Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Camy Tang's Amazing Contest

Okay, the selfish part of me doesn't want to tell you about this contest. I'd really like to be one of the winners. But you have to check out the contest she is running through the end of January. The prizes are HUGE! Check out this page, but the prizes are as follows:

"1st place winner will receive a copy of my book when it comes out (September 2007), a basket of books by other Christian authors, and one of the brand new 8 GB iPod Nanos. (The winner can also elect to receive a 4 GB colored Nano instead of the 8 GB Nano, which is only available in black.)

"2nd place winner will receive a copy of my book when it comes out, books by other Christian authors, and one of the new, extra-small 1 GB iPod Shuffles

"3rd place winner will receive a copy of my book when it comes out and one of the new, extra-small 1GB iPod Shuffles

"20 Honorable Mentions will receive a copy of my book when it comes out."

So rush over, enter, and dilute my chances of winning!

Monday, October 30, 2006

Greatest Time Waster for Attorneys?

Recently, the ABA's online ABA Journal Report asked lawyers what their greatest time waster was. I found the responses amusing. And had to agree wholeheartedly with the "winning" entry. An attorney from Michigan called the greatest time waster the motion hour that happens once a week where all the judges in the local courthouse schedule their motion hearings at the same time.

I just endured one of those today. Fortunately, today I only had four hearings and two additional matters. The courthouse was amazingly quiet, so I didn't spend more time waiting for another attorney or the judge than I did actually talking to the judge. I actually got quite a bit accomplished. Usually, I am not so lucky. And this day occurs on one of my day's "off." This morning the kids only had to entertain themselves for two hours at the office, but they were troopers.

So what's you biggest time waster -- other than reading blogs of course :-)

Carnival of Writers

Today at the Writer Interrupted blog, you can check out its first carnival. There are some fantastic links to different blogs, many by editors and writers I admire.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

One Night with the King

Eric and I went to see One Night with the King today. Very good! If you're looking for a good film to see, I recommend it. They did a great job of following the Book of Esther, and where they expanded the story, I thought it worked well.

Minimal gore -- other than in the opening scene. One kiss. I'm seriously considering taking Abigail, even though I think some of the themes will go over her head. If any of you have seen this movie, I'd be interested in your views. Comment away :-)
Boy, there are some days I wished I lived in a simpler time. Time when the most technology available was say the printing press. I'm trying to create a blog for the women's ministry at church. Blogger is not cooperating. I helped my husband create one for the men's ministry and thanks to router issues, that took two nights to set-up. With two and a half hours on the line with tech support. Wireless is still down, who knows if or when we'll get the replacement router, and I feel tethered. You wouldn't think a few short weeks would corrupt me, but they did. On to fun notes: I have received several books in the mail this week. I would love to have contests to give them away. But to do that I need you to participate. So, tell me what kind of contests you like. Then I'll select the best vehicle. These are great books, folks! Calm, Cool & Adjusted by Kristin Billerbeck. The Election by Jerome Teel. And many more. So tell me what you like. And then we'll start playing. Have a blessed weekend.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Technology Woes & Book Contests

Boy, there are some days I wished I lived in a simpler time. Time when the most technology available was say the printing press. I'm trying to create a blog for the women's ministry at church. Blogger is not cooperating. I helped my husband create one for the men's ministry and thanks to router issues, that took two nights to set-up. With two and a half hours on the line with tech support. Wireless is still down, who knows if or when we'll get the replacement router, and I feel tethered. You wouldn't think a few short weeks would corrupt me, but they did.

On to fun notes: I have received several books in the mail this week. I would love to have contests to give them away. But to do that I need you to participate. So, tell me what kind of contests you like. Then I'll select the best vehicle. These are great books, folks! Calm, Cool & Adjusted by Kristin Billerbeck. The Election by Jerome Teel. And many more. So tell me what you like. And then we'll start playing.

Have a blessed weekend.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Friday Freebies

I just saw these articles and had to post them. They crack me up!

A Canadian woman has won the fastest mouth award at some auctioneer conference. Can you just imagine judging that contest!?!?!

And a chicken showed up at a Bloomington, Indiana city council meeting. Open the Indy Star webpage and the picture is the first thing you see. It looks like Big Bird showed up to discuss a proposal regarding chicken coops within city limits. Don't ya love it!

So what crazy "news" story have you seen recently?

Affirmative Action in the News

Last night I spent over two hours on the phone with internet tech support (EXTREMELY frustrating) after a fabulous two hours brainstorming new plots (thanks so much, gals!). If you've never brainstormed and played the "what if" game, you really have to try it. You just never know what great ideas will be generated and who of your characters will have to be killed for the sake of the plot.

AFFIRMATIVE ACTION is back in the news in Michigan. In 2003 a ground-breaking case was handed down by the Supreme Court which started picking away at affirmative action. In that case the court held that the University of Michigan could continue to use its affirmative action policy at its law school but struck down the undergraduate policy as too rigid because it awarded admission points based on race. This case was big news and much discussed in conservative circles.

The ballot initiative grew out of that court case. Next month the voters in Michigan will decide on election day whether to prohibit the state from using any form of affirmative action when making decisions. According to Forbes, similar measures were approved in Washington State and California.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Speaking of Elections: Interview and Review

I have written about The Election by Jerome Teel before. I was personally excited to see someone writing about the intersection of law and politics. Jerome does a great job with that in this book. To me it has the feel of Tom Clancy’s political subplots or a Grisham political thriller.

A lawyer is one of the main characters, but the book is populated with an array of people who step on and off the stage. The chapters flow quickly from one point of view to another, and keep the plot hopping between presidential campaigns, a murder investigation, and more. The other thing I like about the book is that some of the characters are Christians, but nothing in that feels forced. But if you are looking for a strong Christian message, you won't find it in the first half of the book but keep reading. (For more on this discussion check out Brandilyn Collins' Forensics and Faith this week.) This afternoon, Jerome answered a few questions about his book and how he writes. Enjoy!

Jerome, The Election has a Clancy (minus the military plots) or Grishom feel to it. Is that what you were going for? I've never really thought about The Election having a Clancy feel. I do like the legal thrillers that Grisham writes and wanted it to lean in that direction with more of a redemptive element.

What gave you the general idea for the plot? What was the germ or spark behind the idea? The plot sort of determined itself. I knew how I wanted the manuscript to begin and end. In between, the characters took on lives of their own and I just wrote as I saw things play out. I can't write with an outline. That may sound strange to some people and I don't mean that there is no structure at all. I do have some limited structure and as I get into a manuscript I go back and outline what I've written. That helps me remember where the characters have been so I'll know where they are going. I also keep a timeline of the events that transpire in the manuscript.

I'm still finding my style. I tend to plot like crazy until I start writing and then the characters take over. So how do you find time to write as a practicing attorney? Finding time to write was extremely difficult when I wrote The Election. It was some better when I wrote the manuscript for The Divine Appointment. I primarily write late at night. With The Election it was written almost exclusively from about 10:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m. When I got to the point that I could see the end, I took a few days off from the office and finished. My practice, and technology, has evolved over the last several years. I still write primarily at night, but now I have the luxury of logging into the office from my home computer. So I can be at home writing but at the same time staying on top of what's happening at the office with e-mail and instant messaging.

My writing time is very similar. I'm not really a night owl, but that seems to be the only time to write. So how does being an attorney help you as a writer? Writers have to write about things they know. As a lawyer, I know about the law and that certainly helps with that element in my stories. Also, being a lawyer helps with the analytical thinking that writers must possess. Fiction must be credible to be effective and I believe it takes some analytical thinking to make sure the story stays credible.

I see you have another book coming out next summer. Can you give us a quick synopsis of The Divine Appointment? The Divine Appointment centers around a political battle over a nomination to the Supreme Court. As with The Election, there is also a strong redemptive thread woven into the storyline. I'm right in the middle of the editing for this manuscript, and I'm really excited about it. It has some great characters and it reads well. In fact, it may actually read better than The Election. The hook is set in the first line and the story moves rapidly to the end. I think readers will enjoy it when it comes out in June, 2007.

Thanks for joining us, Jerome!

Elections Carry a Big Pricetag

Make that gigantic. Out of this world. Almost impossible to wrap your mind around.

The Center for Responsive Politics, a DC based non-profit, estimates that this year's election (coming up in less than two weeks) will cost $2.6 Billion. Yep, that's not a typo. That really is B as in Billion. I don't know about you, but by the time a number has that many zeros, it's really hard for me to fathom. And that estimate is only on the 472 federal races -- doesn't take into account all the state races.

Politics has become so expensive that it prevents many people who would be interested in running from doing so.

So how would you use that $2.6 Billion?

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Weirdness Factor?

How weird are you? Webster defines weird as "of fate or destiny, ...strikingly odd...eccentric or unconventional in behavior." I like to think of myself as unique, not weird. Ah, well, Tricia Goyer tagged me on a weirdness Meme (still not sure what that means!). So what are five ways I'm weird, I mean unique?

1) I know what a Runza is and love them (the link's for you, Camy);
2) I think I would have fit in really well in the 1930s and 1940s, I love the movies and time period;
3) Audrey Hepburn: love the clothes and styles. Can we go back to that classic style, please?
4) I was homeschooled, much more common now than it was when we started in 1985-86;
5) I married my first love.

See? I prefer unique to weird. So what makes you unique? :-)

Monday, October 23, 2006

How Shopping Savvy are You?

Saw an interesting article featured on Tricia Goyer's Generation NeXt Parenting blog today. The article focuses on the results of a survey commissioned by Tierney Communication on the spending habits of JenX, the female portion of Generation X. Now that many of us are sliding into our 30s, we're growing up in more ways than one. We're learning to shop for bargains, getting out of college debt, and taking charge of our credit cards. Check out this quote:

"Women 30-39, many of whom were raised by first wave working Boomer mothers, have endured a latchkey childhood, divorced parents and have entered adulthood with debt in a highly competitive job market. But these women posses a toughness and brand savvy that marketers should take notice of.

"According to the Tierneyxy survey, JenX is the most concerned about debt of any age group. A full 61 percent indicate they are concerned about debt, with 41 percent saying paying down debt is their number-one priority, the highest of any age group."

The article talks about our switch to bargains. Mom trained me well to start at the back of the store where the clearance racks stand. I have a really hard time paying full price for anything. Where's the fun of the hunt in that? While Abigail and I were in Florida, we went to an outlet mall. Love those places. At Osh Kosh B'Gosh, I spent $60 on shirts and jeans, and saved $165. I would never go looking for Osh Kosh B'Gosh in the mall, but at $4.00 for great overalls for Abigail, I scooped them up.

So what about you? Does this article reflect your experience?

Things I love about my husband

OOPS! Eric pointed out this morning that he isn't on my earlier list. Big, glaring OOPS. (Tricia, here's an example for Generation NeXt Parenting!) I really thought he was there. Sigh.

So here's my top ten list of things I LOVE about Eric:
  1. He loves God whole-heartedly.
  2. He loves me :-)
  3. He loves football as much as I do.
  4. He is a phenomenal Dad to our kids.
  5. He's a good friend...and cautious about those he invests time in.
  6. He's an avid reader.
  7. He's a great help when I need a plot twist.
  8. He's a great provider for our family.
  9. He's a phenomenal fundraiser.
  10. And he's an excellent listener.

So if you haven't got the picture, I am blessed among women and very grateful that God brought a girl from Nebraska and a boy from Indiana to the same leadership conference in Nebraska in 1990. Only He could have orchestrated that!

What do you love about your spouse?

Saturday, October 21, 2006

One Night with the King

I just found out that the movie One Night with the King is out (click on the link to go to the trailer). I loved the book, Haddasah: One Night with the King, and posted a review of it on June 26th. So if you're looking for a flick to see, you might check this one out. I know I will be! Here's a chance to support a film that is based on Biblical stories and values.

Things I love

The ACFW online course this month is a mini-course in life coaching. What do we value and are we reinforcing that in the way we live. One of the exercises had me looking at what I do and matching it against what I love. So here's a short list of the things I love:
  • Connecting with old friends (Hi, Gideon).
  • Snuggling with my kids and a fun book.
  • Spending time with my family in Nebraska
  • Writing: I love the back and forth process it is: it pushes me to a place of depending on God unlike anything since law school.
  • Leading women in Bible studies: I love watching what God can do
  • Runza onion rings. Yum!
  • Teaching. I love breaking principles down and explaining them in a way people can get and actually use.
  • Using my skills in a way that serve God

These are a few of my favorite things :-)

Friday, October 20, 2006

The Practice of Law

There are days I love being a practicing attorney. Yesterday was one of them. I spent the morning in a deposition with opposing counsel who have actually been pretty easy to work with. We have the larger portion of the case settled and will likely do the same with the rest of the case as well. After that concluded I drove to federal court for a settlement conference. Got that one resolved, too. The client is very happy, and I know it's a good outcome for the client. That feels very satisfying.

Then today I counsel several people about problems with relationships gone awry, for whatever reason. These are the harder cases. I see my role as helping people turn a bad situation into as much good as possible. Sometimes, that change is dramatic. Other times, it's simply walking through the process with them. Invariably, these are the cases I think and pray about when I'm not at the office.

Law, like much of life, involves an array of personalities. And God certainly uses the full spectrum to teach and mold me. Now back to client calls.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

A Night with Amy Tan

Sometimes I really don't understand blogger. I had a perfectly lovely post written and ready to post, when POOF, it disappeared. I guess this is why I'm supposed to draft the posts in another program. SIGH!

Anyway, tonight Eric and I took advantage of the fact we live in a city with a major Big 10 University (I'll give you three guesses). We attended a lecture with Amy Tan, author of books like The Joy Luck Club and Swimming With Fishes. I haven't read any of her books yet, but Eric and I agreed we'd have to check one out after listening to her speak for a little over an hour. She had a great conversational style and kept the audience engaged.

Sprinkled among the stories from her life were snippets about writing. My ears perked up for those. Did you know she got an agent based on a short story published in a small magazine? The agent called her for goodness sakes! And the agent got six offers from publishing houses on The Joy Luck Club, an unwritten manuscript! It doesn't happen that way, folks.

Okay, back to the writing nuggets. Writers ask and are motivated by questions. Why? What would happen if? How do things happen? But the most ingenious answer won't impact readers unless it is written in such a way that it is felt. The way Ms. Tan put it was that fiction is getting at the things you can't get at other ways. Whether it's exploring levels in our lives or the world around us, our writing must go deep.

So what books have you read lately that lead you to feel the emotions and setting? Why?

Like Dandelion Dust

This week, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is posting about Karen Kingsbury's latest book, Like Dandelion Dust.

Here's a review by Mimi Pearson:

A PHONE CALL THAT THREATENS THEM ALL.Jack and Molly Campbell enjoyed an idyllic life (great house in a fancy neighborhood, high-paying job, and a beautiful little boy) in their small hometown outside Atlanta with their adopted 4-year-old, Joey.

Then they receive the phone call that shatters their world: a social worker delivers the news that Joey's biological father has been released from prison and is ready to start life over with his son. (It's discovered that Joey's birth mother forged the signature of Joey's birth father, making it a fraudulent adoption.) When a judge rules that Joey must be returned to his father (a man who cannot separate love and violence), the Campbells, in a silent haze of grief and utter disbelief, watch their son pick a dandelion and blow the feathery seeds into the wind.Struggling with the dilemma of following the law, their hearts, and what they know to be morally right, the Campbells find that desperation leads to dangerous thoughts. What if they can devise a plan? Take Joey and simply disappear....LIKE DANDELION DUST.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Wishing on Dandelions

Today I started reading Wishing on Dandelions, the latest fiction release by Mary DeMuth. At the ACFW conference I had the honor and privilege of learning under her during the continuing sessions. After a year of reading her posts to the ACFW list and on her blogs, her heart was as transparent in living color.

Wishing on Dandelions picks up Maranatha's story several years after Watching the Tree Limbs. It is an honest and gripping look at the life of a teenager who is coming into her own; struggling with the shadows of her past as she looks to the future. And Maranatha's attempts to find God and accept His love in spite of everything that's happened to her.

Mary's writing is vivid and gripping. As I read it, I can sense that every word is carefully selected and used because it's the very best choice. Publisher's Weekly says that "DeMuth writes with poignancy and grace." I have to agree. And I hope that someday I write with the skill and honesty that Mary does.

I encourage you to look for her books.

Lobbying the Family?

When I say lobbying the family, most of us think of asking the hubby for extra money for that killer dress at Ann Taylor. Or asking the wife for permission to get that really awesome gadget that will make your life complete.

In Washington, D.C., it can mean something very different. This USAToday article highlights the reality that family members are often hired as lobbyists to lobby members of Congress for pet projects. Does this trend bother you? Seems like a conflict of interest to me.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

The Glory of Creation

This is where I've been. Our friends live 70 steps from the Gulf Beach. It was amazing! Abigail had the time of her life -- short as it's been -- and her smile stretched from ear to ear most of the days we were there. We broke up our time at the beach with excursions to the Sunken Gardens, Aquariam, and of course the outlet mall. A wonderful time. But the best part was the time invested in Abigail and spent with our friends. Because when it's all said and done what really matters is the investment we make in people.

Look for a "normal" post later today, but I had to share the picture.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Making Memories

This weekend Abigail and I are in the St. Pete, Florida area, making some mother daughter memories. It's hard to believe that my baby turned six a couple weeks ago. And in (what people assure me will seem like) the blink of an eye, she'll be gone. So this weekend we are off to build memories. We're staying with friends on an island -- the Intercoastal Waterway on one side and the Gulf 70 steps away on the other side. For a child who has never been to the beach, it's a thrilling place to be. Add in dear friends Aunt Carrie and Uncle David, and Abigail is in a child's delight.

Jonathan and Eric are making their own set of memories. So what do you do to build those special connections with your children?

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Violette Between

Violette Between is the latest book by author Alison Strobel. I am currently reading it and engaged from the first chapter. It tells the story of an artist who is no longer struggling, and lives life with joy. Because of a twist (that I won't reveal), the novel goes back and forth between years. I didn't pay enough attention to the chapter headings (oops!) and got to go back and figure this out.

Here's the official summary: Violette is the quintessential artist: passionate, emotional and full of life. After suffering a great loss she finds herself enamoured with a new relationship and asking if it is truly time to move on. Christian lost his wife years ago and understands Violette's pain firsthand. He offers her a chance to love once more and hopes to build a future with the spirited artist. But just as Violette and Christian begin to feel something unexpected, tragedy strikes again. Violette retreats into her past - and she finds that she may not want to come back. To find out more read the first chapter here.

I asked Alison a few questions about the book. The first was where she got the idea for Violette Between.
The idea for the book came from the combination of a real-life event and a song. One line in Norah Jones's "The Painter Song" says, "If I were a painter I would paint my memory, if that's the only way for you to be with me." I heard this song just after finding out that a high-school friend's husband had died, at age 30, from an undetected heart defect. She just woke up one morning and he was gone. I started thinking about a story about a woman--a painter--who reconnects with her dead husband through her paintings. That was the original idea for the book, though readers will see the final version is quite a bit different!

Alison, I know you are a mom with a young daughter. How do you find time to write while balancing the needs of your young family? Heh--right now I hardly do. I'm still working on that. It's SO hard to leave the house to write--I don't want to miss anything with my daughter, and there's always something that needs to be done, like laundry or dishes or whatever, and I can't write at home because there are far too many distractions. I'm not under any deadlines at the
moment, though, and I have a feeling that, once I have one looming, I'll find it a little easier. :)

Thanks for joining me, Alison. Final question: if you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would it be and who would you take with you? Aberdeen, Scotland, and I'd take Dan and Abby (my husband and daughter). My brother and his wife just moved there for four years,
and we're dying to go visit! I lived in Scotland for a year (Glasgow) and it's an amazing, beautiful place. It's also where I experienced God for the first time. That year in Glasgow is the subject of one of my current manuscripts.

Women's Health Articles

I found a couple interesting health articles on MSNBC last night. You just never know what will catch my attention.

One article was on a new study that found women who have children later in life are healthier than those who don't. And having children spaced too closely together isn't good for you either -- moms or dads. What I want to know is who comes up with these study ideas? And how on earth do they get their data?????

Then there's the study that "proves" that women dress differently when they ovulate. I'm not sure a study of 30 college age gals is broad enough to prove anything, but it's an interesting thought.

Final note: Ms. Magazine, in the issue released yesterday, leads with controversy: "We had an Abortion." I haven't seen it yet, but the MSNBC article states more than 5,000 women have signed the petition. While abortion-rights groups call it a watershed moment in their efforts to legitimize abortion, the article highlights the complexity of the decision even while it's lopsided. The San Francisco Chronicle quotes the publisher as saying the intent was to give a face to abortion.

For another perspective on this, check out these links: The American Spectator, American Life League, Catholic Exchange, and Cybercast News Service.

My heart cries for the women who have had an abortion, regardless of the reason. I pray that God will bring healing to all who have been effected. Healing is what we truly need.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Helen Chenoweth-Hage

Today a memorial service was held for former Idaho Congresswoman Helen Chenoweth. When my husband and I worked for a conservative non-profit in Washington, D.C., I had the pleasure of meeting her several times. When she learned that I was interested in a future career in elected public service (a fancy way to say I was interested in running for office), she invited us to have dinner with her at the House Dining Room. She was so warm and personable. Genuinely interested in what we were doing and our hopes and aspirations. And her faith shone through in the way she interacted with people as well as the words she spoke.

She was elected to Congress in the 1994 Newt Gingrich engineered House take-over. Like many of her peers, she ran on term limits. Like some of them, she actually held herself to her promise. By the time I began clerking, she'd already headed home to Idaho and Nevada, where her husband lived on his ranch. I became intimately involved with that ranch, at least on paper, as a clerk.

It was a surprise to read the article about the Memorial Service this evening, but if God ever rekindles that dream I hope I have the integrity and honesty that Congresswoman Chenoweth had.

Monday, October 09, 2006

You Gotta Love the BCS Rankings

That's the Bowl Championship Series. After a stellar performance on Saturday (28 to 14 v. Iowa State), Nebraska is ranked 20th in USA Today poll, 21st in the AP Coaches' Poll and, 19th in the Harris Interactive. And we don't even show up in the top 25 of the BCS rankings. I don't get it.

But for those who want to understand a bit of the Husker Fever, check out this video. True Husker fans practically cry and stand up and salute when watching it. Talk about a legacy! I have to admit after watching shots of Tommy Frazier running through five defenders, Scott Frost connecting with receivers and Eric Crouch throwing AND catching the ball, I miss our option quarterbacks, but Zac Taylor is doing great when the coaches let him throw.

Okay, I'll get off my football soapbox for the moment, but watch out I've already gotten to watch three of the games on TV this year! It's a stellar football year for me. And the Colts are doing well, too. I love fall!

Twenty-something Mayor in Pittsburgh

Some days I feel like I really haven't accomplished much with my time on earth. Yesterday was one of those days. I ran across an article in the Pittsburgh Gazette about Pittsburgh's mayor. Prior to finding the article, I had no idea the mayor was 26. Yes, you read that right. Twenty-six. Mayor Ravenstahl took office after the prior mayor died on September 1. By the article, it looks like he's sliding into the responsibility. Twenty-six. Wow. Articles like that get my political juices going again.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

True Forgiveness

I have been humbled as I watch the Amish affected by the school shooting last week exercise true forgiveness over the course of this week. Monday the horrific shooting, Thursday and Friday funerals for the five little girls killed, Saturday a funeral for the killer. Even today the other five victim continue to heal, one remaining in grave danger. And yet the grace and love the Amish are extending is what fills the headlines. "Amish Mourn Gunman." "Forgiveness Woven Into Life of the Amish." The author of the last article is Donald Kraybill, a distinguished professor at Elizabethtown College and author of books on Amish culture. To quote a portion of his article:

"In many ways, the Amish are better equipped to process grief than are many other Americans. First, their faith sees even tragic events under the canopy of divine providence, having a higher purpose or meaning hidden from human sight at first glance. The Amish don't argue with God. They have an enormous capacity to absorb adversity - a willingness to yield to divine providence in the face of hostility. Such religious resolve enables them to move forward without the endless paralysis of analysis that asks why, letting the analysis rest in the hands of God.

"Second, their historic habits of mutual aid - such as barn-raising - arise from their understanding that Christian teaching compels them to care for one another in time of disaster. . . . In moments of disaster, the resources of this socio-spiritual capital spring into action. Meals are brought to grieving families. Neighbors milk cows and perform other daily chores. Hundreds of friends and neighbors visit the home of the bereaved to share quiet words and simply the gift of presence. After the burial, adult women who have lost a close family member will wear black dresses in public for as long as a year to signal their mourning and welcome visits of support.

"In all these ways, Amish faith and culture provide profound resources for processing the sting of death. Make no mistake: Death is painful. Many tears are shed. The pain is sharp, searing the hearts of Amish mothers and fathers as it would those of any other parents."

Another article , "Heartbreaking Bravery in the Face of Death" in the Philadelphia Inquirer focuses on the bravery and self-sacrifice of the girls. These are the kind of events that I can't understand. I add the "whys" to the list of questions that I will ask God when I see Him in heaven. But I will trust that somehow He will use the quiet, sincere faith of these precious people. And pray that God will hold them close and that He will teach me how to accept life without never-ending analysis and whys.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

A Great Legal Flick

Last night while working on a project, I ran across one of my favorite films from college. I hadn't seen A Few Good Men in years. Now the initial part of Daniel Kaffee's transformation from a lawyer who runs from the courtroom to one who takes the courtroom by storm in a mere 3 1/2 weeks is not overly realistic. But once Kaffee decides to lawyer, it's really good.

Some lines are classic. "I want the truth." "You can't handle the truth!"

Movies like this remind me why I decided to become an attorney. The idea that a lawyer can stand in the gap and defend those who are being weak for whatever reason. And the courtroom drama doesn't hurt. So if you're looking for a good flick to fill a couple hours, you might check this one out.

Friday, October 06, 2006

This and That Friday

Taking an idea from my friend Crystal, this is a smorgasbord of things that caught my attention today.

1) Did you know there's been a high level meeting between our government and European governments regarding what information European airlines would have to give to our government on passengers? According to an article in the San Francisco Chronicle: "U.S. officials are demanding 34 pieces of information about U.S.-bound travelers culled from airline passenger name records, including credit card numbers, travel itineraries, phone numbers and home addresses. Claiming the information is a crucial tool for combating terrorism, the Department of Homeland Security also says it plans to share data with other federal agencies. " Currently, the list of passengers must be transmitted to the US after all passengers have boarded a plane but prior to take-off. A deal will likely be reached today.

2) The NY Sun is running an article on the House scandal and its impact on Speaker Hastert, and the trickle down effect on elections. Elections are such fickle creatures.

3) On that notes, I just saw this in USA Today. Some researchers have looked at the demographics of Congressional districts. Their conclusion: The more kids in a district, the more likely the district will have selected a Republican to represent them. The name for this: the fertility divide. An interesting theory. There really are some interesting comparisons in the article which make sense when you sit down and think about them.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Check it out!

Karen Hossink has a new book out, Confessions of an Irritable Mother. I haven't read it yet and as a mom who's never irritable (wait, was that my nose growing), I'm sure I can't glean anything from it. Her husband is InterVarsity staff up in Michigan and went to college with my husband many moons ago at Purdue. (JK, honey!) Her blog, Surviving Motherhood, is new but looks fun. So when you're feeling overwhelmed by this wonderful job called mothering (come on, admit it, you do feel that way occasionally), check out her blog for some fresh perspective.

Libel Law and Blogs

Do the libel laws apply to blogs? As a new blogger and someone who LOVED studying the First Amendment in law school, I think this is an interesting, though largely unanswered, question.

Tuesday, a very interesting article by Laura Parker ran in USA Today that was picked up by Yahoo. The article, Courts are asked to crack down on bloggers, websites, highlights several trends and cases that shed tiny beams on this question. Because people can post anything on a blog, it's not always true information or information that the person being written about wants made public. And more of those who feel defamed are fighting back.

According to the article, the first verdicts are coming out against bloggers.

So what can we do? Make sure what we write is true. But even more, I think if we follow Philippians 4:8, we'll be okay. "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things."

Or in this case, write about such things.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Generation NeXt Parenting

I am so excited! Today's mail brought my copy of this great book. I had the privilege of watching this book be birthed chapter by chapter. And let me tell you, the finished product is even better than the word documents.

Tricia has opened her heart and shared it with us through this book. And there are tons of quotes from real Gen X parents on how we handle struggles (yep, I've got a few in there.). This book is practical, but what I like most of all is the way Tricia focuses on us as parents. Are we where God needs us to be, are we the people He's called us to be. Until we are, we'll struggle to be the parents our children are.

You'll hear more about this great book later (even have a chance to get your own autographed copy), but I couldn't wait to start spreading the word. This is a GREAT book, folks. Grab a copy for yourself and for the other Gen X parents you know!

Dark Hour Blour

A blour (otherwise known as a blog tour) is starting for Ginger Garrett's latest book Dark Hour. Leave a comment below and you'll be entered in a drawing for a copy of this book! Here's an interview with Ginger.

1.) First, tell us a bit about Dark Hour.
I was praying about what book to write after Chosen, and accidentally left my open Bible on the kitchen table. (A dangerous thing, since in my house, small children and large dogs routinely scavenge with dirty hands and noses for snacks!) As I walked past it, I saw a caption about someone named Athaliah and a mass murder. I stopped cold. I knew it was my story.

Athaliah was the daughter of Jezebel--a real woman in history--who tried to destroy all the descendents of King David in a massacre. God made a promise that a descendent of King David would always sit on the throne, and one day a Messiah would come from this line. If Athaliah succeeded, she would break the promise between God and the people, and destroy all hope for a Messiah.One woman, her step-daughter, Jehoshebeth, defied her. She stole a baby during the massacre and hid him. Between them, the two women literally fought for the fate of the world.

2.) What drew you to write biblical fiction?
The similarities between the lives of ancient women and our lives. We get distracted by their "packaging," the way they dressed and lived, but at heart, our stories are parallel.

3.) How much time is spent researching the novel versus writing the novel?
Equal amounts, and I don't stop researching while I write. I have a historical expert, probably the best in the world in his field, review the manuscript and point out errors. The tough part is deciding when to ignore his advice. He pointed out that most everyone rode donkeys if they weren't in the military, but a key scene in the novel involves riding a horse to the rescue. It would have been anti-climatic to charge in on a donkey! :) So I ignored his advice on that one.

4.) Dark Hour takes its reader deep into the heart of palace intrigue and betrayals. Were parts of this book difficult to write?
I left out much of the darkest material I uncovered in research. It was important to show how violent and treacherous these times and this woman (Athaliah) could be, but I tried to be cautious about how to do it. The story was so powerful and hopeful--how one woman's courage in the face of evil saved the world--but the evil was depressing. I tried to move quickly past it. I wanted balance. Our heroine suffers and some wounds are not completely healed in her lifetime. That's true for us, too.

5.) What would modern readers find surprising about ancient women?
They had a powerful sense of the community of women. They also wore make-up: blush, glitter eyeshadow, lipstick, powder, and perfume! They drank beer with straws, and enjoyed "Fritos": ground grains, fried and salted. Many of our foods are the same today, but they loved to serve pate made from dried locusts, finely ground. Ugh!

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Family Ties

Yesterday I had a post at Writer...Interrupted. Check it out!

What are you worth?

It's time for one of those law posts, and Eric gave me the perfect tool last night when he handed me a recent issue of the Wall Street Journal. An article (The Mommy Drain: Employers Beef Up Perks to Lure New Mothers Back to Work), in the September 28th issue highlighted programs at top companies to allow greater flexibility for new parents. Some of the perks include:

  • Increasing maternity-leave pay
  • Communicating penefits and supports proactively (okay, that's a bunch of nice sounding words)
  • Keeping in touch during maternity leave
  • Offering meaningful jobs with reduced travel and hours (a key: if we're working, it's usually because we want to contribute)
  • Giving mothers fair access to bonuses and incentives (There's little I hate more than the perception I'm worth less as an employee because I value my time with my children)
  • Facilitating longer leaves.
As a young woman with children, I'm always looking for creative tools employers develop to keep my generation in the marketplace. Whether you agree or think it's best, fifty percent of law students are women, and I believe the statistic is the same for med school and MBA programs. More and more young women obtain graduate degrees as their male counterparts opt to work out of college.

The direct result is that in a tightening job market employers must be flexible and creative to keep smart women in their 20s and 30s in the workplace.

For some DC law firms, this has meant having daycare centers on site (not an ideal solution, but better than the alternatives). For my firm it means I work three days a week most weeks, though on the days I don't work I'm available by phone and email.

Both times I took maternity leave, it was the first time the company had a woman in that situation. With Abigail I took six weeks off and then slowly ramped up from there. I was in the building every night for law school, so could easily keep my fingers in the middle of everything. And the best part was Abigail got to go to work with me the first nine months. I was considerably blessed.

With Jonathan, I took three months off, but was available and again could take the kids in when I needed to work. There are still days the kids go to the office with me if I have a short court hearing on a day off. My current employer gives me great flexibility as I am flexible with them. As an attorney, a part-time situation is hard to find, so I know I'm blessed again.

It will take awhile for the flexibility highlighted in the article to trickle down through all companies, but the smartest will look for ways they can accommodate my generation's desire to be active parents if they want to keep us in the marketplace.

Okay, I'm stepping off my soapbox now.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Ever just want an answer?

Can you see my hand raised across cyber-space? I'm practically jumping up and down in my chair as I type. All I want is an answer. Do this or do that. Write this way or write that way. Instead, I get the feedback "you're really good at this. Go for it." Or even worse, "What do YOU want?"

I don't know!

If I knew, my life would be blissfully simple. (Please don't interrupt my moment of self-delusion.)

It would be simple to say "yes" or "no." Decisions would be a snap. "This fits my vision for my life, writing, service." Fill in the blank.

Instead, I just want to make people happy. No. Really I want to please God, and sometimes it's easier to gauge that by making people happy. Ugh. I hate to admit that even as the words escape onto the page. I'm supposed to have outgrown this. Moved beyond this need to please.

So while I search for answers, I think the best thing I can do is step back and wait on God. Anyone have any advice for this Type A on how to do that?!?!

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Fire Dancer Review

I have long been a fan of Colleen Coble (she has become a good friend over the last year) and looked forward to the release of this book. Set in Arizona, Fire Dancer sweeps you into the world of fire jumpers. Only in this story, one of the fire jumpers is haunted by a fire that killed her parents.

Colleen Coble is noted for making her setting almost a character in its own right. This book was no different. I could hear the rush of the fire and feel its heat as I read. And I could see the harsh Arizona landscape.

The characters are real and fallible, each trapped in their experiences in some way. The cast of characters is deep. Each one has a unique story, and they add to the conflict and growth of the story. Tess is surrounded by a group of firefighters, family and ranch hands that reflect different parts of her background and current challenges.

Tess is forced by circumstances to confront her guilt and fears when she returns home. She also has to confront her anger that her father left part of the ranch to a man she views as an interloper. When an arson investigation calls the fire that killed her parents into question, Tess hunts for answers.

While I tried to figure out who was setting the new fires and might be behind the older barn fire, I couldn't before the plot revealed the answer. And I was unprepared for some of the revelations, even though the clues had been carefully laid earlier in the book.

The romance was fulfilling as was the mystery. I recommend this book for those who love a well-plotted romantic suspense.


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