Archives for January 2008

Beautiful Support

I know this is going to sound odd to some people, but I see a unique beauty in the naked trees of winter. Many would describe them with words like stark, drab, or depressing. I, on the other hand, think they have a beauty all their own when winter strips them of their leafy glory.

Don’t get me wrong. I love the leafy glory of trees as much as the next gal. Watching trees bud out and turn green in the spring holds a special excitement for everyone I think. Summer then brings lush, full trees to pleasantly fill our landscapes before autumn arrives and sets them ablaze with color. I delight in each of these seasons and the changes they bring to trees.

I just happen to think trees are beautiful in winter as well. Some might think it’s like looking at skeletons or something, but I see what looks like arms and fingers reaching for and pointing to God. I love looking out and seeing the intricacies of the branches. Winter allows us a view of the support system of the leaf laden trees we enjoy the rest of the year. Without the drab looking branches, there could be no beautiful leaves.

When I see winter trees I’m reminded of other support systems in our lives. Just think about our bodies and all that’s working together beneath the surface to keep us up and running. The same can be said for just about every company, group, or organization you can think of.

Consider the church. Many programs and people are highly visible, but there are just as many or more that are serving behind the scenes. And it’s the behind-the-scene-type activity that makes it possible for the more visible ministries to take place. Everyone needs to do their part to keep things running smoothly — and more than that, to enable growth.

What role are you filling in your church (or life in general)? Are you a part of the highly visible, leafy-glory category, or is your role a part of the vital support system that’s needed? Maybe a little of both? Just keep in mind that neither is better. Both are needed and valued. “Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.” (1 Peter 4:10)

Now go out and take another look at the winter trees. Beautiful, huh?

*Flickr photo by Oakley Originals, Creative Commons License

Deep Cleaning

Have you ever put off going to the dentist? Who hasn’t! Don finally went in last week after a several year absence. Blame it on not having dental insurance, being too busy, or just not thinking of it at an appropriate time. Now he’s wishing he’d gone in like he should have. By the way, I have his permission to share this with you :)

So what’s the result of a “vacation” from dental care? More visits back to the dentist unfortunately. He has two cavities and needs periodontal scaling and root planing done (technical jargon for a deep cleaning procedure). The way I understand it, when you don’t have your teeth cleaned regularly, tartar and “debris” (yuck!) build up and push down between your gums and teeth. Eventually you’ll either need this deep-cleaning procedure done or face the prospect of periodontal disease. Translation? Your teeth could fall out!

So now Don has three more appointments on the calendar. He decided he wants to keep his teeth :) Since he basically has had healthy strong teeth throughout his life, it’s been a long time since he’s had to endure anything more uncomfortable than a routine cleaning. What’s in store for him now certainly won’t be fun — but don’t tell him that!

You know what else can build up and cause us problems if we don’t take care of it as we should? There are probably many answers to that question, but the one that springs to my mind is sin. Yep. Sin. If we fail to deal with sin, soon one has a way of leading to another and then to another, etc. Or we might even harden our hearts to the voice of God so we don’t have to root out the sin that He’s trying to speak to us about. Before we know it, we are avoiding Him and trying to do things our own way. And we all know what a mess that can lead to.

The Bible tells us that “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9 KJV) Problem is, sometimes we just don’t come to Him for that cleansing. By the time we are finally ready to turn from our sin and ask for the forgiveness He offers so freely — and is so freeing — a deep cleaning, just like at the dentist, is needed. And this deep cleaning will probably not be much fun either.

It can be hard to fess up, there can be consequences, and sometimes wrongs need to be made right. Remember, “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” (Hebrews 12:11).

My advice? Don’t let things build up — whether it’s plaque on your teeth or sin in your life. It’s so much easier to deal with things early on. By the way, it’s been almost 16 months since I’ve been to the dentist to get my teeth cleaned. I now have an appointment at the end of the month. Who do you need an appointment with? God’s calendar is wide open.

Truffle Anyone?

Since my last post dealt with the somewhat weighty issue of goals, how about a change of pace? I think a little lighter fare is in order today. Let’s talk chocolate. Keep in mind, though, if you indulge too much, it will quickly become a weighty issue as well :)

I admit it. I have a sweet tooth. And that sweet tooth absolutely loves chocolate. Since watching my blood sugar has become a bit of an issue the past couple of years, you can imagine how that lifestyle change has cramped my style. Lucky for me, though, dark chocolate has been proven to be good for our health, and even peanut M & Ms, Snickers, and low-fat ice cream (in small amounts) are acceptable on the gylcemic index. You better believe these little treats help me make it through the day.

No one knows my chocolate weaknesses better than my family and close friends. Since I like to “celebrate” when I’m with them, I would say there are even times they have seen me pretty much obsessed with working some chocolate into the day’s events :)

During a holiday shopping outing with my friend Teri during mid-December, I got to thinking about chocolate truffles. Not just any truffles, but the ones with chocolate filling as well. We then, of course, had to start looking for them. We finally found some in Dillard’s, and they were even dark chocolate. (Okay, they probably weren’t 70% cacao, but still…) We stood and talked about buying those truffles for probably 10 minutes. Neither of us needed to eat a whole box of truffles, though, so we even considered buying a box and splitting it. End result? We couldn’t bring ourselves to let loose and do it. Instead we headed back to Godiva (yes, back — we had already been there, of course), and Teri bought us a couple of singles. We really live on the edge, huh? :)

Now if you think that’s the end of the story, you don’t know me very well. I couldn’t get that box of truffles out of my mind. So…when Don and I went back to T-town after Christmas to shop the after-holiday sales, you can be sure we weren’t leaving town until I checked to see if Dillard’s still had those truffles. I figured they’d be on sale after Christmas, and who could pass them up then?

We had lots of stops to make (as usual), traffic was crazy, and we had tickets to a late-afternoon show. We had only a short amount of time to spend at the mall, but I was determined to make it to Dillard’s to track down those truffles. With the clock ticking and my thirst for truffles propelling me forward, I led Don in practically a dead-run. At one point, he asked “Why can’t we just walk leisurely like the rest of these folks?” He obviously didn’t understand the importance of my mission that day.

I knew exactly where to go when we reached the store. On my first run-through of the Christmas goodies on sale, I didn’t see them. I kicked myself and moaned to Don about how I missed out because I wouldn’t get them when I saw them a few weeks earlier. But then there they were, just over on another table. I gasped and grabbed them in sweet relief. The truffles were mine at last :)

Know what was even sweeter than eating that first truffle when we got home? Taking them to Dennis & Teri’s on New Year’s Eve like some kind of conquering hero :) She was equally as excited as I was, and we even took pictures. Yes, we were slightly crazy that night so you won’t be seeing those photos :)

Bottom line? I’ve been thoroughly enjoying my truffles — one a day, a bite here and a bite there. Sometimes you’ve just gotta let loose and live. I love it that the Word of God says that God “richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.” (1 Timothy 6:17b) He must have known how much I would love chocolate. How about you? What little thing do you delight in? Go ahead, indulge a little — and enjoy!

*My photo

Got Goals?

I hope 2008 is off to a great start for you. Have you had enough time yet to break that New Year’s resolution? :) I’ve never really gotten into that whole resolution thing, but I do think setting goals helps bring about positive changes and accomplishments. Resolutions seem so “all or nothing” and more or less set you up for a certain fall whereas goals are simply something you are working towards.

Last summer a speaker at one of our Fellowship of Christian Writers meetings challenged us to make goals, get them down on paper, and review them regularly. I took her up on the challenge, and it has been so beneficial for me. This blog, in fact, is the fulfillment of one of my goals. There’s just something about making a desire “official” by calling it a goal and actually writing it down that has a way of spurring you on to work towards its accomplishment.

Let me challenge you, while the year is still fresh, to formulate some goals of your own. Be sure to write them down and review them often. Your goals may be work related or purely personal or even a combination of both.

Author Mary DeMuth ( ) shared some helpful insight on setting goals with those of us in The Christian Writers View2 online community recently. With her permission, I would like to share her post with you. I hope you find it helpful as you work on setting your own goals for this year. You can make them SMART ones with a little thought. Mary’s post is written with writers in mind, but the principles can be applied by anyone. Her post is as follows:






When setting writing goals for 2008, here’s a nifty acronym to help you. (I’m sure many of you have heard of this. For more specific information you can click here: )

1. Be sure the goal is specific. “Write a book” is unspecific. “Finish my nonfiction book about office politics” is specific.
2. Be sure it can be measured. “Write queries that sell” cannot be measured. “Write five queries a week” can be measured. You can cross that off a list.
3. Be sure it can be attainable. “Write the Great American novel” is probably not attainable if you’ve just started this journey. “Write a spotlight piece for my local newspaper” is more attainable.
4. Be sure your goal is realistic. “Write an article a week that sells for big bucks” is not realistic. Consider what you sold last year, then up the ante a little.
5. Be sure your goal is timely. Be sure you put a time frame on your goal. “Write my novel by June 2008” is timely. “Write a novel” is not. — Mary DeMuth

Back to me now — helpful thoughts, huh? Another helpful thought can be found in God’s Word. “Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal…” (Philippians 3:14b). Yes, reaching a goal usually involves some straining and pressing on, but the victory is surely sweet. I would love to hear about some of your goals so feel free to comment away!

*Flickr photo by Eleaf, Creative Commons License