Archive for the Writing

Tuesday, May 15th, 2012

Here’s the answer. You supply the question.

Dear friends,

Thank you so much for your responses when I asked for your help before I spoke to women here in Hamburg, Germany, at Evangelium 21. In the days before I met with them yesterday, I was mulling over your questions and suggestions.

Every time I sat down to begin writing my presentation, there were 3-4 different talks trying to get out. I couldn’t get focused on one direction of thought.So many questions from deep in your hearts. So much wise advice. And I knew the women here would add even more. I could never cover it all in 75 minutes, but how should I decide what was most important?

If I’d been working on paper instead of my computer, the trash can would have been filled with crumpled rejected beginnings. But light was beginning to come. Whatever question I began with, I seemed to be coming to the same answer.

And so when I spoke, I began with the answer and asked the women to supply their own questions as they listened. Here’s the audio if you’d like to do the same, and a few pictures too.


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Monday, January 9th, 2012

Y’all come! Y’all come!

Y’all come!

That’s American Southern for Everybody’s welcome, and we want to see you!” I just got home from Georgia, the place where I learned my “heart” language all those years ago.

Now I’m turning my eyes and heart toward China, and I’m saying it twice because I’m inviting you twice. I hope I’ll see you two times this week.

Invitation 1: Tomorrow night

Bethlehem to China: A Journey

Presented by Noel Piper and Joann Pittman

Tuesday, January 10

7:00-9:00 pm

Bethlehem Baptist Church, Downtown Campus

Details and directions


Invitation 2: Thursday evening

My Literary Journey to being a Sinophile

Presented by Joann Pittman

Thursday, January 12

7:00 pm

Ramsey County Library Community Room, 2180 Hamline, Roseville, MN

Details and directions


Spread the word!

All y’all come and bring your family and friends. Joann and I are looking forward to seeing you.

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Wednesday, November 16th, 2011

Plurals and paradoxes

Here’s a funny reminder that what seems perfectly natural to me, as a native English speaker, is really quite odd and random. From a friend whose English was learned by study, later than her at-home language that came naturally. 

We’ll begin with a box, and the plural is boxes,
But the plural of ox becomes oxen, not oxes;
One fowl is a goose, but two are called geese,
Yet the plural of moose should never be meese;
You may find a lone mouse or a nest full of mice,
Yet the plural of house is houses, not hice.

If the plural of man is always called men,
Why shouldn’t the plural of pan be called pen ?
If I speak of my foot and show you my feet,
And I give you a boot, would a pair be called beet ?
If one is a tooth and a whole set are teeth,
Why shouldn’t the plural of booth be called beeth ?

Then one may be that, & three would be those,
Yet hat in the plural would never be hose;
And the plural of cat is cats, not cose.
We speak of a brother & also of brethren,
But though we say mother, we never say methren.
Then the masculine pronouns are he, his & him,
But imagine the feminine: she, shis & shim !

Let’s face it – English is a crazy language.
There is no egg in eggplant nor ham in hamburger;
Neither apple nor pine in pineapple.
English muffins weren’t invented in England

We take English for granted,
but if we explore its paradoxes,
We find that quicksand can work slowly,
boxing rings are square;
A guinea pig is neither from Guinea nor is it a pig.
Why is it that writers write, but fingers don’t fing,
Grocers don’t groce & hammers don’t ham? 

Doesn’t it seem crazy that …
you can make amends but not one amend ?
If you have a bunch of odds and ends …
and get rid of all but one of them,
What do you call it ?
If teachers taught, why didn’t preachers praught ?
If a vegetarian eats vegetables,
what does a humanitarian eat ?

Sometimes I think all people who speak English
Should be in an asylum for the verbally insane.
In what other language do people recite at a play,
and play at a recital ?
We ship by truck but send cargo by ship …
We have noses that run & feet that smell;
We park in a driveway & drive in a parkway.
And how can a slim chance & a fat chance be the same,
while a wise man & a wise guy are opposites ?
You have to marvel at the unique lunacy of a language
in which your house can burn up as it burns down;
In which you fill in a form by filling it out,
& in which an alarm goes off by going on.

And in closing,
If Father is Pop,
How come Mother’s not Mop?

(I haven’t discovered who created this, but various versions have been around since the 1800s.)

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Wednesday, April 13th, 2011

Distilled language

April is National Poetry Month. This afternoon on the radio I heard Caroline Kennedy discussing the importance of poetry in her life.

For example, she said that her mother always asked Caroline and her brother each to pick a favorite poem to read or recite as part of special family occasions like birthdays and holidays.

In her new book, She Walks in Beauty, Kennedy has collected poems that have inspired her at various milestones.

One quote that caught my attention during the program was from Elizabeth Alexander, a poet who was part of the discussion. The moderator had noted, “Weddings seem to be a time when most people embrace poetry.” Alexander responded:

All of the crossroads of our lives call for distilled language with which to mark those moments, with which to remember, with which to put a jumble of feelings and emotions into something that’s crystal clear and that you can hold in the palm of your hand.

Distilled language . . . emotions made crystal clear . . . I like that description of poetry.

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Thursday, April 8th, 2010

I’ll never be a traffic cop

There are some jobs I know I’ll never have — a lot of jobs, actually. And there are some tasks I hope I’ll never have to do.

I will never be a police office, and I hope I never have to direct traffic.

It’s a rare thing to get inside the head and heart of a person who does perform those services. I heard a policeman say one time that his job is 90% boredom and 10% terror.

This morning, when I read Greg Lucas’s account of directing traffic, I knew that some big-figure percentages of impatience, patience, and compassion also need to be stirred into the mix.

I came away with perspective that will grow some patience and compassion in me, I pray.

(Greg’s blog is Defending Mayberry: The Prodigious Adventures of a Small Town Police Officer. He’s a good storyteller with good stories to tell. I hope you’ll subscribe to it.)

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Friday, April 2nd, 2010

So you want to write – 2

I’d like to add another recommendation to my thoughts about writing.

If you are a writer who has published or hopes to, I recommend that you subscribe to Rachelle Gardner’s blog. She is a literary agent and regularly posts very helpful insights about writing and about the path to publishing.

Ever received a rejection? I have, and her post on Wednesday helped me.

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