Thursday, September 27, 2007

Texas Hospitality

Last Wednesday through Sunday Christina and I were off in the big city of Dallas, Texas, to attend our first American Christian Fiction Writers Conference. We've been told (by a reliable source) that this is the largest Christian writers conference in the world. With over 500 people there, I believe it.

Our adventure began before we even left Gaston. A fellow ACFWer had contacted us after subscribing to our newsletter ( and after some correspondence back and forth Rebecca Barlow of Poetry, TX (isn't that a neat name?) invited us to spend Wednesday night with her. Can you imagine inviting a complete stranger (or in our case, strangers) to come spend the night in your home with your family? I love that as Christian writers there really is a deep feeling of family and connectedness even with those we've not met face-to-face.

Wednesday night happened to be Rebecca's husband's birthday. So after she picked us up at Dallas Love Field Airport, she drove about 40 minutes to the Southern Junction restaurant where we met her husband and another couple. I'll tell you, we don't have places like the Southern Junction in Gaston, OR! We walked in to this huge room with a dance floor and a live Country Western band. It was fun to watch people dance the two-step, line dances, etc. Almost made me want to get out there and join them!

This steak house was phenomenal. You actually go to a refrigerated display case and choose your hunk of meat, take it over to a seasoning station and doctor it up however you want, and then over to a huge grill where you cook it to your own liking. And don't forget the two pieces of Texas Toast you grill along with the steak. Then over to a baked potato bar before making your way back to the table. I've never had such succulent meat before. Yummmm.

Rebecca's house was absolutely lovely, as was her family. It's so encouraging to see Christian families who are really making a difference in the world. Thanks, Barlow's, for a great start to our stay in Texas. You rock!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

A Ticking Time Bomb

Whew! And may I say it again? Whew!!

Time is moving so fast, I can hardly keep up with it. Seems there are only 30 seconds in a minute these days. Too much too do, too little time to do it. Last night I was on the verge of tears, feeling overwhelmed and undertimed. So what's causing this feeling?

John and I are Commanders for a brand-new Awana club starting today at our church. Neither of us has worked in an Awana club, let alone been the one overseeing all facets of it. And since it's a brand-new venture, no one has any idea how many kids will be showing up at 5 o'clock tonight. Could be 30, or maybe twice that much. We've been putting hours in on preparation for the last several weeks, but we were still up until 12:30 AM "last night." And hit it hard as soon as we woke up this morning.

Then there's the excitement and preparation that Christina and I have. We leave Wednesday morning to fly to Dallas, TX, for the American Christian Fiction Writers(ACFW) Conference. We'll have some of our work critiqued, meet with editors, attend classes, meet authors we've looked up to for years, and make lots of new friends. I'm sure it will be a glorious experience to share together, but I'd like to be more rested before I get there.

Oh, and did I mention I've got a Women's Ministry meeting to attend Tuesday night? At least my hair is already colored, and I guess my weight will just be what it is. I've been too busy to make it to Curves more than once this week. My wardrobe is basically selected, and my husband is sufficient enough to fend for himself, so I don't have to have meals prepared ahead of time for him.

I pray for strength and joy in all that I do. I got an email from ACFW this morning and the following verse was mentioned. I took it as God's word for me today. "May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father encourage you and strengthen you in every good thing you do and say. God loves us, and through his grace he gave us a good hope and encouragement that continues forever." (2 Thessalonians 2:16,17)

With that, my tears are gone.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Here Comes the Bride!

This past week John and I drove down to San Jose, California, to attend the wedding of my niece, Rachel Smith, to Daniel Forbes. John officiated at the ceremony, which he tends to do a lot for my family. Since he became a minister over 30 years ago, he's married his sister, my sister, my brother, a niece, a nephew, even his own daughter...! I smell a tabloid headline lurking in there someplace.

The wedding Saturday evening was outdoors in the backyard of the groom's family. Both families had worked hard to make this a magical night for the couple. The reception area was covered with ethereal billows of white netting, making a canopy between the tall oaks. Hundreds of white lights crept along the netting, turning the location into a fairyland after dark.

All of my siblings and most of their families were able to make it. Our family has the best time when we get together. We all have a quirky sense of humor, which I guess seems pretty normal to us. My youngest brother, Daniel, (yes, same name as the groom) was the emcee for the reception. He broke out some dance moves that totally embarrassed his teenage kids. Like he said later, "I don't have a shame gene in my body!"

We had to leave before Rachel and Danny took off on their honeymoon, as we had a 12-hour trip ahead of us the next day. But we took with us the joy of young love and fresh beginnings, the couple's gift to us.