Sunday, November 28, 2010

A Thanksgiving Journey

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend.

Ours started out in, what can I say…an interesting way. You may grow weary of my animal stories, but I spend a lot of my life dealing with four legged creatures.

For various reasons, our family had to take two cars to my sister’s house, our destination for Thanksgiving Day. My daughter and I drove the “dog” car. My husband, Jerry, and my son drove the “food” car. We’re keeping an extra dog for family this month so that meant three dogs in my vehicle. We thought it best to keep the dogs and the food separate, because one Thanksgiving we lost a turkey and pie to a Bassett Hound before we even knew she’d gotten into the food. She was a sneaky canine.

For seating arrangements, we put Ellie the shiatsu and Charlie the poodle in the third seat and Lucy the lab puppy in the second seat--a configuration we hoped might keep everybody happy.

However, just as we were underway, Lucy lumbered back, drove the little dogs out of their beds, and crashed in Charlie’s accommodations. I had to stop, while my daughter reorganized everyone. We tried a different scenario.

There was Ellie in the passenger seat.

Lucy in a captain’s chair.

And Charlie in the third perch.

Just when I thought we had peace in the valley, Lucy arose and stuck her head into the front to nudge out Ellie. My daughter appeared to have grown a second head.


My daughter raised a pointed finger, “What are those?”

Ahead, a flock of guinea fowl strolled across the busy highway, stopping traffic in both directions. I snapped this picture after they crossed.

“Is all of this going to appear in a blog?” my daughter asked.

“You better believe it.” I said. “It’s way too good to waste.”

The early chaos was in no way a predictor of what turned out to be a wonderful day with family. Of course, more animal dilemmas were ahead, because my sister has three dogs of her own, Lily the cat, and a new feline who seems to have selected my sister’s home as her own domicile.

I have a friend whose husband used to say she was going to be like the old woman who lived in a shoe, but instead of children, she’d have so many cats she wouldn’t know what to do.

My cat-loving friend said, “I thought that sounded like a good thing.”

This same friend sent me a card picturing a woman in a house with about twenty cats. Cats, cats, everywhere. I thought it was wonderful. Jerry, said, “You notice there’s no husband in that picture.”

Very funny.

Maybe, I’ve said this before, but as you can see, we’re doing our part in taking care of creation. I hope you are. (Did I mention we’re making friends with another feral cat?)

Life is never simple with this many critters around, but there’s never a shortage of joy either.

At least most of the time.

So, on my thankful list are all these creatures God has sent.

When I made that thankful list I wrote about a few days ago, I was surprised at all the prayers God had answered over the past year. One very special addition this year is all of you.

The apostle Paul said, “I thank my God every time I remember you.” (Philippians 4:3) That’s what’s in my heart when I think of you friends and readers. So, thank you for joining me on this writing journey at “One Ringing Bell.”

To start the Advent season, next, I’ll be sharing a story I wrote featuring characters from my novel, “Coming to Currahee.”

Many blessings.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Name Them One by One

On this Thanksgiving Eve, the words to “Count Your Many Blessings” are rolling around in my head.

According to 101 Hymn Stories by Kenneth Osbeck, Johnson Oatman wrote this hymn around 1897. Popular in England at the time and sung frequently during the Welsh revivals, I doubt Oatman, who wrote more than 5,000 hymn lyrics in his lifetime, could have envisioned its appeal lasting now for more than one hundred and ten years.

Since the hymn's now in public domain, I'll share the first verse which I love: “When upon life’s billows you are tempest tossed, When you are discouraged thinking all is lost, Count your many blessings—name them one by one, And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done. “

Misty enjoying Edison's work
It seems I don’t have much trouble enumerating my troubles to God. But a thankful list? That I need to work on. How long would it take, and what surprises might I find along the way? It’d be easy for me to hit the big things like family, and home, but just today, I was noticing how different it is in the house when we replaced one burnt out light bulb. Thank you Lord, for Thomas Edison. (By the way, did you know his last words when he woke from a nap days before his death were “It’s very beautiful over there?”)

I think the point of the verse in “Count Your Many Blessings” is that when we’re low, and when we’ve lost our hope, counting our blessings refocuses our lives on God’s gracious love and goodness toward us. Eugene Peterson translates I Thessalonians 5:18 this way, “...thank God no matter what happens. This is the way God wants you who belong to Christ Jesus to live.”

“Thank God no matter what happens.” Lord, please help me remember to do just that, and somehow in the next couple of days I’m going to take a shot at naming my blessings one by one.

Happy Thanksgiving, everybody!

Monday, November 22, 2010

The View from Here

I’m not sure which factors have contributed to the leaves clinging longer to the trees this fall--maybe the unseasonably warm weather. Nevertheless, here we are almost to Thanksgiving, and we’re still in the thick of brilliant color.

Since I have readers from around the globe, I thought I’d share a few photos I’ve snapped over the past few days. 

Recently, my daughter and I were looking through some prints I’d collected over the years. She came across a watercolor print from artist Judy Bolton Jarrett depicting one tree in the four seasons of the year. Judy had woven this verse from Ecclesiastes into her painting: “To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven…” (Ecc. 3:1 KJV)
Changing seasons in our lives can be a challenge—often a difficult challenge. Just as the leaves in my yard have held on this year, I’ve found myself at times clinging to the season I’m in rather than embrace a new era in my life. But the changeless One calls us forward, and promises to hold us fast through every transition.

Later in Ecclesiastes, we find, “He hath made everything beautiful in his time…” (Ecc. 3:11) In the trees all around me, and in Judy Jarrett’s watercolor now hanging in my daughter’s room, I’m daily reminded of these words of solace and ask God to help me look for the beauty no matter the season in which I might find myself.

The view from here? 


Friday, November 19, 2010

Utterly Amazed

Bev, Tammy, Jerry, and our dear friend Marni Dodd
Lyrics from a seventies singer-songwriter talk about how there’s little time to be in the company of those with whom we’d enjoy spending many hours. I found that true yesterday when we had opportunity to have a few moments for coffee with our friend, Tammy, from Asia.

She was swinging through our area, speaking at the University of Georgia Wesley Foundation. We caught up with her on her way back to Atlanta where she’s been for six months of rest before heading back to the other side of the world.

We’ve known Tammy since her days here as a student at the University of Georgia where she attended the Wesley Foundation Student Ministry. Previously a self-proclaimed atheist, she fell in love with Jesus at Wesley. She was later our children’s pastor for a time, then after UGA, she graduated from Asbury seminary. At that point, she’d had the opportunity to visit several countries around the globe, and felt called to work with children in a specific location in Asia.

Ignoring the standard “raise your support before you go” protocol, she packed a bag and went. She was twenty-seven years old.

Tammy has now rescued forty-six precious girls and boys from some of the meanest streets on planet earth. She’s clothed, fed, and schooled them as well as purchased land and built four buildings to house these children. Tammy has seen miracles of God’s provision and blessing in the almost twelve years she’s been walking in obedience to the call of God for her life. But more importantly, she’s embraced these children with a transformative love, which she found herself as a child of the God who is love.

I’m sitting here in the wake of watching a powerful video she left with us which pictured every child in some way. With a contagious joy, each spoke of the love and grace they receive in their home. I remember many of their stories and can’t believe that some who came to her as small children are now in college. Every child has a heart-wrenching past, but one particularly moving one is of a girl whose mother literally threw her in the gutter to die. With love, nourishment, and medical care at Tammy’s home, she’s now thriving.

Tammy’s vision is that God might use her children to transform a nation and usher in revival.

I love this verse from Habakkuk 1:5, “Look at the nations and watch—and be utterly amazed. For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe even if you were told.”

God would love to use forty-six children to change the course of history.

The time passed way too fast yesterday, and it may be years before we see her again. I could grow sad about that, or I could just up my prayers for Tammy and her kids. And one day in heaven, we’ll have all kinds of time to catch up on every single detail.

I love being “utterly amazed.”

We love you, Tammy.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Scrubbing Floors and Reaching the World

The last few days, I’ve been pondering the compelling and challenging teaching Rusty Wright presented at the East Metro Atlanta Christian Writers Conference this past weekend. An Amy award winner, Rusty has written for years on a variety of topics in the general and Christian markets. In fact, he mentioned people are still coming to know Christ through articles he wrote decades ago while in college. God has put it on his heart to touch a billion people for Christ in his lifetime and beyond through his writing.

One person reaching a billion people. Wow, that’s a big goal.

But, as I had the opportunity to get to know Rusty over the past weekend, I witnessed his primary goal is to be faithful to God in all he does.

Sometimes, we don’t see in the span of our days all the people our lives touch. God may call us to some obscure place, where we labor a lifetime in anonymity. Later, even after we’re gone, someone arises from that ministry and touches many lives. That’s why, as my husband says, we can’t put the “em-PHA’-sis on the wrong syl-LA’-ble.” The wrong syllable to emphasize in this case is to make our lives about the numbers we reach even in the name of Christ.

The right syllable is to abandon ourselves to Him and be faithful.

Just a few hours ago, I was on my hands and knees scrubbing the grout on the bathroom floor. (So much, for the glamorous life of an author, right?) Was I reaching people for Christ? Probably not. Was I serving my family? Yes, I was, and God has called me as a wife and mother to serve them and by doing so, I’m faithful to God. (Don't get the wrong idea, the rest of the people at this house do some serving as well.)

I’ve found though,  if I’m faithful to God, I’m faithful to all others.

However, having said all of this, God did challenge me through Rusty Wright to reach all the people I can in my lifetime for Christ’s sake. He inspired me to consider the possibilities God might bring my way to do just that— and to set goals.

I’m remembering the words of Jesus, “…and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)

Maybe God would challenge you today, as well. If so, pray, abandon yourself to God and allow Him to speak to your heart about how He might want to use you to reach the world for Him.

You may learn more about Rusty Wright and his work at

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Ships, Sails, and Dream Come True Tales

Years ago, I had a dream in which I was to board a giant white ship to go to some writing related endeavor. I felt unprepared and ill equipped to go, yet somehow in my heart a strong resolve rooted in purpose and calling drove me forward. When I told my husband, Jerry, about the dream the next day, his only comment was, “Maybe your ship’s coming in.” We both laughed, but there was something about his musing that struck a chord—maybe of hope—maybe of wishful thinking. I didn’t know which, but I preferred to err on the side of hope that my writing related giant ship was actually coming in.

When Jerry retired in June from Gateway Church where we’d been for twenty-five years, the women there presented me with a lovely original painting of a ship, a crystal ship model, as well as a poem by a dear friend and author entitled, “Beverly’s Ship.” It spoke about waiting long for that ship to come in. The last two lines read, “He knows my need. He simply can’t fail. Oh, look yonder! I see a sail,” and ends with this verse from Romans 5:5, “Hope does not disappoint.”

Just a couple of weeks later, I signed with Elevating Entertainment for an option on my screenplay, “Give My Love to the Chestnut Trees.” Someone said, “You’re on the ship now.” Yes, I did feel I was walking up the gangplank, but I knew there was much still to be done, because I believe God had given me a dream for my books as well.

This weekend, I attended the East Metro Atlanta Christian Writer’s Conference with several incredible presenters including Amy award winner, Rusty Wright, and Reg and Eleanore Forder, founders of American Christian Writers.

I’d entered a writing competition with EMACW weeks earlier, and looked forward to the awards presentation on Friday evening. However, as I heard others talk about their compelling book projects, I was sure there were so many others there whose work would be preferred over mine.

When the vice president of EMACW, Joyce Fincher, presented the first place award, I waited for her to honor another writer whom I was sure would win. Instead, she stood in front of me and handed me an envelope. In that moment, I saw more than a sail. I saw rigging, a hull, and deck upon deck. You see first prize was a self-publishing book contract for my novel “Give My Love to the Chestnut Trees” worth several thousand dollars with Westbow, a division of Thomas Nelson.

In one moment in time, a dream came true.

Joyce Fincher, Bev, Colleen Jackson EMACW President
Terri Webster, 3rd Place, Bev, Paticia Manns 2nd Place
Yes, of course, there’s still much work to be done, but the words of the “Doxology” float continuously through my brain, “Praise God from whom all blessings flow.” In addition to thanking God, I thank the people at East Metro Atlanta Christian Writers, their president Colleen Jackson and vice president, Joyce Fincher. Their untiring work serves to help and inspire so many writers like me.

Thank you to those who’ve prayed for me for many years including Jerry and my sister, Tammy Todd, my Face book and Gideon friends in addition to those faithful folks on my email prayer list. Thank you for having hope, sometimes when I didn’t--for believing it would happen when it seemed so far flung. To my friends, the givers of so many ship related reminders, thank you for these mementos, which prophetically pointed to God’s work.

And to the sender of all ships, thank you for your precious words, “Hope does not disappoint.”

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

A Writer, A War, and Veteran's Day

Since November 11, 1919, Americans have celebrated Veterans Day (originally Armistice Day) to honor those who’ve served in the military. I had the privilege of being at Rays Church, in Oconee County, Georgia as they began their observance this past Sunday. Josh Darnell, a retired captain in the United States Army and Purple Heart recipient spoke at their Veterans’ Day service. Most of today’s post is composed of excerpts from Josh’s message on Sunday. I found it a great challenge to abridge his words, because they were all so powerful.

L to R Bev and Jerry Varnado, Melissa and Josh Darnell
Josh, a graduate of the University of Georgia in journalism, later chose to enlist in the military at a time in his life when many would question his reasoning. He traded his life of comfort and ease as a writer at “Georgia Magazine” for that of a soldier on foreign soil. Josh struggled to explain his actions to others, but eventually traced his decision back to stories he heard from his grandfather and others like him.

In Josh’s words: “He told me stories of doing battle with Japanese tanks, of the bullet wound he took to the jaw, and the suffering he endured in the months spent returning home on a hospital ship. It began to occur to me that his was only one story among an entire fading generation that owned similar tales…These and other stories of courage, sacrifice, and diligence accumulated in my head, and eventually began to affect the way I viewed my role as an American.

I put in my two-weeks notice at my job, stepped through the door of the Georgia Square Mall recruiting station, and so my story began.”

Josh went on to speak about the men and women now serving in the military, “…many of them still in their twenties and facing their third or fourth combat deployment, would never be asked to jump from airplanes into Nazi territory or storm beaches as their WWII forbearers did. They would never watch their buddies freeze to death like so many in Korea, or face alienation on the home front like so many veterans of Vietnam.

But, they will face the crushing emotional strain of deployment again and again and again. They will miss a baby’s first steps, or a grandmother’s funeral or a child’s graduation. They will walk down a dusty street, never knowing which passing car or hard-faced local is wired with explosives. They will see friends dead or injured, and return to a nation still trying to figure out if it was all worth it in the first place. They will suffer and sacrifice on the same level as their predecessors, and because of that, their service must be considered just as noble, their stories just as sacred.”

Josh shared candidly about his struggle to hold on to his faith in light of the horrors of war, and then came the life altering explosion of a suicide bomber. “As I lay there, ears ringing, fighting to maintain consciousness through the pain, I found myself in a position of spiritual clarity well beyond anything I had ever experienced. …I came to the ponderous realization that, at that very moment, there was virtually nothing between me and the God I had sought and dismissed so many times. No worldly distractions, no embittered analysis about the nature of man, no anger over the things I had witnessed. Just me, the sound of my blood pounding in my ears and the strange certainty that God was listening very intently for the next thing I would say.

So, I asked him for help.

I asked Him not to let me die in a muddy street 6,000 miles away from everything I had known and loved and taken for granted.”

God answered his prayer through other brave men and women who risked their own lives to rescue him and provide medical treatment.

Though still left with many unanswered questions, Josh expressed his gratefulness and the peace he’s found in God. He closed this way—“As my life stretches out in front of me, I can only pray that I continue my story with the same grace, courage, and humility that so many veterans of wars past have exemplified in their post-war lives. It is the least I can do for those who served before me, and for the God that brought me home. May God bless you all, and may God bless the United States of America.”

May God bless America, indeed. "Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord..." Psalm 33:12

Pictured below are other veterans in attendance on Sunday. When I see these men served in places like Afghanistan, Korea, Japan and Vietnam, I know the names on this list have suffered much for freedom. It’s a special privilege to see WWII veteran Harvey Smith among these faces, as well as the name of one not able to be present, Ed McDonald, another of that Greatest Generation.

Pictured left to right: Josh Darnell, U.S. Army(Captain) 2006-2010-Served in Georgia, Texas, and Afghanistan; Bill Gilmer, U.S. Navy(Bailey Tender 1st), 1948-1952-served in Korean Conflict, Also now serves as Commander of Amvets Post 10; Bobby Kinman, U.S. Air Force(E5 Staff Sergeant), 1967-1971-served in Texas, Illinois, and Florida; Lynn Norton, U.S. Navy(2nd Class Petty Officer), 1957-1959-Served in Hawaii, Hong Kong, and Japan; Bennie Reynolds,U.S. Army (SP4), 1968-1969-Served in Georgia, Oklahoma, and Germany; Paul Shadowens, U.S. Navy(STG2-Sonar Technician 2nd Class), 1969-1973-Served in California, Around the World Tour, and Vietnam; Harvey Smith, U.S. Navy(1st Coxswain) 1943-1945-Served on Attack cargo aboard USS Wakesha, later at Georgia Tech for Officer’s Candidacy; Bob Strickland, U.S. Air Force (Sr. Master Sergeant)- Served in Texas, Florida, Japan, Europe, and 3 years for American Embassy in Brussels. Belgium.

Not pictured: Perry Aycock, U.S. Army (E5 Staff Sergeant) 1966-1967, Served in Georgia, Louisiana, And Vietnam; Scott Aycock, U.S. Navy (E3) 1991-1993, Served in Virginia and Mediterranean; Ed McDonald, U.S. Navy(Mate 34e Class-Motor Machinist) 1943-1946, Served on Submarine “Tirante” and destroyed 22 Japanese ships, also served in Connecticut, and Japan.

I’d also like to honor two other men: My father (left), Steve Chitwood, U.S. Air force (staff sergeant ) 1949-1952 – served in Texas, Illinois, Louisiana, and England during the Korean Conflict and my husband’s father (right), another WWII veteran, Alton Varnado(deceased), U.S. Navy ( Gunnery Sergeant) 1943-1945, Oklahoma

Thanks to all these veterans for their brave service and for helping to secure freedom for not only us, but also our children, grandchildren and beyond.

Let’s continue to pray for men and women in our military putting themselves in harm’s way this very hour. Thank a veteran today for their service.

For more from Josh Darnell, please read this article at Georgia Magazine.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Jordan Ellis and Pouring it Out

Jordan Ellis at eleven
I taught Vacation Bible School at church for many years and headed up the crafts. With an art background, I never wanted to provide crafts where all the finished work looked the same. I extended boundaries in the name of creative exploration so each child could produce a work that was uniquely theirs. But, some children pushed even beyond my far fences.

Jordan Ellis was one of those children.

One year, we were decorating baseball hats. The kids could choose from several mediums with which to embellish their hats. Jordan chose glitter glue and lots of it. The artist in me wanted to let him go, but the teacher in me wanted to hold him back. After all, I had to make the glue last through two more classes. The artist won, because he seemed to be so thoughtful in his work. I did offer a little advice, but when he finally finished, I wondered if I’d have enough glue for even one more class. I’d never seen so much glitter on one hat. I put it along with the other kid’s hats in an out of the way place, hopefully to dry out enough to take home in a few days.

When I walked into the room to get the hats later in the week, I didn’t know what I’d do with Jordan’s. I expected it would just be a dripping gluey mess.

I was wrong.

I found instead a work of art. The intensity of colors and the way he’d applied them stopped me short. Now completely dry, I took the hat in my hands. If I’d known hats could look like this, I would’ve had the other kids do the same thing. I don’t like to compare, but Jordan’s was the best of all.

In a few hours, I’ll attend Jordan’s funeral. He died two days ago in a tragic auto accident at the age of seventeen. If I could, instead of flowers, I’d take a bottle of glitter glue as a tribute.

A glittery banner component Jordan made at 6
You see, Jordan left me with a valuable lesson--if you want beauty, you have to pour it all out.

Though I hadn’t kept in touch with Jordan in recent years, I read he became a star baseball player at his high school. Vocationally, he was headed toward vet school already working for a local veterinarian. He continued to pour it all out for beauty in his life.

Jesus said in Matthew 26:28 as he offered the cup to his disciples just before Gethsemane, “This is my blood of the covenant which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.”

It’s comforting to remember Jordan knew the forgiveness Jesus offered.

Now, because Jordan knew Jesus, he’s in a place so glimmery, his glue-filled hat wouldn’t even compare.

And he’s with the one who poured it all out for him.

We’ll miss you, precious Jordan.

When I’m tempted to hold back in the name of being prudent, I’m going to remember your lasting legacy. I was your teacher in VBS, but you left me with the lesson.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Angels, Authors, and Appointments

Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it. Hebrews 13:2

Authors Neta and Dave Jackson have written many books, among them biographies for children, which were some of the highlights of our homeschooling years. A few of our very favorites were The Thieves of Tyburn Square, the story of Elizabeth Fry, The Bandit of Ashley Downs—about one of my favorite historical figures George Mueller, and a William Tyndale biography, The Queen’s Smuggler. The Jackson’s do a fabulous job bringing historical characters and times to life. These books written for grades three through seven were read much at our house throughout the elementary and middle school years.

My husband, Jerry, and I were late for the Gideon conference in 2009. When we rushed into the general session, we spotted a few seats on the back row.

“Are these taken?” I whispered to a man beside the seats.

“Just one,” he said. “I’m saving it for my wife.”

A few moments later, the woman I assumed to be his wife came in and filled the seat.

When the session was over, Jerry and I got up to leave, but as I was reaching for my purse, someone tapped me on the shoulder.

“Hi,” the woman next to me said, “I always like to meet new people. I’m Neta Jackson.”

“Neta Jackson,” I squealed. I thought of the stack of books back in my suitcase I brought to be signed by authors Neta and Dave Jackson, because I’d read they’d be at the conference. “I can’t believe I’ve been sitting by you and didn’t even know it.”

It seemed I’d been entertaining authors unaware instead of angels—or rather not entertaining. If Neta hadn’t spoken to me, I might have missed a premier opportunity to get to know her. I was being my usual “keep to myself” writer kind of way. I am not a sanguine personality, so it takes a real effort on my part to reach out to those around me. But oh, what blessings are in store when I do.

So, lesson learned—be mindful of those around you. It might be a divine appointment in which someone will bless you as Neta did me, or more importantly, you might be a blessing to someone else.

Who’s sitting beside you right now?

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

By Faith...

Yesterday, I found myself in Hebrews, chapter 11—you know the chapter where almost every paragraph begins with “By faith..." and then adds some hero of the faith in the verse.

Often it’s been hard to see myself in the same company as those mentioned in this chapter. When my faith sags, I’m not able to think of myself as conqueror and overcomer—a person whose frailties have metamorphosed into strengths. I don’t think my struggle is unique, because years ago during a Beth Moore Bible Study, she had students write in something under the last verse in this chapter—the words “By faith…” and then our name. Every time I read through Hebrews, I see “Be faith Bev…” I suppose she wanted us to envision ourselves as people who by faith could do anything God called us to do—big things, impossible things.

Later in the day, I read this quote from Andrew Murray in reference to prayer. “Think of what He can do, of how He delights to hear Christ, of your place in Christ; and expect great things.”

There are increasingly strong and growing Christian film communities in several cities in the U.S. including Nashville and Charlotte. These producers, directors, actors, and screenwriters feel called by God to make a difference in our culture. I am one of those writers.

Dave Moody and Bev
The producer Dave Moody, who has an option on my screenplay “Give My Love to the Chestnut Trees,” made an important announcement earlier in the week—his company Elevating Entertainment Motion Pictures is moving its production to a new development which is part of the Stargate Worldwide Attraction and Business Center Complex in Concord, N.C. You may read the entire article here.

As I read through this very exciting news item, then saw my name on the slate of development projects which could possibly be produced there, I thought about those ink smudged words I’d written in my Bible--“By faith Bev…” Of course, there are still a lot of things that need to put into place, but something about that release stirred in me a greater hold on Andrew Murray’s words—“…expect great things.”

I thank God for Dave Moody and others like him who are able to grasp the vision to do great things for God. I pray his tribe increases.

Perhaps God is calling you to do something mighty for Him. Join me in Hebrews, pencil in those words--“By faith…,” add your own name. Find yourself among ordinary people with an extraordinary God.

“By faith…”

Monday, November 1, 2010

Monday and Seven Tools

November 1st didn’t start too well for me. I needed to change my blog template today. When I installed the Breast Cancer Awareness pink one on September 30, I had absolutely no problems, so I was hoping for an encore.

Alas, it was not to be.

After trying to switch the old template (which I’d carefully saved), I kept getting numerous error messages. I finally found a note on a Google search, which indicated I needed to unzip the file. I downloaded the suggested free program which included other features I didn’t want, but had to get, and still couldn’t get the template to work.

After hours of wrestling, I finally resorted to purchasing another template.

Then I took Lucy the puppy for a walk. However, I forgot the county changed our trash day to Monday. The wrestling had only begun.

Note to self: Never take Lucy for a walk on trash day.

"Lucy, come on. Lucy, get away from there."

There’s way too many good smells wafting out of those trash receptacles, which have been pushed to the curb. It was walk—stop—smell—walk—stop—smell all the way.

Tired, and feeling like my arm might drop out of the socket from all those tugs on the leash, I decided to sit down at last with my November issue of Writer’s Digest. It’d been languishing on my desk for a couple of days, and I hadn’t had a moment to crack it open.

When I zeroed in on an article by James Scott Bell, I knew Monday was turning around. My first encounter with James Scott Bell was at the Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writer’s Conference where he was on faculty one year. An actor at one point in his life, he’s an entertaining speaker.

I took pages and pages of notes from his class, and when I started writing screenplays, I remembered he’d been a screenwriter prior to becoming a novelist. His cinematic way of thinking is one of the reasons I believe he’s such a successful novelist. So I returned to my notes, which I've read and reread. His book, Plot and Structure, is a must for every fiction writer. I’ve since heard him speak several times at other conferences.

One of the things punctuating my memory from the first time I met him is that we both wound up in the conference lunch line at the same time on more than one occasion. It made me nervous, because at that point, I’d never read one of his legal thrillers or suspense volumes. I tend to read more along the lines of what I write. Embarrassed to admit to him that I hadn’t read his work, I need not have worried. He was so gracious about it. We both agreed it didn’t matter what genre I read or wrote. His teaching is so basic to the fundamentals of fiction that writers of any genre would benefit.

Though James Scott Bell is a former lawyer, because I’ve heard him speak so many times I know “…his delight is in the law of the Lord…” Psalm 1:2 When I think of him, the words faith and integrity come to mind.

His piece in Writer’s Digest this month on dialogue is called “Master These Seven tools for Talk” and includes many great suggestions that I can’t wait to try.

So, Monday turned out pretty well, after all.

Now, if I could just find articles on “Seven Tools for Template Changing” and “Seven Tools to Train Your Wild Puppy Lucy,” I’d be in great shape.
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