Friday, July 20, 2007

Vacation in Maine

We’re back. It was a busy five days, and of course there’s all the stuff to do at home after you get back from vacation that makes one wonder if it’s worth it! But this definitely was. Outside of the travel days. Sigh. Now if we could just figure out a way to get from one place to another without all the hassles, I’d be in line to sign up!

We spent the weekend with friends of ours, Thomas and Nancy Spear of Cushing, Maine. They have two sons, Micah (6) and Zach (2), who are a lot of fun to be around. On our first day in Maine, Roger went out with Thomas and his sternman, Rob, to drop lobster pots. Thomas said he’s behind in getting them out this year, but Roger didn’t mind. He loves learning new things and getting in on the action. This is Thomas loading pots onto his lobster boat, the Nancy Elaine.

Saturday evening, we drove over to Augusta and had dinner with son, Randy, and the other team members. Sunday we caught up with them again and enjoyed services at two churches, getting to see both of their drama presentations in the process. Randy accused me of crying almost before their military drama started. Excellent theme: the goodness of God—all the time. It was very touching.

After the rain we had on Sunday, we hoped that it would clear in time for our plans on Monday. God was good, and we had a beautiful day! We started with a hike on the breakwater close to the Spears’ home. It was a fairly easy walk out to the lighthouse at the end, and long enough for me to say I got my exercise in for the day.

We enjoyed sitting at the end of the breakwater, soaking in the sun.

Randy helped Zach make the mile and a half trek to and from the lighthouse at the breakwater a little easier. His mom and I are the ones in front. Sunni and Aaron travel with Randy this summer.

Randy went with us to Moody’s for lunch. Moody’s is a diner started back in the 1930s by Nancy’s great-grandfather. It is a very popular spot to eat at any time, day or night. Randy ordered a lobster roll, since Mom and Dad were paying and he hadn’t been able to afford to eat lobster on his own.

We met up again with the rest of the crew to take a trip out into the river to watch Thomas and his sternman haul lobster pots and bring in our dinner. It was quite the group on the boat: the six members of the Truth in Action drama team; Nancy and her two boys; the sternman’s daughter; and of course, the sternman and Thomas. (A couple of us were stoked up with Dramamine. After my last experience on that boat four years ago, I was very careful to take all precautions this time! Even though I was assured that we wouldn’t be going out into the Atlantic as we had on my previous trip.)

In this picture, Bill is on the left, then Ashley, Sunnie, Christi, me, and Randy.

Soon the men were hauling up the pots, taking out the keepers, throwing back the females who were producing eggs and other shell fish, like crabs, hermit crabs, and snails (abalone). Not that most of those aren’t edible; they weren’t what we were wanting for dinner that evening.

Here’s one we kept. . .and ate later.

On the way back in, Zach took a turn helping his dad steer.

The ride got a little "zig-zaggy" about then! But we all had a great time.

Then it was time to say good-bye to Randy again. But he’ll be home in two weeks to spend a little time before heading back to school in South Carolina for his final semester before graduation.

Next week, we’ll return to the good old grammar!

Friday, July 13, 2007


We're headed to Maine for a long weekend. I've been trying to finish a couple of editing/proofreading projects that needed to be done before we leave Friday. So didn't get anything posted on Thursday. And since I won't have Internet access a good portion of the time we're gone, I won't be posting on Monday, either. Hey, isn't that what vacations are for?

We'll be staying with friends who live near Portland. And we'll catch up with our son who is traveling in New England with a ministry drama team for his Christian university (for more details, check out If I remember, I'll try to take some pictures and post them next week here at The Writer's Tool.

Have a great and blessed weekend!

Monday, July 9, 2007

Calling vs. Task

All my life I’ve thought of the work I do as a fulfillment of God’s calling on my life. But I’ve often struggled with the fact that the calling seemed to change frequently, according to the stage of life I’m in. And that didn’t make sense to me. I’ve often said jokingly, “I’ll be glad when I grow up and know what I’m supposed to be doing.” But I turned fifty at the end of last year, and I still haven’t “grown up”??

Well, this past week, I learned the difference between my calling and the tasks the Lord asks me to do. I teach a small ladies Sunday school class. We are slowly working our way through Beth Moore’s study Jesus: The One and Only. Excellent study. By slowly, I mean we do one day’s study in the book per week. We started last fall, and now we’re almost halfway through.

This week our study was on how Christ sent out the disciples two by two to minister to people in the small villages surrounding Capernaum (Luke 9:1-11). Beth pointed out the fact that the disciples were already called. That happened when Jesus spoke to each one and said, “Follow me.” But in this instance, He was tasking them with a specific mission: Go out and preach the kingdom of God to the lost sheep of Israel. And He gave specific instructions and equipped them for the work. Since they had already surrendered to Jesus’ call, it wasn’t difficult for them to obey—in spite of certain fears, misgivings, and, I’m sure, wonder at being chosen.

Finally, I got it! All the many things I’ve done as a teen and adult, I’ve done because first I was surrendered to God’s call on my life: to be committed to a relationship with Him. He’s equipped me to accomplish the many, seemingly varied, tasks He’s asked me to do. Since a young teen, I’ve known my primary spiritual gift is teaching. I thought at first it was to teach in a classroom. And because I was so shy, I decided to teach children, the younger the better. And God allowed me to start out small. Now I see that He used each of those experiences so that I could gain confidence in the abilities He’d gifted me with. Because when I taught first grade my first year out of school, I couldn’t understand why they drove me nuts! We moved, and I taught fourth grade. Much better! Then I had my first child, and God enabled me to be a stay-at-home Mom for the next thirteen years. And I quickly realized that in raising my children, I was also teaching. When I went back to teaching, it was in the high school! And I started leading a ladies Bible class. . .that grew in number until we were running between sixty and seventy ladies. This was way beyond what I ever expected, especially the fulfillment of what I thought were pipe dreams before. We moved again, and I was now the kitchen manager at a Christian camp in Colorado. Teaching? Yes, training my assistant who didn’t even know how to cook when she and her husband joined us in running the camp. Now she runs that kitchen better than I ever did. . .and puts out meal after delicious meal for the largest groups that camp has ever experienced. We’re no longer with the camp, and I’ve again taught high school English and Spanish, and now teach others how to write well and effectively through the editing and teaching at conferences I am now tasked with.

As for writing, I’ve always had the desire to write. But God told me that it was one of the tasks He had for me when my firstborn was a baby. (She’s now 25!) I attended my first writer’s conference back in the early ’90s. And I’ve taken several writing courses. Several published articles later, many Bible studies later, and now I’m writing fiction. There have been good writing seasons, and there have been dry times when I’ve dealt with life, fulfilling other tasks that have taken the forefront and most of my energy. Yet, I’ve never been released from the task, though I’ve often questioned God if that truly is His intent for me. In so many, many ways He’s confirmed that I’m to continue, but He’s also confirmed that those “rest” periods from writing are ordained by Him. Look at what He asked the disciples to do when they returned from their time of intense ministry: Go to a secluded spot to rest. While some of my “rest” periods have been that, most of the time they’ve been wilderness experiences where He has drawn me into even closer relationship with Him. Not always fun experiences, like the one I’m coming out of now after the deaths of both my mother-in-law and my mother in six months. But always blessed times with Him.

To God be the glory! He showed me this last week that the things He’s “called” me to do, the tasks, have all been a part of His primary calling—to be committed wholly to Him. Finally, I see that I have grown up. And I’m excited to see how He’s going to continue to equip me for further service to Him.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

American Christian Fiction Writers September Conference

I’ve been a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) three years. And the benefits and encouragement I’ve received during those three years are priceless. Shortly after I joined, I became a member of Crit14, and I was amazed at how quickly we all became friends, sharing our lives not just our writing. Over these last few years, we have shared the struggles of health problems, death of family members, and spiritual struggles for us as well as our families. I am the one who is truly blessed by these ladies: Kim Sawyer, Eileen Key, Darlene Wells, Beverly Olojan, Crystal Ratcliff, and Donna Schlachter.

But one of the main reasons I joined ACFW when I did was so I could attend the 2004 conference held in my backyard—Denver. What a blessing to meet my crit group face-to-face, to listen to Francine Rivers talk about her writing journey and how her relationship with the Lord defines her writing, to meet writers whose books I have enjoyed, and to sit under their teaching.

Since that first ACFW conference, I haven’t missed any: 2005 in Nashville, 2006 in Dallas, and I’m already signed up for the 2007 conference, also in Dallas. And each conference has furthered my writing, and now editing, experience. I can’t explain what it’s like to attend a conference that is totally geared toward fiction writing. And I’ve attended other very good conference since the mid-90s. Each conference has its unique qualities.

At each conference I meet more people whose names I see on the ACFW member’s loop. And now it’s like going to a huge class reunion, all bonded together as brothers and sisters in Christ and our love of writing fiction. I not only learn more about the craft of writing and build my network of writers, editors and agents, I also am blessed spiritually. And each year I add something to my experience. This year I’ve added the early bird session with Margie Lawson. And I’m looking forward to learning more, not only for my own writing, but also for my clients, many of whom are also ACFW members.

It was through the ACFW conferences that I auditioned for and earned a place as a writer for Brandilyn Collins’ promotional blog, Scenes and Beans. And it’s been through this conference that I have met many others who encourage me, pray for me, and love me—just as I am—showing me God’s love. And ACFW has given me the opportunity to give back to the Christian writing community in ways that I could only dream of in the past. And in fact, the confidence to step out by faith, quit teaching, and go full-time into editing is a dream I’ve long had, but God used ACFW to realize, much more than I could have asked or imagined (Ephesians 3:20).

So I’m taking this opportunity to encourage you to attend the ACFW conference September 20–23 in Dallas. I look forward to seeing you there!

Monday, July 2, 2007

Lie vs. Lay

Today we’re going to look at these often misused verbs. I’m hoping this will help you figure out which word to use when.

Lay is what is called a transitive verb. That simply means that this is a verb that demands a direct object. It means to put something down, to place or set an object somewhere. It also mean to place for rest or sleep (think babies or funerals, as in lay someone to rest). The various forms of this verb are: lay, laying, laid, and laid.

Lay your pencils down.
The woman was laying the dishes on the table.
She laid her pencil on the desk.
He had laid his pencil on the table.

Lie is an intransitive verb, meaning it never uses a direct object. However, it is usually followed by a preposition. It means to rest or recline, to assume a horizontal position. Now here is where it gets a little confusing. The verb forms are: lie, lying, lay, lain.

I lie down on the bed for a short nap.
The dog was lying on the rug before the hearth.
Exhausted, the woman lay down on the sofa.
The body had lain in the garden for several hours before being discovered.

One quick hint on how to tell which verb to use, try substituting the verb with set. If it works the verb is transitive and you use a form of lay.

Set your pencils down.
She set her pencil on the desk.
He had set his pencil on the table.

If it doesn’t work, like in the following examples, use a form of lie.

I set down on the bed for a short nap.
The dog was setting on the rug before the hearth.
Exhausted, the woman set down on the sofa.
The body had set in the garden for several hours before being discovered.

See if this helps your word choices when it comes to these two verbs in the future. If you have any questions, please feel free to leave them in the comments.

For those readers who live in the States, I hope you have plans to celebrate our nation’s independence on Wednesday. We’re planning to spend some time at our cabin during the day. Haven’t decided where to watch fireworks, though.

Thursday I’ll be posting my thoughts about attending writer’s conferences, specifically the ACFW conference in September. Have a good writing week!