Thursday, April 30, 2009

An Unexpected Blessing

However many blessings we expect from God, His infinite liberality will always exceed all our wishes and our thoughts” - John Calvin

Today I learned that The Young Reader's Bible hit the CBA Bestseller's list again. First published in 1992, it later underwent a redesign in 1994. In these past 17 years, it has surprised me repeatedly by making its way back to the list.

This was one of my favorite writing projects, because I hadn't written for children that young before. Writing for young children involves making each word count. I had the most wonderful editor, who would encourage me, then add, "Try cutting back another few words per sentence." At times, that seemed impossible, yet the stories always came out stronger because of it.

My last post on this blog was "Stuck in a Rut?" How fun that a day or two later, I received good news like this. It arrived on the same day my husband's job officially ended, and our adventure in unemployment begins.

Life is made up of so many peaks and valleys. It's good to remember that the sun still shines behind the clouds even when we can't see evidence of it.

More about The Young Reader's Bible

Friday, April 24, 2009

Stuck in a Rut?

A couple of years back, I remember reading a story about a Wisconsin driver whose impatience prompted him to go around a road barrier and make his own rules. A long line of cars backed up behind him did the same thing, blindly following him as if he knew what he was doing.

On the other side of the barrier was a newly paved roadway. The report read:

As many as 10 vehicles drove around barriers and onto freshly poured concrete on a busy thoroughfare during rush hour. "Once someone goes around the barricade and busts through the tape, others follow," Sgt. Tony Restivo said

Maybe this driver believed in Hannibal's brand of leadership:

We will either find a way or make one!

I laughed my head off the first time I heard that story, but the truth is, it's not funny. I recognize that impatience all too well in myself. Sometimes I'll step off the beaten path before giving it enough thought. In my impatience, or driven by creativity, I take off on my own course and end up stuck in gooey concrete. Then I dig myself out and begin again.

What are you stuck in this week? Ambition? Problems? Deadlines? The expectations of others? Take a deep breath, and if you dare...ask God to teach you something in the process. Whenever I take my time instead of forging ahead, I often recall Psalm 46:10, one of my favorite Bible verses: "Be still and know that I am God." I like my own personal paraphrase even better:

Be still and know that I am God...and you're not.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Making an Impression

When my children were toddlers, their main goal in life was to travel from point A to point Z fast. So they'd run from room to room, as if time were running out. It was a sweet brand of impatience as curiosity led the way. Like a garden brimming with promise, each day presented new changes. Life was carefree and silly, filled with adventure.

Eventually, though, they learned when to accelerate those little legs, and when to wait; when to shift into a higher gear and when to stay put. Life involves a lot of hurry-ups and wait-your-turns, and those lessons are best learned early.

Some of us never quite get the waiting part, though, like the obnoxious forty-something guy we met on the interstate yesterday. We were approaching a mountainous stretch, and when we rounded a corner we found a long line of big rigs blocking the right lane. Naturally, we pulled into the left lane to pass them.

A minute or so later, a white sportscar sped into view from behind. He must have been doing 75 mph, and apparently didn't want to have to brake. So he used his horn instead. It was obvious that we had no options--nowhere to pull over, with that solid wall of 18-wheelers inching uphill--but he was a man in a hurry. He had important places to be and a passenger to impress, so every few seconds, this moron would blast his horn and offer us the international peace sign.

When we'd finally made it around the trucks and could pull back into the right lane, he passed us...but not before he leaned across his passenger, stuck his hand close to the window, and offered that peace sign once again.

We ignored him, which made him madder. Just so we could appreciate his IQ in all its glory, he continued that peace sign in his rearview mirror until he crested the hill.

Yep, he made quite an impression.

"A thousand words will not leave so deep an impression as one deed." - Henrik Ibsen


Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Message on a Bumper

A modern British LED Traffic Light (Siemens He...Image via Wikipedia

I love bumper stickers, don't you? A few months back, I created a Squidoo lens called Bumper Sticker Central , where visitors can leave their bumper sticker sightings.

The very act of sticking a bumper message on a car says a lot about a person's character--what they treasure in life, what motivates them, how they view their world. I've sat behind more than a few cars at red lights and read "Back off!" type stickers. I've also been blessed by encouraging snippets of wisdom.

Yesterday, though, a bumper sticker made me think. I couldn't shake its message, and I thought about the person who placed it there. I wonder if they realized the impact it would have on people like me, who sat for a few brief minutes at a traffic light, waiting for the light to turn green. If I'd arrived five minutes earlier or five minutes later, I would have missed it. If I'd taken a shortcut to the post office instead of driving that route, I would have never seen it:

It is more difficult to praise rightly than to blame. - Thomas Fuller

Interesting, isn't it, how little incidents like this aren't really so little after all? It reminded me of the weight of my words, and how easy it is to lift someone's spirit--or to crush it.

Bumper stickers...gotta love 'em!


Friday, April 3, 2009


Spring has brought days of rain, so when sunshine broke through this week, I ventured out to clean up some of the winter debris. My backyard would horrify a perfectionist, because I let everything go during the cold months. All the plants that bore beautiful blossoms last summer now stand brown and bare.

But the birds loved them. They didn't know they were pecking at lowly debris. They swooped in to gather leftover seeds like decked-out diners at a formal dinner. It was my way of caring for them, plus it bribed them to stick around.

This word, debris, captured my attention and sent me on a word-origin chase. I discovered that debris in its literal sense means "garbage" and "broken refuse." It didn't show up in the English language until 1708. But get this: According to Charles Hodgson at Podictionary, debris has an older English parent word that came from the French of the Norman Conquest 900 years ago. "The bris meaning 'broken' had a more subtle tone to it than just something that was broken; the mode of breakage was by crushing."

Debris is also related to the word "bruise." I know a lot of folks these days who are feeling bruised and broken by job loss, serious health issues, and an uncertain future. One woman is dealing with her son's bone cancer. He has two young children, and is not expected to make it. An elderly couple are buying their groceries by credit card. A friend is caring for her 89-year-old father, who has Alzheimer's disease.

My mom had a small framed plaque that sat on her dresser. It now sits on mine. Its words are as soothing to me today as they were the first time I read them as a young child:
Before you go to bed, give your troubles to God
He will be up all night, anyway.