Monday, July 31, 2006


Two recent comments from my blog readers touched my heart:

"I really love reading your blog, Kristy. It fills me with hope and understanding. I hope one day that I, too, can enjoy a relationship like the one you and your husband have. I've been praying for the right partner to come along, one who will share in my love of God and my yearning to be closer to God and know Him more intimately. I know that God is able and when His timing is right, He will bless me with the right person. Your blog leaves me with so much to think about."


"Any chance you'll write a nonfiction book? I love Christian love stories that encourage us in marriage."

Thanks, readers, for your kind comments.

But I just want to warn you: all is not bliss in marriage, even Christian marriages, even ministerial marriages (mine)!

A few posts back, I wrote on the topic "I'm So In Love." Today, I titled my post, "I'm In 'Like' Today (As Opposed to Love?)." I heard a woman say to her husband, "I don't like you today. But I love you." She meant she loved him but didn't necessarily like everything about him (or what he'd just said or done to her).

That's how I felt Saturday morning. I felt like I didn't get my just dues from my husband. In other words, something he did hurt me. And I'm not telling you about it. (GRIN). The important thing is, we worked through it.

But at the time, I thought, I don't deserve this. I'm a good wife and see to his needs admirably, yada, yada, yada. I've even cooked him homemade barbecued meatballs over wild rice, and black-eyed peas and okra, and home-baked muffins, and peach iced tea for lunch, and it's Saturday and I'm besieged with chores, and here, he treats me like this?

During times like this, there's a tendency to feel, Poor me. Kinda' reminds me of the song on the old TV show Heehaw:

Gloom, despair,
And agony on me,
Each for the other,
Excessive misery.

You begin to think of all you're doing right, and all he's (or she, as the case may be) doing wrong, and the first thing you know, you're thinking, I don't have to take this.

As a minister's wife, I've had women and men tell me things like this, and the next thing you know, they've left their mates and marriages.

And most of the time, they're then on a quest to find a new mate.

One who'll treat them better.

I know a young woman like that now...

Let's call her Sarah...

Sarah has two small children.

And she's just filed for divorce.

They live in a beautiful home, belong to the country club, and she's available to take her kids to every kind of lesson or activity they desire, plus she does the same.

Oh, did I forget to mention? There's a man who's "been coming 'round" lately who compliments her and tells her how wonderful she is. Which she is. She's a wonderful young woman, a knockout in the looks department, a whiz in the organizational and decorating arena, with a heart as big as Texas. He's been saying all this to her...

And now they're "involved."

And her husband's "out the door."

My heart aches.

I know another young woman...

Tuesday, July 25, 2006


I'm pretty sure I won't get to blog tomorrow (Wed.), and maybe Thursday. We are leaving today to go to Gainesville to help Milton's sister Norma and her husband Ron get settled there, and we'll be very busy. Her doctors at Duke are sending her to Shands for further tests. It's a sad and unusual situation. Several years ago, she had thyroid surgery to remove a goiter. Goiters, small growths on the thyroid, run in their family. But a routine biopsy of Norma's revealed it was cancerous. Since then, a yearly test reveals there's cancer in her body BUT IT DOESN'T REVEAL WHERE IT IS! Which is scary. Finally, a scan revealed a spot on her lung, and they removed it. This year, the tests are STILL saying there's cancer somewhere, but again, they aren't revealing where the cancer is. So there's a specialist at Shands who's successfully treated this unusual medical condition. If you think of her, say a prayer for her.

Karen Ball had a two-part post on Charis Connection blog the last two days. It's very interesting, and she has some good things to say. She analyzes why women like to read Christian romances.

In my promo of Christian romances or fiction, I tell people it's a hobby. I say, "If you can watch TV or play golf or fish or shop, you can also read good Christian fiction. It's not only entertaining, it's beneficial. Charles Colson said, 'Stories change us because as we read we identify with characters who demonstrate courage and self sacrifice, and in the process our own character is shaped.' Most importantly, Matthew 13:34 says, 'Jesus used stories when he spoke to the people. In fact, he did not tell them anything without using stories."

I don't look at it as a conflict of interests at all—for a Christian to read Christian fiction. Some say, "Well, if you're reading, you should be reading the Bible." Not so. Again, I go back to my hobby argument. Yes, there's a place for Bible reading in our lives. Of course. If you want to keep up your piano playing, you practice piano. If you want to walk the Christian faith, you read the Bible. But there's also a need for diversion. Even Jesus had enjoyable times. Remember when he attended the wedding in Cana and turned the water into wine? Or, when he came away from his grueling ministry schedule and took time to relax with friends?

Concerning love stories…

I think we could safely say that the majority of marriages start with a love story. Think of your own dating. What led up to engagement and marriage?


So it's a universal thing—a love story—that happens to almost every married couple. I say almost to cover unusual circumstances, like maybe, arranged marriages in India or other countries (something that's still being done today).

We're on a quest for love. Think of current movies as well as past ones. Sleepless in Seattle grossed $126 million at the U.S. box office, and While You Were Sleeping grossed $81 million. Pretty impressive figures, and these are from years ago. With today's ticket prices, they would be even higher. Goes to show how much people like love stories.

Jane Austen opens her classic novel, Pride and Prejudice, this way:

"It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife."

I paraphrase,

"It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a man needs a wife."

And since millions of men and women fall in love…

Well, that's the basis for…love stories.

And when the man and woman are Christians, you have…tah dah…Christian love stories.

Monday, July 24, 2006


Yesterday, Milton preached part two of his message, "Getting Ready for A Double Portion Blessing," based on the life of Elijah and Elisha. His first point was that in order for Elisha to receive the double portion blessing, he first had to be a servant. Milton expounded on what this means.

My heart started pounding. I knew God wanted me to share how Milton had been a servant to me a couple of weeks ago in his patience and kindness about moving our huge wall unit and all the trips to Home Depot it entailed (see a previous post).

You see, we don’t just need to be a servant in church work and for Kingdom doings. This important truth carries over to every area of our lives: marriage, children, coworkers, neighbors, family, etc.

So at the close of the service, I walked forward, toward the pulpit. Milton and I have a private signal, that when I do that, the Lord wants me to say something to the congregation.

Milton handed me the mike, and I shared what I felt the Lord wanted me to. I talked to them briefly about building strong marriages and how to do it. Then I told them the illustration. I said the concept of servanthood applied to both genders, and that we needed to have servants' hearts toward our spouses. Afterwards, the people were blessed, and many commented to me.

This, truly, is a Christian love story lived out.

Friday, July 21, 2006


Two nights ago—Wednesday night church—was a glorious time for me.

Let me back up a minute. Even though I'm the pastor's wife and have been saved since the womb (it seems), sometimes I wonder if it's worth it to go to Wednesday night prayer service. It's only an hour long, and by the time I spiff up and change clothes and then drive there, and then drive home, well, it sometimes makes you think, Is it worth it? Maybe God lets me have these feelings because they're what church members feel. I feel like I'm radar and reading them, and by choosing to do the right thing, perhaps I can encourage them to also do right.

Well, at church that night, it was confirmed to me (actually, every Wed. night this happens) that if it took an hour to get there (which it doesn't), it would be worth it. Wednesday night church is the gas (spiritual life) my car (soul) needs to drive the rest of the way (complete the week in victory).

I can attest that after last night, I'm ready to face the rest of the week with encouragement and even confidence that I will do His will.

Our service started with faith-building songs. Then Milton preached. His topic was "God Is Not a Respecter of Persons." He had us read the scriptures that establish this. Then he talked about the common human feeling we sometimes have of wondering if God favors some people over us. If God isn't blessing us like He is So-And-So, we tend to feel slighted. Some feel jealous. But he preached a stem-winder of a sermon on the fact that that just isn't so! What He does for one, He'll do for all, that He has promised to meet our needs and help us through the storms of life.

That reminds me of the old hymn, It Is No Secret What God Can Do. The lyrics of the chorus are:

It is no secret,
What God can do
What He's done for others,
He'll do for you.

With arms wide open,
He'll pardon you,
It is no secret,
What God can do.

Let's tweak the lyrics:

It is no secret,
What God can do
What He's done for others,
He'll do for you.

With heaven's bounty,
He'll bless you too,
It is no secret,
What God can do.

As the truth "God Is No Respecter of Persons" sinks into our souls, our attitudes change, and THEN God can work. And does!

After Milton preached, we took prayer walks. We walked all over that hall, praying and calling on God for ours and others' needs.

Then we sat down, and Milton led us in responsive praying that sent our souls soaring.Then, a personal word from the Lord came. That means someone stood up and gave a prophetic word, that God wanted us to say "Amen," and he expounded on that for a minute or two, and it was powerful.

As he spoke, I flipped to a reference in my Bible about "Amen." When he was finished, I signaled to Milton that I would like to say something. I approached the lectern then read this scripture:

"For no matter how many promises God has made, they are 'Yes' in Christ. And so through him the 'Amen' is spoken by us to the glory of God." 1 Corinthians 1:20 NIV

Then I read the commentary at the bottom of the page:

"The concluding 'Amen' of the Christian's prayer and proclamation expresses confidence in God's love and faithfulness and the certainty of his promises. It is the voice of faith, reaffirming and identifying with the truth of Christ's unshakable gospel. In Revelation 3:14 the Lord Jesus is called the 'Amen.'"

That gave me chill bumps!

And it blessed the people, from their pleased expressions and audible words of confirmation.

Then we had another short-though-exhilarating season of prayer. Maybe you could call it warfare prayer, but whatever it was, it was…well, exhilarating.

Then Milton blessed us as he always does at the close of a service. He does this because the patriarchs did this a lot in the Old Testament.

Then we floated out of there.

Are you in need of being reminded that God is no respecter of persons? Then let this powerful truth sink into your soul!

Thursday, July 20, 2006


I'm so in love. Though we've been married for years, there's a new sweet bond between us. My husband tells me umpteen times a day, "I love you, Kristy." Or, "You're such a good wife, Kristy." He reaches for my hand and squeezes it.

"Behold how good, and oh, how pleasant, it is for the brethren to dwell together in unity," the psalmist said. "Behold how good, and oh, how pleasant it is for married couples to dwell together in unity," is my paraphrase. The Bible says, "One can put a thousand to flight, and two, ten thousand." In other words, there's strength in the power of agreement.

I'm not sure why we're experiencing this newfound joy in marriage. Us? Who've taught Joy in Marriage seminars to numerous churches? Huh? You'd think we, of all people, would have joy in marriage. Well, of course we did. At times. But now, it's all the time.

And I know the reason.


There's no other way to explain it.

My husband, who's always been a good husband, who's worked hard to make a living, who's been faithful and supportive, who's been a good father, who's been a caring pastor, yada, yada, yada, is…well, he's downright solicitous of me.

Is that the word I'm looking for?

Yes. Webster's says solicitous means "full of desire; eager."

Solicitude means "attentive care."

He's almost…doting?

Well, not quite. But almost.

Take last Saturday. I'd been asking him for a couple of months to move our wall unit down a couple of feet. That would make it closer to the sofa for better TV viewing, and also give some space to the right of it, beside the fireplace, for a chair and ottoman. We should've done it when we moved in a year-and-a-half ago, but we just didn't. I'd been saying, "Why don't you call Gary and ask him to help you? He won't mind."

So Saturday morning, we get up and he says he's going to Home Depot to buy those slider things you put under furniture to move it. He says we can do it, and with those slider things, we won't even have to take the TV or stereo equipment out of the unit.

So he returns with the sliders. But they're the size of fifty cent pieces. I squelch the urge to laugh. I mean, even though the sides of the wall unit are separate pieces, the center piece must weigh a thousand pounds.

But I don't laugh, although I mention that these look awful small. So he pulls the first side piece down the wall, giving him enough room to get between it and the center piece, and like a tsunami wrestler, he lifts and grimaces as I snake between his legs in the tight confines and slide the fifty cent pieces under each corner of one side. Ditto for the other side. Then he tries to slide the unit, and sure enough, just as I expected, it goes nowhere.

"I'll go back to Home Depot and get the right size," he says, as cheerfully as I've ever seen him. So he comes back and this time, he has saucer-sized ones, and I think, Bingo, until I read the words on the front of the package...

For hardwood or tile floors.

And I then look closely at the sliders, and they have a carpet-like surface, and I think, We have hardwood floors, but not where the wall unit is, and carpet will not slide on carpet. So I show him my discovery, and he says we'll try it anyway.

So we go through the same procedure, and sure enough, I was right, though I don't gloat or act proud.

So he says he's going back to get the right ones. I stand amazed in the presence…of this unperturbed, calm, solicitous man in front of me.

He comes back with the right kind (note: third trip). Finally, after lots of tugging, our beautiful dark cherry wall unit is in the right spot in our family room, and I pull the chair and ottoman over to the right side.

And he's happy, and I'm happy, and all is well, and I think we even kiss and joke about the whole thing.

But that's not the end of the story.

A few days later, I say, "I think it needs to go down another six inches."

"You're kidding, right?" he says.

"No. If we pull it down six inches, I can position the chair and ottoman so it won't be jammed up by the fireplace. It'll look much better."

So, what does he say?

"Sure." And he heads for the garage to get the sliders.

So we go through the whole process again, but those silly sliders slide that center piece three more inches than I'd planned, and I mention it, but by this time, we've worked up a sweat, and this is the second time we've moved this thing, and we're ready to get through with this project, and besides three inches is nothing, and we keep on working and get the whole unit in place. I forgot to mention that getting it in place means all the wires are intact behind the pieces, and the side pieces are shoved as close to the center piece as possible and then the whole thing is pushed as close to the wall as possible, and then I have to put the mountain of photo albums and games back inside the bottoms of each piece.

So I pull my chair and ottoman where I want it and then stand in front of the unit and think, Oh, no, it's now too close to the sofa and end table to look good. It looks crowded. Oh, man, those slider things slid it too far. And maybe even more than the three inches I'd thought.

Like maybe four-and-a-half inches.

So I say, "We really need to move it a few inches the other way."

He says, "You're kidding, right?" but it has a slight bite to it this time. He's not cheerful.

So we have a few interchanges, and I realize he's reached his limit, and so, denying my decorating savvy for the peace of my marriage, I give up. Sweetly.

Then he says, "Okay. We'll do it again."

And I jump for joy.

So we go through the whole process again.

The wall unit now looks great. There's plenty of room to the right, beside the fireplace, for the chair and ottoman that's upholstered in a cream-colored fabric over which I draped a new, soft washable aqua throw (interpretation: it's actually usable) over which I hung a striking painting my mother painted in hues of aquas and turquoises over which I hung a picture light which makes the painting look like a Monet, and, I had a middle-of-the-day dinner party yesterday and my guests oohed and ahed over the strikingness of the whole vignette, and…

I just adore my husband!

Wednesday, July 19, 2006


Recently, I thought of Pollyanna and decided to reread it because Pollyanna is the quintessential cheerful character, and I wanted to see how the author, Eleanor H. Porter, produced this character. Did Pollyanna go around all the time with a smile on her face? Is that why the other characters thought she was cheerful? What were some things she did to let people know she was cheerful? Some acts? Were they contrived or natural?

That's why I decided to reread it. I wanted to examine Pollyanna and see if she was real. In recent previous posts, I've sung the praises of Pollyanna and the Masterpiece Theatre version of the DVD, so I won't repeat them. But it was definitely worth the time I spent. I learned that yes, you can have an innocent, cheerful character and at the same time have depth of character.

Interestingly, I was in my husband's office the other day and saw my old college annuals on his bookshelves. Waiting for him to finish some phone calls so we could go out to lunch, I opened them and started reading what my classmates said about me when I was only 18 and 19. I've posted some, below, but before you read them, remember that I've been on a soul-searching journey for over a year now, where I was filled with self doubts and even cynicism concerning my personality and my writing. Reading these kind comments encouraged me and in a small way have helped me be comfortable in my skin—the way God made me.

"Seeing your smiling face has brightened many of my dreary days. I think you are one of the sweetest and nicest girls at SEBC."

"You helped me so much. Your prayers seem to touch heaven. 'Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all.'" (Proverbs 31).

"You are a very sweet person."

"You're a great girl with a sweet, sweet personality. Stay that way always."

"Thank you for how you have helped me so many times."

"You are a very sweet person with a great sense of humor."

"There a lot of things I would like to say but I'll limit myself. Your Christian testimony has been an inspiration to me. In my opinion, you are one of the finest young ladies on campus."

"That little ball of red hair attracts my attention anywhere on campus when I see it bobbing. Stay as sweet and naïve as you are now. You are precious."

"If one person on this campus has made an impression on my life, you have! I think you are one of the best. If ever a person made me think about certain things, you have."

"Thanks for being the spice in my life this year."

"You're about the nicest girl at SEBC—and fun to be around. Thanks for the influence for the good you've made on me."

"As I look back over this year, your face stands out so vividly. Your sweet face and deep concern has meant so much to me."

"Even though you can flip your hair—I'm not really jealous of you—you're a cool girl. I admire you for being a fine Christian and I'm eternally astonished at your innocence. God love you."

"You've made an impression on my life with your thoughtfulness and kind ways."

"Knowing you has been one of the most unique and refreshing experiences of my educational career. I did not know people like you existed (except in the movies)."

These comments were confirming to me, validating even.

In my cheerful, innocent Pollyannaish, Christyish style (voice), I'm about to write a brand new story…

Tuesday, July 18, 2006


During my time of soul searching (see my last post), I felt like I was floundering, or, as Webster's puts it, "acting ineffectually" or "struggling to obtain footing."

What is my voice? was crying out inside of me.

What am I supposed to write? (Genre, style.)

More importantly...

What am I destined to write? (For I truly believed I was destined.)

A famous, multi-published author graciously read some of my work during this time, sensed my struggle, and gave me some good advice.

First, he asked me what did I see as a weakness in my writing?

Innocence, was the first thing I said, thinking of Pollyanna and Christy.

Surprisingly, he said that was a good thing! He said, "Take comfort in your simplicity or naïf style."

That was good news to my cynical self.

He also told me some other things to do—some practical things such as studying bestselling novels and identifying more of my weaknesses and working on them.

His best advice?

"For the time being, forget your doubts. Revel in the writing."

"Forget the outside world around you and put all your energy into the joy of creating."

So that is what I am attempting to do. I'm going to put my inner editor—my harshest critic—aside and simply…


And I'm excited about what God and I are going to produce…

Monday, July 17, 2006


I've often said that as an author—and as a person—I'm Kristy Pollyanna or Kristy Christy (Catherine Marshall's novel). I'm cheerful, trusting, naïve, sometimes shy, and at times overly solicitous in trying to meet people's needs. I just can't help it.

It's me, to the sinews of my soul.

It's how I was raised. It's what my mother was like, whom I adored. Friends of hers often tell me I'm her clone.

But I'll tell you what. That nature got my mother through a life that could've been tragic but was instead happy and productive and inspiring to others. One day I'm going to write a novel echoing her life.

But about a year or so ago, I began to question myself. Especially my cheerfulness and exuberance. For example, in emails, or in conversation, I couldn't say, "I'm happy to see you." I had to say, "I'm soooo happy to see you" and maybe even lay a hand on the person's forearm for added caring. A few editors along the way have told me to tone it down in my writing, that I'm overly dramatic.

I have to footnote this, however, by saying most editors have been very encouraging to me concerning my writing. And I have stacks of letters from readers telling me how much they love my writing and how passages have actually affected their lives and even brought about change in direction and/or attitude.

But that's not what I was thinking about during this time. I fell into a mode of self-criticism and self-skepticism that stymied me to a certain extent (however, I wrote two contracted works of fiction. Thanks, Lord.). Who am I? I began to wonder. And why am I this way? And where has it gotten me? Particularly in my writing? Should I strive to be like so and so? They write such sassy, saucy characters who always have a good comeback to fling someone's way, and sometimes I can't even get my characters to talk! (Like me, I guess.)

So I went through this rather painful time of soul searching. As a Christian, I know myriads of scriptures by heart. I'm thinking of the ones that assure you that God created you just the way you are for a purpose, such as Jeremiah 29:11, and many more. I know them like the back of my hand. So I read them, quoted them, even pondered them at length.

But the scriptures that seemed to find fertile ground in my heart were:

"I would have lost heart, unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord." Psalm 27:13

"The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart, and saves such as have a contrite spirit." Psalm 34:18

"Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but when the desire comes, it is a tree of life." Proverbs 13:12

It was like I was trying to find my voice, meaning what I'm really supposed to be writing. I felt like the proverbial fish out of water. I just pictured a fish flopping on the sandy banks. But that's not a good analogy, because I wasn't trying to get back in the water, or even needing to. I guess the best way to describe it is, I felt like I was in limbo. Oh yes, now I know how to describe it. Floundering. Webster's says floundering means "to struggle to obtain footing" or "to act ineffectually." That describes how I felt to a T.

For sure, it was a time of self-discovery.

Thankfully, I'm happy to report that I've come up with some direction for my writing. And I believe the outcome is going to be good, in fact, beyond my expectations. The last scripture I listed, above, says, "When the desire comes, it is a tree of life."


The first thing I think of while reading that verse is the tree of life in the Garden of Eden. It was life sustaining, and God told Adam and Eve to freely partake of it.

This is getting good, concerning my writing!

There are over 300 references to trees and wood in the Bible. They were important in many ways. The acacia tree yields gum Arabic and gum Senegal which are used in adhesives, pharmaceuticals, dyes, and confections. Scholars say algumwood was used to build the pillars of King Solomon's temple because of its strength, beauty, and long life. On and on I could go listing trees whose nuts, fruits, and blossoms were used for food, oil, confectionary, embalming, therapeutic balms, etc.

The tree of life, as I said, was an important thing in the Holy Scriptures. Besides being life sustaining to Adam and Eve, it is listed in Revelation 22:2 as a fruit-bearing tree with healing in its leaves.


I'll take healing any day. Healing of mind, heart, emotions, body, spirit, you name it.

Then, the tree of life is listed in Proverbs four times, and in these four times it's figurative for an exhilarating experience.

Exhilarating experience?

I'll take an exhilarating experience any day. Webster's says the verb exhilarate means "enliven, excite, refresh, stimulate."

It also says exhilarate means "to make cheerful."

"To make cheerful?"

Talk about coming full circle?

More later…

Friday, July 14, 2006


Wednesday, I blogged about kissing (see post, below). "Kissing—Is It Good for You?" is the title, in which I quoted some interested "facts" from Marriage Partnership magazine.

I got some fun, interesting comments about it. Here they are:

"Okay, that's hilarious, Kristy!! And MUCH MORE fun than an aerobic workout!! Gotta go. Hubby is home on vacation . . . . ;-)"

"This is totally hilarious. I love it!!! Sounds like me and my husband. So why aren't we skinnier, eh?"

To that one, I replied:

"Right, Michelle. I should weigh 98 pounds instead of....! LOL"

"Funny and steamy! Loved the scene breaks, Kristy! Why does the world think they have all the fun? LOL If they only knew. :o)"

"Well, I think I'll go find my dh and lose some weight!"

"hehe...loved the post! My hubby and I kiss a lot, but I'm thinking we need to try the one minute lip lock and maybe the 20 second rule. ;)"

I replied to the "steamy" comment: Steamy? Funny, you should say that. Years ago, before I was published, a person read one of my manuscript and said, "Quit reading all those Harlequins, girl! Don't write like that." Me? Who'd never read a Harlequin in her life? My mama wouldn't've allowed me, if I'd wanted to. I was just writing romantic scenes from my innocent point of view. Ah...

For my post entitled "Falling in Love Again" this past Monday (see post, below), I received these comments:

"That was so sweet and meaningful. As a pastor's wife with grown and growing kids and the some of the same wonderful stress of ministry and everything's great to have a marriage that if fullfilling and God-honoring. What a blessing! Thanks for sharing this and reminding me to count me blessings and enjoy all God has given me, too."

"Ah, the sweetness God has for couples who obey and stick. He causes you to fall in love all over again. Yes, I've been there, too. ;) - for 35 years, going on 36. I can't believe it, sometimes I still feel like a bride."

Our daughter, who blogs at said, "Oh, Mom, that's WONDERFUL!!!!!!!!!!! I'm so happy for you and Dad! God is so good! I praise God for you!! You are a wonderful role model to your church and also to your children (me) you are such an inspiration to many. I thank God for creating you so beautifully and uniquely.I'm so proud of you and Dad!!"

"Thanks so much for sharing this, Kristy. I hope to meet Milt someday. I'm sure he'll be as sweet as you are!"

"Oh! This was a wonderful story, Kristy! Because of the beautiful way you retold it, I feel as if I was there, in the congregation, seeing all this happen firsthand. What a blessing this was for me!"

I replied, "Thanks for your kind comments. Appreciate them. My desire is to see marriages strengthened. Maybe somebody's reading this, and your situation seems unhappy, or, impossible. With God, all things are possible. Keep believing. Keep hoping because the fruit of hope is joy and peace according to Romans 15:13. And when you have joy and peace in your marriage, well, you've found gold!"

Thursday, July 13, 2006


I'm on a journey of fiction writing. Though I've sold nine titles, my dreams are big. I have many stories in my heart yearning to burst forth onto the page. That's the case with most writers.

Each writer's journey is different. Some write only in one genre (category), for example, mystery or contemporary. Others write in a couple of genres, or even more. Branding comes into play at some point for the purpose of streamlining your writing (style, voice, and genre) so you can build a solid readership.

There seems to be wisdom in that.

Readers come to expect that you will write only a certain type of story.

Then there are the exceptions to the rule. Angela Hunt writes in many genres. I think her brand is something like Expect the Unexpected or Expect Something Different. Writing in a broad range of genres works for her, from biblical fiction, to historical, to contemporary, to fantasy (I think; it's about a talking gorilla). Another author who's written in at least two genres is Lisa Samson. She started out writing historical romances for Zondervan and now writes contemporary—exclusively, I think.

I could name others. I've read a gillion author interviews. Some authors, like Samson, seem pretty successful in their voice and style and genres and then make a switch. I recently read an interview of Nancy Moser. Up until this point, she's written contemporary. She said she hates research and doesn't do it. But recently, because of her editor's request and urging, she's written a historical. It features Mozart's sister, who, Moser says, was as talented as he was.

In my journey, I've been trying to discover my voice and style and genre. So far, I've had both historical and contemporary romances published by Barbour (though I like to call them love stories—the name of this blog). I've completed some unpublished novels that fall into the contemporary and historical women's fiction genre.

For the most part, and fortunately, I've written the "stories of my heart," meaning that even though they've been written for a publisher's line, I feel I've been given a certain amount of license to let my creativity come forth. For example, in American Dream, the historical collection of four stories of immigrants coming to America, I created a young heroine who's husband died after they came to America from Scotland to begin a new life, and she's forced because of poverty into an arranged marriage. The title is "I Take Thee, A Stranger." I crawled into Corinn's skin and felt what she was feeling as she traveled to Florida and married this man she'd never met. I asked myself what she was feeling as she stood there repeating marriage vows with him, as she made her way in the wagon with him to his homestead, as she walked into his house, as she...gasp...peeked into the bedroom?

When four coauthors came up with the idea of Wedded Bliss? (question mark intended), I was thrilled to be given this chance to write and publish a contemporary story about a woman who'd been married almost 25 years and was in a stale, lifeless marriage. This is my latest title, and it was enjoyable to write as I let my imagination soar with possibilities until I came up with the story.

Having said that, along this journey of fiction writing, I'm still searching and growing, and perhaps will always be in this mode. Aren't all authors? I think so, from what I've seen and read and heard.

When I took a weekly college fiction-writing class for four long-g-g-g years, my instructor, a 15-times published St. Martin's Press author, critiqued 10 pages per week of my fiction. That was a godsend, to have another set of eyes view and assess your work, and especially by a multi-published author; interpretation: knowledge and expertise.

My instructor liked my work. She liked my creativity and said from the beginning she thought I would be published someday. She was prophetic! I "made it" (got published).

At one point, she said she thought my voice was in the historical genre. She said this right after she read one of my contemporaries. The heroine in this story decided not to pursue a relationship with a man to whom she was strongly attracted but who didn't have a devotion to the Lord like she did. This concept seemed foreign to my instructor. She even said if my character was a true Christian, she would be longsuffering and understanding. My instructor just didn't get it.

But she loved my historicals. She liked the fact that they were innocent and refreshing.

Innocent? Is this a bane? Or a boon?

What did a famous author recently tell me about my voice? How have I been exploring the inner recesses of my heart and person in the last year, trying to discover me as The Author? What have I found out? Why am I rereading Pollyanna?

More later…

Wednesday, July 12, 2006


I'm still writing a multi-part post on my need and desire to re-read Pollyanna for the development of my writing. I'll continue with that tomorrow.

Last evening, we decided to go for a bike ride. I put on my sneakers and went into the kitchen to get us some bottles of water for our water holders on our bikes. Milton was standing by the counter putting on his sunglasses (this is Florida; it was sunny). Feeling an urge to kiss him, I went over to him and stood on tiptoes (he's almost six feet; I'm five one). I put my arms around his neck and gave him a really good kiss, not a peck.

"Wanna' stay home?" A wicked gleam lit his features as his hand slid to my backside.

I giggled and kissed him again then drew back and looked into his eyes. "We're going on a bike ride, remember?"

He pushed his body into mine.

"Let's just kiss awhile," I said. "Don't you remember when we were dating, and we couldn't go all the way?"

"But now we can."

Laughing, I playfully tapped his chest.

### (Scene break in fiction)

In marriage, many couples don't do much out-of-bed kissing. Sometimes it's because of babies, bottles, and bills. Interpretation: hectic lives and stress. Or maybe they just forget. Whatever the reason, couples need to kiss more often. It's healthy for your marriage. It also emotionally healthy for your children. A famous judge once said, "The greatest thing a father can do for his children is to love his wife." When children see their parents kissing and being romantic, it makes them feel secure and loved. They see affection on TV between the unmarried and the married-but-not-to-each-other, so why not between their mommies and daddies?

A few years ago, I ran across this:

Husbands who are kissed before going to work:
1. Live five years longer.
2. Have fewer accidents.
3. Make 15% more money.

After I read that, I said, "Milton, we're going to do more kissing around here!" And we have. And our "rule" is that it has to be at least a 20-second kiss, not a peck.

Milton and I have taught many Joy in Marriage seminars to church groups, and we teach them to "revisit the sizzle." Many have thanked us for bringing a new spark to their marriages. Some have even said our teaching saved them from divorce. ("Lord," Milton and I constantly pray, "we give You all the praise and glory and honor for these great testimonies. It's nothing we've done.")

I saw the following on the Internet, and I knew it was true (GRIN):

"Why Kissing Is Good for You"

1. It helps prevent tooth decay. Dr. Peter Gorden, Dental Advisor at the British Dental Association, explains, "Kissing is nature's own cleaning process. It brings plaque levels down to normal."

2. It relieves tension. A passionate kiss is a great relaxation technique, says stress consultant Michelle McNabb. "When your mouth is in a kissing position, you're almost smiling."

3. It helps you lose weight. "A long kiss makes the metabolism burn up sugar faster than usual," says Claire Porter. "The calories burned depend on the intensity of the kiss."

Then, b – r – e – a – k – i – n – g n – e – w – s!!!!

The following appeared in the Summer 2006 issue of Marriage Partnership, and I was confident my Internet information on kissing was The Gospel (VERY BIG GRIN):

"Not Just A Kiss"

The lyrics from that old song are wrong—a kiss is definitely more than just a kiss. Here are a few facts about smooching:

1. A one-minute kiss works off 26 calories. (Kristy's note: Have you ever tried to kiss for one whole, entire minute? Sheesh. That's a long time on the kissing clock. But it's fun trying. Wednesdays are Milton's study days in our home office for sermon preparation, and he's sitting behind me at his desk right now.

"Milton," I say, "Marriage Partnership says you can burn 26 calories with a one-minute kiss."

"Twenty-six calories?" he says. "How can that be?" His right eyebrow raises. "You gotta' be doing more than kissing."

I cackle. "Come on. Let's try it."

He's game. Always.

We position ourselves so I can watch the clock.

The second hand hits the 15 mark. "Okay," I say. "Let's start."

We start kissing. Fifteen seconds go by.

His hands start sliding downward.

I swat them away, my lips locked on his.

Twenty-five seconds go by. I remember that quote about smiling during kissing. Oh, yes. Something about relaxation. Well, I'm definitely not thinking about anything but kissing Milton.

Thirty-five seconds. More hand movement. His hands again. Sheesh. Now I know why he's part Italian. He has Roman hands. (Not really. That's an old joke I've told him for years.)

Forty-five seconds. Our lips are still locked. This is fun.

Sixty seconds.

"Okay," I say. "We did it."

"Forget my sermon," he says.

### (Scene break in fiction)

Where was I?

Oh, point two in the short article, "Not Just A Kiss," in Marriage Partnership:

2. Our brains have special neurons that help us find our mate's mouth in the dark. (No wonder making out at the movies is so much fun!) (Kristy's note: We never went to the movies when we were dating—weren't allowed to. But yes, you can find your mate's mouth in the dark very quickly and easily. I've had years of practice, so I can attest to this. Though we do like candles burning occasionally!)

3. A passionate kiss quickens your heart rate to 100 beats per minute. (Kristy's note: I'll agree.)

4. Kissing reduces tooth decay because the extra saliva generated by a lip-lock cleans your teeth. (Kristy's note: "You've gotta' be pulling my leg," she says with disbelief in her voice. "I'll rely on flossing, thank you very much.")

5. Nine out of 10 couples in happy relationships kiss before bed. (Kristy's note: Amen and amen.)

So, if you're married, go find your spouse and give him or her a great big lip-lock. And kiss more often. You'll be climbing Spice Mountain (a Song of Solomon reference).

Tuesday, July 11, 2006


I love stories of innocence and naiveté.

This is partially the reason I'm rereading Pollyanna.

A very naïve scene that'll stay in my mind forever, and a very romantic one, too, is the scene from The Sound of Music where Maria and the captain are dancing in the moonlight on the piazza with the baroness looking on. The captain looks down into Maria's eyes as he holds her in his arms and swirls her about to the softly-playing music, and doodads dance up my spine.

As I think about this scene, into my mind come the words innocence vs. carnal knowledge; ingénue vs. seductress; virtuous woman vs. vamp.

Maria vs. the baroness.

Though the baroness is beautiful, though the baroness is rich, though the baroness is skilled in conversation and etiquette, Maria is by far the more appealing—and endearing—character.

Maria in her innocence.

Maria in her naiveté.

Maria in her refreshing zeal for life.

It isn't that I abhor stories about characters with burdens or problems or even sins they're struggling with. I enjoy the new offerings in Christian fiction, such as the first-person, contemporary novels with quirky or saucy characters and/or the ones with deep, gut-wrenching topics.

But more than those, I love reading about Maria-like characters--if they're done well. I think of Sarah, Plain and Tall; Anne of Green Gables; the girls in Little Women; Christy; Jane Eyre. I could list many, many more.

Perhaps that's why I like writing characters like this.

Oh, I sometimes wish I could write the saucy characters in chick lit, where they have the nerve to say any manner of things.

But that's not my style.

Or me, for that matter.

Recently, I pulled out my college yearbooks and read what my classmates had to say about me. But that's for my next post…

And I promise these posts are leading to somewhere…

Somewhere about writing style…

And voice…

And my metamorphosis…

And publishers…

And rejections…

Monday, July 10, 2006


Why did I read and view Pollyanna recently? What got me interested in resurrecting her story in my mind? And heart?

A few weeks ago, I had an overwhelming desire to re-read Pollyanna. Deciding to get a paperback I could keep (rather than a library book), I went to In the review section, someone said there was a Masterpiece Theatre edition of the DVD. I had heard of—and even seen a few clips of—the Disney version on TV starring Haley Mills. But knowing of the quality and excellence of Masterpiece Theatre's productions, I immediately ordered both the paperback and the DVD.

The Masterpiece Theatre edition of the DVD thrilled me. My husband and I watched it together. Amazingly, this sports nut who never used to watch anything unless it had something to do with a ball, now enjoys watching movies with me. And Pollyanna was as good as Anne of Green Gables and Sarah, Plain and Tall. It held our interest; it had pathos and drama and humor and…well, you'll just have to see it.

When I opened the book Pollyanna, I eagerly read the foreword by Newberry author Marion Dane Bauer. (See some quotes from Bauer in my post on Friday.) Bauer said reading Pollyanna was "like opening a window to let in a breath of fresh air."

Amen. I'm in agreement.

She said Pollyanna "transforms the adults around her, adults who have been worn down by worldly disappointments, with nothing more than her own joie de vivre."

Bauer said when Pollyanna was first published in 1913, "the public responded by buying over a million copies."

Eegads! In 1913? That's a lot of books for that era. For any era, I might add!

Bauer said, "The world that stood trembling on the brink of the Great War—later to be called World War I when it was discovered not to be the last 'Great War'—clearly wanted to believe in the transforming power of 'the glad game,' if only for the space of a book."

The "glad game" was what Pollyanna's late pastor-father taught her to play when life threw her disappointments. He told her to look for something to be glad about. For instance, on the day the missionary barrel arrived, Pollyanna was in high hopes of receiving a doll. But the only thing in the barrel that Pollyanna could have was a set of crutches. "Well," she said, after she thought about it for a minute, "I guess I can be glad that I don't need them."

Bauer said the author, Eleanor H. Porter, followed up Pollyanna with Pollyanna Grows Up. Pollyanna's popularity was so great that after Porter's death, four other writers were commissioned to write 12 stories about Pollyanna. "Americans weren't the only ones who responded," writes Bauer. "The book about the irrepressible girl was published in many languages, even Turkish." There was a Pollyanna calendar, a play version in 1915, and a movie in 1960. Glad clubs sprang up across the country. "Clearly," Bauer says, "the public was hungry for this innocently cheerful little girl and her message of hope."

"Perhaps we are even more hungry for her today," Bauer adds.

That's partially why I decided to re-read Pollyanna and watch the DVD. I was hungry for a story of innocence.

Why? More tomorrow…

Sunday, July 09, 2006


I said my next post would be about my re-reading of Pollyanna, and I plan to do that tomorrow (Monday), but I just had to post about something that happened today (Sunday).

It's a Christian love story.

Between my husband and me.

This morning, we had a guest speaker fill our pulpit (we pastor a church). I actually got to be in the sancutary! I've been in the nursery quite a few times lately because there's been a need, and I never mind that, because Jesus said that if we even offer a cup of cold water in His name, then we've done it unto Him. Well, I not only offered a cup of cold water to the kids (in sippee cups) and doled out animal crackers during snack time, I also changed lots of diapers and then cleaned the nursery when everyone left. Good thing I adore kids!

Oh. Back to my Christian love story.

The evangelist preached a stemwinder of a sermon. That means it was fabulous. He spoke from 1 Kings 18 where Elijah said to the people, "How long will you falter between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him: but if Baal, follow him." His topic was surrender to the Lord in all areas of our lives.

The people sat there like sponges, soaking it in. Now, normally, our congregation is demonstrative, meaning they say "Amen," and they let the preacher know they're with him through other things such as applause, laughter, etc. And if you've ever been a speaker, you know this helps during your message.

But today, the congregation was unusually quiet, and in my spirit, the Lord spoke and said they were receiving it deeply into their spirits. The evangelist led us in the song I Surrender All, and we belted it out with arms upraised. (He said if a robber goes into a store and points a gun at you, you immediately raise your arms. This, he said, means surrender.)

At the close of the service, Milton took the microphone and asked me to join him. He said he would be preaching the next two Sundays on "Getting Ready for A Double Portion Blessing" based on Elisha's messages.

He said our family was experiencing some double portion blessings right now (I could write a book!), and that he was believing for our church members to start receiving some, and then our church as a whole.

With his grip on my hand firm, he looked down at me, and then said, "Kristy and I have always loved each other, but lately, well, we're falling in love all over again."

I burst into tears.

We unlocked hands, and our arms slid around each other's backs.

I kept crying, so thick I couldn't see, so I looked at the floor.

I backhanded my tears away. What were people thinking? Did they think we'd been in some big argument? Did they wonder what in the world was going on?

What was I thinking?

I was thinking how happy I am, and how sweet our marriage has been lately, things I can't even tell you about, but just believe me, sweetness and tenderness coming forth...almost out of Marah. It's like a blossoming of our love.

Then, with our arms still firmly around each other, Milton closed the service as he always does. He says after every service and right before he dismisses, "Now raise your hands in a manner of receiving." He's taught us to hold our arms straight out from our waist, palms up. So we all did that. (We released our hold on each other then.) Then he says a blessing over us, beginning every time with, "I bless you, that....." It's always upbeat and encouraging and challenging. It's great.

As soon as he finished speaking blessing over the people, you could hear women gathering their purses and men clanking their keys in their pockets. I felt led to take the microphone. The gathering and clanking stopped. All attention was focused on me. They waited with baited breath, as the cliche goes.

I said, (let's see if I can capture it exactly as I said it; oh, I'm a novelist; if I can't, I can recreate it), "I'm crying because of the beauty of the moment. I cry sometimes out of sadness, but I also cry when I see beauty. And I see beauty in our marriage, and beauty in this church."

I saw several people wiping their eyes.

Then the crowd began to disperse. As I walked down the aisle, people hugged me with warmer-than-usual hugs, and they commented on how wonderful God was and other positive statements, and it reminded me when I've taught parenting classes and told parents to let their children see romantic sparks between them because it's so emotionally healthy for the children, and I felt like Milton and I were parents to this congregation and had just shown love and even romance, and the "kids" felt good enough to turn somersaults, and everybody was so happy and cheerful.

It was a wonderful feeling.

The evangelist came up to me with wet eyes and said, "I can't thank you enough for being such a wonderful role model to your people." He said some other kind things, and then he said, "It's been so long since I've heard a pastor say he's in love with his wife, and this was truly refreshing."

It's a Christian love story.

For better, for worse...

I made a vow...

Before God and man...

That I would be true to this man...

We're in the better mode...

And after better comes...



Friday, July 07, 2006


I'm reading a Christian love story right now. Saw the DVD last night.


Christian love story, you ask?

Yes, that's right.

It was refreshing; it made you glad (Pollyanna's favorite word); it made you sad (I cried at certain parts); it was delightful. And it was a Christian love story. In fact, it contained two love stories. And it definitely was a Christian story. The characters were Christians. And there were several scenes in church. And Scripture was quoted.

For example, the minister said he was upset with the Ladies Aid Society because they wanted to move Sunday school to Tuesday--"And what is the point of Sunday school if it's on Tuesday?" he asked them with great chagrin. So he decided to preach a vindictive sermon to get back at them. In a conversation with Pollyanna, he mentioned this, and she exclaimed, "Oh, Reverend, you must rejoice and be glad. Don't you know there are 600 (I think that's the number she quoted) verses in the Bible that begin with, 'Rejoice and be glad?'" So he did just that, and the problem was mitigated. Another time, he asked the congregation to pray for Pollyanna to be healed.

All my life I've heard of the story of Pollyanna. And most of the time, it's been in a negative vein. Pollyanna is too simplistic, people tend to think. Pollyanna is laughable, people say. Pollyanna isn't real.

Not so.

Pollyanna is every bit as good as Anne of Green Gables. And Sarah, Plain and Tall.

When I decided to re-read the book, I went to and found not only the book, by Eleanor H. Porter, but the Masterpiece Theatre edition of the DVD (as opposed to the Disney version starring Haley Mills--though I plan to view that one too). I quickly ordered it, and last night, as I viewed it, I wasn't disappointed. As I said earlier, I loved it.

In her foreword of Pollyanna, Newberry author Marion Dane Bauer says when she was asked to write the foreword, she wondered if she had ever read the story as a child. Oh, she knew who Pollyanna was, she writes. She was an "irrepressibly cheerful child." In fact, Bauer says the word Pollyanna is in every standard American dictionary and is defined as "an excessively or blindly optimistic person""--a rather negative definition, she says.

"In a world in which being 'cool' requires that every kind of enthusiasm be carefully hidden away," writes Marion Dane Bauer, "the young girl who played 'the glad game' with everyone in
town seems an odd candidate for resurrection."

But after reading it as an adult, she says she made an interesting discovery:

"Reading it was like opening a window to let in a breath of fresh air."

Like I said earlier, it reminds you of Anne of Green Gables.

"Pollyanna's situation and the way she rose to meet it, again and again, simply captivated me," writes Bauer. Bauer is speaking of Pollyanna's "glad game"--finding something to be glad about when disappointing things happen.

"I noted in particular that Mrs. Porter (the author of Pollyanna) wasn't advocating that we refuse to recognize the disappointments which come our way," Bauer writes. "Nor was she in favor of what Freud came to call repression. She merely suggested that, when handed a disappointment--crutches from the Ladies' Aid box when we had hoped for a doll--we nonethless look for a reason to rejoice in the good of our own lives. An early twentieth-century version of behavior therapy, perhaps?"

"No harm in that," Bauer continues. "And in fact, there might be a whole lot of good in it."

Bauer goes on to say that she has come to be fascinated by Victorian values. "Even in our let-it-all-hang-out days of the early twenty-first century," she writes, "there is something enormously apealing about that quiet gladness (Pollyanna's). Something enormously life affirming too. There is more to life than groveling in our own loudly proclaimed miseries. There is even something beyond cool. There is simple gladness." Then she says, "Read Pollyanna and rejoice!"

Why did I read and view Pollyanna? What got me interested in resurrecting her story in my mind? And heart?

That's for Monday's post.

Thursday, July 06, 2006


I sometimes read author interviews to Milton, my husband. He's in this journey with me--of writing Christian love stories to the glory of God. He goes with me to writers' conferences and advises me and prays for me. He's often said, "You go with me to ministers' conferences (and I've even taught at them when he was in charge of them for our state denominational office), and so now I'm going with you to your conferences so I can support you and do all I can to see your dream fulfilled."

My dream? To continue to write Christian love stories, so that readers may be entertained, encouraged, and enlightened. The Three E's.

What a wonderful thing it is, to have a Christian mate who supports your dream, and not only supports it, but has become a part of it.

So yesterday I was reading aloud an author interview to him that had been posted on I enjoy reading the interviews and learning about the journeys different authors take on their road to publication. For some, it's almost an overnight process. For others, it's a years-long, slugging-out process. That's been my journey.

Milton and I have many dreams we want to see fulfilled in my writing. He, better than anyone else, knows the time and effort and finance I've put into this journey. I've learned the craft (and will continue to learn until my toes turn up); I've joined writers' organizations; I've had a critique partner; I've studied diligently; I teach writing; I write two columns for writers' organizations; I give free critiques. I've spent thousands of hours in the last dozen years reading other authors' novels and then writing my own.

So when I was reading aloud this author interview yesterday, Milton said, "Turn around and take my hands." I stopped reading in mid-sentence and did as he asked. We faced each other and clasped hands tightly, and he led us in one of the most beautiful prayers. One of Milton's many gifts is his prayers. They are heart-felt. They are powerful. They are eloquent. They are powerful. Did I say that already? When he leads our congregation in responsive prayers, like he did last night at church, we feel like we're in heaven kneeling before the throne--in the very presence of Jesus. And we feel like something IS going to happen, no matter how bleak the situation we are praying about seems.

I sat there knee to knee with him as he prayed, my eyes welling with tears. I wish I'd had a recorder to capture his prayer, but of course I didn't. This morning, before he left to go to the church, I asked him if he could repeat it. He couldn't--not with the anointing that was upon him yesterday--but he did say a few things he'd prayed.

Here are some of the words of his prayer:

I thank You Lord, for Kristy's gifts and talents, and her obedience to You. I ask You, Lord, to bring Your creativity and anointing upon her to write the stories that are of Your design and will. I ask You, Lord, to open the doors that will bring about Your will in Kristy's life, and that You will grant her favor.

Lord, the workman is worthy of his hire, and Kristy has diligently prepared herself to do what You have called her to do. I ask you to bless her so she can enjoy the fruit of her labors.

I pray today for the favor of the Lord to come upon Kristy.

Like I said, it's wonderful to have a prayer partner who will stand in agreement with you. Oh, yes, that's another thing he prayed--the prayer of agreement. That's found in Matthew 18:19 where Jesus says: "Again I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven."

We've prayed that prayer many times together. And we've seen answers. Two specific answers to prayer are bubbling in my heart, but I can't share them today. I'm off to the church. We're taking the secretaries out to lunch to show our appreciation. We've chosen to take them to a fabulous glass-fronted restaurant on the St. John's River.

Now. A quick prayer from my heart: "Lord, thank You for a Christian mate. Thank You that he shares my dream and encourages me in it. In Jesus' name. Amen."

Ah. A Christian love story.

Worth writing about.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006


Yesterday was, tah dah, the Fourth. The Fourth is always special to us. We're patriotic. We're picnikkers (is that a word?). And we're fun loving (shoot, I couldn't come up with an alliterative word; could've looked in my thesaurus, but oh well).

We used to live in a small town in Central Florida, and our neighborhood surrounded the lake on which the city shot off their fireworks. We always hosted a BBQ for friends, and at nine o'clock, while sitting in our lawnchairs and eating homemade ice cream (banana pudding flavor; Snickers flavor; orange flavor; etc.), we watched the magnificent night-sky entertainment.

As Floridians, we've watched fireworks in many unique places, such as, on the St. John's River and at the beach. The St. John's River fireworks are almost indescribable (even though I'm a writer!). Two sets of fireworks are set off from barges on the river, and with both sets reflecting in the tall glass skyscrapers that line the water, well, the sight I said, indescribable. Gives me chill bumps just thinking about it.

And the beach fireworks do the same thing for me. We sit on a blanket on the sand, and with our heads going back and forth like bobbly things on dashboards, we look at the fireworks set off by two different beach towns. The Atlantic Ocean looks like black glass in the moonlight, and with the fireworks reflecting on that black glass, and with the ocean breeze in your face, and with the lulling sounds of waves hitting the beach, well, it's quite an experience.

This year was different. We went with friends to Celebration, Florida, the Disney-created city near Walt Disney World where the streets were roped off, and a huge bandstand was set up in the middle of the town. We staked our claim on the sidewalk lining the lake with our lawn chairs, then left to meander through the various booths lining the main street. Food. Fourth of July paraphenalia. A church giving out free water and free squirts of Off. Charity organizations. Etc. Also, we stopped in at some of the unique boutiques in Celebration. Around eight o'clock, we bought food from the Columbia Restaurant's booth--paella (yellow rice and chicken), 1905 salad, and Cuban bread. We drank sanctified sangria--water with orange and lemon slices and a cherry floating in it. For dessert, we had Spanish flan. That was some lip-smacking eating!

Then the fireworks started, and with the patriotic music in the background, it was spectacular.

I'm proud to be an American!

Monday, July 03, 2006


I just returned from a funeral. All funerals are sad. They equal death, and death equals separation from loved ones, and separation from loved ones equals sadness. But the funerals that are the saddest--and I've attended hundreds since I'm a minister's wife--are the ones involving young people and children. Older people have had a chance to see and experience life, but when young people and children die, well, it gets you in your gut. And heart.

This one today was for a 24-year-old young man who was the grandson-in-law of some of our church members, and we went to support and minister to them. Last week the young man was in his front yard, and this week, is dead. He collapsed on the lawn, his vital organs shut down, and he hovered between life and death in a coma all week. Thursday night, he died.

He left behind a beautiful blond 21-year-old widow Maggie and a 17-month-old daughter. At the close of the funeral, Maggie came up on the platform and addressed the crowd. She said her husband, let's call him "J," was her soulmate, her lover, and her best friend. People were dabbing at their tears. She talked about how much he loved her and their daughter, and what he meant to her.

People were openly sobbing.

Then, like a preacher in his pulpit, she expounded and exhorted about making right choices and NOT choosing drugs or drinking, or doing "just a small bag," or "just one more hit," etc. She talked about J's struggle his entire life, and the crowd cried harder. She talked about the party atmosphere young adults clamored after. She pleaded with the numbers of young adults there to STOP doing what J had done, and to get their lives right and to get saved, giving Christ their hearts and lives.

Then, she came down from the platform and trailed her fingers down the side of J's casket and across the part where his head lay.

The crowd passed tissues down the aisles and sobbed.

She said, "This is my song to J." From the speakers came a song about "you're my friend and lover." Someone came up and handed her their baby. With the baby in her arms, Maggie danced a slow dance in front of the casket as she sang along with the music.

The crowd continued their sobbing.

Then Maggie danced out a side door, and the family members followed.

Talk about sad?

Oh, my.

Maggie said if some of the young people attending made changes in their lives, then J's death wouldn't be a total loss.

During the service, the minister made similar comments to Maggie's and even led the crowd in a sinner's prayer--silently inviting Christ into their lives. Then he asked those who had prayed the prayer in their hearts to please raise their hands. He announced that between 15 and 20 hands went up.

Oh, Lord, strengthen these young people who made commitments to You today. Let them continue to be open to Your voice, and let them find a church where they can be discipled and nurtured in Your ways, oh God.

Oh, Father, speak to them, continue to woo them with cords of love.

And give me a deeper burden to reach the lost.