Sunday, February 19, 2017

This Saturday 2/18/2017

Coffee date with my husband. When I remember our love matters
more than burnt toast.

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
2 Corinthians 4:16-18. 

I started my day reading this scripture, one of my favorites because I need it drilled into my brain. My troubles are trivial compared to eternity, so why do I stress about the stupid stuff? Could be because I’m human. I want to be focused on the end of the race and what matters along the way.

So how did I do in listening to that scripture today? Hmmm.

  • Displayed morning bad mood when my toast burnt because husband changed the setting on toaster—
       it’s too early. Scripture hasn’t settled in my heart yet.
  • After the necessary eating breakfast and showering, I pulled a giant hairball out of the tub. Not very important, but satisfying to see the water go down. This got me motivated to clean the tub—
      good  for our house…eternity, not so much.

  • Ran with the dog and my daughter—
      good for our health.

  • Got mad at myself for not writing or reading enough and wasting my time—
      trivial problem, easily solved by turning off phone.

  • Got impatient when the kids took too long to get outside to play soccer—
      trivial, but come on…the sun goes down before they can find a pair of socks.
Trivial, but rather annoying.

  • Played soccer with kids on a basketball court to avoid stepping on geese poop—
     enjoying the blessings of family and fresh air even though a fight ensued
about boundary lines  and which team really won.

  • Went out for coffee with my husband—
     thankful for him, our quiet time together, and caffeine.

  • Watched a movie—Woman in Gold—a great movie that reflects back to the atrocities of the
      good for inspiring my mind and heart. 

And that’s my Saturday, skipping through the day with my mind on mostly trivial trials as I try to keep my eyes focused on God’s blessings. I didn't save the world or move any mountains, but took baby steps in my walk with the Lord. I need to memorize that verse and trust God to help me. If I don’t, I’ll walk around with this moping face of my childhood.

My sister glows like an angel as I sulk in the background, jealous of the attention she's getting.
I never want to look like this again.

You can read more stories by Francy:
Award winning short stories:

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Unwrapping Love


By Frances Judge

If love were wrapped in golden paper, tied with silken strings,

It couldn’t reach around the world

Or open up its wings.

Love isn’t placed on pedestals, positioned for display;

It needs the flexibility

Of a potter’s clay.

Love doesn’t need embellishment to prove its fortitude;

Its strength is in its meekness

And forgiving attitude.

Love risks its life and swims the depths to save a drowning friend,

But Christ risked all for enemies,

And who can comprehend?

So love was wrapped in swaddling clothes and destined once to die;

Christ would pay the sacrifice,

God’s love, exemplified.

He didn’t wear His royal robes though he was born a king;

He wore the love His Father gave

Of which the angels sing.

Love doesn’t wait for storms to stop to cross the swirling seas;

Jesus walked across the water,

Turned tempest into breeze.

Love washes feet, love heals the blind, love cries with those who mourn,

And has power to erase the past

Of those who are reborn.

So love unwrapped its burial clothes and prepared to reach the nations,

With angels calling all the earth,

“Join the celebration!”

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

24th Writer's Digest Self-Published Book Awards ... Book Review

Randi's Steps did not win the Writer's Digest Self-Published Book Awards,
The judges wrote a wonderful review that I'm thrilled to share.

"Randi’s Steps is a beautiful, bittersweet story told by Francie, the little girl neighbor who befriends Randi when she moves in next door. Judge captures a wonderful narrative voice, real and warm and very human. Francie loves having a best friend like Randi, who is different in seemingly tiny ways, like being Jewish, but who loves enough of the same things that Francie loves to make her the best of best friends. I liked the description of Randi’s Tinker Bell laugh with the occasional snort (13). Right away, Randi is described as being subject to headaches, which of course adults will understand. I think Judge conveys a progress of Randi’s illness perfectly. For all that Francie loves Randi, Francie is healthy and in need of healthy friends. She reacts with joy to happy playtime and reluctance to having to endure hardship. When she is called upon to accompany Randi to the hospital, her deepest thoughts reveal she is not having a great time. Judge uses wry humor and perception, on her narrator’s part, to demonstrate the misery suffered by children with cancer. She also uses deft strokes to show that Francie, being healthy, needs to live, and is in many ways as doomed as Randi to experience weakness insofar as Randi’s illness is concerned. Francie tries to be the best of best friends and fails, just as Randi fails to survive. This is a brilliant story told by a talented author. The cover art is simple and fetching, revealing a sub title that doesn’t show up as much as it might. Red letters might have been better, as in the title itself!"

In their judging system, 1 = Needs improvement; 5 = Outstanding

Structure, Organization, and Pacing: 5

Spelling, Punctuation, and Grammar: 5

Production Quality and Cover Design: 4

Plot and Story Appeal: 5

Character Appeal and Development: 5

Voice and Writing Style: 5

(Judge, 24th Annual Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards.)

Monday, November 14, 2016

Book Review / ONE OF THE FEW

One of the Few by Jason B. Ladd
‘’A Marine fighter’s reconnaissance with the Christian Worldview”

One of the Few begins with the fascinating account of a Marine’s life. Jason Ladd takes us through his childhood as a Marine’s son to his adult years as a Marine fighter pilot in the war with Iraq. He describes the rigorous training he underwent in the Marine Corps to build the strength, endurance, and character needed to protect our freedom. He learned the discipline of accuracy and control needed to land a fighter plane on a carrier runway at night. Throughout his story, Ladd weaves the lessons he learned in searching for the truth. One of the Few gives fresh insight into the Christian life and overcoming the battles faced in this imperfect world.

This book can instruct new Christians and encourage steadfast believers to trust God with every aspect of life’s daily challenges. I was captivated by the fresh look at Bible truths and scripture that Ladd shares paralleling his experiences. His extensive research into other religions can enlighten those seeking answers to what matters most in this life. One of the Few is a book that stirs the heart, opens the mind, and enriches the soul with profound truths.

Buy your copy here:

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Ready or Not?



Another school year begins, and I’m not ready to hear my kids ask: “Do I have everything?” as they race to catch the bus. The truth is probably not. But does it matter on the first day? So why do I worry?

I need to focus on the basics: they ate, brushed their teeth, remembered the backpack, and caught the bus. I pray for them as the storm door swings closed. Then I stare out the window and hold my breath for three minutes, the time it takes my son and daughter to stroll back from the bus stop. At least for the first day, they made it, and I can breathe again.

I can’t relax too soon; sometimes they call from the bus—a call equals problem, something their sleepy minds just remembered. About this time last year, I had to bike to the high school, a twenty-five minute ride, to bring forgotten cleats and shin guards needed for practice. Mommy points for that day!

My two youngest of five kids are teenagers who shouldn’t need my help to get ready for school, but somehow I’m still involved in the process: making lunches, finding pens, fixing my daughter’s hair, and recovering the one lost sneaker. I also guard the door so a little Yorkie, who thinks she has to leave too, doesn’t escape. She hides under the table, waiting for her opportunity. I’d rather not start my morning chasing a dog around the block.

I’m tired and still have to get ready for work. It’s too soon for this school routine; the sky says beach time.

Looking back, I’m amazed at how fast their first days have changed.  Eighteen years ago, we started this journey, homeschooling our five kids. I taught our oldest son to read while keeping two toddlers busy and preventing things from breaking. The first day was exciting for us as we opened the new books, had breakfast, and read Bible lessons together. Our school day moved from the table to the couch, to the floor, to outdoors on a warm day. They started their day without alarm clocks and rushing, or me pushing them out the door.

Now first days involve driving our second oldest upstate four hours away to say goodbye; buying a monthly train ticket for our oldest to commute to the city and a bus pass for our third son to get to the local college. This was the first day of the last year all of our kids will be in school. The oldest graduates college this May. Then we’ll celebrate the “lasts.” Last day of college, last day of high school, last day of having three kids in college at the same time. Will life get easier? Will I worry less? Doubt it, but for now I’ll keep trusting God to help me through each day. And we’re already onto the second week.

“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6:34

Sunday, September 11, 2016

That Day (Remembering 9/11)

Playing stickball with a view of Tower One across the bay

A day we'll never forget: 9/11/2001. Fifteen years later, as I play stickball with my family, we can see the Tower One where we used to see the Twin Towers. And I remember that day...

My husband had left for work. Our oldest three sons, age 5, 7, and 9, had just finished their breakfast and were getting their schoolwork started since I homeschooled them back then. A few minutes before 9:00AM, my mother-in-law rushed downstairs to tell us her sister called her with crazy news. “A plane crashed through one of the twin towers! Turn on the TV!” 

We watched, confused, wondering how an accident like this could happen as smoke and fire billowed from the first tower. Then in live footage we watched a second plane fly into the second tower…and we knew it was a terrorist attack. This was not an accident—it had to be a calculated plan to kill thousands of Americans. About an hour later, we watched the towers collapse in horror.  

In disbelief, we walked a block away to the bay, where we could look across the water. Clouds of smoke stood in place of the towers. It really happened…one of the saddest days for our country. We went home and prayed for the friends and families who lost someone in the tragedy.

We still pray for them.

“He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” Revelation 21:4

“Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” Hebrews 4:16

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Writing Surprises

I like surprises—but it has to be a good surprise. I don’t want to hear the dog just stole my son’s burrito and hid it in the clean clothes pile…or someone stole my bike again. Those kind of surprises are detrimental to my health, raising my blood pressure.
As a writer, I get surprised any time I submit a story or novel for publication. Anticipation builds as I wait for an answer. The publishing industry is overcrowded, too many writers competing for too few spots, so the response time could be six months after submitting a story. Sometimes I’ve gotten a response in a week, but usually I wait over two months, checking my email and snail mail with persistent hope every, uh-hum, two minutes. Too much anticipation isn’t fun.  When I least expect it, a reply glows from my inbox of a thousand emails not yet deleted. My hope waivers from “Maybe it’s a yes and they loved my story and can’t wait to publish it” to “It’s got to be another rejection.”
I know it’s a no if the letter begins with a “thank you for submitting your story.” I don’t have to read any further; it’s not going to be a good surprise day. A “but” is coming. A week ago I had a double surprise of two stories not placing in a top literary journal contest. The emails started with a thank you. You’re welcome.
Yesterday I almost choked on my Raisin Bran as I saw my name next to 2nd Place in the Best of the Best Faithwriters contest. I hit a grand slam homerun—a good surprise day! Of course after the excitement wore off, my next thought slipped to pessimism. “What if people read it and think it’s ridiculous? It didn’t deserve to win.” I have to bounce back and remember the judges liked it enough to paste a ribbon to it…and that’s a good thing. Now I won’t have to pretend it doesn’t bother me that I didn’t win on my birthday of all days. I did win a place right next to the 1st place author I’ve admired since I started writing for Faithwriters. That’s a pleasant surprise. I’ll have to cling to that until the next response arrives. Or I could focus on the blessings in my life—my preferred option to moping.
After all, where does winning a writing award or getting published fall on my life importance scale? Not too high. Someday I’ll meet God and my earthly awards won’t matter—only the heavenly awards will remain. The best surprises I’ve encountered in my life were not related to writing: “It’s a boy!” four times and “It’s a girl” once. Those were good days. 

For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father's glory with his angels, and then he will reward everyone according to what they have done. Matthew 16:27

It’s refreshing to realize God won’t care if my rejection letters outweigh my acceptance ones. He has his own judging scale and surprises beyond what I can imagine.
Links to Francy's "Best of the Best" Faithwriter's contest stories:


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