About hopesquires

I've left behind the daily grind to write full time and to figure out what my own flourishing tree looks like. I'd love to help you flourish and grow along the way, so that you, too, can cultivate a life that pleases God.

God’s pen

I traveled back to southern humidity this past weekend, there for a family celebration. At one point, I saw this church sign. (My sweet husband drove back by it the next day so I could snap a picture.)

Churchsign2015FT

The sign’s message resonated with me, and I wanted to share it here in case it resonated with you. As a writer, my pen can carry God’s message to the world, but there’s more to this sign than just a word for writers. And there are more ways I can be God’s pen than only through my writing.

How can your life be God’s pen?


I’ve always loved reading church signs. Some provoke thought; others are silly. Some have questionable theology; others ring true. Some play with puns. Some simply welcome. Do you have a favorite church sign?

Revisiting the good aunt

I’m heading into a month of good aunt activities: graduations, a wedding, visits with family and friends whom I also consider family. The amount of travel is dizzying, and I’m still trying to catch up from having been sick off and on for several weeks. But in the midst of it all, I’m thinking and writing a lot about the good aunt.

My latest writing project is an expansion of the Good Aunt series from 2012. I have been blessed to interview some wonderful women along the way, hearing about their paths to childlessness and uncovering their struggles and joys that have led them to flourishing lives.

The topic of childlessness is no less charged than it used to be, but I am seeing more conversation around the topic in mainstream media. Where I’m not hearing as much is within the Christian community, and I’d like for that to change. (Well, Pope Francis broke his silence recently—declaring childless couples selfish—but that requires its own response another time.)

The church’s silence can be supportive or condemning, and it can be hard to tell which until an issue comes to the surface. This silence makes me want to have a louder conversation about childlessness, both within the Christian community and the broader culture.

This is a subject worth delving into, worth understanding better. Women and men choosing childlessness need the telling of our stories. We need the ears and the voice of the church. We need a better response than silence or a patronizing label calling us selfish.

Whether you have children or don’t, if there’s something you hope I’ll address in this project, I’d love to hear from you. The brilliant, amazing women I’ve been interviewing may just have the response you’ve been waiting to read.

Simply comment below, contact me by email, send me a tweet (use #goodaunt) or post on my Facebook page. Let’s keep the conversation going.

The dragonfly visitor

As I continue to fight to get over a lingering illness, my energy is slowly coming back. A couple of days ago, I knew I was on the mend because I felt like going outside to take some pictures.

A visitor has been stopping by my house every day, usually several times a day. She kindly posed for me on several of her favorite perches:

Dragonfly2015_4FT

Glittering in the sun

Dragonfly2015_2FT

Smiling at me?

Dragonfly2015_1FT

Sunning atop an apple tree

Dragonfly2015_3FT

I cannot get over the intricacy of her wings

I’ve been calling her Joy—first, because her visits delight me. Second, one of my dearest friends is named Joy, and she loves dragonflies. So when this small, beautiful creature visits me, she makes me smile and makes me think of my sweet friend.

What visitors delight you in your garden? Or bring you joy on your daily walk? Or welcome you in a special place you visit to unwind?

 

National Independent Bookstore Day

This Saturday, May 2, is the inaugural National Independent Bookstore Day. Cue the confetti and the noisemakers. Across the country, 400 independent bookstores are teaming up to celebrate, and one of my favorite bookstores will be in on the party with special sales, activities and prizes.

Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh has long been my book haven. I haven’t found anything like it out here in the Sacramento area yet, though I have visited some great independent bookstores in San Francisco and Palo Alto. I’m still a member at Quail Ridge and am looking forward to their Readers’ Club Sale this weekend. And even though I can’t attend their Independent Bookstore Day party in person, I know it’ll be great. Maybe some of my Raleigh friends reading this will go celebrate for me?

In super exciting news, Quail Ridge contacted me last week to tell me they’ll sell my book on consignment. Yay! … That pause was so I could do another happy dance. For now, they’ll only carry a copy or two, and so if you want one, give them a call first. I’ll replenish their stock as they request.

FT_COVER-finalforhsc

This is the perfect weekend to pick up a copy of the book. Not only will you be supporting a great bookstore and supporting me, you’ll also get a discount through their semi-annual Readers’ Club Sale, May 1-4. If you’re not a member, it’s easy and inexpensive to join (free if you’re an educator or senior citizen).

On a side note, any independent bookstore in the country should be able to order a copy of my book for you. They’re happy to place orders, and I’d be happy to send you a small token of my appreciation if you buy my book from an indie bookstore. Simply email me a photo of the receipt along with your name and mailing address, and I’ll pop a little gift in the mail to you.

Whether you’re a novice or a regular when it comes to indy bookstores, there are great reasons to support your local stores. And here are some great tips I found over at Book Riot for getting the most benefit from your local independent bookstore.

To give credit where credit is due, this whole event stemmed from California Bookstore Day and has expanded out across the country. Yay, California! In case you’re not in California or near Quail Ridge Books, here’s a handy map so you can find your closest independent bookstore for the party on Saturday. What books will you buy as part of the celebration?

Celebrating Earth Day but not the pollen

Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice;
Let the sea roar, and all it contains;
Let the field exult, and all that is in it.
Then all the trees of the forest will sing for joy
– Psalm 96:11–12

Today is Earth Day, and I wanted to celebrate by sharing some photos of what’s blooming in my garden right now.

EarthDayBeauties15_1FT

The previous owners left behind lots of beautiful roses.

EarthDayBeauties15_2FT

Rhododendron in bloom

EarthDayBeauties15_4FT

A delicate iris

EarthDayBeauties15_3FT

Deep purple bearded iris … so velvety beautiful!

How’s the earth exulting (and celebrating spring and Earth Day) where you are?

One thing I simply cannot celebrate today, though I know it has to exist for all these wonderful plants to grow, is pollen. I’ve struggled with springtime allergies for many, many years. I had hoped the move might bring fewer allergies. Boy, was I in for an unpleasant surprise.

California has brought me the worst pollen-related allergies I’ve ever experienced. My tried-and-true allergy medicine is barely making a dent in what’s happening in my head and throat, and my constant coughing leaves me exhausted.

California won me over during winter, but in the NC2NC contest, I have to declare North Carolina a winner in the springtime pollen game. I never thought I’d yearn for NC’s thick yellow pine pollen. However, the drought and warmer-than-usual temperatures here in Northern California are making me sick. Bleh.

NCFlag2015FT

North Carolina wins when it comes to the pollen war, at least for me. Are allergies getting the best of you, too?

Let’s talk about something more fun this Earth Day. I’ve been thinking about some of my favorite places on earth. Some are near home, and some I may never see again. One favorite I hope to visit again some day is Knocknarea in County Sligo, Ireland:

Knocknarea06_FT

Serene Knocknarea overlooks Strandhill (the little village you can see sparkling at the shoreline) and Sligo Bay. My husband and I hiked up late in the day to see this stunning vista.

Do you have a favorite spot on earth? If so, I’d love for you to describe it in the comments below. Happy Earth Day!