Woe! It’s Wednesday: And Have I Got Woe…

Our family is undergoing an extreme season right now. It’s too soon and not my story to share, but suffice it to say we’re all reeling and scrambling to find our footing in our new ‘normal.’

I didn’t post yesterday for Book Talk Tuesday because I haven’t finished anything in the last week and I didn’t have time to sit down and blog.

But even though we’re in crisis mode, real life doesn’t stop.

I have a freelance job to work on. I have my own stuff ready to be edited and proofed. The dust bunnies are snickering at me.

Last week, I left the house for what turned out to be a few days and I locked the cat out of the bathroom with his litter box.


The first time, someone else found him in front of the bathroom with his little legs crossed and opened the door for him.

The second time …  He had a backup plan and used the kitchen rugs instead. Considerate of him, no?

By the way, this is the cat with the broken leg and a limp who climbs trees and runs faster than Mavis Beacon types.

I’ve never understood that John Lennon quote: Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans.

Until now.

Now, I get it. And I don’t like it.

Not even a little bit.

I made my plan.

We should stick to it.

Or … I could take a lesson from the cat: Have a backup plan if things don’t go the way I expect.

When we left him in the house without access to his box, he made do.

Not in the way I would have preferred, but you know what? He did good. I didn’t have a mess to clean up in the living room. The rugs are easily washed and replaced.

Turns out the crippled cat is pretty good at making do.

Perhaps we can all learn a lesson:

When life throws a curve ball, just keep swinging at the fastball?

    Or …

Keep a kitchen rug handy?

I don’t know. I just know we don’t have a choice sometimes.

So we keep swimming.

Woe! It’s Wednesday: New Year, New Goals


I don’t really make New Year’s Resolutions, but I do often find a verse or a word and try to live out the spirit of it.

So far this year though, I’m only hearing crickets.

The last two years my word was fearless. I don’t know that I’m more or less fearful than I was in 2012 but having that word at the edge of my consciousness did help a few times when I was faced with uncomfortable situations. And I get the sense that I’m about as fearless now as I’ll ever be.

So, it’s time to focus on something else I want to be better at.

Whatever it ends up being, I know one thing already:

I need to be intentional about it.

It’s the vague goals that I fail to meet.

So, time to take a day or two, pray, read and think.

Do you make New Year’s Resolutions? What are they?

Woe! It’s Wednesday: The List of Thirty

It’s kind of like a Bucket List. A list of thirty people who have influenced you and whom you would like to meet.

Debbie Macomber, in her non-fiction books Knit Together and God’s Guest List, writes about her List of Thirty, a list of thirty people she would like to meet.  She includes anecdotes about how God brought those people (most of them famous, some of them extremely famous) across her path.

I’ve had my own list for several years now.

And I get to check off two of them within a month of each other.

In November, I went to a writer’s conference and was privileged to learn from Donald Maass, of the Maass Literary Agency and author of Writing the Breakout Novel. I only spoke to him for a minute, but it was enough to earn him a check mark on my list.

Tonight, I’ll be at a reading by Anne Lamott and will hopefully add another check to that list. I’ve said before that Anne taught me two things:

  • Everything I know about being transparent and honest I learned from Anne,


  • Not all Christians think like me or are conservative like me but that doesn’t mean they love God and Jesus less or that God and Jesus love them less.

I’ll probably be a basket case if I get to speak to her and won’t be able to articulate what her writing has meant to me and my journey of faith.

But I also know:

  • It won’t be the first time she’s been confronted with a weeping fan


  • I’ll be okay and Jesus will still love me and Annie both.

Check back next week and I’ll let you know how it went!

Woe! It’s Wednesday: Lessons from Laundry

Life is like laundry.

  • It happens when you’re not looking.
  • It festers if you don’t deal with it.
  • Just like whites and darks, some things do better if they’re kept separate. Like showering and eating ice-cream.
  • It goes better when you handle it intentionally.
  • Items left in the dark washer begin to smell until they’re brought to the light and aired.

Time to go sort through some stuff!

Woe! It’s Wednesday: A Hope Fulfilled

Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life. (Proverbs 13:12, NIV)


I used to quote the above verse to my husband regularly. He’s been full of plans for our home but slow to accomplish most of them. There’s lots of reasons why, but it’s been something God has used to teach me some lessons such as patience and contentment.

I yearn for order and cleanliness.

I married clutter. I live in the dusty country.

I struggle to tiptoe the line between contentment and apathy.

If I’m quiet, things aren’t done.

If I’m proactive, I nag.

None of those is beneficial to me, my home, or my family.

We don’t have the money to afford me the luxury of hiring someone to do every job. Stud Muffin is more than able to do any home maintenance or improvement project you can imagine. He’s an awesome carpenter, drywaller, tape and texturer, plumber, and electrician.

So, for twenty-plus years now, we’ve been in an odd dance of planning a home project, almost starting it (purchasing supplies even), but it often doesn’t quite get started.

This week, I’m about to see one of those long-deferred hopes finally fulfilled. 

My office.

The lights are installed but not wired. The molding at the top of the bookcases isn’t in yet.

But I’m moving in and I’m thrilled!

Virginia Woolf said, “A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.”

I’m halfway there!

The Scripture above is really true. I’d given up hope of having a nice and orderly place to write in. But now, even in the moving-in process, I find myself energized to work and write and produce.

Care to share any of your deferred hopes with me?





Woe! It’s Wednesday: Encouragement or Badgering?

In our instant digital culture, it’s difficult sometimes to learn where to draw the lines for Tweeting, texting, Facebooking, pinterest pinning, and Instagramming.

What one person thinks of as a newsy tidbit may be “oversharing” to Dave someone else.

What one person thinks of as an exhortation may be considered whining to me someone else.

Several of my friends have been victimized in the past by their church or family or gossip or innuendo or employers or neighbors.


So have I. Not from all of the above, but certainly a few of them.

At the time, I was consumed with my pain, with my side of conflict, with my rights, with my reputation.

Eventually, I had to let it go. Rehashing it only prolonged the healing because I kept ripping off the scab and not letting the wound heal.

I want to say that to a few people but how?

But everything I think of to say, no matter how well-intentioned, can be boiled down to its essence: their pain is boring me.

So, I keep my mouth shut, read the post/look at the picture/ignore the link/delete the tweet, and smile and say a prayer that they are able to let go of a little bit of their pain today.

Woe! It’s Wednesday: Words Have Meaning

My friends and family know that I don’t swear. Or at least very rarely. Whenever someone lets an expletive fly in my presence, they often apologize.


I’ve blogged before about language and word choice and I stand by my previous posts. I’ve had a couple of recent experiences though that I want to mention.

At my local Sisters in Crime meeting last week, our guest speaker told a story about when his first book was published, his father read it and expressed dismay at the use of foul language. The author explained that he only put those words into the mouth’s of rough characters in tough situations who would use that kind of language in real life. His dad said he understood, but then went on to say:

“Sure, people talk that way in real life. But those words could offend a reader who will decide they never will read something by you again. And no one ever read a book or watched a movie and said, ‘you know, that book/film needed more bad language. There weren’t enough swear words.’”

The author quit using those words in his books.

We went to see The Lone Ranger yesterday. I’d read reviews that said it was only so-so or not very good, but many Facebook friends said they saw it over the weekend and enjoyed it.

I liked it. Stud Muffin—not so much.

But one thing we agreed on: there was no swearing in that movie at all. And you didn’t miss it! I only noticed it because this subject has been on my mind all weekend after hearing our speaker’s story on Saturday.

I’ve long said using those words is a sign of a lazy writer. It’s easy to use those words. It’s a challenge to convey the emotion behind the words.

Today I had lunch with several writer friends. One of them told a story about her autistic grandson. Somehow, even though he’s closely supervised, he heard some bad words and began to repeat them. Even worse, he began to say them. His school has a Zero Tolerance policy for some words, including the F word. It didn’t take little Johnny long to realize he could get out of school by letting the F words fly.

His parents added consequences and his use of the word tapered off. His various therapies continued.

One day, his dad delivered him to school and was standing nearby observing the kids line up for their walk to the classroom. Johnny stood in line quietly for the first time.


He chatted with another student, a girl.

Wow! A conversation!!

Some other kid busted between Johnny and the girl and hit the girl in the face. The adults chased the kid and were busy with him. Dad stayed with Johnny and the girl.

This autistic boy, who doesn’t like to be touched, put his hand on the girl’s shoulder.

Hey! Physical touch!!

“Are you okay?” he asked her.

Oh, my! Empathy!!

She shook her head. No, she wasn’t okay.

“I’m sorry,” Johnny said.

Whoa! An emotional response!!

Dad was ecstatic. And no one around could see or understand how momentous this was.

Then, Johnny spoke again.

“Do you want me to go f— them up?”

And that’s the moment the teacher returned.

Zero tolerance, remember?

Johnny was out of school for the day.

After such a great exchange and real progress, he got kicked out of school for using that word.

I agree, it’s not fair.

I still don’t like those words, but I’d give Johnny a free pass for the day.

Woe! It’s Wednesday

Life happens whether you’re ready for it or not.

Stud Muffin has been planning his retirement for years. It finally happened last month. We’ve been so busy with a couple trips and the holidays that it hasn’t really sunk in yet that he’s going to be underfoot  around 24/7.

I always start each new year with a renewed focus on my writing, my time management, and my office. None of that has happened so far.

It’s not that I’ve been relaxing on a sunny beach or watching Downton Abbey (I wish – I still haven’t had time to watch Sunday’s premiere).

We’ve bought a new computer and I’m trying to get that set up (it’s a Mac and the learning curve is a bit more than I expected). We swapped mattresses with one daughter and that led to getting new bed coverings for both bedrooms. I’m not sure how that happened, but it took a couple of days to get everything changed out, the old stuff laundered and put away. We’ve been cleaning out cupboards and closets. Stud Muffin took a carload of stuff to the thrift store yesterday. We’re getting things accomplished, just not what we had planned.

Isn’t that the saying? “Life is what happens when you make other plans.”

Proverbs 19:21 says, “Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.”

As long as I keep reminding myself that God’s purposes are being accomplished, my messy office isn’t such a big deal. [Breathe in, Carrie. It’ll be okay.]

I do believe that. It’s just hard when the list grows exponentially each day.

So, on to more planning but with lowered expectations of getting anything on my to-do list checked off.

Thanks. I needed that reminder.