It’s About the Rhythm

Every Sunday, we’re met by a cop who may or may not have rhythm. We never know who we’re going to get. He or she (but mostly he) stands at a crossroads, directing cars to either church or the road most traveled by (on any other day than Sunday).

I can’t help but notice their coordination skills. Or the lack of. My favorite cop—*who we rarely see—is one of those dancing cops. He’s got unceasing rhythm. I mean…there’s directing traffic on caffeinated energy, and then there’s the Jedi master of traffic soul. It’s like the holy singing going on around the corner hops across the road, consumes the officer in its jazzy spirit, and shoots out the end of his fingers: this way, now that way, now pivot. Breathe. Go sister! Go brother!
It really does make for kinder drivers.
Most of the officers direct adequately, many of them smile and don’t look one bit irritated by being surrounded by church goers who don’t always drive churchishly. One of them reminds me of Dana Carvey impersonating former President Bush (Sr.). His hand signals are unique for sure, but he can stop one street while making the other go at the same time. And we get what he’s saying.
And then there’s the other one. I call him, “Oh no.”
He works hard, I can tell—you can’t miss the effort. But the guy doesn’t have a lick of coordination. If I did what his hands say I should do, I’d be driving onto the highway below, or engaging my jet thrusters and launching into space. Thankfully, I’m a praying woman, and when I see Oh No, I pray for the ability to interpret his hand signals. Perhaps the police department should require a few dance classes for their traffic controllers.
But he tries. I can tell he puts every bit of control he has in his work—so much so that he can’t see what he’s doing. All my years in dance taught me that strict adherence to the steps is not enough to make art. You’ve got to surrender to the Divine to make your story impactful. The same with whatever your craft is. There needs to be room inside for God to do His magic, otherwise you may just end up with a big mess.
Blessings for your day–I pray it’s full of inspiration.


* who is not written correctly as whom because I can’t stand the word whom. It’s stuffy, and I only use it when a fictional character requires it. 😉

Oxford Commas and the Rest of Us

Two editors tame my books because a grammar revolution resounds in my head. Really. I take my commas and my semi-colons to town, aim them at each other, pauses blazing, and let them battle for the ink that fixes them to the page. Do we have a long pause, or a short one? If I paused here; would you pause here, too?

What’s wrong with making a new sound, anyway? Writers are artists which make readers aficionados of art; it’s subjective–you’re rock, I’m jazz–that kind of ditty.
Commas waltz, but semi-colons? They scat.


Would civilization implode if I lay spaces here, but not between IHateOxfordCommas? That’s how I say it, after all–with plenty of Grrrrrrrr.

Will we start a literary Lord of the Flies if we abandon civilized grammar and write with the flow of our unique internal rhythms? That’s how we ditched thee and thou, btw, by going a little wild.

somehow its ok to text in an improper fashion but if i choose to write a book in text its assumed i need schooling. but you still understand me right?

Of course, some might argue that a double-dash or a capital letter are tools that perfect the art of language like a hammer to a nail. What if that nail didn’t belong within the bones of a house, but as the arms of a dreamer?

Not everyone loves scat.
She says dooby dooby no no. No.
Not everyone loves art.

BUT—,,,;;;—some are looking for a single comma misplacement to win a lawsuit; Some (yeah, I see you people) can’t read a story with a single imperfection. I would say something about color-coding socks here, but God made us all different, right?

So we must comma-speak.

Here’s a grammarian song to start your Monday (language warning).

I H0pe 1t’s @ G0od 1.


While in college, I learned that my hair was really red, no—dark blonde, but mostly brown. My face is long too, or slightly oval by some angles; with most plays of shadow and light my lips are thin, but to those who stand where they can see smiles at the corners, they’re cupid-bow pink. All this I learned while posing for a painting class for extra cash.


The popular Dove commercials reminded me about this experience and the whole beauty phenomenon; if I go sans makeup and let my hair fall in all its natural wildness it’s cool, because people will catch the angle of God’s love on my face if they take a minute to see from His light.

Because that’s what God’s artistry is–His wink reflecting in our gazes the moment they collide with imperfection. 


At twenty years old, I plunged my hands into an exquisite block of clay and shaped it into a smaller version of my parents’ scroungy cat, Tigger. Tigger was a giant fluffy orange tabby—possibly the most beautiful cat that existed. But I should have sculpted Chicken.

Some say you can’t tame a feral cat, but my Dad succeeded with Chicken, even charming the cat so much that Chicken would jump for his lap before he had a chance to sit down. Chicken was a miracle—a product of the efforts of a cat whisperer—if it wasn’t for the chance meeting of those two, that scroungy thing would have more than likely become coyote food.

It was with confliction that I shaped Tigger’s pointed ears and sassy face with my instructor’s voice in my ear, telling our class that fine art was not the stuff of happiness and cutsie things like cats; it was struggle, pain, oppression. To be honest I felt a little insulted that happiness was thought to be a bad influence on fine art.

For my next project, I adapted my charcoal sketch of a model into a raised oak panel; she was stripped bare much like a college student is when catapulted from their childhood home into a world of influences, vulnerable to all those things they haven’t learned about yet. I grabbed the large file and shaved the wood until her likeness came through; I ran her through the jigsaw, hoping the boldness of a woman uncovered would please my instructor. He was kind, but not overly impressed—I hadn’t made her story live and breathe yet.

I’ve walked longer in my adult shoes now, and have been down some of those galleries adorned with dark art. Picasso’s Guernica commands its station on the wall—I’ve never been in combat, but if anguish was a spirit, I imaging that’s what it could look like—as I gaze at the stark contrast between shock amidst a bleak existence, I can empathize, having experienced my own battles: a sick child, an excruciating season of slim finances, the sudden loss of my father. So yes, this dark art is Relevant.

A battle weary people are indeed worthy of a voice. Most of us don’t make it through childhood without feeling like an outcast at least a dozen times. Fuzzy cat sculptures don’t tell that story.

A happy painting I would gladly hang on my wall. Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose by John Singer Sargent.

A happy painting I would gladly hang on my wall. Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose by John Singer Sargent.

If my nude sculpture was still in existence, she would have acquired a good many scars—her jaw would be tight, and her hands damaged by a few more decades of sun—her belly marked with signs of new life—that’s not catering to a certain group of critics who declare happy art unrealistic, it’s the bold truth. But does it end there? I hope not, because the shadows that keep us under the model’s heel only lead to bricks in the hands of violent protestors and knives for words. I’m not sure if all I want to look at are scars.

Sculpting is for finding the story. Filing is for smoothing out the rough edges, not for arming naïve students with half-truths, although I imagine my instructor would have approved of Chicken—a would-be-dead cat who found redemption—who knew?

I wouldn’t want to hang the Guernica on my wall, but Chicken—that would have been a great reminder of hope.
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. John 1:5


P.S. Wake is free today and tomorrow. Go here to get it. If you like YA Dystopian fiction and, well….art, you may like Wake.

Tomorrow Eve

Despite the constant palette of fads that brush their way into our culture, I always love a nice coat of Cherry Crush on my toes. It’s fun when a new shade tantalizes us and we dip our feet in together to celebrate whatever new brand the piper brings to town, but we tend to smudge each others’ toes, working our way back to our favorite places in the composition, however ordinary they might look. I’m a hue, my neighbor is a shade but thankfully, there’s the holy One one that supports the corners of us, offering us a better way to join together. We may paint some fences along our edges to slow our bleed of colors, but that piper likes to come in with his battle sword, and make us forget our vital corners. His true intentions may be cleverly polished like some kind of bling, but if we’re careful not to foul our colors with it, and keep that holy One as our cornerstone, we can make this place one beautiful work of art.


Vote Here

A publisher told a class I once attended that he could tell when a manuscript had been written by a teen rather than an adult. It isn’t the quality of writing that gives it away—copious amounts of formal education makes a storyteller not—it’s the human experience: falling in love, becoming a parent, losing a loved one; living long enough to have experienced the depths of life. It’s after experiencing the heart of what their story is about that a writer can take the science and art and weave it together with the kind of scars we received from boldly living.

“If you haven’t experienced your story in deep doses”, he said, “You better research the heck out of it to make it believable because readers want to connect with truth.”

So even though I haven’t lived in a dystopian society like I created in Wake where expressive art was outlawed, I have been undervalued by teachers because they hadn’t experienced art in its true form. There have been times when I painted a canvas with inspiration I know didn’t come from me—I’ve been in a class where a student refused to paint a particular subject because of the truth of what it might have revealed in him. I don’t know the power of art because of what a few authority figures have told me—I know it because I’ve lived it.bd86b164-3e87-407b-a0e6-aac08c725442

So when the elections rolled around, and our choices were limited to OMG! and YOU’RE KIDDING! I started mulling over the wisdom of the candidates—that’s how I vote, because an eloquent speaker or a horrible speaker are just speakers; I don’t care how well or how poorly they speak, I want to know what they KNOW. What have they lived through that makes me think they will lead with the fruits of their experiences?

When I had finally finished with my core subjects in college and was free to study art, my boss at the time commented on how I had no “real” classes left. Why then, I wondered, did she see the importance of hanging a particular painting where it was the first thing she looked at every day? Somehow, she had missed the connection. This is what I ponder when candidates discuss whether or not a fetus is a “real” baby, or if certain ethnic groups should suffer for the sins of a few because even the innocent are a “real” threat. If faith isn’t a factor for a candidate (it is for some, but we all know professing a faith is a campaign strategy), and science hasn’t gotten far enough to give answers to the hard questions…what kind of deep living do they draw their conclusions from?

What do you think? Let’s lend an ear during the debate tonight—maybe we’ll be able to discern the wisdom from the speech.





I sketched my daughter sulking on the patio
because sometimes you have to see that a bad mood is a choice you sit in.
But while I drew up the chalk to make her lash
and blew her hair wild like the wind that caught it,
I was the one who forgot she was grouchy
and just saw her as precious.
I think that’s how God sees us
all the time.


A Renaissance Life

The past few weeks have been about introducing our kids to culture at its best.

First, while Noah recovered from Pneumonia, I took Chloe to a few art galleries in downtown Prescott. We saw a lot of beautiful work, but we had two things to add to our Awesome List.

1. Years ago, we added to our personal art collection a print of an old man in the desert, holding a cat. Something about it just caught me when I bought it–well, we got to meet the artist, and tell him how much we’ve enjoyed his bit of story on our wall. Even though art is a career, it’s also personal; brave. So complimenting an artist on their work is to thank them for sharing part of their life with us.

2. Chloe discovered a whole new world when she saw a horse sculpture welded together from springs, knives, and various scraps of metal. Together, these bits and pieces made a breathtaking piece of art. It was a good reminder that we can take whatever we’re allotted in life and make something beautiful from it.20160227_134546

After Noah recovered enough to get out, we went to the Renaissance Festival. We basked in a day of mermaids, knights, and turkey legs. Besides watching my kid’s delighted faces, my favorite part was when an old man–had to be in his eighties–shuffled by us with his walker–and brand new set of elf ears.

Now that’s a man who has learned how to enjoy his life.

I hope you enjoyed your weekend too. I’ll see you next Monday!

Wake up to the Art Revolution

My maiden name is Darwin. Before I married, there was a two year season where cashiers everywhere exploded in curiosity—my debit card said I was a Darwin, yet a cross necklace hung around my neck.

“Are you related to Charles Darwin?” (Yes, indirectly)

“Did he really disprove his theories?” (I don’t think so, but he was aware his theories were unproven ideas as opposed to the stance of our modern educational system)

One of my acquaintances criticized my decision to write Christian Science Fiction. Baffled, I asked, “Why?”

“Because science and Christianity don’t mix”, he said.

I was happy to inform him that The Bible not only contained science, but his statement was a shockingly unsound stereotype.

Lesson number one: don’t be afraid to do your own research.

Despite the fact that some religions such as Christianity are quickly becoming taboo and misunderstood, people still search for the God of miracles. No matter how illegal, unpopular, hated, and stereotyped He becomes, there will always be longings within the deepest parts of us that will cry out for answers far beyond our knowledge. This is not ignorance–it’s a journey toward the extraordinary. One of the most powerful expressions of this journey is the arts—paintings, music, literature–those things that speak beyond the questions we don’t have answers for.

Picasso expressed his heart well in The Geurnica–his reaction to the devastation of the Basque town of Guernica when the Nazi’s targeted it for bombing practice during the Spanish Civil war.


I wouldn’t hang it on my wall, but I can certainly feel the anguish. I can read about the incident in the history books, but with Picasso’s painting, I get it.

Giacomo Cavedone shows us Stephan, the first man killed for following Christ. Here is the martyr’s last recorded moment:

54 When the members of the Sanhedrin heard this, they were furious and gnashed their teeth at him. 55 But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. 56 “Look,” he said, “I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.”

57 At this they covered their ears and, yelling at the top of their voices, they all rushed at him, 58 dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. Meanwhile, the witnesses laid their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul.

59 While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60 Then he fell on his knees and cried out, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” When he had said this, he fell asleep. Acts 7:54-70


A man willing to die for Christ is a man who knows Christ. In his last moment, Stephan was able to exist here and beyond simultaneously. That’s a powerful bit of history I would hang on my wall. Waking up each day with a visual reminder that beyond is close enough to touch would make my steps a lot more purposeful.

But art can be dangerously powerful against those wishing to silence a people. What would happen if religion was outlawed? And then the expressive arts, because it encouraged rebellion? Sooner or later, history might “lose” documentation that would encourage people to rebel against these laws.

We would fall into forced ignorance…

But what would God do?

What if God decided to show a boxed in world how uncontainable He was? Who would He raise up to peel open the door to heaven?

What do you think would happen?

This is a story I’ll be bringing to you in my soon-to-be-released book, Wake, brought to you by the newly formed Darwin House Press. If you have any of your own theories, feel welcome to share them in the comments.