Saturday, June 25, 2016


A couple of weeks ago, I was feeling sorry for myself because I had hurt my knee.  You see, I had been doing well with my exercise program and had even lost a few pounds. Then I injured my knee, forcing me to stop walking.  Bummer!  One reason I've been looking forward to retirement is because it would give me time to get into shape. Now I'd have time to increase my exercise, and because of reduced stress, I'd be eating less. I should be able to drop ten pounds before our vacation in August. So you can imagine my disappointment when my knee started screaming at me. "Rest, ice and Aleve twice a day," my doctor ordered.

Poor me!  My plans have been interrupted.  I'm hobbling around like a peg leg.  My summer wardrobe doesn't fit, I gained back the three pounds I worked so hard to lose, and now I can't exercise?  Poor, pitiful me!

God: "Get over yourself."

Me: "What did you say?"

God: "I said, get over yourself.  Let's put this minor setback in perspective.  Didn't one of your colleagues just suffer a broken neck in a car accident?"

Me: "Oh, yes. Thanks for the reminder."

God: "Another of your colleagues has spent the last two weeks in the hospital with her husband who just received an artificial heart, right?"

Me:"Yes, that's right. He'll be hooked up to a machine until a real heart becomes available for transplant. That means someone has to die. Actually, twenty-five someones have to die before it's his turn.

God: "Then there's your ninety-two-year-old mother. Didn't she fall last night and break her arm?"

Me: "Yes, she had just recovered from a fractured vertebrae, and now this."

God: "Weren't you just complaining about your knee to your associate pastor?"

Me: "Yes, but in fairness, she saw me limping and asked what was wrong.  I couldn't say, 'It's nothing, just a little problem with my knee,' could I?"

God: "Is that the same pastor whose husband has been hospitalized for three weeks with complications from diabetes and whose son just fell and broke his ankle?  Is that the same pastor who, herself, suffers from a rare disease that causes bouts of intense pain . . . pain severe enough to land her in the E.R.?"

Why do I need to spend time alone with God every single day? Perspective. Maybe a bum knee isn't quite the tragedy it seemed at first.


Tuesday, June 21, 2016


Nobody likes rejection. Being rejected hurts, but writers had better get used to rejection or they won't ever become published authors. Still, it's hard to hear that the work you slaved over for months isn't good enough. We writers put heart-and-soul into our work, so when a publisher rejects it or an editor changes it, we feel offended. What if, instead of getting our panties in a bunch, we accepted professional criticism as an opportunity to improve our craft?

Two years ago I sent a query letter and synopsis of my novel, UNREVEALED, to a publisher.  I received a very polite letter of rejection, stating that the beginning of my book contained too much back-story which slowed the plot's progression. I could have been devastated--okay, I was a little devastated--but I decided to use the experience as a learning opportunity. I knew I had a good story and interesting characters, so I went back to the drawing board. I removed most of the back-story and submitted my manuscript to another publisher who accepted it.  I was assigned an editor . . . a very good editor.  The first thing she suggested was that I change the tense throughout from present to past tense. After I had spent the better part of a year writing a novel, the last thing I wanted--or had time--to do was rewrite it. I could have given up on the whole project, but I remembered a workshop from which I learned that almost every author can expect a plethora of re-writes before seeing his or her work in print.

Next, my editor indicated places where there were issues with point-of-view.  Sure enough, I hadn't caught the discrepancies. Here we go again--another "read" through the entire manuscript. After the third or fourth revision, I felt like I had experienced a fourteen-hour labor. Now, I was beginning to hate my own book and the characters I had so lovingly created.  However, the end result was a novel about which I felt satisfied . . . until I opened the finished product and immediately found a typo!  Aargh!        

Saturday, June 18, 2016

That's Not Fair!

More than once during their childhoods, my children proclaimed vehemently, "That's not fair!" Translation: "I didn't get my way!" By now, they--like all adults--have discovered life isn't fair. If life were fair (according to our human egos) good people would always land on their feet. If life were fair, children wouldn't die. If life were fair, decent, hard-working people wouldn't live in poverty or go hungry, and only bad people would get cancer. Right? If life were fair, I would win the lottery and live happily ever after.

We look at other people's seemingly perfect lives and ask, "Why does she get to live in luxury while I struggle to make ends meet? Why does everyone else believe him when I know he's a liar? Why can she eat anything she wants and stay slim while I gain a pound by just looking at food. That's not fair!" Not fair according to whom?

Jesus said, "[God] causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous (Matt. 5:45)." Now that's fair! I don't hear any playing-favorites in those words, do you?  A few years ago I wrote a poem, "Matthew Wonders."  At the time, I had just come through one of life's inevitable challenges during which I questioned God's fairness.   

Matthew Wonders
Matthew wonders why bad things happen.

Matthew asks Mommy, “Why do bad things happen?”

“Darling boy, I don’t know why bad things happen.”

Matthew asks Daddy, “Why do bad things happen?”

“My son, I don’t know why bad things happen.”

Matthew asks Pastor, “Why do bad things happen?”

“Child of God, I don’t know why bad things happen, but God knows.”

Matthew asks God, “Why do bad things happen?”

“My precious child, if bad things never happened, would you recognize the good?

If you never walked in darkness, could you appreciate the light?

In the absence of sadness, could you fully experience joy?

Without moments of deprivation, would you recognize abundance?

Without famine, could you appreciate the feast?

Without war, would peace-time seem hallowed?

My beloved, I do not create the bad things.

You inhabit an imperfect world with other fallible humans.

I do not create the bad things, but if life were perfect, would you have need of Me?

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Don't Surprise Me!

I don't like change.  I've never conducted an official survey, but I suspect most people are uncomfortable with change . . . otherwise, I'm just a control freak . . . and we all know that cannot possibly be true.  I prefer my world and my life to be predictable.  I guess that's why I don't like surprises, either.  Surprises can lead to embarrassing public displays of crying or tantrums or both.

For people who don't like surprises, going off-list can be as dangerous as going off-road.  When our son was a toddler, he once told us, "that makes my liver nervous."  I don't remember what the catalyst was for a three-year-old's nervous liver, but I can tell you in all honesty, surprises "make my liver nervous."

One day in April, when our children were small and I was juggling two jobs, raising two children and a dog, volunteering, taking voice lessons, and basically trying to be all things to all people, I casually mentioned to my husband that my mom and I had never been separated whenever my birthday fell on Mother's Day (which was every seven years).  Well, my husband happens to be a thoughtful, romantic guy and his mental wheels immediately began to spin. Unknown to me, he hatched a plan with my mom to fly her from Syracuse to Virginia for Mother's Day weekend.  It just happened that I was scheduled to present a voice recital that weekend which, of course, Mom was thrilled to be able to attend.

Did I mention that, since Easter, we had been raising baby ducks that were no longer babies, that swam in the bathtub, spread corn throughout the house and pooped a lot?  Did I mention that, because I was preparing a recital, I hadn't quite kept up with the cleaning or laundry?  Did I mention that, although there was no food in the refrigerator, there was a humongous cardboard spaceship in the dining room (don't ask) and the ducks were living in a playpen in the family room?  Oh, and did I mention that I was PMS-ing?  One last question: Can you imagine how I reacted to the news that we were headed to the airport to pick up my mother?  I'm too embarrassed to describe my response to this dear man's thoughtful gesture.  Suffice it to say, thinking back on that moment "makes my liver nervous."        

Monday, June 6, 2016

Worrier or Warrior?

I've always been an anxious person.  As a child, I suffered from severe eczema which--I've since learned--is a condition brought on by stress.  I've always had a compromised immune system--meaning I catch a cold approximately every two weeks.  For many years, when faced with a stressful situation, I.e. life, anxiety was my go-to emotion and worry was my go-to response.  I can hear Dr. Phil asking me, ". . . and how has that been working for you?"  Well, okay, it hasn't!

When one's DNA is ninety-five percent anxiety, it's challenging to find an alternative to worry.  Since childhood, I've been a prayer warrior with a clear sense of God's presence surrounding me.  But well into adulthood, my prayers typically started with worry.  They went something like this:

Me: "Lord, I'm worried about my children.  Lord, I'm worried about my friend.  Lord, I'm worried about my        job."

God: "I am your refuge and strength, a very present help in times of trouble (Psalm 46:1)."

Me: "Lord, I'm worried about the future."

God: "Do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself . . . (Matt. 6:34)."

Me: "Lord, I'm worried about global warming, wars, and children in poverty."

God: "Cast all your anxiety on [Christ], because He cares for you (1 Peter 5:7). "

Me: "Lord, I'm worried about my anxiety."

God:  "LOL.  Are you kidding me?"

Me:  "That wasn't very supportive."

God: "Sorry.  I really thought you were kidding me."

Wake-up call!  Worry accomplishes nothing except to make me feel more anxious. It's really a huge waste of time and effort.  So, I've changed my prayers.  Now I'm a prayer warrior instead of a prayer worrier.  As I surrender my concerns to God, trust in God's wisdom and direction, and invite the living Christ to walk with me every day, through every trial and every circumstance, my anxiety is miraculously transformed into peace.