And Yet! And Yet!

I’m taking out the garbage, and I happen to glance at the withered raspberry patch. Wait a second! There’s another harvest! 

What in the world!? 

I recall back in 2010 when the same phenomenon happened with my peppers. I had put the garden to rest in my mind, but the garden had other thoughts.

But wait, ya’ll: We’ve had frost; we’ve had flurries; we’ve even had berries rotting. Those raspberries were done.

And yet.

As I gather in the new berries, I think about harvesting words and November’s novel writing mission. I had given up on fiction, but fiction has other thoughts for me. It’s been a long time: story writing feels frosted over, rotting even, by now.

And yet! And yet!


The 6th Annual Halloween Boo Platter

I almost didn’t make the traditional Boo Platter this year. But, if you remember, this platter just might represent my most memorable act.

The email comes in from the 3rd grade teacher that we’re still in need of veggies for the class Halloween Party.

OK, OK, I’ll do it. 

I love the Boo Platter. It’s one of those traditions that we’ll all remember in 30 years. This year, I interviewed some children on the walk to school about their favorite vegetables. Surprisingly, broccoli won as a favorite.

So, I give you. . . The 2013 Halloween Boo Platter. The spinach dip sits on the side in a bread roll. I’m going to scatter a couple of these filled bread rolls around the platter and perhaps claim they’re actually severed heads with brains spilling out. Gross! How could I! 

They’ll love it.


Let Them Cook

I’ve let my oldest daughter loose in the kitchen. We’re having a great time together. It’s messy, a little inconvenient, and time consuming, but cooking with my daughter is one of my favorite activities as a mom.

I’m passing something on; it feels like we’re participating in the ancient rhythms of hearth and home.

We’re learning a whole new vocabulary of verbs: strain, simmer, sauté. We’re grasping the fine distinctions between chop, dice, and mince. We’re discovering you can add too much and too little. 

We listen to Broadway musicals on Pandora. She turns the music up way too loud for me, but I remember that I’m older and she’s younger. I think I know every word to every song in Wicked.

So far, we’ve mastered apple pie, apple turnovers, various stir-fry recipes (with various sauces–her favorite is ginger peanut), homemade butter, and potato and bacon soup. After school, we’re learning Swedish Pancakes from her American Girl Kirsten cookbook. 

I have to relax my controlling urges and let kitchen art happen. Once she learned how to hold a knife and how not to catch herself on fire, she was good to go. It’s worth it. Last night we ate a delicious soup with fresh bread that I didn’t invent or carry out. 

Let them cook. 


The Big Goal: Participating in the Divine Nature

This morning, I glance at a new study guide called How People Change, by Timothy Lane and Paul David Tripp.

I’m struck by the governing question of the text. It’s this:

What hopes and goals give direction to your life? 

Well, I’m so glad you asked.

I realize how easily I veer off course in my ambitions–whether writing, parenting, teaching, or even emotional well-being. The authors present the idea that the best hope and goal for a life is to “participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption of the world caused by evil desires” (2 Peter 1:4).

Can I really say that the singular hope and goal of my life is to “participate in the divine nature” and to help others do the same? Is becoming more Christ-like my hope and goal above all else?

If so, then I realize all my experiences, both good and bad, function as stepping stones toward this goal if I allow them to. When filtered through this lens, I experience joy I never thought I could have. I know God is working to help me participate more and more in the divine nature.

If this is the hope and goal, then what happens to us doesn’t paralyze us with fear or insecurity. We realize that God has the power to bring everything under His control to complete the good work He began in us.

He uses everything to help us participate in the divine nature.


The Countdown to National Novel Writing Month! Let’s Do This!

Dear Friends,

On November 1st–a mere 5 days away–I’m going to begin my new novel as part of National Novel Writing Month. Won’t you join me and start your own novel? So far, two of my friends have joined up.

From November 1 through November 30, YOU can join us and commit to writing 1667 words a day to complete a 50,000 word novel in one month. Sign up at the website here. 

Who has time for this? Who would do this? YOU do! YOU would! As the website claims: The World Needs Your Novel.

I’m going to try it. I have no idea what I’m going to write about really, I just have a few scenes about a melancholy young girl who gets lost in the game lands behind my house. It’s hunting season in my novel and very dangerous. Something extraordinary happens to her.

If you want a life theme for your November 2013, I suggest this: Say Something In Writing Every Single Day.

Best wishes on your writing life,

Heather Holleman


Neck of the Woods

Today I learn that the phrase “neck of the woods” refers to a narrow region. A “neck” means a narrow stretch of something. So, in my narrow little yard–my neck of the woods–we love to go outside to catch falling leaves.

When I was a little girl, I loved to catch falling leaves. We thought it brought good luck or that a wish might come true if you were able to catch a leaf before it reached the ground.

So that’s what we’re doing in my neck of the woods today.


A Fun Pumpkin Craft: Paint Them Silver

Today, I learn that you can spray paint little plastic pumpkins silver, and they look beautiful against candlelight. You can leave them around for Christmas, too.

We spray a primer coat on them first.

Then, we apply the silver coat.

I never imagined I could enjoy silver pumpkins, but I love them!



“Who Can Show Us Any Good?”: Encouragement for Sad Days

This morning as I sat in my minivan after another night of comforting sad children over the death of our beloved cat, I felt the weight of sorrow in my heart. So much sorrow! Not just for pets that die, but for all the other sorrow in my own community and across the whole world. I realize that losing a pet is a small thing compared to other sorrows that potentially await us all. What if things actually don’t get better? What if they get worse?

A wise pastor told my husband that life gets harder, but joy gets greater.

I’m having a hard time with it. I can’t muster up the hope today. In fact, I feel Creeping Cynicism. I don’t want to pray. I don’t want to read my Bible.

But a phrase keeps repeating in my mind as I sit  in my minivan. It’s the question in Psalm 4: “Who can show us any good?” When life weighed the psalmist down, he asked the question I feel myself asking on my worst days. What’s the point? Who can show me any good today?

I remember the answer from my own childhood when I memorized Psalm 4. The answer is this:

Lift the light of your countenance upon us, O Lord. 
You have put gladness in my heart,
More than when their grain and new wine abound.
In peace I will lie down and sleep,
For you alone, O Lord, make me to dwell in safety.

I ask God to put the kind of gladness in my heart that doesn’t depend upon what happens to me. I thank God that He gives peace and helps me dwell in a kind of safety I cannot comprehend. He does it. He puts it in there. Who can show us any good? Even in the midst of the distressing question, God puts gladness, peace, and safety there.



The Beauty of Empathy

Today I realize how important it is to understand and share the feelings of others. In other words, to have empathy.

Is there anything more beautiful than sitting with a loved one and expressing your feelings, only to have them understand them and share them with you?

Tell me more about how you’re feeling. Help me understand. Let me share this with you. 

God did not leave us alone with our emotions. I’m so thankful for empathy.

I want to be an empathetic friend, wife, and mother. Living with flair means, perhaps most of all, living empathetically.


I’m So Glad We Took a Chance on Him

This morning, our little one-eyed cat had a blood clot and died. It’s a very sad day in our household.

I’m so glad we could love him all these years. I’m so glad we took a chance on a one-eyed cat with a broken tail. Jack taught our family to love wounded things. He was a great and spunky cat. Here’s my favorite blog about him from a few years ago. Thank you for reading about Jack. Click here for the original post with working links:

Sneaking Up on Jack, I Caught Him Doing This:

Jack Basks in the Sun

He was basking.

My One-Eyed Cat, Jack, continues to teach me how to live with flair.  First he learned how to purr and taught me something about finding yourself again, even when you’ve been wounded.  Then, he let out his first meow, and I learned something about rediscovering my voice.  Then, despite those wounds,he began caring for other cats, and that showed me the power of serving others.

Then he started becoming fully alive, doing all the things that normal kitties do.  Next, he learned courage, standing up for himself and proclaiming what he loved and needed.

But then his scar started leaking, and it felt like were were starting over.  But Jack got better, and today, I find him basking in the sun.

That cat won’t leave the warm spot in the window.  He gazes up in the bright sunlight and lets himself become toasty warm.  As I watch Jack basking, I suddenly want to join him on the window ledge.  To bask meansto receive great pleasure from something.

Did I bask today?    I want to bask in the love of God.  Did God design us toderive great pleasure from knowing Him and enjoying creation?  Oh, the great pleasure of sleeping in a sun ray, eating fresh pineapple, teaching a boy to jump rope, finding a perfect verb, or listening to a cat purr.  What things exist in my life today that God places there from which I am toderive great pleasure?

Jack wants to know as well.