Tuesday, December 30, 2008

your calendar

We're coming up on 2009 within hours. I always like putting up a new calendar and looking at all those unknown days and wondering what lies ahead, though I'm glad, thanks to His mercy and grace, I can't see what's coming. Last January (and beyond) was hard for me - I think if I'd known what was ahead I'd have just crawled into my closet and not come out till spring! But maybe I wouldn't appreciate the spacious places if not for the spots that seem to squeeze the life out of me:)

One thing I learned last year in that tight spot is who's really in charge of things. And it's not me. I had to let go of what I wanted (the writing dream) and just give it to Him, trusting that because He knows what's ahead and I don't, that I can accept whatever He puts on my calendar. Now my calendar this year, thankfully, is looking a little different than last year:) But it's still full of unknown challenges and I still have to remind myself Who is really in charge. Then I rest. Not an easy feat for us "high-strung" types but doable, trust me. Better yet, trust Him!

The date I'm most looking forward to in the coming year is the release of my first book on August 1st. For those who've pre-ordered my book, I thank you from the bottom of my heart! For those of you who don't like historical fiction, I forgive you - and would like to convert you:) I'm scheduled to do an interview with Christianbooks.com on July 30 by phone and am excited and a little nervous about that. And I hope to fly home and be at the Kentucky Book Fair next November, Lord willing.

Hope you are in a spacious place and not a tight spot. But the tight spots don't last forever and they really do make the spacious places more spacious. Here are two memorable scriptures to start the new year, no matter what your calendar holds:

For the Lord was my stay. He brought me forth also into a spacious place: He rescued me because He delighted in me. Psalm 18:18-19

But as for me, I trust in You, O Lord, I say, "You are my God." My times are in Your hand.
Psalm 32:14-15

Monday, December 29, 2008

the one word

The hallmark of good writing is the one word that dispenses with the need for many. -Martin, Writing Historical Fiction

The galleys are done! Sometimes I think I should be writing more about writing on this blog but life is about so much more than writing. Besides, friends and relatives who read these posts would be bored silly:) If they aren't already, that is.

We're coming up on '09 which will be a wild ride for me writing-wise, I think. Lots of unexpecteds ahead. And I tend to be a "likes everything neat and tidy" type person but publishing is not like that. There is the wild card of marketing/sales which is a mystery to me. Recently I typed in The Frontiersman's Daughter on google and found the book is being advertised in Germany on a German booksite, sans English, among other places. Are Germans really interested in Daniel Boone type tales, I asked myself?

I'm still at the stage where I have to pinch myself to believe it's happening at all. But then I realize writers never really "arrive" unless maybe they win the Pulitzer Prize or something like that. As for me, I'm in the 41st year of a writing apprenticeship, no kidding, with a great deal yet to learn. If I could write like anyone at all, I would choose James Alexander Thom. He is a brilliant writer, which I am not. Francine Rivers is another. Her novel, Redeeming Love, is an inspired book and it's still selling very well years later. I also love Janice Holt Giles for her Kentucky tales. She made the frontier so real.

But I really like books that have an air of unreality about them. And no, I'm not talking about vampire novels! There has to be more of a romantic than realistic feel to them as I like to escape in a novel, rise above this old fallen world for a spell. I'll never understand why depressing books sell.

Anyway, we're off to a violin lesson if we can get out of our snowy driveway. I have four more Amazon books coming and am thrilled! For Christmas, my Mom gave me a very interesting book on Henry Clay's family entitled Kentucky Clay by Katherine Bateman. And my cousin, Leslie, in Lexington, gave me the best Kentucky cookbook put out by the Kentucky Monthly called Another Serving. Hope you received some wonderful books for the holidays as well. Happy Monday:)

Saturday, December 27, 2008

post-Christmas bliss

Christmas is over and my living room is filled with Indiana Jones Legos just as my kitchen is full of leftovers. The Christmas trees are looking a little less green and lonesome without presents underneath. I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday though I know many struggle this time of year. As I get older I sense the underlying sadness of the season. A writing friend oif mine just lost his wife of many years so I'm sure this will be a bittersweet time for him in future. On the other hand, I know of someone who recently adopted a little girl from Ethiopia and when asked what she was most thankful for over the holidays she said water and love.

I'm most thankful for my family, spread out all over! My brother is in Washington D.C. right now with his family and my parents celebrated quietly in Berea and Lexington, Ky. with my dear cousin, Leslie, and family. My cousin, Lorri, in Russia had a small Christmas as well with her two teens and husband. Wish we could all be together! But it's reassuring to know He is with each of us wherever we are. Read Psalm 139 if you are in any doubt:)

I will be thankful to get these galleys off my desk and back to the editors. I've been meticulous in making changes and think the book is stronger. You do catch some quirky things. One character changed eye color three times in the novel and I finally nailed them and deleted them. I can't believe I overlooked that to begin with but when a book is 425 pages or so strange things happen. Plus it's surprising how many times you can read a text and miss errors. I am even dreaming of The Frontiersman's Daughter at night, no kidding, so time to get back to book 2 and 3!

Yes, it finally did stop snowing on Christmas Day:) If you need a little snow scene, scroll down to my neocounter. Happy Saturday.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

happy birthday, Jesus!

Ah! Dearest Jesus, Holy Child,
Make thee a bed, soft, undefiled,
Within my heart, that it may be
A quiet chamber kept for thee.
-Martin Luther

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

christmas eve

We have 4 more inches of snow this morning and it's still snowing! UPS called yesterday and asked us to meet them at the end of our driveway as they couldn't make it even with chains on the tires. We gladly obliged! The boys have been sledding a lot and Randy has been shoveling and plowing after work. This is chili and hot cocoa weather, for sure.

Tonight is our candlelight service at church at 6 o'clock and then we have our little Christmas eve celebration here at the house with all the goodies you only make once a year - shrimp cocktail and artichoke dip, a cheese ball, mini croissants and lots of crackers, Mexican layer dip, bbq smokies and chicken skewers, stuffed potatoes, peach mango salsa and chips, and those little chocolate lava cakes and blueberry blossoms. I'm writing it down here so I won't forget! We live very simply most of the year but tonight we celebrate.

Wish we had a sleigh - one of those old colonial cutters - to ride to church in tonight. That would be memorable, indeed. The best part is that we're expecting more snow! Hope you are snowed in wherever you are and celebrating His richest blessings, and that you know the One who is the real reason for the season.

But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people ... there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord."
Luke 2:10-11

Monday, December 22, 2008

winter wonderland

Can you find the snowflake in this picture?

We woke up to several more inches of snow this morning so now have just under two feet with more on the way! I've been spending a lot of time looking out windows, knowing it won't last. The temps are already warming up and those icicles hanging from the rafters are slowly melting. Our powdery snow is trying to be slushy now and all the trees look burdened. Randy had to go out to the apples and plums and cherry trees and shake the big branches off for fear they'll break. I hope there's a special place in heaven, like Narnia, where it's always snowing and never melting, and you don't feel too cold:)

Church was cancelled last night so Paul escaped playing violin. Randy did take them 4-wheeling in the snow at a friend's house though those ATV's make me nervous, even with helmets and all the rest. I stayed home and worked on the galleys. Our power is still on though others around us are without. We lost power for 4 days a couple of years ago and it was no fun, espcially when the water failed. We're still not out of the woods, so to speak, so hope all the amenities continue.

If I could, I'd move all this snow to my granny's house in Kentucky and celebrate there! With a big honeybaked ham, garlic cheese grits, and red velvet cake. My little version of paradise. But I'm confined to the wintry northwest woods with three Christmas trees, a warm woodstove, and two boys very excited about the next few days. Not a bad trade off, huh?

No, I still don't have all my Christmas shopping done, or know what's on the menu, but this year has been unlike anything I've ever known so it just figures this Christmas would be new and different as well:)

Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Psalm 51:7

Sunday, December 21, 2008


An infinite God can give all of Himself to each of His children. He does not distribute Himself that each may have a part, but to each one He gives all of Himself as fully as if there were no others.
A.W. Tozer

Saturday, December 20, 2008

polar express

This Saturday morning it's starting to snow again and the sky looks like a big grey bully. Everyone in the northwest is hunkering down for up to 15 more inches of snow and winds gusting to 90 mph. Folks are calling it the polar express as temps dropped to the teens last night and we get some of that cold Canadian air. The boys built a snow cave which collapsed so we walked to the little 100-year old Joyce General Store a couple of miles away yesterday to mail some things. Walking in a foot or more of snow is good exercise! And you can't always have your head in your laptop:)

Wyatt has decided he wouldn't want to be a writer who sits in a chair all day and stares at a computer screen. He just doesn't understand how pleasant it is to park there and do just that, especially when it's a big Lazy Boy chair situated right next to a warm woodstove with a big picture window on the other side overlooking the woods. So I think it's safe to say he's not a writer in the making as I knew by age 12 that this was the path for me. Of course writers can arrive at any age but I'm one of those who think they are born, not made. Paul is still dreaming of being a violinist/fiddler.

Paul is trying to work up the courage to play "Silent Night" at church tomorrow night and "Angeline the Baker" at Old Time Fiddlers come January. This latter tune is so pretty and interesting. I'm so glad I have a fiddler in all my books. There's nothing in the world like the fiddle though banjo is a close second.

As soon as I finish these galleys I return to the Red River in Kentucky, via my chair by the fire, for another edit, though I'm just about dying at this point to get back to book 3. And I've just realized I'd better start thinking about that 4th book!

Happy Saturday!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

snowed in. the sequel.

Sometime in the night it snowed another half a foot! And it's still snowing this morning. The big spruce with all the colored twinkle lights on the deck was swept off by the wind and now sits in a drift. All this snow is unusual. We usually have a foot of rain about now, not snow, so we are thrilled:) A white Christmas, indeed!

Luckily we don't have anything on the schedule today but lunch with a neighbor if we can hoof it over there as Randy took the Jeep to work. I'm writing an additional chapter for the galleys and am almost done. Not with the galleys but with the chapter!

I've noticed a disturbing trend in fiction the last few years. I love beautifully written narrative but now the focus is on lots of dialogue with rapid-fire delivery. I think people want a novel that reads like a video game or t.v. show. A novel needs to unfold with just the right balance of narrative and dialogue or the reader feels cheated. At least this reader. But so many books today have that rapid-fire feel and I think it's a reflection of our society and how people want to be entertained and not have to think and absorb. Sadly, much is missed in reading this way.

I do want to mention my association with Books & Such Literary Agency in Santa Rosa, California. I'm so pleased that Janet Grant has just taken this about-to-be-published author on! Janet is a prolific author in her own right. Before founding her agency in 1994 she was formerly an editor for Dr. Dobson at Focus on the Family and had her own imprint at Zondervan. She has some wonderful clients and I'm humbled to be on her list.

Christmas is next week and usually I have our menu planned by now and lots of shopping done. But, at this point,if anyone asks me what we're doing all I can say is, "Galleys!"

May you have warmth in your igloo, oil in your lamp, and peace in your heart. -Eskimo Proverb

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

growing toward God

Last night, despite the snow and ice, I went to a ladies night out at church and was glad I did! Yep, shut that laptop and put away those galleys and headed east a whole mile and a half. Our pastor's wife, Cindy, had invited her mom who is an author to come and speak about her new devotional book, Growing Toward God.

Doreen Wright Blomstrand and Barbara J. Koshar have penned this wonderful book which is "inspired by the earnest words of children,and pairs heartwarming anecdotes with Scripture to create encouraging meditations. A warm reflection for moms and grandmothers. Growing Toward God reminds readers of the wisdom we hear 'from the mouths of babes.'"

The cover looks like a rainbow and has a picture of the cutest kid climbing a ladder. I encourage you to buy this wonderful book as it is very well done and has been endorsed by some well-known authors and pastors. I had the privilege of sitting by Doreen last night and she is as delightful as her book!

The book is available at Amazon.com and also Barnes and Noble and other places. Would make a great gift now or any season.

Children are a gift from the Lord. Psalm 127:3

Monday, December 15, 2008

snowed in

Where are my snowshoes? This morning it's about 19 degrees and we have half a foot of snow. The wind is roaring (gusting to 60 mph) but it's just beautiful outside, so long as you're inside by the fire. Snow is so much better than rain. I'm praying the power holds as I'm still working on these galleys. Our house smells like Christmas trees, thanks to the two firs inside. I heard of a lady in Georgia who has a tree in every room (even the bathroom?) which sounds wonderful and time-consuming (bet she doesn't write books). It's a good day for chili and Christmas cookies.

If the power goes out, I'll have to brave the roads and drive the 30 minutes to town to keep working. I've threatened to check into a hotel:) Must be the thought of room service that lures me. Randy went into the ditch after church yesterday so would be better to stay home.

Strangely enough, up until this weekend, I counted 14 blue hydrangeas blooming on my garden bush and Paul went up and picked 3 daisies for me in our wildflower patch. Now with the wind and snow all the apple trees and everything else have been stripped bare.

I've been reading about the Kentucky winter of 1777-1778. The old-timers referred to it as "the year of the terrible sevens." Turkeys and other game just froze in their tracks. I think this was the same winter George Washington was with his half-starved, barefoot troops at Valley Forge. We have such ease now.

Hope you're curled up with a good book! I want to read John Adams as soon as I can get my hands on it. My Amazon account grows and grows. Happy reading:)

Saturday, December 13, 2008

old joe clark

Sometimes you just have to do something besides write. We (even Randy and Wyatt) spent the day with the old time fiddlers and got a good dose of Old Joe Clark and a bunch of other tunes and felt like new. And Paul was offerred his first fidding gig at age 9! But he's going to have to wait awhile to pursue that sort of venue as he's still playing by ear and not reading music though we wave plenty of flashcards around to achieve that effect.

The other day I was feeling a bit overwhelmed with all the finger placements on the violin and how agile, not to mention downright quick, you have to be to master it. Sometimes I just don't get it (that's why he's taking lessons, not me). Paul looked at me kind of funny and said, "But Mom, think of how fast you type. Violin is like typing real fast." Well, I'd never thought of it quite that way but I did feel better after his little insight. If I could make a "D" in typing in high school and now peck respectably 30 years later, I guess he can figure out all the finger placements eventually.

Back to the galleys. Grrrrrrr. The creating of a book is one thing, a final edit is another.

I inherited a painting and a violin which turned out to be a Rembrandt and a Stradivarius. Unfortunately, Rembrandt made lousy violins and Stradivarius was a terrible painter. -Tommy Cooper

Thursday, December 11, 2008

snow coming

Winter is coming to Washington and we're expecting snow by Friday. But I've hardly noticed with my head in the galleys. My grandpappy was a printer for the Kentucky newspaper, The Berea Citizen, in the old print shop by the college. We used to go down and watch him at work sometimes and I liked the smell of all that ink and the sound of the old-time machines whirring. He'd bring reams of plain paper home so my cousins and I could write stories and draw pictures. Sadly, he passed away in 1979. My mom remembers that the old print shop worked with very different galleys back then.

So far I've found 2 typos and am reworking all the words that don't have the right ryhthm. The track changes program on Microsoft Word is really a huge help. Frankly, my computer still scares me and I'd rather have the galleys in hard copy but don't know how you'd make all those changes with a simple pen/pencil.

An editor friend of mine once told me to enjoy the learning process. I'm learning several interesting things:

1. Every editor will see your manuscript differently and suggest different things, like it or not.
2. You, the author, will never be completely happy with the finished manuscript because in your mind, or at least mine, your book is never really finished and could always be better.
3. Not everyone will like your book.
4. You do need to eat and sleep.
5. If Providence has called you to write, don't sweat the small stuff.
6. Honor your deadlines.
7. Be thankful.
8. Work as hard as you can, then stop.
9. Typos will always exist.
10. Don't waste time blogging when you could be writing.

I set a can of chili in front of Randy last night for supper. When he looked baffled I proceeded to open it and warm it up. Luckily the boys had eaten at Arbys. Anyway, my deadline is December 30th. Guess what I'll be doing for the holidays? Enjoy yours!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008


The galleys for The Frontiersman's Daughter came in this morning which means my December just got a little more interesting. In my pre-publishing days, the thought of galleys sounded sort of glamorous to me. Now that I'm sitting on the other side of the desk, so to speak, they simply mean more work:) But I'm not complaining. Galleys are simply the "typeset manuscript that has not yet been designed in pages."

I haven't seen TFD in several months as it's made the rounds of several editorial departments back in Michigan. Last week I was thinking, "Hmmm. I really don't want those galleys right now as I'm so involved in this third book." But over the weekend I started missing Lael and wondered just what they'd done with her since we last met. Now I know. These editors work very hard, by the way, and suggest some interesting things! This is almost my last chance to make any changes to the book before it enters the final stages of production.

So now I have to step into Lael's shoes again and see things from her perspective which means setting other things aside, even homeschooling, (can you hear the boys in the background cheering?!) and try to polish those pages to a glossy finish.

So now instead of writing about galleys, I'd better start working on them. Prayers appreciated!

Monday, December 8, 2008

festive broccoli salad

I've finally finished writing that love scene in book 3 I was telling you about and now my thoughts keep returning to ... broccoli salad! I'm getting ready to jump up and make this amazing salad for the 2nd time in four days. It's that good. And pretty healthy too if you close your eyes and ignore that little bit of mayonnaise and all that bacon:) Here 'tis:

Broccoli Bacon Salad

2 broccoli crowns (I use some of the stem too)
1/2 carrot, grated
1/4 red onion, diced small
1/2 to 3/4 cup Mayo or Miracle Whip
1-3 tbs apple cider vinegar
1-3 tbs sugar (or Splenda)
8 strips crisply fried bacon, crumbled
1/2 to 2/3 cup craisins

Cut the broccoli into bite-sized pieces. Place into serving bowl. Add carrot and onion. Start cooking bacon. For the dressing, mix to blend mayo, vinegar, and sugar together, adjusting the amount of vinegar and sugar to your liking. Stir dressing into broccoli, onion, and carrot. Saran wrap bowl and keep in fridge while you wait for the bacon to cool on a paper towel. Right before serving, add crumbled bacon and crasiins to the broccoli and stir evenly.

If you don't like it, send me your bowl and I'll eat it all for you!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

a hands-on Jesus

I just heard a sweet story on the radio - bittersweet, actually - and thought I'd relate it here as it is fact, not fiction. Just recently a real newborn baby was found lying in the manger of a nativity scene in Germany. Just the baby, no mother or father near. No shepherds or sheep or other animals, either. But certainly angels and maybe even a star or two. I wonder what He thought when the mother left her baby there? It comforts me to know He understood her reasons, even if she didn't. And He'd already set things in motion for the baby to be found and the mother to be located and now a church has stepped in to help them both. Not every story has a happy ending, I know.

I would have loved to have found that baby lying there as I love babies and might not have gone to the authorities, just taken him home! Likewise, I want a hands-on Jesus, not a cold ceramic one or a plastic one like the baby in the manger at our church nativity yesterday.

We didn't always have a hands-on Jesus. When I think of God in the Old Testament, the word that comes to mind is holy, not hands-on. In fact, some of those men of old who touched the ark of the covenant to keep it from falling died on the spot. But then Jesus was born and bridged that terrible chasm. There's nothing more hands-on than a baby. Even as an adult Jesus stayed accessible, touching and healing and being with the crowds. I've heard that Jewish culture is very hands-on so I think He must have been a hugger, too. He loved people. Loves them still. He even told Thomas to touch his nail-scarred hands and side to prove He was who He was.

So they came in a hurry and found their way to to Mary and Joseph, and the baby as He lay in the manger. Luke 2:16

He's no longer in the manger but the call to "hurry" still stands. Hurry or you just might miss Him!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

make that two trees, please

We've now come home from that Christmas tree festival I was telling you about and I feel like I need to go to go to bed for a week! All that pre-holiday bliss is sort of wearing sometimes. It was hard prying myself out of my chair this morning to get there as I was writing a very important scene, a love scene, and that, frankly, takes precedent over nearly everything. It's a wonderful way to begin a Saturday morning:)

There were so many beautiful trees at the festival today - the most interesting was an origami tree with those little paper creations hanging all over. I was just in a dither as I couldn't make up my mind between a gingerbread tree with red lights and a rustic tree with green and bronze ornaments (not tacky) with white lights. The trees weren't bidding high this year for some reason, so in a moment of insanity, I threw frugality to the wind and bid on two. And got both!

So now I have one tree in the dining area and one in the living room. It does my heart good as the proceeds go to missions. And my house looks a whole lot better too. Now back to that love scene.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

a little christmas magic

Looks like snow here and it's COLD. I'm loving all the holiday lights and unique gifts to buy. Yesterday I had one of those joy breaks at a farmer's market down in Sequim. This little store, called "Sunny Farms," has a big woodstove when you walk in, live trees and plants everywhere, Kentucky-type baskets hanging from the ceiling, and lots of fruits and vegetables, etc. To my delight I found a little sack of whole nutmegs and an old-timey nutmeg grater just like the one Lael uses in The Frontiersman's Daughter. I only saw one and knew it was meant just for me:)

I'm headed down to church soon to help set-up for the annual Christmas Tree Festival. It's my favorite holiday event and I have to wait a whole year every year to do it again. Just picture walking into a little wooden church, circa 1940, and seeing twelve live, twinkling, fully decorated Christmas trees - and you can take home any one you like. Each tree has a different theme. Last year the boys and I did one with birds, mainly Kentucky cardinals, and had birdhouses, birdfeeders, and bird type ornaments on this tall fir tree. The year before we did a Kentucky Christmas tree. Each is auctioned off and the proceeds go to missions. Every tree is unique and beautiful and a reflection of its decorator.

This year I was asked to do a Kentucky basket. When I flew home in August I stocked up on some unique things at the Artisan Center in Berea and found a neat handwoven basket at a flea market outside of town. Just as there are 12 trees to be auctioned, there are 12 baskets auctioned also and the bidding is lots of fun. The boys and I hope to bid on a tree this year for the first time ever. Then it's delivered to your house Saturday night - fun!

I envy all you folks with your houses already decorated and those trees up! I remember my grandpappy saying that a good Kentucky Christmas when he was a boy was finding some nuts and an orange in his sock. I wonder if they celebrate Christmas in heaven? Hope so. I'll be back to tell you if we got that tree and how many ornaments fell off between the church and our house:)

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

blonde moments

Today we rushed to school where Paul was in a play and Wyatt and his writing group were reading stories they'd written aloud to parents, watched the kids eat way, way too many Christmas cookies and punch, filled up at the gas station for - GLORY BE! - one dollar and eighty-four cents a gallon (down from a record $4.63 or better), stopped at Wal-Mart and Starbucks, and finally made it to Copies Plus.

I wanted to have color copies made of two particular pages in that book catalog I was telling you about so my folks could have a look. I came to the electronic age late, remember, so was just amazed today when those color copies shot out looking just like the catalog itself! Anyway, I came back out to the parking lot and was so enamoured with the colored copies that I wandered through the parking lot with my head in the catalog and tried to get into the wrong car - TWICE! Luckily both were locked. Finally I looked up to see my boys laughing hysterically from inside our red Jeep several parking spaces away. Randy calls these "blonde moments."

Anyway, I'm just an addled author with a long to-do list and not a lot of it getting done except for all that writing. Up to 200 pages now on The Scrivener's Daughter but please don't clap too loudly as this is the first draft only which means I'm one step away from the trash can. I'm anxious to get back to book 2 and edit it again. And those galleys are coming up for book 1 soon. And I'm having the time of my life!

I delight to do your will, O my God; Your Law is within my heart. Psalm 40:8

Monday, December 1, 2008

summer in december

This morning the boys jumped out of bed and remembered it was December 1 so rushed to the LEGO advent calendar to pry open door #1. Out sprang a little LEGO man holding a gigantic turkey leg. The boys were delighted. It made me hungry. Only now I'm having visions of honeybaked hams:)

The sun is actually shining here today and I just went to the mailbox and found that long-anticipated Baker Books summer 2009 catalog!! So I'm enjoying a little bit of summer on this first day of December. The Frontiersman's Daughter was given a generous two page spread with an excerpt from chapter 1 and some very kind words. And there is my face in a little bio box to the right staring back at me. Mercy! It must really be happening.

Each of us is given gifts to use in His service. God is so creative! I think one of the best, if not the best gift, is being a mom. Children are a gift. Raising them is a gift. There's another author in the catalog that writes great books and has nine children whom she homeschools! Try doing that without some heavenly spark!

Anyway, feeling very thankful today for kids, husbands, sunshine, book catalogs, coffee, advent calendars, Legos, and kind words.

For I will not presume to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me. Romans 15:18