Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The Lord has a Sense of Humor, This I Know

Is it Murphy's Law that states, "Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong?"

I think he must have been visiting our house when he came up with that quote. The day after Thanksgiving all the outlets in our kitchen blew except for one, and the sewer backed up. Thankfully, our jack-of-all-trades' son-in-law came to our rescue and quickly resolved the outlet problem. The sewer, on the other hand, was another story.

He and my husband spent Monday night snaking the pipes in the basement trying to root out the offending party. Five hours later, two badly soiled men emerged from the utility room, scathed, but victorious. The 100 ft. rented snake had finally unearthed the problem--a tree root wrapped in multiple layers of hair. Ugh!

Life on the homefront is back to normal, except for a dishwasher door that needs replaced and a dryer that gave up the ghost about a month ago. Returning to the days of hanging out laundry has been a breath of fresh air for me--literally.

Which reminds me: one of my favorite household tasks in India is hanging out laundry on the roof. It's a treat to watch the Indian women in colorful sarees with toddlers at their knees hanging their dupattas out to dry. All the brilliant colors flapping in the breeze and drying in the generous sunshine. Quite therapeutic, at least in January. Not sure it would be quite as pleasurable in the Indian summer months.

Monday, November 5, 2007

A Taste of India

I'm sitting at my computer breathing in the aroma of whole cloves, cinnamon sticks, curry powder, and cardamom. Experienced fiction writers tell me that in order to place your reader into the story, a writer must surround himself with the sights, sounds, and smells of his novel's setting. Since I am currently working on a four-book project in my series, Born for India, I am trying to heed the advice. Thus, for two weeks now my office has been filled with exotic aromas wafting from a basket by my chair. So strong are these spices that my tongue tinkles and throat burns, but hey, I'm actually getting used to the fragrance! I think I might even miss it if I removed the basket.
For those out there who have an affinity for Indian food, here's a recipe you might like to try.
Serves 6-8
2 tbsp butter
1 large onion, chopped
1 tsp mustard seeds
3 garlic cloves, crushed
8 fenugreek seeds
1/2 inch piece of ginger root, grated
Lots of salt
1 c. split red lentils or dal
1 tbsp tomato paste
2 1/2 c. water
2 tomaotes, chopped
1 tbsp lemon joice
4 tbsp chopped coriander (or cilantro)
3 green chilies
Heat the butter in a large saucepan and add the onions. Cook for 2-3 minutes over high heat, then add the mustard seeds. Cover the pan until the seeds begin to pop. Immediately remove the lid from the pan and add the garlic, fenugreek, ginger, salt and chilies. Stir once and add the lentils, tomato paste, and water. Simmer gently for 10 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, lemon juice and coriander (cilantro) and simmer for 4-5 minutes until the lentils are tender.
Serve with rice or naan bread and enjoy!
Interesting Tidbit: Cardamom, native to tropical Asia, is not only used as a spice or condiment, but also in medicine.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Book One in the "Born for India" series just released! Books Two and Three in the works!

It is time I started another novel - there is one waiting in the far recesses of my mind, like an octopus beneath a coral reef, occasionally putting out a feeler or two, prodding quite painfully into my conscious mind. I will have to respond, I can see; dive down and haul it out, and up into shallower, brighter waters, where I can get a good look at it . . .

--Fay Weldon, quoted in The Art and Craft of Novel Writing

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Let's Get Acquainted!

A Writer from the Start

As a child, I loved writing and telling stories. Walking to school every morning, I created characters, then talked to them as I ambled down the road. One Sunday after church, a neighbor approached me and said, "Who were you talking to the other day on your way to school? Why you were going on at a great rate!" A shy child, I was embarrassed that my neighbor had witnessed my dream world.

My creative spirit was not daunted, however. I grew up continuing my writing efforts, first through poetry and short stories, then through drama, which I not only enjoyed crafting, but also acting out on stage. Receiving good reviews on my acting ability I considered majoring in drama during college, but God had another idea in mind.

Fulltime for the Lord

After I received the Lord Jesus Christ as my personal Savior when I was eight years old, I knew I wanted to serve God somewhere, somehow. Sensing the Lord's leading to enter fulltime Christian ministry as a senior in high school, I was led to Southeastern Bible College in 1973 where I received a B. A. in Christian Education and met and married my college sweetheart who was also preparing to serve the Lord fulltime.

During the last 31 years, I have worked to put my husband, Chuck, through graduate school, received a minor in English from Liberty University, completed graduate hours in counseling from Liberty Theological Seminary, birthed babies, helped my husband enter a professional counseling practice, homeschooled my three precious daughters, and served in our local church and community, all the while dabbling here and there with my writing and speaking.

As a homeschool mom in 1999, I sensed God leading me to pursue my passion for writing/speaking. Chuck had been talking with me over the preceding years about teaming up with him to conduct marriage seminars. My oldest daughter had left for college in 1997, and while I still had two other daughters to navigate through homeschooling, I realized the empty nest loomed ahead. The time seemed right to test the writing/speaking waters.

Marriage with an Attitude is Born

Having received good feedback on my church dramas and newsletters, I decided to tackle a marriage book to accompany our seminars. Chuck and I had been compiling a folder full of material on marriage for five years. I had plenty of information, life experiences, and counseling stories to draw upon. The resulting book, Marriage with an Attitude, How to Build an Exciting Marriage with a Fantastic Attitude! coauthored with Chuck, was released in April, 2000 and our first full seminar was conducted at a church in Chicago. In 2003, I developed an email newsletter titled, "Lifetime Growth News" to encourage couples to grow healthier marriages and individuals to grow in all areas of life--spiritually, mentally, socially, physically, and emotionally. With the help of a seminar participant, I also produced a web site http://www.iwanttomakemymarriagework.com/ to help couples work on God-honoring marriages.

When Mourning Comes

On the heels of Marriage with an Attitude, I felt compelled to write When Mourning Comes, Living Through Loss (Essence Publishing, 2002), coauthored with Chuck. I had experienced two heart-wrenching miscarriages at four months gestation during the early years of our marriage, while Chuck had experienced a major job loss. Chuck's mom had succumbed to Alzheimer's and breast cancer, while my own parents' physical abilities were deteriorating. I was now moving toward the empty nest at the speed of a freight train. I needed to write this book and prayed that readers would also feel supported and encouraged by the expert counseling help, inspirational stories, and scriptural examples in their own grief journeys. Since the book's inception, I have been invited to speak to several groups concerning grief and loss issues.

Tranquil Moments

In 2003, I published my first devotional book, Tranquil Moments, Spiritual Refreshment from the Island of Maui (Essence Publishing), based on my personal journal of time spent with God and Chuck during our 25th anniversary trip to Hawaii. A collection of 31 vignettes, one for each day of the month, takes the reader on a spiritual journey as he views God's promise in a rainbow spreading across a Maui mountaintop, His peace in a cascading waterfall and His faithfulness in a colorful sunrise. Each entry includes scripture, a spiritual renewal plan and reader response. Four appendices include 101 ways to include a tranquil moment in your day and a therapist's guide to tranquility.

My Heartbeat

In the last three years, I have devoted more time to writing for Christian magazines, developing my writing skills through Christian Writer's Guild, speaking to women's groups, and teaching a homeschool creative writing class, as well as an online course. My youngest daughter is now a junior in college and my two other daughters are married and in fulltime ministry. They each have babies of their own which has ushered me into the wonderful world of grandparenthood.

Life is full, and God is so good. His grace is ever amazing! He has blessed and used me in ways I never dreamed possible. My life purpose is to know and love the Lord Jesus Christ and share Him with others. My life verse is Psalm 46:10: Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth. At this season in my life, my platform is writing and speaking wherever and whenever He directs, growing my own godly marriage with Chuck, and together leaving a legacy of faith to our three grown daughters and grandchildren.

My Favorite Role!

Enjoying time with my three precious daughters at my home in Roanoke, Virginia is one of my favorite leisure time activities. Now that they are all grown, it's a rare treat when all three are home at the same time.

Look closely at the picture and you will notice that Kylie is pulling Grandma's hair. It would appear that my two granddaughters are in cahoots to get Grandma Eileen! And they're giggling about it, too!

Friends used to tell me before I had my own grandchildren, "There's nothing like being a grandparent!"

I now understand what they mean. Hug and kiss them. Play with them. Read to them. Take walks with them. And then give them back to their parents to train them. Yeah! Life is sweet.

Coming Soon! From Capstone Fiction: Journey to Judah

Inspired by a true story
Based on a true story, Journey to Judah is about a young, single gal who follows her heart to India, fulfilling a ten-year dream of becoming a career missionary while learning to trust God with her singleness. Just when Maggie thinks she's mastered contentment, a fellow missionary arranges a meeting with a handsome young doctor. As the saga unfolds against the backdrop of exotic Indian culture and custom, a series of events threatens a potential love relationship and tests Maggie's trust in God alone.
My passion in writing Journey to Judah
My passion in writing Journey to Judah emerged as the result of watching our fifteen-year-old daughter commit her life to fulltime missions in India. After ten years of waiting, training, and preparing, our single daughter departed for India in November, 2004. Two months later God brought a young man to India and the two were married on June 11, 2005. In the midst of this sweet story, Chuck and I have been blessed to watch our other two daughters commit their lives to fulltime ministry.
My heart's desire for readers
My heart's desire in writing Journey to Judah is to assure women that following God is not a step to fear, but a fulfilling journey on which He proves to be a faithful Lover, provider, and protector.
If you enjoy a great love story, Journey to Judah is for you!

Seminar participants browse our book table

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Interacting with a seminar participant

The joke's on me while speaking at a Valentine Banquet with my sweetie. Where IS he anyway? I can't think of anything else to say! Guess I'll just stand here and keep smiling.
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The Pearly Gates

The women at a recent retreat convinced me to ride the Pearly Gates. They wanted to see just how brave their speaker was, or maybe they just wanted to make me stop talking!
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The End of One Story, the Beginning of Another

I flip through the calendar, a gift from my missionary daughter. Family face after family face jump off the pages. Grandkids roasting mar...