The economic lot of working-class families had improved considerably as a result of the high demand generated by World War I, but monotony and drudgery still characterized everyday life. The urban working-class family tended to live in cramped, dark apartments; ate large amounts of bread with little jam or butter; wore remade and mended clothing; stayed mostly within walking distance of home except perhaps for going to work; attended church or temple as their main social activity; and had little money to spend on treats or gifts. Severe economizing was required to attain even this austere life-style. Any economic mistakes, such as buying uncomfortable shoes or a cut of spoiled meat, meant temporary deprivation for the family since their budgets could not accommodate the replacement of these items. The bleakness of everyday material life provided little relief from the difficult physical labor of husbands and the exhausting housework of wives.
Monday, August 31, 2009
Friday, August 28, 2009
My new Alaska series has debuted with book #1 DAWN'S PRELUDE. Over the next few blogs, I hope to share with you some of the inspiration for this series set in Sitka, Alaska.
There will be three books total in the series, and it will be what I call a generational series. Book 1 is set in 1870, book 2 in 1889, and book 3 in 1906. Sitka is a fascinating location, and I hope you'll come to enjoy it as much as we have.
First, understanding where Sitka is located is of the utmost importance. Located on the Baranoff Island in the Inside Passage of Southeast Alaska,
Sitka has been settled for hundreds of years. The Tlingit people were there first. Their culture has definitely left it's impression on the island. Even now you can view the totems they carved, and watch the native dances. The people there are friendly and very informative.
Dawn's Prelude will deal in part with the questions that revolve around missions work in foreign lands. As we often see in history there were two major trains of thought. One was to go in and strip the people of their culture and westernize them. Often this entailed forcing them to give up their native language, their manner of dress, their rituals and their lifestyles. In the situation in Sitka this was evident in the school created by Sheldon Jackson. Jackson was an incredible man who had a heart for God, and for educating native children. His school in Sitka originally took children from their homes to live at the school where they could be completely immersed in western culture and education. The thought behind this was that in the future they would need to be able to blend in with white society, and could not do this if they were practicing their Tlingit culture. I believe their heart was in the right place, but I don't think the manner in doing this was necessarily right or best.
On the other hand, there were Russian missionaries who felt that incorporating the natives in their everyday living with the new religious beliefs was the best way to minister. Often this meant allowing all beliefs to merge and interact. This too caused problems.
So what was the right answer? What is the right answer for missionaries today? Difficult to say. I go to the Bible for examples of Jesus, however. He was never pushy or imposing with His ministry. He shared the truth and lived it in front of the masses. And because of this, hearts were changed. Lifestyles changed of their own accord and traditions and cultures were greatly effected.
I think we have to look to Jesus for our example of right living. Sometimes in our human enthusiasm we tend to try our own methods instead of His. My prayer is that we will reflect Jesus.
Next week - more about Sitka.
Thursday, August 27, 2009
So you can imagine how discombobulating I found this room in our new house...
Yes, folks, this was my office... The desk was there, all set up and ready for me to sit and work, but the clutter around it completely destroyed any semblance of focus I could hope to possess. And it was more than just clutter creating a problem. I need solitude. Seclusion. And with my office space being open to the recreation area of the basement, even if I put everything neatly away, I would still have neither.
So...enter Daddy. Now, my dad was an educator for almost 50 years, but he was also a house fixer-upper. Whatever needed done, he could do. So I said, "Do it." And he did. He put up framing, then hung sheetrock. Bless his heart, he even insulated the walls to block sound (such an important thing for solitude). When the walls were in place, he painted them and then put doorframes and baseboards in place. It's much easier to write about it than to do it, but he finished my office in one week. And guess what? I now have my secluded sanctuary where everything is organized and I can focus to my heart's content.
Now, just to verify how important it is for me to have an organized, all-to-myself space to write, the very first official day in my new office I revamped ten chapters and added 5,494 new words to my manuscript. I call that a good writing day.
See, the thing is, Psalm 139 tells me I am "wonderfully and fearfully made." When I was being formed in my mother's womb, my "bents" were already in place. God instilled in me a need for structure--it's just who I am. And when I bow to that bent...to the way I was created...then I am productive. For Him. So if being structured doesn't work for you, that's okay. Be the person He designed you to be. He's got great plans for all of us--I think there's a verse about that in Jeremiah...but I'll save that for another day. :o)
May God bless you muchly as you journey with Him! ~Kim
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
She is my husband’s new best buddy. They go to coffee each morning and Zoey has become his magnate for attracting new friends. We’ve lived in our current home for close to fifteen years. Never before have cars stopped when passing by our house. Never before have neighbors flocked to our front yard. I’ve learned that it simply takes a ball of white fluff bouncing on the end of a pink leash to attract visitors. She’s friendly with all of them—willing to chew on their shoestrings or fingers—whichever she can grab.
In the movie Marley & Me, John Grogan says: “A dog has no use for fancy cars, big homes, or designer clothes. A dog doesn't care if you’re rich or poor, clever or dull, smart or dumb. Give him your heart and he'll give you his. How many people can you say that about? How many people can make you feel rare and pure and special? How many people can make you feel extraordinary?”
There aren’t many people that make us feel extraordinary or love us unconditionally, but those who have accepted Jesus are guaranteed the Lord’s unconditional love. What a marvelous gift He has given!
May you find joy in knowing you are His. ~Judy
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Monday, August 24, 2009
"Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Don’t be afraid or discouraged by the size of the task, for the LORD God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. He will see to it that all the work ... is finished correctly."
1st Chronicles 28:20 [The portion that is represented by the ellipsis says "related to the Temple of the LORD".]
Friday, August 21, 2009
Some wonderful folks are putting together a new website for me, and in turn those wonderful folks are asking me what I want. The trouble is - I DON'T KNOW. I probably wouldn't even have a website if my kids hadn't told me I needed one. I haven't joined facebook yet - it's my own private protest, but I know I have to update the website. I just don't know what I want on it.
I know my favorite color is red.
I know I love the mountains.
I love chocolate, kittens and bunnies.
I love writing.
I love my family.
I especially love God.
Can you make a website out of that?
I told the people - frankly I feel like you're asking me what I want for Christmas and I'm telling you I want a pony.
But then you want to know what kind of pony? What size of pony? What color pony? What accessories do you want with the pony? Do you want a real pony or a plastic pony or a cloth pony?
Do you want a pony that talks? Should the pony dance?
Sigh. I just want a pony.
I'm glad I'm a writer and not a web designer. I think we each have our gifts and talents, and web designing is definitely not one of mine. Pray for me.
Thursday, August 20, 2009
There's something infinitely satisfying about holding a novel for the first time. After months of writing, then agonizing through the editing process, and viewing mock-ups of the cover and trying to choose the perfect title to represent something unique about the story...here it is. The finished product. If you'll pardon the comparison, it's rather like giving birth. All the prep--all the anticipation--and then...holding that little bundle of perfection that exceeds all of the expectation. I always tear up when I look at a newborn, and I do the same thing when I hold one of my books for the first time.
Fields of Grace is definitely a "newborn," but I'm already hearing from readers. I got a very sweet email from a woman who enjoyed the story and said many complimentary things. Then at the end of her message, she said, "But..." Kindly, respectfully, even apologetically, she pointed out an error. An error I can't believe I missed, but I did. She hoped she wouldn't offend me by letting me know, yet she thought perhaps it could be corrected in subsequent printings.
For the record, I wasn't offended. When someone approaches you with such tact and kindness, how can you be offended? I was glad to know, and thankfully the error can and will be corrected in subsequent printings. As embarrassing as booboos can be, it's very, very difficult to put out a completely-without-errors book. Because books are being written, edited, and printed by humans. And...well...let's face it--humans aren't perfect. We can do our best, but we'll never be perfect.
Several years ago, someone told me that Amish quilters deliberately leave an error in their quilts as a sign that only God is a perfect Creator. I don't know if it's true, but I liked the idea so much I adopted it. When I made quilts, I would attach a little Kim-made poem:
You'll find an error in this quilt--Unlike my quilts, in which I deliberately left an error, I try to make sure my books are without blemish. I want to give my very best to my publisher, to my readers, and mostly to God. But sometimes, no matter how carefully we choose our outfit and how many times we check the mirror, we're still going to show up in public with our slip showing. It's that perfection thing...a little out of reach. And rightfully so! If we were perfect, we wouldn't need to lean on God, now would we? Wow, that's a scary thought. I don't want to imagine this life without Him.
An error left to say
"Perfection can't be reached by man.
We must look heaven's way."
So when you find that mismatched piece,
Let it serve to show
There's just one perfect Creator,
And that's the God we know. ©
Deuteronomy 32:4 says, "He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he." I'm so glad that when God looks at the works of my hand, He sees the sincere effort, the desire to please Him. I believe I please Him even in my failings when I've honestly given Him my best.
Maybe when we find an error in a book, we can let it serve as a reminder that while the created is not perfect, the Creator most definitely is. Anything that points our attention to Him has got to be a good thing, right? :o)
May God bless you muchly as you journey with Him! ~Kim
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
I didn’t have a vast knowledge of how carousel animals were created when I began my research. For some reason, I didn’t think about the fact that they were made in pieces and glued together. That’s me, tripping through life thinking there are trees big enough to carve a carousel animal in one piece. And there may be a few trees that large, but not from the specific wood used to create carousel animals.
Those gorgeous animals begin their journey as a custom-constructed, hollow wooden box of basswood or poplar. There are legmen (not the kind of men who like women’s legs), but carvers who carve nothing but legs. All carvers wanted to achieve the status of master carver. They are the most experienced, and the master carver always carved the heads.
Today there are still a few wooden carousels constructed each year and those are carved with mallets and chisels, much like they were years ago. Of course, they use power saws for some of the basic woodcutting, but when it comes to carving—the old ways are still the best. Glue made from animal hide was used to fasten pieces together, but they’ve done away with that stinky process for more modern techniques. Before a carousel was shipped, it was put together in its entirety in the roundhouse, the animals were weighed down with sandbags to represent the rider’s weight, and the carousel would have to pass its test runs. Then it would be deconstructed and shipped. Sometimes an employee of the factory would travel with the shipment to help construct at the delivery destination. Marvelous customer service. The picture to the left is the roundhouse in N. Tonawanda, New York.
The painting process was every bit as interesting (or boring, depending on your point of view), but I better save that for another day. I’m going to attend the National Carousel Convention in Philadelphia at the end of September, so hang onto the brass ring. I’m not done talking about carousels just yet.
Thanks to everyone who signed-on for the drawing.
The winners are:
Connie Sue - The Carousel Painter
EJ-A Surrendered Heart
Please send your full names and mailing addresses to: email@example.com
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Monday, August 17, 2009
Yep, I love modern technology. When I saw the movie Cast Away and poor Tom Hanks is washed ashore without food or shelter, what were my first thoughts? "No computer! No email! No cell phone!" I thought I would die right there in the theater from the sheer idea of it.
Go ahead. You can laugh at me. I probably need to get right into a 12 step group to help me overcome my addictions.
But I'm not so far gone that I can't admit that I love modern technology until something goes awry. Then I'm not so fond of it. I had one heck of a weekend with tech problems (the majority user induced). I have been on the phone with the wonderful guys at Apple Care for hours. I have spent a not so inconsiderable sum of money in the past three days buying some replacement equipment which, as it turns out, may not have been necessary (even though I will love them too). Still, the hours and hours and hours I have spent resolving the issues are what hurts the most.
Please pray for me. This book is due way too soon.
Friday, August 14, 2009
This week has been a doozy, although looking at some of the problems others have faced, my trials don't seem nearly so hard. Although I was reminded of something my daughter once said. "Mom, the worst thing you have to go through is still the worst thing for you. Doesn't really matter if it's someone else's "worst".
She's right. So my pain and sorrows are equally painful, but through it all, I know that I need to keep taking it back to my Saviour. That's when I was reminded of yet another old hymn. I figure I'm on my "Old Hymn" kick. So I thought I'd share this one by Lizzie DeArmond.
WHEN I LOOK IN HIS FACE
Tho’ the road may be rough where He leads me,
Still His footprints I plainly can trace,
And the trials I meet with seem nothing,
When I look in my dear Savior’s face.
When I look in His face, His wonderful face,
In Heaven, that beautiful place!
All the hardships of earth will seem nothing,
When I look in my dear Savior’s face.
So I keep my eyes fixed upon Jesus,
While I’m running life’s wearisome race;
I’ll forget the hard pathway I traveled,
When I look in my dear Savior’s face.
Tho’ the shadows around me may gather,
Safe I rest in my Lord’s “secret place.”
For I know there’ll be glorious sunshine,
When I look in my dear Savior’s face.
* * * * * *
Lizzie DeArmond was Born: Ju?ly 23, 1847, Phil?a?del?phia, Penn?syl?van?ia and Died: Oc?to?ber 26, 1936, at her home in Swarth?more, Penn?syl?van?ia. She is very famous for writing a lot of Sunday School children's songs. I think one of the things that blessed me most about her was the following quote from her diary.
Un?der date of Jan?u?ary 1st, 1915, she writes, “Now in the light of the glad New Year, 1915, if an?y?thing I have writ?ten has helped to lift one soul above the cares and wor?ries of ever?y?day life, and brought it near?er to the great lov?ing heart of Je?sus, the joy is mine, but the glo?ry be?longs to God.”
Ah, Lizzie - that's is my heart as well.
Thursday, August 13, 2009
Don and I didn't enter marriage lightly. We'd each come from a failed marriage. Not at all proud of that. And when he asked me to marry him, I only put one stipulation on saying yes: We had to agree to NEVER let the "d" word be spoken aloud. Once it's said, it's too easy to let it become reality. I did not want a second failure.
Now, that doesn't mean there haven't been times over the years that the word hasn't crossed his mind or my mind. Being married is never without conflict, and we've had some doozies to overcome. But the fact is, we overcame. It's a daily commitment to choose to love instead of cave. Easy? Absolutely not. Rewarding? Yes...
So much has happened in the past 25 years... We've lived in three different cities; watched our girls grow up, marry, and become mothers; buried grandparents and other loved ones; faced sicknesses and weather calamities; worried about jobs and school and whether the car would make it through one more year... And somehow, with God's help, we've managed to land on our feet. I believe that's because we made a commitment, before God, to stay together 'til death parted us. I have no idea what's waiting around the bend, but I have to trust that the God who has gotten us this far will be there for the remaining years, as well.
I think of it like being super-glued together. Have you ever accidentally super-glued your finger to something? Doesn't feel too great to have that something pulled loose, does it? As painful as it has sometimes been to stick together, I believe it would be far more painful to pull apart. At our wedding on August 11, 1984, the minister read these words from Matthew 19:
"Haven't you read," he replied, "that at the beginning the Creator 'made them male and female,' and said, 'For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh'? So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate."
Don sent me a card from Texas, where he is attending training, and he added the inscription, "25 down, a lifetime to go." I have one waiting to give him when he returns. It reads very simply, "Grow old with me; the best is yet to be."
Happy 25th anniversary, Don. I love you!
God bless you muchly as you journey with Him! ~Kim
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
I’m always amazed how God is in the little things in our lives as well as the big ones, and I’m particularly thankful when He leaves me slack-jawed over something He does for me. That happened while I was researching The Carousel Painter. I was preparing to go on book tour with several other writers and was a bit disappointed that a visit to a carousel museum in Connecticut couldn’t be fit into our schedule. Then there was a mix-up over when we were supposed to fly into Buffalo, New York. The mix-up resulted in me making plane reservations to fly in a day early. I was a little distraught over the whole thing, but Tracie decided she’d just fly in a day early, too. As I continued to research the area, I discovered the Hershell Carousel Factory Museum was located in North Tonawanda, New York—only a twenty minute drive from where we were going to be staying. You can’t imagine my excitement—well, maybe you can—but, I was even more delighted to learn the museum was open on Mondays. If you visit many museums, you know Mondays are their “off” day. Anyway, I called and asked for information about meeting with a carver or painter and was told they didn’t come in on Mondays, but I decided a visit to the museum would still provide lots of information. To make a long story even longer, I got to the museum and both a painter and carver happened to be there. AND, I got a behind-the-scenes tour of the factory from Rae Proefrock, one of the painters and trustees.
You’d think that would be enough, but to just to add a cherry on top of the whipped cream, Rae agreed to read my manuscript for technical accuracy once it was completed. Now, isn’t that just like God? When you think things are on a downhill slide, He just turns you upside down with His goodness.
About the pictures--the one on the right shows how the carousel animals were crated to prevent damage in shipment by boat and train. Upper left is one of the Hershell Carousel horses and below that is Rae showing me some of the restoration work on one of the horses.
May you find great joy when the Lord turns you upside down with his goodness. ~Judy
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Monday, August 10, 2009
If you want another opinion, I posted Charisma Magazine's review of the movie to my personal blog on Friday of last week.
The other thing this movie made me want to do was to start writing brilliant and meaningful posts on my blogs. Not sure I know where those ideas for brilliant posts might come from. I promise you, I am not going to cook my way through Julia Child's cookbook (although I am sorely tempted to go buy a copy, just so that I can say I own it).
Have you ever felt like your life is in a kind of limbo? That's how I've felt for a time. Taking care of my mom has put a lot of my life on hold. It's kept me from joining in and participating in places I wanted to join in and participate, because I never knew what Mom would need or if I would be available. (I'm not complaining; it has been a season of life and a joy in so many ways.) But now that it appears Mom won't be able to come home to live with me again, I think it's possible some doors may be about to open for me in other ways. Part of Sunday morning's sermon at church was about having a vision, about seeing the world from a heavenly and eternal perspective. That's what I'm asking God for now. A new vision, for new ways to serve Him. I'm no spring chicken. I hear the ticking of the clock and am reminded I'm not a kid anymore. But I believe in a God of purpose and that His purpose is for us to live for Him until we draw our last breaths. So I'm convinced it is never too late to get a new vision and walk in it.
There is something, an area of ministry that, every time it comes up in a sermon or in a conversation, causes my heart to stir. It's been like that for over two years. I keep thinking this is something God wants me to write about. So far that's all I understand, but I'm feeling an anticipation, an expectation that I may get a bigger glimpse one day soon. I'll let you know when I'm no longer seeing "in a mirror dimly" (1 Cor 13:12).
Friday, August 7, 2009
This week has been a lot of fun. My aunt (the girl in the back row of the above photo - my mom is the girl on the lower right hand side) and uncle arrived for a visit and with them came one of my cousins and his wife. We have laughed and talked and eaten with great gusto, but mostly we have shared stories and photos from the past.
A couple of my cousins, including the one who came for a visit, had put together a dvd of old home movies my grandfather shot. In these I got to see my mother as a child and my aunt as a young woman. With each scene I got to hear stories of what had brought them to this place. Of course each scene brought additional stories and comments.
There was laughter and tears as the memories spilled out around the room. I learned that my grandfather fancied himself a great photographer, but often cut off the heads of his subjects. We got to a place where we were starting to recognize bodies and necks. We watched the aftermath of a horrible flood that hit Kansas in 1951. My mother told us of the shock they had returning home to find everything ruined and a beloved pet gone. One section of the video offered proof for an age old family argument regarding a car they once owned. (Thank goodness for that because the quibble has gone on for several decades.)
We saw new babies - now adults pushing their 60's. We commented on how my mother's younger sister looks just like my great aunt now long gone. It was a precious time to be sure. My cousin took notes throughout the entire dvd as my mother and his share their memories. He loves researching genealogy and knows the importance of keeping the old stories--because those stories are a special part of our past. This is a photo of my great-grandmother and her children (including my grandmother - also shown above as the mother in the photo. Note how much she looks like her mother as an adult).
I hope you too have a legacy of family stories and photos. I hope you'll write the stories down for future generations and please please write names and if possible dates on the back of photos. We have such a great treasure in stories from the past.
Thursday, August 6, 2009
Have you noticed lately how many people sport body art? Used to be just tough guys like sailors or motorcycle gang members or butchers wielding big ol' cleavers. But not so anymore. Businessmen, teenagers, even grandmothers (like me) have tattooes. My husband happens to have three (one of which bears my name, so he's stuck with me); two of my daughters have already succombed to the tattoo craze; and the last daughter is getting one. So my girls thought I should get on board. Um, no. I'm sorry--it's nothing against those who have chosen to tattoo their bodies. It just isn't for me.
Now, that being said, if I were to get a tattoo, I'd get a purple butterfly, maybe like the one at the left. I love purple. Have always loved purple. But not until God healed me of a lifetime of self-recrimination did I find the courage to wear purple. So it's kind of my declaration of freedom. Purple is the color of royalty, and it reminds me that I'm a daughter of the King. No need to be hangin' my head in shame.
I also love butterflies. They're so pretty with their multi-colored, delicate wings, and they're so graceful the way they float on the breeze. My dad always warned me not to catch a butterful by its wings because the wings are covered with miniscule feathers; if I damaged the feathers, the butterfly might not be able to fly anymore. I was convinced the inability to fly would make the butterflies very sad. So I would crouch next to flowers (that always grew in abundance in our yard, thanks to Daddy's green thumb), admiring but keeping my fingers to myself. And if a butterfly happened to flit over and land on my hand or my knee....ah, bliss!
Not long ago I ran across a quote that said, "Just when the caterpillar thought her life was over, she became a butterfly." As silly as it sounds, I cried. I could so relate to that quote. Looking back over the years, there are many difficult moments that I thought would end my life. Maybe not physically, but certainly emotionally. But then God, in His infinite love and wisdom, used those circumstances to bring about a change in me--a good change, a growing change, an increase in strength or empathy or discernment. And in those joyful moments of realization--it wasn't wasted!--my heart took wing. Like a butterfly.
This summer hasn't been the easiest for many of us, myself included. But each time I glimpse a butterfly, I take hope. Psalm 34:7 tells me, "The angel of the Lord camps around those who fear [reverence Him; hold Him in awe], and he delivers them." When we trust Him to use these difficult moments to bring about a change in our lives, then I know without one modicum of doubt that we will be delivered of the hardened chrysalis, will unfurl our delicate wings of many colors (mine are purple, just so's you know), and soar...
May God bless you muchly as you journey with Him! ~Kim
P.S.--The winner of last week's drawing is Janelle! Janelle, please shoot me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) so we can arrange shipment of your book...as soon as I have them in hand! :o)
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
For a while, I’d taken control of my obsession. Although I hadn’t overcome my obsession to stand in Cracker Barrel and read their cookbooks until they called my name (and sometimes take it with me to peruse while eating), I hadn’t purchased one in almost a year. Then it happened. Tammy Alexander mentioned Christy Jordan’s Southern Plate website and that strawberry, angel food trifle. Surely you remember that delightful dessert I concocted in my Tupperware bowl, don’t you? Anyway, I made the mistake of signing up to receive the recipes from Southern Plate.
Now, that didn’t bother my husband because those recipes are stored on the computer. But then, I spied it! Christy Jordan had an honest- to-goodness, spiral bound cookbook for sale. How could I resist? I mean, that thing has everything from fried apple pies to corn chowder. And as if that isn’t enough, I could find recipes for sourdough starter, chocolate cobbler or spaghetti lover’s soup. Now how was I to resist?
I sent off my order and for the next couple of weeks, I raced to the mailbox everyday. But wouldn’t you know, the one day I was gone to a dentist appointment, my anticipated delivery showed up in the mailbox! My husband doesn’t open my mail, but he was mighty interested in what was in a thick envelope with a return address that said “Southern Plate” on the label. I tried to escape, but he followed me into my office where I finally relented and opened the manila envelope.
“Another cookbook,” he quipped. I nodded and hung my head in shame. He gave me a long, sad look, then shook his head in defeat. “Sure would be great if you’d try making one of these recipes someday!” Now isn’t that the way of it? Just because I enjoy reading cookbooks doesn’t mean I actually want to cook!
May you find joy in the Lord as you follow his recipe for your life. ~Judy