Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Monday, June 29, 2009
One of my favorite worship songs is Blessed Be Your Name by Matt Redman:
Blessed Be Your NameThere is more but those are the first verses. This song helped carry me through a time of intense grief and helped me focus on the blessed name of the Lord, even in the desert place.
In the land that is plentiful
Where Your streams of abundance flow
Blessed be Your name
Blessed Be Your name
When I'm found in the desert place
Though I walk through the wilderness
Blessed Be Your name
Every blessing You pour out
I'll turn back to praise
When the darkness closes in, Lord
Still I will say
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your glorious name
This morning, I was reading in Acts 16 and came across this verse:
16:14 A woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple fabrics, a worshiper of God, was listening; and the Lord opened her heart to respond to the things spoken by Paul.In the margin, I've written: If we worship God and listen, He will open our hearts to respond.
It's so true. When I live in a state of worship of God Almighty and pay attention to what He says to me, He will open my heart in so many ways. I want my life to be like a love song to Him. I can think of no better way to live.
Friday, June 26, 2009
Today's the day that I type THE END on my manuscript. Finishing a project always feels good when I know I've done everything the way I was supposed to--given it my all--trusted God's direction. Finishing a book, a day of work, a race--it leaves us with a sense of achievement and completion. Finishing our time on earth should give us the same sense of accomplishment.
Several big name people died this week, along with a great many whose names were not so recognizable. As I saw the television flashing information about some of these folks, I couldn't help but wonder if they completed their life in the way they'd hoped. Had they trusted the Lord? Would they be remembered for things that would last? Would they stand before God and hear, "Well done," or would they spend eternity in regret.
None of us know how much time we have here on earth, so we need to make it count.
The end of a matter is better than its beginning...
I know that when my life ends here on earth, I'll be in the presence of the Lord and the end really will be better than the beginning. I pray the same happy ending for you.
Thursday, June 25, 2009
While we've visited and worked and laughed together, I've thought of the Proverb (17:22) that says, "A merry heart doeth good like a medicine." Moving is a stressful deal. Especially with my husband gone, leaving me to handle all of the details myself, but having my friends here to laugh with has definitely been what the doctor ordered.
I truly hope you have friends who are there when you need them. I certainly appreciate these wonderful ladies who came from afar to lend a helping hand...and minister to my heart with lots and lots of laughter!
May God bless you muchly as you journey with Him! ~Kim
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Unfortunately, the rain persisted and a great deal of the festival was in the city park. Fortunately, a portion of the activities were inside Bethany Lutheran Church. We tried some of both. Although we got wet, our time in the park was lots of fun. The organ grinder was a wonderful gentleman. He told us he’d purchased his organ in the Black Forest of Germany and it had been handmade back in 1874. Both he and his ‘monkey’ were inside a small pavilion, and he was pleased to give us a short serenade.
We also made a stop at the basket weaving tent where Janice Tubbs who works in the Art Department at Bethany College was making and displaying her beautiful baskets. If you’re interested in a gorgeous basket, I can furnish you with her email and phone number. I also snapped a picture of these darling Christmas reindeer. I had hoped for instruction in making the decorations, but I guess no one wants to sit in the rain to make a reindeer—snow maybe, but no rain when making reindeer. In the shelter house locals were giving instructions on the preparation of Swedish food—everything from Swedish coffee roasting to preparing Svenska pannkakor (Swedish pancakes).
At the church we listened to Swedish folk music performed by a talented woodwind trio, and we also enjoyed Swedish dances performed by the Lindsborg Swedish Folk Dancers. Afterward, we enjoyed a style show of Swedish folk dress—each outfit unique and beautiful. The various regions of Sweden are represented by different colors and styles of folk dress, so it was fun to see a sampling of most areas.
I’d like to tell you we stayed for the raising of the Maypole that was to take place at seven o’clock, but we were both soaked. Instead of a picture of the Maypole, I hope you’ll settle for a picture of my husband and me in wooden ‘Swedish costume.’ Might have looked just a little better if we had turned to look at one another.
I wasn’t disappointed when the only lutfisk we spotted were beanbags being tossed into a large wooden Viking’s mouth in the children’s section. I wasn’t interested in trying fish where lye is part of the preparation process. My apologies in advance to any Swedish readers who like lutfisk, but it just doesn’t appeal to me.
Instead of lutfisk or fudge, my husband came home with a Swedish tea ring and I came home with a jar of lingonberry jam. We also came home with a deeper appreciation of the Swedes who settled in Kansas and the heritage they share with all who visit their community.
On the way home, I was reminded of the fact that although each of us has our own ethnic background and heritage to celebrate, as Christians we have an even greater heritage. As the adopted children of God through Christ, we have a unified heritage. What a joy when all of us can one day celebrate that heritage with Him!!
May you always find joy in the heritage our Lord has given you. ~Judy
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Monday, June 22, 2009
Times have changed. The Internet has made communication easier. And not just when it comes to contacting an author via email versus snail mail. With blogs, review sites, on-line booksellers like ChristianBook.com and Amazon.com, Facebook, and a host of other sources, people can express their opinions freely to the world at large about the books they read.
One thing that is always true is that a book that one reader loves another will react to differently, perhaps with a ho-hum sentiment, perhaps with complete disdain. Reading is subjective. People bring with them a whole set of experiences and emotions that can make them read different things into a story, things the author didn't mean or intend.
When my novel Firstborn was first released, I received a wonderful letter from a woman who had been adopted as a baby and who had, as a young adult, reconnected with her birth mother. She said that Firstborn had captured the emotions of the women in the triad (daughter, adoptive mother, and birth mother) exactly right. She loved the book and was going to recommend it to everyone. Recently, I received an email about Firstborn from another young woman. She'd hated the characters and was angered by the story. Her parents had adopted two children, and they'd never gone through anything like what had been in my novel. It was obvious from her comments that she brought a completely different experience into reading Firstborn than the former woman I mentioned; I think it's safe to say the latter reader won't want to read anymore of my books.
"I could not put this book down, which unfortunately meant it is scarred from being carried around to the pool, work, doctor's appointments—wherever! But I would still share it with anyone because I just loved it. The story was captivating and the ending just made me smile."
But someone else (also a blog review) had this reaction:
"I felt the characters were flat and underdeveloped, the story line too entirely predictable, and some of the situations forced upon the characters by the author. This is not Hatcher's best book."
Why was When Love Blooms a great, "unputdownable" read for one person and a mediocre read for another? There is just no answering that question beyond what I said above—reading is subjective. I have a couple of books on my Kindle that others (many others) have raved and raved and raved about, but so far I haven't been able to get into them. They just don't float my boat. Why? Reading is subjective. Plain and simple.
I'm busy writing another book. (The deadline approaches much too quickly.) I hope it will be good. I hope it will entertain and amuse and move readers. At least I'm trying my best to make sure that's the final result. Who knows? Maybe one day I'll write a novel that will please everybody. LOL! I'm not holding my breath.
Whatever novel you're reading right now, I hope you're loving it.
Friday, June 19, 2009
Juneteenth is the day that African Americans in Texas celebrate liberty from slavery. Just a little history lesson - Lincoln issued the Emanicipation Proclamation in 1863, but that didn't automatically free anyone. As the Union troops moved through areas where slaves were kept, the freedom began to trickle down. When Reconstruction in Texas began in June 1865, General Gordon Granger was responsible for paroling Confederate soldiers and putting aside slavery once and for all. He declared on June 19th, that "all slaves are free" - further advising freedmen "to remain quietly at their present homes and work for wages."
I'd like to tell you that everyone lived happily-ever-after, but of course we know that's not the way life works. Most slaves were unable to leave their former masters and instead, continued to work for them and receive a very small amount of pay. One was quoted as saying, "freedom could make folks proud, but it didn't make them rich."
The years that followed were tumultuous and often deadly. Still, how precious that freedom.
I think of the freedom we enjoy in this country. Freedom to speak and worship. Freedom to live and make choices important to us. I think of the freedom we have in Christ. Freedom from sin and death--from the chains Satan would put upon us.
Freedom always comes at a dear price. I'm blessed to enjoy freedom both physical and spiritual, and today I will remember the sacrifices made on my behalf, as well as the behalf of others.
Thursday, June 18, 2009
And since it's 2009, that means I've been out of school for thirty years. THIRTY YEARS. *gulp* (Feeling another wrinkle coming on...)
The pic to the left is my high school graduation picture. I can't believe all that hair! I slept in rollers to get that look, I'll have you know. My hair was VERY wavy and uncontrolled, and sleeping on lumpy rollers was the only way I could corral it. (What I wouldn't give to have about half of it back! Time has definitely taken its toll on my head...)
Seriously, though, how does time slip by so quickly? I remember when I was a kid, summer stretched for forever. A school year was an eternity. Now I blink and a week is gone. Poof!--there goes a year. My mom used to say, "The older I get, the faster time flies," and I always thought it was silly. A year is a year is a year--one isn't faster than another. But I'm starting to understand what she was saying. The older I get, the more fleeting time becomes.
I recently joined Facebook and have delighted in locating former classmates. Even though I didn't graduate from Greensburg High School (I attended 9th grade there), the "kids" from Greensburg invited me to their 30-year class reunion. Such fun to go and reconnect!
To the right is a handful of the classmates, with me on the end. It's so funny. I haven't seen these kids since 1976, but the minute I met up with them again, my memory floodbanks opened.
Going from left to right:
Teresa Price...my junior high best friend. We sure did a lot of giggling.
Gary Scronce...he beat me out in the 8th grade county wide spelling bee. (I blinked out on "fluency," of all things.)
Marsha Snowbarger...my freshman debate partner, bless her heart (I was a very nervous debater). I remember practicing at her house but doing more chatting and popcorn munching than actual work...
Brenda Schmidt...spent a lot of time at the swimming pool in the summer with her. She was (and still is!) a lot cuter in a bikini than I could be.
Larry Fulbright...attended youth group at church together. He was also my first "boyfriend," but we were so innocent, I think we may have held hands twice.
Shelly Goodheart...went to the Kansas State Fair with her my 7th grade year and spent all my money winning an ugly little stuffed dog, so her parents bought my supper. (Thanks, Mr. and Mrs. Goodheart!)
Terra Morehead...my partner in improvised duet acting my freshman year. Whatever topic we drew, we worked it around the characters of two hillbilly children. Nutty but fun.
Scott Reinecke...I always enjoyed chatting with Scott because he, like me, was artistic. (My dad still has one of the poems Scott wrote; he and his wife now own a stained glass art studio in Greensburg.)
Isn't it interesting that I could retrieve very specific memories of each of these people from more than 30 years ago, but I can't recall where I left my car keys this morning? I'll never understand the way a brain works...
Looking back over the years since high school, there's much of life that has turned out the way I dreamed (I always wanted to be a writer) and much of life that went differently than I envisioned. But in retrospect, and I wouldn't change any of it. Not even the tough stuff. 'Cause I'm a firm believer that God isn't wasteful--He uses every life experience for our good and His glory when we put Him in the center of our lives.
Recently I've started reading favorite passages of scripture in various translations, and this particular verse from The Message brought me to tears: "God rewrote the text of my life when I opened the book of my heart to His eyes (Ps. 18:24)." I might not be able to remember where I left my keys, but I do remember--and treasure!--the times God rewrote the text of my life. He guided me gently into His will and has blessed me beyond the scope of my childish imaginings.
Hm, maybe it's not so bad to get older after all. The older I get, the more evidence of God's editing I see in my life. Kind of makes me excited about what the next 30 years will bring...
God bless you muchly as you journey with Him! ~Kim
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
When we headed for Cottonwood Falls, we didn’t know the Flint Hills Folklife Festival would be in full swing. What a wonderful bonus for folks who love history. After our visit with Deb, we joined the festivities that were set up outside the Chase County Courthouse—the oldest courthouse west of the Mississippi that has remained in continuous use. You have to admit, it’s a stately and beautiful edifice. Built in 1881, the courthouse was constructed with Chase County limestone.
After a tour of the courthouse, we returned outdoors to visit with the craftsmen who were weaving, throwing clay pots, spinning, creating banjos out of gourds, making brooms, and playing lots of old-time, toe-tapping music. Homemade root beer and kettle corn added to the atmosphere. And the costuming was fun, too—you’ll see Abe Lincoln joined the musicians for a jam session during the early afternoon.
Roy McClure and my husband had fun talking about the process of making gourds into some unique banjos that produce wonderful music. Only caveat: you still have to know how to play the banjo before it produces that great sound. Believe me, I learned that from a little first-hand experience. That’s Roy doing the pickin’ and my husband doing the grinnin’.
I could hardly believe my eyes when we walked into the local western wear store and I saw Jim Bell standing there. Who would have thought the Christian author and occasional lawyer from Los Angeles, California, would be in Cottonwood Falls, Kansas, with his name on a ball cap? He didn’t have anything to say which is unusual for Jim, so I decided he was just too stuffed to talk. However, I did insist upon a snapshot so everyone would know he’d been in town.
After a late lunch, we took a gander at the cottonwood trees and the falls (they’re not going to give Niagara Falls much competition) that give Cottonwood Falls its name. We also took time to visit the museum, an art gallery, a pottery shop, and my husband’s favorite, the fudge shop.
We stopped to tell Deb goodbye, and she mentioned we should visit the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve if we’d never before been there. We hadn’t. Maybe I’ll tell you about that next week.
May you enjoy a fun-filled week exploring the many wonders God has given us. ~Judy
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Friday, June 12, 2009
Stephen Arterburn is an incredible man with a heart for healing and encouragement. He put together Women of Faith and New Life Ministries just to name a couple of things. He loves God and his focus on healing, forgiving and surrender was amazing.
One thing really impacted me. He said:
Whatever you bury - you bury alive - and you have to feed it.
Wow. That really hit me. When I think of the painful things I've buried and fed over the years I can truly start to see the damage it's done. I think sometimes we convince ourselves that burying the pain, sorrow and frustration is the best thing we can do. We wrap ourselves up in that old adage "forgive and forget", but Steve said no. We definitely forgive, but forgetting and not learning from the mistakes or situation just makes us foolish. I found great liberty in that statement. After years of Satan standing as an accuser whispering in my ear, "Hey you're remembering so that means you didn't really forgive," I'm glad to know otherwise. I was steeped in thoughts that because "God remembers our sins no more for his own sake" that I needed to do likewise to emulate God.
But, I'm not God. (Okay I hear the snickering out there.) But don't we often beat ourselves up and let Satan wound us over and over by making us believe that we've failed to live up to what we're supposed to be?
I want to encourage you today to heal - to unbury those things you've become slave to - to let God start you on a new journey.
PS: My daughter Jen and I also brought home influenza from Denver and would appreciate your prayers.
Thursday, June 11, 2009
Those particular verses have nibbled at the edges of my mind over the past months as hubby and I have shopped for a new home. Way back in January, we thought we'd found our dream home—a beautiful 8-bedroom Victorian that had gone into foreclosure. After a four-month yo-yo ride with the mortgage company, even though we loved the house, we grew seasick and began looking elsewhere.
In early May we discovered an "English cottage" built during the Depression, set on six beautiful acres that included ponds and a mini forest. Gorgeous! And so unique. It even had a barn that could be hubby's workshop. It had been sitting empty for months with no activity. Certain we'd found our replacement for the Victorian, we made a bid...and the very same day, so did another couple. Their bid exceeded ours, so once again we lost a house we both really liked.
You have to understand...finding a house we BOTH really like is not easy. We each seek different features that are important to us. And the ones he seek tend to be contradictory to mine. (Have you ever heard the adage "opposites attract"? Sometimes I think it was based on Don and me!) Consequently, after getting struck down twice, I really wasn't up to searching again.
I thought about those verses from Philippians. Had we lost out on these houses because God wanted me to just stay put? Our current house is nice—it lacks many of the features I considered part of the "perfect" house (and possesses most of Don's), but it's nice. Maybe instead of wanting more, I was just supposed to be content with a house I considered "little" rather than "much." Did a lot of praying about it, too. Finally decided no more active seeking. I'd wait for a house to come to me...and if one didn't come, I'd just be content.
The last Sunday in May, after church, hubby said something he never says: "Let's go walk through a few open houses." After I picked myself up off the floor, I searched the paper and found four that looked interesting. One was only a few blocks from where we're living now so we hit it first. Don immediately headed for the backyard, where the ad promised a pool, and I climbed the stairs to check out the second floor. As I rounded the bend on the staircase, I burst out laughing and muttered, "Somebody saw me comin'..." The bathroom at the head of the landing was done in shades of purple. My favorite color. The bedroom adjoining that bathroom matched in decor. Perfect.
I stepped into the master bedroom and chuckled again. More purple! A deep rich eggplant and dusty sage—a beautiful combination. A third bedroom also waited upstairs, again with its own private bath. My heart skipped a beat: each bedroom with a private bath. Definitely one of MY features. I headed back to the main floor and couldn't find Don, so I meandered around on my own and began tallying up the positive points of the house: Living room with French doors leading onto a spindled, screened-in porch; a family room with a fireplace; a formal dining room; a HUGE utility room and spacious kitchen with lots of cabinet and counter space and a large pantry...
Don wandered in from outside with a big smile. "It sits on a double lot! And not only is there a swimming pool, there's a hottub out there." Together we investigated the basement where a beautiful snack bar (more seating for guests!) separated two large recreation areas. A fourth bedroom with a private bath and a nice-sized storage room completed the basement.
"Well," I said, "this was fun. Want to go check out the others?" So we did. And after looking at the last one on our list, Don suggested returning to the first one again. I wanted to know why. He said, "I liked it. I want to see it again." I stated all the negatives: No shop, no acreage for him; no open winding staircase, Victorian gingerbread, or attic for me. We decided we wanted to go back anyway. We had twenty minutes before the open house would end, so we hurried over. And by the time we'd walked through it a second time, we had both decided we wanted to make an offer.
Now remember, we'd made offers before. Twice. And both times we got shot down. I jokingly said, "Well, third time could be a charm...or it could be three strikes and we're out." But we called our agent, made a bid, and the next day the owners countered with an amount we were willing to meet. We said, "Yes."
So...in less than a month, we'll be moving in to our new home. There's space for the grandkids to play inside and out, and guestrooms (not 8, but enough) for family or friends to come stay. Although it isn't a 100-year-old Victorian or a rambling house sitting on several acres, it's a warm, cozy house that feels like "home" to both of us. I realize that a lot can still happen—maybe this house won't really be ours. But I have no apprehension at all this time. If we move into it—wonderful; if we don't—we'll survive. Maybe that means I've learned that lesson of contentedness?
Below is a picture of the house we will soon call "home." Although it doesn't possess all we thought we "needed," it has "much" in both of our opinions, and we feel very blessed.
God bless you muchly as you journey with Him! ~Kim
P.S. -- If you're on Facebook, I posted several pics in and out of the house, if you're interested in houses. Feel free to visit my page there...and befriend me if you haven't already! :o)
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
I’m going to assume that you wonderful readers who follow this blog have at least a general love of history. And if you don’t, just humor me, okay? All of the interesting tidbits I’ve discovered haven’t made it into the books I’ve written, but that doesn’t make those facts any less important or interesting. The other day I was searching for some historical item. I’d tell you what I was looking up, but it escapes me at the moment. I’m sure you don’t find that too difficult to believe. Anyway, I came upon this site where you can solve mysteries of history. It’s really for kids, but don’t tell, because we can enjoy it, too. So while I was out there, I forgot about my research and started playing the game. My first question was about how children in colonial days learned to read, and this is what I learned from that little side trip we authors so frequently take when we’re supposed to be writing.
The hornbook was not a book in the traditional sense, but a board with a single piece of paper attached. The name hornbook came from the thin sheet of clear horn which was used to protect the printed paper (paper was scarce in those days, and was valued very highly). The horn was taken from a cow, then boiled and scraped until it became transparent. The lesson page was attached with a narrow strip of brass and/or small nails. The hornbook's handles often had holes drilled in them with a string pulled through. A child could wear the book around his or her neck or fastened to a belt.
A lot of material was crammed onto the sole page of the hornbook! There was an upper and lowercase alphabet, a series of letter combinations, the numbers and basic facts about addition and subtraction, a Bible verse, and often the Lord's Prayer. Much of the school day in early America was spent memorizing and reciting verses from the Bible. The youngest children learned their letters and numbers from a hornbook. Once a child mastered the material on the hornbook, he or she would study the New England Primer, which was first printed in Boston around 1690. The next textbook was the Bible.
In the Dutch colonies around New York, cookies -- usually gingerbread -- were made in the shape of hornbooks. When the young student had learned the lessons on the hornbook, the cookie-book could be eaten. After printing presses became more widespread in America, and paper became less expensive, hornbooks were replaced by folded cards called battledores. They sold for about a penny and were very popular.
I especially like the part about the gingerbread cookies!! So now it’s your turn. Go out to this website, check out something interesting, and let me know what you find! Maybe I can include it in a book! http://teacher.scholastic.com/histmyst/index.asp
Blessings and happy searching. ~Judy
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
Monday, June 8, 2009
God first planted a desire to write for Him in 1991 after I read Francine Rivers' Redeeming Love, but I wasn't walking closely with Him at the time. I didn't believe I had the talent, the ability, or the right to write stories of faith. But over the next few years, God did a major restoration in my heart. And by 1997, He'd also given me the germ of an idea for a contemporary novel of forgiveness and healing (the prologue came to me in a dream). For the next six months, I prayed for God to show me if I was to leave my romance writing career in the general mass market as I knew that book I'd dreamed about could only be written for a Christian publisher.
In mid-October 1997, He answered my prayer using Ephesians 2:10:
For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.That moment when He spoke those words into my heart is permanently imprinted in my memory, as is the illumination and understanding that came with it. He was calling me into a ministry of writing for Him. He had a purpose and a plan. All I had to say was Yes!
Another verse that is special to me came not long after the above. I had accepted an offer from a Christian publisher, and that offer was based only on the prologue I'd dreamed plus my own experience with forgiveness in my past. I'd never written a contemporary novel. I'd never written a "Christian" novel. I had no idea what would happen in the novel after the prologue. I'd agreed to write a book and I had no idea if I could do it. I awoke in the middle of the night in a cold sweat. Full out panic attack.
I got out of bed and went into my office and began reading my Bible. About ten or fifteen minutes into my reading I came to Isaiah 42:16:
“I will lead the blind by a way they do not know,I was immediately overwhelmed by the realization that it didn't matter if I knew where the story was going. This was God's plan. It was His idea. He knew where the story was going even if I was completely blind. (The Forgiving Hour was the end result)
In paths they do not know I will guide them.
I will make darkness into light before them
And rugged places into plains.
These are the things I will do,
And I will not leave them undone.”
And, of course, these verses apply to every believer. God has prepared good works for all of us to walk in during our time on earth. He will lead us even when we are blind, smoothing the road before us. Isn't that amazing?!
What are some verses that God has spoken into your life?
P.S. My mom fell at the rehab center last week and broke her hip. Surgery is tough on a 95-year-old. Please, if you think of it, remember Lucille in your prayers in the coming weeks. I so appreciate it.
Friday, June 5, 2009
We're back from Texas and what a fun and productive trip. I love it when everything falls into place in such concise order.
We flew into Houston and immediately drove northeast to Lufkin, TX. The next day we went to an amazing History Center in DiBoll where the staff turned out to be the friendliest and best informed folks I could have hoped for. Here's a picture of my husband Jim, the director John Gerland and me.
John is one smart guy when it comes to knowing his Texas history, but so too was Emily, Louis and Patsy. Great folks and I can't praise them enough.
From there we went to the Texas Forestry Museum in Lufkin. Again there was so much to learn about the Texas logging industry. Yes, this is for a new series. Most folks don't think logging and Texas go hand in hand, but they do. It's an amazing history to be sure.
We also learned 3 things about Texas. 1. There is a Dairy Queen in every East Texas town. 2. There is a Donut Palace in every East Texas town. 3. There is a fried cat-fish cafe, restaurant, BBQ or other eating facility in every East Texas town. So if you are hankerin' for donuts, ice cream or catfish - Texas may be the place for you.
I never fail to be amazed at the way God puts me in the right place at the right time. Texas is usually hard for me because of the heat and humidity, but the weather was perfect and both temps and humidity were low enough that I didn't have a bit of trouble. I kept thinking of how God watches over the birds and flowers and has numbered the hairs on my head, so of course He can manage the the temps and humidity for me.