“The perfect tomato!” I held it in my hand and felt it’s plump, juicy roundness. It was still warm after being plucked from my neighbor’s garden. We have a barter system. They give me their excess tomatoes and I bake homemade bread for them. It works. I stand over this little marvel, knife in hand and hesitate. Shame to destroy such perfection, but then again, it’d be a greater shame not to eat it!
Tomatoes represent summer to me. I remember my mom’s garden, how she would come in wiping the sweat off her forehead with a dirty gloved hand. In her other hand would be a bowl filled with deep red tomatoes. Her offering of love to us.Plan, till, sow, water, reap. An age-old cycle repeated before my eyes.A sermon in a vegetable.A visible reminder of my Father in Heaven’s love and his commands to us.
4As long as it is day, we must do the work of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work.
Plan, till, sow, water, reap. Amen.
My dog Brandy is neurotic. She is, really. She’s a full-blooded black lab, beautiful with a graceful angular face and liquid brown eyes, but she is an emotional pot-pourri. She’s afraid of: fly swatters, dish towels, plastic bags, umbrellas, and loud sounds. If the noise level in a room gets to be too much for her, she quietly slinks to the hallway or the farthest room she can reach. Her father was a hunting dog, the type that does hunting trials. Go figure.Poor Brandy has been the whipping dog of our other dogs. She just wouldn’t take up for herself. Until the other day. I guess after five years of being put in her place, something snapped. We were throwing a tennis ball in the living room for Charlie, our other dog. Charlie is a Heinz 57 who snarls and bullies her way around Brandy. If there is a tennis ball being thrown, it is without saying, Charlie’s. That day though, we went through the usual scenario. Tennis ball thrown, Charlie lunges. Suddenly from the right corner of my eye I see a blur of black. Brandy’s white teeth flash and the tennis ball is in her mouth! She looked proudly at my husband and I, wagging her body in her “happy dance.” I cheered. Brandy ruled.That showed me there is hope, as long as we breathe, we can choose to change. That was the day I watched an old dog learn a new trick.
9 I took you from the ends of the earth,
from its farthest corners I called you.
I said, ‘You are my servant’;
I have chosen you and have not rejected you.
10 So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
“The Premier Christian Fiction Conference”
STANDING FIRM…MOVING FORWARD
“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.” 1 Corinthians 15:58 (KJV)
DENVER, COLORADO SEPTEMBER 17 – 20, 2009
Bestselling authors, publishing industry representatives, and newcomers to Christian fiction writing will gather in Denver at the American Christian Fiction Writer’s annual conference September 17-20 to compare notes, learn from each other, and encourage one another in the pursuit of publishing goals.
This year’s conference theme , Standing Firm…Moving Forward, will especially inspire the full range of talent and dreams in the ever-changing publishing world today.
This amazing conference will feature representatives from major publishing houses like B & H, Guideposts, Zondervan, Harvest House, Barbour, Steeple Hill, Summerside Press, Bethany House, Waterbrook Multnomah, Marcher Lord Press, Tyndale House, and Thomas Nelson, and top literary agents who will meet with writers and identify promising proposals from both new and veteran novelists. Conferees will have access to publishing panels, professional critiques, and customized workshops based on skills and interests.
The keynote speaker is New York Times bestselling author, Debbie Macomber, who has more than 100 million copies of her books in print worldwide.
Learn more about the American Christian Fiction Writer’s Conference by visiting www.acfw.com. Click on the left sidebar on Annual Conference.
American Christian Fiction Writers
The battle in the supermarket began…Round one, Grapefruit vs. Chocolate chip cookies. Grapefruit won. Round two, Kashi cereal vs. Poptarts…Kashi won. Round three, Orange Juice vs. Coke, Orange Juice won!
By round four I was feeling cocky, “yeah, bring it on!” I breezed through the bakery department, stopping only to pick up a package of flatbread. Only one more product added to the grocery cart and I was done. Another epic battle, another triumph of the human spirit.
By the way, cheese danish is considered a dairy product, isn’t it?
I’m on the final count-down finishing a manuscript.The other day I jokingly e-mail my brother, who is working on his manuscript, that I should lock myself in my office and have my husband pass food through the crack until my novel is done.You know what they say, be careful what you wish for…Wednesday night I am happily typing away, words flow like– molasses off a spoon. I stand up to stretch. I hear the sounds of the Atlanta Braves game my husband has on in the living room. “Crack, roar” Oops, wrong fans cheering,(They are losing…again). I glance through the little glass window in my office door (it’s probably thirty years old, but very quaint). A cold root beer will be good right about now.I turn the door handle and nothing happens. I push the little button, off, on, turn again. Nothing. O.K. I laugh to myself. Ooh, I might be locked in. How funny would that be? I jiggle the door handle. I rattle the door handle. I kick the door. By this time I am not giggling. “Trip, trap” Charlie our dog comes in the adjoining sun room through her doggie door. “Charlie, go get your Daddy!” I have visions of Lassie, bounding through the field to save Timmy.
Charlie however, is no Lassie. She looks at me with her tongue hanging out the side of her mouth, and walks back outside through the doggie door. I guess she has better things to do than to save the one who FEEDS her.
I bang the door loudly with the palm of my hand.”Boom”, My husband yells though the roar of the Braves game, “Do you need help?”
“Um,” I yell back, pressing my lips to the glass window.”YEAH,I’M LOCKED IN!”
A screwdriver and hacksaw later, I’m free. My hero. He has to sacrifice the thirty year-old door handle though.
Next time I’m tempted to exaggerate what lengths I will go to in order to finish a manuscript, I’ll think twice. Who knows, I could end up worse than being locked in a room. Now that I know I don’t have Lassie to rescue me!
Auto Clean System!
Turns off automatically–on its heel rest, on its side, or on its soleplate–and beeps to let you know it’s activated!
Sounds vaguely like a space-age sports car?
Wrong, it’s my newest purchase, a state of the art—iron.
It seems people fall into three camps concerning ironing:
Camp 1: Manic Laundry Mavens: If it sits still long enough, iron it! These are the folks who iron pillow cases, sheets, blue jeans and yes (my mother-in-law confessed to this once) underwear. These folks steam deliriously away, attacking wrinkles like they are the next great plague of mankind. Everything about them is crisp, crisp, crisp. You know who you are. Your shirt collars point impeccably where they should, instead of curling up at the ends like yesterday’s wilted lettuce. These folks are wonderful to visit, their sheets feel like sleeping on satin clouds…Manic Laundry Mavens keep spray starch companies stock going up.
Camp 2: “Maybe I will, maybe I won’t”: These laundry managers iron on a whim. They are the “refuse to be pigeon-holed people”. These free spirits iron favorite articles of clothing; or, not. On any given day you may find them digging furiously in the laundry pile for a clean shirt, or proudly hanging a freshly ironed dress in the closet. Good to have around when you are going to an important event, they don’t mind dragging out the old ironing board at a moments notice, since they seem to iron article by article anyway.
Camp 3: “Laundry sucks the life out of me” ironing procrastinators: You see them in the early mornings when others are pulling out of the driveway heading for work: they are pushing the “on” button on the dryer to tumble their shirt one last time in a vain attempt to relax some of the wrinkles.These ironing procrastinators have the nicest, newest looking irons in the neighborhood…because they never get used.
I refuse to tell you which camp I fall into. Information like that could ruin my reputation, not to mention my relationship with my mother-in-law. Now, excuse me while I hit the “on” button one more time on my dryer. It’s almost time to leave for work…
“This is the best sticker…” The speaker paused and took a breath for emphasis, “EVER!”
I was working at my desk in the pediatrician’s office and I had to stand up to look over the counter to see the source of the tiny voice.
She looked at me triumphantly with piercing blue eyes, peering through blonde ringlets of hair. Clutched in her tiny fist was a wrinkled “Elmo” sticker.
I was touched by her total abandonment to joy, her simplicity and at the same time, deep sincerity.
I remembered when I came to Christ. Everything was brand new, every leaf shouted the glory of His name, every sunset a symphony.
It was the best day of my life…EVER.
Luke 18:15-17 People were also bringing babies to Jesus to have him touch them. When the disciples saw this, they rebuked them. 16But Jesus called the children to him and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. 17I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”
Well, they did it.
They went and got married.
Don’t get me wrong, they didn’t run off to the courthouse.
No, it was witnessed by somewhere around the neighborhood of two hundred people, and yet, it was just the two of them.
It was just the two of them, as she rounded the corner of the lodge and saw him standing there in the archway filled with trailing wisteria.
It was just the two of them, as he cupped his hands around her waist and drew her to him; told her how beautiful she looked.
It was just the two of them, preparing to spend the rest of their lives together, and in a whisper of a breeze and the grace of God, we were permitted to watch.
There weren’t always just two standing there though.
Sometime during the ceremony, about the time the communion cup pressed their lips, three people stood at the altar; two in fleshly bodies,
one in a heavenly one.
My tomato plants are hanging upside down, as is most of my household. We are in those frantic last few days before my oldest daughter’s wedding. Two households are in some sort of wedding induced chaos; the bride’s household and the groom’s.
As I packed some magazines that were going to my daughter’s new home, I spotted “Brides” magazine on the top of the pile.
On the cover was a smiling, perfectly coiffed bride (of course) holding a perfectly fresh bouquet of perfectly arranged flowers. (She wasn’t even sweating,not one perfect glisten.)
I wondered if the paper doll bride had just:
Moved all her belongings into her new place one week before the wedding because her parents air conditioner just broke.
Spent the majority of that week living with her future in-laws due to said lack of air conditioning.
Watched as her future in-laws battled ripping up their kitchen flooring due to a water leak, and trying to replace the flooring before a wave of out-of-town relatives descended upon them.
I would have to go with answer: A. I bet not.
But then again I would also wager the paper doll bride had never experienced growing up within a few streets of the guy she dated and would later marry. I doubt if she knew what it was like to have that boy of years ago, nervous and sweet, hand her a cardboard package that he ordered “Just because he is my friend Mom.” Which, when opened contained a proclamation that “The International Star Registry doth hereby re designate star number Andromeda RA 23h 15m 31s D 36′ 9′ to the name Stacy’s Starlight.”
Paper doll brides never get to find out that there is a sweetness to overcoming adversity; that the most appreciated things in life sometimes are the most difficult to achieve. That when it is all said and done, married is married. Whether the ceremony goes flawlessly or not; at the end of the evening it will only be the two of them; gazing at the stars together as husband and wife.