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 – www.elizabethludwig.com – 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.