In Which You Are Treated to Selections From My Past Three Blogs

Thursday, January 18, 2006
Some of you are already aware and subscribed...therefore, either disregard this note, or share your opinion of the "product"... but please don't do both.Last October I launched a writing newsletter titled "Scribbles". It comes via e-mail as a two page .PDF and gives you a peek into my writing goals, accomplishments and irritations. If you'd like to subscribe or read back issues, go to (yes, that's my personal website) and click on the "Scribbles" link. Subscription rates are on a purely donation basis. *wink*

Monday, January 8, 2006
Concerning Unexpected Answers
When Mr. Hines walked through the front door yesterday and handed me a grey camera bag, he didn’t realize he was an answer to prayer. Don’t get me wrong—I love the Canon AE-1 that I’ve been using for a year, but in all actuality, it belongs to my dad, not me. I hadn’t really told anyone that I’d been praying for about buying my own camera, but the Lord provided. It wasn’t neccessarily the method or camera I probably would have chosen. It’s a Vivitar 335, and it needs a little cleaning up and a new battery, but there’s no doubt in my mind that it’s my special gift from the Lord. Which means that, somehow, it’s better than the Canon Rebel I would have picked out had the Lord simply provided money. I can’t wait to get it cleaned up and try it out!

Friday, December 22, 2006
God Rest Ye Merry
Traditional English Carol(Audio here:
)God rest you merry, gentlemen,Let nothing you dismay,Remember Christ our SaviorWas born on Christmas Day;To save us all from Satan’s powerWhen we were gone astray.In Bethlehem of Jewry,This blessed babe was born,And laid within a manger,Upon this blessed morn;The which his mother MaryDid nothing take in scorn.From God our heavenly Father,A blessed angel came;And unto certain shepherdsBrought tidings of the same:How that in Bethlehem was bornThe Son of God by name.The shepherds at those tidingsRejoic-ed much in mind,And left their flocks a-feedingIn tempest, storm and wind:And went to Bethlehem straight-wayThe Son of God to find.O, tidings of comfort and joy,comfort and joy!O, tidings of comfort and joy!Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006
Concerning Begging
In church, Sunday, Nathaniel shared from Colossians 4 about prayer, exhorting us to pray like beggars. I’ve been mulling over his words since, meditating on a beggar’s relationship to a king. It’s not unthought-of of that a kind king would look at a beggar—might even give her a gift, speak to her or touch her. In the story of the woman with the issue of blood (Luke 9:43-48), our King proves the power of His love: in one instant, he adopted a beggar."Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace."Such a world of humanity, needing Your care,Yet I grope through the crowd with a skeleton prayer.I wish to escape all the eyes that would probe,But, Lord, let me just touch the hem of Your robe.Unclean, I approach You, ashamed of my sinAnd reach out to know that You’ve healed me within.You know it—You’d planned it—the powerful touch.Only the Christ loves a beggar so much.Of all those who touch You, who press You this dayThe power comes only to those who will say:"Lord, I’ll pursue You. Lord, You may probe.But, Lord, let me just touch the hem of Your robe!"

Thursday, December 14, 2006
Concerning Praise
It was my turn to teach our family devotion yesterday morning, from Psalm 33. It would be a lovely thing for you to read right about now… (pause while you read it)…I noticed some interested things about praise.Why should we praise?#1. Praise is appropriate for us as believersIt makes us acceptable and attractive to YahwehHow should we praise?#2. Musical instruments are recommended to help stir us up to praiseIt seems like we are often reluctant to praise, and should use outward means to get ourselves into a spirit of praise#3. We are told to sings new songsWe’re encouraged to write new songs of praise to Yahweh. We’re not limited to "classic hymns" and we should be careful that, whatever we sing, we don’t allow ourselves to fall into a comfortable groove and loose focus on what we’re saying#4. We should play "skillfully"Even though our praise shouldn’t be to show-off, skillful playing requires practice and shows time and effort. David said he wouldn’t offer Yahweh anything that cost him nothing.What should we praise?#5. We should praise Yahweh’s characterHe is trustworthy and faithful—a good friendHe is righteous and just—a good judgeHe is so merciful that the world is full of his mercy—a good king#6. We should praise Yahweh’s creation He can create by the word of his mouthHe can also destroy by the word of his mouth#7. We should praise Yahweh’s counselHe thwarts the plans of menHis plans are never thwartedThose who live by his plans are blessed#8. We should praise Yahweh’s careHe humbles himself to look into the earthHe tests hearts, not actionsHe is our defenseSpiritually—salvation from HellPhysically—He shields us from famineWhere should we praise?#9. I never found any limits…When should we praise?#10. No limits there, either!Psalm 100:4 says "I will enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise."Are you feeling spiritually dry? Can’t seem to connect with Yahweh in prayer, or focus on his word to read or study it? Here’s the answer…the secret pass-word: PRAISE! Start telling God what he’s done and you’ll find yourself in his presence.1 Thessalonians 5:18 says "in everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."Are you feeling lost and looking for Yahweh’s will? You can’t miss it if you’re praising Him!

Monday, December 4, 2006
In Which I Discover the Best Way to Play in the Snow
"Let’s go see how deep the drifts are around back." Josiah leaned the snow shovel against the doorway of Grandma’s house.
"Okay," I stamped snow from my boots and jeans and followed him over the rock wall, immediately sinking up to my knees in snow.
"Jump!" Josiah called from ahead. "Like this." He started kangarooing through the deep snow until he got to the edge of the house. The wind had swept a clean path all around the house, piling huge drifts just under the eves. We rounded the North side of the house and came out in back.
"Nice!" Josiah grinned. With a quick snatch he picked me up and flung me into a drift.
I climbed out shivering. "Thanks. I needed that."
We stood together, eyeing the white mountains of snow. My eyes traveled to the top of each and then leapt up to the edge of the metal roof, about ten feet higher. I glanced over at Josiah to see the corners of his mouth twitching.
"Come on!" he ordered, and whirled around.
"How are we going to get up?" I panted, floundering through the snow behind him.
"Easy," he called over his shoulder, starting up the tri-cornered TV antenna at the corner of the house. "See?"
I grabbed the sides and started up right behind him. Climbing onto a roof was nothing new to either of us. After helping reroof our house when I was thirteen, I’d been on enough roofs to feel at home.
We reached the edge of the roof and stared down at the pile of snow below us.
"Just be sure to jump between the clothesline and the stairs," Josiah warned.
"Okay," I giggled. "You go first."
He took a step, jumped and THWUP! The snow puffed around his chest as he laughed and rolled out.
"Here I come!" I saw my shadow racing to meet me across the brilliant show, then THWAP! Everything went cold and dark.
I raised my head from the snow and spit.
"Beautiful," Josiah laughed. "Are you stuck?"
"Seems so." I twisted and turned, trying to pull myself loose. Finally I broke through the edge of the snow drift and tumbled out.
"Again?" Josiah asked.
"Yes!" I shook snow out of my ears and we stumbled off.
This time we decided to jump off the lower end of the house, where the drifts were even deeper. After considerable sneaking and ducking—my dad was still out scraping the driveway, and we didn’t want him to see how much fun we were having and be jealous—and Josiah digging me out of another drift on the roof, we scrambled down to the edge and prepared for another take-off.
"Let’s preacher’s seat!" He exclaimed and over the edge he went.
"Whoo-hoo!" I shouted, jumping off after him. This time I hit the snow and rolled out like a giant snowball.
"Fun, fun!" Josiah held up his hand for a high five.
"You sure are covered in snow," Grandma eyed us carefully as we came in the door.
Josiah and I exchanged glances. "Did you hear us out there?" I asked, casually pulling off my stocking cap.
"No. What were you doing?"
"Just playing in the snow," I tugged a ponytail holder loose from one of my braids.
"Did you see the huge drifts out back?"
I giggled, remembering the people shaped holes in them. "Yep. We jumped in them a couple of times."
"That’s why your covered in snow," Grandma chuckled, stirring her pot of stew. "Oh! Before you get undressed, there’s a leak in the roof over my bedroom. It might be kinda slippery, but do you mind going up to look for it?"
I winked at Josiah.
"Not at all," he answered quickly. He pulled his stocking cap back on and we headed back out to the roof.

November 20, 2006
Along with Reality Check, a birthday party, church, and playing with the Willises, I wrote a pile of poetry this weekend. Prepare to be inundated in a Scribe's Scribblings.
Below are the lyrics for a song I'm about to vanish into a cave to write. A very different lyrical style than anything I've ever written, I think. We'll see if I immerge triumphant. I'll at least be haggard and hungry.
Tonight Before I Go To Sleep
Silver moon in a charcoal sky
Is this the night I die? Will I live or die?
Tears or laughter ever after
Have I left a legacy that leads the lost ones home?
Tonight before I go to sleep
I will take the time to weep, weep
As the night is sinking deep
In case I never have the chance to shed another tear.
Sleep (sleep), sleep (sleep), flee my eyes (eyes)
I will offer up my sighs
To the Maker (maker) Breaker of my heavy (heavy), hardened heart.
Silver tears from a blackened heart
Tell me where I must start. Tell me where to start.
Repenting for my sinning
Every thought and word from the beginning.
Tonight before I go to sleep
I will take the time to weep, weep
As the night is sinking deep
In case I never have the chance to dry my eyes again.
Sleep (sleep), sleep (sleep), flee my eyes (eyes)
I will offer up my sighs
To the Maker (maker) Breaker of my heavy (heavy), hardened heart.
Tonight before I go to sleep
I will take the time to weep, weep
As the night is sinking deep
Before I stand before Your throne
I repent, accept and don the garments not my own.
Sleep (sleep), sleep (sleep), flee my eyes (eyes)
I will offer up my sighs
To the Maker (maker) Breaker of my heavy (heavy), hardened heart.

Friday, November 17, 2006
All of the beginning that I have written...
Once upon a time, Papa called me the family chronicler.
"Arianna has it all set down," he beamed. "We’ll never forget anything, like it or not."
Like it or not. Even when pen and paper failed me, the story remained engraved upon the pages of my memory.
So I sit down to write...
Abby Joy
"There it is!" Papa pointed. Our eyes followed his finger across the broad valley and up the winding path into the distant wood. Our wood.
"Eldenwood," Mama whispered, her slender fingers stroking Deborah’s shining hair. "It’s beautiful."
"Papa, you said it’s cursed?" I stood on tiptoe beside the wagon, straining to penetrate the dense wood, watching for lurking shadows or spooky carvings.
"Hush!" Mama shook her head. "The folk in these parts are very superstitious, Arianna. There’s no curse that a little hard work with honest hands can’t cure."
I hung my head and let my hands rest on Nell’s warm back.
"Can I walk, too, Papa?" Eva struggled to her feet in the back of the wagon, brushing straw from her skirt.
"Sure," Papa smiled. "My boy will show you how to lead the horses, and I’ll walk back and talk with your Mama."
"My boy," he always called me, and tugged my braids. Papa didn’t have a son.
Eva slid over the edge of the wagon and caught hold of Nell’s harness. "It’s okay," she whispered. "Debbie didn’t hear you. She’s fast asleep. Mama just doesn’t want her to be frightened."
A small smile tugged at the corners of my mouth. Sweet Eva, always wanting to make peace and cheer me up.
Papa handed me the lead rope. "Watch them on this rocky slope," he warned, and his eyes twinkled.
"He’s not worried," Eva interpreted.
A tiny bee buzzed inside my stomach, making it knot up as I clicked my tongue and started down the path. Nell and Ginger dipped their heads and followed, picking their way gingerly over the rocks and rubble.
"—will take a lot of work," Papa’s voice floated on the empty breeze.
"We can work," Mama answered. I could imagine her crooked smile, lighting up her blue eyes.
"The cabin’s in pretty bad shape," Papa continued.
"It’s spring," Mama reminded. "We’ll have a new one up before winter."
"I wish you could see the flowers," Papa’s voice sounded tight and eager. "There’s a vine I’ve never seen before. The blooms look like blood-red bugles. And the birds sing night and day."
"It will be a blessing," Mama sighed. "I’ve always hated living in the noisy city."
Yep, that's as far as the beginning goes, because I'm so morbid. Next thing you know in my manuscript, I'm killing someone. So...I'm expecting those 100+ fans to start swooning...1-2-3- now SWOON!

Thursday, November 16, 2006
In Which You Are Treated to a Monologue About My Writing (or lack thereof)
I pulled out my "masterpiece", written nearly a year ago before I focused in on the children’s genre. It’s the longest story I’ve ever finished—18,000 words—and as I reread it I couldn’t help laughing (not just because it’s funny). I think I could cut it in half. I’m so amazed with all I’ve learned in so short a time. And I can’t even imagine what I have left to learn—I thought I knew it all a year ago.
I have a very bad habit of getting wonderful ideas. Doesn’t sound bad, does it? The problem is that I get a wonderful idea and launch out on a new book, only to get another wonderful idea and start another one.
Don’t get me wrong—short stories and articles are no problem, and poems are a breeze. It’s novels that I can’t seem to complete.
To date I have at least 7 novels started, that I hope to finish one day. None of them are the least bit alike. My older brother still asks me about a contemporary Teen Lit one I started 5 years ago—a great idea, too, but I’d have to completely start over because the execution is grotesque. And my mom asks about the historical Inspirational/Adventure one, started 3 or 4 years ago, that she only heard the prologue for. She still hasn’t a clue what’s going to happen, and if I tell her, I’ll never write it. And my little sister pouts every time I mention starting another story. She still wants to know what’s going to happen to the penguin who flew south for the winter. And the mute mermaid. So do I. Or my friend from church asks how I’m coming on my book. I say great, and then have to ask which one. She meant the YA Sci-Fi/Adventure book, three ideas back.
I’ve gotten the farthest on my most recent idea—Eldenwood. It’s sitting at about 8500 words—about 25-30% for a MG or YA novel. I’m not very good at writing in a genre. I tend to combine elements of many genres to get the effect I want. This one might be called Historical/Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Allegory/Adventure/Mystery/Coming of Age. Think Lois Lowry mixed with Margaret Peterson Haddix.
And if you must know the worst, I often write backwards. Or I write climax first and then worry about getting there. A very good explanation of why I rarely let anyone read my unfinished work. And I hate sharing my ideas because I’m afraid I’ll give the surprises away and I love surprise endings. If I ask for ideas, most people give obvious suggestion, but I still need help brainstorming sometimes. And I identify strongly with my characters—at least when I get the idea. Eldenwood was started when I was angry, which makes it very hard to finish, since I’m very rarely angry.
That’s more information about my writing world than I’ve ever shared before. Why am I sharing it? Because I need you to tell me to keep writing—at least make me finish Eldenwood.

Monday, November 13, 2006
In which I lose my license, get a bloody nose and wind up crying
I lost my wallet Friday…somewhere between The Millers and TTS. When I discovered it’s disappearance, I called The Millers and asked them to look for it in the room where I’d been…they couldn’t find it. So I drove home illegally. But the worst part is that I drove back to their house Saturday. Illegally. And I looked for my wallet myself, and still didn’t find it. (For those of you wondering if I’d prayed, I did.) Losing my license was the most upsetting part of the episode (though not very upsetting). I walked out the back door, knowing that it would work out. And it did. Miss Amber (age three) came running up, singing "Abigail! Abigail!" (ever heard that song?) and hurled the wallet at me feet. The kids had found it in the yard while raking leaves. *shrugs* I drove home legally.
Church was awesome yesterday. A great meeting, and we had about 8 or 9 Asian students from PSU visiting. They were fun to talk to, and apparently enjoyed the visit as much as we did. They didn't want to leave.
After the *other* girls left, I joined the guys in a game of football. I guess I was the running back (those of you who know football, correct me)? The quarterback (he’s 7 foot tall, and weighs 365 pounds—just thought I’d throw that in so you get a mental image of our team huddle. Our other two team mates were 9 or 10.) always handed off or threw me the ball and expected me to plow through the three teenage boys and two little ones on the other team. I did. Seven times. And brought our team from being down five to being tied.
I wasn’t quite so good on tackling. I caught my brother a couple of times (he was the running back for the other team) and hung on, but he just scooped me up and carried me.) I did, however retrieve their fumble and make another touchdown. Yes, we played tackle. Yes, I got tackled. Yes, I got grass stains on my white pants. No more questions, please.
After we quit and were standing around talking I realized my nose was bleeding.
Josiah and I have been jamming the last couple of days. Fun stuff, but we really miss our guitarist. And we switched instruments last night—for about five minutes. It was pathetic. I really should learn drums. And bass. And harp.
Ah, and then the part you’ve all been waiting for. Last night I had some awesome time with the Lord. But I wanted so badly to see Him face to face. I just wanted to sit down at His feet, rest my head on His knee and talk to Him without distractions, without time, without sin. I wanted it so much I started crying.
Maybe I should get a football helmet to protect my head.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Here Lies a Sword
Here lies an unpolished sword—still sheathed
Rusted with doubt and the lies we’ve believed
Neglected, forsaken, left unretrieved
While we create fire-breathing dragons.
Each head of each household builds up a pile
Progressing in "wisdom", serene, with a smile
He willingly slices the throat of each child
A sacrifice meet for the dragons.
The monsters we’ve made with our traitor hands
Have lept to our throats with murd’rous demands
Vicious in depths only hell understands
Are the horrors required by our dragons.
We loathe and despise the tyrants we’ve made,
Still, we surrender, too weak and afraid
To unsheathe our Weapon and sharpen the blade,
Advance on those devilish dragons.

Wednesday, November 1, 2006

Prepared Prayers—for Pharisees only?
In a casual culture where nothing is held sacred, Christians must strive to reach a balance in their friendship with a perfect God. Although we speak to our friends in monosyllables and disjointed ejaculations, we owe our Creator a little more respect. And yet, does God want oratories?
There’s a pervading belief that prayer is simply conversation with God. I think this is true—in part. But I think that there are many facets of prayer, and many ways it may be expressed. And I think that there is always room to improve our conversation, and to be sure that it is what our Almighty Listener wants to hear.
When Jesus’ disciples asked him to teach them to pray, He didn’t say "That’s between you and God" or "Just start talking". He gave them some guidelines. Don’t pray as the gentiles, with meaningless repetition and flowery words. God’s not impressed. And he gave them a prepared prayer. If you read Matthew 6:1-15, you’ll get the Disciple’s Prayer in context. Some things to note about the prayer that Jesus gave us are:
He include praise and thanksgiving--Psalms talks about entering God’s gates with thanksgiving and praise. It sounds like you should have a plan. A king is always going to be glad to see a grateful subject, and be much more willing to hear their request. When we thank and praise God for what He’s done, we’ve prepared our hearts for what He will do.
He prays according to the known will of God—We know from Scripture that God’s goal is to glorify His name, so if we pray that He will be glorified, we’re praying His will. Abraham was called the Friend of God, and I think it was because of His ability to converse with God about what God wanted to hear. He often reminded God of promises He’d made, that God was only too happy to fulfill. The more we study God’s word, the more we’ll know of His will and the more we’ll be able to pray in accordance with it, by praying His word back to Him.
He includes repentance—We should always be aware of our own sin and be ready to beg the Lord’s forgiveness.
He includes requests—Asking for the things we truly need: deliverance from evil and the meeting of our daily needs.
Jesus said that our Heavenly Father already knows all of these things. That doesn’t mean don’t ask, it just means, don’t get uptight about asking.
Why use prepared prayers? The Psalms are fully of prepared/recorded prayers. They are preserved for our edification. Also for our learning. We can go back and see how God has answered them. The same is true of a prayer that you write down. David asked that his prayers be counted as incense before God—an offering—and later said he wouldn’t offer anything that cost him nothing. It makes sense that we might spend time and energy crafting a prayer.
In the New Testament, Paul talks about the assembly of believers: Each one has...and he includes prayer. Could this be a prepared prayer? Possibly.
In the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus prayed the same prayer (a prepared prayer?) three times.
Should we use only prepared prayers? Absolutely not! Nor should we rely on someone else’s prayers. It’s too easy to become caught up in the words and forget that we’re actually talking to a living, loving Father. But I often plan what I am going to say to my father. I even write things in his tribute that I might read (or sing) multiple times. Is this shallow and trite? I don’t think so. He loves to be honored by my use of careful thought. But he’d probably be disappointed if that was all he ever heard out of my mouth to or about him.
I think preparing a prayer is a good way to learn to pray according to God’s will, in a way that is pleasing to Him, and without distraction or pointless repetition. If the Holy Spirit is present when the prayer is written, He can still minister when it is reread. And it may allow for a prayer to be more focused on a teaching shared and so be more edifying to others listening to both.
Prayer has always been very important to me, and the honest truth is that I am terrified to death of public prayer. I’m always afraid I’ll sound overly gushy or pious. Only recently have I become able to really sit down with other people present and pour myself out to God—and then only because the other people needed my prayer. Being overwhelmed by the Holy Spirit in prayer is the most humbling and uplifting thing I have ever experienced. And I always end physically exhausted, but doing spiritual dances. I LOVE IT!
I could go on and on...and on...and on...The main point of all this rambling (Treatise? Hardly. This is off the cuff.) is that preparing prayers IS a Biblical concept. You should give it a try and see if it deepens your own prayer life. I know it has mine.
Monday, October 30, 2006

In Which We Are Reminded that I Am a Dizzy Brunette
I know my blood sugar was definitely on the low side…and my blood pressure has always been low enough to make nurses ask "Are you sure you’re alive?" Little black-outs are nothing new. So yesterday when I got dizzy multiple times, I didn’t particularly sweat it. And I went ahead and played leap-frog with some of the (other?) little kids. That is, I played until my turn came and I stood up, swayed and the world went black. I returned from the place of oblivion to a chorus of insistent voices "Are you gonna go or not?"
The last time I’d felt that "out of it" was when they tried to take a blood sample. Just a little blood sample. I’m not even allowed to give blood.
The wedding Saturday was very different from the one last week. Much more traditional, and WAY too long. Better organized, and ultimately boring. Just so you all know, I’ll be eloping. I really don’t want to shoot weddings professionally. It’s rather awkward being the photographer—the outsider, who’s just there to make money. And I hate the fact that almost all the couples have been living together. Talk about cheap romance. (I could rant and rave about this, but I will forbear.)
The positive was that, for once, I didn’t feel tiny. The best man was about my height. Yes, I said the best man, not the ring bearer. Somebody tell me why the groomsmen are always more friendly than the bridesmaids?
I’m trying valiantly to shoot everyone who wants shot this week or next so that I can run all my film to Parsons at once. So, if you want pictures…
The weekend is over. I’ve got three article outlines due. Tons of research about Legos to sort through. If I turn into a Lego maniac, you’ll all know why.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006
Wake to the morning and sing of the grace
Kept you from death through the night.
Praise for the moments that tick within time.
Greet the return of the light.
Child of God,
Greet the return of the light.
Kneel by the bedside and pray for the grace
To shine as a lantern at night
Making the most of each moment in time--
Wait the return of the Light.
Child of God,
Wait the return of the Light.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Daydreaming in Church
You may call me naughty for getting distracted during church.
We were looking at Mark 14, noting Jesus’ declaration of diety: "I am."
Something else caught my eye:
I saw Peter, sweat trickling down his brow, his heart pounding with love and fear, draw his sword and cut off the servant’s ear.
And in him, I saw myself, wildly defending Jesus in my own strength instead of allowing Him to speak for Himself. And I saw myself weilding and wounding, when Jesus would sacrifice Himself.
Imagine the shame when Jesus gently says "put away your sword." And you know He is saddened, and you have accomplished nothing for Him.
But that's not the end of the story. Jesus kneels next that that servant, places his hand over the ear and HEALS IT! Isn't it wonderful to know that Jesus can heal the wounds we cause in His name?
What do you think? Did that servant trust Jesus?

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Here I raise my Ebenezer
The Lord prompted me to look back on the history of today.
October 17, 2005
Very busy. Wore myself out and reached the end of my chain. When I felt like I was failing everything, the Lord taught me to be thankful for the failures that drive me back into the arms of Jesus. Of all the goals I had for the next year, I attained only one: selling some writing (and that only barely).
October 17, 2004
After praying that the Lord would slow down my life, I came down with double pneumonia. Between raging fevers and shattering chills I learned to rejoice in sickness, and thank God for answering prayers as only He knows how.
October 17, 2003
Arrived an hour and a half late to a speech tournament in Topeka because we drove to Kansas City instead. Riding helplessly in the car from Kansas City to Topeka I learned to let go and let God. And when I finally arrived, I learned that He cares for me: the tournament was running as far behind as I was and had just started.
October 17, 2002
My first science fair, which I won (there were only about 4 of us). I learned how weak and prone to pride I am.
October 17, 2001
I spent the whole day praying for my Mormon piano teacher, who has since died of a brain tumor (at age 42). I learned the weight of being burdened for the lost.
October 17, 2000
We bought our first goat, which I hated. The goats have been a constant battle for me, an irritation, a chain, and a huge learning experience: learning to please my father without understanding WHY.
That’s as far back as my journals go, but this is the anniversary of another special day, the year I was born.
October 17, 1987
My aunt (father’s sister) went to be with Jesus. I’ve always wished I knew her—I’m told I am very much like her, and we’d have shared many creative moments. But I know the Lord’s plans are best. Maybe He was making room in the world for me.

Friday, October 13, 2006

My Love...
This post is dedicated to all of those who worry about me, wondering if my biological clock will ever tick...I think it's ringing...I've been writing romantic poetry for the last 15 minutes.
My love is like a garden hose
Which suffers from a runny nose.
The problem with the lines above:
I fear he’ll drown me with his love!
My love is like a diamond ring
Which scares me more than anything.
He’s valuable, and yet I think,
That I could drop him down the sink!
My love is like a parakeet
(You, see, he has two scaley feet)
Which wouldn’t rule out the chap
If he’d not put them in my lap.
My love is like a wand’ring skunk
Who carries round an aardvaark’s trunk.
You see he showed up much to soon.
I sent him on the honeymoon.
My love is like a bobwhite quail
Who stepped upon a rusty nail
And very greatly frightened my
By dropping down upon one knee.
My love is like a blade of grass
And tho’ the color green has class
I fear before we say our vows
He’ll meet up with a herd of cows.
My love is like a toilet brush
Becuase he always makes me flush
And makes me feel a perfect belle
By telling me how nice I smell.

Monday, October 9, 2006
"Dearly beloved, we are gathered here to lay to rest the body of Nathaniel"...
How can I begin to express the emotions at seeing my dad preach over my brother's body, lying motionless in a wooden coffin? Strangers were drawn by the smallness of our procession, and circled around us to listen.
A quiver, a jerk, and the body bounded from the coffin, a look of agony etched into his features. He pointed an accusing finger at my dad, and screamed, "YOU NEVER TOLD ME!"
Being a good person will never get you into heaven. Why? Because you're not as good as you'd like to think. Check out God's definition of good in the 10 commandments, and see how many you've broken! I know I've broken most, if not all, of them.
We spent most of the day Saturday, sharing the gospel at the Homecoming festivities downtown. We gathered a crowd with a fake funeral and then did some open air preaching, and later simply handed out tracts and talked with people one-on-one. Found a few openings. Grew some boldness. Wore ourselves out.
It's hard to walk through the streets of your hometown, seeing ghosts from your past--people you've known all your life and should have shared with before.
Don't ever let it get there. Don't start a relationship thinking you can pull off a surprise attack--it won't happen. Start out honest--a Jesus Freak with no apologies--and let that fact attract or drive away the folks you meet.
That was Jesus' plan of action.

Monday, October 2, 2006
"Hi Honey," says Mom.
That’s a pretty good description of me right now. After extracting 75 gallons of honey, I’m a pretty sticky subject. If I were only a pancake, I’d be blissful.
No doubt you all want to know about my weekend. It wasn’t exactly what I’d imagined, but it was packed with information in all shapes and sizes. I was encouraged by the competition (meaning, I saw who my competition is), learned tons from those who’ve already made it, and discovered that editors are people-- not just people that wear black suits and sit behind desks—they can be very entertaining. Especially after a martini or two.
Sitting between two editors, an agent and a well-known author/illustrator is very enlightening. They kept reminding me that I should be pumping them with questions, but I think I learned the most just from listening to them rant and rave about various authors, editors and the publishing market.
If you think I’m getting too smart, just wait. When one of the high and mighty editors asked for my address so she could send me a book, I very enthusiastically handed her a crisp, new business card—forgetting that I had intentionally left my mailing address off (to avoid stalkers, you know).
I guess that marks me still as a novice.

Tuesday, September 28, 2006

You Have A Plan
Open the book
Scan the pages and read:
God the Creator
Has also decreed
The past and the future
To worship as one
At the feet of the Savior
His sacrificed Son.
Jesus, Jesus, Jesus,
Given Lamb, Risen Lamb,
Great I Am,
Son of Man,
You are holy, worthy, lovely
And You have a plan.
Open your heart
Take the challenge and give
All of yourself
So that you may now live!
Lose your life for a carpenter
Nailed to a tree
And come choose the chains
That will set your heart free.
Encrypted a legacy
Fulfilled a prophecy
Jesus, Redeemer
Has come to bring amnesty.
Crown Him, own Him
Praise Him, throne Him
And throughout all eternity.
Jesus, Jesus, Jesus,
Given Lamb, Risen Lamb,
Great I Am,
Son of Man,
You are holy, worthy, lovely
And You have a plan.

Monday, September 25, 2006
If I were to post my to-do list for this week, it would be my longest post ever. I'll just hit on a few upcoming highlights...and if you think about it, you can pray for me. I have an interesting habit of diving in deep...
Today and tomorrow are the days I have to actually finish my to-do list. And Mandy is coming--Yay!
Wednesday I agreed to teach sessions at the Quad County Water Festival--all day.
Thursday I'll pack and Mom and I will head to Kansas City...see some friends, maybe shop (yuk) and stay with my Grandma.
Friday we'll help her pack so she can move again. Hopefully see some more friends up there.
Saturday is the huge SCBWI writing conference that I'm staffing--if anyone believes I'm really staff. And I'm leading the biggest lunch discussion group and introducing the big-shot editor/agent panel. It will be at least a 12-hour day. Then we'll head to the Heston's for the night (yay!).
Sunday we'll drive to church and eventually make it home (who knows when?)
And then I'll get to start another busy week. I like being busy. I work best under pressure...but, it's easy to get distracted from the really important thing: Jesus. Pray that I'd keep my eyes on Him.

Thursday, September 21, 2006
Your name is man.
Here is your life's span.
Take it and use it
For Me,
Or lose it.
Take it and lose it
For Me:

Tuesday, September 19, 2006
I know you're all dying to know about my college experience...I don't think I could ever summarize it into a blog entry, and I don't really want to. Suffice it to say that I enjoyed my visit to the ATU campus, but I am very content where the Lord has me home.
It seems like the Lord teaches me so much more each week, that I can hardly imagine that there's enough left for me to learn the rest of my life! Last week, one of the biggest secrets He revealed to me was a simple way to wage Spiritual Warfare.
Wednesday morning I was shot, after having poured myself into another person. I was shaking like a leaf, I was tired, I couldn't smile and I was on the verge of tears. That makes me pretty miserable. I knew Satan was attacking because the Lord had worked very strongly in my heart and life the night before.
Nathaniel had arranged for us to go to a friend's room and record a song I'd written back in March. I was nervous, of course, and also completely beaten. As they set up the equipment, I sank to my knees on the dorm room floor and began praying--begging the Lord to relieve my spirit so that I could sing. I'm a strong advocate for praying aloud, and my silent prayer wasn't seeming to help.
And then, Taylor turned on some praise music--I'd never heard it before, and couldn't tell you what it was, but immediately I began to praise the Lord. And the burden lifted!
Satan can't stand in the presence of praise! Worshipping the Lord isn't just for Him, it's for us, as well. We were made to worship, and when we worship and fulfill God's purpose for us, we throw up ramparts around our souls and drive the enemy to hell!
The believers at Tech are awesome--they are devoted to the Lord, and there is a definite revival going on down there. The kids are spurring one another to love and good deeds, and the gospel is going forth mightily.
Praise the Lord!
And pray for them...Satan is hating it.

Monday, September 18, 2006
A fly lands on my hand and I swat it away. If it were a butterfly I would eagerly stretch out my finger and invite it to land—hanging out with a beautiful butterfly is a rare treat.
But today while jogging a gravel road, the Lord exposed my attempts to profile: a radient butterfly in the middle of the road, perched contentedly in the middle of a pile of dog poop. That butterfly might have been gorgeous, but it was just as defiled as any fly. If I hadn’t known where it had been, I’d have welcomed its friendship—just because it was attractive.
You all know where I am going with this...What hypocrisy! I will rant and rave about how we accept or reject others based on their looks, without finding out if their character measures up.
Actually, I was thinking of myself. I’m a new creation, rejuvenated to be beautiful in Christ—yet how often do I find myself wallowing in dog poop, choosing to hang out in places of filth and defilement, thinking no one will see me. Even mental places, where no one can see me.
It’s no big deal—everyone loves me because I am a beautiful butterfly. They’ll never guess I’ve been living like a fly. But the filth can be spread without anyone realizing where I’ve been.
I’ve been created for better things than this. So have you. Those wings are given so that you can flee sin and persue righteousness. Now get to flying!

Friday, September 8, 2006

It all happens at once...
Very good news and very sad news received at the exact same time. Strange how life works.
The good news is as follows:
I've been submitting poetry to a new online kids magazine called Dragonfly Spirit.
First batch, they said: We liked X a lot, but we're not currently accepting nature poems.
Second batch, they said: We really liked X--A LOT, but we only have three slots left and what we really want are Haiku and free verse.
Wonderful. I don't write either, but when an editor says that, it means they are inviting you to submit again.
So I looked up Haiku online, wrote a few, e-mailed 'em off and guess what.
Congratulations! We accepted X!
So that's my first poetry sale. A whopping $3 that I will receive when the poem is published this time next year.
And I still don't like Haiku.
The sad news I can't share.
So one minute I am laughing at the quirks of the publishing industry, the next minute I am crying and crying and feeling empty and alone. And yet, never empty, never alone...I have hope.
Now that's a Haiku moment if ever I had one.

Wednesday, September 6, 2006
The feelings warred today...
Joy took sides with Peace and Love
Against the foes of Fear and Guilt
No blood was shed, but tears were spilt.
And when the dust had cleared away
They all lay wounded, weak and sore
Which opened wide emotion's door.
Depression entered eagerly
He scorned the wilted Spirit's fuits,
Fear and Guilt crushed underfoot
By overshadowing all thoughts.
He grew with lengthening shadow night
Determined to block out Hope's light.
Ah Hope!
Forgotten waited,
And while Depression came to kill
She bent and whispered "Peace! Be still."
And still the field became.
In stillness following battle noise
Those three revived: Love, Peace, and Joy
And left the battlefield today
The victors.

Monday, September 4, 2006
Shepherd, the path You have chosen
Seems a pleasant, easy one.
I am sure I know the end;
And so I run ahead.
I am not going my own way,
I go Yours, overeager.
And yet, it is my own way
If I do not follow.
Aye, with joy and lighthearted bounding
Leading the way to Your will at my pace.
Now the corrective rod halts my endeavor:
Sometimes a lamb must be patient and follow.
Shepherd, Your wisdom is boundless
Truths I forget, You recall
Meadows must green and ripen
Before I may enjoy.
Road is long,
Pace is slow
Oft I think
The end I know.
Keep my heart,
Inside Your hand
Whether I can
Aye, with joy and lighthearted bounding
Leading the way to Your will at my pace.
Now the corrective rod halts my endeavor:
Sometimes a lamb must be patient and follow.
Always a lamb must be patient and follow.

Thursday, August 31, 2006
Visionary Emissaries
Visionary emissaries,
Prophets of Yaweh
Couldn’t keep their mouths shut
When He gave them words to say.
Beaten, bruised, often abused
Believed to be insane
Eaten up by holy rage
To defend Yahweh’s name.
Sure, I’ve heard the call as well.
Sure, I’ve got the words.
The urgency is lacking, fading, passing—why?
Tongues afire, Yahweh’s desire
Consumed their spirits
His Spirit overwhelmed them
Overflowed so all could hear it.
Sure, I’ve got the Spirit, too.
Sure, Yahweh indwells.
But urgency is lacking, fading, passing—why?
Dying flame, growing shame.
The Spirit’s stifled
By my worldly flesh
That seeks to tease and trifle.
Wake! The call is mine to speak!
Yahweh gives the words.
His Holy Spirit feeds, revives and urges—now!

Thursday, July 27, 2006
I am home alone--stayed home to work on writing some hymn arrangements for my mom for her 50th birthday tomorrow. Guess what. The speakers on our computer don't work. That makes it pretty hard to write any music. If I can't listen to it as I work, it just might sound too good to be my work.
I am definitely getting wierd in my old age. I have the energy level of a three-year-old, and about that maturity level, too. I go for a walk with a friend and do cartwheels down the road (no one was coming). I wear my hair in pig tails. I read kids books and laugh. I walk around the house chanting silly rhymes. I really better stop before I embarrass myself.
And when I get a rejection in the letter from an editor, my family thinks I'm nuts because I dance around the house telling them all how wonderful it is that the editor wrote me a PERSONAL NOTE!
I'm just glad I'm finally beginning to network with some other writers--finding critique groups. The SCBWI region I work for is planning our annual conference in September. It's insane--I've never even been to a writer's conference before, and I am staff. I've been doing all the advertisement, I get to spend time with our celebrity speakers (you guys wouldn't understand if I told you WHO they are), I'm leading a lunch interest group, and introducing and monitoring and editor/agent panel.
And the big dissappointment is that we get t-shirts. Sure, free t-shirts are cool, but I was looking forward to dressing business. I haven't dressed professional since the KFL speech contest I ran back in March. Before that it was probably a speech tournament.
Speaking of which, I finally figured out why I'd competed in speech! It's working out perfectly as preparation for school visits! I'm thinking I'll start those this fall. Usually and author uses them to publicize a book, but schools are also excited to bring in storytellers. I want to use them to publicize myself, and get back in the swing of presenting, and find out what things tickle kids these days.
I don't think I've ever posted this much before. Better hope I'm never left home alone again.
On a spiritual note, I've been experiencing a lot of spiritual warfare lately, no doubt because of the awesome things Yaweh is doing in my heart and life. It's been good for me to recognize them as attacks by the enemy, and I've spent a lot of time lately in prayer. It's so wonderful each time, to come away the victor through Christ. And it's encouraging to see--if Satan weren't worried about what's happening in my life, he wouldn't be attacking me.
I've been very excited to see what my Master had in store for me in the near future. His plan is always perfect, and it's exciting to see it unfolding.
"Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory, blameless with great joy, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and power, before all time, both now and forever. AMEN!" (Jude 24-25)

Tuesday, July 11, 2006
I've been trying to serve the Lord in my own strength...
Last night I broke down under an attack of Satan. He had me convinced that I was giving, giving, giving, with no return. Tempting me to look to people for my strength and encouragement, and give up giving to others.
What I'd missed out on was a simple fact of nature: when you give, give, give, you've got to refuel. It's true of food, water, air--whatever you use up you've got to replenish. And if you start using more, you'll have to refill more.
I'd been making a conscious effort to give more, but hadn't been spending more time (than usual) with the Lord. No wonder I ran dry.
So I refueled.
There is always more where this came from.

Tuesday, July 4, 2006
We just got back from family camp.
All of my good mail comes while I'm gone: my checks, my trash...oh, and two acceptance letters. Devo'Zine says they want to buy two devotionals that I sent them in February at $25 each.
Do you know what that means?
It's the first writing I've been offered money for.
It means I can stop saying "Well, I've never sold anything yet..."
And it means I get full membership in SCBWI.
It's okay. I don't expect you to understand. =) But I do expect you to comment.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006
My father is often accused of being OVERPROTECTIVE.
In other words, people think he keeps me TOO SAFE.
And I am rarely cheerful in my submission—until life comes into perspective.
Is my eternal salvation at risk by NOT being allowed to do certain things? I have always had free access and encouragement to approach the throne of grace. Last night when my parents opened my bedroom door late (by my request) and found me sitting in the middle of the floor, praying, they quietly went on to bed. I have never been discouraged from studying God’s word and getting to know Him better. I have ALWAYS had the freedom to ask/discuss anything with my parents, if I had the courage to bring it up. And my friends are welcome in our home at any reasonable hour—for food, fellowship and fun.
There has NEVER been any doubt in my mind that my parents love me...
BECAUSE they protect me. Sure, the cage sometimes seems small, but it is never lonely.
And it is small for a good reason. My "Papa" has a huge responsibility for my well-being: spiritual, physical, mental and emotional. He takes this responsibility seriously. And he should.
He stands as a wall of defense between me and all of Satan’s efforts to entice me.
One Man Against a Lion
(A tribute to my father)
Between the spheres of heaven and hell
Each man must climb the staircase
And if he has a family
He must lead them in the right.
Prowling in the streets of time
Seeking wand’ring little ones
There slinks the stealthy lion
Who’d devour in the night.
A wall between that fiend and they
The husband and the father stands
For his precious family
He must wage a war and win.
And for the souls of every one
Who’s given in his care
He’ll render an account to God
If they be lost to sin.
Ah, what a task for any man
To stand between a lion and prey
But if his own dear family
Should pout, what crushing blow
Might overthrow the very heart
That sought to keep them safe
And tried to teach their tender minds
The way that they should go.
Wives and children, let us gather
Round behind the man we love
As a faithful family
Submitting to his care
That when the raging beast attacks
And seeks to drive our guardian back
He’ll find we press him
Forward on the stair.
"Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your soul as one who would give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you." Hebrews 13:17

Monday, June 19, 2006
And now: the promised post on obedience, our strength vs. His.
It’s important to realize that His strength is available to us ALWAYS, so long as we are in submission to Him. It’s up to us to tap into that strength, and the secret in my opinion is actually obedience.
I think there are some definite keys to living in the strength of God:
First, we have to be fully submitted to Him—approaching His word without preconceptions; approaching prayer to listen, not talk; praising Him by telling Him what He’s done; worshiping as He mandates, not as we think would be cool or get us in "the mood"; choosing to show love to others by serving; giving liberally and in secret; humbling ourselves; renewing our minds by daily communion and rededication to Yahweh.
Second, pray without ceasing—recognize that we can’t live in our own strength and entreat His strength.
Third, give thanks in all things—it’s God’s will. Learn to recognize everything as a gift from above, coming down from the Father of Lights, who knows exactly what He’s doing. These include trials—thank God that we’ve been counted worthy to suffer for His sake. It’s a blessing—and an indicator "All who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted".
Last, give God the glory. If we aren’t seeking the glory for ourselves, we will be much more willing to rely on God’s strength.
It seems to me that the obedience resulting from faith is evident as whole obedience to Yahweh’s actual commands. The obedience that comes from our own strength can rarely be called obedience, but only pretended obedience based on our own goals and often involves making up our own rules.
When it comes to the gospel and sharing it, there’s not much room for relying on our own strength if we stick to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Our tendency is to use "cleverness of speech", but the wisdom of man only renders the gospel foolish. Even Paul said he kept it simple and straightforward.
When we choose to share the gospel of a God-shaped hole, or the gospel of peace, joy and love, or the gospel of Jesus the best bud, we are acting in our own strength, trying to dress up what God has already made perfect. Pretty futile, if you ask me.
It’s a step of faith to say, "Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am chief". Any time we choose to lay aside our pride, our desire to appear wise, and are willing to tell it like it is to the glory of God, we must rely on God’s strength.
I think we’ll be able to recognize this obedience in our own lives in several ways:
Our attitude should be an excellent indicator. Humility ("God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble"—sounds like strength to me). Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness and self-control are fruits born of the Spirit. These aren’t natural human characteristics. "He who loves is born of God and knows God".
We will have a desire to reach the lost, to obey God’s commands to the fullest "He who loves me will keep my commands".
We will be energized instead of disheartened--what's not done in our strength, can't be a personal failure. God is always careful to glorify His name.
And we will be bearing fruit. The seed that falls on good soil is the seed that bears fruit. If we rely on our own strength, we’ll be scorched as soon as the heat of tribulation rises. If we are putting our roots down in faith, we will thrive on the sunshine!
We obey, not because it will make us great, powerful or famous. God is glorified through our weakness, so that His strength might be evident
I am ready for cross-examination.

Thursday, June 15, 2006
The great commission tells us to "begin in Jerusalem" and preach the gospel as we go--in an outward spiral. We're supposed to evangelize where we are, as we go. We don't have to go to a foreign land, to people of a different coulture to share the good news.
In fact, if we aren't sharing Jesus where we are, why would we do any better in a strange country?
I know I am not very faithful to share my faith. I always make excuses--stores won't like it if I distract their customers or workers, I just don't know very many unbelievers, I'm always in a hurry, people around here don't have time to stop and listen. Ah yes, it is very easy to come up with pat excuses for not obeying, for not seeking the lost souls.
And in return, I pray that God would bless me, use me and glorify Himself through me.
What a joke.
Tuesday, June 13, 2006
Trapped in the death-tomb dug by my fathers
Sealed by the sins I immitate well
Here there appears the body of Jesus
As He descends into Hades and Hell.
Lo, He has cast off the garments of burial
Holds up His hands so the holes may be seen
Screams He has purchased freedom for captives.
I faced my judgment--He stepped in between.
Sing me again the words of the melody
That drew my soul from the edge of despair
And built a bridge I could cross to eternity
To meet You there.
Trapped in the cares and the worries of living
Can I forget that I'm bought with a price?
Turn my head sideways to gaze at the tempter
Losing my focus on Christ's paradise?
Call me again in the echo triumphant
That freed my soul from the promise of hell
Touch now my lips with the fire of Your holiness.
My spirit is well!
Now once again I gaze at the Victor
Risen in glory, resplendant in grace
Hear I the words, "Believe and be justified"
Kneel in thanks as my sins You erase.
Sing me again the words of the melody
That drew my soul from the edge of despair
And built a bridge I could cross to eternity
To meet You there.
I will meet You there.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006
A horse who stepped upon an ant
Never heard it whimper
But when he had stepped off again
The insect lost its temper.
It ranted, raved, antenae waved
And set up such a riot.
The horse stepped harder down this time
And then the ant was quiet.

Thursday, May 25, 2006
Dr. Phil discusses whether or not a parent should homeschool their child...
Dear Dr. Phil,
Based on your recent comments about home schooling through high school, I decided to write and give you a personal account of my own and my older brother’s experiences as high school students educated at home. Honestly, the word "home schooled" isn’t a very accurate description of my growing up years. "Home trained" or "home raised" would be a better fit. It seems like those phrases should apply to any child, but my parents noticed that children tend to be raised by their peers. They saw the need to regulate who their children spent time with in order to raise them to be productive citizens and servants of God. Jesus said, "A pupil fully trained will be like his teacher." As a student of God’s word, my father also saw a Biblical precedence for parents to have responsibility for the well-being of their children. What better way to guard his children’s well-being than to raise them, train them and educate them at home?
The results? My older brother, Nathaniel, has just finished his Junior year of Electrical Engineering at Arkansas Tech University, and is working as an Electrical Engineering intern in Tulsa, OK. He received a fully paid scholarship to ATU, awarded on the basis of his ACT score of 33, as well as his outstanding transcript and has maintained it with a 4.0 GPA. He is vice president of the IEEE program on campus, hosts a Bible study in his dorm room, leads music in the college class at church, has participated in multiple outreaches on campus and even taken the opportunity for some open-air preaching. He recently returned from an electrocardiogram conference in Canada where he shared about a research project he is working on with NASA, studying heart irregularities in astronauts.
Since finishing high school last year, I have done many volunteer projects, including directing a regional speech contest for Kansans for Life. I am currently getting started operating as a professional writer and photographer. I serve as Publicity for the Kansas Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, and manage a personal, as well as a family, website. Academically, I have always pushed for success. Due to the tailored fit of my highschool experience, I was able to pursue some useful lines of study, through college correspondence courses, and feel much better prepared to launch into the world than if I had been pressured to conform. I am able to work from home at the age of eighteen, enjoying what I do, without the need to attend college.
In addition to the academic benefits of being taught at home, Nathaniel and I also gained immense benefits from the lack of age segregation we experienced. We both eagerly seek friends from among our parent’s friends, as well as other productive adults we meet. We readily recognize the wisdom and experience of those older than ourselves. We also have taught classes on writing, speech, environmental stewardship and Bible study, both to home schooled and public schooled students our age or younger. We are thrilled to comfortably relate to any age group, due to practice during our growing up years.
In spite of living in a small town and being a part of a small home school support group, we found ways to accomplish any goal we set for ourselves. We played sports through a summer recreation program, taught ourselves piano and guitar, learned to compose music, competed in forensics and debate, earned money through poster, essay, speech and poetry contests and ran several home businesses.
To me, my "home training" was invaluable. I learned to live and function in a real family, of which the real world is largely composed. I learned to interact with real people in real situations. Aside from the high academic quality that my brother and I both achieved, we learned submission to authority, appreciation for wisdom and experience, the balance of independence and interdependence and respect for others.
During our highschool years, our new acquaintances often seemed surprised to find out that we were taught at home. "Home schooled students are unsocialized!" they would exclaim, and then hastily add, "not you guys, of course, but you’re the exception."
I beg to differ. My home schooled friends have traveled the world, run political campaigns, interned at the state capitol, started successful businesses, graduated two years early from nursing school, been actively recruited for college, married and become productive members of society. Some have even taught in the public schools or begun home schooling their own children. Our critics and our supporters alike need to understand that home schooling isn’t about winning the national spelling bee. It’s about raising children with high standards—morally, academically, politically and socially. The goal of home schooling is families raising children who are capable of starting their own families and raising their own children.
I am thankful for my homeschool experience, and I wish that every American student had the same opportunity to excel.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006
When the car pulled up the driveway yesterday afternoon, several thoughts went through my head--until I saw the bicycle on the back. And then I knew Nathaniel was home.
Last I knew he was in Tulsa, looking for housing before he started his summer internship. But apparently he decided his time was better spent at home, and packed up and headed to Kansas.
I can hardly believe he's finished up 3 years of college. He'll work in Tulsa this summer, graduate next spring and probably go back to work in Tulsa again. He'll never really be "home" to stay again.
His life is starting up on his own. The next five years will probably see him settled, married and starting a family. It's an interesting thought.
Wonder what the next five years hold for me?

Friday, May 12, 2006
My next writing assignment--find a kid I don't know, watch them, and take notes--detailed notes. All this without them knowing I am watching them and writing about them.
My last assignment was to look at a picture (of bears climbing through a bathroom window) and reconstruct the scence.
The last assignment was an exercise in criminal forensics--scene reconstruction. This next one is a project of shadowing. Now I just have to pick my victim.
You all thought I was a writer--a children's writer at that. The truth is that I am in training to be an FBI agent. Oops. Now I told you, I'll have to kill you. Perhaps removal of those who know too much will be my next assignment.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006
A sheep on a far grassy noll
At last grew quite tired of his wool.
The flock was appalled
When he shaved himself bald
And appeared in a trendy mink stole.
I just wish there was a good market for limmericks. =(

Tuesday, May 02, 2006
Josiah and I played "Finish the Quote" last night. Here’s some we came up with:
* A good musician...will make for himself a name, but no one will have ever heard of it.
* A bird in hand is worth...nothing if you don’t grasp it tightly.
* A clean carpet a washed sow—before you know it, it’s dirty again.
* The heart of the King is like...anyone else’s heart.
* A man without his money is...broke.
* Wise women never...marry men smarter than themselves.
* Beautiful women are not to be...spoken to. They are only intended for looking at.
* A cheerful heart
Many hands make...a boom in the glove industry.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006
Hated anchor
Let me be.
I would seek the open sea.
Sheltered here along the shore
Desiring to see so much more
Why must I be weighted here
When I see true freedom near?
Come whatever! Joy or pain
I will cast away your chain
Seek the freedom of the seas
Drift whichever way I please.
Fathom things I never knew
While I was held back by you.
Foolish vessel, would you wreck?
Adrift, the ocean, you can't check
Waves around you will grow strong
Raging they'll drive you along
Merciless the mighty sea
Your anchor cast won't set you free
For then you'll be the stormcloud's slave
And who shall save you from your grave?
There is no ocean bouy meet
To float the independent fleet.

Monday, April 10, 2006
I definitely don't feel "common" right now.
How many 18-year-old girls spot their 50-year-old mothers doing gymnastics?
How many of you know the joy of BEING FINISHED sanding a ceiling?
How many teenage girls wear pigtails?
How many of you have brothers who walk around the house in full Afganistan uniform?
Who else gets an invitation to prom from the professional photographer?
All in one day?

Monday, March 27, 2006
How Small a Flame
My hands and face are black and my clothes and hair smell like smoke.
Why is it my family seems to fight fires for excitement?
We were enjoying lunch when we saw the smoke, coming from the pasture. Apparently the electric fence sparked and the strong wind caught it and carried it.
Now there is a large, ragged black hole in our pasture stretching on both sides of the goat pen.
I still can't believe it. I've never heard of an electric fence sparking a fire like that.
Just yesterday in church, someone was sharing from James. "How large a fire is kindled by such a small flame."
A Work in Progress
"Funny" I think to myself, looking around at the devastation I have caused. I've been tearing up the house--by my parent's orders. Down comes the hated wall board in the bathroom and a karate kick takes out the sheetrock. Trim rips off and I go at shelves with a crowbar.
But strangely enough, I can't tear everything down before I rebuild--if I did, the house would cave in.
And I know that's how the Lord works in my life as well. He doesn't tear out everything and rebuild from scratch. Sometimes I think it'd be nicer if He did. Instead, he tears down walls one at a time, and rebuilds before He goes on. A work in progress--never quite finished, but getting better all the time.
He's got the blue print of what it will look like, and someday He'll have it all finished like it should be. Until then, He keeps tearing down and rebuilding.

Monday, March 13, 2006
All Things Well
I stand in the nearly empty youth center room, gazing around at the quiet scene of past excitement. Has it really just been a few hours since all of my hard work over the last several weeks came together in a smashing success? A sweet success, yet as I think over the morning, I know it was not my work that brought it together.
I couldn't have brought it together, although I tried my hardest. I kept running into dead ends, and missing people.
The roses--I couldn't have gotten them if someone's heart hadn't been moved to donate them. And I couldn't have found a replacement singer, if someone hadn't been convinced to come and sing anyway. And I couldn't have unearthed all of these jewels speaking on Right to Life if someone hadn't led me to them. And I could never have discovered such a perfectly suited set of judges. It just isn't in me.
I smile in satisfaction, full of the good food that someone else made. I just jumped in and prayed my way through the obsticles, blindly trusting that Someone else would take care of the little details.
And He did. He did well. He does all things well.

Monday, February 27, 2006
Lost and Found
"Hello. Does Amethyst Celaya live here?" My hands are shaking a bit as I ask the question, wondering what the answer will be. I am waiting to see what the Lord will do.
Amethyst has been missing--not from my life, but from a friend's, and now I am trying to find her. During the Celaya's move, Tabitha lost touch with them, and doesn't know where they is now, but she wishes she knew. She misses Ame, and I've heard her talk about her often. She even has shown me pictures.
Yesterday I asked a few questions and settled into the desk chair to see if I could locate her. And somehow, this first address seemed right. And when I prayed and asked the Lord to help me find her for Tabitha, I felt excited.
"Yes, she does!" The girl at the other end answers cheerfully. "But she's not here right now. Can I take a message?"
I grin. "Do you remember the Willises?"
"Yes!" she answers, again.
I can hardly sit still. I know Tabitha will be so excited, and I can't wait to hear all about it. "Well, Tabitha would like to talk to Ame," I say quietly. "I'll give you her phone number. And be sure to have her tell Tabby the Abigail says 'hi.'"

Tuesday, February 21, 2006
Silver Security
I grimmace as I withdraw the large sum of money. I've been spending way too much money lately. I know Mom would laugh at me, but I've never spent money like this, and now I am hardly making any.
"What are you ever going to use it for, anyway?" She'll ask. "You've had that money in the bank from millions of birthdays past."
But somehow, having money in the bank is a security for me. Even if I never use it. It's nice to know that I've got it, if I ever need it for anything. It's invested, where it will be making many returns, right?
I think of the slave who buried his masters money in the ground. Perhaps I don't have my money invested very well. I am investing in the world, instead of in heaven. I know that God rewards those who give to Him. Rather, He rewards those who use Him money wisely.
I know it, but I've never really taken the risk to try it for myself. Why would the Lord give me special money for some of the things I've hoped to do if I have the money sitting in the bank, and I am doing nothing with it. If I don't have the money to do something He'd like me to do, I know He'll provide. But if I am sitting on cash, while praying that He'd fulfill my needs, I've got another think coming.
I won't starve. God's watching out for me as much as for the sparrows. Perhaps it's time for me to take the step of faith and cut away my bankable securities.

Tuesday, February 7, 2006
Dead Ends
I sigh as I redial for the umpteenth time. Dead ends. Everywhere I turn I run into dead ends.
"Hello, my name is Abigail. I'm with Kansans for Life. We would like to host a speech competition in Southeast Kansas, and are wondering about the possibility of using your building."
Worst of all, I might actually sound professional if I didn't have a cold. Since I do, I definitely fit Mr. Gittrich'es laughing comment that I sound about 12.
And somehow, no one has a building available. Why? Why is the Lord not helping me? I am putting so much time and energy into this. Why isn't He rewarding me?
Perhaps because I want to do this well to prove that even if I sound and look 12, I am just as capable as any adult. Maybe it's my pride that is getting in the way of a successful contest.
"Lord, forgive me. Help me to honor You, only."
I bow my head and dial again.

Friday, January 27, 2006
Gomer all over again
It's late and I cuddle up in bed in the dark, unable to think. My mind and heart have prayed to emptiness. "Why Lord? Why do I have to go through this? Yes, I love her, yes I want to see her serve You, but I'm so discouraged. I want to give up. She wasn't happy to hear from me, she wants to do things her own way. She tells me everything's great when I know it's not. And Lord, there's this guilt between us--like she's got to make me happy, so she's covering up her real aches and pains. It hurts so much..."
It's now, when my heart and mind are empty--stark empty and worn out that the Lord begins to fill them with His thoughts, so different from my own.
"It's not just for her that I ask it," He whispers. "I want to give you a picture, Abigail. A vivid picture of yourself. Why do I stick with you? Why do I continue to love you, when you lie to Me and try to hide behind your fig leaves? Because I have chosen to. Why do I want you to keep reaching out to her? Because I want you to see this picture, I want you to see a little bit of how I feel when I go in search of you each time you run away. And I do go in search of you--every time."
My heart is quiet. My mind is still. I am loved, and I will love.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006
Eternal Promises
My head is heavy against the tinted glass pane. I am dog tired--so much emotion, excitement and just a little let-down. Time and energy, prayer and meditation poured into finding just the right words for a speech, and then such a small audience in such a large building. So few listening who didn't already agree with me--was this my witness?
And then my drooping eyes see it--and they open wide in wonder. I've never seen anything like it: a rainbow, glowing through the clouds in a complete circle as it spans the entire sun.
"I will set my bow in the clouds..." A reminder. I gaze on the rainbow and smile. God's promises are eternal--a circular rainbow. Everything is a part of His plan, and works out for the good of those who love Him. I rest in knowing that I have yeilded to the Intelligent Designer, who has everything under control.

Thursday, January 12, 2006
Flying into Walls
The little bird lies dazed as I kneel on the sidewalk next to it to snap pictures.
It just flew into our living room window, and is now recovering from the collision in the leave-cluttered flower bed below. Fortunately for me, it happens to make a lovely picture.
As I snap the last shot, a thought comes to mind. Somehow the little bird, lying helpless and alone, seems to me a picture of myself in days gone by. I remember, soaring through the air on aspirations and dreams that seemed they would carry me to dizzying heights—only to run headlong into a wall. And then I would lie, dazed and frightened, wondering what I had done wrong.
And now I see simply, that it wasn’t so much that I had done anything wrong. But what can I expect to happen if I fly in the wrong direction?
This little bird could lie here forever, afraid to try again to fly—but it won’t. It will get over it’s headache, perk up and fly away into the sky again.
When I run into a wall, I must do the same. Get up, preen my wings, and take off again—hopefully in the right direction.

Thursday, January 5, 2006
Greggory the Unaware
We don't know that Greggory means aware when we name him that. We'd have named him something else if we had. He's certainly not aware. No aware racoon would bite our electric fence and nearly kill himself. He would have killed himself if Nathaniel hadn't found him and turned the fence off.
Now he wobbles around the front yard, rubbling our legs when we come out of the house and following us wherever we go. Why? We wonder. Does he have some affection for us since we saved him, or is his brain just fried?
He rubs corn between his front paws to wash it, and then eats it. Earlier he didn't seem able to remember what to do with food--or water. And we weren't sure if he could even see.
Now he seems more normal. More natural. More aware.
And we wonder what will happen if he recovers completely? Will he stick around, or waddle off into the wild blue yonder?

Wednesday, December 28, 2005
I Am a Pharisee--A Breaker of the Law
He wants to come with me to the thrift store--he needs winter shirts. And I agree--he does need winter shirts. But I don't want to take him into town. It's a small town and people might see us together and think...well, you know what people think. And that would be, well, humiliating for me.
"With humility, prefer one another as more important than yourselves"
But of course, I am thinking of my reputation here. Gossip flies so fast in a small town--I don't need anyone thinking I've got a boyfriend--and especially not him.
Not him, that Jesus loves just as much as he loves me, and died for at the same time that he died for me, and is working on just the same as He is working on me. Not him that God made in His image.
My persepective clears. God is very good at removing my worldly tinted sunglasses. I see him as God made him, and I see myself, exalting myself above God's equally good creations.
" a pharisee and a taxcollector went to pray...and the pharisee lifted up his voice and said, ' thank you, Lord that you have not made me like this sinner here...'"
This pharisee has returned to pray, "Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner."

Wednesday, December 14, 2005
Prioritizing Pain
My jaw hurts. That's all that I can think, as I hold my head, willing the pain to go away, praying that my head will stop feeling as if it is breaking into a million pieces. I thought I'd been doing so well--I haven't even taken any of the perscription pain meds until now. But now--well, I haven't had pain until now. At least not in comparison.
And as I reach for the pain medication and take out half of a pill, a wave of guilt washes over me.
I lie at home, safe and secure, surrounded by loving family and friends who are babying me and praying for me, comfortable in my own bed, with cool water and pain medication within reach. And I suffer simply because we have enough money to fix a minor annoyance.
Across the world, others are suffering much more than I could ever imagine: beatings, rapes, starvation, dehydration, left to moan in the cold of dungeons or the heat of jungles, cast out because they have chosen to follow Christ. There is no pain killer for them. There are no loving friends to comfort.
Tonight I know who I will pray for, and it will not be myself.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005
Bad Samaritans
Church is at our house and it's ten o'clock, which means that everyone should be here by now.
Lydia looks out the window and says, "I'm surprised that the Willises aren't here yet."
I am too, and I can't help thinking "What if....they broke down."
And then the phone call comes. The Willises are broken down only a few miles from our house, and as they speak, they watch the cars of each of the other families pass them, headed for Fredonia. It's not funny, and yet it is.
While we wait for my dad to go and rescue the stranded family, the rest of our church family arrives, cheerful and wondering where the Willises are. And soon, they are all regretful and appologetic for not noticing.
But in our group, the meeting waits for the missing members. And after lunch, there are more than enough hands to help haul their van to the mechanic, and take them home. And by the end of the afternoon, everyone has been forgiven.
The Willises van is in the shop today. We all pray that it may be fixed.

Saturday, December 10, 2005
Do Not Worry About Your Wisdom Teeth
"Are you anxious about the proceedure?" I read the medical form and chuckled. Why would I be anxious about the proceedure?
"Some people are nervous about going under an anesthetic," Mom whispers. "They’re afraid they might never wake up."
"That’s be nice," I grin. "I’m more worried about them not getting me knocked out enough. I don’t really want to know that he’s digging pieces of ivory out of my head."
Mom snickers.
"Are you anxious about this proceedure?" I am surprised to hear the doctor ask. I already marked no on the questionaire.
"No," I answer.
"Good," he says, and then begins to tell me how small the IV needle will be, how little it will hurt at the time, and how the surgery won’t harm my looks.
My looks? Please. As if I am sweating wisdom teeth removal because it might ruin my movie-star smile.
"Okay," I answer. "Can I have the teeth to put under my pillow?"
The nurse standing nearby snickers. "Sure. We’ll work on that for you."
After all, those are a $1500 set of teeth.
The doctor hands me a little pill in a blue envelope. "Please take this an hour before you come."
"What is it?" I ask, but instinctively I know. It’s an anxiety pill. They are pretty obsessed with this anxiety dillemma. And they should be—a lot of people don’t know how to deal with fear. But I know I’ve got a more powerful pill than anything a dental surgeon could perscribe, and I am sure I will take a dose of it on Monday.
"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, with prayer and supplication, let your request be made known to God."

Tuesday, December 6, 2005
Shot Elastic
I am pawing through a pile of mending. I detest mending with all of my creative powers. Work jeans that need patched, a button to sew on, and a pair of underwear with shot elestic. I really should just buy a package of new underwear. It’s not worth my time.
Slowly, through the fog of my disjointed thoughts, comes the sound of the taperecorder playing a dramatized recording of Jeremiah, and it sounds like Jerimiah had a smililar problem. I listen, entranced as God tells the prophet to buy himself a waistband and then bury it. Of course, when he comes back later, the waistband is shot—completely worthless—ruined.
"Just as the waistband clings to the waste of a man, so I made the whole house of Israel cling to me…but they did not listen…" I stop, just ready to toss the offending underwear into the trash. Somewhere, deep inside my now attentive brain, I realize that I hadn’t really been listening to the tape until now. Sure, I had it on, but I wasn’t really listening.
And then I hold up the underwear and look at the waistband again. Perhaps I can mend it—make it work again. I’m thinking that maybe it deserves another chance, and it seems like it kind of resembles me—maybe I’m not always clinging as tightly as I should be. As I sit down to sew, I can’t help being thankful that the Lord doesn’t give up on me.

Saturday, November 26, 2005
I never cry over silly things. Except when I am really tired and running a fever. And now I am lying in the corner of my bedroom, trying to stop crying and thinking of how inconvenient it is to be sick. And asking the Lord what to do.
After all, my goats have come back into heat, after they were supposedly bred. And I have called and made arrangements to pick up a stand and have a lady come help me AI them again this evening.
My head feels hot and I want to go to sleep.
And the phone rings and it's one of the goat gals wanting to talk to me. I don't want to talk.
She says she was taking six bucks to collect today and she didn't have a doe in heat. Tana said I had does in heat. Unfortunately, Tana's right. Can she borrow them? She will bring them back bred--if her prize-winning Nubian is no good for collection, then she will AI them for me from her tank. Is that okay? Thank you, Lord!
Suddenly my head doesn't hurt so much. Sure, I say. That's great.
And I know, with Hagar, Sarai's maid, that He is surely a God who sees.

Thursday, November 17, 2005
Flawless Workmanship
"Ooh, gorgeous!" she says, holding her camera ready.
I smile--I can't help it. The setting is lovely, but I know she is talking about me. "Beautiful!" and the shutter clicks.
She's learned the art of photography (and psychotherapy) and has me completely at ease, feeling happy and beautiful--which is exactly what she's working for. If I feel beautiful, then I will look natural and confident in the pictures. And that translates into beautiful.
Where'd she learn to do that? Not just from photography, or even psych nursing. She learned it from the Creator of beauty and His word. He tells me that I am His workmanship, created for good works, I am holy and I am set apart before the creation of the world. Why does He make such a point of telling me this? Because that makes me feel holy and set apart, which in turn will translate into my actions.
Of course, someone else might tell me that I am fat and ugly and I would probably believe them. That's exactly what Satan does, smothering me with lies about God's view of me. But if I keep my eyes on the one creating the picture, and listen to what He is saying, then I will be comforted to know that I am flawless before Him.

Friday, November 11, 2005
The Road to Communication
It is dark as I come to the intersection of my gravel road and a highway. And now I discover that it is the wrong highway...I am looking for 160, not 400. And as I get out my map I have a gnawing feeling in the pit of my stomach. The whole time I’ve been navigating this treacherous backroad, I’ve been sure I wasn’t headed the right direction. But she did say "Bud Greene’s Road" right?
Josiah has a map out, and I stop the car to look at it. We have gone in exactly the opposite direction we should have—how? And then I know. To me, Bud Greene’s Road means one thing, to Tana, it meant another. And now I have wasted about an hours worth of time, and I have a lovesick goat swooning in the back of my noisy pickup.
I am about exactly two hours late as I pull into the rough gravel driveway and meet Tana head on coming to look for us. She is sure we met Bambi up close and personal. I smile. "Well no," I say. "Saw him a-plenty, but we took Bud Greene’s road and came out at 400."
She nods her head. "That went through my head when you didn’t show up."
I smile. It’s okay. Now. Now we understand each other. But I learned a lot about simple miscommunications—they’re not necessarily anybody’s fault. We both knew where Bud Greene’s road was, or so we thought. And it wasted a lot of time—for both of us. And caused a lot of stress—for both of us. But we discussed it afterwards. I’ll be going to help her butcher chickens later this month, and I have a good feeling that I will know which road to take this time.

Friday, November 4, 2005
His Compassions Never Cease
I am humming as I survey my project--a pancake flat tire on our clunky Ford Tempo. The sun warms my back as I chock the wheels and fish the rusty tire tool out of the trunk. Kneeling on the gravel, I pry the hubcap loose and begin to unscrew the nuts.
"The Lord's lovingkindnesses indeed never fail, for His compassions never cease," I am singing as I work to take the tire off of the car. At another time I might be annoyed to change a tire. Right now, I am thankful. Not neccessarily for the flat tire itself, but I am thankful that I am changing it today, in my own driveway, in the warm afternoon.
I could have been changing it yesterday, in the chilly dark of a lonely highway on our way home from Parsons, three hours late.
Funny, but when things go wrong, I only think of how wrong they are, instead of how good God's been to me, to not let more go wrong. We were only three hours late, not three hours late, stranded on the highway at eight o'clock at night.
I pull the dusty tire away from the car and toss it down, still singing. "The Lord's lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning, they are new every day! They are new every morning, great is His faithfulness!"

Monday, October 31, 2005
A Lonely Little Shadow
She is smiling at me from the wall--that warm smile that I have come to love so much. I can hear her laugh echoing in my thoughts. I treasure that laugh and have her smile stored in my memory. Yesterday she left for Australia--to spend six months, and once again I will have to live without my shadow.
I saw the pictures she was taking to show her teamates--pictures of us together, taken on her eighteenth bithday--and I know we are both growing up and beginning to go our separate ways.
But every time she has gone, she has given me an address, and I've always promised to write. No matter what continent she's on, we always have written, and we always can. Even growing up can't take that away.

Friday, October 28, 2005
It's All Good
She's sitting up in bed as I enter the hospital ICU room. Tubes, wires and needles are everywhere and her eyes look heavy and dark--not as spunky as she was the night before--before the appendectomy of course.
"You look great!" I say cheerfully, walking over near her head.
Her mom smiles up at me with tired eyes. "She's perking up already, just having you walk into the room," she says, pulling the blanket up to her chin. Sherry doesn't look much better than Damaris. She and Stuart got back from their week-long health seminar just in time to rush Damaris to the ER.
I think back a couple of weeks to the day we helped them on their house. Tabitha was recovering from her knee injury and Damaris commented, "I wish I was built short and solid like you. We're just tall and frail."
I shake my head. In a society where short and solid is a curse and tall and frail equals beautiful, it's hard to look past my image and be thankful for something as common as health. Or as uncommon. It wasn't me with a twisted knee. And it wasn't me lying in a hospital with appenticitis. But if it ever comes to that, I can look back on a life filled with good-health and thank God for every gift coming down from above. It's all good.

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