Monthly Archives: November 2014

How ‘Bout a Thanksgiving Haiku (or Two)?

It’s a Grab Bag Monday! Get ready for anything on the fourth Monday of each month.

With Thanksgiving this week and my sassy mood right now, I’m snagging a favorite activity from this blog’s past: the haiku.

photo: Jeff Stevens

photo: Jeff Stevens

What’s that? You don’t automatically think of five/seven/five syllables of poetry when Thanksgiving rolls around? Well, me either. Except right now. Let’s roll.

My turkey’s wishbone…

“What do you wish for, wishbone?”



Sleepy, droopy eyes

Turkey exacts revenge from

the grave: Tryptophan.

What about you? Care to add your Thanksgiving haiku? (And yes, I’m aware that rhymes).

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!




Book Review: The Yuletide Angel

Once a month I review a book – usually fiction, sometimes non-fiction. Grab your favorite hot beverage (mine’s a mocha), and let’s talk reading!

What if the only time you find your voice–your calling–is under the cover of night? And what if you suspect you’re not alone? This month I review Sandra Ardoin‘s new Christmas novella, The Yuletide Angel. True, it’s not Christmastime yet, but you might go ahead and add this to your To Be Read pile for next month.

Yuletide Angel

Rating: 4 mochas out of 5

You might like this if you like: Christmas fiction, the Victorian area

What it’s about (from the back cover): “It’s Christmastime in 1890s Meadowmead, and someone is venturing out at night to leave packages at the homes of the needy. Dubbed The Yuletide Angel, no one knows the identity of this mysterious benefactor.

No one, except Hugh Barnes, a confirmed bachelor who finds himself drawn to the outwardly shy but inwardly bold Violet Madison, a young woman who risks her safety to help others.

When Violet confesses her fear of eviction from her childhood home, Hugh longs to rescue her. His good intentions are thwarted, however, when Hugh’s estranged brother shows up in town … and in Violet’s company.

But Violet faces an even bigger threat. A phantom figure lurks in the shadows, prepared to clip the wings of The Yuletide Angel.”

What I liked: I love this time of year for fiction. Christmas novellas like this scratch a holiday itch. It’s perfect for curling up with hot chocolate, a blanket, and a flaming fireplace for an evening. Violet and Hugh’s story leaves the reader satisfied by a sweet story. Make no mistake: it’s not all fluff and cotton candy. Ardoin threads spiritual truth throughout.

I wasn’t crazy about: The level of tension. I expected more from a couple of aspects of the story. It’s a mild complaint, though. Christmas fiction needs only a pinch of suspense to make me happy.

The bottom line: The Yuletide Angel fits the bill for a cozy Christmastime read.

What about you? Do you like to read anything special during the holidays?

Life with God: 3 Ways You Might Be Making a Difference (But Don’t Realize It)

I sat across the tiny table from her as we talked, hot coffee cups warming our hands. The scents of the full-to-capacity coffee house were delicious, and Saturday morning chatter filled our ears. The background noise gave us a surprising amount of privacy as we talked. Her brow furrowed as she expressed sadness. She would move away soon.

“And I wish I had been able to get more involved while I lived here,” she said. Life had thrown her unpleasant curve balls. She’d wanted to do so much more at her church, in our community. She thought she’d missed her chance to make a difference.

I sat stunned. True, tough challenges out of her control had held her back. Yet my friend had made a big impact while she was here, and I told her so. She remained sincerely unconvinced, but I hope that some of my reassurances hit their target. She would be missed.

After we said goodbye, I thought of some of the ways that she (and we as well) make a difference, even if we don’t recognize them day-to-day.

photo: Gian Luigi Perrella

photo: Gian Luigi Perrella

1. Persistence  When things are hard, just getting through the day or the week proves a struggle. We show up, but that’s about it. It’s easy to feel defeated in our daily life, at worst, or ineffective, at best.

But people notice. They notice if we’re struggling, even if they don’t know the reason. And they notice that we show up.  We’re still in the fight, even if our fight isn’t so punchy for now. That alone speaks volumes of encouragement to others.

2. Transparency It feels counterintuitive, I know. Risk through transparency about our challenges and weaknesses is the opposite of what the world tells us. And who’s chomping at the bit to make ourselves vulnerable? (You don’t see my hand raised.) It puts a lot on the line.

Yet that’s precisely why it can be effective. My friend is good at this, and her courage floors me. When asked, she’s upfront and humble. She’s honest about what she’s facing. You won’t find martyrdom or self-pity, only simple requests for prayer. We inspire courage in those around us by speaking with honesty and transparency.  Some situations call for wisdom and restraint about what to tell, but don’t we too often avoid sharing?

3. The Choice of Joy I saved my favorite for last. We impact people around us when we commit to joy in the midst of difficulties. My friend never fails to point people back to God and His goodness. Yes, it’s a choice, rarely an easy one. No question: It requires God’s love and strength. And strength results when we choose to focus on the joy that God gives us. Think about what James asks of you and me… “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.” (James 1:2-3, NIV)

Now, if we’re being honest and transparent (ha ha…See what I did there?), we don’t like this verse. It’s hard to choose joy when it’s hard to deal with life. But yet again, people will see it and be challenged to do the same. We won’t realize the impact we make, probably, but there’s joy even in knowing that God uses our simple faithfulness for good in people’s lives.

And that, in turn, makes a difference in our own life.

What about you? Consider your daily routine. What’s one thing you can do deliberately today to encourage someone else?





Time Travel: Head ‘Em Up, Move ‘Em Out

You’ve done it. You’re actually here–you have to pinch yourself. You’ve been accepted in the WASP (Women Airforce Service Pilots) program as a cadet when thousands got rejection letters.

Your letter said to report to the Blue Bonnet Hotel in Sweetwater, Texas. You and dozens of other eager women…your new classmates…show up and mill around until a vehicle arrives to take you to Avenger Field. The nearby military base will serve as your home for months.

You hear it before you see it. A motor more cantankerous-sounding than an old man scolding neighborhood ruffians rumbles closer. Then you catch a glimpse as it ambles into view and stops in front of the hotel. The brakes squeak in protest.

Yes, it’s the “cattle wagon.”

photo by WASP Betty Stagg Turner

photo by WASP Betty Stagg Turner

The nickname for the humble transport buses stuck throughout the WASPs tenure at Avenger Field. Worn yet reliably present, the cattle wagon shuttled cadets from the Blue Bonnet Hotel to Avenger Field, outside of town.

Yet cadets grew more familiar with them during flight training. Not all flights took off from the main runway. Auxiliary fields dotted the outer reaches of Avenger’s rolling Texas plains. The cattle wagons ferried cadets back and forth down the bumpy, dusty roads, depositing them where needed.

No need for windows: most of the year, the extra ventilation proved a blessing. And who needed real bus seats? The two basic, hard benches lining the length of the bus made cajoling with the cadets in your flight (training group) easier. But too bad about the bumpy roads. The benches would’ve been nice for a catnap between exhausting training sessions.

Kind of makes my cushy car seats feel a little cushier.

What about you? What would you nickname your current mode of transportation?