Friday, March 30, 2012

5 Minute Friday: Gift



I'm always grateful for the gift of grace. Grace greater than all our sin. Grace from my Lord when I mess up. Grace from my family for my mistakes. Grace from my students when it takes me twice as long to grade something. Grace from my own heart to myself is so hard to give...still learning.

I'm grateful for the gift of love. Love when I don't deserve it. Love of my husband and daughters. Love from friends both near and far. The love of God, how rich and pure...if the oceans were ink, they wouldn't be enough to write God's love across the sky (you know the song).

I'm grateful for the gift of music. Music that is the song of my heart, that I can no longer sing prettily because I can't hear it all. But that I can hear it AT all is a gift and a grace, and a gentle reminder that this disability is only temporary for me--it's permanent for so many others.

And finally, I'm grateful for the gift of literacy. Truly, truly grateful for the Bible, the plethora of books on my burgeoning shelves, the wisdom they contain, the stories between their covers. All of it is gift to my hungry eyes and brain that thirsts for knowledge and truth and beauty and yes, sometimes escape.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

My Passions

In response to Day 12: Finding My Voice

I was going to write about my family, but then I realized this is about me. So, here we go.

1. Learning more about God.
2. Reading. I read a lot.
3. Journaling. It's my therapy. I also encourage others to journal.
4. Encouraging others, at least until I'm about empty, then I'm pretty much done.
5. Teaching. I have rediscovered this passion.
6. Drinking coffee. Really good.
7. Talking to my friends on the phone (a bit more difficult now that I've only got one good ear).
8. Singing (also more difficult with one good ear).
9. 18th-19th century American literature.
10. Jane Austen.
11. Shakespeare.

Encouraging others: I'm great at encouraging everyone else except myself. Why is that? I do okay in the spotlight in a classroom or speaking to a group, but when it comes to praise, I deflect it all. I am not sure why except it was what I was taught to do.

So I encourage others until I'm drained dry and wrung out. Because I love it and it's my calling.

Friday, March 16, 2012

5 Minute Friday

The topic: Brave

It's so funny that this is the topic for today. A few years ago "Brave" was my theme. I worked very hard to step out of my comfort zone and do things differently than I had before. Try things. Put myself out there more.

You see, I'd been hurt and betrayed by someone I'd thought was close to me. (She was close, and I allowed her to stay close even though her mental illness influenced her to damage me at the core of who I am. In retrospect I should have done more to protect myself. I know better now.) I believed the lies that were told to me, and I was not the person I had been before those awful weeks of phone calls ending in hang-ups and venomous emails and instant messages.

Thankfully, her mental illness was soon curtailed by pharmaceuticals. My heart, however, was not so easily repaired. It is still scarred in places from the experience. I will always be wary of people wanting to be close to me, a sad by-product of the damage inflicted.

The following year I was faced with the choice: should I be brave, or should I continue to hide the core of who I am and the gifts I've been given?

I chose bravery in small doses.

{end of 5 minutes}

I'm doing better now than I was then. My ear surgery certainly curtailed my bravery in a physical sense, as I am not able to try snowboarding, skiing, snowshoeing, or any other snow-related sports...but I did get out  into the wild and took some nature photos. Yay!

PS: If you want better brave reading, read this from my friend Teri Lynne.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

a bird's eye view

Taken with my phone, 7 March 2012, Alaska

Another shift and practice in perspective--this one is difficult for me.

Not only am I short in stature, I'm a keep-busy kind of girl, usually with my nose in a book. As a child I ran watching my feet, afraid to fall down. I don't often look up from the work I'm doing--I keep plugging along, working hard and doing what I've been asked to do.

Looking at the big picture overwhelms me.

One time in a faculty meeting in our small-town high school, we were led through some questions. At the end of the list, we were told what we "were" based on our score on the little quiz. Several people were eagles. Others were beavers. Me? I was a mouse.

At first, I was offended. A mouse? Really? But it wasn't much later that I realized the assessment tool was absolutely spot on. When I'm working on a project, or in a group, I go down the list, one thing at a time, checking things off and getting things done. I do what's in front of me, concentrating on the task at hand, just like a mouse.

I'm learning to leave the big picture to the visionaries and with God. I am learning to be who God created me to be, the best me I can become, and if He wants me to be a visionary, He will give me the insight. Until then, I'll be my little mousey self.

If I can't soar with the eagles (and I was blessed to see some eagles soaring last week), I can sure work with the mice!

This post is part of the 31 Days to Better Writing.

all about perspective

What is my perspective?

Good question.

I started this blog in 2005 (I thought it was sooner, but I may have deleted some posts at some point) as a writing blog. My "personal" blog was on xanga at the time, and this was an "extra" place for me to experiment with writing and book reviewing. At the time I had left teaching and was thinking of pursuing writing.

In 2006, my husband went active duty, and off we went on our military great adventure. I continued writing and reviewing books, as I had been doing since 1995. I was blessed to see some publishing credits, as well as a return to the classroom last year.

I've generally thought of myself as a woman of many trades who masters none! I am not an absolute expert on anything. I know a little bit about a lot of stuff. I'm great with a search engine and I can find info for people usually pretty quickly. I can speak in front of a crowd. I know what it's like to mother daughters. I know what it's like to experience my parents' divorce after their 35th wedding anniversary. I know what it's like to substitute teach, to teach middle schoolers, to teach high school, to hug students after a classmate's suicide. I know what it's like to chaperone prom after not going to my own in high school. I know what it's like to have a sister with infertility. I know what it's like to adopt an older dog into our home and hearts. I also know what it's like to face the decision to put our dog down humanely (two different dogs). I know what it's like to be home while my husband is in the Middle East serving his country. I have seen the northern lights, eagles in flight, and a moose being butchered on the side of the road.

In short, I know my own experiences, and I hope that my optimistic perspective on life, with all its challenges and quirks and twists and turns, would somehow inspire others to look heavenward. To see the extraordinary in the ordinary. To look more closely, write things down for posterity, and to love with open hearts.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Three Gifts of a Thousand

March 12, 2012: A gift in wind, in water, in white:
  • The breezes blowing the pine branches outside my office window, upon which the tiny little grey and white birds perch (are they sparrows or chickadees?)
  • The tea from my Keurig, which uses water...without very hot water, we never get the flavor of the tea.
  • The feet and feet of snow that stretch through the yard. Beautiful in the sunshine, sparkling and white.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Spring Reading Thing 2012

Here we go...year #6! (previous years:    2007     2008     2009     2010     2011) 2012 <--wrap up

What it is and how to enter
Posting guidelines list:

  1. Cooking the Books - Bonnie Calhoun (Kindle via NetGalley, for review)
  2. By the Light of the Silvery Moon - Tricia Goyer (Kindle via NetGalley, for review)
  3. Seven - Jen Hatmaker (recommended from many friends) **pushed to summer reading list**
  4. You're Already Amazing - Holley Gerth (picked up from a table at Barnes and Noble, looked good and I always need encouragement)
  5. Joy for Beginners - Erica Bauermeister (Kindle via library loan)
  6. **delightful!!!**
  7. I Love a Man in Uniform - Lily Burana (won from Homefront United Network contest)
  8. 1001 Things to Love About Military Life by Crooks, Henderson, Hightower and Scherer (won from Homefront United Network contest) **will get to another time**
  9. Blue Moon Bay - Lisa Wingate (CFBA review; tour was last month)
Other books read:

  1. A Billion Reasons Why - Kristin Billerbeck. Cute story.
  2. Beyond the Gathering Storm - Janette Oke
  3. When Tomorrow Comes - Janette Oke 
  4. The Language of Flowers - Sarah Jio This was a good book, great story, thought-provoking.
  5. Heiress - Susan May Warren
  6. Baroness - Susan May Warren (for review)
  7. Wish You Were Here - Beth Vogt (for review)
  8. Death Comes to Pemberley - P.D. James
  9. A Weekend with Mr. Darcy -  Victoria Connelly
  10. Wallflower in Bloom - Claire Cook
  11. Then Again - Diane Keaton
  12. Must Love Dogs - Claire Cook
  13. Multiple Choice - Claire Cook
  14. Summer Blowout - Claire Cook
  15. You are a Writer--So Start Acting Like One - Jeff Goins
  16. Chateau of Echoes - Siri Mitchell

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Late to the party--day 3

Here is my response to the prompt here.

Photo courtesy of Mr. Think Tank.

Nestled between two other houses on the rain-wet street, the cottage seemed just one of many. Similar in style and structure as its sister homes, unassuming in nature at first glance, the house did not attract notice; at least, not like the sunset orange cottage two doors down.

This house, however, was not like the others. Purple, blue and green paints quietly blended into a visual cacophony of color. The funny thing was, though, the old man who lived in the purple, blue, and green-festooned home thought his house was grey.

Bushes, trees, fences, other houses---all in shades of grey.

He was color blind, you see.

How often are we like the old man who lived in the purple, blue, and green house? We live in a gorgeous, color-festooned world, full of beautiful things both big and small. Blessings all ours, with ten thousand beside, as the old hymn of our faith reminds us.

Yet all we see is shades of grey.

I’m just as guilty as the rest of the world. I am surrounded by amazing beauty, both in my home and just outside my door. I cannot even tell you, mostly because I’m embarrassed, how often I allow the mundane details and problems of my life to color my entire world grey. Bland. Boring. Uneventful. Even depressing.

Oh Lord, please open my color-blind eyes to Your glory. Your majesty expressed in Your creation, every day.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

The Messenger by Siri Mitchell

My review at the end. Enjoy!

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
The Messenger
Bethany House Publishers (March 1, 2012)
Siri Mitchell


Siri Mitchell graduated from the University of Washington with a business degree and worked in various levels of government. As a military spouse, she has lived all over the world, including Paris and Tokyo. Siri enjoys observing and learning from different cultures. She is fluent in French and loves sushi.

But she is also a member of a strange breed of people called novelists. When they’re listening to a speaker and taking notes, chances are, they’ve just had a great idea for a plot or a dialogue. If they nod in response to a really profound statement, they’re probably thinking, “Yes. Right. That’s exactly what my character needs to hear.” When they edit their manuscripts, they laugh at the funny parts. And cry at the sad parts. Sometimes they even talk to their characters.

Siri wrote 4 books and accumulated 153 rejections before signing with a publisher. In the process, she saw the bottoms of more pints of Ben & Jerry’s than she cares to admit. At various times she has vowed never to write another word again. Ever. She has gone on writing strikes and even stooped to threatening her manuscripts with the shredder.


Hannah Sunderland felt content in her embrace of the Quaker faith

...until her twin brother ran off and joined the army and ended up captured and in jail. Suddenly Hannah's world turns on end. She longs to bring her brother some measure of comfort in the squalid, frigid prison where he remains. But the Quakers believe they are not to take sides, not to take up arms. Can she sit by and do nothing while he suffers?

Jeremiah Jones has an enormous task before him. Responsibility for a spy ring is now his, and he desperately needs access to the men in prison, whom they are seeking to free. A possible solution is to garner a pass for Hannah. But while she is fine to the eye, she holds only disdain for him--and agreeing would mean disobeying those she loves and abandoning a bedrock of her faith.

With skill and sensitivity, Mitchell tells a story of two unlikely heroes seeking God's voice, finding the courage to act, and discovering the powerful embrace of love.

If you would like to read the first chapter of The Messenger, go HERE.

Pattie's Review:

I really enjoyed this novel. It combines Colonial history and spy intrigue novel elements; throw in a Quaker heroine, a war-wounded, battle-weary hero, and a few thee's and thou's, and you have The Messenger.

I have found myself moving away from historical novels lately, but because I really enjoyed Mitchell's contemporary fiction and her historical A Constant Heart, I had confidence I would like this one. When it didn't follow the second-person-style narration of A Heart Most Worthy, instead offering alternating chapters between the two main characters, I knew I'd like it.

I think I might have finished it in just a day or two if I hadn't had to take time away from the book for things like cooking dinner, and grading papers. (Don't you hate it when life gets in the way of a good book?!)

Overall, I recommend this book for those who have any interest at all in Colonial America, the search for God, the Quaker faith, or Siri Mitchell's books. You will not be disappointed.

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Sharing: Grammar Goofs

Thanks to CopyBlogger for permission to share. It's wonderful! 15 Grammar Goofs That Make You Look Silly
Like this infographic? Get more copywriting tips from Copyblogger.

Monday, March 05, 2012

a better writer...

#BetterWriterSomething I need...

March Reading

Playing along with author Kaye Dacus...What am I reading now?

  • What is the most recent book you’ve finished reading? (Please tell us a little about it, and whether or not you enjoyed/would recommend it.)
    I have read 17 books thus far this year. I think my two favorites are Camy Tang's Protection for Hire and Nicole Seitz's Beyond Molasses Creek.
  • What are you currently reading?
    Siri Mitchell's latest The Messenger; Tyora Moody's debut novel When Rain Falls.
    What’s the next book on your To Be Read stack?
  • The Anchorage Reads 2012 selection: Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi 

Thursday, March 01, 2012

What am I reading?

I wanted to post on this first day of March. It's funny because yesterday was Leap Year day, and I didn't have to write the date, and I still had plenty of normal life stuff to do. Nothing really special or out of the ordinary. I feel a little badly for letting the day go by without some sort of special something, but what was there to do? Just regular ole life.

In typical Pattie fashion, I started two books over the past two days: Tyora Moody's debut When Rain Falls on my Kindle (PDF ARC, because I volunteered to help Ty as an influencer for her debut), and Siri Mitchell's latest historical novel The Messenger, in paperback for CFBA.

The saddest part? I can't read either of them today until I get my lesson ready for tonight! My work schedule changes every 3 months, as I teach for a college that runs on 11-week terms (we do 18-weeks' worth of college work in an 11-week time frame). My new Thursday class is also different in that it's done as a "hybrid"  (a mix of online and in-person work, which is new for me) and as a VTC (video teleconference, so I teach students in front of me and students at a remote location on a TV screen--also new for me). Oy. So it takes extra planning.

What else am I reading? Of course the textbook Strategies for Successful Writing, and every week I'm still working on The Artist's Way (slow going but I think it's because I've read it before...maybe it will pick up when I move to the next book in the series). I also have Tsh Oxenreider's Organized Simplicity open on my Kindle (not sure about it yet...everyone raves, yet I'm bogged down in the family mission statement part). And of course, I'm still reading through the Bible (The 1996 NLT Women's Study Bible with devos and introductions by Jill Briscoe). Right now I'm in Acts.