On Saturday, we had Jack’s sixth birthday party. A half hour before it started, someone knocked on my door. It was my dad. And my mom. Who live in California!

They’d driven up to surprise us and celebrate Jack’s birthday with him. You should have seen the look on Jack’s face–and Jane’s too–when Papa and Pita walked through the door. They both looked positively radiant. My dad said later that my face outshone both of theirs. I love my parents!

The party itself was a smash–literally. We had seven kids beating on a pinata with a baseball bat. No one was injured, thanks be to God (though Jane crawled into her Pita’s lap and later said the pinata was the lowlight of her day). The other kids had a blast, especially when the candy came crashing down and they all scrambled to gather it up.

After the party, I opened the mail, a letter from my publisher. It was my first year’s sales report. (Yes, my book has been out a whole year!) And it was depressing. It was worse than depressing. It was humiliating. The last three months I’ve had negative sales. You read that right. Negative sales.

How, you ask, can one have negative book sales? Well, when more distributors and booksellers return copies of my book than buy them, I get negative sales. The last three months of negative more than wiped out the previous two months of positive.

I cried.

I felt hurt and humiliated. But at least I understood why my editor passed on my book proposal (a proposal he said was really good, a proposal he requested…albeit before he knew about my depressing sales numbers). He’d said sales of my book were “sluggish.” He was being kind. Sales of my book aren’t sluggish. They’re non-existent.

I’m so glad this news came on a day when my parents were here, when our family was celebrating Jack’s life. It helped keep the book sales (or lack thereof) in perspective. God is so good like that: when things go south in one part of my life, they’re joyful in another.

Lately, my whole life has felt like a study in those kinds of contrast.