Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Dancing Word Interviews Me

Earlier in the year, I was invited to be interviewed during an online chat, by writers and those who want to be in the writing industry. They scheduled me for November. November is here, and now it is time to prepare for the chat-it will be this Friday-November 3rd at 9 p.m. EST. If you are curious-you can go to the site to see the ad for it, and you are welcome to attend the chat. It is easy and free.


I am a writer's coach, and we will be discussing all things relevant to the writing industry. Examples of topics to be covered: query letters, book proposals, copy editing, finding writing opportunities, online writers' groups and critique groups, marketing, and public relations.

Please pray that I can help the ones who sign up for the chat. Also pray that there will be no technical difficulties.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006


Jazzy is chewing on a 15-inch root as we speak. Yes, a root. My almost one-year-old Boston Terrier thinks she is Yule Gibbons or something when it comes to eating nature snacks. I looked at the root, and my first thought was, "Oh, I long to be rooted!"

To those of you who have lived in the same place your entire life, perhaps you don't understand that desire. Let me explain. My first 18 years, I lived in the same home. From that time, until now, 25 years later (and please don't do the math!), I have lived in 20 dwelling places. TWENTY! That amounts to eight towns and six states. No wonder I yearn for roots!

I desire to never write another change of address card again! My friends who grew up moving with military don't understand that. They are happy with a move at least every 3-5 years. And perhaps gypsies never lose that wandering gene. But for the most part, God placed a longing for stability in the hearts of his children. When the Hebrews wandered in the desert for forty years, they moaned and complained. I imagine that is where the phrase "Are we there yet?" came to be! With the world changing around us, we want HOME to stay the same.

God places a longing for roots in our very being. Psalm 1:3 says, "And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper." May I be planted in the Bible, God's Holy Word, so that I can get all the nutrients I need from the good soil and water, to be fruitful in producing what God wants in my life.

But I also realize what Paul said in Philippians 4: 11, "Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content."

I'm very sure Paul wasn't speaking of states of the union, since America had not even been discovered yet, but it can apply to me being content no matter what state I live in. But more importantly it tells me that no matter what God allows to come into my life, even if it doesn't involve roots, I can learn to be content. My joy comes from God's grace, not from my circumstances.

If I'm honest, I'd much rather be rooted in Him, than in some street address. May I be rooted in contentment-the very best location to be.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006



I was watching a movie the other day, and a quote really stuck in my mind. The character said something like, "Sometimes things need to stay broken. It's not up to you to fix everything. Your job is to let it stay broken for now."

That struck a chord with me because I'm a chronic fixer. If I see something that's not right, I try to solve the problem and make things okay. If someone has a relationship problem, I become the mediator. If there are conflicts, I take on the role of peacemaker. If someone has a physical need, I am the self-appointed provider to meet that need.

All of that sounds good until I realize that I often jump ahead of God and just "fix" something without asking God if it is my job to repair it. That movie showed me that sometimes we learn more through the brokenness than we do when things are A-okay.

I heard myself saying the other day, "but I just don't want to see them suffer." And another Christian reminded me that the Bible speaks about suffering as if it is something with which the believer becomes greatly acquainted during his life journey. Suffering sometimes delivers a testimony of God's grace, and sometimes it is a schoolmaster of what is important to God. We learn better through suffering, about the heart of God, than we do when things are hunky-dory. And we communicate more with God when we are in a broken place in our lives. So, it's okay for some things to stay broken for a while. It's not my job to fix everything. Only God can mend the wounds of a broken heart.

The words of David Meece's song, "Brokenness" penetrates my soul. I pray his lyrics ministers to you as well.

"In my brokenness ~ In my hour of darkness
~ I will lift my hands ~ And worship You

~ In my brokenness ~ In my time of sadness
~ I will lift my voice ~ And praise to You

~ Time stands still ~ As I kneel down before You
~ Life draws near ~ Like waves upon the shore

~ You touch me ~ In my brokenness
~ In these whispering shadows ~ I will lift the pieces ~
Of my heart to You."

Friday, October 13, 2006

Make Your Requests Known

When our meal planner gave us the list of who was bringing meals, we noticed the name of a Brazilian woman-Carla. Russ and I talked about it, and wondered if it would be rude to hint that we would LOVE a Brazilian meal.

So, Russ handled it very delicately. He went up to her and said, "Hey, Carla, a little birdy tells me you might be bringing a meal over this week. Is that right?"

She smiled and said in her broken English, "I make lassagna for you!"

He sort of got a pouty lip and said, "Oh Carla, no Brazillian food for us?"

Her eyes lit up, her posture straighted with excitement, and she said "You wish I make recipe from Brazil?"

Russ said, "Yes! Yes! Please. Anyone can make lassagna, but only you can make an authentic Brazilian dish in our church."

So, Wednesday, Carla brought over Feijoada. This is a black bean dish that has ham, bacon, and sausage in it. Very tasty. She brought over yucca flour called manioc flour or farofa and instructed me to sprinkle some over the Feijoada to thicken it. She also brought white rice and collard greens, which is how the meal is traditionally served.

It was delicious. We're so glad we decided to speak up and make our request known. Otherwise it would have just been one more Italian dish. Instead we were transported to Brazil—if only through our tastebuds.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Fall or Winter?

Earlier this week, I took photos of the trees in our woods. They were just starting to turn colors. I planned to take photos every few days to show the progression of color.

There's only one problem.

Last evening, the rains and wind came, darting towards our home at some unnatural angle. I looked outside and exclaimed,"It's raining LEAVES!" No fooling, the leaves just blew off the trees.

Today, I woke up to freezing cold temperatures. At 9:00 a.m. it was only 34 degrees outside. I called Russ and asked him if I could turn on the heat because our thermostat said it was only 64 degrees inside! He laughed to think I would call to get "permission" but of course I was mainly asking because I wasn't sure if our system had been winterized yet. Imagine my good fortune when he said I could turn on the heat!

I looked outside, and one of my trees is almost "naked." The other trees have a few more leaves, but I can kiss goodbye any dreams of photographing the progressive colorization process. It's not Fall today, it's Winter!

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Oscar or Felix?

Do you remember The Odd Couple? Oscar Madison and Felix Ungar shared an apartment. Oscar was messy, unorganized, and laid back. Felix was neat, regimented, and probably would be diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder in 2006. It's amazing these two got along so well. Have you ever wondered how they could be such good friends when they were so different from each other? Perhaps it is because deep down, if you removed all their differences, they both had the same good heart.

I have certain characteristic traits similar to Oscar and Felix. I'm normally organized and professional when it comes to work and church projects and love to dress sharp. But I'm sloppy at home, even when I have the best intentions. Are you more of a Felix or an Oscar? How does your temperament help or hinder your relationships?

When it comes to reading the Bible, are you more like Oscar or Felix? When Oscars look for wisdom in the Bible, they use the magic verse technique. Perhaps you are familiar with this. Oscars flip open the Bible to any page, close their eyes and point to a verse. This is their verse for the day and they claim it for any circumstance that comes their way. Oscar types are tempted to procrastinate reading the Bible.

Felixes have a systematic, organized technique for reading their Bibles. Perhaps they read through the Bible in a year, or use a special Bible Study book, or some other routine reading schedule. Felix types are more disciplined, and read the Bible before there is a felt-need for biblical direction or advice.

Obviously there are no wrong techniques for Bible reading. God's just glad you want to hear His voice via the Word. When you open the Bible you are inviting God to speak to you. You learn His heart, and grow more like Him. The more a child spends time with his father, the more he becomes LIKE his father. That happens to us when we spend time with our Heavenly Father in His Word.

Are you an Oscar or a Felix? No matter what your personality type, the Bible can become a part of your life.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Wishing On Dandelions

Enjoy this author interview.

Book: Wishing on Dandelions

Author: Mary E. DeMuth

• This book deals with difficult subject matter: childhood sexual abuse and its residual affects. How did this book emerge?

My passion is to write about redemption through the avenue of story. I started the first book, Watching the Tree Limbs, in a flurry. In my mind I saw the streets of Burl and a girl who didn’t know where she came from. Because my personal story involves different instances of sexual abuse, I wanted to write a story that showed the reader how God could intersect an abuse-victim’s life and make a difference.

• So, are you Maranatha?

In some ways yes, some no. Like Maranatha, I felt like God had transformed my life in such a radical way (like her name change from Mara—bitter—to Maranatha—Come Lord Jesus). Like Maranatha, I endured sexual abuse, but I was much younger when it happened. Like Maranatha, I wondered if I had been marked, that every sexual predator could “tell” I was a ready victim. I wrestled through relationships in my teens with Maranatha’s twin feelings of revulsion and attraction. But, she is not me in many other ways. She is more independent. She has no parents. She lives in an entirely different culture. She is less ambitious. She has the privilege of many wiser people to mentor her through life.

• What made you decide to write a love story?

The book didn’t start out in my mind as a love story, but it evolved into it as I continued writing. Characters have that uncanny way of taking your prose and running in all sorts of directions with it. Charlie just kept being faithful. In a sense, I fell in love with him!

• What made you choose East Texas as the setting for both novels?

The South fascinates me. I grew up in the Northwest. When my last child was born, my husband was transferred to East Texas to start a department in a hospital. Because I was a stay-at-home mom and home schooling, I didn’t have much else to do there except to observe small town southern culture. Because I didn’t grow up in that culture, my senses were heightened and I eventually began to really appreciate the differences.

• Childhood sexual abuse is not talked about very often, and seldom covered in novels. What made you decide to write about it?

For that very reason. The more victims are quiet, the less healing they will receive. The more we talk about it, bringing heinous acts to the light, the better able we are to know we are not alone. I wrote this book so other abuse victims would feel validated and heard. And to offer hope.

• Why do you end your books with hope?

Because hope is essential to Jesus’ Gospel. Even when things are bleak, there is always hope—if not in this life, then in the next. I’m not interested, however, in presenting hope in a superfluous way. I don’t want to tie up every story thread neatly. The truth is, life is tragic and difficult and bewildering, but God intersects that life and brings hope.

• Have you always wanted to write?

Yes. Since my second grade teacher told my mother that she thought I was a creative writer, I’ve wanted to write. I kept a diary since the sixth grade. Though I was an English major, I didn’t start writing seriously until my first daughter was born. I wrote for ten years in obscurity before my writing career took a turn for the better.

• Who are your literary heroes?

I love Harper Lee. I only wish she’d written more. Leif Enger, who wrote Peace Like a River, greatly inspired me to write visually and artistically. I love Sue Monk Kidd’s Secret Life of Bees, how you could almost taste her characters. I’m fascinated and intimidated by J.R.R. Tolkein—how he managed to create an entire world with several languages is way beyond my literary prowess.

• What do you want your reader to take away from Wishing on Dandelions?

That redemption of a broken life takes time. We’re all on a journey of healing. Sometimes it’s slow going, but if we can endure through the dark times, God will bring us to new places of growth. I want the images and characters to stay with a reader for a long time.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Autumn Reminiscence

Shades of yellow, gold and orange splashed across the hillsides. Air crisp as a saltine crackers filled the lungs of life-breathers; deeply inhaling the scents of Fall. Trail walkers crunched across the rice krispy paths carpeted with fallen leaves and twigs. Fathers and sons stuffed duffle bags with indulgent snacks and camping gear for their annual deer hunt. Cinnamon smells wafted from the kitchen — laced in apple cobblers and nut breads. Harvesters emptied fields of Earth's bounty, leaving behind the barren fertile soil filled with hopes and dreams of next year's crop. Cider mills produced liquid gold, chilled to perfection. Spotless apples saved for caramel or candied treats. Leaf forts raked to the curb and ignited into smoldering mounds; smoke signals sending Morse code messages. "Hello. Good-bye. Fall has come. Fall has gone. Day is done."

As you have probably guessed, I have fond memories of autumn. I've lived in areas of the country where Fall was absent from the seasonal calendar. The Gulf of Mexico has its own subtropical beauty. The desert of New Mexico had its wide-open grandeur. But neither has Fall. Their loss. It's not just the scenes of autumn, but the smells and moods of autumn that speak to hearts.

No matter where you live, allow this time of year to remind you of how blessed we are with God's creation. He gifted us with this beautiful world to enjoy. It sustains us physically, and gives us what we need emotionally, mentally and spiritually as well. Pick up a leaf, and you will notice some points on each side, and a point at the top of the leaf. This tells me I need to look to each other and to my surroundings for fellowship, but most of all I am pointed to my Heavenly Father (at the top).

Take time to breath in God's bounty before Winter comes.