This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope. It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every moring: great is thy faithfulness. The Lord is my portion saith my soul: therefore will I hope in him. The Lord is good unto them that wait for Him, to the soul that seeketh him. It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the LORD. Lamentations 3: 21-26

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

I Want My Children to Say...

One thing I want my children to say about me when they are grown is that homeschooling never came before family. I want them to say I let them know their grandparents, their cousins, their uncles and aunts and all those friends who loved them dearly. What I want them to say is that I didn’t forget my parents. That I visited them and honored them.

I want them to say I was available to them as a mom, that I wasn't so caught up in getting some "me time." I want them to say I stopped what I was doing and looked at every dandelion, bug, branch, sunset and exciting video game that thrilled them.

I want them to say I was there when I was supposed to be.

I would like it if they did know how important homeschooling was to our family and how sometimes we made the life lessons more important that the book lessons.

One particular time my mother was in the hospital for an extended stay we showed up uninvited and unannounced and surprised her better than I had in well over 30 years. We ditched books and school videos, math and penmanship just to sit in the van three hours each way to spend less than 24 hours in a hospital/hotel so she knew how much we loved her.

And in a way, that was homeschooling for us.

What did that have to do with school?

Well…I didn’t come up with this idea; I learned it from other homeschool moms. Life is school and school is life and when you stop and care for your family you are teaching your children. You are teaching them that life and family are valuable and that one day they may need to do the same for you. You are teaching them compassion that hopefully they will someday imitate without thinking.

School is life when you discuss the medicines that Grandma had to take and what it did to her body—Science. Life is school when you fought with your cousin in the backseat of a van and you learned that even if you were right about the argument you were more right if you give her a hug and tell her you love her before she does—Life skills. School is life when you see Mommy make a horrendous mistake driving that could have been fatal and you learn why she says to “Look both ways crossing the street.” –again with the Life skills.

Life is school when you learn that driving down the freeway your mother needs to read the road signs to get you to the correct destination or you take a 45 minute not-so-scenic detour. Reading is crucial. Reading & Geography were both taught with that one.

Geography and reading were also when you taught your brother to read some road signs. And showed him how to count down the mile markers—Math. History was hearing Grandpa give an account all the horrible things your mother did as a child. PE was bouncing on the bed for the 20th time even after you’ve been told not to. Okay—maybe that is a stretch.

For a family who often focus on Fine Arts the finest art was ignoring that we were skipping practice and being where we should be.

What I hope my children say about me is that I may have made a lot of mistakes, but I admitted them and tried to teach them as best I could. I hope my children say that somehow, someway they learned a little about God from me.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Sweetgum Knit Lit Society: Blog Tour

Sweetgum Knit Lit Society

I almost didn’t read this book. Boy would that have been a sad thing for me.

Glass Road Public Relations e-mailed me the information about the blog tour and I meant to respond and…life got in the way. It was almost a week later before I realized I hadn’t asked to receive this book. But better late than never, and in this case it was a real blessing to read. Once I received the book I devoured it—gone in less than 48 hours.

The Sweetgum Knit Lit Society—I know these women! I’ve met them or been related to them. I’ve watched them try to keep it together and then finally have to face the secrets that they’ve buried. Beth Patillo creates characters that readers will find so familiar that it is unnerving. I ended up caring deeply about all these women and the teen that they grudgingly admit into their book and knitting club. Hannah, the teen that becomes entangled in the other characters’ lives is also familiar to me. I worked for a short time in a facility for abused and mentally ill children. Hannah represents so many of the children I met.

Meeting monthly these women have grown close but not close enough to know all of the secrets that each have hidden. It is only with the inclusion of Hannah that some of the facades become apparent. Each woman and Hannah faces life changing choices that cannot remain deeply guarded any longer.

The Sweetgum Knit Lit Society—a fabulous book that I highly recommend. The only problem I have with this book is that it makes me want to learn to knit even more!!

From the press release--WaterBrook Press and Glass Road Public Relations:

Beth Pattillo (Heavens to Betsy and Earth to Betsy) knows how to follow a dream—even with a pile of publishing industry rejection slips to her name. She spent seven years on the path to her first publishing contract, and the characters in her newnovel, The Sweetgum Knit Lit Society, embrace Pattillo’s persistence.

Sweetgum Knit Lit SocietyEugenie, Ruth, Esther, Merry, and Camille are not perfect women. They each struggle with love in their own way—unrequited love, forbidden love, overwhelming love, even lost love. Yet they battle on, meeting every month in the Pairs and Spares Sunday school room to knit, discuss that month’s book selection, and puzzle out their lives.

When Eugenie throws neglected and abused teenager Hannah Simmons into their midst, however, walls decades in the making come crashing down. With secrets thrown on the table amid the tangle of yarn, needles and books, one thing becomes certain: The Sweetgum Knit Lit Society will soon discover what’s most important in the complicated lives they lead.

About Beth Pattillo
Beth Pattillo is an ordained minister in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and holds a Master of Divinity from Vanderbilt University. She and her family make their home in Tennessee. Her novel, Heavens to Betsy, won the prestigious RITA award from the Romance Writers of America. TheSweetgum Knit Lit Society is her fourth novel. To learn more, visit

Beth PattilloQ&A with Beth Pattillo, author of The Sweetgum Knit Lit Society

Q. What was your inspiration behind The Sweetgum Knit Lit Society?

A. The book was inspired by the knitting group at my church. I loved the way a group of diverse women, from their teens to retirement age, bonded over knitting and prayer. I think book clubs experience a similar phenomenon. Something about knitting or reading together really helps to create authentic community. One of the things I enjoyed most about writing this book was looking at the world from such different points of view. Each of the women in the novel is unique. And the variety of ages and life experiences kept things interesting.

Q. In the book, troubled teen Hannah Simmons has seen her share of neglect and abuse before meeting the ladies of the Knit Lit Society. Do you see many teens like Hannah in the course of your work as an ordained minister? If so, what is your philosophy in helping them find healing?

A. Unfortunately, I’ve met a number of teens over the years that were neglected by their parents. I’m a strong believer in youth ministry because I know it can provide guidance and care that’s often missing in a teenager’s home. In the novel, Hannah happens to be poor, but I’ve found that income level, however high or low, doesn’t always correlate to the quality of parenting. The love and attention of a youth minister and/or youth sponsor can often keep a teen from making bad choices with disastrous consequences. Teenagers need to feel competent and valued. A strong youth ministry provides an opportunity for young people to find their spiritual gifts and use them. It also makes God’s love tangible and powerful.

Q. Since not every town has a Knit Lit Society, what would your advice be to anyone who has a "Hannah" in their life or knows of a teen in a similar situation?

A. Most teens need someone to listen to them without judgment or agenda. Mentoring, serving as a youth sponsor, teaching Sunday school and Bible study – these are all great ways to reach out to teenagers. As a minister, in a particular situation, I have to assess whether a teenager needs the help of social services in addition to the love and care of a church family. All ministers are required by law to report suspected abuse. Neglect, though, can be a bit trickier. Ideally, a minister can reach out to the parents as well as the teen to try and help the family become more functional and caring. I always appreciated my church members letting me know if they thought a particular teenager needed help. I think it’s better to get involved and ultimately find that the situation wasn’t as serious as you thought than to ignore something until a crisis occurs.

Q. Do you knit in your spare time?

A. I love to knit! I’m into hand-tied yarn right now, taking eight or nine different yarns in a particular color palette and tying 2-3 yard sections end to end. The result is wonderfully shaggy scarves or shawls that have real depth of color and texture. (I was inspired by the owner of The Shaggy Sheep in my hometown of Lubbock, Texas – a terrific yarn store!) I’m afraid I have numerous unfinished projects around the house, but one day, I hope to finish them all.

Q. You spent seven years waiting to publish your first book and now The Sweetgum Knit Lit Society is your fourth book. What advice do you have for novice or aspiring writers?

A. Aspiring writers have to persevere. For that matter, so do published authors. The publishing industry is a rejection-based business. Work hard, acquire a thick skin, be open to good criticism, and revise, revise, revise. As writers, we take our work personally, but the publishing industry doesn’t. Rejection is a business decision, not a critique of our value as human beings!

My other piece of advice is to write every day, even if it’s only a small amount. I run an email loop called Club 100 For Writers. The challenge is to write 100 words a day for 100 days. I’ve seen this practice transform people’s lives. Instructions for joining the group are on my website,

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Grains of Gratitude

We survived another week “on the go.” But just barely, I’m thinking. The boys and I were about falling over on Friday when we arrived home. But it was a good week, better than last week. I am soooooooooo grateful.

Mr. Boo’s attitude was much improved and his schoolwork showed it. He found out the library we are visiting has comic books available for checkout and this was a great motivator—I don’t encourage buying comic books (they can be read too quickly) so this was a grand opportunity. We spent a couple afternoons walking the zoo (with much quieter patrons surrounding us) and spent one afternoon with friends. Grateful, grateful for a good week for Boo and me.

Roo had a great week, some new teachers in with the old and a hip hop class (Hip hop?? Is that crazy or what?). It was tasteful hip hop. And apparently it was fun. Roo has had a dose of confidence, although he is still a little nervous in the mornings. (I totally get what he is feeling because it has plagued me my entire life, so I am not too quick to try to push too hard.) We were able to get a pre-paid cell phone for him and that made me feel better about the days I didn’t see him for seven hours straight. I am grateful for cell phones. How did we ever manage without them?

I am grateful my husband has a good job, I am grateful my husband has a good job, I am grateful my husband has a good job—yes he is on the road again traveling. I will chant this mantra until he comes home. This, for some reason was a particularly hard parting for me. I guess I should add I am grateful that I’ve got a guy that I really miss when he is gone—means he’s wonderful to have around.

We had coffee on the patio before he left this morning and we talked about our life and some opportunities that seem to be presenting themselves. There appears to be an situation that we would have been thrilled about less than six months ago. Now we are seriously considering not following the lead, at least not seriously. We are still in this dinky duplex and are squished and bursting at the seams, but life is good, we are happy and best of all content. I mentioned to him that it has been on my heart to really try to memorize these moments. There will possibly be a day that we “have more” in the way of things, but I don’t know that we could have more in the way of happiness.

I’m grateful for the week ahead that the LORD has waiting for me. I’m praying that I can use each moment to serve Him who has given us each and every breath.

What are you grateful for??

Visit Christine at Brady’s Bunch
the home for Grains of Gratitude.