Monday, July 20, 2015

Quotations of the Week

Once again, God has turned my easily-distracted mind back to gratitude, thanks to an amazing group of women focused on Gratitude via Ann Voskamp's One Thousand Gifts, one of the most life-changing books (outside of God's Word, of course!) I have ever read.

I had been a longtime reader of Ann's blog, A Holy Experience; in fact, her blog inspired me to start my own...and my ninth "blogversary" is coming up next month! So I was familiar with her "attitude of gratitude" long before her book hit the bestsellers lists. I've kept various Gratitude Journals throughout the years, in addition to all of the other journals I keep: a regular "life journal" in which I try to write once a week, a quotation journal (filled with Ann-quotes, Scripture, poems, hymns, advice on writing, various words of wisdom--anything I want to savor and keep) for which I'm in my 13th year and second journal volume, a prayer journal, etc.

So all of this brings me to my Quotations for the Week, some Ann-words and some Scripture this time:

"The truth is that stillness with God is always a matter of focus, not of circumstances."

~Ann Voskamp (via Twitter)


"So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom."

~Psalm 90.12, English Standard Version

Focus, not true that is in my life! How often do I allow circumstances to dictate my relationship with God instead of clearing away the detritus of my days and simply BE STILL.

And as days seem to fall one over the other, each one passing in the proverbial blink of an eye, I want to stop, truly focus on "numbering my days," seeking His Wisdom and not my own so that my heart is filled with His Love, His Grace, His Peace.

May this week be a week of deliberate focus, of wisdom, and not tossed about by circumstances, most of which I have no control over.

Wishing us all God's best this week,

Sunday, July 19, 2015

The Best-Laid Plans....

I had some awesome plans for July. It's Camp NaNoWriMo time, and my goal was to write a very do-able 30,000 words on my new novel during this month. Yes, I knew that I was also teaching the Fan Fiction class at Brave Writer this summer, but the class has averaged about eight students in the four previous years that I've taught it. No problem! I can teach this class and have plenty of time to work on my new Jane Austen novel.

So when I was blessed with 24 students (25 is full-capacity!), I was thrilled, but I also knew that my precious writing time would have to take a backseat. I've written about 5,000 words on my new novel and 3,000 words on another project, and I hope to squeeze in a little more writing time between grading some amazing stories written by students as young as ten years old. The first batch of stories came in this week, and I am so thrilled with the quality of their work!

Yes, the best-laid plans.... Well, there is always August, which I have off from both Brave Writer and Heritage (our private home school group), but I'll also be planning the next home school year for our last student--yes, I'll be back to homeschooling just one after graduating the older three. I'm also teaching only one class at Heritage's Class Days this year instead of two as I did last year, and I'm also teaching more family workshop classes instead of the intensive literary analysis courses at Brave Writer.

Thus I hope to return to writing more of my tale of Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy, starting at the end of Pride and Prejudice and moving forward into their married life together. Yes, many Austen Variations exist (I've spent the last year reading over a hundred P&P novels!), but I want to give my own spin on Elizabeth and Darcy's engagement, wedding, and marriage. I figure that if I can read so many of these variations on Austen's books and never get bored, other Austen fans would also enjoy mine. We shall see. All I know is that I can't wait to get back to crafting my little novel...even if it won't be as popular as P.D. James' last novel, Death Comes to Pemberley. 

So on this Sunday afternoon with the welcome rumble of thunder and charcoal-gray clouds releasing even more welcome rain showers, I'll finish grading the first round of fan fiction stories from my online class and plan my week...with a few time slots set aside to write. Although I most likely will not meet my original goal of writing 30,000 words this month, every little bit I write takes me that much closer to my goal of completing this novel, the first one that I hope to publish on Amazon and perhaps earn a little money, unlike my other novels and stories which I have posted for free on other sites. They were fun practice works to write and have been very popular with nearly 4 million reads between the two sites, but now to get a little more serious about writing....

Wishing you all a blessed week!


Saturday, July 4, 2015

Happy Fourth of July!

Law Street Beach on the 5th of July last year--early (before the crowds return!)

We're heading to my parents' place at the beach today and tonight. Living just half a block from Law Street Beach in Pacific Beach, my parents always invite the whole crew down for the 4th. The beaches are extremely jam-packed, so I usually just go for a walk on the boardwalk rather than face the sandy crowds and the stickiness of sunscreen. I'd rather hang out on the deck and enjoy the sunshine and the view in relative peace.

Sunset from my parents' deck

Keith refuses the crowds--not that I blame him; he'd rather enjoy a quiet house than the beach crowds and my semi-insane family. I love watching the sunset first from the deck, and then the four-five fireworks displays visible from the deck starting at nine, and then Sea World puts on their display at 9:30; we "oooh" and "aaah" while eating dessert. Elizabeth made peppermint brownie bites and orange protein balls (Wild Orange oil, honey, dried cranberries, almond butter, and coconut, all rolled in coconut and chilled-yum!), and we'll pick up some ice cream to go with it.

In honor of Independence Day, I thought I'd post the same poet distributed this morning by the Academy of American Poets in their Poem-a-Day e-mail:

View this email on a browserForward to a friend
July 4, 2015

I, Too

Langston Hughes
Langston Hughes was born on February 1, 1902 in Joplin, Missouri. He is the author of The Weary Blues (Knopf, 1926) and Montage of a Dream Deferred (Holt, 1951), among other works. He died on May 22, 1967 in New York City.
Wishing you all a joyous celebration of our nation's independence,

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Camp NaNoWriMo

All of the essays have been graded and returned for the 2014-2015 school year, and all final course grades have been submitted. So, I AM DONE!!!! YAY!! :)

I will be teaching a Fan Fiction class with Brave Writer during the month of July, but the class is a piece of cake compared to the other classes I taught during the school year; my last class topped 1100 posts in four weeks, nearly all of which I responded to point by point.

But July also marks the return of Camp NaNoWriMo--a more relaxed version of November's National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). Instead of the 50,000 words-or-bust scenario of writing a new novel as we do each November for NaNoWriMo, in Camp NaNoWriMo we set our own goals and write in different genres, if desired.

I plan to work on two novels alternately during Camp NaNoWriMo with an overall goal of 30,000 words--one thousand words per day, skipping the July 4th holiday. One novel will be a sequel to my first novel, a Twilight fan fiction, and the second will be a Jane Austen Fan Fiction (JAFF), a continuation of Pride and Prejudice (currently untitled), starting with Bingley and Darcy's return to Netherfield after the Lydia/Wickham fiasco.

Austen Variations Blog Header
I have spent nearly a year absorbing JAFF (as can be easily seen by the list of books I've read this year as posted in the sidebar of this blog), especially from the wonderful site Austen Variations which features the work of some incredibly-talented writers of variations and continuations of Austen's novels. I've become a devoted fan of their work, especially that of Abigail Reynolds, Monica Fairview, Mary Lydon Simonsen, Kara Louise, Jack Caldwell, Jane Odiwe, and many others. I've been able to borrow many of their novels through the state-wide California public library system called "LINK +," with the vast majority of the books coming from San Francisco and other Northern California public libraries. I've also invested in a few Kindle books by these authors when their books are not available through the library, plus I've been reading additional JAFF on, especially by Astonishment, AnotherSentimentalFool, SophieTurner1805, Shaelelina, and DarcyFan1. So I am really excited about starting to write my own JAFF!

If anyone else is doing Camp NaNoWriMo, please feel free to "friend" me under the user name SusanneB, and we can encourage each other along the way. The beginning of my Jane Austen Fan Fiction novel can be read from the Writing Project Info page.

And, for my Quotation of the Week:

"Your intuition knows what to write, so get out of the way."

~Ray Bradbury

Happy Writing!

Sunday, May 31, 2015

BCP 2011: Trinity Sunday and Quote of the Week

from the Archives...

The Sunday following Pentecost/Whitsunday is the celebration of the Holy Trinity. Trinity Sunday is a celebration of just one day, and the liturgical color is white, symbolizing the purity and sinlessness of God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Now that the Holy Spirit has arrived on the scene to complete the Trinity, Ordinary Time shall begin starting next week, stretching over twenty-some weeks to Advent in late November to early December. Nearly half of the Church Year consists of Ordinary Time for which the liturgical color is green, symbolizing the continual growth of our faith as we follow Christ and endeavor to become more like Jesus. During Ordinary Time, the weeks are counted as being "after Trinity": the First Sunday after Trinity, the fourteenth Sunday after Trinity, etc.

But today we celebrate Trinity Sunday. The website Church Year explains:
Trinity Sunday, officially "The Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity," is one of the few feasts of the Christian Year that celebrates a reality and doctrine rather than an event or person. On Trinity Sunday we remember and honor the eternal God: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Trinity Sunday is celebrated the Sunday after Pentecost, and lasts only one day, which is symbolic of the unity of the Trinity. The Eastern Churches have no tradition of Trinity Sunday, arguing that they celebrate the Trinity every Sunday. Westerners do as well, although they set aside a special feast day for the purpose.

The Collect from the 1928 Book of Common Prayer:
Almighty and everlasting God, who hast given unto us thy servants grace, by the confession of a true faith, to acknowledge the glory of the eternal Trinity, and in the power of the Divine Majesty to worship the Unity; We beseech thee that thou wouldest keep us stedfast in this faith, and evermore defend us from all adversities, who livest and reignest, one God, world without end. Amen.

For the Epistle today, the 1928 BCP requires the reading of the fourth chapter of Revelation; you may read it here in the English Standard Version: Rev 4 ESV.

The Gospel reading for Trinity Sunday is written in the third chapter of the Gospel according to Saint John, the first verse through the fifteenth. You may read it here, again in the ESV: John 3:1-15.

Today is also the Feast of Title for two churches in the San Diego area, both of which have removed themselves from the liberal San Diego Episcopal Diocese and have put themselves under the authority of Biblical leadership: Holy Trinity in Ocean Beach (part of the city of San Diego) and Alpine Anglican Church of the Blessed Trinity in Alpine, thirty miles east of San Diego. I have been attending weekday healing services led by Father Keith Acker when he was Rector of Christ the King Episcopal Church and also after he and his church left the Diocese and reformed as Alpine Anglican Church of the Blessed Trinity which is now part of the Reformed Episcopal Church. So blessings to both churches on their Feast of Title!

So today we give special thanks to our Lord who is realized in three distinct persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Although we praise God for the Trinity each and every day of the year, this day we celebrate it more than usual, remembering His gracious goodness, His lovingkindness, and His ever-faithful mercy in, as Dr. Stephen Sammons, our former pastor at Lake Murray often stated, loving us as we are, yet loving us too much to allow us to remain that way. In the words of the Gloria Patri, "Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen."

Here's the Collect for Trinity Sunday from the Book of Common Prayer 2011:

ALMIGHTY and eternal God, who gave grace to your people to proclaim the true Faith, acknowledging the glory of the eternal Trinity and, by the power of your Divine Majesty, worshiping One God; Keep us standing firm in this Faith and always defend us from danger; Who lives and rules, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Also, I wanted to share a couple of quotations on The Trinity...which are not easy to find, by the way. But I think I like these words from an Anglican who started the Holiness movement:

"Bring me a worm that can comprehend a man, and I will show you a man that can comprehend the Triune God."      
~John Wesley

And one more quotation, this time from a friend of mine from Lake Murray, a former missionary to East Asia who shall remain nameless to protect her identity:

"Because of the cross, everything is redeemable."

Wishing you all a blessed Trinity Sunday as Ordinary Time begins once more....

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Czech Kids Try American Snacks

I'm stealing this from the blog of one of my former writing students from our homeschool group, Heritage Christian School, co-op Class Day. She's been teaching English in the Czech Republic, and this video is the product of her afternoon English class. It's fun to see reactions to these Czech kids when trying various American snacks and sweets. :)

Excellent job, Mary! And Mary's blog is definitely worth following; it's my favorite blog, the only one I'm currently following on a regular basis. Click on this link for Mary's thoughtful and often humorous observations on life, friendship, and faith in the Czech Republic: Thousand Spires

See? Wasn't that fun!

Have a lovely day!

Sunday, May 24, 2015

BCP 2011: Pentecost and Quotation of the Week

Re-post from the Archives with a couple of additions....

Today marks the final holy day of Eastertide which lasts for fifty days, from Easter Sunday through Pentecost...yes, that's today.

We read about the events of Pentecost in the second chapter of the Acts of the Apostles:
"When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place.And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting.And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance."

Peter then gives a sermon on Pentecost, declaring Jesus as the Christ, the Son of God, and telling his listeners:
"Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified."

The people respond in horror as they were "cut to the heart," and they beg Peter, "What shall we do?' Peter replies,
"Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit."  

Remember, Peter's speech occurs within a mere two months since Jesus' death and resurrection, and the people finally realize what they have done: they have helped to condemn not only an innocent man but also the Son of God.

The Collect for Pentecost from the Book of Common Prayer 2011 reads:

PENTECOST This Collect is prayed daily until Trinity Sunday
O GOD, you teach the hearts of your faithful people by sending us the light of your Holy Spirit; By your Spirit, give us right judgment in all things, so that we may rejoice forever in his holy comfort; Through the victory of Christ Jesus our Savior, who lives and rules with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen. (Ref: John 14.26; Acts 2.1-4; Philippians 1.9-10; Acts 9.31)

       Acts 2.1-11, John 14.15-31a, Psalm 68.1-10; 
       Romans 8.14-17, 22-27        

As I thumbed through my decade of quotations in my Quotation Journal, I came across this gem about living our lives for Christ:
"But those who have the wind of the Holy Spirit sail even while they sleep."
--Brother Lawrence,  The Practice of the Presence of God

So let us sail forth in the Spirit of our Lord Christ, ready to love as Christ loves as we go about our daily lives in His Holy Presence.

Wishing you a blessed Pentecost,

Sunday, May 17, 2015

BCP 2011: Sunday After Ascension

Praying through the Book of Common Prayer 2011 at my desk....

Thursday was Ascension Day, exactly forty days after the Resurrection of Christ. Although I was unable to attend the Ascension Celebration on Thursday evening, Father Acker and I celebrated again on Friday morning at Blessed Trinity's Morning Prayer & Holy Communion with Healing Service. 

Thus, today is the Sixth Sunday After Easter, or the Sunday After Ascension Day, and here are the Propers (prayer and Scriptures) for today. The Collect is to be prayed daily throughout the week, and the Lectionary in the Book of Common Prayer 2011 lays out the Scriptures to be read for each day of the week from the Old Testament and the New Testament for Morning Prayer, and from the Old and New Testaments for Evening Prayer as well.


O GOD, the King of glory, you have exalted your only Son, Jesus Christ, with great triumph to your kingdom in heaven; Leave us not comfortless, but send your Holy Spirit to strengthen and exalt us to the place where our Savior Christ has gone before us; Who lives and rules with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen. (References: Psalm 47.5-8; Philippians 2.9-11; John 14.16-18; 1 Peter 3.22)

1 Peter 4.7-11; John 15.26-16.4; Psalm 27.1-11; Psalm 47.5-9; Acts 18.24-19.12

As I'm in the midst of grading final MLA research essays for my Expository Essay course at our homeschool co-op Class Day and am starting to teach a new Literary Analysis class online at Brave Writer tomorrow on Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, I don't have time to share more than this today...except for a quotation from the Saint of the Day e-mail from

"Meditate well on this: Seek God above all things. It is right for you to seek God before and above everything else, because the majesty of God wishes you to receive what you ask for. This will also make you more ready to serve God and will enable you to love him more perfectly."  
~Saint Paschal Baylon (1540-1592)

Wishing you all a blessed and holy week as we journey toward Pentecost and the arrival of the Holy Spirit!

Soli Deo Gloria,

Sunday, May 10, 2015

BCP 2011: Fifth Sunday After Easter, Ascension, & Rogation Sunday

Icon depicting Christ's Ascension into Heaven

Today is the Fifth Sunday After Easter, and Ascensiontide begins on Ascension Day is this coming Thursday.

Ascension Day is described in the first chapter of the Acts of the Apostles when Jesus ascends to the right hand of the Father forty days after His Resurrection. It lasts for ten days...until Pentecost, fifty days after Easter, when the Holy Spirit descends upon the followers of Christ.

Here is the description of Christ's Ascension from Acts 1: 1-11, ESV:

The Promise of the Holy Spirit

In the first book, O Theophilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach, until the day when he was taken up, after he had given commands through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen. He presented himself alive to them after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God.
And while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”

The Ascension

So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. 10 And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, 11 and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”

Today is also Rogation Sunday. Only having a vague idea of the term myself, I Googled it and found this clear and concise explanation on the website of St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Ivy, Virginia:

Rogation Sunday is the day when the Church has traditionally offered prayer for God’s blessings on the fruits of the earth and the labors of those who produce our food. The word “rogation” is from the Latin rogare, “to ask.” Historically, the Rogation Days (the three days before Ascension Day) were a period of fasting and abstinence, beseeching God’s blessing on the crops for a bountiful harvest. Few of us today directly derive our livelihood from the production of food, yet it is good to be reminded of our dependence upon those who do and our responsibility for the environment.  

Book of Common Prayer 2011

Here are the Propers for today, Sunday, May 10, from The Book of Common Prayer 2011:

O LORD, from you all good things come; Grant to us, by your holy inspiration, to think of good things and then accomplish them by your merciful guidance; Through our Lord Jesus Christ, who lives and rules with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen. (References: James 1.17; John 15.5; 2 Corinthians 3.5; Philippians 1.6)
James 1.22-27; John 16.23-33; Psalm 107.1-9; Psalm 66.15-end; Acts 16.25-34

May God bless you with a joyous Mother's Day, a blessed Rogation Sunday in which God provides for our needs, and the coming Ascensiontide!

In His peace,

Sunday, May 3, 2015

BCP 2011: Fourth Sunday After Easter

Reading from my old 1928 Book of Common Prayer,the standard for many conservative Anglican parishes in the US (and still a longtime favorite because of the early Modern English Scriptures from the Great Bible of 1540) 

As I mentioned last week, I've decided to post a little about what being a liturgically-minded Christian is like, along with the weekly Collects and Readings from The Book of Common Prayer 2011 which I helped to edit. I'm so pleased that we're in our second printing of this BCP, and we've had at least as many evangelicals ordering copies for private worship as Anglicans (although there are several parishes that are using the BCP 2011 as the basis for their Sunday worship services).

For me, using the BCP 2011 in my private worship means that I follow the Lectionary at the beginning of the book. A Lectionary (from the Latin lectio, to read) is simply that: a schedule of Scripture readings for every day of the Christian Year. Basically, there are three sections of the Christian Year: those holy days centered around the birth of Christ which includes Advent, Christmastide, and Epiphanytide; those holy days centered around the death and resurrections of Christ (Lent, Holy Week, Eastertide, Pentecost); and then Ordinary Time which starts with Trinity Sunday, the Sunday after Pentecost, and lasts until the last day before Advent restarts the Christian Year. However, the term "Ordinary" Time doesn't mean that everything is boring and ho-hum; it refers to the Ordinal, or counted weeks (first, second, third, fourth, etc.) after Trinity Sunday and are counted as The First Sunday After Trinity, The Second Sunday After Trinity, etc.

As The Book of Common Prayer 2011 states that the inclusion of the Lectionary in the various Books of Common Prayer is for "the goal of reading all of Scripture during the course of one year, of over two years in a few cases." The Lectionary in the BCP 2011 includes the reading of all of the Scriptures over the course of one year with two readings for Morning Prayer and two readings for Evening Prayer. The Psalms are read separately in the Psalter (which I plan to discuss in an upcoming post).

So as each Sunday has its Collect and Readings (see the previous post), so the Lectionary lists Bible readings related to that time in the Christian Year for each week. For example, in this Fourth Sunday After Easter, we have readings set up,morning and evening, for Monday through Saturday after this Fourth Sunday: for Morning Prayer we're reading from Numbers 16-21 in the Old Testament, and in the New Testament, we're finishing Ephesians and starting Hebrews. For Evening Prayer this week, we're reading from Isaiah 55-60 in the Old Testament, and a variety of verses from Philippians, 2 Corinthians, Romans, 1 Corinthians, and Revelation from the New Testament.  

Here are the Propers (the Collects and Scripture Readings) for today, the Fourth Sunday After Easter:


ALMIGHTY God, who alone can bring order to our unruly wills and passions; Grant that we may love what you command and desire what you promise, so that in the many changes and chances of this world, our hearts may be centered where true joys are to be found; Through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and rules with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen. (References: Philippians 1.9-11; 1 Corinthians 7.31; Hebrews 6.18-20)

James 1.17-21; John 6.5-15; Psalm 98.1-4; Psalm 118.15-18; Acts 4.31-35


Wishing you a blessed week in the love and grace of our Lord,


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