Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Just Me and My Shadow

Scott and I were able to drive down the Oregon coast this past Friday
and were astounded and blessed with the view.
It is hard to describe the beautiful mountain peaks that end in
foamy, sandy ocean beaches without the cliques.

 I was speechless.

All the beauties of America are wrapped up into one coast.
Viewing all 518 pictures later,
I was surprised that my favorites were always the ones with my
shadow.
I realized how much I have missed my
shadow,
 my elusive, long-lost friend, who hides for

I know she's there, I know she is a part of me,
 I just don't enjoy her presence very often.
I have to live by faith that she is there,
waiting to publicly join me on one of my
Momma Mindy Moments.

Sometimes, my shadow has a sassy attitude.

She was happy to be near Astoria, where Lewis and Clark spent their second winter.



My shadow is happily married to another scarcely seen shadow.


Our shadows are much wider than we actually are, of course.

My shadow loves wading in water with those Chaco sandals
that never leave her feet once the rainy season is over.

This is the same ocean water where Lewis and Clark soaked their prickly-pear cactus scraped toes
after their acclaimed trip across the Louisiana Purchase.

They just don't have a picture to prove it.


My shadow loves little flowers that bloom randomly in the sand.


My shadow's spouse loved the friendly dog on the beach.
He named him Buster. His face was cute and all smashed-in lookin'.
The dog's face, that is.



A shadow is a flighty, fleeting image,
but it is a representation of a very real presence.
The shadow is a promise that something else is really there,
its presence made evident with the light of the sun.


I looked up "shadow" verses in the Bible and was reminded
 the Lord God of Heaven has a shadow. I guess He has wings, too.


Psalm 91:1
"He that dwells in the secret place of the most High
shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty."

Psalm 57:1
"Be merciful unto me, O God, be merciful unto me:
for my soul trusts in you: yes,
in the shadow of your wings will I make my refuge,
until these calamities be past."

The Lord's shadow is a representation of His very real presence,
offering us shelter, comfort, help and refuge.
As His almighty wings surround us,
the Lord's shadow is a promise that He is really there;
His presence is made evident by the Light of His Son.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

When the Lord Gives You Rain...

B U Y


R A I N B O O T S !


It does rain and rain and rain around here.

In fact, we started the month of April by breaking a record for rainfall.


When we first found out we would be moving here five years ago, I was sure I would never see the sun or be dry again. When I did some Internet sleuthing, I was surprised to discover that many other cities have more annual rainfall than Seattle's 37 inches per year.
Atlanta, Georgia, 50.2 inches
New York, NY 46.33
Springfield, MO 44.97
Tulsa, OK 42.42

In fact, the average rainall here is not that much greater than some areas in the Midwest.

Des Moines, IA 34.72
Minneapolis, MN 29.41



So, how did Seattle get this reputation for being so rainy?
'Cuz it rains all the time.
But, it just lightly rains, it mists enough to frizz your hair and dampen the hems of your jeans, but not enough to get you soaked or make you change your plans.

Most of the time.

Sometimes you might wish you could change plans.

They only call off the game if it is pouring rain or if the field is unfit for play. It is just understood that the parents can sit in the drizzling rain at 40degrees and the kids can catch, throw and hit when their fingers are approaching numbness. Remember, it is 40 and you are WET! Notice the heater on the far end of the bench? How about the neat chair with the built in blue umbrella? They must be natives.


But, what can be really, really, really, really, really challenging is not seeing the sun for days. That is where Seattle wins the award. Seattle , with an average of 226 cloudy days per year, ranks only behind Anchorage,AK; Forks, WA; Astoria,OR; and Olympia,WA for the least amount of sunny days. Simply put, only four cities in the United States see the sun less days in a year than Seattle.

Rollie, a long-time Seattle resident, claims the record number of sunless days in a row is 90. That's three months. That's 1/4 of a year. That's a looooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooong time to NOT see the sun.

In preaching to unbelievers, Paul and Barnabus use rain to explain the goodness of God.

Acts 14:17, "He did not leave Himself without witness, in that He did good and gave you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness."

The goodness of God gives us rain? Many in the PNW might find that a little hard to believe when it is about the third month in a row and they've barely seen the sun. But, my favorite preacher (my husband) once said,


"If there was no rain, our life would be a desert."



Instead of looking outside and saying,

"Oh, it's raining again!" or

"The sun isn't shining - again!"

I try to say things like,


The rock cress blooms are so beautiful!


"Look! My evergreen clematis just bloomed!"



"Oh, look at all the little babies this year!"



"The jonquils are so cheerfully nodding their heads." (OK, that was corny.)



"My heather is STILL blooming!



"The forsythia is the sunshine in my yard."

(These pics were all taken at the beginning of April.)

Seattle is called the Emerald City because it is green ALL year round. Not to rub it in to those from other climates, but I mean ALL year round.

Without the rain they wouldn't have this title.

We have so many brilliantly-hued flowers and shrubs that something is blooming ALL year around.

Without the rain we wouldn' have this lushness.
Yes, the PNW experiences the goodness of the Lord everyday.



The Rainy Day

(3rd verse)

Be still, sad heart, and cease repining;

Behind the clouds is the sun still shining;

Thy fate is the common fate of all,

Into each life some rain must fall,

Some days must be dark and dreary.


~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow




It's not really about the rain. It's really how we cope with it.

When we are hit with another torrential downpour, instead of moaning, Beth and I say,
"Oh, good, we get to wear our rainboots!" Then, we stomp and splash in and out of buildings while running errands, with women eying our boots enviously and complimenting our taste in footwear.
I thank the Lord for the rain,


I plant flowers that need the rain,


then I splash around in my adorable new, polka-dotted red RAINBOOTS!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Gramma's Little Monkey Visits the Pet Store

This video is just in case anybody wants to see how my very gifted grandchild acted in the pet store on Saturday. Sorry, Gramma isn't the gifted program for videography, especially when people walk in front of my camera. Like, duh!?!

video

I thought it was adorable that she knows the signs for bird and fish.

She is also wearing big girl panties. Way to go Brookie! Way to go Brookie's Mom! She isn't 2 until September.

On Sunday, Jana and family visited attended our chapel since they were in town for Mother's Day weekend. Little Brookie was sitting quietly, until she noticed it was her Grandpa preaching. To everybody's delight, she called several times, "Poppa, Poppa!"

Because there haven't been babies in the chapel for years, the congregation enjoyed hearing that cute little voice echoing in the high-ceilinged room. There were smiles and quiet laughs, enjoying the delight of a little girl who loves her Poppa. Of course, her Mommy wasn't as happy as the rest of us, and like a good Mommy, made her sit still and be quiet for the rest of the sermon.

Somehow, I imagine that each time my husband now steps up into the pulpit, I will always hear that little voice calling in delight, "Poppa, Poppa!" And, I will smile with delight, even if the echoes of love are only in my heart and mind.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Take Me Out to the Ball Game!

Scott and I spend a lot of our nights sitting at baseball games,
cheering on our son.
To be more accurate, I spend a lot of time crouching down in the dirt,
balancing on my high heels,
holding my telephoto lens between the crisscrossed wires of the chain link fence,
trying to capture
The Perfect Shot.

Giving up hours of free time to shiver in the drizzle certainly shows our love and devotion, doesn't it?
 Do they give out merit badges to parents?
We were so thankful the team started the season by winning the
majority of their games with the ten run rule.
To be honest, it wasn't parental pride, it was parental paralysis.
We just wanted to get home and warm up.

A great second baseman, Jon usually can be counted on to make an out.
(I know, I know, I sound like one of those moms.)

He could get on base more often if he didn't have to dance so much.
We all praise the batters, "Good Eye!"
But, wouldn't it be more accurate to be yelling,
"Hey kid, way to duck!"
"Way to jump, babe!"
Don't ask me why - this year "babe" is in vogue for cheering teenage boys on.

BASE HIT!



BEANED!

He didn't dance enough, this time.
 After hearing that sickening "thunk" of speeding baseball against bone,
I heard his teammates yelling,
"Yea, Jon! Way to take it for the team!"

Getting hit means a free limp to first base.
Getting to first base means he can steal his way to third and most likely be hit home.
Yea, we baseball parents encourage stealing - only bases, though.


SELF-PORTRAIT

Then, occasionally, you have that Perfect Baseball Day.
The sun is shining, your team is winning, and you have enough change in your pocket
to buy one of those all beef-nitrite/nitrate free hot dogs.
(We're in WA, remember.)

As I lean over the fence towards third base, the wires gouging little marks into my underarm,
I'm feeling the warmth of the evening sun and enjoying the all-American moment.
It is the stuff memories are made of.

I am in the presence of baseball.

I called my husband in the stands with my cell phone and had daughter, Bethany,
bring my second camera over to capture this photo.
 Just in case, in my old age, I forget that
once,
it didn't rain during a game.

Just once, I'm feeling,
"I don't care if I never get back..."

cuz I'm at my son's

"Old ball game."

Brookie's Reluctant Sign Language Exhibition

video

My kids never performed when I wanted them to. They could know all the animal sounds, the aphabet song, memory verses and other amazing feats. But, when you pulled out the video camera, called Gramma or had an expectant audience waiting, that's what you did - waited for the performance and tried to enduce those little monsters to perform the greatness you knew they possessed.

My grandchild is no different. Even though she is in the gifted and talented program in her Mommy's home, even though there probably isn't a smarter or cuter litle girl around, she just doesn't want to perform. I think she is just a humble genius.

Monday, May 4, 2009

DO YOUR HOMEWORK!

Look at me, I match! I had advice from a friend, Bev, to dress "fun" and "artsy" and to NOT wear a suit to my writers conference. I was relieved to find out I could wear jeans. To me, dressing up is jeans without holes and a shirt that doesn't have baby urp or paint stains. Oh, and my shoes, belt and jewelry need to match. Thank you to my Winzer kids for the matching dangly black and silver earrings. They were perfect!

Unfortunately, my sandals have $3.99 written on the bottom in metallic gray permanent marker, thanks to some employee at Value Village. Util I remember to use the Goo-Gone, I will always have to sit crossed left over right so the price doesn't show.

I was wearing a beautiful filigree ring with a large stone as I left the house with fear and trembling, but matching clothes. I was so excited to have painted nails and this cool ring. I imagined my hands looked like a writer's hand should look. Within one hour of arriving, I looked down and noticed the huge stone was gone and I was left with a filigree ring with an ugly dab of glue.

As my friend Barbie sympathized in laughter, she stated, "That is always the way it goes, you want to look like a million bucks and you end up looking like $.59".


Lesson Number One learned during my writers conference -


Do your homework before meeting with an editor!

I thought I had effectively researched the editor/agents that would be available and what their companies published. I didn't realize that because they are PUBLISHING a genre, doesn't mean that they are PURCHASING that genre. Neither of the two companies I was interested in associating with are aquiring historical fiction.

Because I don't have a completed manuscript, it wasn't a great loss. However, I still wanted that eyeball to eyeball contact with an editor. I actually wanted him to stare into my eyeballs so he didn't see the dirt under my fingernails and the sweat under my arms. I was nervous.

There were approximately eight of us in a room with the Terry Glaspey, Director of Acquisitions from Harvest House Publishers. Each had 3-4 minutes and their initial "pitch" was to be 25 words. Some didn't know that. It was a little nerve-wracking when someone talked too long, threatening the opportunity for others. I found it slightly amusing that they didn't realize that each minute they went over, they were taking a minute from somebody else. Must be the Mommy in me, desiring everybody to effectively take turns. Several others didn't do their homework and gave a pitch for a product Harvest House wasn't buying.

I also thought it was interesting that as soon as some opened their mouths, I found myself thinking, "I wouldn't buy that book!" How would you like the job of listening to rooms full of writers who all think the Lord told them to write their book, but you know it is a book that nobody would ever buy except the writer's mother? People confuse the Lord's presence while a Christian is writing with the Lord inspiring each word. He only did that with the Holy Scriptures. We humans need to be edited and challenged and corrected, but not all writers grasp this concept.

The whole process was fascinating to watch. Since I didn't want to pitch a book that I knew they would never buy, I threw together a quick pitch based on a title from my "jot list" of ideas for books. "Do as We Say, Not as We Did" would be written by parents gutsy enough to admit their parenting mistakes to a younger generation of parents. It's a book I will probably never write, but I wanted the opportunity to see what rejection feels like.

Glaspey was gracious and encouraging, but kindly stated that parenting books put you in the arena of competing with people like the Dobsons, and that people want to see a ministry first, then the book. That was that. I was the last one and with that we all walked out of the room, our few minutes of glory over. We all were rejected. But, we all didn't feel that way. Some he directed to another publisher who might purchase their genre. To another he suggested blogging as an outpouring for her written prayers. To another he complimented the idea, but felt it was too gritty for Harvest House, as they are one of the most conservative publishers. He had something kind to say to everyone. He turned them all away without dashing hopes or inspiration. I was blessed just to watch him at work.

Later, I considered his disappointment as we all walked away, most of us unprepared and/or unpublishable. His job is to acquire manuscripts, and our group didn't make his job easier that day. Editors and agents want to help writers, they want to buy manuscripts, that is their job. Like a newsreporter with that cliqued nose for news and the desire to sniff out a new story, I believe they want to discover that new writer. We all love a good book! They also need to. They need to sell books. It's their business.

The process of getting a book published today is different than it has been in the past. The majority of writers are "found" through contacts at writers conferences, where you have opportunity to meet the editors face to face. Manuscripts sent in unsolicited go in a big pile. A big "slush pile" they don't touch. You in the midwest know how useless slush is. It isn't fluffy enough to play in, it isn't melted enough to add to a water source. It just sits there, thick, gray and useless. They encourage you to make an internet presence with blogs, Facebook, etc.
Other great things I learned at the Conference.....
*If you don't have an appointment, don't try to make a pitch at the urinal! (One editor said it really happened to him!)
*You should always carry business cards
(I can see my title now, Mindy P., M.O.M. (Mommmy of Many)
*Don't wear dress-up shoes two days in a row, it makes your feet hurt.
*You should make sure your family has groceries before you are gone for two full days.
*It is very, very, very encouraging to be in an environment of learning about the craft of writing and meeting many people who just want to use their lives and their talents for the honor and glory of the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen!

Friday, May 1, 2009

It's a Mindy Thing

This is a phrase coined by my close friend, Kirsti, years ago. She observed that whenever I am under a lot of pressure, have too many things on my plate or have something hard to face, I add some project to my life.


...something irrelevant....


...something that could wait....


...something that doesn't affect the outcome of the current situation....


...but something that relieves pressure, adds beauty to my life and gives me a creative explosion of energy. Ya' know, like the same reason you want to put an ADD kid in soccer?



It's a Mindy thing.


So, this morning, despite having one of the biggest days of my life ahead of me, despite the fact that I needed to be ready to go - with matching clothes with no holes or stains, makeup, styled hair and no breakfast stuck in my teeth - I did a Mindy thing.



I gardened. I gardened in my pj's. I had great intentions of sipping my first cup of coffee, having devotions, showering, then leisurely packing my computer bag for a two day Writers' Conference.


Then, I remembered I had bought a small forest of plants for my deck. Cool plants to replace the ones frost killed this year. Yea, we were so shocked that we had all these snows and killing frosts out here in the PNW I just forgot you can cover your plants or bring them inside to save them. Duh.


Before I could even reason with myself, I had grabbed my little red hand shovel and added new seedums to the cool "ladder vignette", a cool term I adopted from a plant artist.

This ladder was washed ashore at Lake Superior. We were trying to watch fireworks while slapping bajillions of kamikaze mosquitoes when I found this in a pile of driftwood. Scott caught me trying to shove it under the seats of the van. I just smiled and said, "Don't look and it won't hurt." Like a good husband, he didn't look and this ladder has been a part of our decorating for about ten years. I like to pretend it was from the Edmund Fitzgerald, a sad part of Duluth's history.

It's the details that add to the vignette, or so she told me. I always wondered what to do with this cool, rusty pulley I never could throw away.

A rusty lock with no key finds home on the ladder, too. I didn't have to look hard to find a rusty nail. Somehow, all my husband's tools and supplies always get left out in the yard.


Repotted my aluminum coffee pots with seedum, then arranged with the lids I couldn't bear to throw out. They have such great glass knobs.

While I was digging around for the coffee pot lids, I found the antique picture I have been looking for.


To finish another project I had to finish before I went into surgery. The picture is now hanging on the right side.
What am I trying to project away this morning? Fear, nervousness and more fear. This morning during the conference I have a 3-4 minute appointment with the editor to pitch a book idea. 3-4 minutes? It takes me that long to clear my throat. It's in a group setting. I am sweating already.
As I try to analyze my fear I realize that for 22 years I have been Mindy the Mom. Since I joined the Northwest Christian Writers' Association last November, I have been Mindy the Writer. People usually don't ask me about my kids, what home schooling curriculum I am using, which diapers worked best, or a few tips on poddy training.
Instead, they'll ask what I am writing, what successes and failures I have had (we embrace them both), what I do for writer's block. This is totally a new world for me. A wonderful, exciting, world, but a little scary for me. It feels like I haven't talked grown-up talk for a long time. It also feels like I have barely been out of the house alone except for those exhilerating runs to the grocery store for diapers or milk. The trips where you drive extra slow and take your time reading all the labels in the store just to prolong those wonderful moments of alone time.
This morning I had to calm myself. I had to dig in the dirt, praise the Creator of all living things, sing hymns and prepare my heart and mind. Had to. But now, I am running behind. I will end up rushing until the last minute. I might end up in my appointment stuttering and stammering with dirt under my fingernails, but that's OK.
It's a Mindy thing....