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


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? 
2.  What was your first paid job?
3.  Would you prefer to swim or ice skate?
4.  What is your greatest weakness? 
5.  When it comes to "stuff," are you a keeper or a tosser?
6.  What musical instrument are you?
7.  What would Marcus Annan say is your greatest strength?
8.  At a theme park, do you head for the roller coasters or the shows?
9.  Who was your childhood hero/heroine?
10. Where do you behold God?
11. Would you prefer to eat (peasant) bread or (elderflower) cheesecake?
12. What one-word message did you take away for yourself from Behold the Dawn?
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! 
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.


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.


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.

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

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

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
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