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Monday, January 25, 2010

Love One Another

Last night I listened to my pastor "state of the church" address. Church leaders had taken a survey and compared to results to data compiled from 50,000 churches in 70 countries. We are strong in several areas: passionate spirituality. Gift-based ministry. Needs-based evangelism.

Their weakest area? Love for each other. That surprised me. From my first visit, the people have enveloped me with love and tugged and forced me out of lethargy. But our pastor challenged us: do we feel like we can't crack into the "inner circle"? Do we truly trust one another? When was the last time we invited someone over for dinner?

I'm new to the congregation, and I decided on two ways to show my love and trustworthiness: one is to simply get there every week. The second? Make a concerted effort to learn everyone's names. In time, I will need to expand but I think those are good starting points!

Great sermon. We don't need a new program to grow.

We just need to obey His commands.

Sunday, January 17, 2010


James Qwilleran, human protagonist of Lillian Jackson Braun's "Cat Who" mysteries, writes a regular column for the Moose County Something. When he runs out of ideas, he asks Koko to choose a word from the dictionary and he writes 1,000 words on that subject.

That's how I feel today. What do I write about? Suggest a topic, any topic.

Not too many months ago I felt as though I would never make a friend here in Oklahoma City. Now, thanks largely to my church, I have people who call and email me. How are you? How is the car running? (The battery needed a charge during last week's cold snap.) Did you finish the book you were writing? Do you want to go to lunch? I now have new names to add to my prayer list, taking priority over Denver contacts I might not have seen for a year or more.

When I mentioned this to a dear friend, he asked me: "For a reasonably friendly (if not outgoing, and probably extremely shy) guy, I have difficulty making friends in new places ..... Any idea how I might change that?"

How I could relate. I told him how lonely I've felt at fellowship dinners where the only conversation is what I initiate. Have you ever felt that way? What would you say to someone in that quandrary?

Thanks to all of you who have proved to be such dear friends.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

I Have a Dream

And not just because Martin Luther King day is around the corner.

Last week I learned that I probably have 2 more new books, plus a definite "repack" of Beacon of Love with 2 other Rhode Island stories this summer (Seaside Romance).

Yes! Rejoicing! But I still stared at my checkbook and the calendar and wondered, "How will I manage financially?" Because a promised contract today will only translate into money in the future. Should I make a serious attempt to find a part-time job to supplement my income?

I still don't know the exact answer to that question. But God changed my lens.

When I moved to Oklahoma, I could count my books in print on one hand: Romanian Rhapsody; Gunfight at Grace Gulch; A String of Murders; Beacon of Love; Snowbound Colorado Christmas. Add contracts for two more books to those five.

Today, seven months later, I have contracts or promises for ... count them ... eight more books. Doubled.

Could God have made His blessing on my jump of faith any more clear?

Why did it take me so long to see it?

This day has been a long time coming. Financially, my future is far from secure. But God has brought His purpose--my dream--to pass.

What are you dreaming for today?

God can make that impossible dream happen.

Oh, for those of you who prayed for me last week: Thanks! I was up between 7-9 every day. Still not settling in to sleep easily at night, but half the problem is solved.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Books in Review

Just this morning, I finished a terrific book. Between books I'm bursting to share and a new group I've joined specifically for writers of fiction set in America in the 19th century, I've decided to resurrect a feature on book reviews.

Matt Rogers was a pastor in the Virginia Tech community when 33 students died in the massacre. He wrote When Answers Aren't Enough: Experiencing God as Good when Life Isn't out of that experience. The books reads more like a journal than a theological treatise, a series of short, poignant essays in three sections: Embracing the World That is, Remembering the World That Was, Imagining the World That Will Be. These bite-sized truths echoed in my own heart. Somehow he's put into words much of what I experienced of God in the months following Jolene's death. Buy it, read it, keep it to savor and contemplate.

This past month I read two books which I had read in fits and starts as they went through the critique process. Read as a whole, I could appreciate anew the author's brilliance. Susan Page Davis, my critique partners, has winners in A New Joy (a New Hampshire historical) and Heart in the Crosshairs (romantic suspense about Maine's governor.)

Shannon, my middle granddaughter, reads all the time; but Savannah (the eldest) rarely raves about a book. So when she recommended The Giver by Lois Lowry, I had to read it. It's a YA novel that offers a thought provoking alternative future, one where pain and discomfort are only remembered by one member of that society, and euthanasia is a common practice. Find it and talk it over with younger members of your own family.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

True Confessions

I have a confession to make (beyond the fact I didn't blog over the holidays).

I am really struggling with sleep. Lately I have been sleeping later ... and later ... until now it is common for me to sleep until noon. Of course I'm also often awake until midnight ... or later ... but I'm not working that late.

It's so bad that I tried to stay up all night (or at least 18 hours) on New Year's Eve. I was awake until 5 a.m. ... slept until 5 p.m. Then back to the same pattern the next night.

Is the problem the sleeping aid I take? I started taking it when I struggled with falling asleep after Jolene's death.

Is the problem depression?

Do I need the structure of a job where I'm required to arrive at a specific time?

And until I know what the problem is ... I don't know what to do to "fix" it.

Needless to say, this wreaks havoc with my accomplishing much of anything. I get up, write a little, sometimes visit Mom or Jaran--more often not. Watch a bit of t.v. Eat (too much). Go back to bed. Not the life I want to live.

There. I've revealed my deepest, darkest, shameful secret. Any suggestions, anyone?

Resolution #1 for 2010: Get back to a realistic schedule!