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I write novels, eat dark chocolate, raise three children, love my husband, scrub toilets, ignore the laundry, and love a good story, but hardly ever in that order.



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Friday, March 25, 2016

Amazing Grace

Today is Good Friday.

This term, "Good Friday," has caused no shortage of consternation at our dinner table over the years. 

"What is good about Good Friday?" 

Thea has a particular issue with the terminology. "Jesus died! A horrible, mean, painful death! He died and He didn't even do anything wrong! It should be called 'Crappy Friday' or 'Saddest Friday Ever' or 'Unfair Friday.'"

Point taken. All those adjectives work too.

Easter has not been the easiest holiday to explain to my kids as they have grown. When you throw in concepts like "propitiation" and "sacrifice" and "atonement," we all tend to get a little muddled. By the end of such conversations, I usually end up with one kid asking when we get to hunt for eggs, one kid thumping another on the forehead with his/her thumb and forefinger (see: need for atonement), and another telling me to pass the Peeps.
When I was in high school, I remember having a conversation with a friend about why we crazy Christians clung to Easter so much. Couldn't we just skip that death and resurrection part, my friend asked. Wasn't Jesus just as a great of a man and teacher without it? Wasn't all He said still true, even if He didn't rise from the dead?

I didn't know what to say when I was sixteen and pretty much scared of everything.

But now I'm super old and I would say that no, we can't skip that part. 

That's the part about new life, about battered, dead, broken things coming alive. 

It's the part that shows me to deep reservoirs of grace, and the older I get, the deeper I need those reservoirs to be. 

It's the part that defies the logic of what my sin and my emptiness and my brokenness should bring me and instead sweeps out the filthy corners of my heart, opens the heavy curtains, and lets fresh air and sunlight flood in.

I'm not a theologian or an apologist or a pastor or anything else that could impress you. I'm just a hot mess that clings to the story of Easter because I don't know anyone else who would do what Jesus did for me. And I need Him to bring my dead heart back to beating.

It truly is a really, really Good Friday. 

Beautiful Easter printables and many more lovely things at Emily Jones Design Company

Friday, March 18, 2016

Spring Break 2016

I visited my sister this week.
The kids and I got in the car to drive from Des Moines to Denver and 2765 hours later, we arrived. We had a lovely time. We hiked a mountain.
Some of us got courier service down the rough patches. 
 We saw some beautiful views and tried out avant garde hairstyles. I think this one is a winner.
 We visited a museum. SOME OF US wanted to read. Every. Single. Placard.
We looked cute. And we ate ridiculously large and ridiculously good biscuits at the Denver Biscuit Company, shocking onlookers.
When we ran out of placards to read, we visited one of my all-time favorite bookstores, The Tattered Cover. Bliss.
It was a fantastic visit. I want my sister to live closer to me and fulfill my own plans for her life, but since she has never really obeyed me, I'm happy she lives in a place with books and biscuits. I love her and her family so.

IN OTHER NEWS, if you are looking for a spring read, I have you covered! In new covers! Print copies of my five novels are up through Amazon here, and ebooks are also available through Amazon for your Kindle, iBooks for your Apple devices, Barnes and Noble for your Nook and Kobo on your phone, tablet or desktop. I'm so excited! The print copies came in the mail this week. Don't they look beautiful?!

Friday, March 11, 2016

Visit to Centro (Field Trip!)

Most of my life is raising a family with Marc. And by that I mean most of my life is making messes and then cleaning up the messes, both literal and figurative.

And then sometimes I write novels, usually while wearing a bathrobe and a furrowed brow, which is only adding to The Wrinkle Issue. When I'm writing these novels in my robe and with my wrinkles, there is no glamour within a ten-mile radius. I do not sit by a roaring fire, I do not swirl a glass of sherry, and I do not wearing an ascot, though if I could find an ascot at Anthropologie, I'd probably want it because I am seem to have problems remembering to have any sort of self-control at that store.

So usually I'm alone and wrinkly when I work. But sometimes, once in the bluest of moons, I get to go on a field trip. This week I had the great pleasure of following around the intrepid restauranteur and chef, George Formaro, owner of so many of my favorite spots in Des Moines. 
Chef George is the owner of Django (insane duck-fat fries), Gateway Market (um, French toast?!), Malo (tacos al pastor and chipotle shrimp tacos with house-made corn tortillas), Zombie Burger (wicked good burgers and the buns!), South Union Bread Cafe (all yum for lunch), and Centro (can't pick a favorite. Honestly.). 

The protagonist of my new novel is a chef, so I asked George if I might tag along and watch what he does. Because he's super bored and doesn't have enough to do (see previous paragraph), he said yes! So I watched, I learned, I peppered him with questions, and I got a parking ticket because I forgot about real life. I was in the Centro vortex and it was FASCINATING.
George is affable, a crazy hard worker, and he loves good food. He also thinks of his staff as family, which is pretty much bizarro in the restaurant business. Gordon Ramsay he is not.
He also doesn't like to say no. For example, while I was there, a customer requested buffalo sauce. Centro doesn't have buffalo sauce on its menu. No worries. George to the rescue. Just made the sauce, off the cuff, right in the middle of the noon rush. I'm slightly less accommodating of special orders in my own kitchen.

 I wanted to eat everything but I was super professional and asked questions instead, questions like, "Can you walk by the end of a sixteen hour day?" (Answer: "No. I am a cripple.") And "Does it offend you when people send a dish back to the kitchen?" (Answer: "No. It's not about me; it's about the customer. If a person leaves my restaurant unhappy, it pains me." Note: This is exactly how I feel about my children complaining about my cooking. Exactly.) And "What's a crazy special order you've received?" Answer: "A French guy ordering at Django asked for pasta with butter, ketchup and Parmesan cheese." George made that dish for that weirdo, and he even said it was surprisingly not horrible. Because I am a professional, I maintained a pleasant expression on my face instead of saying unprofessional things about a doofus who goes to a French restaurant and orders ketchup noodles. 
 Ketchup nonwithstanding, George, his front-of-house manager Taylor, and the very delightful team at Centro were fantastic. They didn't even gripe that I was standing in front of the water station for two hours during their lunch service. They seem to really enjoy their work. And even with a parking ticket as a souvenir, they made it great fun to do mine. 

Friday, March 4, 2016

My daughter is reading one of my books.

Ana is reading Operation Bonnet.
So is our mini Schnauzer, but I think Ana is getting more out of it.

Or at least I hope she is.

I'm trying to act natural, like it's no biggie. Whatever, man! That's cool. Go ahead, read it. Hope you like it. Or not. Or whatever.
Of course I'm a total faker. I REALLY hope she likes it. I will be VERY SAD if she thinks it's horrible. Or not funny. Or too sappy. Or anything else other than BRILLIANT and ONE OF HER FAVORITE BOOKS EVER.

OK, OK, that's probably hoping for too much. But I do hope she likes it and is happy that her name is in the acknowledgements. Wait---DANG it. Op Bonnet is the one book without an acknowledgements section! She should have started with one of the others. Proof:

It's a funny thing, when your child suddenly glimpses that you have a life outside of caring for their every need. I remember my mom telling me, with a wry smile, the story of when my brother, Ryan, responded to his elementary school teacher's inquiry. "What does my mom do?" he'd repeated, confusion clouding his little face. Bypassing the truth (she was a full-time mom, a violin teacher with a studio of thirty students, the co-founder of our local Suzuki Institute, and a first violinist in the symphony), he said, "Oh. My mom sits on the couch and eats Oreos."

Ryan was effectively cut out of the will that day. I'll be taking his share.

So my kids, or at least one of them, just realized I have another job. 

Totally playing it cool. 

But I hope she likes it.