Monthly Archives: July 2012

Think Snow!

I hate summer! What I really mean is, I loathe heat and humidity.

But rather than rant about the negative, I’ll tell you how much I love winter. I’m counting the days till snow.

Start with the basics—you can always put more layers on—you can only take off so many layers before it becomes a problem. Sweaters are wonderful. They’re cuddly, warm, and just generally feel good. I especially like wearing the sweaters I made with my own little hands.

I love being under the bedcovers. I like the weight of covers. I like having them up

around my ears. I love the quilt I spent three and a half years making. I like the bedroom chilly.

Winter is soup season. There’s nothing like homemade soup to warm you up and make you feel loved. Mmm-mmm good.

Winter is homemade bread season. Baking bread is a bit of a hobby, but I’m certainly not cranking up the oven to 450˚ for 50 minutes when it’s already 78˚ in the house!

We see more of friends and family during the winter. In the good old summertime people are busy with other things.

There’s no gardening in the winter.

Winter weather suits my clothes. I like my winter wardrobe much better—usually jeans and something.

Snow—now there’s the real reason for winter. Snow means fond memories of growing up in Minnesota when we used to have real winters—snow cave winters. I remember sitting in my snow cave in the vacant lot next to our house, the sunlight filtering through the snow crystals all around me.

Snow means skiing. For those of you who downhill ski, I need say no more. But if you don’t ski, then know this, it’s the most fun I’ve ever had doing anything!

I took a thirty year hiatus from skiing. Today I wonder why on earth I did that, but at the time it made sense. Money was certainly a factor. Paying tuition for a doctorate seemed like a higher priority, and then I got caught in the working net. But now I teach downhill skiing, and that makes my lift ticket free! At the end of a full day of teaching— and believe me, it’s hard work—I smile and think, I’ve been outside in this beautiful winter weather ALL day. Fortunately, the days when I can’t feel the end of my nose are relatively few.

Winter is my season. Fall is pretty good too, when it’s cool. I feel more awake, more alive. No Seasonal Affective Disorder for me.

The picture above of Skye in the snow was a few years ago when we had a record season snowfall, just over 100″. I’m hoping for a repeat. Don’t listen to my husband, who doesn’t like  snowblowing.

Now, I’ll grant you, summer has it’s good points—but I can’t hear the birds when I’m cooped up in the house, cowering from the  grasping sticky fingers of humidity. Oops! I got negative, sorry. But, really, I think we’ve had a weather inversion this summer with some jungle country. High humidity plus extreme drought—double ick.

Winter—sitting in front of a crackling fire—watching the snow sift down. “Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.”

I guess I do love one thing about summer—going barefoot in the house ALL day.  I’m a little sad when I have to put on socks. But then I remember, Winter’s coming!

© Cristine Eastin, 2012
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Encouragement in Suffering

This may seem like the lazy way of blogging, but this entry from the blog of Reema Goode, author of Which None Can Shut, is so encouraging, it’s worth sharing.

…excerpt from Paul E. Miller’s “A Praying Life” …

“After you’ve gotten over the initial shock of suffering, a determination often sets in to fix whatever is causing the pain. You have faced enormous obstacles before and overcome them, and you are going to do the same with this…. It’s a short trip from determination to despair, where you realize that you aren’t going to change the situation, no matter what you do. It hurts to hope in the face of continued failure, so you try to stop hurting by giving up on hope. …Despair, in its own strange way, can be comforting, but it and its cousin, cynicism, can kill the soul.

In contrast, people of faith live in the desert. Like Abraham, they are aware of the reality of their circumstances but are fixed on hope. Paul describes how “in hope [Abraham] believed against hope” (Romans 4:18). …Abraham stakes his faith on the hope line, but never takes his eye off the reality line.

He does have his moments though. He tries to get out of the desert by suggesting to God that his steward Eliezer become his adopted son…. Sarah tries to close the hope-reality gap by asking Abraham to sleep with her servant Hagar. The hardest part of being in the desert is that there is no way out. You don’t know when it will end. There is no relief in sight.

A desert can be almost anything. It can be a child who has gone astray, a difficult boss, or even your own sin or foolishness. Maybe you married your desert.

God customizes deserts for each of us. Joseph’s desert is being betrayed and forgotten in an Egyptian jail. Moses lived as an outcast in the Midian desert for forty years. The Israelites live in the desert for forty years. David runs from Saul in the desert. All of them hold on to the hope of God’s Word yet face the reality of their situations.

The theme of the desert is so strong in Scripture that Jesus reenacts the desert journey at the beginning of His ministry by fasting for forty days in a desert while facing Satan’s temptation. His desert is living with the hope of the resurrection yet facing the reality of His Father’s face turned against Him at the cross.

The Father turning His face against you is the heart of the desert experience. Life has ended. It no longer has any point. You might not want to commit suicide, but death would be a relief. It’s very tempting to survive the desert by taking the bread of bitterness offered by Satan.– to maintain a wry, cynical detachment from life, finding a perverse enjoyment in mocking those who still hope.

God takes everyone He loves through a desert. It is His cure for our wandering hearts, restlessly searching for a new Eden. Here’s how it works.

The still, dry air of the desert brings the sense of helplessness that is so crucial to the spirit of prayer. You come face to face with your inability to live, to have joy, to do anything of lasting worth. Life is crushing you.

Suffering burns away the false selves created by cynicism or pride or lust. You stop caring about what people think of you. The desert is God’s best hope for the creation of an authentic self.

Desert life sanctifies you. You have no idea you are changing. You simply notice after you’ve been in the desert awhile that you are different. Things that used to be important to you no longer matter….

The desert becomes a window to the heart of God. He finally gets your attention because He’s the only game in town. You cry out to God so long and so often that a channel begins to open up between you and God. When driving, you turn off the radio just to be with God. At night you drift in and out of prayer when you are sleeping. Without realizing it, you have learned to pray continuously. The clear, fresh water of God’s presence that you discover in the desert becomes a well inside your own heart.

The best gift of the desert is God’s presence.”

(excerpted from pages 181-185)

Ah, yes, suffering—not my favorite word. The very word connotes that it isn’t something that goes away quickly—it goes on and on and on—and hurts.

We all suffer; it’s part of the human condition. As Christians, we’re told that we’re supposed to suffer differently than the world without Christ. The reality, as we play it out, is that we often don’t—but we can.

This excerpt was encouraging to me. In addition to various other desert experiences the Lord  has allowed in my life, we’ve been locked in a beleaguering drought in our area. This week it rained—the first time in over a month. It won’t save the corn crop, but it brought hope.

I’ve been to the desert. It was beautiful—when I could ride a camel and leave. I was grateful I wasn’t there when a sandstorm raged for the next two days after I snapped this photo.

© Cristine Eastin, 2012
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Point of View, My Aching Back

I’m writing a novel. Well, isn’t everyone? Yes, pretty much, I think everyone is writing a novel.

But—let’s talk about Point of View. I’ve wrestled with it in this novel. I tried to get fancy and mix it up: first person for this, third person for that, limited, unlimited. Frankly, it was a mess, though I still insisted I liked the way I’d written it. I had justification for everything.

After enough feedback to “stick with one point of view” I finally got the message. Tip: listen to your reviewers!

Sooo, I started slogging through revision.

I got most of it rewritten into third person limited, but I was still hanging on to my darling (those things you can’t/won’t/hate to give up)—first person for flashback scenes. I insisted those scenes just didn’t work in third.

Then—drum roll—all was made clear. Of course it worked. Not only did it work, it was much better. The critics were right.

My angst lifted, and I happily dug into revision. Can you say “happily” and “revision” in the same sentence?

Yes, it makes me very happy when I read a better novel—that I’ve written.

Do you have any Point of View writing experiences or tips to share? I’d like to hear them.

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What Sort of Christian Writer are You?

Good question. Not unlike the question I get sometimes at work: Are you a Christian counselor? My answer: I’m a Christian who counsels. (Actually, I prefer psychotherapist.)

Francine Rivers helped me answer the writer question: I’m a Christian who writes.

Here’s an excerpt from her website.

Are you going to be a “Christian writer” or a Christian who writes?
What’s the difference? A Christian who writes may weave Christian principles into the story, but the work can stand when those elements are removed. A Christian writer is called to present a story that is all about Jesus. The Lord is the foundation, the structure, and Scripture has everything to do with the creation and development of the characters in the story. Jesus is central to the theme. If you remove Jesus and Biblical principles from the novel, it collapses.

If you are going to be a Christian writer,
it is essential to study Scripture. Immerse yourself in God’s Word, and the Scriptures will flow naturally into your work. The Bible is filled with God’s wisdom, and His Word will transform you as a person and as a writer. The goal is to have the reader experience God’s Truth through story – to challenge, convict, encourage. The purpose of Christian fiction is to whet readers’ appetite for a close relationship with Jesus.

Sage counsel.

© Cristine Eastin, 2012
Categories: Christianity, Writing | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

New—Photo Gallery

I’ve added a new page—Photo Gallery.

My father was an avid amateur photographer. Like father, like daughter. Dad even did his own black and white developing.

Dad was like a squirrel—anything bright and shiny got dragged into his nest—so I got his hand-me-down cameras as he bought new technology.

I’ve enjoyed taking pictures since I was a kid.

For a long time I felt like I was seeing our trips through the lens of a camera, always going for that best shot. I thought maybe I should stop that and enjoy the trip more. The solution was to buy a happy snapper camera. Now, there’s nothing wrong with that camera, but I quickly ran up against the limits of its creativity. Back to the digital single lens reflex (DSLR) camera. I rediscovered that seeing a trip through the lens of a camera was a big part of how I enjoyed the trip!

How does my photography pertain to my writing?

Places I’ve been, experiences I’ve had, people I’ve known—grind it all together—and out comes a story.

Hope you enjoy the photos. I enjoyed taking them.

© Cristine Eastin, 2012
Categories: Photography, Travel | Tags: , | 2 Comments

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