Monthly Archives: October 2008

Glorieta Revisited

It’s been a few days since the Glorieta Christian Writers’ Conference ended. What a ride! Thirteen hours each day were filled with workshops, worship, appointments with authors, editors, and agents, and meeting new friends. All faculty walked in a refreshing servant-leader attitude. It was worth every minute and penny just to watch God orchestrate amazing things.

Summarizing here what I learned would take too long to write or read. Suffice it to say that I learned a lot. Now I need to write a lot. That’s the bottom line.

The authors I met were especially encouraging. They liked my writing, which helped my confidence. They also offered invaluable suggestions. Other potential opportunities came about which I wasn’t expecting. I’ll tell you more as time goes on.

Pictures of new friends…

The one of just the two of us is with Rosslyn Elliott, a fun, talented friend. The other group shot is with members of the Southwest Christian Writers Association –precious people! (L-R) Connie Peters, Kimberlae Houk, Barb Lukow, me, and Annette Hutchins.


Some of you know that I’m at my first writers’ conference. Just a quick update to let you know that I’m having a great time. This conference is full of fun, encouraging, godly people and lots of good information and worship time. I’m tired, but it’s that tired you get when you’re worn out from good things. Here’s a shot from early evening, my favorite time of day. I’m so grateful God allowed me to come.

Taste O' Fall

The last post dealt with family meals. It got me a-thinking…With it being glorious fall right now, I decided to share a yearly tradition David and I have developed: making pumpkin pancakes together. Enjoy!

Pumpkin Pancakes with Apple Cider Syrup

For the pancakes:
1 Cup all-purpose flour
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
dash of salt
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 Cup milk
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 Cup canned pumpkin
1/2 Cup sour cream
Combine all ingredients. Batter will be lumpy. Spray griddle with cooking spray or melt a pat of butter. Cook pancakes on griddle using medium heat until bubbles rise to the surface and edges are brown. Turn and bake until golden brown. Texture will be moist and velvety.

For the syrup:
1/2 Cup sugar
1 Tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 Cup apple cider or apple juice
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 Cup butter
Mix sugar, cornstarch, and spice in a medium saucepan. Stir in apple cider and lemon juice. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until it boils. Turn heat to low and allow syrup to thicken. Add butter, stirring in one Tablespoon at a time. Remove from heat. Refrigerate any unused syrup for another morning (or evening!).

The Triangle

The clang was loud in the house, but I loved it. It was the sound of an old-fashioned cast iron dinner triangle. We heard it each night when supper was ready. No, I wasn’t outside on a windswept prairie. I was a little girl at home in the suburbs, and that triangle–and delectable smells from the kitchen–drew us together.

Supper. Some call it dinner, but to me it will always be supper. Growing up, supper meant more than my mom’s tasty, homemade meals. It meant family time. We ate, of course, but we also prayed together, relived the day, laughed, debated (argued sometimes!), or simply had moments enrobed in silence. My sister and I were taught table manners. God bless my parents’ patience!

Though not realizing it at the time, we were learning slowly how to “play well with others.” The memories are good. There’s something special about families dining together where God is an invited guest.

At the time this felt as normal as playing hopscotch on the sidewalk out front. Now I realize the commitment it took for my parents to carve out and protect that time night after night. Today’s families attempting regular mealtime–be it supper, breakfast, or another time–must battle sports, meetings, lessons, practices, and work. It’s not a cake walk. Good activities encroach on great ones. At my house we’re spoiled right now. Some flexibility usually ensures at least one meal together each day–a flexibility we haven’t always had and don’t take for granted.

I’m not naive enough to suggest that there’s an easy answer. Some families who would trade their TV to spend more time together are prevented by external obstacles. …But can you imagine what the families of this country would be like if they spent half an hour eating together just a handful of times a week?

If you’ve read this blog for long you know that hunches tend to find me. This is no different. My hunch is that I’m a-preachin’ to the choir. …I’m realizing this post is pretty preachy, but that’s okay. I’d like to hear from the choir: what memories do you have of mealtime–past or present, good or bad? Or, what family time challenges do you notice or experience today?

…In case you’re wondering, that triangle still hangs in my parents’ home. I’m on the lookout for one of our own.

Ready Line

I wanted a two-minute heads up about the questions. No such luck. The camera rolled.

Have you ever been at a loss for words? Or wish you could rewind the tape and have a do over? Unless you were just born, my hunch is that we’ve all been in these situations–maybe daily.

I was due for one of these. My turn came again last week. As Inigo Montoya, my favorite fencing Spaniard says, “Let me ‘splain.” I work for a community-based anti-drug coalition. We’ve gained some experience dealing with prevention of drugs such as methamphetamine. It’s always a struggle, but we’ve collected war stories to go with the community scars.

Through a process I won’t detail here, the news program Nightline heard about our coalition’s meth prevention efforts and those of law enforcement drug task forces in our part of the state. They decided to come talk to people in our area for a few days. …Including me.

Now, before you rush out to track down my autograph, I’ll say that if my boss had been in town, they would’ve interviewed her. I was Default Chick. Nonetheless, I was up to bat and felt twinges of nervousness and confidence. I knew my part (if it survives the cutting room) will be just a smidgen of the final product for national TV. But that added more pressure; I’d better prepare and get it right. The comments I offered would reflect on my community. So I did what any smart professional does in this situation: I went shopping.

With that crucial task out of the way, I set about preparing my responses to likely questions. With help from my boss, I went over and over our most recent, relevant stats. I mentally formulated sound bite summaries. I beckoned my inner child–who was a huge ham–to gain confidence. I was ready.

Interview day came. With last-minute review sheet in hand and lipstick in place I met the crew at a local park. For this session they would interview our mayor, then me. It was all so low key and uneventful. Sure, it was interesting watching the process with cameras, being wired with a microphone, etc., but in reality it was so casual. I could handle this.

Then it was my turn. I was a mixture of calmness and stomach flutters. They stood me several feet in front of the camera. The crew clustered behind camera and reporter. Without warning, the camera rolled and the questions came. Surely all of my preparation would pay off now. And…I have almost no idea if it did. Do you ever go into a zone and then not know later what happened exactly? My hunch is that when editors review this footage, they’ll see Deer-in-Headlights Girl spouting off incoherent statistics. “Um, yes, the past-30 day use of meth correlates with the seven-day forecast for Boise, according to our analysis.”

Well, maybe it wasn’t that bad (though it might be!), but I do harbor a morbid sense of curiosity about what was captured on film.

One thing’s for sure: I’ll keep my little review sheet handy for when I need it for various reasons on short notice. I see the value of always being prepared.

That’s helpful for we as Christians, too. We never know when God will lead us to something during our day–a person, situation–where being prepared with His answers will be needed. Second Timothy 4:2 (NIV) says, “Be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke, and encourage–with great patience and careful instruction.” Yes, Paul intended this for a pastor, but it holds water for us, too. We can’t predict what God has for us each day. Questions about our faith could ambush us, or a hurting friend may need a shoulder.

We can be ready for “divine appointments” through a couple of key means. First, we can feast on His word each day. I’m focusing on “feast” and “each day.” We’re busy people, but chowing down on the scriptures regularly, rather than nibbling politely on Sundays, will always reap huge rewards in time. Isn’t it amazing how we’re talking with someone and a certain passage or topic comes up. “I was just reading about that in my Bible,” you say. Discipleship’s discipline meets God’s opportunities. His purposes are worked out.

Similarly, we can feast our on time with Him. As I spend time with Him and submit, He works on my armor as we talk, repairing the shield, cleaning my sword, arming me in almost imperceptible ways. Then I’m ready “in season and out of season,” drawing on what He’s given me just when it’s needed. I can fight temptation with a rebuke or offer encouragement to a wounded soul. He supplies the ready line, and I am content to be used.

So, here’s my question for you: what are some other ways you’ve found to be ready for “divine appointments”? Or I’d love to hear about a situation when God used you unexpectedly.