Hello, lovely readers!
I’m going to be taking this week off the blog…and will be migrating it to my website. So if you’re visiting right now, you may see a few hiccups as I get everything transferred. But after that, it should (I hope and pray!) all just go automatically there. Say a prayer for me, LOL.
Thanks for your patience!
Thoughtful About . . . Encouragers

Thoughtful About . . . Encouragers

At the time of writing this (the weekend before it posts), I’m sitting with my laptop at the kitchen table while my husband’s comfy in our leather armchair, reading The Nature of a Lady before I have to turn it in on June 1. I’m so very blessed to have a honey who supports my writing–not just because he makes sure I have ample time to actually write, but because he does this too. He reads. He chuckles. He talks to me about the characters and settings and themes as he reads. And, most of all, because he encourages me.
There are many different things we artistic types need, right? We need the critics (I guess, LOL), who keep us from becoming complacent. We need the editors, who help us ratchet up tension, smooth out writing, and cut away any excess to make our stories more our stories by helping us really dig down to the heart of them. We need the audience to interact with our creation and show us where it resonates and where it doesn’t. But we also need someone like this. We need encouragers.
Okay, that’s not just for artistic types. We all need encouragers.
At this point, six little days before I turn in my manuscript, I don’t need someone telling me it’s all wrong. I need someone who frequently laughs over one of my characters’ witticisms and says, “I love your writing.” I don’t need someone who says, “Wow, you’re going to have work more on this part.” (Even though that might be true.) I need someone who says, “Oh, I see what you’re doing. This one line might be too on-the-nose, but that’s clever.” I need someone who not only believes in me, but who celebrates each little victory with me. I need someone who, even amidst mistakes and weak parts, has complete faith that I can do what needs to be done.
We can never over-sell the importance of someone like that in our lives–and especially concerning the thing we feel called to do. The thing God’s led us to. The Hard Thing we’re working on.
Because when we’re in the trenches–on the mission field, in hour twelve of a hospital shift, two weeks from the end of a school year, or a week away from a due date–sometimes we forget the big view, right? We forget the why of what we’re doing. The how and the that are just so overwhelming sometimes. We can’t really focus on the purpose, because we’re so caught up in the details.
And when we’re doing the thing God called us to do, we’re going to have troubles too. The Enemy is going to be trying to tear us down. To stop us. To make it seem too hard, not worth it. All around us, we’re going to find those who discourage us. Those who say we’re crazy for even trying this thing. That we should have done something safer. More logical. That we should look out for ourselves more and others less. That we’re not even that good at the thing we’ve put our hand to.
But let’s take a minute just to look at these words: encourage, discourage. What’s the root? (Didn’t know you were getting a bonus Word of the Week post, did you? Haha.) COURAGE. Encourage actually means “to put heart or courage into.” And discourage, of course, then means to take it out.
So why do we ever listen to the voices of discouragement? Why do we let people take our heart? Why do we ever entertain those voices, when by definition they’re harmful to us? Maybe we’ve done something wrong, maybe we’ve messed up, maybe we’re not the best we can be–but we don’t improve by letting our heart, letting our courage be taken away. We improve by strengthening our hearts.
I’ve been blessed to be surrounded by encouragers in my life. And I’m hereby renewing my determination to be one too. My challenge to all of us this week is to speak encouragement into someone’s life. Maybe it’s your spouse, your child, your sister, your mom. Or maybe it’s your pastor, a teacher, or the cashier in the checkout line. Whoever it is, wherever it is, if you see that shadow of discouragement in them, speak against it. When you see their heart faltering, offer something to strengthen it again.
Because we, as children of God, are not called to steal anyone else’s heart, to discourage their calling, or to be the storm cloud in their life. We’re called to encourage, to edify, and to support one another. And when we do that well…well, watch out, world. The Church will be on the move!
“Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing.”
I Thessalonians 5:11
Word of the Week – Sit, Twiddle, and Twirl

Word of the Week – Sit, Twiddle, and Twirl

Today I’m going to examine the origin of a particular phrase rather than a particular word. πŸ˜‰ Back in the day when I originally examined this, as I was working on Whispers from the Shadows, my hero was exclaiming something about how it was time to take action himself, since those who ought to be continued to…
Sit on their hands?
Twiddle their thumbs?
Do nothing, but that was far too boring an option for his current state of mind. So Roseanna headed to πŸ˜€

I was somewhat surprised to find sit on one’s hands in the
listing, because, well, I figured “sit” would have about a thousand
idioms associated with it and didn’t know if that would make the cut.
But in fact, it was one of the few they included. And it certainly wasn’t around in 1814, when Whispers takes place. No, to sit on one’s hands comes from the notion of doing so to withhold applause and originated in 1926. Not until the ’50s did it get extended to “do nothing; be

So Thad certainly couldn’t be accusing the politicians of sitting on their hands. What, then?
The next phrase to leap into mind was twiddling their thumbs. Here I got closer. Twiddle is from the 1540s, when it meant “to trifle.” But the notion of twiddling one’s thumbs, i.e., having nothing to do, didn’t emerge until the 1840s. Closer, closer. But not quite there.

But in the entry for twiddle was the earlier phrase that twiddle one’s thumbs replaced–to twirl one’s thumbs. Ah! Fun. Enough of a variation to sound old-fashioned to us, but still recognizable. And from . . . 1816.

At first sight, argh. Because that’s two years past my date. But then I remembered that uses the first written appearance (because what else could they possibly go on?) and in those days, a phrase usually appeared in writing several years after it had entered the common spoken vernacular. So I decided that was close enough, and my up-to-the-minute hero could well be using a newfangled, 
popular phrase that his father would be less likely to try out. πŸ˜‰

And so a few key politicians in Washington City are twirling their thumbs. And Thad has decided it’s time to do himself what they refuse

Happy Memorial Day, all! Enjoy some idle time today. Sit on your hands for a
while, guilt-free. Or better still, pick up a good book. πŸ˜€

Thoughtful About…The Compassion Conundrum

Thoughtful About…The Compassion Conundrum

In last weekend’s sermon, my dad preached from Luke 14, and as he went through the Scriptures, something interesting jumped out at me.
First is something that has struck me many times before, in many different passages. Jesus, often about some other task, comes across someone in need. Sometimes He’s at dinner. Sometimes He’s traveling. Sometimes He’s on his way to heal someone else. And what does He always, inevitably do when He sees this other hurting soul? He stops. He heals them. Why?
Because He loves them. Because He feels compassion for them. Because He’s moved.

I tend to think of these things as human emotions–and they are. But I wonder if maybe they’re also the reflection of the Divine in us. Because Jesus, operating solely as man, might have instead resented the distraction or the complication or the delay. If He weren’t perfect, He might have rolled his eyes or grumbled or even muttered under his breath, “Seriously? Another one?” But He doesn’t–ever. Because these things–love, compassion, empathy–are considered virtues, are in fact the Fruit we’re supposed to bear as believers, for good reason.

They’re a reflection of God himself, who is Love.
But we see another side to this too, in that same chapter as well as other places in the Gospels. The places where Jesus warns us that the cost of following Him is high. When He tells us that choosing this Way means abandoning others–that embracing God as Father may mean a break with our earthly one. Where He says that He will come between mother and child. And here, He even says that following Him means hating your family (or “loving them less” as the word means in Greek).
I’ve long since reasoned out that what He’s saying here is that He has to come first. Loving God before anything else is crucial. And if we love other things more–our spouses, our kids, our extended families, our house, our things, our life–then He may well ask us to give those up. Because nothing–NOTHING–should come between us and Him.
Here’s the interesting twist though. How do we show our love for Him, how do we reflect His love for us?
By loving, serving each other.
You see the conundrum? LOL. We have to love what is OURS less than Him…so that we can love what is HIS without reservation. Now, there are surely overlaps–because our spouses and kids and parents and cousins are His too.
But am I willing to serve only them in certain ways? Will I take the food from another child’s mouth to give it to mine? Do I consider these people in my life more mine than His? To do so is natural. Human.
To not do so is, I think, divine.

Don’t get me wrong–God created families, and they’re a crucial part of His plan. He calls us to protect them and preserve them and keep them in good order, as building blocks of His Church. But He also calls us to define “family” through His eyes. To see mothers and fathers, sisters, and brothers everywhere there is faith in Him. To love the stranger, the neighbor, as much as we love ourselves, our own. To prove our love for Him by loving them.

I tend to hold my emotions close, my thoughts and fears, tight. I am, as the English of eras gone by would have said, “reserved.” But I’m praying that God will work on my heart in this way. That I will learn to make myself vulnerable so that I can see friends–brothers, sisters–everywhere I turn.
And so that when I see them hurting, I can’t help but stop. And do everything in HIS power to make them whole, with no thought to myself.
Maybe it’s not a conundrum after all. Just a challenge. One He put forth oh so succinctly. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind. And love your neighbor as yourself.
Word of the Week – Nauseous

Word of the Week – Nauseous

Originally published 10/15/2012

Okay, y’all, I originally posted this seven and a half years ago, and my call for actual evidence to support the claim below netted me nothing but others who were curious, LOL. So I’m trying again–because this claim has since even appeared on Big Bang Theory, touted by Sheldon. So, seriously, people. Someone defend the claim, or I shall be forced to call Sheldon a liar. πŸ˜‚
So here’s the deal. I’ve heard from quite a few sources that we moderns are misusing the word nauseous. That it ought not to mean “to feel sick or queasy” but that it rather means “to cause a feeling of nausea.”
Now, I’ve heard this from sources I trust, but they never quote their sources, and I’m now on a quest to figure out why in the world this is touted as grammatical fact and, more, as a “modern mistake” when every dictionary I look it up in says that nauseous has carried both meanings (“to feel sick” and “to make sick”) since 1600-1610.
One dictionary I found says “careful writers will use nauseated for the feeling of queasiness and reserve nauseous for ‘sickening to contemplate.'” I’m okay with being careful, really I am, but I’m still unsure why grammarians are saying that using its original meaning is “a mistake of the moderns.” It is, in fact, the first definition of the word in the OED.
So. Calling all grammarians! πŸ˜‰ If you learned it this way and could point me to a source (not just an expert like the wonderful Grammar Girl, mind you) that states this as fact, I would be very grateful. I don’t mind changing my ways to be a “careful” writer–but I’m a Johnnie. I don’t ever accept an expert’s opinion without checking out their sources. πŸ˜‰