The Lottery


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In college, I invited a few friends to my hometown. One of them, we’ll call him Nate, came from the city—a large city, with traffic lullabies and amazing theaters and bars full of clean and polished people. He was as Left as I was Right, but we both loved the arts and shopping, so our friendship blossomed enough to shade those conversations we tiptoed around. When he stepped a Birkenstock-wrapped foot onto my parent’s rural property, he grew quiet. And a little bit scared.

I suppose the sound of crickets…and not much else…was foreign to him. And of course, there were wide stretches of unoccupied land, a few neighbors with horses—it was somewhat like the contemporary westerns on TV. I suppose there were some bold ideas pounding on his head about small-town conservatives. You see, his lifestyle was controversial as well, but I had hoped our friendship was enough proof to show him that Jesus follower was the farthest thing from hater.

He eyed the saddle, the chaps, the fireplace—the only source of heat—and grew a IMG_0361bit pale, I kid you not.

The gun shop next to the house.

And when we began to pray over the meal, he looked as if we were about to pull out The Lottery box and sacrifice him to the gods of harvest.

Shirley Jackson wrote The Lottery in 1948. In the story, a small rural town participates in a lottery every year—the unlucky person to choose the paper marked with a black dot must be stoned to death in order to ensure a good harvest. Even children weren’t spared from participating. I had to read this story a few times in my early education, and each time I hated it a little more. What was the purpose of putting readers through that?

So Nate, familiar with only the stereotypical version of small town life, nearly fainted when the theater of his mind nearly caused him to miss the fact that we ate supper with progressives and even enjoyed their company.

I was as surprised to discover how backward Nick thought small-towners were as he was to realize we didn’t reject him for his opposing worldview—there were plenty of people who did, though—I remember the taunts he had to endure when  walking through the dorms at school.

After our trip to the sticks, we returned to campus and laughed about it because friendship has a way of pushing through the muck.

But a few mornings ago, when reading the myriad threads of political discussion on facebook, I realized that we are indeed living in The Lottery–in more ways than one. The comment that reminded me of that horror story went something like this: “We need to stand behind Planned Parenthood because if we don’t allow abortions, we’ll end up supporting more low-income kids.”

That seemed to be the majority opinion—to weed out the low-income kids as if that sacrifice would cause our monetary harvest to grow. There was also mention of deformed babies, as if they had no more value than a weed in a garden.

Nate and I didn’t discuss everything in depth, but maybe we should have—maybe if more Lefts and Rights learned how to sit down at supper together, we could talk rather than throw stones through the safety nets of cyberspace. It seems as if that’s all we do now–throw stones and target those who are different. I’ve read the Bible. Jesus loves the outcasts, the crippled, the hurting. He came for them.

So here we are friends, smack dab in the Real-Life Lottery. But unlike in 1948, when Shirley Jackson received hate mail for her story, we’re embracing this lottery system and calling it progressive.

A tiny heartbeat, no matter how poor or different, is not a weed, but a life in need of Love.

“Explaining just what I had hoped the story to say is very difficult. I suppose, I hoped, by setting a particularly brutal ancient rite in the present and in my own village to shock the story’s readers with a graphic dramatization of the pointless violence and general inhumanity in their own lives.” –Shirley Jackson



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Despite the whir of deadlines blowing in with fall, my dog still gets her morning walk. She naps until I return from taking the kids to school. Black licorice fur nestled into the couch with her floppy lips squished half-way to her nose, tail thump-thump-thumping a slap-happy rhythm. Walk now! Walk now! Walk now!

I remind her to get a drink of water because she’s a hyper puppy and will occasionally play until the froth of dehydration lines her mouth. It’s all about living in the moment.

She licks a few from her bowl then I strap my phone to my arm and off we go, walking along the weedless lawns of unoriginal-house-ville.

Usually, I take a big breath of fresh air and thank God for the town I live in because the mornings are always lovely, there are still a few patches of undeveloped land—and it amuses me that no matter how much sprucing of lawns20150928_084636 people do, dogs will pick the most beautifully manicured bush to pee on. All of them. It’s no wonder the more elite greenery is discolored.

Don’t get me wrong—I love seeing the neighbors caring for their lawn. I can literally see affection spilling from some of them—arms to watering cans, life to flowers—beautiful touches to otherwise drab rows of brown and brownish and somewhat-brown southwestern homes. And then there are those in industrial strength masks, and gloves that would make a welder proud, attacking their yards as if a single weed might engulf their pristine home.

But dogs don’t care. They just want to enjoy every moment. The moment, not the results.

Peeing on the most attractive bushes.

Dogs are so happy. They don’t care if the bush grew roots in the Finest Garden Center or if it was pilfered from the sticks. I’m convinced they’re put on this earth to remind us all to relax.


We like walking along the trail around the community too. There are weeds everywhere, but when the light hits them right, it looks like we’re surrounded in a sea of gold.

That’s what dogs see—gold around every corner. And that’s why Bella’s time comes before I sit down to work—so I remember the results are meaningless if I can’t laugh over the messes it took to get there, and the joy it is to just be.

The Hot Debates


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It’s been a while since I’ve given my ear to politics. With two small children, engaging in adult activities has been a neglected luxury, but now that my littlest one is in Kindergarten I have a few hours to listen. And breathe.

In AND out.

It’s nice being able to form a complete thought again–to be hugged by the calm of morning.  What surprised me most is this: a little chaos is actually a good thing.

The best example would be the presidential debates. Up until now, I’ve found bd86b164-3e87-407b-a0e6-aac08c725442them pointless. After watching presidential hopefuls running around questions like they’re participating in a dodge-ball tournament, I quit watching them. Nothing like a roomful of political correctness to stifle the truth of things.

But the mad scramble for the oval office right now is the most educational and entertaining thing on TV right now.


Absolutely! They’ve ( a few at least) thrown political correctness aside to finally get to the heart of matters. I suppose it took our current mess of things to do it, but the chaos is refreshing. Why?

People are getting Mad. Offended. INTERESTED. Donald Trump is so politically incorrect right now, that people are tuning in and CARING what each candidate has to say. Even the hot debate guy’s opinion is sought after. Do people take you more seriously if you look handsome while watching politics? Is this sophomoric?

Not if it gets people interested.

Hilary Clinton has garnered so much attention by her inaction that people see the importance of finally taking action.

It’s okay to state an unpopular opinion. Please do if you think it’s important. Complacency is quickly swallowing our country, so feel free to say something offensive if that’s what it takes to light the fires in America’s cold, revolutionary britches.

Go ‘Merica!

Things that go Chhh…


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Friday nights, I sit next to a security monitor at work. Shortly after the sun descends behind the hills, the waning light and odd angles of the cameras makes bugs look like dinosaurs. The usual visitor, a feisty Pterodactyl, shoots across the screen with his wings backlit by streetlights. His buddy, a spiderosaurus, likes to stretch across the lens facing the entrance, protecting all would-be perps from detection.

Of course, we don’t see much action in the retirement village. The most common things stolen are memories. The most violent intruder has been illness. There was a fight once, between two ladies, but I missed it. From what I heard, there was a lot of slapping and feisty name-calling. Of all the days to miss work.

Deep into the night, the camera downstairs plays funny with color. Actually, most color fades to black and white, but anything yellow gets cast with a halo, and periodically, I will see a sheet that doesn’t exist. A few

I fear nothing. They all fear me, wah ha ha!

I fear nothing. They all fear me, wah ha ha!

weeks ago, I saw on camera, a sheet draped across an easel. Later, when checking doors in that area, I noticed someone had removed the sheet. Not. It was still on the video monitor. I know it was a trick of the light, but it didn’t help when I passed by that easel and I heard a CH—CH—CHHHH!

See what writers have to live with? Our imaginations are the driving force behind good stories but they also make the nights come alive with fake sheets that talk.

I’m pretty sure the talking sheet was actually me brushing passed the forest of plastic plants near the easel, but it was   spooky just the same.

When I sit at just the right angle at my desk, I can utilize the odd placement of mirrors and the reflection in my glasses to see people coming from around the corner behind me. That comes in handy at night when it’s dark, and my imagination’s running wild.

It’s usually just a resident checking their mail, or coming to chat after a fight with insomnia.

And sometimes, there are footsteps where there is no form.

Or it’s the air conditioner kicking on again.

Life is better when you can just laugh off the spooks, yes?

Have a happy Monday.

Monday, the highest ranking fake-it-to-make-it day.


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I watched my first horror movie in elementary school. It was a field day and we could either go outside and (be charbroiled by the Az sun) play, or stay inside and indulge in what we’d never be allowed to watch at home.

Three cheers for the glorious ‘80’s.

The room was darkened and so were our virginal eyes. Fear, blood, and sounds that were as paranormal as the eighties hair styles, started as a low murmur from a violin, crescendoing to the shriek of a teenager being attacked by her braces. Or something like that.

When it was over and we were shooed to the next diversion, I felt like I had grown up a year. I saw something only older kids were supposed to see. Except many of my peers had already seen it, so maybe not older kids—just kids with less than strict parents, or kids who saw those movies at the houses of less strict parents.

When I finally let the whole movie sink in—plot, acting, story—it was really just meh. The exciting part was watching a forbidden movie. At school. Okay, that made it a little less fun, but after the thrill wore off, I decided that a person just liked what they liked, forbidden or not.

I wonder how many other kids really liked the movie and how many kids faked it for the joy of the thrill.

The other day, I talked with an elderly man who had just lost his son. Wanting to bring him a distraction, I asked him why he didn’t show off more by doing pushups for his friends. Did I mention he’s in his eighties? And does push-ups? He smiled like he always does, shrugged and said, “I just fake it. That’s what we do—we fake and smile our way through life to get through it.”

He went on his way, after I gave him an awkward smile, knowing he wasn’t talking about the pushups.

So a recent night ago, when I noticed my daughter faking a prayer to please me, I stopped her mid, “Thank Y—“, and told her no.

“Don’t fake a prayer. Just talk to God. Thank Him for what really makes you happy and tell Him what makes you mad. Ask Him for help.”

“Oh.” Her performance mask slid from her face and she just stared at the wall, silent. She declined her prayer that night.

The next night: “Please help me to stop worrying about——, God. Thank you for funny Noah. And help me to stop being scared at night. Amen.”20150829_135921

It wasn’t eloquent. It was disjointed. But it was the deepest part of her gut, grabbing hold of genuine gratefulness and reaching out from her greatest need.

She started laughing, and talking about funny Noah (brother). The next day, she told me she thought of Noah’s funny faces  that night, and was able to laugh herself into good dreams.

Perhaps we need to fake it sometimes. To get through the crowd, to get through the day—to reach out for a thrill.

But I’ve never found real joy there. Have you?

I’ve never found real joy in religion, but I’ve found it in God. He opens His arms wide to catch the prayers from my deepest needs, and answers it by pouring out boundless streams of grace. Like He did for my daughter, He’ll do that for anyone who sends Him a genuine prayer.



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Sometimes I think kids should rule the world. They’re much better at finding contentedness in it. Really, how many adults would squeal in delight if you handed them a giant cardboard box? My kids don’t care about the quality of washing machine that came in the box. They don’t care that the washer is a much brighter white than our ancient dryer—they have a box! It’s a spaceship….a treasure chest—No!—It’s a castle! That box will bring the hours of endless joy.

But we know it’s not the box—it’s the beholder of the box.

My family tries to shop smart. The way we see it, our kids outgrow clothes too quickly to plunk down tons of money on brand names, so we do Walmart, resale shops, Ross, etc. Our kids don’t care, and we’re certainly not going to point out the labels to them. They don’t see labels anyway—they beg me to cut them out so the bothersome things won’t tickle the back of their necks. “Why do they put those in clothes, Mommy?”2015-08-24_08.56.38
One of my son’s favorite shirts came from a yard sale. It was mostly worn out, a little too big, but it has Spiderman on the front! He snatched it up before I could fish a quarter out of my pocket. If kids could teach the rest of us that kind of gratitude, maybe the world would be much happier.

Reality shows are the best with kids. My daughter thinks the ladies are pretty as little girls see it—nice hair style (especially if there’s a pink streak), a pretty smile…sparkly jewelry. There’s no mention of jiggly thighs or a stray pimple here and there. And I’m not going to point out flaws to her—I want her to see things without the critical eye of an adult. We’ve been brain washed, really—beauty is not perfection—it’s a woman/man who spends more time with the reason behind the smile, than perfecting the physique of a smile.

I can’t finish without mentioning books. I’ll have to admit, since I’ve become a writer, I’m more critical of books…I don’t go so far as to be legalistic, in fact, I love a writing rule that’s been successfully broken, but I don’t finish as many books as I used to because of my critical eye. But Noah and Chloe love books of all kinds/voices. Some of their favorite ones are what I would call amateur attempts as writing, but if there’s a good story and an interesting protagonist, my kids will sit through twenty readings in a row! Forget reader analytics—as long as there’s a grand adventure, nothing needs changed!


So hand over the keys to the city, give children a platform, because they don’t need as many of our opinions as we think they do–in fact, maybe we should take their example and quit judging the world–Lets just focus on the grand adventure.





The Blessed Unglamorous


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Since my earliest days of sitting in front of the keyboard, I can’t help but notice the romanticized ideas people hold about writers. I suppose gifted photographers are partially to blame…they’re good at making writers look brilliant, focusing on the horizon while pondering the ways of the world and the next great novel.

Hollywood, of course, has convinced the world that writers are all rich, eccentric and live in Hemingway-esque log cabins.

When my first book was published, I got snubbed by a few friends and co-workers. They assumed I had hit the big time and would become a distant memory, too good to hang out with the struggling class. One of them confessed to me later that in 20150817_084722realizing one of my dreams I reminded him of the ones he hadn’t reached yet.

My favorite reaction to all of this is that of Stephen King. When speaking to aspiring authors, he started out by saying, “I’m just a guy.”

So before answering a few questions people have asked me about being an author, I’ll be completely honest and say, “I’m just a gal.”

How much money do you make?
I could say something about manners here, but here we go. I might have been able to buy a pair of pants with my very first royalty check. A happy meal with the second.
To be honest, most writers have day jobs. I’ll say that again, with no exaggeration—most writers have day jobs. “But your novel became a bestseller.” Still working the day job. So we are indeed, part of the struggling class.

Why didn’t you give me a free copy of your book?
Refer to the above question. When I published The Miracle of Rain, I didn’t even get my own free copy. For book signings, I have to buy the books before I can sell them. I’m not rich—as much as I would love to give copies to every friend and family member, I can’t afford it—a box of books costs several hundred dollars. I did get one free copy of Faith Seekers (from the awesome Rook Publishing), but if I want to sell copies in person, I still have to buy them first—so do other authors.

What is your real job?
Our educational system is to blame for this question. Any career in the arts is often thought of as a hobby. Not so. Talent or not, writing is a lot of hard work—it’s a skill, and a very difficult one to master. Being a good English student in college doesn’t pave the way to becoming an author. I learned most of what I know from my writers group, from reading, and studying/researching a lot. Like any education, it’s an investment.
Writing is my real job. But career is a better word for it.

Where do you get your ideas?
Various places. Sometimes from life experience, sometimes from watching/listening to interesting people. Prayer. The idea for Faith Seekers popped into my head like a painting. A single visual image (while doing laundry, heh) filled my mind’s eye so clearly, I knew this was a Father/daughter project, meaning God/Sherry project. For who or what—I don’t know, but I wrote it anyway. It’s controversial, and I knew it would be—but I wrote it anyway. That’s how art works.

I’ve always wanted to write, but I’m not good at grammar/don’t have time to learn something new/am not able to go back to school. How did you do it?

By disregarding the above excuses and doing it anyway. I did it without going back to school. If you have a dream…a true desire to do your thing, then you can do it. You can accomplish a great deal if you believe like a visionary. And never, ever, take advice from a pessimist.

There you go, writing life (at least mine) in a blog post. What do you do, and what misconceptions do people have about your career?

The Big K


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What’s round, can protect you from danger, yet put you in danger at the same time?

This quandary adorns my head as my husband and I boulder-hop, wearing more sweat than clothing, including my beloved hat.

“My brim is my friend,” I tell myself, as I nearly miss another foothold. I don’t want any more skin cancer, however, I don’t want to tumble down a mountain of 20150803_093042boulders.

We just dropped off our little boy—our youngest—at Kindergarten. His first day of new everything, my first step of letting go of my baby for the day. I can’t help but think of him as my brim keeps getting in the way. I could have kept him at home another year—I could home school my kids—they’d be protected from so many things that way…

But, from experience, I’ve learned that too much protection can cause a person to fall later on. I can’t keep them under my brim forever.

He was crying when we left. The teacher had to take him inside the classroom and we had to walk away so he could adjust to this new chapter.

Chapter One: The day Noah becomes a big boy.

A boy who will laugh and smile with kids who think boogars are funny too, coat various things with glue sticks, make friends, fight with friends…find the best ones to make memories with and maybe even stand by each other on their wedding days.

Do stuff without me, *sniff.*

When my hat keeps casting its shadow over my face, blocking the blue sky from smiling on me, I remind myself that my skin can’t take it. But I push it up a little bit so I can see what’s around me, because I’ve got to take a little risk in order to see where I’m going.

There it is—that glorious big picture.

The wide open sky, the rise and fall of the horizon, the breeze across my forehead. There’s an island of rocks—it was our goal, but the water level is still too high to rock-hop over to its bank. I guess it has a mama protecting it too.

We could have told her we were friendly, but I understand. Maybe she’ll let down her guard in autumn.

It’s been a week now, and usually my son comes home and tells me how awesome his day was, but then the morning comes to find him in tears again. But he keeps going, step after little step, thickening his skin and finding out he can do some things without mommy.

His teacher walked him to the car the other day with a mountain of praise. “He’s doing well. He’s the only one in class who doesn’t say ‘I can’t’.”

Good job, big boy.



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My littlest one started Kindergarten today, and while my manuscript is in the hands of beta readers (love you), I’m taking the week to reflect on the fact that my babies aren’t babies anymore, and I’ll now have exactly 3 hrs. and 15 minutes of solitude a day. Phew. It’s a marvelous stacation.

John and I climbed the boulders today.

John and I climbed the boulders today.

Even the boulders have caught on to the mustache trend.

Even the boulders have caught on to the mustache trend.


Love living in raccoon country.

I’m enjoying the silence now. See you next week.


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