Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Cooking and Writing

Wow, I've been finding a lot of time to write lately and I made a discovery. I enjoy it! Since I decided to focus on learning the craft, instead of making money, I'm amazed at how relaxing it can be. It's kind of like cooking where I feel totally in control and not at all intimidated. I love experimenting with new recipes. I don't usually follow recipes to a "T"; instead I just get ideas and wing it. But there's a sense of satisfaction when the flavors marry nicely and my concoctions come out tasting great. Surprisingly, when they flop, I don't mind it at all. It doesn't depress me - I just take it as a challenge to make it work the next time. What usually frustrates me is when my creations fail due to lack of planning on my part.

I'm finding that writing brings the same kind of satisfaction. I still lean towards non-fiction, but it's fun to experiment with point of view and characterization in fiction. Things don't always turn out perfectly the first time and that's okay with me. They're just words, so back to the drawing board we go.

I feel like I'm on the right track, focused on laying a good foundation, so when I do start submitting pieces for publication, and querying editors with my ideas, I'll be more confident in my ability to produce. Along the way, I'm asking and answering important questions of myself, clarifying for myself what I believe. It's like I used to tell my dorm girls: get the heart right and the rest will follow.

A Wish for Words

For once I'm not wishing for words to write. I'm wishing for words to speak. I just sat and listened for a good fifteen minutes to several co-workers in the office next to me, railing on Bush, Republicans, conservatives and everything else they hate about our country. I wish I was more articulate when it comes to politics, but I just find it hard to express what I believe to be right.


Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Here a Penny, There a Penny

I"m always finding money. Sometimes its a $20 bill in the pocket of the jeans I packed away at the end of last summer. Other times I'll find a buck or two in an old purse I haven't used for months. And then there's always the change in my husband's pockets that ends up in the laundry. More often than not though, my monetary finds are just pennies I come across while walking through a parking lot. Some would laugh at me but I always pick them up. Money is money, no matter the denomination.

Would to God I had that same approach to His word. Sometimes I'm on the lookout for that big smacks-me-between-the eyes truth, and I skip over the "little" exhortations. I'm looking for that big beam of light cast out from the lighthouse, when right in front of me is just enough light on the path illuminating my next step.


Monday, June 28, 2004

That Bushel Thing

So I'm trying to decide how to spend this coming Friday. I love it when I'm off and Mike has to work. That sounds mean but the honest truth is I get so much done on those days. And usually it's something that benefits Mike. Anyhow, I'm wavering between hiring a couple kids to help me clean the garage or ask my dad to come help me paint the hallway going to the gameroom. Both need done and neither are jobs I'm up to tackling myself.

I have pretty much decided to go with the garage thing at this point. Last night I was thinking about calling a friend from church and seeing if her two young teens might like to make a few bucks. For some reason though, the face of the teen girl across the street popped into my mind. "But Lord, I don't know her." It occurred to me how many occasions I pass up simply because my tendency is to look within the church family for all my needs, instead of looking outside the body of Christ for opportunities. It's that bushel thing.

Friday, June 25, 2004

Scoping the Neighborhood

Lately I've came across a few weblogs of Christian authors, as well as some "Christian" discussion boards and websites and doing so caused me to question some of my my writing goals. What is my responsibility as a Christian writer? It seems pretty clear cut in the non-fiction realm. It's the fiction that gets me and where there seems to be the most debate. How does one handle sin and other negative elements? Is it right to bare all, down to the nitty gritty ugly details, just because it's the way things are?

Some criticize Christian fiction because it's a little too perfect and neat, but isn't there something to be said for holding up an ideal? I don't want to read about perfect people; I want to read about real people with real problems. And yet, I don't exactly want to be dragged down into the negative depths when I read. I want to see characters learn and grow and change for the better. I don't have all the answers right now, but these are some questions playing havoc in my mind these days.

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Making Lemonade

So I made a really big mistake at work today. So bad I wanted to hide under my desk all day. And as is typical, I worried about it all evening. But on my way home, it occurred to me this may be the answer to my prayers about my job. Perhaps it can be the catalyst for change. I still don't feel great about it but I feel a bit better knowing God is indeed in control and can work all things for His good purposes.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Constant Corrections

Seems to me one key to making progress in life is learning to make constant corrections. By corrections, I mean adjustments. Have you ever taken your hands off the steering wheel while driving? Giver yourself about 10 seconds before you're forced to jerk the wheel and maneuver back into your lane. Good drivers make those constant adjustments and I'm finding those constant corrections are needed in my life on a regular basis.

Identity Crisis

No, I'm not having an identity crisis but I could be. After all, I have no less than a dozen log-in names for the different software programs and forums I use, not to mention as many passwords. When I ran out of variations on my name, I started using my dog's name and he has just as many nicknames, etc. I can get quite confusing.

Most of these screen names and logins are necessary for my own security on the Internet. No matter what login name I use though, I am really just Dianne. I don't want to hide behind an anonymous name so I can say things I'd never really say if I were face to face with people. I am still accountable for every word I speak or write and I try to remember that.

The most important thing though, is not "who am I?" My identity is in Christ. I am nothing without Him. I can't say I don't want to be known - my goal as a writer is to be published. But my ultimate goal is to reflect Christ in every word I speak or write, and in all I do. Paul expressed this desire best in Galatians when he said, "I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." (Galatians 2:20 NIV)

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

21 Days

Twenty-one days. That's how long they say it takes to make something a habit. So I've blogged for twenty-one days in a row now. It feels good actually to be consistent at something for once; most of my life consists of false starts. I can think of some other good habits I need to add now, like exercising and more consistent time in God's word.

Monday, June 21, 2004

3 Writing Wishes

Today's blog entry is taken from a Writer's Digest writing prompt: If you were granted 3 writing-related wishes, what would they be?

How fun. Three writing wishes have been granted me. So my first wish would be for direction. Sometimes I feel like I'm on a journey but I keep switching from one mode of transport to another; I really have no clue what I'd like to write. The bit of fiction I've toyed with has been fun, but I don't have enough driving purpose right now to pursue it seriously. Non-fiction comes more easily but a "have-to" feeling hovers over my shoulders when I work on a non-fiction piece. I have to find a market for this; I have to query an editor. It's just that I have so many "have-to's" during the work week, such a feeling takes all the enjoyment out of my writing. So direction would be my first wish.

Second, since these are wishes and wishes are free from the encumbrances of reality, I'd wish for a week of my gram's time. I'd love to sit and talk with her again, and I'd be sure to ask more questions and pay closer attention to her stories. Why would I not wish for a month, a year or even a return to life? Well, I'm a pretty realistic person, even when wishing. But even if wishes could come true, I know she's happier now in heaven and I wouldn't take that from her. No, just a week would be great!

My last wish? A simple, most feasible one. I wish my hands didn't hurt me so much. If they didn't, I'd probably take the time and think of something better for my third wish. As it is, this is all I can muster for tonight.

A Tribute to My Dad

I understand that writers for the card markets must strive to produce sentiments with general, widespread appeal. So the card I bought my dad said some true things, something about him being thoughtful and giving. It was a pretty card, and even though he turned it over immediately to check the price, I know he appreciated it. But the words weren't really my words, from my heart, written just for my dad. So on the eve before Father's Day, I began to pen some thoughts especially for my dad.

MY dad. I could fill a book with all the memories we share and all the reasons why I love him. But Michael Reagan expressed at his dad's interment service what I feel today. He said the greatest gift his dad gave him was the assurance they'd meet again in heaven someday. Almost ten years ago, my dad gave me that same gift when he put his trust in Christ as Savior. I was reminded of that blessing bestowed upon the both of us as I heard my dad volunteer to read the scripture in Sunday School class today. A few tears crept into the corner of my eye and a familiar lump came to my throat as I thanked my heavenly Father once again for this greatest of all blessings.

Saturday, June 19, 2004

The Circle of Life

I imagine that pioneering Americans making the greak trek westward looked forward to evenings around the campfire. Once their wagons were circled, their evenings were spent tending the sick, preparing food, and planning for the next day, snatching moments of relaxation when they could. Foremost in their minds was survival; surviving the nights with lookouts posted to defend against Indian attacks, surviving the trip without succumbing to disease or the elements. Their ultimate goal - settling down in a new home in a new territory and a return to life as they knew it, with opportunities to improve their lives. Every generation since has made an intimate friend of progress, until today we are consumed with pursuit of convenience.

These thoughts occurred to me this evening as I sat with my family around a bonfire in our backyard. The evening air was chilly and the fire was cozy and relaxing. With every possible modern convenience available to us - electricity for evening lighting, warm homes, and every kind of prepared food you can imagine - we had chosen instead to return to the outdoors and enjoy each other's company in simplicity. There we were, roasting marshmallows and drawing nearer to the fire to keep warm. We've come full circle.

In a larger sense, I believe the world will eventually come full circle as a society, until one day, every knee will bow and recognize God as Almighty.

Friday, June 18, 2004

Another Beheading

I'm no political analyst but am shocked and disgusted by the beheading of Paul Johnson by Al Quaida in Saudi Arabia. I can't imaging seeing pictures of my dad like that, or even just knowing something like that happened to him. How absolutely heartbreaking. And yet many Americans will continue to deny the evil attacks being waged against our country, choosing instead to point fingers within our own borders at the "evil" ones who denounce practices like gay marriage and abortion. Romans chapter 1 is being enacted right before our eyes but even Christians refuse to see it. Most Christians, I fear, myself included, have fallen into the trap of only being concerned about things that directly affect us today. I don't have teen girls and was never a teen mother, so abortion doesn't affect me. I'm happily married, so the threat of gay marriage doesn't affect me. We need to regain a clear vision of right and wrong, and start living and acting on principle. That's what the founders of this country did and what makes it great.

Thursday, June 17, 2004

So In the End, Who Wins?

When I read various threads on Christian forums representing differing opinions, I can't help wondering if people are somehow expecting to hear God say in heaven, "You were right." I think some people believe heaven will be the ultimate vindication for everything they strove for here on earth.

I don't think that will be the scene at all. For one thing, I believe we will be so in awe of being face to face with our awesome God, the petty squabbles we had here on earth will be far removed from our minds. But in a greater sense, I know that heaven will not be about who was right on earth. The rejoicing will be all in the victory won by the Son, the final destruction of Satan and his dominion and the banishing of sin for all eternity.

So wouldn't our time here on earth be so much better spent in propagation of that ultimate victory, and lifting up the God whom we will forever give all praise and glory?

Answered Prayer: All in God's Time

My dad trusted Christ in 1995, when my mom had cancer. We had prayed 20 years for his salvation. Since then, he has attended church faithfully, shared his experience with others but that's about it. He never did like to read. He sits next to me in SS, and likes the teacher, but much of it is over his head because he lacks the foundation (but that's where he likes to go).

Recently their neighbors were saved and asked my mom to do a Bible study with them, and my dad agreed to join them. She's been doing their assignment with him each week. Today she got up and found his Bible out on the table. He had done the study on his own!

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

How Many is Too Many?

Wow, I just realized I have a thing for that little word "to." I think I used it on an average of 10 times per paragraph. Wonder where I picked up that bad habit? Something to work on - oops! I must quit that!

The Classic Car Bug!

Last night Mike called me in to show me an old 1970 Oldsmobile for sale on eBay. It sure was a beaut and it was fine with me if he wanted to bid on it. I thought he was serious! I know some wives would have a heart attack but honestly, I trust Mike to always do what's best for us regarding our finances. If he thinks we can afford a new (old) car, that's fine with me! Well, he came out a while later and of course, he was just dreaming. I'm so thankful for a partner though who still loves to dream and better yet, shares his dreams with me! I'm a lucky girl!

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Note to Self: Circle Back

I need to remind myself when I'm writing to circle back and close the loop. Conclusions are, admittedly, my weak point, especially with non-fiction. Sometimes I leave myself hanging; I pity my poor (potential) readers! It's merely a lack of discipline on my part, a failure to take my thoughts to completion. Hmm, maybe it's a habit carried over from my daily life; the laundry basket of clothes waiting to be folded can attest to that!

I find blogging to be conducive to this tendency. It's easy to hop on here and scribble out a few random thoughts but I really must strive to connect the dots and "finish the task." I have for my example Jesus Christ, who finished what he came to do, the redemption of man. This will be my prayer in the days ahead: Lord, help me to finish what I start.

Monday, June 14, 2004

Circus Act

Sometimes I feel like one of those circus acts where the guy attempts to keep a number of plates or basketballs spinning. It's quite a feat. Well, the circus act, I mean. What's not so amazing is my attempt to keep my life in balance. I get one ball spinning - like this blog. Wahoo - 14 days in a row! But wait - what happened to my Bible journal? Or I get on a "Fly Lady" kick with the house and for a few weeks the sink stays clean and the laundry finds a home. But then my writing drops off the deep end.

How do I ever learn to keep them all spinning? Surely there has to be a better way than how the circus guy does this - running here and there, giving first this plate, then that one a spin. Just the thought of it wears me out! If anyone has a solution, please be so kind as to share it with me. Until then, I can only take comfort in God's promise to finish the good work He began in me. His work in my life is better than any circus act, so I must just trust Him more each day.

Sunday, June 13, 2004

The Lord Giveth; the Lord Taketh Away

Ronald Reagan may have been most loved for his wonderful personality, his contagious laugh and his ability to see the good in every situation. For sure, he was a true and loyal friend to his friends and it wasn't hard to be his friend. Yet in his declining years, stricken with Alzheimer's, the light in his eyes which many of us loved, slowly dimmed. He couldn't even recognize his closest family members the last few years, calling his wife of 50 years "Mommy" as she faithfully tended to his needs.

I can't help thinking about Gram. In the same way, it seems her greatest strength and ability was taken from her as she entered her golden years. It pained me to see Gram confined to bed by the ravages of osteoporosis. She had always been such a doer - no task was ever too daunting for her. Whether it was refinishing furniture, painting a mural on the kitchen wall or dragging tons of garbage to the burn pile, she always found a way to do what she set her mind to. As she lay in bed, unable to do little more than watch TV, she dwelt not on what she could no longer do, but on what she could do. She could always give, and give she did until that very last Saturday when she hugged us all goodbye. A hug, a kiss, a smile, a word of advice or funny story - even a bit of cash on occasion - she never lost the power to give.

Morbid though it may be, I can't help but wonder what I'll be like if I live to the age Gram did. What abilities will be taken from me? Will I be blind and unable to devour books like I do now? Will I be bedridden, with no strength to tackle anymore projects? Or will I lose my ability to communicate with the ones I love? I don't dwell on these things but I do accept the fact that this body of flesh is "destroyed day by day." Truly the only hope we have is in Christ.

Saturday, June 12, 2004

Thoughts on Writing

Isn't the power of words that God has bestowed upon us amazing? Could a man begin to count all the words that have ever been uttered on earth since the foundation of time? Through words, we can transcend time and space, at least the space that lies between the continents and exists as a language barrier. Through words, we can preserve for future generations the chronicles of our life and times, while at the same time we learn from those who've walked before us. Through words, we are able to persuade, inspire, sympathize and instruct. But the power of the words lay not in the words themselves - that mysterious conglomeration of symbols and letters. Rather, it is the owner of the words that holds the key to their power. And while that power can be used to comfort, construct and build others, it can also be used to the detriment of others. It is daily our choice, and we are responsible for every word we speak.

I pray that my words, be they many or few, may always be spoken or written in such a way that the reader is lifted up and drawn closer to Christ through them.

And should someone ever decide to preserve my words for posterity's sake, even if they were found thousands of years from now, I must remember that my words are not eternal. Like me, they will also perish someday. God's Word is the only faithful and true word for all time and eternity. The only way anything I write, therefore, can ever have lasting value, is if my words proclaim God's Word and the truth therein.

Friday, June 11, 2004

Then the Bells Rang

I caught as much of the Reagan funeral as I could on the radio this morning. I'll watch it more on tape later. I'm usually not one to watch these broadcast events but this one has held me captive since I heard of his death on Saturday.

So many thoughts tumbled over each other in my mind as I listened to the service. Irish myself, I especially enjoyed the solos by Ronan Tynan of the Irish Tenors. Ronald Reagan was just a WYSIWYG type of guy - he was what he was. No need for posturing or putting on airs. He was a man who genuinely cared about his fellow man and was not afraid to pursue what he believed to be right. What an example for us all. I remember his first term especially well, thanks mostly to Mr. Collins' history and Economics classes in high school, when my eyes were opened to the realm of politics and my role as a citizen. I'll definitely be checking out a few books on his life and administration in the weeks to come.

I'm so glad he is free now, and with the Lord he loved.

Some thoughts on writing

It was nice to see a few new faces at CWG last night. I find it fascinating that we can come together to share our journey down a common path, yet each of our journeys are singularly unique and a reflection of ourselves. Reminds me of Psalm 139 which we memorized with the girls in Pioneer Clubs this year. We are all created in the image of God, but no two of us are alike. Anyways I do look forward to sharing with this group and gaining confidence in my own writing as I learn and share with others. Another part of the path is beginning to open up for me.

That said, I must get back on track with my writing efforts. I can make all the excuses I want, or I can just write. It's really up to me! I need to refocus my goals and get busy, even if it's not as much as I can do when fall rolls around.

Thursday, June 10, 2004

Proud to be an American

Yes, I'm proud to be an American. Those feelings of pride swelled again this week as clips of Ronald Reagan flooded the networks. I don't recall the shame of the Vietnam era that put our country's pride in such a slump, but I do remember feeling secure and grateful for a leader like Reagan who upheld American ideals to our nation and the world.

On the other hand though, is it possible our national pride has resulted in the moral decline we see today? Has our pride blinded us to the fact that all we have and all we are is from Almighty God? Except for 9-11, when as a nation we cried out before God, it seems we have forgotten God in our quest to be a great nation. One by one, we must all come back to the place in our hearts, on our knees before God, recognizing His great hand in our nation's preservation and prosperity. And one by one, we all will. It's just a matter of when.

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Believe It or Not

It always amazes me when people say "it's fine for you to believe that." Since when does believing or not believing something make it true? But then I wonder if the extreme standards of "fundamentalism" haven't hurt the cause of Christ? Because while believing in God is not negotiable, most lifestyle-related standards probably are. I'm talking about things like movies and dress. But people make these issues bigger than life and I think overall Chrsitianity loses its credibility when it comes to abortion and same-sex marriage.

I'm really just rambling here. I seriously believe the moral culture of our day will only continue to decline and it saddens and scares me at the same time. What will be put on trial next?

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Hope & Patience

Wow, we sure have gotten a lot done around the house lately. I notice that we are learning to take one thing at a time, and not let the big picture overwhelm us. Also, amazingly enough, I see myself becoming more patient and not expecting everything to be done today or this month or this season. I'm satisfied with every little thing we do. Granted, we still have much to do, but I have hope. Mike keeps asking me, "So, do you like our house now?" I believe all along I never hated the house, just got frustrated with the piles of junk and lack of progress. It's much easier to live with a feeling of hope and patience!

"Where did you get that hideous scar?" (Writing prompt)

Monday, June 07, 2004

Monday, Monday

Mike was especially sweet this morning, saying he wishes I didn't have to work. I think he sees I don't mind working, but there are so many things around the house that need done. Anyways, here we are again . . . Monday! A new beginning - a new week. Thank God for His new mercies everyday!

Sunday, June 06, 2004

The Essence of Mystery

Hmm, as usual, by the time I get around to jotting down my thoughts for the day, they have managed to elude my feeble mind.

The more I learn of God and His sovereignty, the more ashamed I am of my feeble attempts to do anything for Him in my power. And the more I realize what an affront it must be to Almighty God when his children, for whom he gave the life of his own Son, doubt his sovereign power.

In a recent webblog entry, Mark Bertrand ( wrote of mystery, the vital element. How true this is, for if man could truly understand all there is to know about God, if we had a God we could fully comprehend with our own intellect, He just wouldn't be God. Mystery is truly the essence that holds it all together. Rather than fight that mystery, and struggle to bring it into subjection to our understanding, we are to "walk by faith" and marvel in the God we serve, whom we can trust completely but never fully fathom all the wonders of His being.

Saturday, June 05, 2004

A Day of Great Loss

To my chagrin today, Smarty Jones, the favorite to win the Triple Crown, lost his bid at the Belmont Stakes. I usually joke that I'm bad luck and my pics never win. Ashamedly, I was quite put out.

But the greater loss today was the passing of dear Ronald Reagan. After ten years, he finally succumbed to the Alzheimers that piece by piece was taking him from us. I still remember the day during cheerleading practice when we heard of his attempted assassination.

Dear Ronald Reagan. From famous actor to beloved president, he had the hearts of many in his hands. I can't help the feeling of pride for my country that swells within me whenever I see his picture.

Now he is free. Free from pain and the disease that destroyed him, and safe at home with the Lord he loved.

Thanks, Mr. President. You'll always be president in my heart.

Friday, June 04, 2004

The Year of the Dragon

The Year of the Dragon. I knew it even before I did the math. Gram and I were both born in the year of the dragon! I knew we had a lot in common. Wow, I was lucky that she was so young when I was born. She was only forty-eight - Mom was fifty-eight when Brianna was born. I couldn't help be reminded of Gram for some reason as I met Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Which and Mrs. Who in A Wrinkle in Time. Guess because ultimately, they were all about love and that describes Gram to a tee.

It occurred to me that this would be the perfect place to start recording a writer's journal of some sort. Reading Robert Frost's poem, "The Road Not Taken," we get the idea that it's okay to choose the tougher path. But I've often yearned to know more about that path. Perhaps that's part of the mystery: forging our own way as writers. And yet, something stirs within me when I read authors bios. I look for something to which I can relate. Most of their bios are reflective; writiers recalling their beginnings. I'd like to record my thoughts here now, while I've just stepped off the highway and barely begun to beat down the undergrowth of the path I've chosen.

Does this make any sense? If it doesn't, I'll just blame it on being a beginner!

Thursday, June 03, 2004

No Venting Allowed!

I am resolved not to make this place a venting grounds for my job frustrations at work. Suffice to say, I am not alone in my frustration.

On another note. I have started reading A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine d'Engle. I'm not sure this would make it onto most "Christian" reading lists but so far I'm finding it very interesting. I'm determined to read more in order to make my own writing more interesting.

With the exception of getting my hairbrush stuck in the zipper on the back of my dress this morning, and getting held up in traffic for 20 minutes, so far this day is nothing but ordinary. Maybe I'll give some more thought to Astaris Medley today.

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

Not So Profound

Thought I should write something profound for once. You know, like the things I read on other people's websites. I've been reading with great relish. Anyways, my deep thought for today: most of our problems in society today are related to selfishness. An "I" problem. I guess that's the root of all sin, isn't it? Man choosing to please himself rather than God? Not that we can, in and of ourselves, please God. An example of this is the attempt to legalize homosexual marriages today. The root cause is people choosing what pleases them; giving little thought to the implications of their choices. But on the other hand, we've gotten to this place because Christians do the exact same thing. We only choose to act upon those issues that directly affect us. Until then, the issue is just "out there."

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

Where to Begin

My first entry. I really need to start writing everyday - maybe this online thing will help.

I was thinking about mom and dad today, and moms and dads in general. I wonder if parents get to a point in their lives where they realize their lives for the past 30-40 years have completely revolved around their children (and grandchildren)? I mean, do they ever want to just do something for themselves?

My parents have done nothing short of live for their kids. I hope we bring them joy. It would be a shame to pour your life into someone, only to have them turn their backs on you. I hope they know they're appreciated.