Are you into reading non-fiction? I've done a lot of it this spring and thought I'd share.
I'm a Teddy Roosevelt fan. I just finished reading The River of Doubt--Theodore Roosevelt's Darkest Journey by Candice Millard. It's a must-read for anyone interested in Roosevelt. It's the story of Roosevelt, after being defeated in the election of 1912, exploring a never-before traveled tributary of the Amazon river. What they endured on that mysterious, bug infested, oppressive, suffocating river boggled my mind. I'd recommend it to anyone who wants to know more about this former president.
I'm also reading the Eric Metasas book Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy. I've always admired Bonhoeffer but this book gave me new insight.
I'm not into only heavy biographies this month, however. I'm finishing a much more light-hearted book of my own--Love Finds You in Frost, MN!
I’m hoping to finish my taxes this week. Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s. Every year for the past ten years I’ve tried to streamline my process and every year it gets easier—by the inch, not the mile.
I’m a creative type, I admit it. I think in words, not numbers. (Hence, I have a very number minded accountant.) Math to me was like learning Greek or Latin—or quantum physics. Odd, but although I could never show the process by which I got an answer in math class, I always got the answer correct. Math teaches don’t like that very much! They want proof that I know how I got there.
This slightly scrambled process is how my mind works and it’s what helps me write stories. I come at things from many angles at once. Add a little here, subtract a little there, divide with conflict, and multiply characters and issues. If the total isn’t quite like I wanted it, I go back into the story and add a little more conflict, subtract a minor character, multiply the romance (or mystery, or whatever) and divide and conquer whatever issues I’m having with the story. I never leave the story until I’ve got the correct balance—but I can never quite explain how I got there!
I spent time in Nashville last month. What a great city--so full of energy. Of course, I’ve always enjoyed country western music (because I can understand all the wordsJ) Thanks to my husband, we attended the Country Music Awards, a night of glitz and glamour, if there ever was one. The next evening we went to the
Grand Ole Opry at the Ryman Auditorium where we heard both new singers and some
that had been a part of the industry for 60 years.
Both events were amazing, but I found myself especially attracted by the straight-forward simplicity of The Opry. There was that familiar dusty stage, microphones, a guitar or two and great voices. It reminded me that excellence doesn’t need
extra trappings to shine.
I used to do some oil painting. I collected paints, brushes, palette knives
and gadgets of all sorts. I filled an entire fishing tackle box with equipment, bought canvas, gesso and an easel. I was ready to paint.
Then I went to the exhibit of a famous Western artist and saw the paint kit the artist took with him when he was sketching in the field. What was it?
A tiny tin paint box, smaller than anything my children had ever used,
with four colors and a pitiful brush missing half its bristles.
I looked at the artist’s renderings which were complicated,
detailed, beautiful, and done with that tiny paint box. Then I thought about all the equipment I’d gathered and the few paintings I’d managed.
My conclusion? It’s not about the stuff. I couldn’t paint any better
because I had lots of equipment.
We all have so much—our closets and cupboards are full and
our garages house far more than cars. We are enough—and perhaps even happier—when life is simple.
Christmas is a busy time of year. Keep it simple. Remember the reason for the season! After all, that’s what really counts.
It’s been quite a summer. I’ve been practicing gratitude and seeing God work this past month. My son-in-law, a lineman (think power lines and snapping electrical wires in storms) was injured on the job last month. He was burned on 35% of his body and has suffered more than anyone should have to. Still, I’m grateful. He’s alive. He has both his hands and his eyesight. He can walk. His skin grafts are healing well and his face is healing better than expected. He may not even have to have plastic surgery which is glorious. Co-workers and church friends have showered him with love (and food.) Their faith and marriage have been strengthened. (My daughter still hasn’t really left his side.) Their four-year old has a father. We are so blessed.
It’s so much easier to be grateful than bitter. The world, despite the problems, is sunnier. A “this, too, shall pass” attitude is much more palatable than “woe is me.” Gratitude is a practice, I’ve discovered. Sometimes you have to consciously look for what is good in the dark places. Usually there is something—a kindness, a lesson, a blessing—even though you may have to look deep for it. You have to practice looking on the bright side. Sometimes it’s only then that the bright side appears! I’m not Pollyanna but I’m trying to find the good in everything. Life is far easier to manage that way. Find something to be grateful for today—I recommend it.
I love the music of the 1950’s—Elvis Presley ,Buddy Holly, Jerry Lee Louis, Johnny Cash, Chuck Berry, Everly Brothers, Big Bopper and on and on. That’s why it was such fun to see The Million Dollar Quartet two weeks ago. It’s a musical based on a real night during which Presley, Cash, Louis and Carl Perkins jammed together at Sam Phillips Studio at Sun Records in Memphis. The actors were amazing at playing their guitars and piano, singing—and looking like their characters. Elvis was particularly memorable—it didn’t hurt that we were seated in row 1,seats 1 & 2, or that Elvis singled me out to get that ubiquitous white scarf he always gave away near the end of a concert!
Going to theater is a special treat for me, the one place I completely lose myself in the story. I never want to change the plot line or rewrite the ending. I just soak up the music, the color, the spectacle. That’s a writer’s dream—to capture someone so fully that they can’t tear their eyes away from the page. And if you want to be transported to the 50’s for a couple hours, see the play!
Surprising Grace and Unlikely Blessings, my new double book from Guideposts is out May 1st. I hope you’ll look for it!
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