Tracie Peterson's Blog, page 7

January 22, 2014











During Christmas season, most of us make a trip to the post office to ship packages to loved ones. But until I saw these pictures, the thought never crossed my mind that someone would send a child via the postal service. Unable to wrap my mind around the concept, I decided further research was needed. Determined to unearth the truth, I went where else but to Snopes.  If you want to read the entire article, you can go to http://www.snopes.com/photos/people/mailingchildren.aspThe following is a portion of that article:

Although the sending and delivery of packages has long since become a facet of everyday life, with not just the U.S. Postal Service but also private companies such as UPS, and FedEx engaging in that service, it was not until 1913 that the U.S. Post Office introduced a Parcel Post service for the handling of mail too heavy for normal letter post.
In 1913 it was legal to mail children. With stamps attached to their clothing, children rode trains to their destinations, accompanied by letter carriers. One newspaper reported it cost fifty-three cents for parents to mail their daughter to her grandparents for a family visit. As news stories and photos popped up around the country, it didn't take long to get a law on the books making it illegal to send children through the mail.
As of 1 January 1913, Americans could send packages weighing up to eleven pounds through the Post Office, a service that proved a boon to business, as farmers, manufacturers, and retailers could now ship many of their products directly to consumers' homes.
In the early years of Parcel Post service, before the U.S. Post Office implemented more specific regulations, people shipped all sorts of unusual things by mail—including, as suggested above, babies and small children. However, it was neither a regular occurrence nor a routine aspect of the Parcel Post service for people to wrap up children, slap some stamps on them, and ship them cross-country—the few documented examples of children being sent through the mail were nearly all publicity stunts, instances of people who knew the postal workers in their area asking them to carry their babies a relatively short distance along their routes to some nearby relatives, or cases in which children were listed as 'mail' so they could travel on trains without the necessity for purchasing a ticket.

The historian at the National Postal Museum stated that neither of the photographs displayed as any connection to a real-life case of a child being sent via U.S. mail. They're both simply vintage cute posed humor shots taken from a collection of historic Smithsonian Institution photographs uploaded to Flickr, the image on the right being described by the Smithsonian as by far the most popular photograph from the Institution in that collection. She reiterated the photo was actually a staged piece, and second, that there is little evidence that babies were sent through the mail other than in two known cases in which children were placed on train cars as "freight mail" as this was cheaper than buying them a regular train ticket.
However, she went on to say that these stories point out mail service was particularly important during a time when travel was difficult and cost-prohibitive for many Americans. But perhaps more interestingly, they indicate that the mail carrier was considered a crucial part of communities—a touchstone with family and friends far away from each other, a bearer of important news and goods. In some ways, Americans trusted their postmen with their lives (and in the cases mentioned above, with their babies!).
So what do you think? If you read a novel set in 1913, would you believe a child could be sent through the postal service or would you raise an eyebrow and think the author had taken too much latitude trying to make the plot work?
May you find joy as you discover His truth. ~Judy
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Published on January 22, 2014 01:30 • 72 views
Thanks to everyone who shared "what makes you smile" on the blog post yesterday. I was so blessed by your responses. And now for the winner of the following three novels…




And here was Becky Lee's response: 

Congrats, Becky Lee! And more power to you on those roller coasters, babe. I had to give those up years ago, but I'm sure Judy would still love to ride along with you. <wink>

If you'll send me your snail mail address, Becky, through this venue, we'll get your books in the mail this week.

Thanks, again, everyone, and remember…keep smiling.

Tammy
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Published on January 22, 2014 01:00 • 30 views

January 21, 2014



Have you ever known someone who just seems to look for opportunities to smile? I love being with people like that, don't you?

Here are five things that make me smile! (And get ready, I'm going to ask you to share, too. Not to worry, I'll make it worth your while.)

Comfort food. Specifically, make-ahead french toast.
Comfort food to the max. Sooo delicious, and easy!
Pictures of pigs. I know, I know, but they're just so cute. Saw this at Kirkland's the other day. 


My daughter shared this with me recently. Adorable!
Jack. He knows just how to make me smile. (Veronica & Patti Jo, this is for you!)
Being finished with another book. Finally, another story is ready to go to press. A Beauty So Rare has been one beaut of a book to write––all 172,000+ words of it. It's the second Belmont Mansion novel chock-full of history and romance, and I'm beyond excited to share Marcus's and Eleanor's journey with you. And more from Adelicia Acklen, too, the Mistress of Belmont Mansion. 



A Lasting Impression
Available now (read an excerpt)

A Beauty So Rare Coming March 25, 2014
Great books make me smile! And I've read some good ones recently. And even better…I want to share them with you!
Love Stays True by Martha RogersPrincess Ever After by Rachel HauckRachel by Jill Eileen SmithAll fabulous reads by very talented author friends
All you Pinterest pals, be sure to pin today!

Interested in winning them? Just leave a comment on this blog post TODAY telling me what makes you smile! All comments must be posted by midnight tonight (January 22nd, central time), then one winner will be drawn at random and posted on this same post on Wednesday. And please, due to postage costs, only U.S. mailing addresses, please. Apologies to our wonderful international friends.

So tell me…what makes YOU smile?!

Blessings on your Tuesday,
Tammy
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Published on January 21, 2014 01:30 • 62 views

January 20, 2014

I’ve asked my good friend and writing-critique partner, Cleo Lampos, to be a guest blogger for me today. Cleo has a brand-new historical novel, A Mother’s Song, from Oak Tara Publishers, detailing the true story of the Orphan Train. If you don’t know what the orphan train was, you’ll find out when you read her heartwarming book. Make sure you have a tissue handy! Cleo also has a fiction series with Oak Tara in which the main characters are teachers, like Cleo herself was for more than 30 years, as well as policemen, firefighters, and other “ordinary heroes.” Welcome Cleo!

by CLEO LAMPOS“There is an opportune time to do things, a right time for everything on the earth.”- Ecclesiastes 3:1 The Message
            The kitchen knife slides easily across the cooked beets, creating burgundy cross sections of
summertime goodness slipping into sterilized jars. A cup of hot vinegar-sugar syrup tops the beets then the metal lid and ring are secured. Thirty minutes in a hot water bath and pickled beets are placed on the shelf. During the cold, snowy days of winter, a jar will be opened to tantalize the taste buds, waking up the flavors deep in the mouth. Companion jars of strawberry preserves invite thick slices of homemade bread to the toaster. A half pint of peach jam made from the tree outside the kitchen window reminds the taster that food mileage is measured in feet and inches, never in miles. Home canned green beans, carrots, tomatoes and salsa bypass winter’s icy windows to recapture bare feet in the soil. Food from the garden stored in glass jars at the peak of the season brings back the warmth of summer during winter’s frigid hibernation. Sunshine in a jar.
          
Writing words is a lot like canning a season’s produce from the garden. So many seasons of life bring unique perspectives and issues. When my children toddled around my ankles, I wrote sentimental articles about motherhood, the joys of nursing, the wonders of pregnancy. Precious memories translated into words. Several vignettes published about the exploits of my preschoolers fueled my desire to keep expressing myself with words. But the seasons changed and so did my life. The teenagers cohabiting with my husband and me became surly at times, causing tension and emotional outbursts. These events translated into teary entries in my journals. Fortunately, we moved to another season of memories to store with words. Empty nest, marriages and grandchildren. A time of regaining the innocence of life. Happy, joy-filled pages of resolution and contentment. Sunshine in a journal.
           Today my writing harvests the accumulation of my life as wife, mother and teacher to produce articles and books. With words, tragedy is stored as triumph when a teacher friend’s son is murdered and she begins a ministry with at-risk youth. With words, challenges are interpreted as potential when my experiences as a special education teacher demonstrate the value of every student. With words, despair is translated into dreams in the historical fiction of a boy who rode the orphan train. In the collection of words, sentences, paragraphs and chapters that all writers create, we store up hope for our readers. We want them to turn to these passages again and again in the dark dreariness of their lives to feed their souls. Sunshine in a book.




Cleo Lampos, preserver of produce and words, lives with her husband, Vernon, and two cats on an urban homestead in the Chicago area. During the summer she enjoys storing produce from their garden in the canning kitchen in the basement of their bungalow. In the winter, retired teacher Cleo writes articles and books. Teaching Diamonds in the Tough:Mining the Potential in Every Student was published by Lighthouse of the Carolinas (2012). Second Chances, Book 1 in the Teachers of Diamond Projects Series, was released in 2013 by Oak Tara. The next book in the series, Miss Bee and the Do Bees was released in the winter 2013. Also released in 2013 by Oak Tara is the historical fiction A Mother’s Song which chronicles the Orphan Train epic. Visit Cleo Lampos at www.cleolampos.com Teachers and Other Everyday Heroes


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Published on January 20, 2014 02:30 • 47 views

January 18, 2014












An e-mail popped up in my Inbox the other day from a website I visited some time ago. I’ve gotten e-mails like it before, and I’m sure you have too—the kind with a list of attention-grabbing headlines on a variety of topics and links to the full articles. Except they don’t usually do much to grab my attention. More often than not, I’ll skim the list and delete the e-mail without going further. Occasionally, though, a topic catches my eye, and I’ll go on to read the article. 
Here’s the question posed in the headline:
“Ever wonder what would happen if we treated our Bible like we treat our cell phone?”
My first reaction was to roll my eyes and prepare to move on. But the question was just quirky enough to pique my curiosity and keep me from pressing Delete. I clicked on the link and began to read.
“What if we carried it around in our purses or pockets?”
Okay, nothing new about the concept of pocket-sized Bibles. I smothered a yawn and skimmed farther down the screen.
“What if we turned back to get it if we forgot it?”
And that was where the writer hooked me. How many times have my husband or I made a U-turn on our dirt road and headed back to the house when we realized we’ve gone off without our cell phones? And how many times have I felt that same distress at leaving my Bible behind? Hmmm. I kept reading.
Sometimes it feels like we're the only people around who don't have smartphones.
So does that make these dumbphones? I'm not sure I want to know...
“What if we referred to it as often as we do our cell phones?”
That one got me, too. How many times do I send a text, consult my calendar, or look up some other information on my phone during the course of a day? And how often to I pick up my Bible in that same span of time?


“What if we treated it like we couldn’t live without it?”
While recovering from eye surgery several years ago, I had to spend a week lying on my right side. It was lonely, just lying there while everyone else went about their business, but keeping my cell phone tucked next to me on the couch reassured me I was still in contact with the rest of the world…until the moment my phone slid off the edge of the couch and dived straight into a glass of Diet Pepsi placed within easy reach. Even in my somewhat foggy state, I knew that cell phones and the sounds of splashing are not a good mix. I sprang up off the couch (I was allowed to get up and move around five minutes every hour, and that seemed like a good time to use up my allotted minutes) and shrieked for my husband. The poor man rushed into the room, sure I was suffering from some post-surgery trauma, only to find me hovering over my poor, lifeless phone. In case you’ve ever wondered, CPR does not work on cell phones. Trust me on this.
As it turned out, a new battery put my phone to rights, and I quit hyperventilating. But I wonder…if my Bible had been damaged like that, would I have experienced the same sense of panic, the same feeling of being disconnected and out of touch?
There were more questions in the article, but those few were enough to make me do some serious thinking. God speaks to me through His Word. Do I treasure that communication as much as I do speaking to my friends and family on my cell phone?
When an emergency arises, we’re quick to punch in the buttons for 911. Do we turn to God’s Word as readily when we face a crisis?


I’m not sure I agree with every point the writer made, but it definitely provided food for thought. So what do you think? Did he make a valid comparison? Can you think of ways we can give the Bible the precedence it deserves in our lives? 

Until next time...Carol

PS – The writer’s parting comment made me smile: “Unlike our cell phone, we don’t have to worry about our Bible being disconnected, because Jesus already paid the bill.” Amen to that!

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Published on January 18, 2014 01:30 • 75 views

January 16, 2014

Don't forget that today is the last day to get your name in the hat for one of the 4 gift baskets Kimberley Woodhouse and I are giving away to celebrate our new book ALL THINGS HIDDEN.








Just respond to this blog and you will be automatically entered - but the deadline is midnight tonight.
Here's a little sample of the basket you might win.






With that I will also let you know that I won't be blogging in February.  Our lovely Stephanie Whitson has agreed to blog for me.  Why won't I be blogging?  I'm going on book tour with Kim Woodhouse.  We'll be heading into the deep south.



I face this with mixed emotions as I see the weather this week has been tornadoes.  Having grown up in Kansas, I know a few things about tornadoes.  In fact, the way they seem to follow me around the country I have jokingly said that I'm their queen. 

But I'd rather not encounter them at all and would appreciate prayers from all of you for protection and safe travel, good health and that we would reach many people for Jesus.



If you live in Texas, Alabama, Georgia or Tennessee here's a list of the places where we will be speaking, signing, selling and praying with readers.


Saturday, February 8, 2014  - 10 am
Union Hill Baptist
2919 County Highway 39
Oneonta, AL 35121
Women's brunch. Tracie and Kim Woodhouse guest speaking.Sunday, February 9, 2014  - 9:30 am and 10:45 am
Calvary Bible Church
607 Drake Ave.
Huntsville, AL
Tracie & Kim will be speaking during Sunday School and the morning service. Kim will also be singing!Monday, February 10, 2014  - 12:00-2:00 pm
Linebaugh Library
105 W. Vine St.
Murfreesboro, TN 37130

6:00-8:00 pm
Hendersonville Lifeway
1050 Glenbrook Way, Suite 130
Hendersonville, TN 37075Tuesday, February 11, 2014
11:00 am - 1:00 pm
Providence Christian Bookstore
One Public Square
Lawrenceburg, TN 38464

5:00-7:00 pm
Huntsville Lifeway
Westside Centre
6275 University Drive NW Ste 42A
Huntsville, AL 35806Wednesday, February 12, 2014  - 1:00-3:00 pm
Jacob's Well
455 Bellwood Road SE #74
Calhoun, GA 30701Thursday, February 13, 2014 - 4:00-6:00 pm
Buford Lifeway
3125 Woodward Crossing Boulevard Suite 200
Buford, GA 30519Friday, February 14, 2014  11:00am - 1:00pm
The Carpenter's Shop
1880 Epps Bridge Road, Suite 108
Athens, GA 30606


4:00-6:00pm
The Olive Branch
2036 Veterans Blvd
Dublin, GA 31021Sunday, February 16, 2014  - 9:00-10:30am
Gillionville Baptist Church
4614 Gillionville Rd.
Albany, GA 31721
Tracie & Kim will be sharing their testimonies during the Sunday School hour and speaking/singing during the morning service!
(651) 345-4013 Tuesday, February 18, 2014  - 6:00-8:00 pm
Billionville Baptist Church
MOPS Group
Albany, GA
Kim and Tracie will speak.Sunday, February 23, 2014
Parkway Church
Victoria, TX
Tracie and Kim will be interviewed during the morning service.

I hope those of you in the area will load up your cars, buses, trucks, wagons or whatever and come have fun with us.


Tracie
 
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Published on January 16, 2014 23:00 • 51 views





Ever wonder why people never smiled in those 19th century family portraits? Some will tell you that since photography was such a rare occurrence, people wanted to treat the special occasion with appropriate dignity. Others propose that sitting for a photograph took so long back then, no one could manage to hold a decent looking smile without it slipping. But there's another possibility. What if the serious miens of our ancestors were due to the fact that they wanted to hide their teeth?
My daughter first started wearing braces when she was 13. Now she is down to just the retainer. One of my sons has a mouthful of metal right now and the youngest is waiting for some teeth to grow in before he joins in the family tradition. These days, teens are more likely to wear them than not. It's almost a rite of passage. After all, no one wants to endure the unsightliness of crooked teeth if there is a way to improve upon what nature wrought. But what of those poor Victorian souls who were stuck with misshapen smiles? Did they have any recourse?
By the mid- 1800s, dentists had begun exploring the realm of orthodontia and developing treatments for their patients. But in these early days, the deformity (or the patient’s vanity) would have to have been of significant proportion to motivate someone to submit to such creative dental inventions.

The instrument on the left was reportedly used to correct a crossbite in a 15-year-old girl in 1859. The telescopic bar across the bottom could be gradually lengthened to widen the palate while adjustable spur screws were used to reposition the incisors. The poor girl had to wear this contraption for several months. Can you imagine? I hope she had gorgeous teeth when she finished the process.

If she had waited a few years, she might have been able to try out one of the lovely specimens below. The one on the left is a head cap designed in 1866 for extra-oral traction. A gold frame covered the incisors, and elastic straps connected it to the beautiful head cap. Plop a bird and few feathers on that, and she could have started a new millinery fashion. But if she really wanted a cap to stop traffic, she could wait a few years more, and in 1875 become the proud owner of the tooth regulating machine on the right. Just think of the five wagon pile-up that would ensue on main street when she stepped out in such a gripping piece. The steel rod was attached to the crooked tooth by an elastic ring. Then they would tighten the elastic strap between the head cap and the steel rod in order to produce the necessary traction.

          









By the turn of the century, braces had become more humane. Dentists figured out how to wrap bands and wires around teeth. In order to do this, though, they needed malleable metal. So what did they choose? Gold, of course. Fourteen- to 18-karat gold was commonly used for wires, bands, clasps, etc. And you thought braces were expensive now! Just think what it would be like if your teenager had a mouth full of gold. Thank heaven for stainless steel and modern advancements!
All in all, I must say I'm thankful to be a 21st century parent. And my daughter is much happier with the results this way, too. Bethany age 13 - First day with braces Bethany age 15 - Braces gone, retainer in.So would you have gone through Victorian dental torture to straighten your teeth? Did you wear braces as a kid? 
I remember wearing headgear for months as part of my orthodontia regimen, and except for the fact that the strap went around my neck instead of over my head, it felt a lot like that 1866 head cap. Yuck!
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Published on January 16, 2014 01:00 • 64 views

January 14, 2014





A little something just for you Downton Abbey fans. When my husband and I went to England for our second time, back in May 2011, we spent one day with Anne Rogers, who works for Lion Hudson, an Oxford-based publisher who distributes titles from my publisher (Baker Publishing Group) in the UK. I had met Anne only through email, but she was acquainted with some of the Baker folks from sales conferences. Through one of these mutual friends, she had offered to show my husband and me around Oxford, next time we were in England.


Anne not only gave us a walking tour of historic Oxford, but then she bundled us away in her own car to show us something she knew I would really be interested in: the village near her home where they’d shot several scenes for Downton Abbey

 





The village is called Bampton in Oxfordshire. Anne pointed out several sights which looked wonderfully familiar. I no doubt make a cake of myself as I squealed things like, “That green with the tree! That’s where they filmed the village fair in season one!" 


"That church! That’s where they buried poor Lavinia!" (And where they later shot Matthew and Mary’s wedding.)


"That row of houses—that bright yellow door—I’ve seen that in street scenes." 






"And this house! It served as the exterior of Mrs. Crawley’s home." Here’s a photo my husband took while we stood nearby, feeling like trespassers (we probably were). More squealing? Oh, you’d better believe it. 

Ok, so I realize this is very mild as far as celebrity encounters or “brushes with fame” go. No sighting of Dame Maggie, nor anyone in top hat or tails to report, I’m sorry to say. Still, as I watch the new season of Downton Abbey and glimpse places I have actually, physically been—I’ve walked on that green, across that road, entered that church gate, walked up that church path--I feel closer to its characters and  fonder of the series than ever.

I knew you would understand.Which film location or book setting would you love to visit someday?
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Published on January 14, 2014 01:00 • 55 views

January 13, 2014


Thirty years ago this month, I drove through a bad snowstorm on slick roads to attend my very first book signing of my just released first book. I was afraid no one would show up because of the weather, but I needn't have worried. Thanks to a half-page spread in the local newspaper plus my mother telling everybody she knew (along with a host of total strangers) about me, the bookstore was crammed. Even my first grade teacher came!

The store sold over 150 copies of my book that day, which gave me a very skewed idea of what book signings were like most of the time—when no one is there except your mother. {grin}

Last Tuesday, my 69th book, A Promise Kept, officially released, and I can't help but marvel at my writing journey. From secular historical romances to Christian fiction (women's fiction and historical and contemporary romances). From writing with a pen on legal pads to writing on a computer like nothing that was available back in 1984. From writing for a small independent mass market publishing house to writing for one of the "Big Five" trade book publishers (and quite a few others in-between). From working an eight to five day job while I wrote evenings and weekends to writing full time.

I can't help but marvel at the sometimes winding road that brought me to this point in my life. God has been so merciful and gracious to me, and I am thankful for the journey He and I have been on together.

I guess it is rather fitting that such a personal novel as A Promise Kept would be released at this thirty year milestone. Such a long way from my writing of decades ago.  So I'd like to share with my Writes of Passage friends this article, first published in Family Fiction magazine (and posted to my personal blog last Tuesday). I hope you'll rejoice with me.

*****

Novelists borrow tidbits from their own experiences all the time, but every so often a story comes along that demands more than a tidbit. Such was the case with A Promise Kept.

On an evening in 2011, as I talked with my dearest friends and confidants, sharing what God was doing in my life, I knew I would one day write a story about how God kept His promise to heal a husband’s addiction and save a marriage—and how He healed and saved them through divorce. It was, after all, how He healed my husband and saved our marriage.

That “one day” arrived a little over a year later when my editor sensed the desire of my heart and encouraged me to set aside the book I was then working on to write a new and different kind of novel.

A Promise Kept is my attempt to glorify the God who answers prayers in His own timing and in unexpected ways. It is my attempt to encourage other believers who trust in God’s promises but don’t see those promises manifested in their lives in the way they expected—or at all—to keep right on trusting in His promises.

Sharing a deeply personal story in novel form can be tricky.

First, of course, I had to know my husband was willing for his life, as well as mine, to be opened up to others in interviews and articles and a note to readers at the back of the novel itself. I want to honor him in his journey and am grateful for his trust and support.

Second, I had to allow my protagonist, Allison, to be Allison and not me. I had to allow her story to unfold in its own way without having to mirror mine in every detail. There are many similarities between Allison and me, quite a few scenes in the novel that I lived through myself, but A Promise Kept is not a memoir. It is, if you will, a parable (by definition, “a simple story used to illustrate a moral or spiritual lesson”).

I am amazed at how God can take painful experiences in my life and turn them to good. Because of those painful experiences, I have learned to hold onto the foot of the cross so tightly it’s as if I can feel the splinters in the palms of my hands. I hope that through the words I write I can encourage others to hold onto the cross in the same way.

I consider my life lesson to be this: Nothing, absolutely nothing, enters my life that isn’t caused or allowed by God—filtered first through His loving hands—for the purpose of making me more like Jesus.

And because I believe this life lesson to be true, it allows me to be open and vulnerable—as a woman and as a writer—in order to offer hope and encouragement to others. When my marriage ended in divorce, I thought it was an end. I thought it was “The End.” My heart was broken in a way I thought could never be mended. I was wrong.

The God of the Bible is a God of second chances and a God of miracles, and He is not confined by an ending. He isn’t contained by any boundary that He hasn’t set Himself. Which is why, when Jerry and I were reunited in marriage five years after the divorce, we were able to declare together: “This is the Lord’s doing; It is marvelous in our eyes.” Psalm 118:23 (NASB95)

There is hope, even when there appears to be none. So hold on and keep trusting in Him.

*****

A Promise Kept:
"... appealing ... upbeat ... well-paced." ~ Publishers Weekly
"... beautifully crafted ... exquisite ... a treat to savor." ~ RT Book Reviews
"I am a better person for having read this book and am so grateful for the story" ~ a reader review on Amazon.com

*****

PS  HarperCollins Christian Publishing is giving away 25 copies of A Promise Kept on Goodreads. You can enter the drawing here.


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Published on January 13, 2014 05:00 • 22 views

January 11, 2014


When my twin daughters entered their adolescent years, it became quite clear that at some point they would both need braces.

With braces!So, my husband and I prepared and saved for the occasion, knowing that even though it would require some sacrifice, this was a gift we were giving our daughters that would last their lifetimes.

Two days before their 13th birthday, they went to the orthodontist and began the process of straightening their teeth. That birthday they ate their cake with aching wire-filled mouths.


For the past year and a half, they've lived with glittery smiles, sore gums, and limitations on the types of food they're allowed to eat. After months and months of the deprivation and pain, they could both hardly wait for the proclamation that their teeth were finally straight.
One without braces!
On the night before the removal of the braces, a big storm ripped through town and knocked down power lines. Imagine my daughters' disappointment, when the orthodontist called and canceled the appointment because their office was without power.

Eventually, however, both of the twins were able to get their braces off. And at the first sight of them in over a year without the metal on their teeth, I was struck just how beautiful their smiles were. Of course, their smiles were pretty before too! But after all that effort, time, and money, their teeth are now nearly perfect.

The process reminded me of how we often have to go through pain in order to create beauty.

That's true of so many things in life–the pain of childbirth produces a beautiful baby, the act of spinning a cocoon results in a butterfly, the coldness and death of winter brings about the warmth and new life of spring. We could think of hundreds of other examples in nature.

The inevitable truth is that pain begets beauty. Or perhaps more accurately, beauty often comes on the heels of hardship.

The process that a story goes through in order to become a book follows the same pattern of pain into beauty. It starts off as a bunch of words on paper. It's rough, full of mistakes, plot holes, and character flaws. It takes weeks and numerous rounds of edits to chisel, chop, and patch the manuscript.

I'm currently in the midst of editing a novella and novel. It's a laborious process taking hours of pain-staking concentration, agonizing over words, searching for precise details, deciding what to cut and what to add.

But without the difficult editing process, my story wouldn't ever reach its full potential. Eventually all the hardship results in a polished and lovely creation.

I find the pain into beauty lesson to pervade other areas of my life too. For example, when I first started running last spring, my body ached in places I didn't even know existed. I couldn't roll over in bed at night without thinking I was dying. It took all of that initial physical torture to get my very-out-of-shape body into condition.

Even though we can acknowledge the simple lesson of pain creating beauty, we're all too often told by our modern culture to avoid hardship, to find the easy way, to be comfortable. We're all about convenience. We throw away anything that takes too much work–including relationships.

As we move forward into a new year, we'll all get braces (of some kind or another!). I pray we can stick with the hardship and see it through to completion without giving up on the hope of the beauty that results.

Have you had any pain to beauty lessons lately? (Or teenagers with braces!?) 
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Published on January 11, 2014 03:00 • 37 views

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