The Way

Send me.

Isaiah 6:8 “Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, ‘Whom shall I send,
and who will go for Us?’ Then I said, ‘Here am I. Send me!’ “


I’ve been busy with a week-long community service project that our church conducts yearly in our county. It’s an exciting time. What a blessing to serve our neighbors!


Equestrian track

This year, around three hundred of our church people signed up to work on twenty-six different tracks. We are out in the community washing cars, cutting grass and trees, singing to people in convalescent centers, visiting shut-ins in their homes, having day camps with children in lower economic circumstances, and stuffing Christmas stockings in readiness for the upcoming holiday season.


Hope Track – stuffing Christmas stockings

We are praying, cooking—both for the workers and as a soup kitchen which travels nightly—and worshiping, along with painting faces, making crafts, taking horses to the neighborhoods so that children can ride, and working to sort clothing in our Closet ministry (which will have a big day before school starts). We are also collecting book bags and school supplies from the workers in The Way.


Car Washing Track

There are five different handyman projects, too. We’re building wheelchair ramps, digging water lines, and fixing floors (for non-members), and repairing the home of one of the church members. There’s a support track for the ten people who keep all this up and running.


Handyman Track

We all pay to participate in The Way, but there is no charge for anything we do. My church and its people don’t do these things to make money. Refreshing, yes?


Culinary Track

I’m one of eight people on the media track. We travel to all the other tracks, documenting in stills and video what is being accomplished. We have up new video and Power Point every night to keep our people fired up and encouraged. I put together the Power Point, so it’s fairly time consuming – all day on the Power Point and all night going out to the tracks. It’s truly amazing to see the scope of this project. What a blessing! I don’t have the hardest job, but I enjoy it.


Grass Cutting Track

As you see, I’ve shared a few pictures. I can’t show the faces of the children to whom we minister because of security issues. Some of these precious little ones have been taken from dangerous situations, and we are careful not to endanger them by putting their pictures on public media.

So that’s what I’ve been doing instead of working on Southern Fried Austen. This is a special week, and I’m loving it.

LIfe Imitates Tech

im-a-good-puppy_o_1168916This morning I got on Facebook and read a post about cats and a Roomba. How someone piled their car into a ditch on a dark country road last night. Impairment has not been ruled out. There was a lot about the Democratic Convention I skimmed over. And I enjoyed several memes people put up cataloging their astonishment at making it through another Monday without committing a felony. The usual.

Then a post came up about a priest being beheaded in France. I didn’t click the link. The next post was an ad for Amazon’s Deal of the Day. I didn’t click that link either. I figured nothing Amazon cut the price on could match loss of life.

Cats, car wrecks, conventions, death, deals.

This is our life on tech.


Prayers for Gayle

Our own Gayle Mills

Our own Gayle Mills

This past week, our dear friend Gayle Mills was diagnosed with colon cancer. She will undergo surgery soon. Needless to say, this has been a shock. How we rejoice that she is in good health otherwise.

“Otherwise Healthy” is the place to be when battling cancer. Our Gayle is a scrappy fighter. She’s going in swinging.

But being the patient won’t be easy. Gayle is one who always carries burdens for others. She’s the brains, the workhorse, the problem-solver, the one people rely on. And now that’s all turned around.

Will you join with us in praying for our Gayle? Her daughter Bethany, son Ben, and best-friend sisters Robin and Layne are standing shoulder-to-shoulder with her in this fight. They covet your prayers as well.

From Gayle: “We are praying for God’s grace and mercy as we walk through the path He’s set before us. We don’t expect this to be easy, but we know His grace is sufficient for all things.”

Happy Birthday, Susan Kaye!

Happy Birthday! (1)
Thank you, my friend, for sharing your blog post smiles with us this year.

And also for giving us hours of reading pleasure with your favorite Captain.

May your day be filled with people you love, laughter, and happy memories. And with food you did not cook yourself!

May your day be filled with sunshine. Unless you visit Terrible Tilly, and then you'll need a crashing storm! (Photo: Anita Ritanour (Creative Commons Flicker)

Just the right amount of sunshine would be perfect. Unless you’re planning to escape to the coast to see “Terrible Tilly.” Then you’ll need a picturesque crashing storm! (Photo: Anita Ritanour (Creative Commons Flicker)

Southern Fried Austen


After Lizzy finished her evening gown walking session with Penny Clay, she, Darcy, and Jane met Charlie at the consignment shop. Charlie was grinning, pointing at the sign.

Charlie: How do you like it, ladies?

Lizzy: Wow! This place is huge. You bought the closed up Harris Teeter? I like that. Buy an abandoned building instead of building a new one. One less empty store front. That’s the name of the store? CW’s?

Darcy: Charlie wanted to be a partner in this venture. “C” for Charlie and “W” for Will.

Jane: I like it. Sounds sophisticated instead of stupid.

Lizzy: You mean like Diva Duds? Cute does get old fast. It tries too hard. CW’s sounds classy. I like the sign, too. It’s not flashing neon, begging for business. It conveys, “We have the clothes you always wished you could afford at reasonable prices.” It’s an invitation, not a sledge hammer.

Darcy: This store is another reason you ladies should quit your summer jobs. It’s going to take a good bit of your time to be co-managers. First things first, though. Before we hire staff and open for business, you need to come in and choose what you like. You both need gowns, interview clothes, talent outfits, and competition swimsuits with the accessories. You’ll also need to be well-dressed while you work here. Givin’ you the right clothes will promote the image of the store, so it’s good business.

Lizzy: There must be a light or two burned out on your string if you’re going to just give us clothes, sugar. You’ll never make any money that way.

Darcy: We’ve already discussed this. I want you two ladies in the pageants, and I’m goin’ to pay whatever your costs are.

Lizzy: Yeah, but you’re crazy as a bullbat. What do you think, Charlie? You’re part owner. This is coming out of your pocket, too.

Crazy meds

Charlie: I agree with Darcy. We can’t expect you two to quit your jobs, run this store, and win pageants without the proper clothes, and you have to dress the part in here and around town. You’re walking advertisements now for CW’s. Time to lose the baggy jeans and Walmart tops, Lizzy.

Lizzy: Why don’t you tell me how you really feel? You got a big hole in your screen door. Jane, you ready to take free clothes from your boyfriend? Makes me feel kind of cheap.

Jane: I hear you cluckin’, but I can’t find your nest. We’ve already talked about this. It’s part of the incentive package. We work for Darcy. It’s part of what he pays us.

Lizzy: We work for Charlie, too, apparently. He’s your boyfriend. You willin’ to take clothes from him?

Jane: The guys talked, and Charlie filled me in last night. I know Wickham mistreated Darcy’s sister in some way, and I know you’re an undercover reporter entering the pageants to see if they’re fixed. We’re all four in this together now. Think of these clothes as part of a uniform. We work for the guys, and our uniforms are part of the deal.

Lizzy: It seems everybody’s lost their vertical hold except me, but I’ll go along with it. I’ll join FCU. Lead the way.

Darcy: FCU?

Lizzy: Free Clothes University.

Darcy: You’re crazy as a loon, but I love you anyway. Let’s go in and get out of the heat. I think my nose just melted and it’s drippin’ on my shirt.

Lizzy: Wow! It looks great in here. I thought we were goin’ to help set it all up.

Crazy loon

Charlie: Since Darcy found out yesterday the clothes were comin’ in today, we had workmen in all afternoon and last night to patch the walls and paint. The racks were delivered and set up this mornin’, so I had a few guys come with me as soon as I ate breakfast, and we hung everything up. You’ll probably need to organize it better. Divide it into sizes or somethin’. Caroline would’ve helped, but I didn’t tell her about it. You ladies get first choice. If I’d let her come, half the store would be empty now.

Lizzy: She’ll be mad when she finds out you and Darcy own this place, but you gave Janie and me first choice. You probably already noticed you’re sister’s crazy as a coconut.

Charlie: Yep. She’s crazy as a pet coon under a red wagon, and she’ll be madder than a piano player in a marchin’ band, but she’ll get over it. She already has so many clothes Daddy had to make the room next to hers a walk-in closet, and even then she wanted more room for her shoes. Why does anybody need so many pairs of shoes?

Darcy: Back off that ledge. I have a good many shoes myself.

Lizzy: I’ve noticed you haven’t worn the same pair twice around me. I thought you might be one brick shy of a load where shoes are concerned. Guess I was right. Doesn’t bother me, though. There are far worse things to be obsessed with.

Crazy cocnut

Darcy: About your shoes … We really need to do somethin’ about what you have on your feet.

Lizzy: What’s wrong with my shoes?

Darcy: Nothin’ – if you plan to work in the garden.

Lizzy: You’re about two sandwiches short of a picnic, honey. I bought these shoes only two years ago. They’re just now broke in good.

Darcy: You’re crazy as Larrabee’s calf. Those shoes are so old, when they were new, rainbows were in black and white. The Dead Sea was just getting sick then. And that brand isn’t good for your feet.

Lizzy: You’re such a snob sometimes. Your shoes cost more than I make in a week. I had a choice between wearin’ fancy, brand name shoes, or payin’ rent and eatin’. It’s obvious that I chose to eat.

Jane: Enough. I wondered why we had several racks of brand new athletic shoes in that back corner.  In fact, all the shoes look new. Guess I know why now. Come on, Charlie. Let’s go look at the evening gowns. It’s about to hit the fan, and I want to be out of range.

Charlie: Good idea. All this fussin’ makes me jumpy as spit on a hot skillet.

Darcy: You can wear used dresses, but you can’t wear used shoes. That’s just disgusting, and worn out shoes are bad for your feet. I had my PA get someone to find the shoes at wholesale prices, and I bought in bulk. Pageant contestants need workout shoes and exercise clothes. Everything in here is necessary for girls in pageants.

Lizzy: I think I understand now. You have a shoe fetish. And this rack of designer jeans?  And those high-end, name brand tops?

Darcy: You have to look good when you arrive to compete.

Lizzy: I think you’ve introduced “Build Lizzy’s Wardrobe” by stealth here. You’re plumb crazy, sugar. You got too many cobwebs in your attic.

Darcy: I admit I want you to dress well. You deserve it.

Lizzy: I deserve it? Or you deserve it? Are you ashamed of me?

Darcy: Do I act like I’m ashamed of you? You must be overdrawn at the memory bank. I’ve taken you everywhere I’ve gone, and I’ve told you you’re beautiful over and over. I’ve introduced you to my family, and I’ve told you I love you. This is not normal behavior for me, Lizzy. I’ve never loved any other girl the way I love you, and I want the best for you. How can I walk around in the clothes and shoes I have and not share my wealth with you? I feel like the biggest jerk in the world.

Lizzy: Don’t you like the way I am?

Darcy: I love the way you are. I just want to dress up the outside a little. I’d never change the inside. That’s what makes you special. Clothing is just outside wrapping. The real gift is inside.

Lizzy: I’m curious to know what you’d like to wrap me in. Come pick out an outfit for me so I can see what you have in mind.

Darcy: Really? You’d let me do that?

Lizzy: It seems to be important to you, and I love you, even if you are crazy as all get out. But know this upfront: I won’t wear anything I don’t like.

Darcy: I wouldn’t expect you to, love. That would be very unLizzylike. I want to keep you the way you are, just in better shoes and clothes. I, uh, already put together a few outfits – just in case. Georgie helped me get everything together. It’s all laid out in the dressing room with the pink door.

Lizzy: (Opens door) So, you think I’ll look good in these clothes?

Darcy: Yep. I imagined how you would look. Men are very visual you know.

Lizzy: I’m beginning to get the picture. I’ll be out in a minute. Stay right there.

Darcy: Jane! Bingley! Come over here and give your opinion. Lizzy’s tryin’ on clothes.

Lizzy: (Through the door) Everything fits. How’d you know my size?

Darcy: Georgie met you at the cookout. Remember? She has a good eye for anything to do with fashion. She helped with colors, too.

Lizzy: Hmm… She’s good at this. Ready? Here I come. (Throws open door and walks out) Will? Will? Say something. Don’t you like it?

Darcy: (Staring) I thought I had a good idea how you’d look when I saw you in yoga pants and a T shirt. I mean, at least the yoga pants showed more of your shape than the baggy jeans did, but the huge T shirt really hid you. I truly had no clue my girlfriend was such a knockout.

Jane: He’s right. You’re gorgeous. Maybe I should get Georgie to help me, too. She could be a fashion consultant in the store if she has time.

Bingley: Sounds like a plan. What do you think, Darcy?

Darcy: I’ll ask her. Why don’t you two go look at the front windows and see what you think we could do to draw interest? I ordered some mannequins. We need a few good ideas on what to do with them. Where’re you goin’, Lizzy?

Lizzy: I was goin’ to help them.

Crazy family

Darcy: No.

Lizzy: No? Why not?

Darcy: I want to see another outfit.

Lizzy: Is that my boyfriend talkin’, or is it my boss?

Darcy: Which answer will get me what I want?

Lizzy: You know, down South we love our crazy family members. We don’t hide ‘em away. We parade ‘em out in front of everybody. Proves how much we love ‘em.

Darcy: I’m missin’ the point. There is a point, isn’t there?

Crazy for you

Lizzy: Relationships are everything to us. The closer you are to family, the better.

Darcy: Then I’m guessin’ “boyfriend” is the correct answer. Your boyfriend wants to see you in those stunning outfits his sister put together for you. Family all around.

Lizzy: See? That was easy. You just have to know how to ask, and then I’m sugar in your hand.

Darcy: Can I have a kiss before you go change again?

Lizzy: Of course. I’m crazy about you.

Darcy: That’s my favorite kind of crazy.

Lizzy: You ain’t right.




The sweet serenity of books

Darcy ventures forth!

Darcy ventures forth! Because even winners need a smile.

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…”
~ Charles Dickens, 
A Tale of Two Cities

So this morning I sent out giveaway books: little treasures in the post for lucky winners. It’s a hopeful way to start a new week. I don’t know about you, but after the series of recent tragedies–Dallas, Nice, Turkey, Baton Rouge–I can use a dose of hopeful.

Lewis-braveknightsYet as a writer of light fiction, I puzzle over my contribution to the world. During the school year, my calling is clear: I change the world 20 – 30 teenagers at a time. But my summers are all about creating happy escapist stories. What good are those? Why has God called me to such a task?

Ah, but then I remember my Tolkien and my Lewis– friends, Christian brothers, and writing comrades. Men who lived through two world wars, an era that was just as dark and scary as our modern age.

Hopeful fiction, they remind me, has value, both to teach and to comfort.  There are times when we need to close the doors, curl up with a book, and escape the madness.

Photo: Mrhayata (Creative Commons Flickr)

Photo: Mrhayata (Creative Commons Flickr)

“I have claimed that Escape is one of the main functions of fairy-stories, and since I do not disapprove of them, it is plain that I do not accept the tone of scorn or pity with which ‘Escape’ is now so often used.

Why should a man be scorned if, finding himself in prison, he tries to get out and go home? Or if he cannot do so, he thinks and talks about other topics than jailers and prison-walls?”
~J. R. R. Tolkien

There are lessons to be learned from stories.  Bright truths, embedded like gems, that ready us for harsh realities.


“Fairy tales do not tell children the dragons exist. Children already know that dragons exist. Fairy tales tell children the dragons can be killed.”
~ G. K. Chesterton

As we begin a new week, let’s slay some dragons. And when the wolves begin to howl, let’s bar the door and calm our anxious thoughts by reading.

Laura Hile (1)