Friday, August 31, 2007


Last week. One day we're at a huge reception celebrating a couple's 50th anniversary. The next day, literally, we're at a funeral grieving with the bereaved. It's roller-coaster emotions for us. Happiness. Sadness.

The life of a pastor and wife.

We feel the joys--and hurts--of our parishioners. We grieve with them, laugh with them, rejoice with them, cry with them, pray with them, love with them, as well as on them.

Got a call today that another one died. Another funeral. Saturday, it's back to celebrating. A 70th birthday cookout with a lot of fun and laughter with a large group of church people and friends.

When I was growing up, people used to say my grandmother had empathy. Nana called it "crawling into the skin of others and feeling what they're feeling."

I inherited that from her.


Up and down emotions. In a small way, this is similar to the writing process. I create characters who experience hurt and love and joy and grief. I try and crawl into their skin and feel what they're feeling.

One of the highest compliments I've had from a reader was about this. The heroine in my historical novella in Sweet Liberty is an embittered former-slave-now-freewoman in the South in 1859. As I created her, I said, "Lord, let me crawl into Winkie's skin and feel what she's feeling. Let me know what her life as a slave has been like. Let me feel her bitterness...and her joy."

A reader wrote, "Are you black? Or do you just have a special gift of empathy?"

I said, "Thank You, Lord."

Wednesday, August 29, 2007


Over on Ane Mulligan's blog, she posted a cute thing. You find a word for each of the initials of your middle name that applies to you. Then you tag three people whose names start with these initials.

My middle name is Nan. Sounds funny to me. I haven't used it in years. I always use my maiden name or initial when filling out forms, etc.

N - A - N. Okay. Here goes.

N - Novels. I write novels. Love it. Feel it's a God-given calling. I now have 10 titles, with many more to come. The Flip Dictionary (Writer's Digest)--every writer needs one--says some of the synonyms for "novel" are "avant-garde, daring, different, fresh, innovative." I'd like for my novels to be described like that!

A - Author. I'm an author. I know. This goes along with the above. But that's the first word that came to me. I not only write novels, I write articles. I've written hundreds of published articles. I've worked for two New York Times subsidiaries and had two weekly newspaper columns for different newspapers at different times. I've not only written articles but also devotionals, radio ads, brochure copy, ad infinitum. I remember one assignment by a Times subsidiary. And this was in the 80s when such things weren't freely discussed. "Go out and write an article about head lice," the editor said. "How children contract it. How to get rid of it. Parents' reactions. Teachers' reactions. Treat it like a Parents magazine feature." So I did. (Yuck!) One of my weekly newspaper columns was entitled "Kristy's Kitchen" in which I wrote a homey story and then included a luscious tried-and-true recipe. In a few weeks, I'll be speaking in the town where I wrote that column, and after a lot of years, one of the attendees of the soon-coming event heard I'm coming to speak, and she said, "Oh, she's Kristy from 'Kristy's Kitchen.' She's a great writer. I hope she'll bring some recipes." When writing that column, my editor said to me one day, "Kristy, you're getting more letters than the Letters to the Editor page!" That was a high compliment. I had lots of fans. You know how women love recipes, especially good ones.

N - Nut. Sometimes my alter ego surfaces, and my shyness departs, and I'm a pure nut. Can tell the funniest jokes. I also thought of "nifty." The Flip Dictionary says synonyms for "nifty" are "excellent, sharp, terrific." Oh, Lord, grant that it'll be so.

Okay. Time to tag. For N, I tag Lenora Worth (** see below); for A, Tamera Alexander; and for N, Dina Nickerson.

I'll do it another way, using first names. For N, Nancy Moser; for A, Andrea Boeshaar; and for N, Nancy Farrier. Y'all have fun now, you hear?

** No, I'm not being a nut. I know her by her "N" initial.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007


First Lines from My Books:
The Heart of the Matter (novel): "I want everybody to pray that God will give me a mommy," little Brady said in a heart-tugging, grown-up way.
Kiss the (Cook) Bride (novella "Angel Food"): Angel Morgan still couldn't believe her good fortune.
Wedded Bliss (novella "Reunited"): Tonight I'm asking Jake to move out.
Room At the Inn (novella "Orange Blossom Christmas"): The phone rang just as Landon Michael popped a cold capsule in his mouth and washed it down with a glass of juice squeezed from oranges picked from his own grove.
The Tender Heart (novel): For the first time, Sebbie Hanford left herself out of the count as she prepared breakfast for her mother and four sisters.
Church in the Wildwood (novella "Shirley, Goodness, and Mercy"):
Sitting on a grassy knoll overlooking her grandfather's church in the verdant valley below, Shirley Campbell smoothed her serviceable brown skirts and replaced a hairpin in the chignon high atop her head.
Sweet Liberty (novella "Free Indeed"): Two important days have shaped my future, and they both had to do with freedom. I'll never forget the first day as long as I live.
American Dream (novella "I Take Thee, A Stranger"): "Oh, Galen, please don't die," Corinn McCauley said, hovering over the still form of her husband, wiping his brow with a wet cloth.

Saturday, August 25, 2007


These pictures are of Milton riding his sister Tricia's Argentine thoroughbred, Gonzo. (Click on the pictures to see enlarged views.) Tricia's always loved horses and has the blessing of having built a beautiful home on five acres of land in sunny Central Florida where she can enjoy her horse. And it's a stone's throw from Florida Carriage Museum & Resort. She frequently sees horse-drawn carriages on her road!

For her five-year-old daughter Stephanie, she has a Shetland pony, Nellie.
Marriages need some horsin' around, too.
According to Webster's, the term "horsing around" (I'm surprised it's in there since it's two separate words) means 1) "joking and laughing and pushing each other" 2) to "fool around."

It'll keep your marriage healthy.

Thursday, August 23, 2007


Summer fun in beautiful, family-friendly Cypress Gardens in Winter Haven, Florida.
Besides the exciting rides, the daring ski shows on sparkling Lake Eloise, and the indescribable flower gardens, Cypress Gardens has a water park with a tubin' lazy river, a kids' water playground, and skyscraper-high (not really :)) water slides.
Every summer, our daughters and four grandchildren take a family vacation together, either at the beach or in Orlando or some other place. This summer, it was in Orlando where we took in various sites and theme parks and also lazed by the resort's pools and grilled out.

Interestingly, yesterday's newspaper had an article entitled "Happiness equals family time, say the youth of America." In "an extensive survey" conducted by The Associated Press and MTV, spending time with family was the top answer to the question, "What makes you happy?"
An old song just surfaced in my mind. "Happiness is to know the Savior, living a life within His favor, having a change in my behavior, happiness is the Lord."
Yes, happiness is knowing the Lord. And after that, it's having wonderful family times.

Saturday, August 18, 2007


Above is my nephew, Bryan McGee, and his beautiful wife Jennifer. They are on staff at The Rock

When I read the following post on his website, I knew I wanted it to appear on my blog. He granted permission.

Man, is it nice to have lots of writers in the family. And preachers. Nearly 30 ministers and wives.


Your Wife Is Your Girlfriend
By Bryan McGee

Have you ever noticed that marriage has a way of destroying romance? Over the years, I have done a lot of marriage counseling. One of the things I have noticed is that romance is nowhere to be found.

Romance: (rō-măns‘, rō‘măns) n.1. A love affair. 2. Ardent emotional attachment or involvement between people; love.

Sure, there are major issues to deal with in any marriage counseling session. But, without fail, I have yet to counsel a couple who were having issues where romance was still alive. They come to discuss issues with their sex life (or lack thereof), their finances, their lack of communication, or the fact that “it’s just not working out.” They come because the details of life have won out against what first drew them together.

I’ve heard pastors say that it is even harder on those in the ministry. I’m not necessarily convinced this is true. I believe Satan hates all of our marriages because they are a picture of Christ and His church. Sure, I have a lot of pressure from ministry. The long hours, stress, and demands can be overwhelming. But the truth is, your job is pretty demanding too. It is all too easy to let everyone else dictate your life. A few months ago, Jim Wideman wrote, "Since 'my time' was really 'my time,' I needed to take ownership of it and spend it like I was in control. It’s up to you to let others know how to treat your time. If you don’t value and respect it, others won’t either.”

Don’t let life rob you of the joy of romancing your spouse. What wooed him or her to the altar will probably keep your marriage strong. Unless, of course, you were immoral in your relationship. If that is the case, find out how to be romantic. The Bible is filled with illustrations of how to be crazy passionate in your marriage. Start by reading Song of Solomon. If that book were made into a movie, I would not be able to watch it. It’s that graphic.

Last night, Jen and I went on a hot date. She wore a beautiful, little black dress that had me staring all night. She is what I dream about at night. We drove a friend's BMW 750Li to our favorite restaurant in Wilmington, Deluxe. We had a very expensive meal that was worth every penny. Especially since someone had blessed us with a gift certificate. Then we drove around Wrightsville Beach listening to Miles Davis and Chet Baker and just enjoyed each being with each other.

This was our second date of the week. On Tuesday, a friend offered to watch the boys so we could go out. We grabbed a quick burger at Five Guys and then caught Bourne Ultimatum (great movie).

Two dates in one week! This doesn’t happen every week. We work way too much. We just started football practice everyday with twof of our sons Noah and Adam. We have a lot going on. But, at the end of the day, I want my wife to still be my girlfriend. I want her to always know that I love her the way Paul instructed in Ephesians 5:25-28,

"Husbands, go all out in your love for your wives, exactly as Christ did for the church—a love marked by giving, not getting. Christ’s love makes the church whole. His words evoke her beauty. Everything he does and says is designed to bring the best out of her, dressing her in dazzling white silk, radiant with holiness. And that is how husbands ought to love their wives. They’re really doing themselves a favor—since they’re already 'one' in marriage."

Is your spouse still your boyfriend/girlfriend? Mine is. How are you keeping romance alive at your house?

Friday, August 17, 2007


I found these expensive black patent leather shoes marked down to $16 the other day. They have an attractive skinny heel, and they're dressy, and since we go to multitudinous parties and banquets and events in our lives as ministers and mine as a writer, I decided I should buy them. But they had this awful-looking white-pearl-and-black- mesh "star" at the toe. I kept looking at them in the store and decided I could fix them.

At home, I cut the tips off the star, shook the white pearls into the garbage, and painted the remaining attached center pearl with my trusty black Sharpie pen. Wah lah! A pretty pair of black patent leather heels for a steal!

Kind of reminds me what I'm doing with the novel I'm working on now. I'm tweaking, changing, retooling, whatever you want to call it. It's the hardest work in the world. This week, I threw out chapters one and two and made chapter three my first chapter. I've slaved over it, taken eons to craft a single sentence or word. They say Ernest Hemingway would take days sometimes, just to craft the perfect sentence for a passage. Not that I'm comparing myself with Hemingway, :) but it's nice to be in such great company!

I have worked like a Trojan on this novel. I've started it over and over and thrown out (though saved on my computer in a different file) pages and pages. And that's a painful thing, to have slaved over all those pages and then have to throw them out. Ah, such beautiful phrases. Ah, such lyrical words. It's like throwing out something very dear to you. But the passages weren't working. Too much backstory. Information dump. Get to the action.

But her past is the action, my brain argued. Yes, but we need to see the action in her present.

I know that fiction "rule" like I know the back of my hand. But sometimes you can't see the forest for the trees.


Sometimes in marriage, we need to do some tweaking. Attitude adjustments. Different ways of doing or seeing things.

Change is good. It's a forward movement. Staying the same is stagnant.

"Change my heart, oh, God," the song goes. "Make it ever new. Change my heart, oh, God. Let it be like You."

Amen and amen. In my marriage. In my ministry. In my writing.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007


According to Reader's Digest, Paris Hilton said, "Always act like you're wearing an invisible crown. I do."

Queen Victoria of England, said, "Oh, that Jesus would come in my lifetime. I wish to lay the crown of England at His feet." (The crown of England represents almost immeasurable wealth.)

Pretty different views, right?

The Bible speaks of humility and of us having a humble attitude.

Webster's says humble means "not being haughty or arrogant."

"Better to be of a humble spirit with the lowly, than to divide the spoil (plunder) with the proud." (Proverbs 16:19)

"The Lord detests all the proud of heart. Be sure of this: They will not go unpunished." (Proverbs 16:5)

"Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall." (Proverbs 16:18)

"Lord, help us to be humble and Christ-like in all we say, do, and think. Amen."

If we'll strive to do this, it'll help our marriages, our relationships, our lives.


Today is our anniversary. I'm looking at two of my wedding photos as I type. Marriage has been good. There have been ups and downs. That's normal. What counts is to work through them.