What IF…

what if (800x369)

 If is a tiny word, but it can have big implications.

We can use if to make excuses: I would exercise more often if

We can use if to blame others: If only my brother hadn’t crushed my spirit by telling me how worthless I was…

We can use if to worry about things that may never happen: What if I show my work to someone and they hate it, or they rip it to shreds, or they tell me I don’t have talent …

But what if

we used if to think and act in positive ways? Continue reading

Coming Down from the Mountaintop

exultant man on mountain top

Photo Credit 1

Yesterday I was at a writers’ conference. It was a great conference, with timely information and great speakers. (For example, I spent several sessions absorbing the writing advice of Jerry B. Jenkins of Left Behind fame. Yeah, I mean GREAT speakers.) In addition, I had many encouraging conversations with fellow writers. (And realized I was probably the only one at the conference who didn’t have business cards to hand out. Guess that had better go on my To Do list if I want to start acting like a professional writer.) In short, it was awesome. So today I should be pumped, right? Continue reading

What to Read Next? and other challenges of running a Book Club

When son #2 went off to college, I decided to start a book club. It didn’t seem like a big deal: Pick a book, tidy the living room and make sure the Keurig is filled and ready. No sweat, right?

As it turns out, running a book club is not as simple as it sounds. In addition to a good supply of K-cups, hosting a book club requires planning, research and some facilitation skills. Continue reading

A New Year, A New Focus

N is for New

January is a time to look back, reassess, and make changes. In my priorities. My exercise program (or lack thereof). And my writing.

As I have bumbled along my writing journey, I have stopped from time to time to consider who I am as a writer. What is my voice? My passion? My purpose? What can I add to this noisy world that is worth saying? Continue reading

Why Is It So Hard to Say Goodbye?

departures sign

Yesterday I felt like crying.

Because yesterday I said goodbye to both sons. One left bright and early, heading for the airport. The other left an hour later to drive across the state.

The house felt empty without them. I felt empty without them. Bereft. No longer whole.

You’d think by now I would be used to seeing them go. Continue reading

What Happened to Mary?

maryless nativity

Nativity sets come in all shapes, sizes and colors.  Mine is made of hand-carved olive wood from Israel. When people look at it, they often comment on how unusual it is, or how the simple, rugged wooden pieces suit our family.

Then they do a double-take. They move closer and tilt their head, a puzzled look on their faces.

“Um, is there a piece missing?”

What do you think?

nativity zoom

You can see the baby in the manger, sheep and cattle, bearded shepherds, and even turbaned Magi bearing gifts. But something, or rather someone, is definitely missing.


Why do I continue to use a nativity scene that is missing the all-important figure of Mary? Here’s my explanation:

In defense of a Mary-less nativity scene.

Think back to all the photos you have seen of parents with a newborn baby. What do you see? A beaming father, a blanket-wrapped bundle with a wrinkly newborn face peeping out, and a weary-but-smiling mother.

Where is the mother in these photos? She is lying down, usually still wearing a hospital gown and bundled under blankets.

Because birthing a baby is hard, painful work and the mother is exhausted.

Now imagine giving birth after traveling cross country for several days, wandering through a strange town trying to find a place to stay, and finally ending up in a stable, which was probably filled with other latecomers who couldn’t find a bed anywhere else. Add in the fact that the mother-to-be did not bring any female relatives to coach her through her first birth. Consider also that the stable would be somewhat lacking in privacy.

So, where is Mary?

She is off in the corner, trying to get some much-needed sleep. She is physically and emotionally drained.  She has neither the energy nor the inclination to kneel on dirty straw. She needs time to regain her strength so she can care for that little swaddled bundle who will shortly be wailing because he is hungry or needs a diaper change.

She is still in awe of what has occurred. Of course she is. But she’ll have plenty of time to study that tiny Word-become-flesh in the days to come. Plenty of time to ponder in her heart all that has transpired.

Right now, though, she’s too tired to do anything but sleep.

I think she deserves the rest.

Don’t you?