?”

Turner Cane Owens placed a protective arm around Celia. She leaned into his side. The scent of leather, starch, and lemon verbena and the warmth of his hand at her waist, soothed her.

Tears poured down Mabel’s cheeks. “If you had just let things be, Celia. If you’d only ignored him every time we stopped by the shops. If you’d married Jonathan.”

How did she manage to look so pretty even with mud all over her dress, her auburn hair tumbled down, and red splotching her ivory face?

William brought Mabel into his arms and Turner looked down at Celia, his eyebrows raised. The serpent moved lower, closer to its target.

The scent of brackish water strengthened, the tides must be coming in. Soon this area would be ankle deep in water. Celia finally possessed her bearings. The quarters for the outside servants weren’t far from here and they should be coming back from the fields soon. Dear Lord, how could we get there, to protection? She should have been home by now. Surely Daddy would have sent someone looking. Wouldn’t he?
“Well, at least now you’ll cease mangling our Carolina accent, Miss Holloway. Made me wince sometimes.” William laughed then cried out as Mabel brought her foot down hard on his.

Slithering movement resumed in the trees ahead of Celia. Brown variegated pattern against the tan limb suggested a cottonmouth. From behind, whispers soft as a breeze rustled through the cyprus. From the corner of her eye, Celia noted something moving from behind the massive swamp oak.

Turner glanced over her shoulder, eyes widening, before he nodded almost imperceptibly.

Warm wood slid over and forward on her shoulder and rested heavily there. Had Turner not held her, she’d have jerked away. Moving only her eyes to look, first the muzzle then rifle barrel appeared. She took a deep breath inhaling the scent of fatback, lye soap, and coconut oil that only one man she knew rubbed into his dark skin. She exhaled in relief – her prayers had been answered.

Oblivious to the water moccasin dangling above him, Gaskins pulled the cork out of his liquor bottle and took a swig. The freedmen’s eyes grew wide as they stared in Celia’s direction.

“Its ‘Lijah, Missy—don’t you be movin’. You realize you be on your cousins’ land here?” The man’s deep voice was one she’d known all her life.

Celia exhaled in relief.

“This be her swamp, Miss Celia. I got permission to hunt back here. Can shoot nuisance varmints if’n I see ‘em. Sure do see one now—maybe two. Leroy Gaskin be a nuisance and a varmint so I reckon that make him just what I say. But his kin…” The gun lifted from her shoulder. “Cover your ears, Miss Celia, and close your eyes.”

Contributed by Carrie Fancett Pagels,

Chapter Six will be hosted by Gina Welborn on
written by Patty Smith Hall.

And the prizes! Don't forget the prizes! 
Comment on each chapter for a separate entry into the big drawing at the end!

Monday, March 11, 2013

A Vow Fulfilled - Serial Story & Giveaway!

A while ago, several of your favorite historical writers (and some soon-to-be-favorites) teamed up to bring you a serial story! A Vow Fulfilled begins today on Carrie Fancett Pagels blog with the first scene, written by MaryLu Tyndall, and you do NOT want to miss this! Especially given the awesome giveaway~scroll down for info!

Chapter One
by MaryLu Tyndall


Chapter Two
by Roseanna M. White

hosted by Laurie Alice Eakes
Chapter Three
by Debbie Lynn Costello
hosted by MaryLu Tyndall
Chapter Four
by Gina Welborn
hosted by Patty Hall

Chapter Five
by Carrie Fancett Pagels

Chapter Six
by Patty Smith Hall
hosted by Gina Welborn

Chapter Seven
by Laurie Alice Eakes



A pretty amazing giveaway has been put together for this. You can enter a total of seven times, once on each blog. The drawing will be done after the final segment has been posted. There will be one winner of the entire package (which will be shipped in parts). The prize includes:

A designer bookmark, Choices of the Heart and a CD called Wilderness Road: Music of the Backcountry, a recipe book: The Charleston Chef's Table: Extraordinary Recipes from the Heart of the Old South, a Civil War ebook novella and a basket of goodies from Shirley Plantation (notecards, jam, etc.), French quill and ink set, $10 Amazon gift card, and an antique bracelet.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Thoughtful About . . . Empty Places

In our home school reading yesterday, we were reading the continued tale of the life of a Prussian missionary to England, George Müller. In the part of the story we got to, he had just gotten married to the sister of a British missionary, and together they had made a decision to abolish pew rents in their church--which meant their living went from guaranteed to based on the goodwill of their tiny congregation.

One night, all the food in the house was gone. But George and Mary set the table anyway. They sat down at the dinner hour. They held hands, and they prayed. Not asking God for food--but rather, thanking Him for all he had provided. Thanking Him.

Minutes after their prayer had ended, someone showed up at their door with a whole ham.

That story traveled with me throughout the day. When it comes to this life of ours, it's so easy to focus on what we lack. The things we don't have. The empty places. Sometimes, that's all we can see. It surrounds us. It defines us.

Lack can be such a solid thing. Think about it: what's the absence of light? Darkness. What's the absence of heat? Cold.

Things that are literally nothing in themselves, yet their counterparts are so crucial to us that we feel their absence as a physical thing. And the same applies to things like wealth, food, clothing, cars, houses...all those other things. It applies too to family, friends, churches, school, education.

Things we, as human beings, crave. Need. And when we don't have them, we feel it.

But George Müller taught me something today. He taught me that I shouldn't just pray for the empty places to be filled. I should praise Him for having them. I should praise the Lord my God for taking away what I don't need. I should praise Him for giving me life enough to want. I should praise him for being bigger than a lack, for being the eternal Being that is never absent.

And I should pray knowing that all those empty places...they're just potential, waiting for Him. They're just Him sweeping clean so He can give me what I really need. Because how could He, if I'd filled with junk the places He wanted to fill with promise? If the Müllers had scavenged for moldy bread, why would God have sent a feast?

What plates are we filling today with garbage, just to have something, when we should be waiting for Him to provide the right thing?

Lack will never be easy. It's not meant to be. Not many people in this world ever seek it. But it finds us, in one form or another, always. There is always something more we want. Some hole we see in our lives. Some empty place.

But let's try doing it like the Müllers did. Let's set the table anyway. Let's sit down together, join hands, and praise Him. Praise Him not just for what He will provide, but for the empty places just waiting for Him.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Snow Day! And some stuff ;-)

Happy Wednesday, everyone!

I just got home yesterday from my first annual writing retreat with my super-awesome best friend/critique partner, Stephanie Morrill, and we had a totally awesome time. We both logged over 35,000 words in our long weekend of nothing-but-writing!

I got cuddled in at home well before the big snow hit, but now it's puttin' it down out there, and I promised my kiddos a snow day. Figure that's a good way for me to ease back into the home school schedule. ;-)

BUT--a few links had to be passed along anyway. =) First of all, the aforementioned super-friend Stephanie's first book is FREE on Kindle and Nook! Please download and pass along the links! This is the first of her young adult series, which is wonderful. I read and loved them all (several times, LOL), and the timing is perfect, as her next book will be out soon. =)

Also courtesy Stephanie and Jill Williamson is a new writing craft book on turning your first draft into a publishable novel--the only craft book I've ever read all the way through, LOL. It's priced to sell, so check it out too!

Happy snow day! Now back to reality I go. I have a feeling I won't be writing 10,000 words today, LOL.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Word of the Week - File

Very quick one this week, as I'm still on my writing retreat. =) (And have gotten over 20K written in just two days!) In quick research while writing, I learned something interesting about file.

I think I was looking to see if a file folder would have been around in 1865. So in looking up file, I discovered this:

file (n.1)
    1520s, "string or wire on which documents are strung,"
Say what? Strings? Wires? Apparently yes. It comes from the notion of documents being strung up like clothes on a clothes line for safekeeping. The verb entry even had this lovely 17th century quote:

     File (filacium) is a threed or wyer, whereon writs, or other exhibits in courts, are fastened for the better keeping of them. [Cowel, "The Interpreter," 1607]

As goes on to say, "Methods have become more sophisticated, but the word has stuck."

See, you learn something new every day. ;-)