Monday, November 5, 2007


The Badwater Ultramarathon. Just the name evokes difficulty. Then when you hear that it starts in Death Valley and ends on a mountain peak, it denotes near impossibility.

The equivalent of five marathons plus three miles, the Badwater Ultramarathon is the most demanding and extreme of all running events. The starting line is in Badwater, Death Valley, the lowest elevation in the Western Hemisphere marked at 280 feet below sea level. The course covers three mountain ranges totaling 13,000 feet vertical ascent and 4,700 feet descent, and ends at the summit of Mount Whitney, covering 135 miles…nonstop.

Temperatures have been known to climb all the way to 130 degrees Fahrenheit. While running in Death Valley, participants try to stay on the white line of the shoulder of the highway. Why? Because the road is so hot, it will melt the soles of their shoes. The white line is ‘slightly’ cooler. Contestants have described their time in Death Valley as ‘running into a hair dryer’ or as being trapped in an oven with no door.

Runners have been known to hallucinate while on this marathon. One man also claims his shoe size will go from size 11 to 14 before the race is over. The average time to finish this marathon is 48 hours, while the time limit is 60 hours.

By now you may be asking what the reward is for finishing this race. A million dollars? Thousands? Nope. For those who finish under 48 hours, they’ll receive the coveted Badwater belt buckle. Those who complete the race in the required 60 hours will receive a t-shirt.

What kind of payoff is that, you ask? I think the real reason the runners are in this marathon is just for the satisfaction of being able to complete such a grueling race. I mean, can you imagine? 135 miles of the most awful conditions man can endure…and to say you made it. You achieved your goal.

I read this information with fascination. It brought forth two questions. 1. Can I say the same about my spiritual life? 2. Can I say the same about my writing life?

My favorite verses are found in Hebrews 12:1-3. “Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance, and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you may not grow weary and lose heart.”

Are we consistent in our faith? In our spiritual walk? In the race set before us? Our goals? We may look at the list given in the ‘Faith Hall of Fame’ found in Hebrews 11 and say, “Yeah, but I’m not like them.” Yes, we are. They’re human, just like us. They made mistakes, just like us. Yet God used them for something special…and He can use us too. God never said it would be easy. Almost the entire book of Acts tells us to expect opposition. But God does promise to be with us through it all. As Chuck Swindoll said… “Faith does not change my circumstances. Faith changes me.”

You may look at the marathon runners and say, “Yeah, but I’m not like them.” Yes, you are. Yes, it takes training to do something like that, but what doesn’t? It takes training to stay consistent in your Christian walk. It takes training to be able to run a marathon. It takes training to write well enough to get your book published.

You can’t give up. Ever. I’m guessing that the runners who didn’t manage to cross the finish line of the Badwater Ultramarathon return for another go at that belt buckle. When we fail in our walk of faith, or when we receive a rejection letter, we need to return to that starting line and plan to go the distance. Like the Ultramarathon, there will be ups and downs. Valleys and peaks. But keep your eye on the goal. Who wouldn’t want to be able to say, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith.”

Monday, October 15, 2007

Playing TAG

Why, Jess Ferguson, you sneaky little bugger. You would pull a TAG like this to get me back on the blogging ball again. Well, I guess I should thank you because I needed to update long before now. So, I guess I’m supposed to tell where I was and what I was doing 10, 20, and 30 years ago. Shoot, you’re really testing my memory cells. Ummm…all right, here we go…

10 years ago – I had been married almost nine years and our sons were ages 5 and 3. My oldest going off to school. Yep, that’s a memory of ripping out my heart and stomping all over it that I’d rather forget. But we both survived. (grin) Writing was barely a gleam of an idea, especially novels. I think I had just started writing children’s devotions for an online ministry or at the very least been in the discussion phase of the endeavor.

20 years ago – Goodness, this seems forever ago. Makes me scared of moving on to 30 years ago. Let’s see…I hadn’t yet met my future husband. That would be a few months down the road. I was working in the payroll department for a title company near uptown Houston. Man, what to say about this time. Not much. My life basically consisted of working, eating, and sleeping and attending church on Sundays. I lived with my oldest sister at this time while her husband’s job sent him to Virginia for a while. Or maybe it was Georgia. Can’t recall for certain. Anyway, it was my sister’s best friend who would introduce me to my future husband. That’s when life got interesting.

30 years ago – Ye gads. This TAG is making me feel old. Thanks a lot, Jess. (kidding) Thirty years ago I was still such a young whipper snapper. LOL. Still attending school at Granada-Huntley High School in Minnesota. Playing basketball and running in track kept me busy. Oh, and my grades were pretty good too. (grin) Not much to say beyond that. Ya’ll remember high school, right? Education and friendships. Great stuff. But you couldn’t PAY me to go back there and do it again.

Well, that's about it. Hey! STOP YAWNING!

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Wake Up Call

I’m not a morning person. I’m not great with nights either, but mornings are by far the worst. My eyes may be open but that doesn’t mean I’m seeing anything. Just ask the door I slammed my nose into one morning when I didn’t notice it was closed. And don’t dare ask me to do math. My husband learned that a while back and has never let me forget it.

This one certain morning was particularly bad. I woke up exhausted. I dragged out of bed, pulled on a pair of sweat pants because it felt a little cool, and went about making lunches for the boys. From time to time, and with growing desperation, I’d asked the Lord to help me wake up. To make matters worse, I kept hearing this strange humming. It would start and stop at odd intervals, and I couldn’t locate the source. Every time I thought I was close, it’d change locations. I finally gave up and went about the business of sending my kids on their way. After our goodbyes, I sat down, picked up my prayer list, and began my quiet time. My prayer started off by again asking the Lord to help me wake up. Then I continued on.

I was about halfway through my list when I heard the humming sound again. Seconds later, something latched onto my leg.

I flung the prayer list aside and grabbed whatever had hold of me. I jerked off my sweatpants right there in the office, keeping hold of my attacker, and headed outside…without putting on any other pants. Thank goodness we live out in the country.

Once outside, I very carefully proceeded to turn my sweatpants inside out. There sat a big ole’ bumblebee, staring me down and looking rather irate as it flexed its wings as if to prove its power over me. Or maybe it was a warning that it was about to lay me out. All I know for sure is, it had me scared.

(Okay, right about now I figure most of you are wondering how in the world a bumblebee got into my sweatpants. When I learned that running the dryer takes as much or probably more energy than running the air conditioner, I began hanging even the t-shirts and sweatpants out on the line after fluffing them in the dryer for only a few minutes. Now, on with the story.)

I shook the pants, but rather than dislodge the beast, it infuriated him. Seeing its wings now preparing for takeoff, I flung the pants away, unwilling for it to latch onto me again. It sat there looking at me for several moments before it decided I wasn’t worth the effort and buzzed away. Only seconds later, I heard a car coming down the road. I grabbed my pants and raced for the house.

So, why did I share this embarrassing story? To remind you that God answers prayer. It may not be in the way you think…and most times, it’s not. And it may not be answered right away…and most times, it’s not. But God most certainly answers prayer, in His way and in His time. And sometimes the answer is no. But He answered this particular prayer with a yes. Without a doubt, I was wide awake after that. I finished my prayer list without yawning once. But just a warning…be careful what you ask for. Or rather, how you ask for it.

Thursday, July 26, 2007


Or any other ad campaign that applies.

I’ve recently started writing again. No, it wasn’t a planned absence or even a wanted one. How many times have we all said, “Just wait till summer. I’ll have tons of time to write,” only to have those months become so busy, you wonder if you found time to sleep?

So anyway, things have finally slowed to where I can actually sit and write again. An addition to a scene came to mind. Cute. I could visualize it so well. I whipped it out and zipped it to my crit group thinking they’d love it. Oh, they loved it all right. Gushed all over it. Blood, that is. It came back RED. Actually, they loved the IDEA of the scene, but my writing left much to be desired.

I’d heard and read many times that we should always find time to write every day. Even if it’s just a little. But we really need to keep our fingers dabbling in some form of writing. Or better yet, dig deep, right up to your elbows and beyond, even if you break or chip a fingernail. Whether it be writing a chapter, a page, a paragraph, or editing, critiquing, or even reading a book in the genre of your current wip, do SOMETHING that’s writing related. No excuses…just DO it. My two month hiatus proved this. I wrote very little during the last two months and it showed in that scene.

It wasn’t long before I saw the parallel to my spiritual life. If we aren’t spending time with our Lord and in His Word on a daily basis, it will begin to show…in our spiritual walk, the way we act, talk, and even feel, the absence will be noticed.

My goal this year is to read through the Bible. I’ve done it in the past, but this year seems especially difficult. I hate to admit it, but sometimes I read just to keep up with the schedule. It’s too hard to get caught up if I get too far behind. But other times, when I didn’t allow distractions, the words really spoke to me. Without a doubt, we have an awesome God.

But the point is, the absence was noticed…by me, and I know God noticed. He wants to be first in our lives. Not just something we have to do when we can fit Him in. Time spent with Him makes the day go so much better. The feeling I get when I manage to finish a ten page chapter in one day is nothing compared to time spent with my heavenly Father.

So, similar to our world of writing, dig into the Word, up to your elbows and beyond. Break a fingernail, get a paper cut. Whatever it takes. Just do it…no excuses. And I promise, you won’t regret it.

Monday, July 9, 2007


Observation. It’s key in life. I have a substantial lack in this department unless I specifically tell myself to pay attention. . .and I’m a writer. . .someone who should have mastered the art of observation long ago.

Another key in life is knowing laws and rules. I thought myself to be pretty good at this. I was proven wrong not long ago. But, I wasn’t alone. My visiting sister and her two teens, along with my husband and our two teens, headed out on an adventure that became so much more.

A river in our area filled and overflowed, five feet over flood stage. We’d driven there a couple times to check on it since it’s so close to our house. It even managed to show up in our backyard about 15 years ago. My sister called it an ‘angry river’. My husband laughed and said if she really wanted to see it angry, she should see it at the mouth as it entered the Gulf. And so began our ‘incredible journey’.

We followed the river until we could go no further. A fence with a ‘U. S. government’ sign hanging on it stopped us. After gaping at the ‘angry river’ for several minutes, we turned around planning to head for the beach. But before we got too far, and as my husband is telling about the tanks holding oil reserves on the opposite side of the road from the river, my oldest son hollers, “Alligator!” I glanced down and saw it too. Knowing my sister and her kids had never seen one, I told my husband to turn around, which was quickly echoed by all the others. He dutifully obeyed, pulled off the road, and stopped next to a fire hydrant.

“Take a picture,” was the next order given. Don’t know by who. Could have been me but I don’t recall. My sister got out with two cameras, stepped to the edge of the grass, and began snapping photos of said alligator. As we all urge her to get closer, (yes, I urged her too) I also notice that a security vehicle has pulled out of a gate. Not much later, I see a man, with a rifle slung over his shoulder, get into the passenger side of said security vehicle. They then pull onto the road and stop. I listen as my husband tells her to go halfway down the bank, that he’d go with her to protect her. I laugh at the comment as I notice two more security vehicles pull near the gate of the facility. Visions of a newspaper article shortly after 9-11 come to mind about a person taking pictures of a refinery that had been arrested. I’m thinking surely that’s not going to happen now. Surely not. Of course it won’t. I mean, we’re only taking pictures of an alligator.

My sister refuses to get any closer and gets into our vehicle. My husband now notices the security vehicle sitting on the road. He waits for them to pass. When they don’t, he backs onto the road and begins to leave. The lights on top of the security vehicle begin to flash. My husband starts to pull over, then returns to the road saying, “They’re not after us. We didn’t do anything wrong.”


I noticed that when we started to pull over, so did they. When we returned to the road, so did they. I told my husband, “They’re after YOU. You have to stop.” He did. They promptly pulled in behind us. The driver walked very carefully up to us, the strap over his pistol removed, his hand on its handle. The passenger of his vehicle stood at his open door, the barrel of his rifle pointing at the back of our vehicle. Not a comfortable sight. The driver finally reaches our door. He peeks inside.

“How many occupants?”


He speaks into the radio attached to his shoulder. “Occupant times seven.”

The gate to the facility opens and out come the other two security vehicles. They pull in behind the first. Suddenly, another one rushes out and pulls ahead of us. We are now completely surrounded by vehicles and men with their guns unstrapped, though they haven’t pulled them, but their hands are on the handles. The uncomfortable level has now increased six times…at least.

“Sir, do you realize that when you pulled over, you were trespassing on government property?”

“Uh—no, sir.”

The officer gave us a brief rundown, then asked for my husband’s driver’s license and told us to sit tight. Yeah, right. Like we were going anywhere. With seven handguns and one assault rifle at the ready, we were sitting tighter than he could imagine. They were gone quite a while. One of my sons says he has to go to the bathroom. Like we all didn’t by then after they've scared the you-know-what out of us. We told him it wouldn’t be a good idea to even open the door, to just hold it. Then the first officer returned and asked my husband to get out and move to the back of the vehicle. Oh boy. My sister, her voice trembling, asked, “Are they going to arrest him?”

I answer in a very confident, “Naw,” while inside I’m asking myself, “are they going to arrest him?”

Several minutes later, they ALL return, well, except for the guy with the assault rifle. He’s still hanging back with the barrel still pointing at our vehicle. They asked to see the pictures. They let my sister keep all but one, which showed part of the facility in the background, and let us go.

As we drive away, my husband is giving his accounting of what all was said when he left us. He jokingly said that he told them it was my sister’s fault and that if they wanted to arrest someone, arrest her. But that if they chose to arrest him, he’d choose to forego the one phone call if they’d guarantee that they’d have his sister-in-law out of the state by the time he was released. Yes, we can laugh about it now, but at the time, it wasn’t much of a laughing matter.

I have this habit of looking for the spiritual aspect of odd things that happen to me. A dear friend of mine, Lisa Ludwig, does the same thing on her website – – but using her dog. She calls them Maxisms. I guess you could call mine Janelleisms. And yes, I realize I just likened myself to a dog. . .(probably not the first time) but I’ve met this dog, so I don’t mind. Anyway, on to the spiritual aspect. It’s simple, but bears repeating from time to time.

As I looked back on that incident, I realized that if we had been more observant, we would have known we were still driving along a government facility. We allowed a swollen river and a large alligator to distract us. If we had known the rules, the laws, we would have known that to pull over and stop was illegal. We thought we hadn’t done anything wrong, but we had. We got away with saying we didn’t have any idea—which we didn’t—but we can’t use that excuse for breaking God’s laws. He’s written them down and made them readily available to us. There is no excuse. Not even blaming our sin nature will cut it with God. We are held accountable for our actions, or lack thereof. Thankfully, God, like the officers (this time), gives us second chances. Forgiveness is a wonderful thing. But oh, wouldn’t it be even more wonderful if we didn’t have to ask for second chances so often? Read His book, observe His laws, and maybe, just maybe, the need for second chances will diminish.

And if all else fails, blame your sister.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Say it Ain't So

Outside a small village, across from a blue barn, lived a fair maiden, and this is her yarn.

This delicate creature, so innocent and sweet, knew life to be blessed and bright and complete. Then one day a creature with fur and a tail, crossed her path and caused her to wail. “Oh, my!” she cried. “That critter must die, lest it find a mate and multiply.”

With so much compassion, not mean in the least, the maiden bought a sticky trap to capture the beast. Ah, yes, she thought, this is so humane, no spring-loaded thwack to crush the brain.

At a later date, the maiden heard a noise and saw a sight that ruined her poise. From under the water heater, where the sticky trap was set, twitched the tail of a snake, a definite threat. Swallowing the stomach now lodged in her neck, the poor maiden knelt and with a light gave a check.

Looking back at her were two pairs of eyes. Ye gads, she thought, what an awful surprise. A mouse was stuck in the middle of the trap, along with a snake, oh what a mishap. Wrapped around the leg of the water heater was that snake, getting stuck when it had thoughts of that mouse to partake.

“Yikes!” she cries. “Oh, what shall I do? I’ll call my prince charming. He’ll come to my rescue.”

“I’m busy,” he claims. “I’ve no time to come back. Just jerk it loose and give it a whack.”

Jerk it loose? Did I not say it’s stuck? And give it a whack? Oh, yuck, yuck, YUCK!

Faced with a trauma too awful to bear, the maiden sensed change from her toes to her hair. She opened a drawer and pulled out a knife, her existence once innocent is now full of strife.

She approached the heater cursing all reptiles and mice, then grasped the knife tight and gave a quick slice. Now in two parts, out came the snake, along with the mouse, still wide awake. Unwilling to make that mouse suffer all eagle-spread, she picked up a hammer and smacked it on the head.

Swearing never again would she use such a snare, the poor maiden tried hard to forget the nightmare. But alas feeling different, the mirror she did check, and found to her horror, she’d turned into Shrek.

The reason for this story is not to offend, but because of some rumors, my honor I must defend. One lesson I’ve learned and I’ll give you the scoop. If you want to keep a secret, don’t tell your crit group.

Friday, June 1, 2007


I’ve always thought BLOG meant Best Left to Other Gabbers. I mean, what could I possibly say that anyone in the world would want to read? Granted, humorous things tend to happen in my life that make for cute stories, but who would care beyond my family members? My standard reply to those who insisted I start blogging was, “Me? Blog? No way, nuh uh, not a chance.” And that came after a good, hard laugh. So what am I doing here? I have no idea.

I guess one upside to blogging is that now my dear friend, Lisa, has to jump out of a plane. What better incentive is there? I take a leap, so does she. But I tend to wonder who will fall the farthest. As far as I’m concerned, 13,500 feet is a baby step compared to what I’m attempting here.

I’ll warn you now, there is no telling what you might read from me on this thing. It could be some writing helps I want to pass along. You may find some words of wisdom I’ve stolen from someone else since I can’t seem to come up with any of my own. More than likely, you’ll get to read some of those humorous incidents, my Lucille Ball moments, that find a way of happening to me. (Never my fault, of course.) But in each post, I hope you will find my words uplifting, whether by laughter, encouragement, or inspiration. My prayer is this…

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Thy sight, O Lord, my rock and my Redeemer. (Psalm 19:14)