Saturday, June 28, 2008
Why would I want to acknowledge the Summer Solstice? I’m not sure. For one thing, I’ve been discovering over the last few years that I’ve closed my mind and heart to many wondrous things – works of God, like the solstices and equinoxes – that were associated perhaps with pagan practices at one time. Like using the rainbow. Many New Agers use it as a symbol, so if it’s seen in your home, someone might call your attention to this. How ridiculous is that! Who set the rainbow in the sky anyway? And didn’t He say it represented a wonderful promise He made to us? Use them everywhere then. Plaster your walls with them for all I care. They’re wonderful. I love rainbows.
The Summer Solstice occurs every year on the longest day. It is normally June 21, but because of changes in the atmosphere and things beyond my understanding, it occurred on June 20. The sun is at its highest point in the Northern Hemisphere and thus we have a very long day of light. Our God arranged that – so to me, it’s important. If it makes you feel any better, this date is also celebrated as the Feast of John the Baptist. I’d like to explore it and celebrate it because the works of God impress me and teach me many things about life. Why can’t I use that day to celebrate the Light of the World and the fact that He has instructed me through Christ to “let my light shine so others can see my good works and glorify God…?” I don’t know. I find it fascinating and I just like the way the words – Summer Solstice – roll off my tongue. I know, I’m a little nuts!
So what else is going on these days? A lot of things. Fran and I have broken even with our book now. We’ve sold enough copies to reimburse our initial investment. So buy more copies so we can make some money! We continue to get wonderful comments from readers. I’ll post a few to the right of this column. We enjoyed a fruitful winter and spring, speaking, conducting conferences, sharing the adventure of our lives and the wonder that awaits anyone who says “Yes!” to following Christ authentically.
I just began reading Malcolm Muggeridge’s autobiography Chronicles of Wasted Time. I’ve wanted to read him for years now. He was a well-known British journalist who chronicled the ups and downs of the 20th Century with style and matchless prose. If you read at all, you see him quoted everywhere. I’m loving the book.
I also have committed myself to reading Dostoevsky sometime this year. It’s just time to do it. The Brothers Karamazov at the very least. If I’ve learned one thing about writers in the past five years, it’s this: you can’t be a writer if you don’t read. I mean read voraciously. It’s part of your job description. I challenge you to read more – no matter what your profession is. You’ll be the better for it.
We have traveled a bit this year. I’m writing this from a hotel room in Atlanta. Bob is at the United First Financial’s National Convention. UFirst placed Number One in the top 10 as National Entrepreneur of the Year. They won the award last night and announced it today at the convention. It’s an incredible company committed to helping people get out of debt. If you need help, call Bob.
I spent the day with an old friend, such a good friend, yesterday. She listened with grace to all my grumblings about heavy circumstances and encouraged me to know these days will pass and other happier times will come. Oh the joy of a good friend! I am blessed with many. They pray for me, love me, and tell me when to stop whining and get off the pot.
Glen Beck spoke at the conference last night. What an outstanding communicator! And a follower of Christ. I am impressed and will follow him more closely now. In his speech he mentioned the darkness that is advancing in our nation. He wasn’t alarmist in any way, but he was blunt and forthright. Stuff is coming our way. He belongs to a church who advises their members to have some storage supplies for possible emergencies. We discussed this with friends in Atlanta on Tuesday evening.
Often we’ve tried to talk about it with our family and friends, but most people blow us off. They have visions of Y2K and the leftovers in their cupboards and are desensitized to anything requiring storage or preparation. Bob’s studies with national crisis management insists that both plagues and terrorist attacks are a given – we just don’t know when. So laugh if you must, but if for no other reason than hurricane season, we will order water storage containers and rotate some cans of chicken, tuna and Dinty Moore Beef Stew (anything canned in a white will last for years). There’s nothing to lose if it’s food you can eat anyway.
Back to the light that shines in darkness – remember how we’ve always said that the darkness is getting darker, but at the same time the light is becoming more brilliant? Well, that is truer today than it was 10 years ago when I started hearing it. “Arise, shine, for the light is come and the glory of the Lord is risen upon you.” Be the light. Wherever you are. Shine on me, and let me shine on you. We need each other in these dark times.
We are now advancing towards the Autumnal Equinox – when we’ll have equal time with light and dark. Perhaps I’ll remember to celebrate that event. I hope I get to share it with you.
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
As we move through the moments of our days, I wonder if we take time to stop at the burning bushes that blaze on the left and the right. Is life more of a blur, the red and yellow flames blending into the other fusion of colors surrounding us? After all, stopping is risky, and who has time to stare at a burning bush!
I wonder where the world would be today if Moses had not walked over to the bush to see what it was all about? No deliverance from Egypt for the children of Israel. In fact, no land of Israel at all. We’d live in a different world.
What does any of this have to do with Cathee and Fran and Thresholds and Passages? Everything! Our book is all about stopping, listening, hearing, and responding to the call that God extends to those who carve out time for Him. He scatters those flaming hedges round about us to light our way, to call us aside from the mundane and unimportant.
Moses said, "What's going on here? I can't believe this! Amazing! Why doesn't the bush burn up?" God saw that he had stopped to look. God called to him from out of the bush, "Moses! Moses!" He said, "Yes? I'm right here!" God said, "Don't come any closer. Remove your sandals from your feet. You're standing on holy ground." Exodus 3:3-5
Why do we so often choose to walk on in darkness, stumbling along and hoping we can make it to the next junction? Why do we so often fail to see that everywhere we’re standing is holy ground?
Be sure and come to our book signing at Barnes & Noble on March 1 if you live in Naples. We'll be there 10 AM - 2 PM.2008 News
We are quite happy to report that we’ve sold the first 500 copies of our book and are into our second book order. In the side column to the right, you’ll note our itinerary for the remainder of the spring season. At the end of April, my friend and partner will return to Wisconsin and her busy schedule with family and friends. I, on the other hand, will brace myself for sweltering heat, possibilities of new hurricanes, and a new writing project. Yes, I am whining. I’d rather be in cooler regions than Southwest Florida come June, but I am thankful for air conditioning and my own adventures with new burning bushes.
Thank you, everyone who has bought a book, given us great feedback, or written a review for Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Books A Million (if you haven’t, would you please?). We would also like to request that some of you call the Collier County Library and ask if the book is in their stock – and if not, would they get a copy.
Keep your eyes open for those sudden glows by the side of the road. They’re fairly easy to miss and that would be such a loss to all of us.
Sunday, December 09, 2007
Before I launch into my topic, I want to let our friends know that between us, Fran and I have sold about 300 books in our first month. We won’t know for some time what Amazon and Barnes & Noble have sold, but we’ve had good success in moving books almost every day. Of course, if Stephen King were reading this, he’d have a good chortle. I guess everything is relative, huh?
There’s still time to order for Christmas. We can ship to you directly from our own supply or you can order from http://www.pleasantwordbooks.com/. We continue to be blessed by the many responses to the book (see side column) and the re-orders of multiple copies. Thanks.
As a mainstream, non-liturgical evangelical protestant, I never observed the tradition of lighting Advent candles to herald the four weeks leading up to Christmas. In my Christian experience I didn’t know such a thing existed. Through the years I would hear the term “Advent” from time to time, or thumbing through a magazine I’d come across a table set with an Advent wreath, four candles set amidst the greenery, but I never connected the dots.
Looking back, I see that I must have quickly sized up any references to Advent as “high church,” or “ultra religious,” though I would have had a hard time defining either of those if you had questioned me further. I know now that my beliefs were shaped somewhat by events that took place after Martin Luther’s opposition to excesses in Roman Catholicism. I am a product of the Reformation. As so often happens when mankind attempts to correct an extreme, the darling little baby gets dumped out with the dirty bath water.
In an attempt to purify the corruption, all ritual, symbol and ceremony were immediately suspect. Consequently, we ended up with ordinary, unattractive buildings stripped of their art, grandeur, and majesty. We travel to Europe nowadays to visit places like the Notre Dame Cathedral so we can stand in awe of the creativity of gifted people who used their talents to glorify God.
As a side note, I will concede that the Church herself is not a building at all, but the physical Body of Christ now present in the earth. However, that does not do away with mankind using all that is within us to draw our attention and worship toward our magnificent God. It’s quite interesting to note that the first time someone is “Spirit-filled” happens to be as Bezalel (Exodus 31:3 ) is endowed by the Lord “to design artistic works, to work in gold, in silver, in bronze” in order that the Tabernacle be filled with beautiful things that would teach us about God. It is refreshing to see a resurgence of art appreciation within the Church today. It’s long overdue.
Because I now occasionally attend a liturgical church, I am learning many things that were hidden from me all these years. Beautiful ceremonies that incorporate form and substance. This year I decided to commemorate Advent for the first time by using a devotional tool designed for that purpose. God With Us – Rediscovering the Meaning of Christmas, a work of art itself, is a book filled with histories, meditations, prayers, poems, Scriptures, and famous paintings. It has a reading every day starting with the first Advent Sunday. It was here, I am almost ashamed to admit, that I discovered that Advent, the fourth Sunday before Christmas, marks the beginning of the Church year.
Last Sunday I began to read and to observe the season, a time of heart preparation, by lighting the first candle in the wreath. No wonder we rush about like maniacs trying to find the perfect gift for the least amount of money, or pledge not to max out our credit cards this year only to end up saying once again, “There has to be a better way to keep Christmas than this!” No one ever showed us how to prepare for the advent of the child. The coming of God with us, in us, beside us, around us.
I find the season of Advent to be a meaningful paradox: it’s a celebration and a solemnity all at the same time. “It is said that the door to the stable where the Christ-child has been born is very low – and only those who kneel find access.”[i] Advent is a time for repentance, humbling and evaluating how we can prepare a way for the Lord by making a clear and level pathway in our own lives for Him.
The young girl, Mary, gave the most wondrous response to the angel who told her God Himself would be enfleshed in her womb and ultimately in our humanity – “Let it be to me according to your word.” Oh, how I want that to be my constant response to Him.
Tonight, the Second Sunday of Advent, as the westering sun’s colors fade from red to coral, and the lavender twilight moves in, I light the second candle on my wreath.
“We are forever seeking, while the forever for which we seek is now.”[ii]
[i] Celtic Daily Prayer, (The Northumbria Community, 2002) p. 228
[ii] God With Us – Rediscovering the Meaning of Christmas, (Paraclete Press, 2007) p.19
Friday, November 16, 2007
“Until I come, pay attention to your reading (1 Timothy 4:13).” My paraphrase, for sure, but the gist of the sentence nonetheless. While many would say this is talking about reading the Bible, I wouldn’t be so quick to jump to that conclusion. The context does go on to instruct the young minister, Timothy, to also give his time to “exhortation and doctrine.” Those are big religious words that most people skip over in their reading, but for the purpose of this blog, let’s use their common definitions that infer the idea of “urging people to listen to the teaching around them.” Or, as Rob Bell says in his DVD entitled “Breathe,” pay attention to the burning bushes on our left and right. We’re passing them every day and we don’t even notice they’re there. Pay attention!
Reading is FUNdamental! It’s stretching, and necessary to our growth. “I cannot live without books,” said Thomas Jefferson. Francis Bacon, the English essayist, said, “Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed on and digested.” What have you been chewing on lately?
Since I’m allowed to climb up on my little soapbox when I write these pieces, I must pontificate by saying that watching today’s TV is a colossal waste of time that robs us of a treasure trove of ideas, questions, and things to consider through reading. Christian writing is being honed to a fine knife-point of thought that cuts to the heart of things. If you are interested in the shift taking place in that marketplace, I’d highly recommend you read Mick Silva’s blog for a few weeks. You can locate it http://www.yourwritersgroup.com/mywritersgroup/. I promise you’ll learn more about life, reading, and who’s writing what in ten minutes on that sight than you’ll get in ten hours of American popular television programming.
‘Nuff said about that! If you are thinking of ordering some of our books for Christmas gifts, may we suggest you order them through www.pleasantwordbooks.com? That is our publisher’s site and we make the best royalty through those sales. If you live in the area you can drop by the house to pick up your copy, or ask us to ship to you directly. Sales are doing well and we’ve posted a few of the many wonderful words directed our way over the past few weeks. We got to autograph books for the first time at our recent conference at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in Bonita Springs, FL. (See pictures.)
What have you read in the last two weeks? Write and tell us about it.
Thursday, October 25, 2007
The book is here!!!
We received our first shipment of books yesterday and to hold the actual book in our hands, after two years of prayer, agony, sweat, arguments, crying, and writing, is beyond description – even for us. Except to say, we are overjoyed. The cover has just enough mystery to engage the attention of a passerby gazing along a bookshelf, hoping something will catch her eye and reveal the secret to a better life. (Isn’t that the book we are all looking for?) We are delighted with the finishing touches added by copywriters, editors and the publisher – WinePress Publishing. Sue Riger’s cover design was the icing on the cake.
During the editing process, we were moved to tears to receive this note from one of our proofreaders:
Dear Cathee and Fran,
I proofread your upcoming book, Thresholds and Passages, and I felt I had to write and express my overwhelming amazement of how God works in our lives. Just like your example of the license plate with the word "trust" on it that came to the fellow at just the right time, this proofread coincidentally fell into my hands at a time in my life when God is taking me to a threshold and bidding me enter and take a risk with my writing.
To me, this book was not a "job" but an experience to treasure and gobble up. I
was moved more than once to tears as I recognized His beckoning me to "jump off
the cliff" and into the lake of His will, and He'll refresh me with His abundant
Not only is your book superbly written, it also has the mark of authority--you've "been there-done that" and have found the Lord faithful. I look forward to getting a copy of this book when it comes out, to keep near me to re-read and begin to apply the principles you have so clearly laid out. In the meantime, I hope you won't mind if I occasionally print out a page or two of the proofread to refresh my soul and keep me on track.
May the Lord richly bless you with the distribution of Thresholds and Passages. Every woman should read this book.
We couldn’t ask for a better endorsement that that!
It will be about three weeks before the book is available online at Amazon.com. We’ll send a short email later to let you know when you can order it. If you live in Naples, we’d love to have about 30 of you call the Family Christian Bookstore or Barnes & Noble and ask them to order the book for you. We are still in the process of meeting requirements for Barnes & Nobles and other local stores. We will have several book signings scheduled during the winter months.
We’ve completed the task God gave us in writing and now we ask Him to bless the work of our hands and give us favor in many places, so that the message of hope to women searching for an answer to the ache, and a way to write new scripts for their lives, will come into their possession though this volume. We believe in asking BIG. It’s one way we can honor our big God.
Cathee & Fran
Monday, September 03, 2007
While September will never be a month in which I step out on my back porch in sub-tropical Florida and smell the crisp rich tang of fall, I am as full of anticipation as though I woke up in my beloved Blue Ridge Mountains to scarlet oaks, red dogwoods and orange neon maples. There’s an increase in my heart rate and a little extra skip in my step. The book is finished and has gone to final print!
When WinePress emailed us a copy of the cover last week, both Fran and I cried. It wasn’t so much seeing our names on the front of the book – although we would be fibbing if we said that wasn’t an emotionally packed moment. It was the cover itself.
Over the course of the past two years we have taken dozens of photos of gates, passageways, windows, doors, paths, corridors and portals. We’ve always been looking for the perfect image. “We’ll know it when we see it,” we said more than once. As two committed bibliophiles, we know more than the average person about book covers. For instance, did you know that most readers take about 20 seconds to choose when purchasing a new book? It’s often simply the cover that seals the deal.
Once the manuscript was completed in June, we then turned our attention to cover design. We knew we would be asked for suggestions, but cover design is usually left to the marketing and publicity people who know what kinds of covers sell books. So when we were invited to give our input, we sent a few of the pictures we’d taken over the last few months.
In the meantime, Sue Riger – who is a close friend and a graphic artist – began to play around with some of the shots we had taken. She began to send designs she reconstructed from two or three different photos and asking if this was what we were looking for. We had settled on one particular image and had even sent it to the publisher and they accepted it, when late one night, she sent an email that said, “Take a look at this last one before you decide.”
It was love at first sight! “That’s it!” I emailed back at 11 PM. That’s the cover. I could hardly wait until the next morning when Fran could see it hoping she would have the same reaction. The rest is history, as they say. She called me in tears, her words spilling out like a small waterfall.
We love the scary, tangled vines, the partially hidden steps ascending to some unknown point, and the very greenness of it all. We hope you like it to. Thank you, Sue, for the hours of time you put into this project. While each of us always carry the reward with us because we have Christ, we nevertheless pray your reward for this will be doubled.
Most of all, we hope you, our friends and relations and those who have attended our conferences and retreats, will buy the book. Not only because we wrote it, but because we know it has a message crafted from God’s own heart. It’s fitting that this goes out on Labor Day as we have certainly labored for several years to arrive at this place.
The book will be on shelves in early December. Right in time for Christmas gifts. In our next update, we’ll relay some tips on how you can help us get the books in certain stores. The price of the book has not been set as of this blog, but we expect to have that information very soon. We will be scheduling book signings in several cities and hosting several events here in Naples this winter.
Will you join with us in asking that God will open wide doors for this book to find entrance into the hearts of women who are aching for more? And favor with the booksellers? You have invested in this book, many of your stories are in it. We can hardly wait to see what God has planned for this little volume.