Thursday, September 20, 2018

The Clock


This is my great-grandfather's clock.
It kept time on the wall of his small grocery store in Montebello, California, back in the 20's and 30's.
My mother inherited it from him.
This Seth Thomas clock was an important part of my growing up years.
It hung on the wall in the family room of my childhood home. 
We willed those hands to reach the correct time as we waited for our favorite TV shows.
Bewitched, The Adam's Family, The Brady Bunch, Partridge Family and during my early teens, Donny and Marie. (swoon)
It's a schoolhouse clock...an old-school wind-up clock.
Wind it up and it runs for eight days straight.
It keeps perfect time.
This was both good and bad when I was growing up. 
Good when I was getting ready to go somewhere...
Bad when I came home late on a Saturday night.
It also has a loud tick tock...
Tick tock, tick tock, tick tock. 
My friends complained about it when they'd sleep over.
We always had sleepovers on the floor of the family room, playing games, watching Nightmare Theater and staying up 'til all hours (because we'd watched Nightmare Theater).
I love the sound of that clock. 
It's strong, steady and familiar.
Sometimes I don't hear it at all...and then I'll see the pendulum swinging back and forth and the ticking and tocking will waft over my ears...there it is...
Many years ago, my parents asked my sister, brother and I which family heirlooms we wanted to inherit.
I didn't hesitate. 
Great Grandpa's old clock.
When my mom moved this summer, she gave it to me.
It hangs in our den, ticking off it's familiar beat.
The other day, I was talking to my daughter on the phone. 
In the middle of our conversation she said, "Mom, I hear the clock. I love that clock!"
There it was.
That loud, familiar friend.
Nearly a hundred years of ticking and tocking and keeping time for generations of children and grandchildren.
I wonder what secrets...what stories that clock could tell...

Monday, September 17, 2018

Christmas In Time - An English Christmas Treasure by Debby Lee

          This week I'd like to introduce you to Debby Lee.  I met Debby almost two years ago when she responded to my request for a local critique partner on the American Christian Fiction Writer's facebook page. Debby has been an encouragement to me and a valuable critique partner. Her expertise has helped me to grow as a writer and her faith in my ability to tell a story is why I'm part of this anthology. I'm so grateful!
          Her contribution to Christmas in Time is titled: An English Christmas Treasure.

When members of my critique group began talking about putting an anthology together I immediately wanted to be a part of it. A chance to participate in a Christmas collection with writers who help me hone my writing skills, folks I consider my friends, I couldn't refuse. I almost didn't know how to begin. I've written several stories set in America during the 1800's, but for this project I was ready for something different. Then I thought about England. I love the movies Sense and Sensibility and Young Victoria, and besides, my mother-in-law is from Soham, England. So, I delved into research, which I consider one of the most enjoyable parts of being an author. Drawing further inspiration from the classic, The Little Drummer Boy, I wove together what I hope is a tale of heartwarming romance.

Debby Lee was raised in the cozy town of Toledo, Washington. She’s been writing since she was a small child, but never forgets home.
The American Christian Fiction Writers and Romance Writers of America are two organizations Debby enjoys being a part of. She recently signed her fourth contract with Barbour Publishing. The Courageous Brides and Mountain Christmas Brides both made the ECPA Bestsellers list. She is represented by Tamela Hancock Murray of the Steven Laube Literary Agency.
A self-professed nature lover, Debby feels like a hippie child who wasn’t born soon enough to attend Woodstock. She wishes she could run barefoot all year long, but often does when weather permits. During football season Debby cheers on the Seattle Seahawks with other devoted fans. She’s also filled with wanderlust and dreams of traveling the world someday.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Christmas in Time - Christmas Stars by Barbara Blakey

Christmas in Time is set to release on October 1st!
Pre-order for the ebook is available now, and the paperback is coming soon.

What I've enjoyed most about contributing to this anthology is the people I've had the privilege of working with--seasoned writers from whom I can learn and grow as a writer. This week I'd like to introduce you to Barbara Tifft Blakey. 


 When the opportunity came to be a part of this collection, I started thinking about the many joyful Christmases I’ve known. One of the most memorable, almost magical, was the one spent in Europe, specifically parts of Germany and Vienna. It seemed like a perfect fit to set my story in a place that touched me as wonderfully as that Christmas did.

Barbara Tifft Blakey is the author of the language arts program, Total Language Plus. She has written a middle grade novel, Bertie’s War (published by Kregel) and written for two anthologies (published by Barbour):  The Underground Railroad Brides Collectionand The Pony Express Romance Collection.

         

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Writing the Scriptures - 3 Wonderful Discoveries!


I recently began writing the Scriptures...
No, I'm not adding anything to the Bible.
I'm writing what the Bible says - copying it - word for word in long-hand.

I began in Ephesians.
6 chapters,  17 pages of my handwriting.
Fun fact: My hand never got tired.

I discovered many things, here's three of them...
1.  When I take three or six word chunks and write them down, I have to examine each word - copy it exactly as it's written in my Bible - and as I do that, the words don't rush through my noggin.
They sink in.
They float there for a few seconds and sometimes I stop and take a minute to ponder.
(Maybe that's why my hand doesn't get tired.)
One of the first things I pondered is the fact that the Holy Spirit was given to us as a "deposit guaranteeing our inheritance" (Ephesians 1:14). Yes, the Holy Spirit is here to comfort and guide us, but I hadn't realized that the Holy Spirit is also a deposit - a guarantee or proof that Christ will return for us - in whom the Spirit dwells. Wow.
Ephesians is now full of doodle stars, underlined words and highlights where God revealed something new or cemented a truth into my heart. I'm so grateful.

2. Typically, reading my bible is something to get done.
Full disclosure - devotions were box to check.
I'm not proud of that but there it is.
Since I started writing the scriptures, I look forward to it. I think about it throughout my day and sometimes I write in the morning and afternoon. It's exciting to see what will pop out to me.
What nugget(s) will I find today?
(I've always liked a treasure hunt.)

3. There are A LOT of run-on sentences in the Bible. Which gives me hope, honestly. If the best selling book of all time contains a plethora of run-on sentences, one after the other, there's hope for my novel, right?! ;)

Have you ever written the scriptures?
I am surprised how much I enjoy it.
I've thought about writing the whole Bible, but honestly, the lists of begats in the Old Testament give me pause.
I'll keep you posted as I continue writing...next up, James. (We're going to study James at church so I thought I'd get a little jump start.)

Give writing the scriptures a try and let me know what you think.
You will be blessed, so very blessed!

Monday, September 3, 2018

One Year Ago...


It's been a year since my dad went to Glory.
A long year of massive change.
There's no preventing the loss of loved ones.
Death is a guarantee of life.
It's the way LIFE works.
And during this year, I've grown closer to my Heavenly Father.
That's a worthy exchange...not easy, but precious.

Much has happened during this year that would have made my dad so proud.
Our family celebrated many successes and even a new little addition who shares his name.
With every celebration I felt the joy my dad would have expressed.
His physical body may be gone, but his essence remains.
In that, I find comfort.

God's kindness and comfort is lavished on those who grieve.
Isaiah 41:10 - Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.
This has been the most precious thing to know.
God does not want me to be stuck in sadness.
In the midst of grief, He brings joy.
Joy in the memories that come to mind every day.
Joy in my one precious life that keeps on going...
Joy in the promise of eternal life.

So...today I remember my dad and the day he went home.
I know I'll miss him for the rest of my life.
But I feel a lightness to this milestone.
This year was something to get through...all the firsts without him.
Time has softened the ache and calmed the crashing waves of grief.
And I'm thankful.

Friday, August 31, 2018

10 Things I Love About Fall

Fall is my favorite season for so many reasons...here are my top ten:

1. Cooler weather.
I love the sunshine and heat, and then I don't. Enough is enough. Bring on the biting breezes and sweater weather.

2. School supplies.
Composition books for 50¢...50¢!! Aisles of pens and pencils and erasers. Paper of every kind. Glue and paperclips and binders. And it's all on sale! Swoon.

3. Color.
The fiery reds, yellows and oranges contrast with green grass and blue sky. My eyes feast on the beauty of this time of year.

4. The smell of rain after a long dry summer.

5. Harvest. My garden is bursting at the seams. I love wandering down the aisles of my personal grocery store to pick dinner...provided the broccoli and brussel sprouts aren't wormy...but that's another story.

6. Clothes. I'm admittedly fashion-impaired but there's something about dressing in the fall. I can layer and take fashion chances, albiet with mixed results - but if I'm warm, who cares?

7. Baking. After a summer of minimal cooking because it's been hot, I look forward to baking. I love to bake cookies and scones. It's been a drought of fast meals and ice cream bars for dessert. Time to turn the oven on.

8. Rain beating on the window.

9. A fire in the fireplace.

10. The new year. Not the real new year, but the new school year which has always felt more like a new year than January 1st does. It's a time of setting goals and looking back and starting fresh.
The old passes away and the new has come...as the leaves tumble through the air, that's how I feel.
I love that!

BONUS: This fall, Christmas in Time will be released! I'm very excited to hold that book in my hot little hands and read seven stories of Christmas through the ages. My story, Two Golden Rings, is one of them. It won't be long before you can order your own copy. :)

What do you love about fall?

Friday, August 10, 2018

On Motherhood...and Contentment.


When asked what I wanted to be when I grew up,
My answer was always, "I want to be a mom."
Always.
My mom was a stay-at-home mom and I never imagined doing anything else.
The value of her presence was not lost on me.
So when I became a mother,
There was no question that I would be home with my kids.

When I became a mom, it was MUCH cooler to be a working mom.
Perhaps it hasn't changed much.
Over and over, I was asked, "What do you DO all day?" 
I couldn't answer definitively.
What did I do all day?
Never what I planned to do when I woke up.
The days were a blur of meeting never-ending needs.
And snuggles.
Lots of hugs and sticky kisses.
Which made the messes and tears a lot easier to deal with.
But always the question - asked in a group no less,
"What do you do?"
"I'm a stay-at-home mom."
"Aren't you bored? I could never do that. I have to use my brain." (Yes, that was a real response.)
How does one describe a 24-hour-a-day-with-no-breaks, emotional, exhausting, hilarious, dirty, fun, smelly, sleepless, satisfying, dream job?

When my kids went to school, I had extra time during the day. 
My plan was to look for a job, but I didn't. 
I made work for myself by selling on Ebay and eventually launched a successful business on Etsy.
I made more money at home than I would have made working part-time...and I didn't miss a single track meet or soccer game.
That was the goal.
With my husband's crazy law-enforcement schedule, I wouldn't compromise being available for our kids.
But, I had big dreams for me.
I wanted to be a writer.
I tried to write when my kids were little but I felt the Lord tell me to focus on my kids.
He knew how obsessive I can be when a story takes over.
So I waited.
I obeyed.
I wrote Christmas letters but that was the extent of it.
And then the last kid graduated and I dove right in.
I don't know what will come of what I write, but I trust that God will use it.

I am so thankful that God chose to make me a mother. 
I'm so grateful to my mom for being an beautiful example to me.
I'm thankful for my husband for supporting my desire to be home with our kids.
And I'm grateful for my children - for loving me and honoring my efforts (mistakes and all) by working hard to be the wonderful, successful people they are. I couldn't be prouder.