Friday, July 30, 2004

working saints
Lately, my mind has sought refuge in the memory of a woman whose name I cannot remember.   She walked quietly through a brief portion of my life during a time when I scurried forth in front of a four-prong prod: being the mother of young children, wife, writer and caretaker to a dying parent.  I don’t remember her name.  I’ll call her Barbara.

Barbara and I met at a writer’s night at a store in Hunt Valley Mall owned by author Bernadette A. Moyer.  Barbara wrote a children's book, published, beautifully illustrated.  But tucked away somewhere at home a novel waited to be loosed on the general public.  I later visited Barbara at her home where she lived with her retired husband.  And in good faith, I took the manuscript, eager to read it.  But I didn't.  Life got away with me.  Mom got sicker, the kids more involved, Will's dot com venture more frantic.  I regret that and if you're reading this, my friend, please email me!

Barbara gave me a gift that day she opened the door to her home with a wide sweep and made me tea and cookies.  We sat together in her living room talking books.  Then we switched to God and Barbara changed my life forever with just six words.

"I just love God so much."

Six words uttered with the matter-of-fact familiarity and unmistakeable affection one would use to describe one's feelings for say, a sister, a best friend, or quite possibly a lover you've had for years.

"I just love God so much."

And in that moment, I realized that I did too.  That He lived within every sort of love I could express and that not only did He own my devotion, my gratitude, my worship -- He owned my fond affection.  What was once a trickle of human emotion -- God being on the lofty plain -- gushed open into something so real and deep, I suddenly realized the meaning of prayer and I began walking alongside my Creator, each step accompanied by the presence of my Divine friend.  I truly gave Him my heart. 

In Prism magazine, Sept./Oct. 2002, is an article entitled Working Saints.  Their definition:

     "They love and influence you over a whole lifetime, or they cross your path only once but make an impression that remains forever, like a handprint on your heart.
     "We call them Working Saints, those nameless disciples of Christ who live out their faith every day, without praise or remuneration or recognition, folks who work hard and bear witness to their Lord in ways that influence--subtly but significantly--the lives of those around them."

Barbara is my working saint.  She gave a gift I needed to get through the tough years of my mother's illness and my children's smallness.  She gave me a gift that upholds me even now.

Who are your working saints?



Thursday, July 29, 2004

i'm sorry, i was wrong

"To live a creative life, we must lose our fear of being wrong."
                                                                                      Joseph Chilton Pearce

I've often thought my next tattoo should be the title of this blog, inked right on my forehead.  It sure would save me time and energy.  Recently I received an email, sent in Christian love, but very stern in its tone, telling me I had created an African-American character that did a disservice to African-Americans.  Unfortunately, the reader had only read a small portion of the book so I'll never know if I redeemed things or not.  But she was right in a lot of ways and I had to admit, that if I wrote the book now, I would do things differently.  And I told her so.  I related that I am on a journey through this life and while I'd like to get more things right than I do wrong, I know the opposite is true. 

Hence the tattoo.  But being wrong is the chance we have to take, even if it is in print.

I've never read anything by Joseph Chilton Pearce, in fact he may be a new age guru for all I know, but his book Magical Child, has some interesting reviews that might encapsulate the idea behind the book.  Here they are: stop forcing your child into a mold, cut down on all the activities you're running them around to each day, turn off the television, it can be harmful if a child is forced to read too early.  This, according to the reviewer, stunts the natural creativity of the child.  Makes perfect sense to me.

So let's take it a step further.  Let's do the same thing for ourselves.  Let's allow ourselves freedom from too many obligations.  Jesus never said, "Blessed are the busy" did He?  But "busy" is what we say now, not "fine", when people ask us how we are.  What if people started responding, "Oh, shame, dearie.  Hopefully you'll soon learn what's really important to you"?

Perhaps a lot of us just don't want to be wrong.  I know I don't.  Conventional wisdom tells me I should expose my kids to all sorts of things so they'll excell at one or two, when in my heart, I know they'll find it on their own anyway.  I did.  Anybody born before 1975 did.  Our parents weren't running us around all over kingdom come.  Conventional wisdom tells me it's wrong to wile away the afternoon reading, when in my heart, I know that I will not grow if I do not read, something I love doing.  For others it might be needlework, or painting, or, heaven forbid, running!  But if I read away the afternoon, am I allowed to respond, "I'm so busy!" when someone asks me how I am?  Hmm.  Well, maybe.  Maybe I'm busy doing what's important to me, a writer and a reader.  And isn't that okay?  Isn't that what will, in the end, help fuel my creativity, the fuel of my calling?  So why do I feel so guilty doing it? 

Because I think everyone else in the world judges reading as a waste of time, an extracurricular activity like watching TV, and therefore something that simply doesn't count.

What, creative friend, can we clear off of our plates, our kids' plates, the family plate?  And why aren't we doing it?  It's a question I hope to answer for myself before school begins.



Wednesday, July 28, 2004

an honor

"My future starts when I wake up every morning... Every day I find something creative to do with my life."

Miles Davis (1926 - 1991)

We have a cat named Miles Davis.  He wears his black fur long and fluffy.  He possesses attitude.  Everyday he waits by the door in the family room, ready to go outside, roam around, hunt small helpless creatures and sit by the tree in the neighbor's yard outside their sunroom.  Molly, the little white terrier barks and barks at Miles from behind the glass.  Miles sits there and if he could fashion an expression, it would be a smirk.  Miles has business to do and he does it.

So do we.  And we are honored to have been bestowed with a certain creativity that cuts out words and sews them together in strings and bits, braids and twists, patches and patterns, creating a unique design.    Maybe it's a tapestry.  Perhaps it's a quilt. Maybe it's homespun garland, each scrap of fabric knotted tightly to some cord in a pattern you've carefully chosen.  Whatever it is it's yours alone and it won't get finished without you.

And when it's done, ah, when it's done, the sense of accomplishment is like no other.



this just in from the nightstand

I finished Bring 'Em Back Alive last night.  Honestly, folks.  A must read. Dave Burchett is hilarious as well as insightful.  And he lets no one off the hook.  I like that.

I just began reading Messy Spirituality by Mike Yaconelli.  Only a chapter in and I think, "What did he manage to crawl inside my head when he was writing this book?"  If you feel like a misfit Christian like I do; if you feel like you don't read the Bible enough, pray enough or just be "spiritual" enough; if you're tired of reading books by perfect white men in suits - this is the book for you.



Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Asimov on persistence

"You must keep sending work out; you must never let a manuscript do nothing but eat its head off in a drawer. You send that work out again and again, while you're working on another one. If you have talent, you will receive some measure of success - but only if you persist."

 Isaac Asimov (1920 - 1992)

IOW, keep on keeping on, writers everywhere!

I was just talking to Will about how I want my voice as a writer to sound.  Not my writing voice, mind you.  But how does Lisa sound when she's talking about writing or to other writers?  Many voices out there want to punish us.  Like an unskilled parent, they want to beat us into submission to turn out better works.  They seek to shame us into excellence.  And as I said before, I fell into this camp.

But what child responds to such a tack?  My children sure don't!

I want to sound different now.  I want to be a person shares the corner of any writer out there who is trying to better him/herself.  I want to be known as someone who walks the journey, extending a hand filled with grace and the belief that with God's help, we can all do great things for the kingdom, that we can ruthlessly pursue excellence and when the voices of disdain grow loud, from talented folks and those who wish they were, let's drown them out with the most beautiful, thoughtful words we can muster, displayed on the pages of our own work.

Don't be discouraged and set that manuscript in a drawer.  Keep pressing forward always remembering there is no one out there that can write like you, that has lived the life you have lived, or can tell the stories you alone can tell.



holy ground

Dave Burchett, in Bring 'Em Back Alive, tells the story of Fred Rogers during his days as a divinity student. 

While Mr. Rogers studied at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, he'd attend different churches each Sunday to hear varying styles of preaching.  One Sunday he listened to, "The most poorly crafted sermon I had ever heard."

When he turned to his friend who accompanied him to say that very thing he saw she was crying.  "It was exactly what I needed to hear." she told him.

Rogers later said, "That's when I realized that the space between someone doing the best he or she can and someone in need is holy ground.  The Holy Spirit had transformed that feeble sermon for her--and, as it turned out, for me, too."

No matter how good we'll get, there will always be room for improvement.  But no matter how much improvement we need, the Holy Spirit will always prove trustworthy, capable of planting a seed from the fruit of our labors into the fertile field of a human heart He's prepared to receive it.  He's amazing that way.  I think of a part of the mass that always thrilled me.

"Lord, accept the sacrifice of our hands, for the praise and glory of Your Name, for our good, and the good of all Your church."  And I might add, "and all those You love."

hope it's a beautiful day in the neighborhood of your creativity! (i know, that was lame!)


Monday, July 26, 2004

here's an idea

How to combat the lack of quality in Christian writing: 

Instead of trashing Christian writers, why not write that "something brilliant" yourself?

I've been a real trasher in the past, I admit it.  Well, you know what?  I'm done.  I'm just going to fight bad writing by becoming a better writer, not pointing out bad writing.  Obviously, from what I read on the internet, there are enough people taking care of that already.  And maybe there's a place for it, probably there is because there have to be the pricklers that cause the artists to take stock.  But it isn't a place I want to live.  I can't be a critic and an artist.  (Unless it's being a critic of my own work, in which case, I'm as ruthless as can be.)  It kills something in my spirit that I just can't afford to be without.  Maybe a better person could walk that line.  I can't.

IOW, I'm going to put up and shut up.



Bring 'Em Back Alive

This book is just fabulous.  Go buy a copy.  Really.  Cool segment below when Dave Burchett, speaking of God's vision and purpose for a pastor, touched on something that pertains to writers. On page 81.

"May I suggest that God is big enough to be creative with His vision and purpose for your flock (writing)?  When I study how God works throughout the Bible, I see that His methods are unique in almost every situation.  I don't discount that much can be learned from other churches, but I do struggle with the "seminary (writing conference?) mentality" that suggests it is important for Fellowship A to look as much as possible like Fellowship B because Fellowship B is, by all accounts, "successful." To draw a comparison, I cannot write like Philip Yancey because my brain isn't big enough.  It would be a huge mistake for me to try to copy what Yancey does, and if I pursued that vain effort, I would miss God's purposes for me.  So I attempt to communicate with humor and candor what God is teaching me. I write like Dave Burchett, and I am confident that I will face little competition in this niche.  What I'm trying to say is, give yourself and the Holy Spirit some credit.  God may just have something in mind for your flock (writing) that won't come from any seminar."



Sunday, July 25, 2004

on the nightstand

right now:

Humble Pie, by Janet and Ron Benrey.  A cozy mystery set in a fictional town in Maryland.  My guilty reading pleasure?  Cozy mysteries. 

Bring 'Em Back Alive: A Healing Plan for Those Wounded by the Church, Dave Burchett.  He also wrote When Bad Christians Happen to Good People, which I haven't read yet.  So far, so very, very good.  And boy, have I had some zingers thrown at me, too, as someone who can all too easily sit by and let things happen instead of really reaching out to the wounded.  Maybe I'm not wounding many people, but how many people am I actually helping?

and finally:

Our Father Who Art in a Tree, by Judy Bascoe, an Australian novelist.  First line:

It was simple for me, the saints were in heaven and guardian angels had extendable wings like Batman and my dad had died and gone to live in the tree in the backyard.



Saturday, July 24, 2004

the rest of the story

Noah was really, well, grand - amazing singing, wonderful scenery.  And I remember thinking, "Jehovah loves me."  Thoughts don't get much better than that.  In a very Christ-centric faith, these days it's good to be reminded of God the father, and that He has a name.  It makes it all so much more personal.

Of course the show basically ends with the rainbow and God's promise.  (With a surprise appearance by Jesus that made me feel a little uncomfortable.)  Big music, applause, and we were soon filing into the aisles to go home.

In the car, Tyler pipes up.  "I couldn't help thinking, In a few days that man is going to be drunk!"
"Me too, Tyler!" Me.  "And there'll be that whole naked thing."

My sister Lori says, "Me too!  And I kept looking at Ham and thinking, You're going to be cursed!  You're going to be cursed!"

Hmm.  Wonder why they didn't include that stuff?

I said, "In typical old testament fashion, the story gets really messy!"

You know, God is the ultimate non-sentimentalist.  Just when you're told about a really big rainbow and a promise, somebody gets schnockered.  Just when you've read about cool battles and victories, somebody sleeps with the general's wife and offs the general.  Just when the church really starts growing, people have to lie about the price of their field, and end up dropping dead, carried out in the arms of "the young men."

The Bible really is the messiest book around, isn't it?  And I can't think of a book out there in the mainstream world containing gorier, more sexually disturbing situations.  Imagine if we wrote a novel about a guy whose concubine is gang raped to death, then he gets so mad at the gang rapists, he cuts the woman's body in twelve pieces and sends them around the kingdom to incite said kingdom to decimate in battle the men of the entire tribe from which the gang rapists, those awful men of Gibeah, came?  Whoa.  Quentin Tarantino only thinks he's livin' on the edge!

But all that gives me hope in some twisted way.  That God's grace extends farther than man's sin can reach astounds me and I can say, "Yes, that God, Jehovah by name, is my God, too."



Friday, July 23, 2004

not much time

Tyler and I are about to leave the house.  We're headed for Noah, a production at Sight and Sound Theatre in Lancaster County PA.  Real animals and everything.  Sounds like it could be just another goofy Christian thing, but I've never heard one person personally complain or disparage it after having seen it.  I can't wait.

I've been thinking about the blog about the church with the chains up, and Deborah's gracious response, that some things need to be preserved, and some folks can't deal with change.  She's right about that.  But what is the preservation for if it doesn't truly further the kingdom?  If people live in fear, is that ever a good thing?  Isn't one of the primary messages of scripture "fear not?"

We live in a culture of fear, I fear. :)

My friend Tony at the cigar shop and I had a talk the other day about how churches are locked nowadays.  He, an avowed agnostic, almost became nostaligic about the idea of sanctuary.  And I had to weep a little inside that the church is only a sanctuary for some these days.  As usual, I don't know what the answer is.  Vandalism occurs and doors must be locked, right?  I guess the only partial answer is this:  we are the church, and we are the providers of sanctuary - one on one - to those who need to feel there is one place - or one person - with whom they can be safe to enter in, just as they are, in whatever state, on whatever path, they find themselves.  Someone who will love them as God loves.

I guess we can make up for the fact that our doors must be locked, compensate for violence and disregard, and open the doors of our heart.



Thursday, July 22, 2004

do not go gentle into that good night

Nope.  I'm not using that phrase to illustrate a point.  You can actually hear Dylan Thomas reading this poem.  I love Dylan Thomas.  Not being in the know in the world of poetry, I have no idea if that's cool, passe or goofy.  All I know is that his words always scribble something new upon my soul.



recipe for disaster

Found this in Tyler's Psych textbook.  It's best read out loud in a Deep Thoughts with Jack Handy voice.

The Gestalt Prayer
I do my thing, and you do your thing.
I am not in this world to live up to your expectations
And you are not in this world to live up to mine.
You are you and I am I,
And if by chance we find each other, it's beautiful.
If not, it can't be helped.

Source: Frederick S. Perls, Gestalt Therapy Verbatin (c. Real People Press, 1969.)




Tuesday, July 20, 2004

old fashioned fun
The kids and I, along with their Grandparents (Will's mom and dad), went to Williams Grove Amusement Park this afternoon.  Originally built in 1852, this park reminds me of what you'd see in the thirties and forties.  Family-owned, not a plethora of rides, but the ones they have are still as fun as they were when I was a kid.
The Cyclone, a 71-year-old wooden roller coaster warned us the ride was "rough" in comparison to today's smooth steel coasters.  Good freaking grief!  I thought my bones were about to jump out of my body, my teeth spin in their sockets, my eyes fly off to safety.  Gwynnie sat next to me screaming in terror the entire time!  And I wondered if any of the timber was original, if the train was truly staying on the track, if I had lost any brave bone I'd ever possessed, because this coaster couldn't compare in size to anything the bigger theme parks offer these days and I am a weenie, folks, a weenie who doesn't deserve to fide the darn carousel if she can't take a little old coaster like The Cyclone and let's face it, it hurts to simply hang from my arms these days my joints are so stiff and don't days like this remind you of the need to get in shape?  But we made it through.  My back is killing me Gwynnie's bragging about her ride on a classic coaster.  Jake didn't go on it.  She's not allowed to talk about that.
While I found out how fun those old rides still are, and how fun it is not to wait in a bunch of lines all day long, I also realized I don't even remotely have the stomach I used to!  The Tilt-A-Whirl should really be named the Tilt-A-Hurl if you're 40 or over.
One thought kept me laughing on each fast, spinny ride.  "Why do human beings think this is so much fun?"  Why?  I sure don't know.  But we do.  I think we like feeling out of control, yet safe.  I yelled this to Tyler on The Heartbreaker.  She said, "That sounds just like you, Mom.  Out of control in a safe environment!"  Which is either really cool, or really pathetic.  I haven't yet figured out which.
Days like this are the best.

Monday, July 19, 2004

out of the mouths of babes
Our church sits out in the sticks, right across from a cornfield.  The drive is beautiful, the changing seasons always offering us a different view of the farms and woods.  Two things, other than houses, remain consistent.  The cows in the farm on the left are always grazing in one of two fields.  And one church we pass, during times they're not holding a service, always strings chains up in front of their driveway.
Stay out!  Keep out of our church!  We always say as we drive by.  We don't want your type in here!
Last night, on our way to our own church for a square dance (Maryland's official Folk dance) we saw the chains again.  We have no chains on our parking lot.  Some of the neighborhood kids skateboard there.
Stay out!  Keep out of our church!  You're not like us and we don't want you!
Jake says, "Keep away!  We're an antique!"
Now Jake's ten.  He had no idea how funny that statement actually is, and maybe even a little profound.  There's a protective quality to some old-line churches, isn't there?  As if somebody different might just walk in, touch things, and church and God as they know it might crumble around them, and then what?
All this to say, let's make today a day we don't stagnate.  See Will's blog about the Sudan if you want to feel deeply.

Sunday, July 18, 2004

good advice
If you're a writer you might want to check out Dave Long's blog right away, particularly these posts:
Writing and Advice, The Worst Advice, and The Most Contradictory Advice
I wanted to comment on the blog itself, but Blogger, in Blogger fashion, wouldn't let me.  Anyway, good, relief-imparting stuff, particularly Writing and Advice, because like Dave, I rarely read books on writing too.

the rock
Psalm 40:1 & 2
1 I waited patiently for the LORD ; he turned to me and heard my cry. 2 He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.
Clarence comes into the cigar shop regularly and buys Point IV which he has to smoke outside because of the wife.  It's amazing how many customers have to take their cigars and pipes outside and how they don't complain about the fact.  In today's world, I guess it's to be expected.
Clarence just got back from a vacation in Colorado, or as he pronounces it, Cadarada.  He talked about trees growing out of rock.  "And they grow straight up.  Perfectly straight.  Not like here, where you have to help a tree grow straight or it'll grow any way it wants." 
I nodded.  "That's true."  Maryland soil.
"I wouldn't have believed it if I hadn't have seen it with my own eyes."
"And can you imagine how much we don't see with our naked eye?" I asked.
"Thank you." He pointed at me.  "I was thinkin' that out there too.  I was also thinkin' that I know now why Jesus went to the mountains to get away.  There's a peace up there you just can't explain."
Clarence has such a homespun faith.  You can tell he loves Jesus.  That he grows straight because he, like those trees, are rooted to a rock.  Whenever I see Clarence walk through the door, I can't help but smile.

Saturday, July 17, 2004

tammy faye update
I've admitted on this blog before that I'm a fan of Tammy Faye Bakker Messner.  And I don't apologize for the fact.  Probably since I reached about 30 years of age I started to love this woman.
Well, good news on the cancer front.  The treatment seems to be going well.  You can read about it on her website. I'm sure Pamela Anderson is still being a support, something I find wonderful.
Tammy is not one of the clownies.  I just want to make that perfectly clear.  Actually, now that I think about it, RuPaul might not be either!  Can an orthodox Christian woman admit she likes RuPaul too?

Friday, July 16, 2004

the clownie syndrome
My best friend Jennifer came up with something we call the clownie syndrome.  Tyler and I were discussing clownies today, women who don't grow old gracefully, girls who don't look like themselves.
Now there are some people who look like clownies, but admit their oddness, so in effect, they are not clownies.
Of course, as Tyler reminded me, clownies need not be female.
As God originally created them, this rainbow of people are actually a stunning collection of divine art.
Why can't we humans leave well enough alone?

Thursday, July 15, 2004

yak, yak, yak . . . blah, blah, blah

That's what the emerging church movement has been to me so far. Blogs, and books, and blather. Even though I'm a writer, I have to see things for it to have meaning. So we're headed off to the Greenbelt festival in England this August where I'll have a chance to visualize what the heck all this yakking is about.

Don't get me wrong. I love the thought behind this whole thing, but that's all I've seen so far. But I need more.

Hey, if you're headed over there, let me know! I'll have you over to the tent for tea.



Wednesday, July 14, 2004

what we're reading in the car

We've got this book going for read-aloud in the car. Inkheart, by Cornelia Funke. It's imaginative, vivid and well, we just like it is all! Great for all ages. Even Will is enjoying it. If you're squidgy about "darkness" take a pass. I don't take that kind of responsibility!

Gwynnie likes it because there's a character named Gwin, a little marten that lives inside a backpack.

Don't you love children's literature? What's one of your favorites? Remember The House With a Clock in Its Walls? I loved that book! And you know, I still get lost wandering On the Banks of Plum Creek.

Holy crap! Just looking on amazon for that link, I've discovered there's an entire industry built up around Laura Ingalls Wilder.

Anyway, maybe we should read children's lit more, don't you think?



Monday, July 12, 2004

variouses and sundries

What I'm reading right now? Moms with ADD. I'm not sure if I'm one of them yet, but I've got a sneaking suspicion I'm just not normal, if you know what I mean. Charlie Peacock's book is profound alright, but I just can't seem to focus on it. You know, I'm a fiction reader, through and through. Still, I'm sure for people deeper and smarter than I am, New Way to be Human is an important read.

Here's the latest broadbrush rant against Christian fiction. Unfortunately, the author sounds like he didn't bother to read a wide selection before foaming at the mouth. His first sentence? "Christian fiction has become a genre unto itself, filled with clichés, conventions, and pop-culture imitations." Don't get me wrong, a lot of his points are valid and should be digested and it's definitely worth the read. And the article provides an interesting history of fiction penned from a Christian perspective.

But here's a response to the article I think worth reading and considering from atop the high horse. From Carolyn Aarsen:

I've been pondering this whole 'quality of fiction' concept and wrestling with it myself. I write christian romance and at times catch myself apologizing for that, as if writing stories of hope and faithfulness is something I should be ashamed of. But lately I've been re-reading some of my reader's letters and my view of what I do has shifted. My readers are ordinary people living ordinary lives and some of them are dealing with huge issues. I hear again and again how they like being brought to a place of comfort and hope even if only for awhile. One of my readers was a very articulate, intelligent woman who had a university education and worked as a librarian for our local Christian university college. She contracted cancer and during her chemo treatments, would read my books. I was shocked and frankly, so were some of her friends. She wrote a me a card before she died, thanking me for giving her a few moments of peace in her very difficult world. I felt very thankful and humbled to be able to give her that. If my writing can be a gift to someone, if I can give people a moment of peace, then I am doing my job. I have lots of stories I want to tell and yes, I would love to write sweeping fiction that transcends time and genres and crosses over to ABA and is respected and receives critical acclaim and is turned into a movie starring Kiefer Sutherland (great voice) or Sean Penn (great attitude) or, be still my heart, Will Ferrel (Well, why not?). But, as I come back to earth I have realized that I am comfortable where I am right now. I am only a small part of the writing world. My mistake is in wanting to be all of it and right now. The mistake of many of the writers of the articles that have been passed around is expecting us to be all of it as well. They need to recognize the need for a variety of writers and respect that. As writers we are also part of the body of Christ. We can't all be the brain, the heart, the eye. Yes we should try to be the best we can be and yes it's good to be challenged. So for now I'm going to try to be the best Christian romance writer I can be until my own crafts and skill and life experiences makes me discover other stories in my life.

grace, whatever and wherever and whoever you are,


wow, some childcare arrangement!

Lea Fastow, wife of Enron finance chief Andrew Fastow is heading off to prison today. They worked out a deal that Andrew would cooperate with the prosecution against Kenneth Lay, so he could stay home while she serves her 12 month sentence.

"The Fastows, who have two sons under the age of 10, wanted to avoid simultaneous prison sentences."

Aw, how sweet.

You know, my parents, Joy and Bill, definitely had their issues. But they were decent people who abided by the law and tried to do what was right. While I often failed to understand them, they never were an embarrassment to me, they never walked so far beyond what was best for the family they couldn't make their way home.



Sunday, July 11, 2004

new boyfriend, new verb

Barbie's ditched Ken. Aussie "Blaine" is her new guy. I guess it had to happen sooner or later. My gosh, how many years was the poor girl supposed to hang with Mr. Plastic without a marriage proposal? I say over forty decades is long enough. Most self-respecting women would have given Ken his walking papers years ago.

Tyler told us the news today. We had friends over for dinner this afternoon. Their nephew joined us, a really cute, blonde boy named Carl.

Will asks, "Ken didn't work did he?"

Nancy - "Well Barbie sure was busy. She was a stewardess, a doctor."

Me - "A teacher."

Will - "Yeah, so what does Ken do?"

Carl - "He Barbies."

Yep, that's right. Ken barbies. And that's pretty much it. No wonder she's given him the kiss-off.

Will - "I had a G.I. Joe. We blew him up with an M-80."

I guess maybe Ken doesn't have it so bad afterall.



Saturday, July 10, 2004


Tyler turned to me in the car today as I was driving her to a friend's house to sleep over tonight.

"Mom, isn't it sad, that someday in the future, some of the songs we love so much will be completely forgotten? It will be like they were never written at all."

"And think how many already fit into that category, Tyler? How many wonderful songs will never be heard again?"

"Yeah. It's sad."

"I know."

We were silent for a while. Then moved onto other topics. I'd like to lay down some lovely spiritual insight right now, but no, I'll resist. Sometimes it's okay to be saddened by the way things are.



Friday, July 09, 2004


I'm reading this book right now. New Way to be Human, by Charlie Peacock.

It gives me permission to not have all the answers. I love that. For years I've felt so lacking as a Christian. Why do I still have so many questions about God and faith and most Christians have all the answers? Why am I not satisfied with a lot of these answers when they are? Am I a heathen because of that?

Well, no. Thank You, God.

Questions are good. I've always known that. But still, I've felt a little guilty about it. If you're reading this book, or have read it, let me know what you think.



"we've got better hair"

Either John Kerry or John Edwards said that the other day when speaking of why they should be leading the nation. (I searched around but couldn't find the article.)

We're in for a long four months, folks. Where is a witty fellow like Winston Churchill when you need him?



Disclaimer: This blog does not reflect the view of the management or anyone else at Author Intrusion. When speaking about politics or controversial matters, it writes itself. Thank you and have a nice day.

Thursday, July 08, 2004

if we wore our sin upon our face

My son Jake got Poison Something on his face and neck. Poor guy. He looks like somebody was getting ready for a football game and smeared on the face paint much too quickly. Feels kind of sandpapery too. But it set me to thinking.

What if sin manifested itself like that? What if for each bad thought, each sin, each intent toward anything other than Christlikeness, a bump or a redspot was displayed for all to see?

Oh, man. I can't even imagine what I'd look like.

Of course, the dermatologist would set his hand to the task, maybe rendering it not quite as evident. But gone completely? I don't think so. A great cream would bust out on the market designed to reduce the appearance of sin in your life. Just rub in nightly and in two to four weeks you'll start to see results. But please don't sin in the meantime. Finally, the plastic surgeon would get involved, and maybe he could get it to look a lot better, but he can't guarantee there will be no scarring.

How horrible would this be?

And yet.

What if that's all that happened? What if sin wasn't marring our hearts? Just our face? I mean, everybody would look bad and there'd be no pretending we were fine, no tucking away the evidence that we're human like everyone else, that today was the worst day, that we yelled at the kids while spending almost no time with them, that we drank a little too much wine after dinner, that we looked at a co-worker and thought, "You know . . . that Bob/Alice is quite the hottie these days. I wonder what it would be like to . . ." We'd say, "Oh well, another bump."

As usual, God knew what He was doing when he made the heart to bear the primary effects of sin. It's hard to be human, to be a sinner, and wear the weeping wounds of our own weaknesses upon our hearts. God knows. And so

"While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."

I'm amazed constantly at the simplicity of the gospel. At the breathtaking economy. The death of One providing enough grace and goodness to blot out the sins of the entire human race. And the glorious thing about it for me is this: when God the Father looks upon my heart, he sees it through the lens of Christ's sacrifice: no bumps, no scars, no black rotting tissue. Something clean and pink and new.



Wednesday, July 07, 2004

prayer wimps

Check out Poet in Motion's blog today. I sure can relate!

Prayer is hard for me, I admit. I communicate with God in groans and yelps and yips. I'm the Lassie of prayer. I want to be some mystical person that can lose themselves in prayer and meditation for 3 hours. The type that starts praying, looks at the clock and says, "Oh, my goodness! Where did the time go?"

I look at the clock and say, "I've only been praying three minutes?!"




Tuesday, July 06, 2004

let's stand in prayer for Christian writers everywhere

Today is the official Pray for Christian Writers day here on Author Intrusion. Think I'm joking? Okay, it sounds like something silly I might do as a joke, but I'm really serious. Post CBA is the most discouraging time for those of us in the Evangelical publishing world. I'd wager to say that if we could somehow measure true productivity, this time of the year would be the lowest. If we could somehow measure discouragement, this time of year would show the greatest amount.

There's a lot of criticism on the web about Christian fiction. Unfortunately it's usually painted on with a broad brush that lacquers everyone. But there are writers in the CBA who are doing a good job -- in fact a reviewer for Publisher's Weekly told us in Atlanta that Christian fiction is improving year by year. That's really good news, isn't it? Let's pray God keeps on giving the grace to do better.

Let's pray for those wonderful writers out there that aren't yet published. I'm telling you, folks, some of the blogs I read contain the finest writing out there today. Look to your left on this page and sample a few. Let's pray for each other today, because, well, God wants us to and we really need His strength to carry on.

LORD, all our words are Yours anyway, for we cannot think a thought or write a sentence that hasn't originated from You. Help us walk inside our artistry knowing its Your artistry. Help us walk inside of Your grace and mercy. Make us excellent, caring deeply that each word we pen is a reflection of Your gift. Help us hold each other up. And realize that when one of us succeeds, we all do, because You are glorified. In the name of Jesus -- Amen!

If you care to join your prayer here on the blog, please, by all means, do so. It would be a wonderful testimony that we, as Christian writers, are joined together in one Spirit for the sake of the Kingdom.



Monday, July 05, 2004

recommended reading

Brad Whittington, who won the Christy this year for best first novel, recommended some titles to me to read during my time off in the comments of "sabbatical crap." Thanks, Brad.

Now, what do you all suggest? Is there a book that revamped you spiritually, creatively, humanly?

Would love to hear your suggestions.



Saturday, July 03, 2004


There's a man that runs in our neighborhood. For the life of me I can't figure out why. Kneepads choke their intended and he limps along in a wracked gait. Why doesn't he just walk? Surely it would be faster and less painful. I hate watching him. It reminds me of a crack addict who simply can't control the urge any longer.

This man wasn't made to run. Or if he was, he long since should have abandoned the calling. I thought about how that applies to our areas of giftedness and even our lives in general. Some of us want so badly to be what we're not, to explore areas we have no business in, but it seems cool. And some of us, when we've exhausted our resources, are unable to fulfill the necessities. Yet we can't seem to give it up, we keep plugging away, wasting time, wearing away what little we've got left.

This man should be swimming. He might like it! He might love the feel of the water swooshing over him, cooling those ravaged knees. But he's missing out because the danger signs mean nothing to him anymore.

What does this have to do with you and me? I don't know. I guess I just hope that someday, when God says it's time for me to go swimming I don't strap on the kneepads, hobble away from Him, and say, "But years ago You made me a runner. Remember?"

Don't get me wrong, I hope to be writing for years, but if God says He wants me to do something else, be someone else, someday, I hope I'm wise enough and aware enough to jump in the pool!



Friday, July 02, 2004

the money booth and more sabbatical crap

I'm also happy to report I saw no acrylic money booth this year. Hopefully I didn't just miss it.

I have to admit I've been in the proverbial money booth lately. I'm worried about how we're going to survive this year with me on a totally Spirit-directed sabbatical. I've been thinking of all sorts of little projects I could do that wouldn't really count as "writing." I mean, if I talked them into a recorder, that wouldn't count right? Or if it only took me a couple of minutes a day, that wouldn't be going against what God told me would it?

Well, yes. God, infinitely patient with this sinner, set my feet in Hebrews yesterday. Right there in the middle of the page in the passage about Sabbath, chapter four. Particularly in verse seven:

"Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts."

IOW -- I was pretty clear about this sabbatical, Lisa. Why are you even considering breaking it?

Okay, God. I'll stop. I'll stop worrying. I'll stop wanting to break out and be wildly popular and rich and the conjurer of awed whispers behind my back saying, "There's Lisa Samson, she's . . ."

God, I hate this part of myself! I know my writing isn't what it should be. I know I have miles to go before I sleep. I know if anybody needs a break so that she can take a look at her life and her work and say "Oh, man. Oh, God, Help Me!" it's me.

So I just gave up. I told God, "Take this gift I've used so stupidly and do with it what You will." If I remain lackluster in sales, so be it. But if I never grow as a writer and an artist . . . God, that will suck! I'm hoping this time off will help me grow in the craft, but even that is self-serving in the end. I need to grow in faith, in discipline, in love. I need to have a deeper inside to draw from. I feel so shallow! As if all I can do is tell stories about shallow people, because that's all I know of myself.

So there it is. My sabbatical angst rearing its ugly head once again. But if I didn't believe God was on the throne, as we say in Reformed circles, I think I'd just throw in all the towels I own.

Do you ever just want to wake up in the middle of the night and see Jesus sitting at the foot of your bed?



Thursday, July 01, 2004

goodness gracious, aunt martha . . .

. . . the Spirit was still at work at CBA!

So let me tell you about Ed and Janet Landry. I was wandering the aisles in the gift pavillion which, with T-Shirts like the God's Gym crap, makes me want to drop to my knees and beg forgiveness for being part of a culture that cries out for this, when I came upon a small booth, the smallest size you can get.

Village Handcrafters - Partnering With the Poor

Wow. Hmm. And a woman opens a box of soap and says, "Can you guess this scent? It's in the Bible."

"Myrhh." I said.


"Well, it was the only one I could think of." The next day I went back to show Will and they didn't remember me. I got spikenard. I liked the myrhh better. But be that as it may . . .

"So tell me about this helping the poor aspect?"

The man handed me their card. Ed and Janet Landry. Cool.

Janet says, "We were missionaries in the Philippines for twenty years. We could plant churches and share the gospel, but the people were too poor to even live. So we thought we'd develop products they can make over there in the villages, and we'd sell them and send the money back over there."


Yes! Yes! Yes!

What a great way to go about missions. I'm sure if Ed and Janet could do it all over again, they'd start their mission hand in hand with the business. Do lots of ministries do this? If not, why not? Isn't this absolutely brilliant?

So here's where you can find Village Handcrafters on the web. Buy all your gifts from them if you feel inclined, and please spread the word. They do wonderful soaps and handmade paper, journals, giftwrap and boxes. Please check it out.

Here's what it says on their catalogue: Village Handcrafters, Inc. is a non-profit corporation helping impoverished people in the the third world become self-supporting by making world-class handicraft products.

I literally stood in the booth with tears dammed up behind my eyelashes. Truly kingdom-building products. How utterly wonderful is that?