Baal Shem Tov

Their once was a rabbi named Yisrael Baal Shem Tov. One day he was sitting on a hillside with his students eating lunch. From where they sat, they could see their village below. As they watched, Cossack invaders overran the village killing everyone they saw–women, children, old men, young men–everyone.

As Baal Shem Tov watched the slaughter he cried out, “I wish I were God.”

One of his students asked, “How would you change this if you were God?”

“I would not change anything,” said Baal Shem Tov. “I would understand it.”

I Corinthians 13:12 – For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.

Thanksgiving

The first United States Thanksgiving proclamation. Just a reminder of whom we have to thank. Have a blessed Thanksgiving.

WHEREAS it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favour; and Whereas both Houfes of Congress have, by their joint committee, requefted me “to recommend to the people of the United States a DAY OF PUBLICK THANSGIVING and PRAYER, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to eftablifh a form of government for their safety and happiness:”

NOW THEREFORE, I do recommend and affign THURSDAY, the TWENTY-SIXTH DAY of NOVEMBER next, to be devoted by the people of thefe States to the fervice of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our fincere and humble thanksfor His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the fignal and manifold mercies and the favorable interpofitions of His providence in the courfe and conclufion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty which we have fince enjoyed;– for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enable to eftablish Conftitutions of government for our fafety and happinefs, and particularly the national one now lately instituted;– for the civil and religious liberty with which we are bleffed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffufing useful knowledge;– and, in general, for all the great and various favours which He has been pleafed to confer upon us.

And also, that we may then unite in moft humbly offering our prayers and fupplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and befeech Him to pardon our national and other tranfgreffions;– to enable us all, whether in publick or private ftations, to perform our feveral and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a bleffing to all the people by conftantly being a Government of wife, juft, and conftitutional laws, difcreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all fovereigns and nations (especially fuch as have shewn kindnefs unto us); and to blefs them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increafe of fcience among them and us; and, generally to grant unto all mankind fuch a degree of temporal profperity as he alone knows to be beft.

GIVEN under my hand, at the city of New-York, the third day of October, in the year of our Lord, one thousand feven hundred and eighty-nine.

(signed) G. Washington

Handicaps

“I thank God for my handicaps, for through them, I have found myself, my work and my God.” – Helen Keller

We all have handicaps. Some are physical and some are mental, spiritual or emotional. A couple of my big ones are impatience and fear. But reading Helen Keller’s quote, I see how impatience and fear have necessarily drawn me closer to God. So okay. Thanks.

Q4U- What handicaps would you like to give thanks for?

Happy Thanksgiving Week

I’ve been taking a little time off from writing and revising. In part, I’m waiting to get feedback from Jamie and in part I just needed a break. There’s work, the Christmas program at church, our annual Christmas party to plan, traveling for Thanksgiving and so on.

I am starting to feel eager to get back to “A Hunger So Deep,” though. I’ve been thinking about those characters and strangely missing my least favorite one the most. I guess he has the most room for redemption. Soon.

In the meantime, it’s the eatingest holiday of the year. And although it’s a shame that we’re often more focused on food than on being thankful, I think it’s nice to hold onto some of those food traditions that tie us to our histories. So what are your favorite Thanksgiving dishes? The ones that it just doesn’t feel like Thanksgiving without?

Mine are:
Mom’s stuffing–my husband’s family makes cornbread dressing and it’s fine, but I want the kind made with celery and bread cubes. You know, that’s been dangerously baked inside the bird.
Dark meat–no pale breast for me. Give me a thigh every time. And a big pile of stuffing.
Leftovers–specifically, a sandwich made with turkey, mashed potatoes and stuffing eaten late on Thanksgiving Day to give me either a tummy ache or crazy dreams. As an adult, I’d also add a dollop of cranberry sauce.

And don’t forget to be thankful that we live in a country were we enjoy such a thing as abundance.

Cutting Losses

Jim and I are big Lyle Lovett fans and we’ve been to several of his concerts. So we were excited when we found out he would be performing in Greenville, SC. After a lovely dinner out we found our seats and settled in to listen to our favorite musical storyteller.

But it was too LOUD. I mean beyond bone jarring loud. The music was so loud we couldn’t make out the lyrics. So we left. It was tempting to argue that we’d spent too much money on tickets and that maybe it would get better, but really, it just wasn’t that important.

We still like Lyle, we’ll just listen to his CDs or maybe look for a nice, quiet acoustic concert next time.

Changing the story

I recently read “Off Season” by Anne Rivers Siddons whom I typically enjoy a great deal. As usual, this book kept me turning pages (although the start was a little slow). But I didn’t much like the ending. Not because of how things turned out for the characters, but because I felt like the author pretty much switched genres there at the end. It had been what would probably be called chick lit up until the last several chapters when it became a supernatural thriller. What? Not a bad ending, not poorly written, just a jarring juxtaposition. It’s still a good book, just not as good as I expected.

Q4U: What do you think? Is switching the story up unfair to the reader? Or does it make for an exciting twist?

Old Beginning . . . New Beginning

So the revised proposal and first chapter is wending it’s way to my editor. Here’s a taste of what she’ll be looking at.

OLD OPENING
Walking up the hill from the henhouse with her basket full of eggs, Ella glanced down toward the calm surface of the pond and supposed that almost drowning was her earliest memory. It was certainly the first memory that she could claim as wholly her own—not influenced by stories her family told. No, the memory of drowning was certain and clear.

NEW OPENING
Ella and the dog days of summer arrived at her parents’ West Virginia farm on a Monday afternoon. Ella soon tired of hearing that she must have brought the heat with her, but it was a small price to pay. She needed to escape. She was looking for the kind of peace that she had only ever found on the farm. She longed for the quiet and the chance to get right up next to nature—so close it touched her whether she wanted it to or not. Breaking her engagement to Mark had sent her running home and she had found a measure of peace in the rhythm of farm life—the garden, the chickens, her family’s easy familiarity. What Ella couldn’t know on this visit was that her grandmother would shatter her fragile peace before the day was out.

The Proposal

Well I’ve been shaping and polishing my novel the past several weeks. The Lotus Leaf Effect is now The Memory of Drowning and I think it’s getting much better. It’s tighter, less nostalgic and there’s more conflict. I’m typically not a fan of conflict, but since it’s what keeps readers turning pages . . .

I’m sending a copy of my proposal off to Jamie Chavez for review before I try pitching the book again. Hopefully she’s going to give me fabulous input and then I can try the last editor in my current arsenal. If that doesn’t pan out, I’ll be sending pitch letters to agents and looking for conferences where I can make good connections.

Pray that this will all work out according to God’s plan (which I’m aware may not be the one I have in mind!).

Subjectivity

I just tried to read a novel by a very successful Christian author and failed. This is a well-respected writer who has published dozens of novels and has an MA in English. She’s well-respected and apparently beloved of her readers. I could NOT make myself read her novel. The summary sounded like something I’d love, but I found her prose to be so purple I couldn’t continue. No, not purple, chartreuse.

I won’t give a name or title, my opinion is just as subjective as the publishing industry and I won’t criticize by name. But here’s one line: “Her moist eyes brightened like bits of blue sky in a lined face drawn with anxiety.” At the very least this shatters the adjective rule.

BUT my opinion doesn’t matter much. The opinion of agents, editors and ultimately readers is what matters. They love this author’s stories. She is reaching readers with a Christian message. Taste is subjective. Writing is subjective. Hopefully I’ll find the group that appreciates mine.

One Thing

Over the weekend we watched “City Slickers,” a movie from 1991 starring Billy Crystal as a city dweller named Mitch who goes with some friends on a cattle drive. I think it’s really just an average movie, but it’s kind of fun and it was COLD out, so we watched it for the umpteenth time.

In a pivotal scene the crusty trail boss Curly (Jack Palance) tells Mitch that “one thing” is the meaning of life. Mitch has to figure out for himself what that one thing is. It’s different for everyone. So that got me to thinking about what my one thing would be.

Words.

Words in blogs, in poems, on the pages of books (mine or someone else’s), in e-mails or letters, grants I write, news releases and speeches. Words spoken, written and sung. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Words are my calling.

Q4U – What’s your one thing?

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