Mid-Winter Daydreams

Happy last day of January!

travel-1749508_1280These are not my shoes. This is not my view.

But I would like to be there, wearing those shoes, and enjoying that view. I think it would be nice to be sitting on a large deck, looking down on that. And I hope the deck is attached to a house with expansive windows and an oversized fireplace.

beach-1877070_1920These are not my shoes. This is a not my view, either.

But just looking at it warms me. And I can almost smell the salty air, and hear the sound of the surf. I wouldn’t mind a view like this one right now. A home by the sea would be mighty fine.

feet-1567104_1280Not my shoes. Not my view.

But I’m seriously considering buying a pair of cons. They look comfy, don’t they? I love this scene. I imagine it a pastoral one, with the smell of livestock, and freshly-turned earth filling the air. Birdsong and crickets are all I need to send me into a pleasant little siesta.

shoes-698533_1280By now, you know the drill: Not my shoes, not my view.

What I find most interesting in this last photo–the print of a bare foot above the shoes. My favorite way to traverse a sandy beach, feeling the warm, damp sand against the soles of my feet.

Daydreaming? Yes, happily.

But more than that, I think. Photographs, especially pleasant ones, can have a positive effect. Like enjoying fine art, it transports you, if you let it. And in the darker days of midwinter, when the sun often hides its face, sometimes we need a little inspiration.

  • Which of the above photos stir you most?
  • Are you a mountain person, or a beachcomber?
  • A hiker, or a swimmer?
  • Do you love the outdoors, no matter the season?
  • What’s on your travel bucket-list?

Patience and the Cat

Patience is a virtue right?

cat-1940489_1280I’ve watched as a cat waits for that perfect moment to pounce. They will wait…and wait…and wait. Long after I’ve completely lost interest, they’ll watch and wait.

Joyce Meyer said, “Patience is not simply the ability to wait–it’s how we behave while we’re waiting.”

Watch the cat, and you’ll likely notice they focus on the object of their interest. Besides an occasional scratch or lick to settle an itch, they don’t move. I’m not like that.

You know that moment when you click on something on your computer or phone, and the little circle appears? And it circles, and circles, and circles? I’m out of there. I go do something else, and come back later, because I just don’t want to sit there waiting on the computer to think. I have better things to do. Lots of things.

domestic-cat-1774535_1280I wasn’t always so impatient. I raised three sons. And, as you can imagine, there was a lot of waiting involved. Waiting for everyone to get ready to go. Waiting while someone finds a missing shoe. Waiting while someone makes a last-minute stop in the bathroom. Waiting. I learned to carry a book, or a Kindle, or whatever I needed to keep busy while I waited.

But time is not the only reason we need to practice patience. What about putting up with attitudes and differing opinions? Sometimes you can’t fathom what a person is thinking. How in the world can they believe that? Why can’t they see things the way you do? Why doesn’t everyone just get along?

Be patient and understanding. Life is too short to be vengeful and malicious. — Phillips Brooks

Patience is hard. Sometimes it goes against the grain. It’s uncomfortable — like the sound of a fingernail on chalkboard. Irritating.

But patience often rewards you.

Patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet. — Jean-Jacques Rousseau

watermelon-832055_1280Ah, the fruit. Waiting until that melon is fully ripened before you pick it, almost guarantees a sweet reward. You might get that promotion you waited so long for (without complaining). My children often received a reward from me for patiently waiting while I ran errands, or took care of business.

cats-1885228_1280Yes, the patient cat may catch the mouse, and bring the carcass to you as a prize. They assume you’ll be every bit as proud as they are and reward them in some way.

The Bible teaches that patience and perseverance will eventually pay off. You don’t like how things are going? Wait a while. Don’t complain, but do your part to ensure a change, if necessary. Continue to study and improve yourself. Let patience become your nature.

If the thing you desire seems out of reach–keep dreaming–stretch yourself a little bit. Like the cat, stay focused.

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” — James 1:2-4 NIV

What I Do Instead

boss-432713_1280Some people love to give orders. Or maybe they just like to be in a position to give orders. They want to be the big guy in charge. The Boss. The CEO. But being in charge means having great responsibility.

Giving orders is a lot easier than teaching. But if those you’re ordering around don’t know how to accomplish their tasks, it can end up taking more time.

So you need a teacher. I know a guy.

His name is Jesus. Often called “Rabbi,” or teacher, He came to show us—by example—how to live. He didn’t pop in, give orders, then leave us to it. He started as we do, as a helpless infant, who grew into a child, then an adolescent, and a man. Through his day-to-day life, he left a lasting impression on the earth. Is it possible to live a perfect life?

For him, it was. With eternity’s sparkle in your eye, and full knowledge of what it all means stowed away in your mind, it is.

person-1281536_1280But is it possible for the ordinary, flesh-and-blood man or woman? Is it possible for me?

With Christ living in me, it is.

Am I always perfect? Do I always make the right decisions?

No, and no. One thing I always do is—make mistakes. I’m human. I may know what’s right to do, but I don’t always do it. Sometimes, I move too quickly. Sometimes, I speak too soon. And in that instant, I’m in the wrong.

But one thing is always available—God’s forgiveness. His forbearance. He knows I’ll make mistakes. Jesus covers them if I admit them and ask forgiveness.

If you need more proof, if my word isn’t good enough, open the Bible. Study the book of Romans. Try reading it in The Message version. Here’s a quick link: Romans 1.

Yes, I’m not the first, nor am I the last to fail at it. Honestly, sometimes I really suck at it. But it doesn’t matter. Because I know how to make it all better.

Remember Paul? He was a teacher, too. And he knew all about failure. Here’s one of my favorite passages from his letter to the Romans:

“It happens so regularly that it’s predictable. The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up. I truly delight in God’s commands, but it’s pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight. Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge. I’ve tried everything and nothing helps. I’m at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn’t that the real question? The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different. [Romans 7:21-25 The Message]

“…to do something totally different…”

What I do instead of what I should do. What we all do, at one time or another. But I have presented you with the answer. Even when you do the wrong thing, all is not lost.

like-1748813_1280Like my Facebook page

Join me on Twitter!


Another Chapter in Ecuador

One of your resolutions this year may be to help others. To look beyond yourself and your family’s needs to help meet the needs of others, is not only good for you, but also for your children. You’re training them to care for others — to love their neighbors as themselves. boy-1299084_1280

Just in case you’re looking for ways to help others in 2017, I know somebody. Actually, I know a few somebodies. Of course, you never have to look far to find someone in need. Or, to find a worthy ministry or agency that helps meet those needs. I encourage you to help in your own neighborhood whenever possible.

hiking-1220297_1280But if you’re looking for something a bit more exotic…I definitely know a guy…

There’s a young man in Ecuador who treks into the Amazon jungle loaded down with … bath soap. Yes, you read that right. Seth McDonald has carved a niche for himself. His purpose–to improve the lives of some of the indigenous people living deep in the Amazon regions of Ecuador. He not only provides soap to cleanse their hands and bodies, but also offers hope through the life-cleansing message of Christ.

He calls his ministry Soap4Soap. In his words, “By purchasing 1 bar of our soap, you are giving 4 people the ability to live a cleaner life and the option to hear about the good news.” There’s a short video on his website that tells you all about his work. And of course, he has a Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/soap4soap/?hc_ref=SEARCH&fref=nf

Seth’s sister and brother-in-law also work in the Amazon region of Ecuador. You can find Joil and Leah Marbut here: http://www.junglemissionary.com/

And on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/junglemissionary/?hc_ref=SEARCH&fref=nf

The Marbuts founded Ecuador Hope House, which, “…serves as home to over 40 girls from the Shuar Indigenous group of the Jungles of Ecuador.  It is a place of new dreams, new hopes and new beginnings.”

Follow the links above, and you’ll get an idea of the work they’re doing.

SucuaLiving in the Amazon Jungle isn’t easy–unless you actually enjoy sweltering, humid heat that saps your energy. They do live on the Equator, after all. The pay’s not great either. Good thing they’re not interested in worldly goods.

So these are just a few somebodies you might like to help, if you’re looking for something like that to invest in. And the best part is–you’ll be laying up treasures in Heaven.

Don’t hoard treasure down here where it gets eaten by moths and corroded by rust or—worse!—stolen by burglars. Stockpile treasure in heaven, where it’s safe from moth and rust and burglars.–Matthew 6:19-20 The Message



Another Chapter

oldhouseIn 1954, two women moved into an old house in the middle of a Trenton, Tennessee cotton field. They’d left another life behind in Southern California. This was the story I told in Annabelle’s Ruth.

A few days ago, I finished writing the next chapter of their lives.

Annabelle’s Ruth is a modern-day retelling of the Book of Ruth. I set the story in the 1950s. Instead of working in the grain harvest, Connie Cross–my Ruth character–works in the cotton fields.

alabama-1618299_1280In the sequel, tentatively titled, “Sutter’s Landing”, I welcome a few new characters to the story. The sweet romance between Connie and Alton blossoms into full-blown love. And Connie’s mother-in-law, Annabelle, struggles with something unexpected.

Emotions boil over a couple of times as Connie and Alton prepare for their wedding. Alton’s unpleasant brother Jensen returns, with new ways to irritate them.

But the kinsman redeemer really steps up and shows his mettle. I loved getting to know Alton better, as he responds to life and its situations.

I enjoyed writing this second book in the Kinsman Redeemer series. I hope you’ll love reading it. Look for it later this year. I’ll keep you posted.

Meanwhile, I’m already working on the next chapter in the lives of my characters.

WinterRoadLast week, I promised you “P” words for the new year.



A very good way to start off the year, don’t you think? Have a blessed week!