Saturday, December 26, 2009

Born to Die - The Bridge



Have you accepted the gift? Will you?

"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life." John 3:16 (NIV)

Copyright © 2009 by Sandra Heska King

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Mary Christmas

I wish you a Mary Christmas.

A foot-filled Christmas.

A time of sitting at His feet. Listening. Learning. Sharing.

"She had a sister called Mary who sat at the Lord's feet, listening to what he said." Luke 10:39 (NIV) 

"How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, "Your God reigns!" Isaiah 52:7 (NIV)

I wish you a Mary Christmas.

A fragrance-filled Christmas.

A time of staying at His feet. Praying. Worshiping. Rejoicing.

"This Mary, whose brother Lazarus now lay sick was the same one who poured perfume on the Lord and wiped his feet with her hair." John 11:2 (NIV)

"But thanks be to God who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of him. For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing." 2 Corinthians 2:14-15 (NIV)

I wish you a Mary Christmas.

A faith-filled Christmas.

A time of submitting at His feet. Receiving. Clinging. Trusting.

"When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, 'Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.'" John 11:32 (NIV)

"But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation." Psalm 13:5 (NIV)

I wish you a Mary Christmas.

Not just today. But every day.

"I am the Lord's servant, Mary answered." Luke 1:38a

"And Mary said, 'My soul glorifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant." Luke 1:46-48



MARY CHRISTMAS!

Copyright © 2009 by Sandra Heska King

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Beholding Christmas Through the Eyes of Youth








Unconventional! But isn't that what Jesus was? Can you feel the joy?

"For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace." Isaiah 9:6 (KJV)

Copyright © 2009 by Sandra Heska King

Monday, December 21, 2009

Bigg-Hearted Biggby

 
They didn't have to do it. 

I mean, it wasn't that big of a deal.

Well, maybe it was. At the time.

I gripped that steaming hot, tall, black coffee. Sniffed the heady aroma. Barred myself from even a sip. No spilling in the car or down the front of my Sunday outfit. Or scalding myself. Savored the anticipation.

Picked it up on the way home from church. Well, after eating and running a couple errands. Planned to curl up with it and a good book.

Our local Biggby Coffee. I love it there. I love the folks who work there. So cheerful. So helpful. I'm usually on the run. But I could sit in there. Relax. With a book or my 'puter. I'd feel so . . . so . . . writerly.

I think I could even work there. And B-Happy.

Come to think of it, I don't think I've ever met a Biggby I didn't like. But I digress.

Hurry, Dennis, hurry! Go faster! Must go faster!

Getting out of car. Juggling stuff. My purse. The coffee. Something else. I reached to hit the garage door closer thingie.

And the cup. Went. Splat!

Upside down. Top and bottom separated. Rose Dog's toys now suspended in frozen java.

I wailed.

I posted my sorry state on Twitter and Facebook. I just wanted a little sympathy and compassion for my distress.

And BiggbyBob replied. He wasn't even my friend. Then.

"So sorry. What can we do?"

"Do you deliver?" I responded.

And then I got another message. Bigg-hearted Biggby wants to replace my coffee. Not once. But double for my trouble. And it wasn't even their fault!

They didn't have to do it. Some might say it's a great marketing thing. But I choose to believe they care.

A random act of kindness.

A gift I'll pass it on.

What random act of kindness have you done or experienced lately?

"Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience." Colossians 3:12 (NIV)

"People are often unreasonable and self-centered. Forgive them anyway. 
If you are kind, people may accuse you of ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.
If you are honest, people may cheat you. Be honest anyway.
If you find happiness, people may be jealous. Be happy anyway.
The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway.
Give the world the best you have and it may never be enough. Give your best anyway.
For you see, in the end, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway." ~Mother Teresa

Copyright © 2009 by Sandra Heska King

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Wouldn't You Rather Be a Sloth?

"I am a sloth."

A Facebook friend posted this a couple days. I raised my hand. "Me too! Me too!"

Especially when it comes to temple care. Like in diet and exercise. In fact, here's me getting physical.


This little dude pretty much sums up slothfulness. Inactivity plus. A disinclination to work or exert oneself. Think sloooowwwww. Or not at all.

Sluggard.

Slothfulness is even considered one of the seven deadly sins. Especially if you are spiritually slothful. Not such a great thing. In fact, early Christians apparently thought of it as a surrender to despair.

A German proverb says, "For the diligent, a week has seven days; for the slothful, seven tomorrows."

Proverbs 10:4 in the Message says, "Sloth makes you poor; diligence brings wealth."

Okay--so slow, lazy, undisciplined, negligent, apathetic. Not so good. I so get that.

But I learned some cool stuff about sloths.

They spend most of their lives upside down. God designed them to have a very good grip.

Sloths can live up to be 30 to 40 years old. Some even stay in the same tree for years. Under the protective branches. Camouflaged by a coating of algae. Not flying out in the open or running around on the ground. They live a simple life.

They are not lazy. Just slow moving. In fact, the sloth is the slowest mammal on earth. It doesn't live in a state of frantic activity.

They have a low metabolic rate and low body temperature at 91 degrees. So I guess you'd say they seldom get "steamed."

Because they don't have a lot of energy, their need for food and water is kept at a minimum. They can be content with little.

Besides the dolphin, the sloth is probably the only other mammal that continually smiles.

A Japan-based, world-wide Sloth Club actually exists, basing its philosophy on the quiet, peaceful, efficient sloth: "less, slower, nonviolent." We could take a lesson.

And then I found this picture.

And I thought, "Wow!" I don't want to be slothful. But I do want to be a baby sloth! Nestled and at perfect peace in my Father's hand.

How about you? Wouldn't you rather be a sloth?  

"The fool sits back and takes it easy. His sloth is slow suicide."  Ecclesiastes 4:5 (The Message)

"My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me." Psalm 63:8 (NIV)

Copyright © 2009 by Sandra Heska King

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Getting the Pieces Together


My dad is the jigsaw puzzle king. At gift-giving time, we take on the major challenge of finding a puzzle that's a major challenge. One that takes longer than a couple days to put together. He has slapped together 3D, edgeless, and double-sided ones. I think my sister finally found one that took him a month. She wins the prize!

Dad never boxes the puzzles back up. The 3D Capitol sits atop the entertainment center. Others are glued to cardboard, covered with plastic wrap and hung all over the house.

He gave us one to work on when we were home for Thanksgiving. "We" means Gracee and me. But it was mostly Lee and me. Only 500 pieces. It took us an evening. Lee set the box top up so we could see the picture while we worked. I told him that was cheating and put it down. Then I put it back up. I needed to cheat.

At one point, we scoured the floor and down our shirts for missing pieces. Only to find them camouflaged on top of the puzzle. More than once I looked and looked for a piece that turned out to be right in front of my face the whole time. And, of course, sometimes, as we put one piece in, we knocked several out of place and had to repair the damage.

When we were close to the finish, we had 5 holes and 5 pieces that didn't fit. So we had to search for pieces that had appeared to fit but really didn't.

We enjoyed looking at that puzzle for a day and then broke it apart and dumped it back in the box.

We do have a couple of puzzles that we worked on when Abby was pregnant. Those are glued together and stored in a closet still waiting for frames. One of them has a missing piece that in seven years has never turned up.

Life is often compared to a puzzle.

We're all born out of plain brown boxes. And then the box is gone. Can't climb back it.

No pictures to show us how all the jigs and jags of our lives will eventually fit. It's a no-cheating zone. No matter how we try, we will never find all the pieces or make all the pieces fit. And there will always seem to be pieces missing. Only God knows the ultimate picture. Only God knows how it all fits together. And His glue holds it together.

The Bible tells us that He makes everything in the lives of His children work together for good. In His time. Our lifetime.

A very wise pastor once told me that everything will come together when all the pieces get together. But it will be something beautiful! No missing pieces. Puzzle complete. Picture perfect.


Are you working too hard to put it all together? Can you rest and let Him do all the work? Can you trust that it will be beautiful? 

"We are assured and know that [God being a partner in their labor] that all things work together and are [fitting into a plan] for good to and for those who love God and are called according to [His] design and purpose." Romans 8:28 - Amplified Bible

Copyright © 2009 by Sandra Heska King

Monday, December 14, 2009

True Love


Spring. 

New love.

Heart strangely warmed at the sight, the sound, the touch.

Holding close. Stroking the body. Picking up good vibrations.

Hours travelling in the car. Learning to make music together. Even a stolen weekend getaway.

A pasttime with a plan.

But then.

A past love intrudes and holds me in its grip. A rekindled flame consumes my every thought, my every moment.

True love.

A passion with a purpose.


And she sits neglected. Slightly hoarse. Soundboard silent.

While the keyboard clicks.

Because I am a writer. Not a harper. At least not yet.

My sweet Stoney End, 29-string, double-strung, fully levered Lorraine.

Be patient, my darling.

I will return.

But I fear not with my whole heart.

What good thing have you had to give up or set aside in order to pursue a better thing or higher calling?

". . . rekindle afresh the gift of God that is in you . . ." 2 Timothy 1:6



Copyright © 2009 by Sandra Heska King

Friday, December 11, 2009

Lost Treasure


December 4, 1981. 

The day of the mysterious disappearance.

Our 10th anniversary. To the day.

John Pennekamp State Park on Key Largo.

Where they say the barracuda like flashy jewelry. So they encourage you not to wear any when you snorkle.

So we didn't, instead depositing all shiny objects into the glove compartment of our yellow Dodge Omni. I hunkered down in my seat while I removed my wedding set, which was soldered together. There was nobody in the parking lot anyway, so I'm sure--almost--that nobody saw what I did. We locked the doors.

But when we returned from our snorkel trip, where we were followed by curious barracuda, my rings were gone! Everything else was there. Dennis' wedding ring and watch. Our class rings. Everything.

But my rings.

We took everything out of the glove compartment. We searched the car. We searched the parking lot. We reported the loss at the dive desk.

Nothing.

Zippo.

Gone.

I loved those rings. Engraved with love. I cried all night.

Several times, over the years we had that car, one of us would get the urge to go out and ransack it. Take a flashlight. Search every nook and cranny.

To no avail.

Treasure lost. Disappeared. Poof.

Jesus told a parable in Luke about a woman who lost some treasure. She had ten pieces of silver. They likely represented a dowry. Maybe something akin to a wedding ring. Something that symbolized not only blessing, but perhaps even love, security if something happened to her husband. Sometimes a woman would run a cord through pierced coins and hang them around her neck as a necklace or weave them into her hair or carry them in a bag on her person.

Value. Real and sentimental.

The woman ransacked her house looking for one missing coin. She looked high and low. She lit a lamp and broke out the broom. Maybe she searched frantically, and then persistently and methodically. Like we might look for a single stone to a set. Something very precious. Perhaps her tears turned spots of the dirt floor to mud.

Imagine her joy when she noticed a glint of it in the faint light! Found!

Party time!

Jesus told this story to the Pharisees and scribes as an example of the joy in heaven over one sinner who repents.

We've never found my ring, though. No party here.

I've often thought about how I don't seek HIM as diligently as I searched for those rings. I don't comb through His Word as methodically as I combed through that Omni.

And I wonder.

How often do we put the earthly over the eternal?

How often do we put security over Security?

How often do we put regalia over relationship?


How often do we put our treasures over the Treasure? 

What are your thoughts?

Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one? Does she not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully until she finds it? And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, 'Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.' In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents." ~Luke 15:8-10

P.S. If you find my rings, let me know.

 Copyright © 2009 by Sandra Heska King

Monday, December 7, 2009

Remembering Pearl Harbor

I've been there. 

I've hung over the rail of the USS Arizona Memorial and watched the oil droplets bubble to the surface. A solemn and vivid reminder of sacrifice.

I've gazed over the harbor and tried to imagine the attack, the shock, the fear, the confusion, the roar of aircraft, the rat-a-tat-tats, the explosions, the screams, the smoke.

Silence. Lives cut down. Death in paradise.

Unimaginable.

Unprepared.

The enemy poised and pounced.

Peace, peace, where there was no peace.

The Gibralter of the Pacific crumbled.

I stood in that tomb and read the names, tear droplets bubbling to the surface, remembering, though I did not remember.

And I said thank you.

And today I remember, and I say thank you for your sacrifice.

And today I remember the One who gave all. With blood droplets bubbling to the surface.

My Pearl of Great Price. My Rock of Gibralter. My Safe Harbor. My only Defense.

And I say thank You for Your sacrifice.

And the empty tomb. 

"Keep a cool head. Stay alert. The devil is poised to pounce, and would like nothing better than to catch you napping. Keep your guard up." I Peter 5:8 (The Message)

Have you ever been to the Arizona? What was your experience? Are you prepared for sudden attack in your life?

Copyright © 2009 by Sandra Heska King

Saturday, December 5, 2009

A Trip Down Memory Lane--1971

Dennis and Sandy King married and flew to San Francisco for their honeymoon (12/05-12/13).

The Golden Gate Bridge's lights were out all night due to a power failure (12/14)

Richard Nixon was president and Time's Man of the Year.


The last televised cigarette advertisement aired on the Tonight Show.
One of the earliest appeared in 1949--the year of my birth.


The Soviets manned the first space station for 23 days.
Alan Shepard played golf on the moon (Apollo 14).



Walt Disney World opened.


Most watched TV shows included:


And just a couple of my favorites




Beverly Hillbillies, Mayberry RFD, Hogan's Heroes, Green Acres and Ed Sullivan ended.

Song of the year


Tradition!


Miss America - Phyllis George


The average U.S. taxpayer gave the government $400 for defense, $125 to fight the war in Indochina, $40 to build highways, $30 to explore outer space, and $315 for health activities ($7 for medical research).  

Life expectancy: 71.1 years.
The Pittsburgh Pirates won the World Series.
No Pulitzer Prize awarded for a fiction book.

Madge softened hands in Palmolive dishwashing liquid.


Tide and a new Speed Queen washer took care of 3-year-old Bradley's dirty shirt.
Woolite safely soaked pants and other fine washables clean in 3 minutes.
Uphill, the engine of the Datsun 1200 Sports Coupe generated such instant pep, you wouldn't hold up a line of angry cars.
You could take a quiet break with a Ford LTD.
You could get an 8 cents off coupon for Easy Off Oven Cleaner.

The average new house cost $25,200.00
The average income was $10,622.00 per year.
A new car cost $3560.00
A movie ticket cost $1.50.
Gas was 40 cents a gallon.
A stamp cost 8 cents.
Fresh baked bread was 25 cents a loaf.
Eggs were 45 cents a dozen.
Women could buy a 2-piece bonded knit pantsuit for $9.98.
You could get 4 "bright, beautiful" place mats and matching coasters for any 10 Stokely labels.

Sources
The Year That Was 
1971 Remember When

Those were the days!

Copyright © 2009 by Sandra Heska King

Thursday, December 3, 2009

And So It Began


April 1971. 
 
Only eighteen months into my nursing career and already burned out in short-staffed critical care. I applied for a job in an OB/GYN office, but the doctors hired another nurse with hospital OB experience.

In the meantime a young pharmaceutical sales representative announced his intentions to quit and return to graduate school, but his boss talked him out of it.
 
Only days after hire, the OB nurse discovered she was pregnant, and the doctors called to offer me the job.

Susan, one of the other nurses, told me about this cute "detail man." The day he walked into the office, sample case in hand, my heart flip-flopped. 

Our first conversation centered around the effectiveness of one contraceptive foam over another. 
 
How romantic.

Susan did not like my current boyfriend, so she called Dennis into our workroom and strongly suggested he ask me out. 
 
He claims he already intended to anyway.

Right.

Saturday, May 1, 1971. Our first date. A concert. The Philadelphia Orchestra.

He proposed three weeks later.

On his own. No help from Susan.

 
My doctors could hardly wait for the wedding. During the following six months, they tolerated my "spaciness."

For instance, the lab often called to tell me I'd done it again--rubber banded a patient's lab slip to the cardboard folder that encased the Pap smear slide that was also marked with the patient's name. However, the name on the lab slip and the name on the slide didn't match, and we had to call many patients back to have their exams repeated.

For free.
 
Susan, of course, served as my matron of honor. She still lights up with pride at her matchmaking skills.

And thirty-eight years later, my heart still flip-flops. 

We've since realized we actually grew up on the same "street"--U.S. 27, though nearly 200 miles apart. His parents ran the family farm while he rode horses, and my parents ran a small motel on a lake while I wished for a horse.

Coincidence? Or all orchestrated by a higher plan?

How did you meet?  Do you have a fun pre-wedding memory? Can you look back and see God at work? 

"But the plans of the LORD stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations." Psalm 33:11

P.S. My horse's name was Wendy.

Copyright © 2009 by Sandra Heska King

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Green Card

In the bottom drawer of a file cabinet, I just discovered a thick folder filled with "poems and inspiration." I thumbed through it as I searched for examples to use in my message for ladies Bible study. Out fell this green card.


It's signed "Beverly." My brain strains toward a faint recollection of a women's speaker who visited our little church in Tampa. I cannot remember the article she speaks of.

The card sports a push pin hole, so it must have once resided on a bulletin board for inspiration and encouragement. I think it deserves a frame now.

I heart this card, and I breathe a prayer of thanksgiving for Beverly, for BBA, who took the time to send it and affirms me once again--25 years in the future.

Copyright © 2009 by Sandra Heska King

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Hallelujah!

No matter where you are, what language you speak, what trial you face, He is over all. Hallelujah!


Thursday, November 19, 2009

K.M. Weiland: One Word/One Line Interview


I’ve been stalking K.M. Weiland for some time. Hanging out at her website. Dogging her around the blogs. Soaking in life advice and writing wisdom. Admiring her gifts of detail and discipline. Immersing myself in the middle ages in her new book, Behold the Dawn. And she has such a sweet spirit. I want to be like her when I grow up.
So since I wanted to get to know her even better, I asked if she could stop by my blog and answer a few brief questions.  And she agreed!
Since Katie's novel is set in the set in the 12th century, I decided to ask her 12 questions in 2 categories.


K.M. Weiland in One Word
1.  Where would you go on the ideal vacation? 
     Hawaii.
2.  What was your first paid job?
     Secretary.
3.  Would you prefer to swim or ice skate?
     Swim.
4.  What is your greatest weakness? 
     Impatience.
5.  When it comes to "stuff," are you a keeper or a tosser?
     Tosser.
6.  What musical instrument are you?
     Drum.
7.  What would Marcus Annan say is your greatest strength?
     Battles!
8.  At a theme park, do you head for the roller coasters or the shows?
     Coaster.
9.  Who was your childhood hero/heroine?
     Cowboy.
10. Where do you behold God?
      Details.
11. Would you prefer to eat (peasant) bread or (elderflower) cheesecake?
      Cheesecake!
12. What one-word message did you take away for yourself from Behold the Dawn?
      Perseverance. 
K.M. Weiland in One Line
1.  What is one of your favorite quotes from Behold the Dawn?
     "In the corner, flint struck against steel, sparks danced airborne for a moment, and then the expected flame burnt a golden hole in the darkness."
2.  Would you prefer to travel by car or plane and why?
     I much prefer car travel; airports are exhausting.
3.  What do you battle?
     Myself; impatience and tactlessness are two of my banes.
4.  When you are feeling down, what lifts you up?
     A bouncy song, a good movie, sunshine, chocolate, and above all, the knowledge that God is in control of the little things and the big things alike.
5.  When you've been away, what do you like best about coming home?
     My own bed!
6.  If you were to die today, what song would you like sung at your funeral and why?
     Nicole Nordeman's "Legacy" comes to mind: "I want to leave a legacy / How will they remember me? / Did I choose to love? Did I point to You enough / To make a mark on things?"
7.  If you could live in any period of history, when would it be and why?
     Probably the 1940s, though I may be a bit prejudiced right now, since I'm working with a new story idea set in that period.
8.  What was a good word of advice someone gave to you?
     What people think of you isn't as important as what God thinks of you.
9.  How would Lady Mairead complete this sentence for you? I wish . . .
     . . . she wasn't so mean to her characters!
10. When did you know you were a writer?
     It was a gradual awakening, I guess, since I've always told stories; probably the "official" realization was when I was about twelve.
11. What has your past taught you?
     To look outside the box, keep an open mind, and never settle for an easy answer.
12. What is your favorite writing outfit and why?
     Jeans, sweatshirt, and fuzzy blue slippers--because I gotta be warm to write! 
K.M. WEILAND ON ONE THING
What one thing would you like to say to your readers or future readers?
Thanks for being there! In the cutthroat world of publishing and marketing it can sometimes be easy to lose sight of why I'm doing this. But whenever someone tells me they loved one of my books or that they were encouraged by a blog post--that makes my day. That's what it's all about. Being able to touch the life of someone else, even if for only a moment, means I've accomplished something worthwhile.

What one thing would you like to say to your fellow writers or aspiring writers?
Don't give up, and don't sell yourself short. Writing, first and foremost, is a mode of self-expression, of reaching out and connecting with the world around us. Being published, being read, making the NYT best-seller list, that stuff is just icing on the cake. You're a writer even if you never accomplish that. But, at the same time, don't allow yourself to settle for less than the best. Discipline yourself, drive yourself to become a little bit better every time you sit down at the keyboard. Success only visits the dedicated.




ABOUT THE BOOK

Synopsis: Marcus Annan, a tourneyer famed for his prowess on the battlefield, thought he could keep the secrets of his past buried forever. But when a mysterious crippled monk demands Annan help him find justice for the transgressions of sixteen years ago, Annan is forced to leave the tourneys and join the Third Crusade.
Wounded in battle and hunted by enemies on every side, he rescues an English noblewoman from an infidel prison camp and flees to Constantinople. But, try as he might, he cannot elude the past. Amidst the pain and grief of a war he doesn’t even believe in, he is forced at last to face long-hidden secrets and sins and to bare his soul to the mercy of a God he thought he had abandoned years ago.
The sins of a bishop.
The vengeance of a monk.
The secrets of a knight.

About the Author: K.M. Weiland writes historical and speculative fiction from her home in the sandhills of western Nebraska. She is the author of the historical western A Man Called Outlaw and the recently released medieval epic Behold the Dawn. She blogs at Wordplay: Helping Writers Become Authors  and AuthorCulture.




Copyright © 2009 by Sandra Heska King

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

No Slip Zone

Life can be slippery.      

Bones can be soft.

Slipping and soft don't go well together.

Especially if you are 80 years old.

My mom knows this.

She glued her seat to a chair for years. First as a medical transcriptionist. Then a secretary, legal transcriptionist, and court recorder. I don't remember seeing a lot of physical activity. Except she loved to swim.

Past tense.

Which reminds me of the time she called 911 because of an intruder in the backyard--namely the snake in the pool. But that's another story.

At any rate, she forgot the bottom glue on Sunday.

She says she reached to put something on the nearby desk. My dad says she was sliding back in her seat after reaching to put something on the nearby desk. A she-says/he-says thing.

No matter. She slipped out of her chair, and hip met floor.

And bone broke.

I know a little about broken bones myself. And I figure I might end up in her slipsteps if I don't take better care of myself. You might, too. Especially if you're a writer or transcriptionist or someone whose life is spent on the bum.

I know I need to get off my behind and engage in weight-bearing, bone-strengthening, muscle-building exercise. Even though my own bones show osteopenia and I take my Actonel almost regularly, I discovered my calcium tablets were 2-1/2 years old. And my exercise program runs on a 2-months-on-10-months-off cycle.

Anyway, the surgeon inserted four pins, and we hope they hold. Otherwise Mom faces a hip replacement.

And I'm going out to buy fresh calcium. And return the treadmill to its original purpose instead of serving as a clothes tree.

Life can be slippery.

Can't put stuff off until tomorrow because tomorrow may deliver an unexpected package.

Can't put off regular exercise because that strengthening can help divert damage when a limb loses balance.

Can't afford softness in my spiritual life either. And how comforting to know that if I feel like I'm slipping, His love will hold me up.

Life can be slippery.

But this is a no-slip zone.

Are you getting enough physical and spiritual exercise?

When I said, "My foot is slipping," your love, O LORD, supported me. ~Psalm 94:18


Copyright © 2009 by Sandra Heska King

Sunday, November 15, 2009

"Tis a Gift to be Simple


 In my quest for simplicity, I'm often drawn back to my battered book (1981) by Richard Foster, Freedom of Simplicity. He talks about the passion to possess and how the pace of our world leaves us feeling fractured and fragmented.

Even frantic.

I so get that.

Although thankfully peace occupies more space in my pocket these days.

Richard reminds us of the paradox of simplicity.

It is both easy and difficult.
It is both simple and complex.
It is both internal and external.
It is both a grace and a discipline.
We do not necessarily fit it, but it fits us.

An unsimple gift.

The longing of my heart.

My Center and my periphery.

Focus over goal.

Release to gain.
Possess but not prize.
Free to serve.
Stay to go.
Stand firm to bow and to bend.

And when I turn 'round, as in the old Shaker hymn, no matter what direction, I want to see Jesus.

Only.

A simple gift.

Close your eyes and listen to this simply beautiful song.



Which way are you turning? Do you crave simplicity? What does simplicity mean to you?

"I recommend to you holy simplicity." ~Francis de Sales

Copyright © 2009 by Sandra Heska King

Friday, November 13, 2009

7 Writing Tips From a 7-Year-Old

Sometimes--no, often--Gracee amazes me with insightful words. Lately she has dispensed writing advice with wisdom beyond second grade. Who needs to attend a writers' conference when you have a live-in mentor?

Here are 7 of her tips.

1. Think of your story as a gift. Put lots of excitement in the box. Make it fun to read.

2.  Have a central idea. Put it on the back cover because that's what authors do.

3.  Add description (detail words).
  • No:  I got my ears pierced.
  • Yes: My mom took me to a little store called Claire's in the mall to get my ears pierced for my seventh birthday.
4.  Use dialogue (talking words).
  • No:  I was nervous.
  • Yes: "Mom," I said. "Hold my hand because I'm kind of nervous."
5.  Use lots of action (energy words)
  • No:  I sat in the chair.
  • Yes: I climbed up on a tall stool, kicked my legs back and forth and bit my lower lip.
6.  Use expression (feeling words).
  • No:  It was over.
  • Yes: I felt proud when it was over and smiled big when I saw my earrings in the mirror, even though one giant tear floated in my right eye.
7.  Use onomatopoeia (noise words). Yes, she said this!
  • No: The gun was loud.
  • Yes: Bang! Bang! The gun shot an earring into each ear, and I did not jump.
When you are done writing your story, wrap it up. Tie up all loose ends. Make the book cover pretty!


Copyright © 2009 by Sandra Heska King

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Heaven in a Bookstore

I hope heaven houses bookstores.

Because I love bookstores.

If I ran away from home, you could probably find me in a bookstore.

Dennis and I bond in bookstores. Even aisles away from each other. One of my favorite date nights. And he loves a cheap night out. Not so cheap, though. I must carry something away, even if I have to furtively buy it and hide it under my shirt. However, he is not the most observant of hair changes, so I could probably just walk out with a book on my head. He'd never notice.

And I make my lists. I'll be back!

After Bible study yesterday, I zipped into Best Buy for a quick purchase. When I left, I swear I saw, just next door, a beckoning Barnes & Noble angel.

Who can resist the call of an angel?

Besides, I had to go to the bathroom.

Once inside I was overcome with colors and smells. Breathtaking! Of the store itself. Not the bathroom.

First I explored the magazine racks. Shiny. Crisp. Except for a few now dampened with drool drips. I quickly hid those behind their brothers and sisters.

Behold! The angel Barista beckoned me with the aroma of fresh gurgling.

I grabbed three writing magazines. Dry ones.

No, wait. Two writing magazines and a U.S. News & World Report special collector's edition--Mysteries of Faith.

So toting my purse, my bag, and my brew on my left, I drifted up and down and all around.

I looked for familiar names. I admired colors and shapes. I stroked spines, pulled books out, balanced them on the shelf--all with my right hand.

Before long, I sank to my knees and set my baggage on the floor. I hugged tomes and caressed pages. I tasted first sentences, chewed on chapter headings, and gulped whole paragraphs. I lost myself in stories and wished for a million dollar gift card.

But time tugged me back, and reluctantly I rose to my feet.

Called out from another near-death experience. To the reality that I needed to pick up Gracee from school.

Goodbye, dear friends.

I'll be back!

When was your last visit to a bookstore? Did you come out empty handed?

"Where is human nature so weak as in the bookstore?"~Henry Ward Beecher

Copyright © 2009 by Sandra Heska King

Monday, November 9, 2009

Too Much Stuff

My son moved back to town. Even though his first apartment was only the fling of a Frisbee from work. He missed us. He missed his hometown. So he decided to trade spaces. In fact, he paid rent on two digs this month in order to secure a good deal on the new place, now 20-plus miles from "the shop."

He admits to being "OCD." Not Monk. But very particular. Can't tell that anyone ever lived in the old rental. Literally. Looks better than when he moved in.

Also not a procrastinator. He ruminated the plan. Then bolted like a buck fleeing a bullet. Company ready within a couple days.

We visited him Friday night. Practically new two-building complex. Even smells new. One bedroom apartment supplied with a dishwasher, over-the-range microwave, washer and dryer for about $100 less than the other place. Vaulted ceiling in the living room. Woods with a view.

There's a calm peacefulness to this 21-year-old's surroundings. Simple. Sleek. Clean. Collages of family and friends. No scattered photos. No clutter.

Color me green.

Abby and I thought we had made real progress cleaning off her desk Saturday. I mean, we even believed FINDING the desk was a major deal. Jeremy took one look at the white bill organizer, breast cancer pink file box, and two goblets on the upper shelf and declared, "Too much stuff."

So today I struggle with jealously and wistfulness. Looking around with my son's eyes. And even after the declutter rampage of the last year, I say with him:

Too much stuff!

Simplicity still out of reach.

And it begins again.

What stuff can you eliminate from your surroundings or life today?

"There are two ways to get enough: one is to continue to accumulate more and more. The other is to desire less." ~G.K. Chesterton

Copyright © 2009 by Sandra Heska King

Friday, November 6, 2009

I Don't Remember

I read something in a blog today that made me remember a tale from high school.

I'd really rather not.

I was a sophomore or junior. Not sure which. I had a steady boyfriend. I wore his class ring wrapped with angora or mohair yarn, often rewrapped to match my clothing.

We went to a party. I don't remember it. I drank vodka. Straight, I think. I don't remember.

He took me to a friend's house where a girlfriend tried to sober me up. I don't remember.

I don't remember coming home. It wouldn't have been late because my curfew coincided with my grade in school. I faintly remember walking past my mom. I don't remember going to bed.

I panicked the next morning when I felt my naked finger. I ripped the covers off the bed. Searched under the pillows and on the floor. I called his sister and asked if we had broken up. She didn't know.

So I prayed. I bargained. "Please God. If you help me find this ring, I will never do anything like this again. I promise!"

I ran out to the driveway. There lay the ring at my feet. How did it get there? I don't remember. But I believe God directed me straight to it.

It happened again a few years later, though. Another boyfriend. The one I "Dear John'd" when I met Dennis.

We were at his parents' house. I think it was tequila this time. I remember being in the bathroom with his sister, washing my left ring finger and crying about a ring that I never had. I don't remember.

That was the last time. Thank goodness.

Stuff I'd rather not remember. Stuff He brings to my remembrance to remind me that:

  • When I fail Him, He never fails me.
  • When I fall down, He picks me up.
  • When I am a promisebreaker, He is a promisekeeper.

Sins forgiven and forgotten.

I remember.

What do you remember that you'd rather forget?

"Remember not the sins of my youth and my rebellious ways; according to your love remember me, for you are good, O LORD." ~Psalm 25:7

Copyright © 2009 by Sandra Heska King

Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Price of Procrastination

Replace a furnace blower motor: Cost $300. 

For failure to check and replace inexpensive furnace filters in a timely fashion.

Another trip around the same mountain.

Bounced check fees from failure to deduct automatic draft. Cost: $200.

Credit card bill paid online two days before its due date instead of three: Cost: Only $10, but a recurring issue.

Differential replaced because the fluid ran dry: $600.

Just for starters.

I too often practice the Scarlett method. I'll think about the diet tomorrow. I'll think about exercise tomorrow. I'll clean house tomorrow. I'll work on my lesson tomorrow.

Then the waistband is too tight, and I can't find the perfect dress for the office party. My neck goes into spasm because of weak muscles, and the doctor sends me to physical therapy. I hide from unexpected company. I pull an all-nighter.

Putting a price on procrastination can be difficult or impossible.

I often wonder if my mother-in-law would have died at 72 from hemorrhagic pancreatitis had she sought medical care when she first began to feel "punk," an unusual occurrence for her.

My own mother would not have suffered for so long from severe hypothyroidism had she undergone routine health maintenance.

Baby Jeremy might not have spent Christmas Day in the hospital after a seizure had I gotten a flu shot and not gifted him with my misery.

Neglecting spiritual maintenance like a regular quiet time, Bible study, and prayer can cost the ability to rise above disappointments and various life challenges.

Neglecting a relationship like putting off a visit, a phone call, a hug, or words of love and forgiveness can cost a lifetime of regret.

At any rate, we will now be checking furnace filters regularly.

I just remembered. I'm late for my annual gynecologic exam and mammogram as well as an eye check. I'm going to get right on that in the morning.

What are you putting off today? What consequences have your suffered from procrastinating?

"You may delay, but time will not." ~Benjamin Franklin

"Procrastination is one of the most common and deadliest of diseases, and its toll on success and happiness is heavy." ~Wayne Gretzky


Copyright © 2009 by Sandra Heska King

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Filling My Bag

My mother wrote today that they ran out of Halloween treats after 15 minutes. That it reminded her of the year Grandma laid rubber to the store. She had us kids empty our bags so they could continue treating until Grandma squealed into the driveway with a new supply.

I don't remember that!

You'd think I'd remember that.

That Mom stole my hard-earned stash before I even had a sniff.

I'm so glad God doesn't swipe my stuff. In fact, I have the most amazing bag of goodies, miraculously refilled whether I sneak a taste or gorge myself. Always something new and delicious.

I'm learning more about this as I lead a small group on Sweeter Than Chocolate, an inductive study of Psalm 119. 

God's Word brims with a cornucopia of colors. It tumbles fragrances and flavors. And it's all healthy!

Bittersweet bites.
Tantalizing tidbits.
Crispy crunches.
Luscious lollipops.
Scrumptious smoothies.
Sometimes sour suckers.
Divine, delectable delights.

Taste and see. Chew and behold.

And then give it away. Share it. Fresh. Not stale.

And dive in again. The bag is never empty!

Are you eating daily? Are you sharing?

"How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!" Psalm 119:103 (NIV)
Oh - just read the whole Psalm!

Copyright © 2009 by Sandra Heska King

Monday, November 2, 2009

Seize Today - A Poem




I will seize today
For it is shiny and new
Sparkling with promise
A gift wrapped
With moments for delight
To savor.
Anticipation.

I will let go of yesterday's
Wrinkled regrets
Faded failures
Broken bows of disappointment
Moments to forget
And forgive.
Finished.

I will not treasure tomorrow
For God has not promised
On earth
A gift out of reach
Withered moments to hug
And love.
Today.

Will you seize today?

"Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes." James 4:14

Copyright © 2009 by Sandra Heska King

Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Famous One

Dennis left the AARP magazine open on the kitchen table to page 16.  There, staring at me this morning, was a sultry picture of Elizabeth Taylor in her younger years.  In a bathing suit.  One piece.  But with a good bit of top exposure for 1959, methinks.  

Underneath the photo was a little blurb referring to the book, How to Be a Movie Star: Elizabeth Taylor in Hollywood.  (Check out those chapter headings.)

What also struck me was the statement that Julia Roberts was "pulling down $20 million per film" in 2006.

We pay our stars a lot. 

We hold them up as idols and icons.  Often overlook their unrepentant sins and lifestyles.

Humans.  Like us.

Then I remembered something Mary DeMuth tweeted yesterday.  "It could be just me, but it seems Christians are extremely starstruck by other famous Christians."

It could be just me, but it seems we are often starstruck by someone or something other than the One who made the stars.

We so easily forget what the Great Celebrity has done.

Like the Israelites.  Their famous one had disappeared up a mountain.  They could not look past their earthly "star" to the One they had seen in the pillars of cloud and fire.  So they coerced Aaron to build them a golden calf to idolize.  Of course, that ended up being smashed to smithereens.

Do we need something tangible?  Someone touchable to look up to?

How many of us rush to church with the same enthusiasm and excitement that we rush to see a concert?

How many of us have stayed home from church to cheer for our favorite football team or player?

How is it that we fall over each other to hear a famous speaker and miss the message of the man or woman next door?

When we expect others to be what only Jesus is, when we place them on pedestals, we set them up for failure and ourselves for disappointment.

We are probably not as likely to find Jesus on a stage or in a stadium or on the big screen.  We will more likely find Him on His knees in the mud.  Next to the homeless, the friendless, the helpless.

Sheila Walsh says in Let Go, "It's hard to fall off a pedestal when you are washing someone's feet."

We need to look through those we are tempted to "worship," and behold Jesus.

We need to look for those who are on their knees.  Serving.  Get down with them.  Then look up.  The only one left standing is Jesus.

The Famous One.



Who are you starstruck with today?

"Oh Lord, our Lord, our majestic is your name in all the earth!" ~Psalm 8:9 (NIV)


Copyright © 2009 by Sandra Heska King

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Seven Basic Steps to Successful Christian Writing

I stumbled today on one of my first articles accepted for publication.  It appeared in The Christian Writer back in 1982, and it's speaking to me even now as I venture back into this scary territory.  Even though the editor, T.A. Norton, wrote "I like its unique concept for success,"  I now find the original a bit corny.  So I've sliced, diced and updated it just a tad.


S  Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness.  A Christian writer puts God first.

U  Understand God gives different gifts and ministries.  A Christian writer must use what He gives.

C  Consecrate your service to the Lord.  Today.  Every day.  To God.  Not money or fame.

C  Commit your way to the Lord.  Trust in Him, and He will do it.  A Christian writer gives control to God.

E  Endure hardship like a good soldier.  A writer's life involves dedication, discipline, and diligence.

S  Study to show yourself approved.  A Christian writer needs to learn the Word as well as the craft.

S  Speak the truth in love.  In season and out of season.  Fiction and nonfiction.  In all genres.

Question:  How do YOU spell SUCCESS?

Scriptures:  Matthew 6:33, I Corinthians 12:4-5, I Chronicles 29:5, Psalm 37:4-5, II Timothy 3:3, II Timothy 2:15, Ephesians 4:15



Copyright © 2009 by Sandra Heska King

Monday, October 26, 2009

A Carrot, an Egg, or a Coffee Bean?

How do you respond when bad things happen?  Or tough and rough things?  Or even little disappointments?  Or simply unexpected changes?

Do you melt down and fall apart?  Go limp and give up?  Become hard and embittered?  Or do you release the fragrance that's within, become richer and enrich the lives around you?

Dennis emailed this to me on Friday.  It's not a new story, but I think it speaks to many of our situations and bears repeating.


Are You a Carrot, an Egg, or a Coffee Bean?

A young woman went to her mother and told her about her life and how things were so hard for her.  She did not know how she was going to make it and wanted to give up.  She was tired of fighting and struggling.  It seemed as one problem was solved, a new one arose.  Her mother took her to the kitchen.

She filled three pots with water and placed each on a high fire.

 
Soon the pots came to a boil.  In the first she placed carrots, in the second she placed eggs, and in the last, she placed ground coffee beans.  

She let them sit and boil without saying a word.

In about twenty minutes, she turned off the burners.  She fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl.  She pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl.  Then she ladled the coffee out and placed it in a bowl.  

Turning to her daughter, she asked, "Tell me what you see."

"Carrots, eggs, and coffee," she replied.

Her mother brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots.  She did and noted that they were soft.  The mother then asked the daughter to take an egg and break it.  After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard boiled egg.  

Finally, the mother asked the daughter to sip the coffee.  The daughter smiled as she tasted its rich aroma.  

The daughter then asked, "What does it mean, Mother?"

The mother explained that each of these objects had faced the same adversity:  boiling water.  Each reacted differently.  

The carrot went in strong, hard, and unrelenting.  However, after being subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak.

The egg had been fragile.  Its thin outer shell had protected its liquid interior, but after sitting through the boiling water, its inside became hardened.

The ground coffee beans were unique, however.  After they were in the boiling water, they had changed the water.

"Which are you?" she asked her daughter.  "When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond?  Are you a carrot, an egg, or a coffee bean?" 



~Author Unknown

 
Which are you?  

Are you the egg that starts with a malleable heart that becomes hard with the heat of a trial? 


Are you a carrot that seems strong but becomes weak in adversity? 


Are you a coffee bean that even when ground and subjected to trial releases flavor and fragrance?  That changes the very circumstance that brings pain?

Which are you?  A carrot, an egg, or a coffee bean?

"Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.  And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing."  James 1:2-4

Copyright © 2009 by Sandra Heska King

Friday, October 23, 2009

Expect the Unexpected

My phone beep, beep, beeped in the middle of yesterday's quiet, well-planned, writing afternoon with a text message. 

"Mom, prepare yourself.  I'm going to call in a few minutes."

My heart skipped a beat.  My daughter struggles with various health issues.  I knew she had a doctor's appointment.  She has a 25-year-old friend with a bowel cancer recurrence.  I know of several young people who face serious and even life-threatening illness.  Was it her turn?

Prepare yourself.

Kind of late.  Always good to be prepared before you need to be prepared.

I went to my knees.  And waited.

What do you do when you get that unexpected call?  The call that suddenly changes everything?  The one that shoots a hole in your expectations and dreams and comfortable bubble?  Are you like a mighty oak with a deep and strong root system that can bend and sway with the wind?  Or are you a tree with shallow roots that topples in the slightest breeze?

Can you adapt?  Just one more time?

Can you grow stronger and push those roots a little deeper?  Just one more time?

Prepare yourself.

But I knew.  A gut feeling.  I'm a mom after all.  This wouldn't be good news.  Necessarily.

The call came.  One of very mixed emotions.  Excitement.  Fear.

Worry.  About disappointing us.  Especially her dad.  Even her brother.

Disappointment.  God's appointment.

My daughter, now 24, single mom to a 7-year-old little girl, is pregnant again.

New life.

New challenges in the face of the unmarried issue, the school issue, the no-job issue, the no-money issue, the health issue.  For starters.

But she is loved.  By the father.  By his mother.  By us.  By our Father.

Unexpected by us.  Not unexpected by God.

Now expecting the unexpected.

Another life to touch that might one day touch the world.

I'm going to be a grandma again.

And it's all good.  Because babies are good.  Because God is good.

Are you prepared for the unexpected?

"But I am like an olive tree flourishing in the house of God; I trust in God's unfailing love for ever and ever.  I will praise you forever for what you have done; in your name I will hope, for your name is good.  I will praise you in the presence of your saints."  Psalm 52:8-9 (NIV)


Copyright © 2009 by Sandra Heska King

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Book Review - Let Go by Sheila Walsh

"I will deliver you." 

Sheila Walsh, Women of Faith speaker, opened her book with these words from God spoken in her spirit.  She felt "discouraged and bone weary."  Just like so many of us women at so many times in our lives.

She needed "more peace about the issue."  So she began a "quest to study and understand what it means to be delivered."

A sense of frustration dogged my reading in the beginning because I wanted Sheila to "bleed."  I wanted to know exactly what struggle, what issue required deliverance.

I continued to read in my usual manner with pencil in hand, marking statements that spoke to me or seemed to relate to the theme of letting go.

Stuff like...
  • Accepting what is enables us to embrace a different future.
  • What should have happened did.
  • When we are unable to forgive or refuse to forgive, we become hostages to the pain of the past.
  • Forgiveness unclenches our fists and allows us to let go.
  • The most difficult person to forgive can be the one we see in the mirror every morning.
  • Resting in the love of God means letting go of all the broken pieces we cling to and clinging instead to him.
  • It's hard to fall off a pedestal when you are washing someone's feet.
  • Guilt tells me I've done something wrong.  Shame tells me I am something wrong.
  • If I place my hope in anything or anyone other than Jesus, I will be disappointed.
And then she bled.  She shared the story.  And the intense spiritual struggle.  And wise words from a child.

And what seemed disjointed (which is often the way of healing) and all of my markings came together.  And carried more meaning.

Sometimes in order to hang on, we have to let go.

Thank you, Sheila, for being open and vulnerable.  For letting go of the need to protect yourself.  We've all been there in some form, and your overcoming gives us hope.

Copyright © 2009 by Sandra Heska King

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Non-Noticer


Focus is good.  Staying on the path.  Not looking right or left.  Eyes on the goal.

Except when driving.  Owl eyes rule.  A broad perspective.  Watching out for others.

A good time to be a noticer.

So you don't run someone off the road or into oncoming traffic.  Like me.

She had her blinker on.  Slowing down to get on the highway.  South.  But then she veered off the entrance ramp.  Toward me.  Even though I was blinking.  Getting ready to turn north.  She changed her mind.  Took cuts.  Don't think she even heard my horn.

A mile gone by the time I turned behind her.

Ms. Cauliflower Ear.  Cell phone glued firmly to the left.

But she never took her eyes off the road.

The non-noticer.

Focus is good.  Staying on the path.  Not looking right or left.  Eyes on goal.

Following Jesus.

With His eyes.  A broad perspective.  Watching out for others.

So as not to run them off the road.

So as to pull them from the ditch.

So as to bind their wounds and carry them until they can move on their own.

Following Jesus.

A good time to be a noticer.

"Heart-shattered lives ready for love don't for a moment escape God's notice." Psalm 51:17 (MSG)


Copyright © 2009 by Sandra Heska King
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