Oh, to be cloned, times two

Synod 2018The week of June 11 was one of those times when I wished I could be cloned so I could be in two places at the same time. Actually, it would have been nice to be in four places at the same time.

The United Reformed Churches in North America (URCNA) and the Orthodox Presbyterian Church (OPC) held their major, annual ecclesiastical meetings concurrently on the campus of Wheaton College, near Chicago, from June 11-15, 2018. As a regular contributor for Christian Renewal, I’d been anticipating and planning to attend this event for several years.

But having recently reported on concurrent regional meetings of a URCNA classis and an OPC presbytery, I knew how difficult it was to go from meeting to meeting and catch the most important discussions. Thus my desire to be clones.OPC

It addition to that, the annual Write-to-Publish conference was held from June 13-16 at–you guessed it–Wheaton College. Three members of my local writing group attended it, two of whom I’ve gone with in the past, but I couldn’t register. There was just no way I could immerse myself in the WTP networking and learning experience at the Billy Graham Center, while trying to stay on top of ecclesiastical action up the hill in the Edman Chapel and Coray Alumni Gymnasium. Therefore my desire to be in three places.

But there’s more, I’m working on a writing project with Leland Ryken, prolific author and long-time professor in Wheaton’s English department. Being in Wheaton gave me opportunities to discuss the project face-to-face with him, which is infinitely superior to email. Hence, my desire to be in four places at the same time.

Despite not being cloned two times, I had an amazing week bursting with blessings. I heard important discussions in both ecclesiastical meetings and greeted many pastor friends I hadn’t seen for years or had never met in person. I also touched base with my editor, John Van Dyk, whom I’ve seen only a handful of times.

Diane and Pete Smith, organizers extraordinaire

While I didn’t participate in the Write-to-Publish experience, I ate lunch with writing friends three times. Over one noon break, the Three Amigos visited my favorite place on Wheaton’s campus, the Marion E. Wade Center, which houses fascinating memorabilia and books written by seven British authors: C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, Dorothy Sayers, G.K. Chesterton, George MacDonald, Charles Williams, and Owen Barfield. Most of these would make my list of favorite authors.

Leland and I talked through several issues at this important stage of our project, and I enjoyed wonderful conversations with his wife, Mary, as well. I enjoyed fellowship with many other women, especially when I had the privilege of leading devotions for the Ladies Afternoon Tea on Tuesday in the Todd M. Beamer Student Center.

And I signed a lot of copies of my nine published books. As usual when I sign Little One Lost, God provided meaningful interactions when dear women shared their stories of loss. I’m both honored and humbled by these moments, which make me feel as if I briefly function as the ears and arms of Jesus.

Who needs to be cloned?sign



Draco and Gandolf

At first glance, you may think I’m mixing fantasies (Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings). But, no. I’m talking about the weather.

Yes, really. Well, weather and some literary rabbit trails.

Apparently The Weather Channel (weather.com) has taken the initiative to name this season’s winter storms. You can read the rationale behind the decision to begin the practice here. And here’s a list of the 2012-2013 names with their origins. The current winter storm is called Draco, which did not originate–as you may have thought–from the Harry Potter novels. According to The Weather Channel, Draco was the first legislator of Athens in Ancient Greece.

Another storm name of interest is Gandolf, which The Weather Channel identifies as “a character in a 1896 fantasy novel in a pseudo-medieval countryside.” The reference is to The Well at the World’s Enda fantasy by William Morris, whose work supposedly influenced JRR Tolkien, who–of course–created that famous wizard, Gandalf (note the slight difference in spelling).

You can read Wilipedia’s explanation of Tolkien’s Gandalf concept here. But you Tolkien purists may find the Tolkien Society site or the Tolkien Official Online Book Shop of more interest.

But back to the weather: nearly all of Iowa is under a blizzard warning. Projected snowfalls are between 6-12 inches. Wind gusts up to 50 MPH could cause whiteouts and drifting.

Many people, adults as well as children, love snow and are excited to see it arrive each winter. And who doesn’t like the idea of a white Christmas? But I’m pretty sure the adults who so eagerly anticipate snow are not people whose work requires driving through it. As a mail carrier, my husband drives 45 minutes to work and then over a hundred miles on mostly gravel roads delivering Christmas cards and parcels of Christmas gifts ordered online (as well as utility bills and Social Security checks). It’s a great job, when the roads aren’t muddy enough to suck a vehicle down to its undercarriage. And when the gravel dust doesn’t roll through the constantly opened window and every crack and crevice in the vehicle to create a chronic cough. And when drifts and wind aren’t rising while temperatures and visibility plummet.

Please pray for safety and peace for him and other mail carriers, law enforcement personnel, utility workers, and all those whose work requires being out and about in this howling blizzard known as Draco.