I knew that C.S. Lewis and I had more in common than our Christianity when he said, "You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me." Welcome to a celebration of faith, tea, and the written word. I'm always engaged in a book, and whether it's one I'm reading or one of the inspirational historical romances I write, there's always a cup of tea close by. Join me in a cup as we chat about faith, our favorite books and the exciting places our reading and writing adventures take us.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Lonely Bird? Join the Flock

I lie awake; I have become like a bird alone on a housetop. Psalm 102:7

For the first time since we planted it three years ago, we are enjoying fresh-picked nectarines from our backyard tree. It’s taken long enough, eh? The problem isn’t that the tree didn’t produce, but there were always issues. Did you know snails love nectarines? I didn’t. They slimed their way up the trunk and took out the small crop the first year.

Now birds eating fruit—yeah, that I did know. So we’ve been netting the tree. Netting isn’t precise, though. Since the tree has changed shape since it began bearing fruit—the branches are heavier—there are gaps in the net. Lately, I get up in the morning, and before I even make a cup of tea, I shoo a flock of thrushes away from the tree before I readjust the net, and if I’m lucky, I can get to a ripe nectarine before they had a chance to nibble the best parts.

Little wonder there are so many parables about bearing fruit. And robbers.
Swainson's Thrush, a possible culprit! From wikipedia.com

But when it comes to spiritual matters, emotional matters, these little birds have captured my attention. They do everything together. They zip around the tree together. Flee together. Watch me with their beady little eyes together. I envy their sense of belonging to a mini-flock. They’re buddies. A team.

But not all birds of a feather stick together. People sure don’t. If you’ve ever parented a pre-teenager, or been one yourself, you’ll remember how difficult it can be to find a team, a buddy, a gang, a group. And it doesn’t always get easier when we grow up. We start new jobs, take classes, move to new areas, and visit churches. All places that are full of people. And surrounded by folks, we can feel utterly alone.

We all have ways of coping with loneliness. We stay in, to nurse the pain or to avoid going out by ourselves. We go out, hoping to make new friends, and sometimes it works.

We are blessed to have a Lord who Himself felt rejected, misunderstood and despised. When we feel lonely, we can come to Him and share our feelings. He doesn’t want us to be lonely.

But I think God would have us do more about the lonely birds He’s placed around us.

How so? Well, many of us have friends, so we don’t feel the need to make new ones. We enjoy our bubble of fellowship … and there’s nothing wrong with comfortable friendships. Thank God for true friends who know us and love us anyway!

But does that mean we should stop seeking, stop being available to others?

One woman I spoke to recently is new in her community and church. She has become acquainted with several women whose children are of similar ages to hers. Last week, she shared with the women how she’d like to be more involved and make friends, and they referred her to a networking website. What this woman really wanted, however, was to to get to know them! Instead, she felt  as if she was unworthy of her Christian sisters’ time.

I would argue that this attitude is unhelpful in making others feel welcome—and it might even be anti-evangelical or self-centered.

The Psalmist’s symptoms of loneliness are physical as well as emotional: insomnia, tears, loss of appetite. True suffering.

Watch for someone who might be suffering from the loneliness that you sometimes feel. You never know. At worst, you’ll be doing something grand in easing someone’s burden –with a smile or a lunch out or a quick note.

And who knows? Maybe you’ll be two birds of a feather.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Lost Month

Panic isn't the right word. Neither is freaking out. But I do feel a bit of stress.

I am trying to finish my current manuscript before the RWA Conference next month. And (eep!) not all of it is written yet.

I'm a slow writer. Some of my friends can sit down and type 5000+ words a day. Not me. Even if I didn't have kids, carpooling, some extended family issues, and those pesky meals to prepare, I am not sure I could accomplish that. A few times, I've broken the 3000 word per day barrier, but those were banner occasions.

My plan was to be finished with the first draft before June. Then I could spend June polishing and I'd be relaxed going into Conference.

May was already a busy month. Kids' concerts, plays, honor roll banquets, academic assemblies, etc etc. But then my mother-in-law was diagnosed with cancer and passed away very quickly. In our house, May was a lost month. A month of losses. Loss of a loved one, loss of our grip on the outside world, loss of sleep, loss of joy. We rejoice that my m-i-l is with the Lord, and we rejoice that we do not grieve like those who have no hope.

But still we grieve.

Meanwhile, I've got RWA coming up. So right now, I'm doing a few things all at once. Plowing through a rough draft. Getting chapters critiqued. Polishing. Thinking about business cards and one-sheets and what to wear at conference and all that stuff.

I've learned a few things about myself. I'm a terrible writer. My editing is better.

Also, writing is a job. I have to sit in this chair and, for lack of a better term, git er done. Nobody can do it but me. If I want this, I need to commit to it. Even if I'd rather be outside with a book.

So that's where I am these days. Here in the chair, with occasional stretches and something cooking in the crock pot.

Any prayers for creativity, drive, and patience are appreciated!

***

Congratulations to Karen, who won a copy of Jennifer AlLee's The Mother Road! Karen, I've sent your info to Jen. Enjoy the book!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Ten Things with Jennifer AlLee ... And a Giveaway!

Welcome Jennifer AlLee to Tea and a Good Book!

Jennifer is a fantastic writer and a gracious friend. She resides in the grace-filled city of Las Vegas with her husband and teenage son. She has written skits, activity pages, and over one hundred contributions to Concordia Publishing House's popular My Devotions series. Her novels include The Love of His Brother (Five Star, November 2007), The Pastor's Wife, (Abingdon Press, February 2010), The Mother Road (Abingdon Press, April 2012), and the upcoming A Wild Goose Chase Christmas, book two in the Quilts of Love series (Abingdon Press, November 2012). She's an active member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Romance Writers of America.

  1. I was born in Hollywood, California, and I lived there for the first 10 years of my life... above a mortuary one block east of Hollywood & Vine. Sadly, my childhood home has been torn down and replaced by a parking lot.
  2. My mother is a genius at stitchery, so at some point in my life I've tried to master all of the home arts... knitting, crocheting, needlepoint, cross stitch, sewing... I stink at all of them.
  3. I would love to live on a big ranch with horses, dogs, and assorted livestock... but only if I also had a staff of farmhands to take care of them all.
  4. My idea of "roughing it" means staying in a hotel where the TV remote doesn't work. No camping for this little gray duck :)
  5. I wrote and illustrated my first book in grade school. It was about two mice who had a run-in with a cat on Halloween night. Pretty sure it's still buried somewhere in my mom's garage.
  6. Another long-held dream of mine is to be a musical theatre performer. I'd be happy to be part of the chorus, singing and dancing in the background. I just love the energy of the theatre.
  7. In my November release, A Wild Goose Chase Christmas, the character of Grandma Isabella is patterned after my own grandmother, Marie Staats.
  8. I home schooled my son from 5th through 7th grades. During that time, we lived in California, so had annual passes to Disneyland. One of the best motivators around is to surprise your kid with a Disney day when he's doing well on his studies. Extra home school bonus... we were able to go when everyone else was in school. Super-short lines and tons of awesome memories!
  9. My current favorite after-dinner snack is toast with lemon curd. Mmmm...
  10. I have a big mental list of authors and other entertainment folk I'd love to meet in person, just to shake hands and let them know how much I enjoy what they do. The list includes: LaVyrle Spencer, Lois Duncan, Weird Al Yankovic, David Ogden Stiers, Betty White, Nathan Fillion, Amy Grant, Michael W. Smith, and Ewan MacGregor... although if I actually met Mr. MacGregor, I would probably melt into an incoherent puddle of drool... not a pleasant image!
Ooh, Jen, we have a lot in common...especially #4 and something in #10... Thanks for sharing your ten things with us today!


Jennifer has graciously offered a copy of The Mother Road to one lucky commenter. To enter, please leave a comment with your email addy (safely spaced out) so we can contact you!

Don't forget to visit her website at www.jenniferallee.com