In the Beginning – My Memory of Drowning

I started down this road to writing books with characters who can perform Christ’s miracles because of the crystal clear memory I have of nearly drowning when I was four years old. It seems wonderful to me that I not only remember something that no one could have told me, but that it’s a GOOD memory. I mean, you’d think almost dying wouldn’t be a fond remembrance. That alone has to be a miracle. Before I started writing fiction, I wrote poetry. I really didn’t see myself writing anything longer than a poem that would fit on one page. I guess God had other ideas. As it turns out, I’ve written poems that fit each of the three novels I’ve finished. I’ve shared a couple of them, but this is the poem that describes that seminal event–that near drowning in 1976. IN THE BEGINNING How can nearly drowning be my best, first memory? At the age of four I fell in a pond and it could have been the end of a life barely begun, but instead I remember the golden light filtering through old leaves and silt, the underwaterness of the sun, the weightlessness of me. My mother pulled me out— birthed me all over again— and maybe it was like leaving the warmth of the womb. The new air hurt my throat, my lungs, that breath a whisper of my first. Taken from the farm to a hospital, Mom […]

Read More →

Seven DON’Ts for Aspiring Writers

There are so many things I’m supposed to do as a writer. Blog, use social media, go to conferences, query, network, join a critique group–oh, and write. But as I’ve traveled this writing road I’ve learned that there are several things I should not do as well. Here’s a sampling: Don’t try to cook and write at the same time. Do NOT put something on the stove and think, “Oh, I’ll just finish this scene.” Unless you like things charred and have a fire extinguisher handy. Don’t set a daily writing goal and then skip a day thinking you’ll catch up tomorrow. You won’t. Don’t get down on yourself because you get a rejection or two–or twenty. Rejections are the seasoning that make you appreciate acceptance. Don’t try to carry on a conversation with a significant other while writing. Unless you want them to become an insignificant other. Don’t wait for inspiration–just write. On those days when you’re not in the mood, so many things can be more inspiring. Like flossing. And dusting. Don’t get peanut butter on the keyboard. Just don’t. And the most important thing you should NOT do if you want to be a writer is . . . give up. The surest way to guarantee your work is never published is to quit. I hope you can benefit from some of the lessons I’ve learned. What don’ts would you recommend to writers?

Read More →

Going Where Jesus Is

I’m fortunate to live near the Billy Graham Training Center at the Cove in Asheville, NC. Early each year Kendra Graham (wife of Will Graham, Billy’s grandson) leads a ladies’ Bible study. And it’s free! So a group of us from church go and get two hours of weekly refreshment at one of the loveliest meeting facilities anywhere. Ahhhhhh. Last night we covered John 10:1-10. I did my homework, gleaning a few bits and pieces from the scripture that seemed pretty powerful if not earth-shakingly new. Then I settled in to go over the homework and hear from Kendra. And here came the power of studying with others. My homework was kind of the same old stuff that occurs to me over and over. My ultimate lesson was to talk less and listen more. Good. I’ve been working on that. Now here’s what Jesus said to me through Kendra that was NEW to me–He said “I won’t ask you to go anywhere I’m not.” Jesus precedes us wherever He leads. He doesn’t push us out ahead or send us into places He’d rather not go. He doesn’t throw the stick way out there and expect us to fetch it back. He walks straight into whatever it is He wants us to do and then invites us to come with Him. Raise a million dollars at work? Step right this way. Share my word with others? Let me show you how. […]

Read More →

What do we REALLY need?

At Tuesday evening Bible study we always begin with prayer requests. And the “rule” is that everyone has a praise and/or concern. Because we always have something we need to be thankful for and something we need to pray about. One evening recently, this time inspired an interesting conversation about asking for what we need and why we often don’t ask for specifics. And what I concluded is that we don’t always ask for what we need because we don’t always take the time to know what it is. Say you’ve been sick. You might request prayer for better health–a good thing to ask for. But is that all you need? Maybe you also need someone to make a big pot of chicken noodle soup so you don’t have to cook. Maybe you need someone to take the kids to a movie so you can rest. Maybe you need someone to listen to you whine a little. But we don’t ask for those things. We might ask for general prayer–anyone can take a few seconds to pray (and honestly, do you pray much longer than that for a single concern?). But to ask someone to help meet your specific needs? Well, that might seem pushy. And you might have to take a minute to think about what would really and truly help in a given situation. And here’s the thing. I think people like specifics. They like being given specific tasks to […]

Read More →

No More New Year’s Resolutions

I don’t do New Year’s resolutions. The idea of waiting until January 1 to start doing something I ought to be doing anyway just bugs me. If I need to start a new habit–what’s wrong with now? That’s what I said two weeks ago when the small voice that had been encouraging me to deepen and strengthen my time with God kept nagging. So I began getting up a few minutes earlier to read a chapter of the Bible and pray. It’s not a resolution, it’s just something I ought to do. And around day three, God took His opportunity to remind me that it’s something I should have been doing for a long time. I was ensconced in my chair, Bible and journal open in my lap, lamp shining down on the Word. My husband walked by and stuck his head in the door. “Are you okay?” What a funny question. Yes, I assured him, I was fine. “Are you sure? It’s just this is the sort of thing you do when something’s bothering you,” he said. Ouch. My husband had seen me spend time with God before. When I was in crisis. His natural conclusion when he saw me delving into the word and praying was that I was struggling in some way. Did I say, ouch? My challenge to you TODAY–whether it’s December 31 or June 18–is to take stock of your world. Too much hurry? Not enough peace? Bulging bags […]

Read More →

Time out for family

We have family staying with us, so no post other than these priceless quotes and this thought: I am SO blessed by my family–those with me now in person and those with me always in heart. “The family.  We were a strange little band of characters trudging through life sharing diseases and toothpaste, coveting one another’s desserts, hiding shampoo, borrowing money, locking each other out of our rooms, inflicting pain and kissing to heal it in the same instant, loving, laughing, defending, and trying to figure out the common thread that bound us all together.” ~Erma Bombeck “When you look at your life, the greatest happinesses are family happinesses.” ~Joyce Brothers “You don’t choose your family.  They are God’s gift to you, as you are to them.” ~Desmond Tutu “The lack of emotional security of our American young people is due, I believe, to their isolation from the larger family unit.  No two people – no mere father and mother – as I have often said, are enough to provide emotional security for a child.  He needs to feel himself one in a world of kinfolk, persons of variety in age and temperament, and yet allied to himself by an indissoluble bond which he cannot break if he could, for nature has welded him into it before he was born.” ~Pearl S. Buck

Read More →

The Best Present I Can’t Remember

I love getting presents. I love giving presents. Wrapping packages, unwrapping packages, ribbons, bows, brightly colored paper and the look on the recipient’s face. Fun! But how many presents do I remember? And how far back? Over the weekend I was trying to remember my favorite Christmas presents from childhood. I remember the horse I didn’t get. I know I got a pink buggy and a doctor set. But only because I’ve seen the pictures. What gifts do I remember unwrapping and loving? There are two. One was a stuffed cat. It was yellow with a white chest and it was sitting. It came in a square, white box that Mom made into my Valentine’s box to take to school with me in February. I don’t know why, but I just loved that little cat. The second was a book about King Arthur and his knights. It was from Virginia Hoover, who gave my brothers and I a book every year. I wasn’t impressed at the time we opened it, but what a story. And that’s about it. I know of lots of other gifts–remember playing with them, but I don’t remember getting them. Dozens and dozens of presents my parents picked out just for me. And what do I remember? A cat and a book. Which made me think about how we never know what will take root. When my book is published (I hope!), who knows what will […]

Read More →