b-blog

Winner of Jam Drawing!

Thanks to everyone for your lovely, nostalgic comments about making jam. I had my son draw a random name – Lois Hudson has won a jar of homemade plum jam. Um, guess I’d better get around to actually making that jam now, huh? Lois, I’ll send you a message on Facebook to get your mailing address.

If Only They’d Listened

On December 7, 1941, two Army Air Force radar operators on Oahu reported a blip on their screen, which looked like dozens of planes approaching Pearl Harbor. They reported it to Lt. Kermit Tyler, who had been on the job only two days. Tyler knew a squadron of twelve B-17 Flying Fortresses was due to arrive from San Francisco and land at Hickam Field at 8:00 am. He told the operators, “Don’t worry about it.” (http://articles.latimes.com/2010/feb/24/local/la-me-kermit-tyler25-2010feb25).

Radar was in its infancy, American planes were expected, and Tyler hadn’t been adequately trained, but we still wonder what would have happened if he’d heeded the warning. The damage at Pearl Harbor would have been less if the sailors and antiaircraft gunners had been prepared and fighter planes had been dispatched. If more ships had survived, would the Japanese conquests around the Pacific have been slowed or stopped? We’ll never know.

While Lieutenant Tyler had legitimate excuses, King Jehoiakim of Judah did not. In 605 B.C., King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon and his mighty army pressed his attack on Jerusalem. The Lord told Jeremiah to write down the description of the destruction that would come if they continued in their ungodly ways—and that if they repented, the Lord would forgive them. When the scroll was read to King Jehoiakim, he used his knife to cut up the scroll, strip by strip, and burn it.

He—and all of Judah—paid the price for his contemptuous dismissal.

God gives us warnings in Scripture for our own good. His warnings have two promises—continue in your sin and something bad will happen, or repent and be forgiven. He always offers hope and redemption, but only if we choose it. Rejoice in His love always, but never dismiss His warning. Unlike 1941-era radar, God’s word is reliable.

“The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” 2 Peter 3:9.

Lessons from the 1940s – Yes, I Can!

My plum tree overfloweth. Right now, two grocery bags full of ripe plums are sitting on my kitchen counter, saying, “We want to jam!”

Tomorrow I’ll boil jars, pit and puree plums, measure sugar, and emotionally bond with my ancestors.
Something about canning appeals to me. I love my food processor, heavy-duty mixer, and modern stove and oven. I love buying my meat already butchered and wrapped in styrofoam and clear plastic. I love my pantry and refrigerator bulging with food. But all this distances me from reality.
Food comes at a price. Food takes work. Food is precious.
In the 1940s, everyone knew that. While most people didn’t have to do their own butchering, meat was rationed and scarce. Housewives had to come up with dishes that didn’t require meat or used whatever was available.
Everyone was encouraged to plant Victory Gardens to grow ration point-free produce for their families. Since fewer foods were imported, canning was a necessity to provide fruits and vegetables year-round. Each household was even allowed an extra ration of precious sugar just for canning use.
I make my own jam for many reasons. It uses up the fruit so it doesn’t go to waste. It saves me a bit of money. It makes the house smell divine. And homemade jam is yummy. But I also love the sense of continuity with the past, and the reminder that food is a gift from God to be cherished and never taken for granted.
How about you? Do you have any canning memories? Do you enjoy canning?
Leave a comment, and I’ll conduct a drawing on Thursday for a jar of homemade plum jam!

Brainstorming Drawing Winner

Thank you all for your creative ideas for titles. It’s nice to have friends who are better with titles than I am! I’ve forwarded a long list of suggestions to the team at Revell. The marketing director said she saw a lot that she loved, and they’ll take it to their titling committee this week. I’ll let you know what they decide. If your suggestion is selected, I’ll mention you in my acknowledgements page in the book.

My youngest son drew a name from all of you who left a comment, so if you didn’t win, blame him. The winner is….Loretta Boyett! Loretta, I’ll contact you on Facebook.

Thank you all for participating! This was a lot of fun.

Help Me Brainstorm!

It’s time to name the third book in the Wings of Glory series. Yesterday, the fantastic, creative team at Revell, my agent, and I brainstormed title ideas. They really liked my working title, When Blue Skies Return, but with the font and look of the series – see the book covers – the title is just too long.

We’d love to stick with the “Blue Skies” theme, but need something shorter. Something along the lines of “_____ Blue Skies,” “Blue Skies _______,” or “Blue Sky _________.”

Here’s a short synopsis of the story:

Lt. Raymond Novak prefers the pulpit to the cockpit, but his stateside job training B-17 pilots allows him to court Helen Carlisle, a widowed mother who conceals her pain under a frenzy of volunteer work. The sparks of their romance set a fire that flings them both into peril. Ray leaves to fly a combat mission at the peak of the air war over Europe, while Helen takes a job at a dangerous munitions yard and faces an even graver menace in her own home. Can they both find the courage to face their challenges?
Help me brainstorm! Leave a comment, and I’ll enter your name in a drawing to win a copy of either A Distant Melody or A Memory Between Us.

Lessons from the 1940s – Look Back for Inspiration

Happy Independence Day! This poster seemed appropriate with its Revolutionary War theme.

In 1943, the United States, and the rest of the world, faced its greatest threat. Germany, Japan, and Italy with the other Axis powers, had conquered vast areas of the globe. The Allies were just beginning to make progress, clearing North Africa, invading Sicily and Italy, and invading some Pacific Islands, but the road ahead looked long and difficult. It would prove to be so.

This poster reminded the people of 1943 of their heritage, that Americans fight for liberty. The American colonists fighting for freedom in the Revolutionary War faced the greatest military power of the time and prevailed, mostly because of their intense drive to be free. Their example inspired World War II soldiers to fight for liberty at home and abroad despite the odds.

Likewise, we can learn much from the past. I enjoy writing these posts. When I think of what the men and women of the 1940s endured so we could be free in 2010, it inspires me to embrace their values.

This Fourth of July, remember what made America great – our love of liberty, our willingness to fight for what’s right, our ingenuity, our flexibility, our sense of humor, our diversity, and our moral strength – and embrace it. Keep America great by keeping Americans good.

Promises

I broke a promise.

Last summer I promised to take my kids to Waterworld. I fully intended to do so, and even purchased tickets in advance. But then one child went on choir tour, all three went to camp, we went on our family vacation, visited family out of state…where I broke my wrist. My cast was like a personal sauna, and I couldn’t tolerate a full day in the sun. We didn’t go to Waterworld.

I’m not alone. We’ve all broken promises. Sometimes due to circumstances beyond our control, sometimes due to lack of careful planning, and some of us have even made promises we never intended to keep.

No wonder we have a hard time grasping the concept of a faithful God who always keeps His promises.

However, God is sovereign—there are no circumstances beyond His control or knowledge. God is wise—He makes perfect plans and takes care of every detail. And God cannot lie—He is incapable of saying one thing and meaning another. If God promised, it’ll happen.

He’s promised to be with us always (Matt. 28:20), to give wisdom whenever we ask (James 1:5), and to come back for us some day (John 14:2-3), and many other wonderful things. He’ll keep those promises. He can’t do otherwise.

“O Lord God Almighty, who is like you? You are mighty, O Lord, and your faithfulness surrounds you” Psalm 89:8.

By the way, this year…Waterworld!

Kids Count

“If Jesus lives in your heart, does that make Him a parasite?”

For the past week, I’ve fielded questions like that from my class of fourth-graders at Vacation Bible School. While VBS wears me out physically, it energizes me spiritually. When I started volunteering at VBS twelve years ago, I was a little concerned. What if they asked questions I couldn’t answer? What if I made a fool of myself? What if they were too cynical, too cool, too “all that” for Jesus?

Well, they ask me tough questions, but nothing I can’t answer with the Lord’s help. And the bigger a fool I make of myself, the more effective I am as a teacher. But the biggest surprise and the greatest joy is the kids themselves – far from being “too cool” for Jesus, they seek Him with all their hearts! Three kids this week told me, “I want to learn more about Jesus. Tell me how I can learn more about Him.” Wow. When the gospel message is placed in front of children, most of them gobble it up like a box full of sour gummy worms. They gobbled up the gummy worms too.

Of the thirty-five children in my class, eight of them made confirmed, first-time decisions to follow Christ. Children hear the gospel message with different ears than adults. They don’t think about what Christians are like (and how we fail), what churches are like (and how we fail) – but only what Jesus is like. And they want Him.

“Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these'” (Matt. 19:14, italics mine). Note that He didn’t say “drag” the children to Me, but “let them come.” As in, that’s where they want to go naturally. So let them come. Don’t stand in their way.

You can be a doorway to let children come to Jesus. Tell your children and grandchildren. Help in a Sunday school class or at VBS. Watch children’s faces light up when they hear the joyful news that God loves them, there’s forgiveness for their sins, and they can have eternal life in Him! You’ll be as blessed as the children.

Lessons from the 1940s – Never Forget

Today, we commemorate the 66th anniversary of the D-Day landings. On June 6, 1944, the Allies landed on the beaches of Normandy to liberate Europe from Nazi power.

In August 2007, I was privileged to stand on Omaha Beach on a misty, overcast morning not unlike the men faced that historic day. As I stood on that long stretch of sand and gazed at those high bluffs which once bristled with machine guns, I was moved deeply. We’ve all seen the movies and watched the footage – men dashing with rifles in hand, stumbling in the waves, beckoning their buddies onward, sheltering against debris – falling to the sand. But being there and feeling that sand beneath my feet gave me another level of understanding.
Today the Normandy beaches bristle with people on holiday – those who come to remember, and those who come to play. Children laugh and chase the waves and build sand castles. Tourists stand in silence, wipe tears, take pictures. This is as it should be.
Sixty-six years ago, 155,000 American, British Commonwealth, and Free French troops landed in the biggest amphibious operation in history, along with free people from many other occupied nations. Take a moment today and remember those who risked their lives, who gave their lives so we can live in freedom.

Chasing the Light

Meet Daisy. Daisy is a retriever. She thinks she’s a hunter. Her favorite prey…light.

Daisy chases after laser pointers and flashlights and random blinking lights. And this time of year, the morning sun shines through the sliding glass window in my kitchen and glances off the face of my watch. The Magic Light. This is her favorite thing in the world.

While I’m assembling school lunches and my three kids are making their breakfasts, I have an 80-pound yellow lab dogging my steps. Pun intended. She frantically searches the floor around me for a glimpse of the Magic Light. And when she sees it, she pounces, nips at it, and follows wherever it leads.

In the morning, Daisy won’t leave my side because she knows I’m the source of the Magic Light.

She drives me bonkers. But she makes me think.

I have a Source of light in my life too. Do I crave the Light of the World above all else? Do I stick close to Jesus’ side, dogging His steps, searching for glimpses of His light, pouncing on it, and following wherever His Light leads me? I want to stay as close to my Master as Daisy does to me.