Sunday, June 27, 2010

Starry-eyed

Stars are big right now in the decorating world. I think it began as a celebration of Texas and those who hail from there (or wish they did), but if that's the case, it's expanded far beyond just those folks and spread clear around the country.

Like many others, we have several stars in and around our house, but (nothing against Texas here) it has nothing to do with that great state. For us, I think it's more a matter of just plain liking stars and the way they look. They're simple and nicely-shaped; some are colorful, others are monotoned. They lend themselves to myriad decorating tastes. All in all, they're very utilitarian and can be used for many purposes.

For me, though, there is only one purpose and it really has nothing to do with sprucing up indoor or outdoor living spaces. I've made a conscious decision that when I see a star (or use one to grace a wall or dress up a garden), it's to be recognized as a symbol of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. He is, after all, the Creator of the every star in the night sky, the All-Star of all creation, the Superstar of Salvation. I could go on and on, but I won't. Suffice it to say, there's no one above our Lord, and no star (and that includes movie, athletic, political, or other stars created by human beings) could ever shine as brilliantly as the Bright Morning Star.

Until the next time...

Thursday, June 24, 2010

What a blessing to be used!

God sent me a gift today via my dear friend, Sherri. I'd been pondering my mission in life; what it is that God wants me to accomplish while I'm on this side of Heaven. Yes, I worship Him, I write to glorify Him, I do my best to live a Christ-like life.

But I've been stumped about just what it is that God has given me a passion to perform. My writing? Perhaps. I certainly hope so, but if my book isn't published, have I accomplished anything other than to pursue a worldly goal? Will that in itself help to further His Kingdom?

Then I received an email from my dear friend in Georgia and in it she mentioned my love of nature. I've long enjoyed photographing the small things that God has placed in our world--things that we might easily overlook, but things of beauty, nevertheless. I felt a nudge when I read her words and then it hit me. God was speaking to me through her. I immediately wrote back and told her how much her words meant to me--that they were literally the answer to a prayer.

Even better, I discovered later on this morning that Sherri had been praying to be a blessing to someone today. Through our communications, we discovered that God has used us and blessed us simultaneously! Our words to one another not only spoke to our hearts, but also revealed His love.

He never ceases to amaze me.

Until the next time...

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Moose magic

There are days, despite my knowing better, where I feel forgotten and left behind. I don't feel special; I don't even feel run-of-the-mill. I just feel invisible.

And then something happens to jolt me out of my pity party. So it was the night my daughter and I were taking an evening drive around the base (a "candy bar run," we call it as we always stop to pick up some "provisions") to look for wildlife. And there on the side of the road where you'd least expect to find it, laid a mama moose and her obviously newborn baby. We parked next to them and watched for at least thirty minutes. Mama watched us carefully, but made no attempt to get up and chase us away--which they've been known to do. Moose are extraordinarly agile and quick. If she'd chosen to chase us away, believe me, she'd have been able to do so.

But she didn't. And despite the fact that they were lying along a drive to the base hospital--an odd spot for wildlife, particularly one with a new baby, to take a rest--there they were. We watched quietly, in awe at their beauty, snapped dozens of pictures, and took in the specialness of it all. It was as if this majestic animal had come to an agreement with us. She wouldn't stomp us into the ground and we wouldn't make a move to harm or disturb her or her baby. It was an easy truce, one that was sealed with long, silent, eyeball-to-eyeball contact. Have you ever stared a moose in the eye? It has to be one of God's most beautiful gifts. There she was, wild and strong and huge, staring into my eyes. There was intelligence in those big brown eyes and I know she knew we were there only to enjoy a special time given to us by God.

Funny thing, I no longer felt invisible. Quite the opposite, in fact. I felt chosen--hand-picked to share this magical slice of time in Alaska with only my daughter, a couple of Hershey bars, and a baby moose and its mama for company. You can't feel much more special than that.

Until the next time...

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Thank You, Father

What better way to celebrate Father's Day than to acknowledge our Father of all fathers! Nowhere do I see His hand more than in the artistry of nature. We visited the Eagle River Nature Center on Friday and hiked deep into the Alaskan woods where mountains, ponds, trees, wild flowers, birds, and all other sorts of God's creation greeted us. Later, we visited a waterfall along the Seward Highway that skirts Turnagain Arm. It was a mighty uphill climb (and we still didn't reach the source of the river), but the views along the way were phenomenal. Everywhere we looked, water spilled over rocks and fallen tree trunks, splashing and foaming its way down the mountain. In some places the slope was gradual; in others, the water crashed and tumbled over chunks of granite--big and small--to the river below. There it continued its journey until at last it spilled out into the the bay. The aches and pains I've felt as a result of my upward trek are well worth seeing what God has created for His children's pleasure--even in places we might never know existed if not for the urge to explore.

Until the next time...

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Family visit!


We have company from Michigan with us this week--Ron's cousin and her husband. It's great to see family and wonderful to show them around this beautiful part of Alaska. The weather hasn't cooperated as much as we'd hoped, but they're being very good sports about it and accepting the cool temps, drizzles, and overcast skies for what they are--part of God's great creation. Despite the less-than-stellar weather, they're having a good time hiking to glaciers, panning for gold, scouting wildlife, and seeing the sights. We have a barbeque and campfire planned for later tonight, then a trip to the Eagle River Nature Center tomorrow, followed by a nice lunch. Then it's back to the airport for their return flight.
I hope they've had as much fun being here as we've had showing them around.
Until the next time...

Friday, June 11, 2010

Shaping up...


I'm reading Rick Warren's The Purpose Driven Life. I think everyone else in the world has already read it. I started it several years ago, but something prevented me from finishing it and now I think I know what that was.

I've been beating myself up lately for not taking my writing as seriously in the past as I take it today. You could have done so much more, Deb, if you'd only applied yourself. Just think where you might be today if you'd written more and faster and better. But in chapter 29, Rick begins to describe the role God has decided I will play during my lifetime. He explains my SHAPE, the unique combination of abilities God has given me for the purpose of serving Him. The letter "E" stands for experience.

It occurred to me that while I've been railing against the fact that I haven't yet done what I think He wants me to accomplish, God's been preparing me to do just that. My life experiences have slowly molded me into the person (and writer) He wants me to become. While I've been flopping around like a wounded, crazed bird in a glass box with only a small opening to freedom, He's been showing me what's on the other side, calming me, healing me, teaching me what I need to know to find that doorway to freedom.

I can relax now, knowing that I'm where God wants me to be at this stage of my life. I can stop fretting about the past and starting enjoying the present--with an eye toward my eternal future with Him. Yes, if I'd worked more diligently at my writing in the past, I might be farther along in my writing career, but would I still be traveling the course the Lord planned for me? Or would I have taken a shortcut, gotten hopelessly lost, and completely abandoned my path?

Fortunately, I'll never have to know--firsthand--the answer to that question. I'm where I'm supposed to be, doing what I'm supposed to be doing. And that's good enough for me.

Until the next time...

Friday, June 4, 2010

All wrapped up...

Sometimes it's the little things that drive you over the edge.

This morning I tried to open a new bottle of plaque-fighting mouthwash--you know the stuff you use before you brush your teeth? Well, apparently it's a lot more valuable than I first suspected because it's impossible to get into. Perhaps it's specially-drawn water from the legendary fountain of youth; believe me, after this morning's battle, I could use a shot of youth water.

I always dread opening a new bottle because I know I'm in for a mighty battle with the plastic-encased cap, but today's endeavor was one for the record books. I admit that everything within four feet is a blur without my glasses, so attempting to open it by running my thumbnail under the rim of plastic on the top of the cap, just by feeling it, was stupid to begin with. But I can usually accomplish the task because there's a slightly-serrated slit along one side that makes one part of the plastic a wee bit weaker and thus vulnerable to tearing. But somewhere in the world, a plastic wrapping-serration-slitter machine is out of order. I did everything but get out the chain saw to remove that wrapper. I even put my glasses on, thinking the weak spot was just lost in the blur. No such luck. I dug my tweezers out and stabbed at it with them for... oh, five, six minutes. Nothing. Risking a nasty tweezer-stabbing, I finally leveraged them enough to create a tiny tear where one did not previously exist and managed to pull the wrapping far enough down the cap to open it. A stubborn bit of plastic still ringed the base of the cap, but I was beyond being neat.

Except it wouldn't open. It's one of those "push down with the palm of your hand and simultaneously turn the cap" caps. Yeah right. I leaned over it, placed my palm on it, pushed with all my weight, and twisted. I got a nasty plastic-twist burn on the palm of my hand for my trouble. I tried squeezing it inward on two sides with one hand, pushing down with the other palm, and twisting. No go.

Plaque pre-rinse bottles aren't the only products difficult to gain entrance to--the world is filled with plastic-encased, stapled, metal twist-tied packages. And I completely understand why the retailing world has resorted to super-packaging to stop those few thieves who have ruined it for the rest of us. They're tired of the pilfering, we're tired of paying higher costs for products encased in stuff that would protect the space shuttle from burning up in re-entry (and the medical costs associated with attempting to pry that stuff off), and the thieves are simply finding new and improved ways to do what they've always done--mess it up for the rest of us.

I've often thought that someone--a very patient, very strong someone--could create a lucrative business in the days before Christmas by simply offering to open children's toys and then cart away the cardboard and plastic debris. They'd have to own a semi-trailer, of course, and have nerves of steel and good insurance coverage, but it would certainly make Christmas morning simpler and I'm sure folks the world over would pay dearly for this service.

I finally set my pre-rinse aside and brushed my teeth without it. My teeth will no doubt fall out of my head soon, but at least I'll know my bottle of green stuff is safe from anyone--besides maybe The Hulk--who would dare try to open it.

Until the next time...

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Getting down to business


There are times (too many times) when I find myself playing writer--you know, the way we used to play office or school when we were little?

Playing writer is so much easier than being a writer. I get to rearrange my desk, change the lighting, add this inspirational quote over here, move that writerly object over there. Sometimes I get to wander around OfficeMax, buy new pens or notebooks or stock up on paper for the printer (although we're usually out of toner, which renders the paper generally useless for its intended purpose and I end up scribbling grocery lists on it instead).
And if I'm really desperate to update my surroundings, organize, or expand my horizons (read: procrastinate), I can always clean out my files. Yes, cleaning out my files is vitally important to my writing success. After all, don't readers want their authors to have uncluttered files? Isn't that some kind of an unspoken rule of the publishing world? "Author will provide, at all times, proof that he/she maintains uncluttered files and a well-lit and nicely-decorated/inspirational quote-surrounded environment."

I always feel so much more like a writer when I'm not sitting in front of my computer. After all, feeling like a writer doesn't require thinking--merely the appropriate accoutrements to the profession. On the other hand, being a writer is work. Hard work. Lots and lots of hard work. And when I can't think of anything worthwhile to write, I feel like a failure. So pretending to be what I know I truly am satisfies me for the moment. Sometimes. Most of the time, though, pretending just makes me feel more like a failure than I feel like when I'm writing. (If I haven't confused you yet, I haven't done my job.)

Yes, I can always use a new pen (those Pentel gel pens are my favorite) or another notebook or clean files, inspirational quotes are indeed inspiring, and rearranging my desk gives me something new to look at while I'm staring off into the distance. But none of those are substitutes for the real stuff of writing: sitting down and writing. No two ways about it. Writers write.

Now if I just had a new pencil box, everything would be perfect.

Until the next time...

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Flying high...

It was a glorious day here in Alaska, with deep blue skies overhead, puffy white clouds piled along the horizon, myriad shades of green bursting from every tree and bush, and wildflowers blossoming among the ferns. The river that runs through Cottonwood Park here on Elmendorf AFB is filled with the snow-melt from the Chugach Mountains and rushed past us as we walked the dog along the riverbank.

After leaving the natural splendor of the park, we drove to the other side of the base and watched F-22s land, touching the runway as lightly as a feather wafting on the breeze to the ground below. An enormous C-17 Globemaster took off next, its huge body lifted into the air as if by magic, majestic in its size and power. It never fails to amaze me how man's innovative technology (given to us by God, of course) and His glorious creation are showcased side-by-side on this base. I'm a lucky woman.

And speaking of wonderful things, I received my signed copy of the contract with Hartline Literary Agency in the mail yesterday. It's official now--and I'm tickled pink to be representated by literary agent Terry Burns. Prior to receiving the contract, I worked with his very knowledgable, funny, and patient editorial assistant, Linda Glaz, who helped me whip my manuscript into tip-top shape. Thank you, Linda, for all your assistance, and thank you, Terry, for representing me. I'm flying high! I look forward to a long and fruitful relationship.

Until the next time...

Laughing with the Lord #4

Welcome to #4 of Laughing with the Lord! Wondering what makes God smile has long been a burning question for me. I know He smiles and laug...