“Is she…?”

My wife and I walk together at the mall when weather doesn’t permit us to walk in our neighborhood. We enjoy the opportunity to be together and talk without the fear of her interrupting my writing or my interrupting her counting while she’s knitting or crocheting. Walking at the mall is a wonderful couple thing.

Although we don’t always have something special to talk about, each of us feels confident the other person is ready to listen and to respond appropriately. Dare I say that things we share at the mall are more easily remembered?

One of the things we do during our walks is observe other people. Since I dislike most makeup–I especially detest what I refer to as “the raccoon look,” which tends to keep me and everyone else from seeing whether a woman or girl has pretty eyes–we’re apt to point out what I consider overly made up females.

Same for women who are dressed in ways we deem inappropriate. Either too much–top or bottom–is showing or these people are simply too big overall to dress in their choice of styles. We especially notice older woman who’re wearing a style made for much younger women.

Of course, we would never dream of expressing our opinions to anyone else, and we readily concede to one another (and I concede to you) that these are only our opinions. People are perfectly free to dress and make themselves up as they please. They’re not doing it for us, and God has not made either of us active members of the Fashion Police. In reality, we’re apt to chastise ourselves for being so critical.

But one of our most interesting mall observation activities has to do with pregnant women. Or women who at least look pregnant.

One of us will glance conspicuously towards a particular woman. “What about her? Is she…?”

Then the other person looks at the subject in question, and we start analyzing the clues. If she appears to be within the normal child-bearing age range and of a normal size except for her abdominal protrusion, we’re apt to concur that she is pregnant.

Some woman are just too obviously pregnant not to be.

But therein lies the problem. Some of the most obviously pregnant looking women still probably aren’t. They are simply fat in an unfortunate-looking way.

Like the makeup and clothes we criticize between ourselves, we can’t do anything about those women. So we laugh and tease one another. “You go ask her.”

Have you ever asked a woman–hopefully a real friend–about her pregnancy, only to learn she’s not? Was it disastrous or did she take it well? How about sharing a comment.

NOTE: Various people have complained about not being able to find or leave comments. Go all the way to the bottom of this post, beneath my “Best regards, Roger.” On the very bottom line of that last section just above the previous post you’ll see “Leave a Comment” if yours will be the first or “X Comments,” where  X denotes the number of existing comments.


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Best regards,

Making Lists (part two)

If you read my post this past Sunday, you already know that my wife and I–and our collective adult kids–are crazy about making and using wish lists. Especially at this time of year.

But I mentioned that we keep and use another kind of list as well. One that’s even more important.

That’s a prayer list. A list of the people we know about who have special needs we can do nothing better for than to pray.

Each of us has one or more lists, although our lists probably overlap a great deal.

We normally pray aloud before eating breakfast and supper, and I’m usually the one to do that. I have a number of items on my mealtime prayer list, and I don’t try to cover them all during one short prayer. Sometimes I do.

First I pray for our family, church, nation, and the people of Nicaragua (our church has an ongoing ministry with some churches in Nicaragua).

Next I pray for what I lovingly refer to as “our pregnant trio.” That includes my daughter and–until last week–one of Kathleen’s, who’s since had her baby.

Then comes a series of men, women, and children we know of with special needs. Right now, that begins with prayer for my father-in-law, who–after years of suffering 24/7–appears to be near death. At one point we would have prayed for his healing. Now we pray for God’s will to be done. Many of the other people on this part of the list have been on it for years now, but their needs continue and we can’t stop praying for them.

We also pray at mealtime for people we know of who’re grieving or perhaps have been grieving for a while. That’s especially important at this time of year.

I have my own private prayer list as well, which includes several people I never knew well, but nonetheless have concerns about their spiritual needs. This list started years ago with only two or three names, but has grown to fifteen-plus, including a Muslim who believes he can be both a Christian and a Muslim. I also pray for his family; I don’t know their individual names.

If you’re not a Christian–or someone who believes in a “god” of some sort–keeping a prayer list and using it daily may sound a bit strange. But we believe it’s important. The Bible teaches that God’s children are to ask Him for the things they want–but not like reeling off a wish list–and we believe God answers prayer. Not always the way we want–He sees things from a totally different perspective from us–but the way He knows is best.

Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane the night before his crucifixion. He asked God the Father to spare Him from the suffering  He’d come to earth to endure for our sake. But He concluded His prayer with the words God always honors: “Not my will, but Yours.”

God may not answer our prayers for the many people on our lists the way we want, but we can be certain He’ll do what’s best according to His will and His purposes.

Is prayer real to you? Do you pray regularly? Do you expect answers? How about leaving a comment?


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Best regards,

YA Novels Aren’t Just for Teens

When Barbour Publishing released my first two Young Adult novels in 2011, I soon discovered that most of the positive feedback would come from adults. Not teens.

Since then I’ve learned that’s the norm. Adults love well written Young Adult novels. And I don’t mean just the Harry Potter books or The Hunger Games.

I’d like to believe that’s partially because conscientious parents want to make sure their kids are reading decent books. But I’m realistic enough to know that probably isn’t the case most of the time.

Why then?

I believe adults enjoy teen stories because we remember our own teen years sufficiently well that we can relate to them. And I believe far fewer teens enjoy (decent) adult novels because they cannot relate. They haven’t lived long enough or experienced enough of adult trials and tribulations.

I periodically agree to become an “influencer” for someone else’s new novel. Among other things, that means I receive a copy of the book–sometimes a print copy, sometimes electronic–and read and post reviews of it.

When I volunteered to become an influencer for Marissa Shrock’s YA novel, The First Principle, I did so because the brief synopsis sounded interesting.

Can you imagine a futuristic time (not too far in the future) when the United States as a nation has been replaced by a nation made up of the former United States, Mexico, and Canada? Freedom as we know it is a thing of the past, and the more affluent are in control. People must trust the government to know what’s best for them under all circumstances; that sounds too much like today.

Christians are enemies of the State and the Bible as we know it is illegal. The government has issued an authorized revised Bible meant to appeal to the members of every religion.

Teens are not discouraged from having sex. That, too, sounds too much like today. Every teen girl is vaccinated against pregnancy, but since the vaccine doesn’t always work, girls must take a regularly scheduled pregnancy test. Any teen who gets pregnant automatically faces abortion, and no one thinks of it as murder.

But there’s trouble in paradise. A rebel faction has been building for years, determined to restore the former United States and the freedoms people used to enjoy. And Christians play a huge role in the conspiracy.

What really grabbed my attention when I first opened the book–a print copy–was the fact that Marissa didn’t have the usual list of endorsements by other authors. Instead, she listed seven or eight brief endorsements by teen readers, giving only their first names and their ages. If I were a teen girl, that would probably have sold me on the book right there.

I’m not going to give away any of the story today. But, if you read the back cover, you learn that Vivica, the teen protagonist, faces some drastic decisions when she becomes illegally pregnant. One thing the author did especially well was to portray Vivica as a well-intended but imperfect teen.

The further I went in my reading, the more drawn in I became. The story was wonderfully suspenseful and the ending quite satisfying–and obviously paving the way for a sequel.

I could’ve live without all of the details about the new country and how it came into being, especially as an information dump at the beginning of Chapter Two. I’m just not sure all of those details were necessary.

But if that’s my biggest criticism, I have to still say that The First Principle is a teen novel well worth reading.

What have you read recently? Any teen books? Care to share with a comment?


I’ll be back again on Wednesday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, just go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

“On Aging Gracelessly” isn’t my only blog. I post lyrics of the Christian songs I’ve written over the last fifty years on “As I Come Singing”–check it out HERE. Free lead sheets (tune, words, and chords) are available for many of them. View the list HERE.

My new novel, The Devil and Pastor Gus, is out now. If you’re interested, please check it out at Amazon.

Best regards,