Category Archives: On writing

Resurrection Friendships

Finally, from the inkwell of Jane’s heart…schuler-books-chapbook-cafe-by-jane-andersonIn 1997 I started a new job. To be honest, when the recruiter called and told me I was ‘in’ at Steelcase, I thought I should ask him to check his notes because I was sure he had the wrong person. As it turned out, there was no case of mistaken identity, the job was mine.

It seems like ancient history, doesn’t it? But can we talk about that for a minute? Relationships from back then became lasting friendships that still touch my heart. Just for a minute, think about the threads of your past and how they have woven the pattern of who you are today. Some exquisitely beautiful and others look like the warped mistakes that they were. The pattern of your life.

It’s been over 20 years since I accepted that job and immersed myself in work and friendships. Today, I went to Chapbook Cafe at a local bookstore, where I was meeting with a group of new friends. As I pulled into the parking lot my heart felt like it was melting. You see, my thoughts were on the last time I sat at a table in the cafe as my dearest friend told me her doctor had just diagnosed melanoma and it looked terminal. I remember thinking how wrong that doctor was. Cathy was healthy, she took care of herself, and besides, I needed her at work. Cathy didn’t know it, but she was an answer to my prayer.

I’m not sure what deep source has caused it, but I have always felt out of place. I could have worked on the road crew or throwing luggage at the airport or stocking shelves or in the offices where work seemed to find me. I never seemed to fit. In my daily quiet time, I would plead my case to God and ask him to take me – a round peg, and put me in a round hole. Instead, he put me, a round peg, into a square hole – and you can only imagine how it felt to have my edges sheared off in trying to fit into that shape. OK – so maybe it was my way of looking at it. But in my prayers, I asked God over and over for a good friend at work. A friend about my age, a girl, not a guy, who shared my values, and, “Please, God, let her have a sense of humor because I need a friend to tell me when I’m being stupid and laugh about it with me.”

Cathy was that friend for me. We would make a rule that we would only go out to lunch once a week, then break all the rules and go three times or four times on really stressful weeks. Cathy was amazingly intelligent. If I had to pay for what I learned from her, I would still be paying off what I owed her. She was also wise, and that goes beyond smart. I know we become like who we hang out with. I hope that’s true because I admired the person Cathy was.

Cathy’s favorite place for lunch was Chapbook Cafe where she could indulge in a double mocha. After her passing, I couldn’t bring myself to go to Schuler’s Bookstore or the cafe, until today. When I ordered my latte it was with fond memories of my friend and the short two years I held her friendship close to my heart.

We don’t know how much time we have with people we love. If we lived 120 years, it wouldn’t be enough. Cathy and I shared the same values and the same interests, but the one thing we shared that is more important than any other thing between us, was faith in Jesus Christ. Psalm 40:16 says,”May all who search for you be filled with joy and gladness in you. May those who love your salvation repeatedly shout, ‘The Lord is great!'”

Today I am thankful for friendships that never fail. Most of all I am thankful for salvation that lasts forever and that I will see my friend again in heaven because she had faith in Jesus Christ and her home is eternal.

(Guest author: Jane Anderson. Thank you for crossing this sad barrier to join us; we’re blessed to have you! I’ve not been able to bring myself to go to a Biggby Coffee cafe since losing my partner in lattes to breast cancer a few years ago, so I empathize! More of Jane’s writing can be found at: http://bizcatalyst360.com/ or http://talkkindnesstome.com )

Time Out from Politics…Have You Taken Time for an Autumn Retreat?

blue-water-writers-groupOur Blue Water Writers’ Group had their first ever fall retreat at my house last month, and we had such a grand time that we’ve already planned our next one. memoirsIn fact, I had so much fun personally that now I’m wishing everybody could cook up their own autumn retreat—if not for a group of like-minded friends who might need a concentrated time of productivity in their chosen field—meditationthen a personal retreat to focus on something that’s especially precious to you. brenda-bringing-a-basket-of-goodiesOur group shared breakfast together, had a three-hour “silent time” for writing, took an hour break for a brown-bag lunch together, and then went for another three-hour silent time for writing.

writers-retreatSome of us sat at a table together, writing-in-the-garden-roombut most found cozy corners or private areas where they could spread out quiet-retreatand work without any distractions whatsoever.preparing-to-be-a-spiritual-mentorAll of us felt like our time had been well spent.

deer-on-laneI know a number of you are caregivers and can’t even leave your homes to go anywhere for the day, but what about declaring your own private retreat? writer-at-workFor my son Michael’s birthday a couple of weeks ago, he asked for an “electronics-free day,” and he loved having his family enjoying life together with no computers, telephones, or other interruptions. It’s really okay to turn off your phone for a few hours (unless somebody’s life depends on it). writer-in-progressThink about it! If you can’t take a whole day off, maybe you could take a few hours off one evening. If you love taking a personal retreat as much as I enjoyed our writers’ retreat, I bet it will generate sequels!writing-historical-fiction

And he said unto them, Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place,
and rest a while
” (Mark 6:31).

charylene-and-lisa(P.S.—Although we have all types of writing going on within our writers’ group, several of the women write devotionals, and I asked if they’d be willing to share with you. They’ve consented, so the posts on Wednesday through Friday this week will be guest-authored by these lovely ladies!)

From Yesterday’s Pink Rivers to Lime Green (Warning: Un-P.C. Alert)

Lime GreenI just passed the milestone of my blog having been accessed 333,333 times! Doubtless no one has enjoyed reading Summer Setting a fraction as much as I’ve enjoyed writing it. The research and thinking are challenging, and pawing through old photos transports me back to beautiful places and happy times. Absolutely therapeutic! So, most of the time I love writing, but today it feels more like having my teeth pulled, because I’m supposed to write a review of Lime Green, a book by Dr. Jackie Roese on the topic of “reshaping our view of women in the Church.” I’d like to tuck Lime Green away quietly and forget I ever read it, but I’ve joined Net Galley and received the book free in exchange for reviewing it on this blog. (BTW, if you’re an avid reader, you might like this venue for finding new books so hot they’re not even off the press yet:  https://www.netgalley.com/ .)

So, here goes! First, Jackie—if you read this—I am praying all the best for you. The Marcella Project and your passion to ennoble women is a high and worthy calling. May God use you to encourage women to be all that God has created us to be! Beyond that, I want to say that when the two paths diverged in the yellow wood, you and I chose the same less-traveled-by path (although in 1972 when I went to seminary, Dallas wouldn’t let me in because I was a woman, so I went to Grace Theological Seminary instead), but at the second fork in the road, I chose the way more traveled by, not because I love magenta, but because I believe taking the Bible as literally as possible is still the right way to interpret it. When people do the mental gymnastics needed to relegate every uncomfortable command into cultural insignificance, pretty soon they’re kicking against the pricks. Women and children aren’t supposed to be “vulnerable” to men; they’re supposed to be protected by them.

I’m sorry we humans so often fail to live the way God designed us, but that doesn’t mean He didn’t create women to be under the wings of men. Men aren’t better than women, just as God the Father is not better than the Son, although during time as we know it now, God the Father appears to have authority over the Son. Should the Son say, “This isn’t fair! I’m equal to & one with the Father, so I should be able to make my own decision about when to return to earth, right?” The Bible is filled with learning to submit to loving authority on all levels.

I realize Jackie knows this, but let me just reaffirm that no race is better than any other race; the rich aren’t better than the poor, and the dumb aren’t better than the dumber. We are all created as equals  in our humanness and in the respect we deserve. “Good” and “bad” are moral judgments that should be rooted in character, not circumstances. Might doesn’t make right, but it often makes power, although life isn’t meant to be a power struggle. “Filling in the gaps” is totally different from pushing our way to the front to have equal time. The gaps are usually where no one wants to be…that’s why there are gaps in the line. There are always people clamoring to be in the lime light, but my fear is that most of us become lime green when we envy others.

If you’re feeling lime green rather than in the pink today, consider relaxing into the arms of Jesus and resting in his love. Success is not about being somebody in the eyes of the world, it’s about being who God wants us to be, and I’m certain part of that equation is living in harmony with the clear teachings of Scripture.

“Thus saith the Lord, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein” (Jeremiah 6:16).

The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency

The No. 1 Ladies' Detective AgencyAny time Alan and I travel very far by car, we like to bring along an audio book to help keep us alert after we’ve exhausted our mental reservoirs of “things to share next time we’re on vacation.” 5. Cindi had recommended The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, by Alexander McCall Smith. I’d never heard of either the book or author, although I’ve since learned that this particular book has sold over 20 million copies and is an international success. Furthermore, he’s written more than 90 books over time!6. Alexander McCall Smith taught law at the University of Botswana (which is likely where he got inspiration for this mystery series) and medical law at the University of Edinburgh, so he’s a very insightful student of culture and human nature as well as forensics. 1. Alan and I were totally charmed by The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency. The story is about an unusually clever young woman who grew up in Botswana, Mma “Precious” Ramotswe, who uses the money she inherits from her father to set up a detective agency. Most of the crimes are not too gruesome, and all are used as foils for exploring human nature and passing along rich insights into life …especially the life, plight, and buoyancy of the African people. 3.  I definitely affirm the appraisal offered on the back cover: “Chosen as a top ten mystery by the Organization of Independent Booksellers, U.S.A., The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency is that rare novel that imparts a sage wisdom while inspiring hearty laughter and lasting smiles.” Well said, and well done. The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency back cover The narrator for the audio book, Lisette Lecat, does a superb job, bringing to life to sounds and characters of the African bush. I’m sure Alan and I will look for other of Smith’s books. Some titles are available at the public library, but new and used copies of his works can be purchased through Amazon.2. Smith is on Facebook. He and his wife have two daughters and live in Scotland, but I just noticed that he’s on his way to cross Canada in a 4-city celebratory tour for his latest book, The Woman Who Walked in Sunshine. Wanna go?

4.“Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser;
teach a righteous man, and he will increase in learning” (Proverbs 9:9).

 

ArtPrize and Autumn Mist

Misty morningToday is the first day of autumn: 20 Autumn-Winter Scenes copy Happy autumn to you! End of summer Today is also the first day of ArtPrize. Dew drop Sadly, I was among the 400+ entrants who didn’t find a venue.  😦  Mural Pictures 400 copy  So, unless I can find some venue that would like to display a 33-foot
by 7-foot mural for the next six months (Do you know of any place?), 04 Waterfalls copy

my ArtPrize entry will lay fallow in our basement until next spring, when I have a contract with Leep Art Gallery to display the 20-piece mural as 20 individual collages.16 Exotic Animals copy Being a total novice, and completely naive, I thought all I had to do was produce a work of art and that all applicants would connect with a venue…and then it would just be up to the half a million visitors to decide which artworks were most compelling. Cormorant on our kayak                          Not so! Life is much more complicated than it appears!sanjucc84sangen-docc84-10 It probably didn’t help that I was touring Asia during the artist connection time11181306_740275077128_480536648704360237_n    and working in Africa and Europe with refugess during the venue connection. Cormorant ruffling feathers What I’ve learned is this: Producing and finding a voice are two distinct steps in the process of expressing creativity.Cormorant swimming I could just give up and hang the pictures in my home, but I’m pretty driven to find some way of sharing my joy with those around me. Sun reflectd on lake This morning our Blue Water Writers Group meets at Schulers (want to join?), and one of our exercises is working our way through The Soul Tells a Story: Engaging Creativity with Spirituality in the Writing LifeSun reflected on lake 2 I particularly identified with this paragraph: “…make your creative-spiritual process an offering to the world. In doing this, you assume that what you create can be beneficial to others…Your posture toward the creative work becomes that of service. You open your hands and heart, willing for the work to develop as it needs to for a greater good.” Sunshine on lakefront Amen. I want my photography—and my writing—to be an offering to God first, but then also to people. Mandevillea “Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” (Matthew 22:36-40) Mandevillea flowers

Have You Heard Enough About Weight?

Berries in a bowlHave you given up on any visionary New Year’s resolutions you entertained about weight loss last December 31st? Sixteen weeks into my personal “healthy eating” program, I’ve lost ten pounds and am slowly changing from the inside out so that I often sincerely prefer fruits and veggies to most (not all) starches. Tea Sandwiches A fresh tossed salad with corned beef and Swiss cheese on top actually tastes better to me than a big, fat crusty roll stuffed with goodies…and I’m happier with a burrito bowl than a burrito! How can that be? Filet Mignon The other shocker was the blissful discovery that after three weeks on a cruise ship I hadn’t gained any weight, even though I allowed myself all sorts of fun things, tried a bite of every exotic dish offered during tours, and only limited starches and desserts (and even those not perfectly). Wonders never cease!!  Crawfish on smoked salmonHow are you doing? Only two of our original partners in progress are still checking in weekly, so we may form an email accountability group instead, since I am determined to keep at it this entire year until I reach my weight goal but suspect people generally are no longer interested in a weekly discussion of weight issues. Any thoughts or suggestions (including—if you’re interested— letting me know if you’d like to be part of an email group). Thanks!  🙂  Scallops copy While discussing uninteresting internal processes, it’s also occurred to me that posts should have one main point instead of trying to share everything. As a gabby girl, this will take a lot of effort. However, I’m going to put my word count on a diet as well as my body and hope the slimmer looks are better!

Sushi“And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.”
(1 Corinthians 9:25)

Accepting Eternal Life in Christ Prayer

Rose. Red. From Emerald NecklaceTwice a year I like to give an update on what’s been happening with my blog—once on the anniversary of my very first post back in April of 2008, and then 6 months later…which is just about now. I remember last April praying about the upcoming year and wondering if I should be content to finish out 7 years and then try something different—such as a book—or just keep on keepin’ on. Last April, I felt that the Lord might be urging me to just keep writing my heart out on this blog for as long as I’m able, but as a bit of a fleece, I asked God if He’d be willing to answer by giving me 500 followers and 250,000 views by April 8, 2015 as affirmation. To date, I have 536 followers, Summer Setting has been viewed nearly 224,000 times and is averaging 250 views per day this month so far, so it looks like my prayers for affirmation may indeed be answered by next April. As an added delight, people from 187 countries have found Summer Setting, including many countries where Christians are not allowed to share their faith. That in itself brings me no end of encouragement, and then I noticed some of the Google searches that had brought people to my blog over the past few days. Probably the most common searches are related to travel, such as “Oahu secret spots” or “St. Petersburg top sites,” but there are also many that relate to other topics. Here are a few that particularly touch my heart: “draw me nearer quotes,” “enjoying God’s presence,” “beauties of love,”  “Heaven is for real setting,” “I sat down under His shadow,” “Last Lecture,” “learn to laugh at yourself,” and “overcoming addictions verse.” However, the real heart-stopper for me was this one:  “accepting eternal life in Christ prayer.”

I don’t know who this person is, or from which country, but I’m glad that typing that search into Google led this precious soul to my blog, and I hope she/he found what they were looking for! Whoever you are, you certainly helped me find what I was looking for…which is a sense for whether or not my blog is really lifting up Jesus and drawing people to the love of God for them. That’s my goal!

For anybody out there who doesn’t know for sure how to become a child of God or what it means to be “born again” or to “become a Christian,” may I offer this explanation and prayer? The “gospel” (“good news”) is that—although we’ve all sinned and deserve to die—God became a man in the person of Jesus Christ (“Emmanuel”=”God with us”), came to earth, lived a perfect, sinless life, and died in our place, so that if we repent (agree with God that we’ve sinned and are sorry for sinning…not that everything we’ve ever done has been a failure, but that we acknowledge not being perfect and that we’ve done some things intentionally even though we knew they were wrong) and put our faith and trust in Jesus as our Lord and Savior, He will “save” us, making us new creations in Christ, giving us spiritual rebirth and eternal life. Christ’s resurrection from the grave is THE cornerstone of our faith, because it was His resurrection that proves what He said was true, and it proves that He can also give us eternal life, resurrecting us from the dead just as He was resurrected.

That’s the good news! The other good news is: God loves us so much that He’s waiting for us with outstretched arms, ready to forgive and make us all His children. There is no magic formulaic prayer that saves us. We’re saved by our faith. But, if you’re wondering what such a prayer of faith might sound like, here’s one offering:

“Dear God,

I have heard and believe that Jesus died for my sins and rose again. I acknowledge that I have sinned and failed to live a perfect life, and that I do not deserve an eternal life of bliss with you in heaven. But, I’ve also heard that you are a merciful, compassionate God who loves us, your created humans, so much that you sent Jesus to die in our place, as an atonement for the sins of everyone who ever lived, so that every person who believes in Jesus will be forgiven and become Your child, inheriting eternal life in Christ. I do ask for your forgiveness, based not on my merit but on the sacrifice of Christ in my place, and I entrust myself to you—body, soul, and spirit—forever. Please redeem me from sin and make me your child through faith in Christ so that I receive eternal life and live forever in your love and presence. Thank you, my dear heavenly Father. Amen.”

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).
“And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son” (1 John 5:11).
“These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God” (1 John 5:13).