Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Name your price

I am travelling to a writing workshop this weekend. It is in an inn off the beaten path in Minnesota, which sounds glorious. I am SO excited!
It also means I have to rent a car. Not a cheap endeavor.
Enter, Priceline.
I got a car for the prices of an enchilada plate (not counting taxes)!
Thank you, Jesus, for good deals, writing retreats, expandable carry-on bags, good writing pens, authors who share their mad skills, and Alamo rent-a-car. All my love.

Monday, October 25, 2010

So. Gross.

The maintenance man came today to fix my towel rack. While he was here he also replaced the bulbs and then decided to address my clogged sink.
It was after this last chore that he informed me he'd found hair lumps in the pipe from the two previous renters. He could tell, he explained, because one lump was blond and one was brunette.
Yes, my gag-reflex got a little workout too.
But, at least it wasn't me cleaning wads of old hair from the pipe.
So today I am grateful for Johnny the maintenance man.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Say Cheese

I'm in this "new to town" group at church and was asked to bring some pictures of the people in my life. I am not that girl who totes a Nikon and documents every other moment. Most of my facebook pics have been shot by others, and I have only about four photos up in my apartment...for now.

As I dug through my computer files of pictures, memories came flooding back of the truly special events in life. What had been another day in a string of days became a portal to some of the most splendid moments of my life. All through pictures.

I am all about finding little joys in each and every day, and for me, today, that little joy was a reminder of the big fatty joys. Images of Cambodia, Rome, DC, my niece, friends' weddings, Turkey Trotting, graduating, dinner parties, making weird faces with my sibs...

All the memories tend to go sepia over time. They blend into the background and I forget to dust them off and look. But with pictures, not just the scene, but the emotion, the feel, and the importance of that instant are relivable. And it makes life bigger than just today.

Thank you, God, for my cybershot, for the smart people who invented color photos, and for all those moments worth capturing. May I be ever alert for more.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Ambling versus plodding.

I love my microwave as much as the next girl. And text messages. Instant gratification is a shiny thing. I have, on this very blog, bemoaned the time between setting out to acquire and the actual obtaining of a specific goal/item/event. The patient among us call this The Journey, just like that in italics. The rest of us call it plain old lag time.

There are entire categories of my life that fall into this position. And, probably sick to death of my moaning about the lag, God has decided it's high time I started seeing this as a journey... still can't work myself into italics, yet.

You see, I have a propensity to fixate on a specific mile-marker. Get a book published. Run two miles. And always, when I get to a specific point, I see more road ahead. I will have to publish another book, maybe win an award. I'll have to run three miles...or at least two and a half. Hmm, oddly journeyish. The end point is never the end point. This used to be daunting.

But now? It's kinda cool. It means that all this time between the goal and it's achievement is for a purpose. Valuable. And just coming to terms with that makes the experience so much richer.
I'm not one of those folks who has a great "I gave my dating life to the Lord, and the very next day at sunset, Prince Charming's white stallion galloped into view." But I do have days and days spent ambling along a path, hand in hand with my Dearest Jesus and he points out fabulous things, like flowers, and friends, and truths too big for me to find on my own.

And I know that when we get where we're headed, the scenery will be so much richer for having hiked there, one mile at a time.

I guess what I'm getting at is that I used to see between as a sort of purgatory to be survived. Or at the very least, a trial I had to withstand to prove how much I was willing to give up for this one thing.
But the truth is, this time is not meant to be painful and needn't be. It is only painful if I let my gaze wander too far ahead as I plod along and lose sight of the flowers.

Thursday, October 14, 2010


I woke up feeling rather beige. Even the backs of my eyelids looked beige instead of pink as I smacked blindly for the snooze button. It is a mournful thing for so young a day to have lost its luster. And, I wasn't content to write it off just yet.

The question then becomes, how do you remedy this?

Two words.

Red lipstick.

This probably doesn't work as well for guys, but y'all ladies know what I'm talking about. I couldn't bring myself to don festive sweater (so I'm head to ankle black...I told you it was one of those days) but I did bust out the Dragon red. Just the feel of it on my lips makes me want to grin, nay, smile at the world. It is innately sexy and cool, so putting it on lets me be sexy/cool by association.

Plus, when you look in a mirror, there's a bright focal point.

So, thank you, Jesus, for red lipstick. I'm not sure you take direct responsibility for it, but I'm sure you played your part, if only coming up with the idea of red as a color and then making lips a different skin type so its easy to know where to stop applying lipstick. I love you dearly.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Off the Shizelf

I. Love. Stories.

Which means, many of my dearest treasures are books.

However, when you have two bookshelves that are wedged so tightly with novels that not one more H author can be squeezed in--and you've started putting the T-Z section in your armoire instead of the sweaters you originally thought to put there--you start to feel a bit gluttonous.

And a little sorry for Warren, Wingate, and Wallace, who, through no fault of their own, have ended up behind the winter clothes.

This is why, today, I'm thankful for the newly assembled bookshelf #3. I now have room to line all my books up, spine out, side by side, as they were meant to sit.

I fully own that this may verge on pathetic, but understand that these stories represent more than just cute imaginings to pass the time. They are how I've studied the craft. They are places I've been in life.
They are memories.

Kristin Billerbeck always makes me think of Chicago because it was in a Borders in Chi-Town that her novel, She's Out Of Control, opened my eyes to the world of Christian fiction. Siri Mitchell's Kissing Adrien reminds me of being home on Christmas break. Kristen Heitzmann's Diamond of the Rockies series reminds me of Palm Beach, oddly enough. Twilight makes me love vampires....ahem...and Jan Karon's Mitford series will from now on recall to me the sense of being home, even in a new place like Little Rock.

So, when I look at the masses of volumes that decorate my library/bedroom, I see stories written by others, yes. But I also see the stories I've lived.

Thank you, God, for stories scrawled on pages, for the designers who make their bindings so eye-catching, for the shiny espresso shelves in my new bookcase, and for Donna and her help putting it together. All my love.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Changing my name to Ghirardelli

I had to get up this morning while the radio was still playing their "Late Night" show. And the day was about six time longer than I expected. Don't get me wrong, it was a good day.

But, the oversized bar of dark chocolate that is keeping me company during Project Runway is making me love Jesus a little bit more.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Over the river and through the woods

It is easy to become so accustomed to things that you quit really noticing them. I see it as I review my manuscript. Every now and then I find that, in this document I've combed through at least five times, there are whole words missing. I know what it is supposed to say, so it was easy to just read what I intended.

It's a dear thing to be in a new place where the sights, smells, and cupcake flavors are all new. I notice all kinds of things that had faded into the bland wash of background in Atlanta. Like this morning.

I drove over the river just after the sun peeked over the hills. The surface of the water was tinted gold by the young light, and the whole thing emanated a living, moving mist. The tendrils grew and melded as I watched. Some curled up five feet above the river, others scaled the banks. It was crazy cool.

It was one of those beautiful moments that took me totally by surprise, and though I was going about seventy, I tried to savor it without running through the guardrail. I mean, I didn't expect it, never would have imagined it. And there it was, too pretty to capture in black and white phrases.

As I write I pray that God will inspire, because as much as I like to think of myself as a creative-type, the honest truth is that I'm incapable of an utterly original idea. Novelistas know how fabulous it is to find a story with a fresh voice or perspective. But the story, in its rudest form, is never truly unique.

Which makes me so grateful for a Creator God who has filled the world with as yet untold beauties. Who creates moments and inspirations and mist. He has given us a wealth of glory to work with. And He'll even do us the favor of pointing them out if we ask.

Thank you, God, for the Arkansas river at seven a.m. Thank you for all the wonders you've created. Please, help me live aware.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

God and Gourds

This weekend, fall came. It wasn't the armload of leaves that has made itself at home in my walkway. Nor was it the profusion of football team flags whipping frenetically down the interstate....go Jackets. It wasn't the way dusk falls just after lunch, or even that mysterious edge on the wind that makes goosebumps rise on naked arms and then disappears into the mild warmth of a distant sun.

No, it was in the sweet warm aroma of pumpkin spice coffee brewing early on a Sunday.

Indeed, the official flavor of fall heralded the changing of the season with much enthusiasm and very little restraint.

My sister was in town this weekend and after a brisk walk around the lake, we stopped by the local Fresh Market to refill the coffee canister. And there, to our delight, was pumpkin spice. They say that scents trigger memories better than any other sensation. It proved true. Pumpkin Spice is always reminiscent of sweaters and scarves that smell vaguely of storage, of cold noses and warm gloves, of a single starter log burning in the fireplace.

I have been listening to Christmas carols for a few weeks. I offer that as a confession, as it seemed too early, even in the privacy of my earphones. I just couldn't wait.

But, it's as if this weekend and the sudden and robust presence of fall has granted permission for that unique energy that comes with the holidays. And I love that.

Every seasonal change reminds me of what a blessing it can be. I speak from the fresh experience of having moved to the grand town of Little Rock, AR. I think we all fear change to some degree and I am NO exception. However, when God is tugging at your hand, it's best to follow. This transition has been great in some ways and hard in some ways and is far from done. But it's been good. And in the midst of a lot of differentness, I am so wild about God's invent a word. He doesnt change. Ever. So when things get unfamiliar and overwhelming, it is so amazing to cling to the Lord, who goes through it all with me, and is the same God I've known for the past 22 years. Phew.

So, today I'm grateful for Pumpkin Spice and all it brings to mind. I'm grateful for family and holidays, the pinnacle of which is the birthday of my Lord, my Savior, my Love. Thank you, Jesus, for coming at all and especially for coming with a message of such joy. I love love love you! Thank you for changes in weather and in life, and that through it all you've sprinkled little joys and reminders of your the familiar scent of pumpkin and spice.