Archives for October 2007

Pecan Picking

This weekend Don and I ended up participating in an old-time autumn activity that has spanned several generations in my family. My sisters, Janice and Carolyn, and their families met us over at Mom and Dad’s for a little weekend visit (wish Debbie could have been there, but she lives too far away). Since Mom and Dad live in the Ozarks, I had been counting on seeing the hills in all their autumn glory, but the leaves are behind schedule over there, too. We still managed to experience fall, though — Carolyn arrived with several pounds of pecans.

Pecan picking goes way back in our family. My Grandpa and Grandma Hoy had several pecan trees on their farm, and I still have vivid memories of pecan-picking days. I’ll never forget Grandpa climbing the trees and inching his way out onto the branches to knock the pecans off with a stomp of his boots. I’ll also never forget Grandma and Dad hollering at him trying to get him to come down :) As I got into my teen years, picking up pecans, of course, lost its allure. It just seemed like one more way of Mom and Dad torturing us. Not only did we have to help pick the pecans up, we had to help pick out the nuts once Dad got them cracked. Double torture.

Over the years, Carolyn has been the most active in keeping the pecan picking tradition alive. Believe it or not, they have pecan trees in her city, and she has a way of finding them. So thanks to Carolyn, our weekend took on a nutty flavor :) A perfect nip in the air provided just the right background for cracking the nuts outside. As you can imagine, several of us got involved in that process before it was all said and done. Crackers came and crackers went. I’m not sure who actually finished the chore.

During supper someone suggested picking out the nuts after we ate. I groaned — not as loudly as when I was a teenager, but still it was a groan. When the time came, however, I joined in as the Hoy women gathered around the kitchen table, each with our own newspaper “placemat” for shelling the nuts. Before I knew it, the project turned into fun. It wasn’t the torture I remembered from my teenage years. We chatted, ate pecan pieces (the flawed ones of course) laughed, and then laughed some more when Don joined us and started telling jokes. Not only did we create another family memory, but we each ended up with a bag of pecans to take home. Thanks, Carolyn!

You know, it took a lot of effort to get those pecan meats. After picking up the pecans and then cracking them, the nuts had to be picked out of the shells. Some came out easily while other pieces had to be dug out. But we would never enjoy them or benefit from them if they had just been left lying on the ground, never shelled.

It actually reminds me of the Word of God. If we leave it lying on a shelf or even on our bedside table but never open it, how will it ever benefit us? Like a pecan, we need to pick it up, open it, and enjoy what’s inside. We need to read the Word on our own, but it’s also good to study the Word in a group, working together like we did on the pecans. Sometimes we might see the truths inside very quickly and easily while other times we may have to really dig for further insight. Like pecans, the Word is filled with precious food, food worth the effort. “How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” (Psalm 119:103 NIV). Don’t let the Word of God be a treasure you miss out on. Open it, enjoy it, feed on it. Be blessed.


Ah, the life of a writer. No sooner had I shared with you last week about the success I was currently enjoying than rejection came calling once again. The bad news arrived on my doorstep in the same way the good news had arrived a few days earlier.

If you are a writer, checking the mail can throw you some curve balls real fast. I’m trying to train myself not to groan every time I see a letter from a publisher. If I relied strictly on percentages, I do have reason to groan, but that doesn’t show much faith in what God can do. And He has done some wonderful things for me.

God has allowed my work to be used in many different ways over the years, and I’m thankful for each and every one. I’m also thankful for a husband who supports me in my writing endeavors. Any success I have enjoyed or any life that has been touched because of something I have written has only been possible because Don has allowed me the freedom to pursue writing, the job I feel God has called me to do.

Now I don’t want to sound like I’m like some caged animal that he lets out every now and then to sit at the computer — though I do growl from time to time :) I’m simply saying that he has not pushed me or pressured me to go out and get what some might call a “real” job that contributes some real income to our finances. He has instead supported me in my writing ventures (though let me get real here — there have been moments I haven’t felt his complete support. He has let remarks slip from time to time when he is stressed or overworked, but we all do things like that. In general, he has been very supportive).

I see myself as a part-time homemaker, part-time writer. Writing is my work, but it is a ministry as well. Even though Don doesn’t help me in the actual writing process, I feel like he is a partner in my writing efforts. If he wanted me to work another job, the writing probably wouldn’t get done. So, if you have ever been touched or blessed by words I have written, Don has had a part in that. He has helped make the blessing possible. We are a team.

“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work” Ecclesiastes 4:9 NIV

**Note: I have set up a statcounter for this blog (potential publishers are interested in knowing stats on a writer’s site from what I understand). If you are reading directly from your Google Reader, it would help build my stats if you would click on the link that brings you to my site. I know there may be times it would be inconvenient — that’s okay. Just do it as you can, and I will appreciate it. You don’t want to miss the new Words To Live By and Think On This each week anyway :) I’ve also just added a section called Books That Will Bless. Enjoy!

Comforting Candlelight

Autumn has been dragging its heels in coming to our corner of the Midwest. Usually by this time in October the leaves have transformed our communities and countryside into a brilliant display of red, gold, and orange. This year we’re still waiting. Above normal temperatures have certainly played havoc with our thirst for fall. It hasn’t even been cool enough yet for me to make my first pot of chili.

On Monday this past week, however, it was dark and rainy and actually stayed cool all day. I decided to celebrate and light a couple of candles — another fall treat that has been delayed by the warm temps. First I lit the tealight candle in my little jack-o-lantern in the dining room and then hurried with excitement to place a pumpkin-scented candle in the perfect spot in the living room. I felt very pleased with myself as I placed it in front of our 25th anniversary Precious Moments figurine and watched it illuminate not only the figurine but some favorite family photos on either side. Talk about pure contentment.

Candles are amazing. Just like colorful fall leaves, they too can transform our surroundings. When they have been lit, they add such beauty to every room they grace. The warm glow they create attracts us. The flame draws us in and holds our eyes as long as we’ll allow ourselves to linger. Candles give soft light to their surroundings, helping us slow down and see things in a different way, from a calmer and more peaceful perspective. Their fragrance welcomes us and comforts us with contentment. They provide warmth for those who will come close enough to experience it. Candlelight is a wonder really. It has the power to change not only our surroundings but our attitudes as well.

Do you know people who display the characteristics of candles? Some who just seem to add beauty, light, warmth, and peace wherever they go? We find ourselves naturally attracted to them, don’t we? We find comfort in their welcoming presence and feel encouraged as we go on our way. They bring positive change to the lives they touch. Are you a person like that?

The greatest Light in our world, of course, is Jesus. He is the One who perfectly embodies these characteristics. And as His followers, people should see Him in us — they should be attracted to the Jesus in us. How is this possible? By the power of God. “But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him.” 2 Corinthians 2:14 NIV

*Note: If you’d like to know when I’ve posted something new, add Google Reader to your Google homepage. It alerts you to new posts on sites you like to visit. Go to .

One of the Joys

One of the joys of writing arrived on my doorstep yesterday — literally. When I checked the mail, there I found a big brown padded envelope from Tyndale House Publishers. Inside was my complimentary copy of The One Year Life Verse Devotional. Why the complimentary copy? I am on page 71! That’s right, a devotion I wrote was selected to be in this exciting new devotional book. Well, it’s exciting to me — I am March 12th!

So here’s the scoop. Last year about this time, my writer friend Jeneal alerted me to the opportunity to submit to the One Year Life Verse project. I took a shot, submitted a scripture and devotion, and then waited. (Waiting comes with the writing territory.) I had almost forgotten about it, but then in April the good news arrived in my inbox. And now six months later, the actual book arrived in my mailbox! Like I said, one of the joys of writing — seeing your work on the printed page. (Thank You, Lord, for each time that happens!)

By the way, the book’s subtitle reads “365 Stories of remarkable people and the Scripture that changed their lives”. Believe me, I am the first to laugh at the word “remarkable” linked to me in any way (so don’t feel bad if you’re laughing right now!). I may not quite fit into that category, but I have certainly had scriptures change my life. I am just lucky they included some stories from ordinary people as well as some from those who are famous. What a privilege to share just one of the instances when scripture has so deeply impacted me.

That privilege — the chance to touch someone else’s life — is probably the greatest joy of writing. My story in this book tells about a time that God comforted me in a very tender way. I can’t help but think of the first few verses in 2 Corinthians that explain how God comforts us in our trouble so that we can then comfort others with the comfort He has given us.

I am blown away every time I think about how God might comfort someone else through what I have written. Just as He gave me the comfort so many years ago and then gave me the words to write about it last year, I pray that He will comfort and encourage many on March 12th as they read the words of a very ordinary woman touched by an extraordinary God.

Thanks for letting me share my joy with you!

Copy Cats

Remember the post, End of an Era, about us retiring our dining set and how our girls resist change to their childhood home? Well, I must be on a roll because I’m about to make another change. This time I’ve got my sights set on what used to be Kristin’s bedroom. New bedding and curtains are in order.

Some may think I am treading on dangerous ground to start messing with my oldest daughter’s “shrine”, but I actually have her blessing. The reason? The full-size comforter she once chose for her room is now stretched across a queen size bed my parents gave us a few years ago. It didn’t bother her when she slept in the bed alone, but now that she has a husband trying to lay claim to a bit of the comforter, too, she has decided that we need something that can keep both of them warm this winter :)

The search for this new appropriate-sized bedding has been rather frustrating, though. The colors and trends in fashion right now just don’t match what I have in mind. For years I’ve noticed the same thing happening in the world of women’s clothing as well. During any given season, three or four colors seem to dominate in every store. The same rings true for styles. This copy cat tendency transcends the world of fashion, however. Just look at tv shows. Every network pumps out their version of the hottest game show, reality show, or talent search. I’m sure you can think of examples of your own, even in different aspects of our lives. Basically, we live in a copy cat world, and if we’re not careful, we can become copy cats ourselves.

A better way beckons us to follow, though. Think of the natural world — the world God created for us. The complexity and variety in all of nature point to a Creator who is anything but a copy cat. What joy can be found in reveling in His world. And don’t forget, we are His creation, too. Scripture tells us that “we are God’s workmanship” (Ephesians 2:10) and that He knit us together in our mothers’ wombs (Psalm 139:13). Celebrate that fact today and enjoy being the person He created you to be. No copy cats allowed.