We each have a life story, penned without ink, read by the people around us. Who's writing your story?

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Your Life Story . . . Penned Without Ink


Life story.

Your life story.

We each have a story. In fact, we each are a story - penned without ink - known and read by the people around us. While the main characters wander in and out of our paragraphs, the plot thickens with tension and misgivings and relaxes with humor and celebration. We all hope for a satisfying conclusion.

So, what's going on in the current chapter of your story? In what season of life do you find yourself? Does the fall represent a new beginning as flexible summer days give way to predictable routines? Are you looking forward to new opportunities or do you find yourself grappling with loss and grief? What's unique about this time in your life - both the pros and the cons?

Today marks the first day of a brand new chapter for me

My youngest is beginning a new chapter in her life, too . . . on a college campus. Which means . . . my house is a little too quiet, a little too empty, a little too solitary. Elisabeth's in a healthy environment where she will learn far more than if she were home. But that ache in my heart, as I left the flat farmlands of the mid-west, made the roadway blurry as I wiped away the tears for an hour after crossing the Pennsylvania state line yesterday.

Perhaps, in the transitions of life we experience both gains and losses. In a day-to-day sense, I have lost my daughter's companionship yet have gained the freedom to come and go, serve and write as seems best to me. Just the opposite of when we welcomed our girls into the world. We gained the wonderful privilege of parenthood and relinquished a few freedoms in the process.

Whatever this new chapter holds for me, I want to do it well. Don't you feel the same way? My friend, Gail, sent a short note, which read, "I'm praying your sense of hearing will be so sharpened that you'll hear God's presence in the quiet." Ironically, I have been praying a similar prayer the last few days.
Wherever we find ourselves in our life stories, let's remember God's faithful presence . . . in our joys, in our sorrows, and in our transitions. We take the promises of God with us into each new chapter and into each new day. 

Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you. 
The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. 
Hebrews 13:5, 6

Now available on Amazon.com

Saturday, August 6, 2016

To Let the World Know . . . Behind the Scenes # 7

And then there's the marketing . . .

It's one thing to practice the craft of writing over many years, to schedule time to sit down and do it, to rewrite a chapter multiple times, to read it to your critique group, to edit it again, to gather up the courage to send your manuscript off to a publisher, and wait and pray for an acceptance letter.

It's quite another thing to market it. To let the world know. To somehow persuade people to like your combination of words all nicely packaged inside a great cover and . . . to actually buy it.

I'm an introvert. I'm the child who picked mostly white strawberries so everyone else could have the red ones. I'm the young woman in the circle who thought of a contribution ten minutes after the fact. I'm the graying grandma who, like many writers, finds it more comfortable to quietly peck away at my computer than put myself out there.

Then I remember that Penned Without Ink is not about me. Yes, it's our family's story. But it's more than that. It's God's story. He's the hero! And it's His words, jotted bold on the page, that make all the difference.  

Do you ever feel like the little boy who handed Jesus his lunch? I do. Sometimes our fish and bread seem insignificant against the needs surrounding us but Jesus blesses what we bring to Him. He multiplies our offering and somehow feeds the multitudes.  

But what encourages me today is that even Jesus accepted assistance to distribute this miracle meal to the hungry. The text reads, "Then He broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples and the disciples gave them to the crowds" (Matthew 14:19).

I'm learning that it's important to accept a little help in order to offer our story of grace . . . God's story . . . to the world.

A special THANK YOU to all who are offering Penned Without Ink's message of hope to friends, relatives, and others who are hungry for a positive word, some in the midst of very challenging circumstances

Blessings to you all. 

Monday, July 25, 2016

Can You See the Cross? Behind the Scenes 6

What a moment. 

Always excited to hear from my publisher, I eagerly opened the email, clicked on the attachment, and for the first time, viewed the cover of my book. I couldn't have been more pleased. The colors, the fog, the title, the fonts, the layout . . . It was perfect. Tears wet my cheeks. Suddenly my dream of writing a book seemed just a little closer.
Did you know that authors have homework? I filled out pages of information for the publisher, including my ideas for the book cover. Not having any graphic design background, I could only jot down a few ideas. It seemed to me it should reflect the first chapter without giving away the rest of the story.

At our next writers' meeting, one of the girls mentioned how clever of the artist/designer to include a cross on the cover. The room grew quiet, all eyes on the printed sample. "Where?" we finally asked, still searching. When she pointed it out, I thought of the lines in the first chapter of the book . . . "Looking back, I have to believe we were surrounded by . . . grace."

A quiet discussion followed our precious discovery. Isn't it just like us to find ourselves caught up in the fog, the potential problems, the storm, the unknown and miss the cross? To never see it? Even though it's clearly visible for those with open eyes.

The cross on the cover of Penned Without Ink holds deep meaning for me. Now it's the first thing I see. The reason? Because I'm looking for it. I pray we will view our life circumstances in the same way and look for the all-knowing, all-powerful God who never leaves us or forsakes us, no matter what happens. 

 Can you see the cross?

For a short summary of the book, click here. 

To pre-order paperback or Kindle Edition on Amazon.com, click here


Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Reminiscing Roommates

I circled the date on my calendar with a smile.

My roommate from college called, asking if she and her mom could stop by on their way home from New England. Needless to say, I welcomed the chance to see them again and catch up. 

Ruby Wagner Dorm
I gave the house an extra shine, ran to the grocery store so I could put together a nice lunch, and wondered if Deb had as much gray as I saw in the mirror lately. Visions of the campus and our room in Ruby Wagner Dorm that I hadn't thought of in years ran through my mind in the hours before their arrival. She had majored in Accounting and I in Religious Education. How could thirty-seven years have gone by since we graduated? 

Our time together brought out old stories. We remembered our other roommates and wondered what courses their lives had taken. We reminisced and laughed together, seeing it all from a different perspective. Interestingly enough, neither one of us could remember actually meeting even though we roomed together for three years.

As Deb backed the car out of our driveway later that afternoon to head west,  it seemed ironic to me that both she and I walk alone now. As two young girls in love and married right out of college, we never gave the possibility of "singleness" a thought. We wanted to "live happily ever after," serving the Lord. And we did--for a while.

But life doesn't always turn out the way we hope and dream. It brings its own challenges and heartaches. Yet the thing that struck me was that we were both doing okay in spite of our pain and disappointment. I saw in my friend what Eugene Peterson calls "a long obedience in the same direction," a strong faith in God and a determination not to let the hard times bring defeat.

As I washed up the lunch dishes, I thanked God for our forty-year friendship. Somehow we gather courage when we know we're not alone in our circumstances. We'll keep in touch, Deb and I . . . and I have a feeling our paths will cross more often.

 *Unlabelled photos from bing.com/images

Thursday, June 30, 2016

In the Garden . . .

Aren't you glad summer's here? We savor the warmth and sunshine. We look forward to vacations and picnics. We catch up with neighbors over the back fence . . . and enjoy the beauty of flowers bordering sidewalks, along roadsides, and in various pots here and there. At the nurseries I joined the spring crowds loading up their carts with zany zinnias, shade-loving impatiens, bright geraniums, and dependable begonias. Maybe you were there, too?

Yet, for me, the real joy came in purchasing a few vegetable plants.  Last fall (October 20), I blogged about our choice to disassemble my late husband's big garden. We grieved one more loss. At the same time, we conferred with a local master gardener-friend, Susan, who helped us create a small lasagna garden in our yard. Perhaps we could still preserve Barry's legacy. 

We chose an easily accessible sunny corner and began the process with Susan's oversight. We layered leaves and hay, using recycled pavers to mark the boundary. Elisabeth carefully transplanted Barry's old fashioned roses, raspberry plants, and a clump of chives, babying them with hopes and prayers that they would make it. 

Then we waited for spring. 

Mid-May found us in the check-out line with red cabbage, lettuce, Swiss chard, cucumber, and tomato plants. We found beet and bean seeds. And Memorial Day weekend, we planted . . . Elisabeth reminding me of Barry's prior instructions. 

There's something wonderful about a garden. Every day, first thing in the morning, I find my way to our little plot. I marvel at the growth, check for more blossoms, smile at the tiny cucs, pull out the weeds while they're still small, and smell the variegated roses. I remember the man with the green thumb who gave me and our daughters an appreciation for God's good earth and its fruit.

And I realize that, difficult as it is, the change of moving forward is good. With an open mind, it brings its own treasures and joy. There's growth in the process.

So . . . if you're local and happen to be in the area, stop by and peek over our white picket fence. And remember . . . God gives us grace to begin again.


Friday, June 24, 2016

Morning Tangles

When's the last time you just needed to take some time out and get organized? 

Today was one of those days for me. Over the past several weeks, I found myself lacking focus and feeling frustrated--especially while working on my computer. Over the last year or so, as I hurried to meet deadlines, I didn't always take the time to organize my files. By day's end, it felt good to finally have my documents in order. 

And I found it to be a little like cleaning a closet when you find a forgotten gadget. I discovered a piece I'd written years ago when Elisabeth, now eighteen, was in elementary school. One summer while I sat poolside watching her swim, I scribbled down some poetry--just for fun. Here's one your family might enjoy, especially if you have girls with long hair!

Morning Tangles

Morning tangles
Mazes in my hair
Secret snarls
Undercover nightmare

Brush it! Comb it!
Tug of war - Ow!
"Can I please do it later
Instead of just now?" 

Morning tangles
Aggravating spots
Bottle of detangler
Sprayed on all my knots

Brush it! Comb it!
Snarls start to move
Tug of war's over
Finally smooth   
So I hope you'll take some time to do a little organizing this summer. You never know what will turn up - and it may be just the thing to bring back some good memories and lighten up your day.

Photos from bling.com/images