Monday, December 6, 2010

Moving Day




Hey everyone!

Well, it's that time. Again.

Packers will be here in a little bit to put our whole world in boxes, ready to ship it across the Pacific. As such, my posts on here are about to get, well, sporatic at best. I hope to be able to get on once in awhile to let you know I'm still alive and what I'm up to.

In Jan 2011, though, you can look for me to be back at full speed. I'll be in Hawaii, lounging by the beach--and who couldn't be inspired by that!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Who Can Resist My Hook?



In October, I entered the ACFWOhio Chapter’s Hook Me Contest. I turned in a back cover blurb along with the first 1000 words to see if I would “hook” the judges into wanting to read my novel.

I finally got the results back, along with some great feedback. No, I didn’t win, but that’s okay. I still did really well. My main reason for entering was that I needed some feedback on my first 1000 words as I’d been receiving conflicting opinions.

I belong to two critique groups which are wonderful and I absolutely respect the opinions of these fellow writers—however, in certain cases they tend to disagree a lot. And the first few pages of my first chapter was one of them. Some people like it just the way it is and believe it accomplishes introducing the characters in a good way before the horrible tragedy at the end of the chapter. Others think that the first few pages are not interesting enough to garner the reader’s attention and keep them engaged to get to the second part of the chapter.

So, for awhile I’ve been debating on who was right and what I needed to do about it (if anything). After receiving the feedback from the judges and then brainstorming with my wonderful hubby, I’m excited to say that I think I’ve finally figured out which path I’m going to try. Which one do you ask?

Well, I’m going to make some changes, but I’m not exactly giving up the first few pages. A little relocation, deletion of a character, and shortening the length of the opening scene will help to introduce the important characters in the “normal” life before I throw that life out of whack.

Too bad I’m up to my head in moving stuff or I’d go rewrite it now! I’m hoping that after we’re packed up and on vacation, I’ll have plenty of time to edit the rest of my novel and go over it a couple more times.

My goal is to be completely done by February. I’m going to try my hand at the Amazon Breakout Novel Award again (despite the disaster that occurred the first time), and then enter the ACFW Genesis contest in March. FEEDBACK! After that, then I hope to start querying it. We shall see!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Hello, December!




Hello, December! Oh how I've missed you. So glad you've come around again.


Now, for all of my faithful readers, picture this:

Wet snow perfect for sledding and building snowmen

Hot chocolate (or coffee)

Crackling fireplace with a stack of books and that perfect throw

A bare Christmas tree just begging to be decorated

A nativity scene with a missing baby Jesus (yes, I hide mine until Christmas morning)


This is my time of the year!

This year is a little different for us though. We didn't get to put up a tree and decorate the house. We'll be having Christmas "on the road" this year. As we prepare for our transition to Hawaii, we are taking four weeks to visit family (who knows when we'll see them again!).

That's what I'm looking forward to most this year. Spending time with our families. Being military, we very rarely live anywhere close to family. Right now, my family is in Virginia and my husband's family is in Kentucky--we're in Kansas (soon to be Hawaii). Family get togethers only happen a couple of times a year.

This year will be extra special.

What are you looking forward to this Christmas season? Anything special or different? Or are you reveling in the gift of a "normal" Christmas celebrating the birth of Christ?

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Farewell November




Wow! Who can believe it is the last day of November already? It just seemed to fly by for me--so much to do, so little time.

This month is all about Thanksgiving.

You know, I think we learn (or are reminded of) something when we reflect on what we are most thankful for. Sometimes we are reminded of just how lucky we are. Sometimes we learn that good things come to those who work hard. Sometimes we learn that while the day to day is important, nothing compares to time shared with family. Sometimes we learn something completely off the wall!

So before we enter a season of sparkling snow, blinking lights, carols, and a special birthday celebration...let's consider what we learned.

I learned that even in the midst of chaos and craziness when you can't celebrate holidays with traditions, just being with your family can fill you with that special holiday spirit.

What did you learn?

Monday, November 29, 2010

To Kick off the Christmas Season...




It’s official folks! We have entered into my favorite time of the year. Christmas. I look forward to December from the moment we flip over into the new year all the way until the day after Thanksgiving (which is when I am able to convince hubby to finally pull out the Christmas decorations). I am one of those weird people that would let my house look like Christmas all year long if my husband didn’t threaten to chuck all of the decorations. Hehehe…

My favorite part, though, is definitely the aspect that has diminished over the years. I love celebrating the birth of our Lord, Jesus Christ. That’s the whole reason for the holiday, right? My girls are getting old enough to start understanding what Christmas is all about, and I so look forward to imparting this bit of good news to them.

Know what else? I love Christmas music.

Yep, that’s right. I would also listen to Christmas music all year long if…well, you know. My favorite Christmas song is “Mary, Did You Know?”

As parents, from the time we know we are expecting, we dream of what our children will be when they grow up. We have lofty aspirations for them and try our best to equip them to be the best person that they can be. I’m sure Mary and Joseph were no different.

In the first chapter of the Gospel of Luke, an angel comes to Mary and relates to her God’s will for her. “But the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end."

Now, talk about some lofty aspirations. I wonder how hard it would be to grasp that kind of news. Never mind the part about being a virgin and giving birth, but to know that your son is meant to be THE king in the house of Jacob, or as the angel says in his next line, the Son of God.

When Mary gave birth in a stable and laid her son in a manger, how hard was it to comprehend how this lowly birth would rise to the right hand of God? How would we even know how to train our child for something like that?

One other thing that I love about the song, “Mary, Did You Know?” is that it does a wonderful job of displaying both the deity and the humanity in Jesus. I can’t listen to that song without tearing up each time. Just imagining myself in Mary’s place is enough to humble me.

I have been blessed beyond belief with two daughters and a son. Of course, I dream of what my children will be when they grow up. My biggest hope is that they will be compassionate, God-fearing people who aren’t afraid to make a difference.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Mama's Holiday Wish List

TodaysMama (link to: http://bit.ly/tmwishlist) and GameStop (link to: http://bit.ly/gamestop10) are giving away a sleighful of gifts this holiday season and to enter I’m sharing this meme with you.

1. What is your holiday wish for your family?

That we will have a safe and smooth transition from Kansas to Hawaii (yes, we’re moving over the holidays).

2. What is your Christmas morning tradition?

We get up when the girls do, open presents, read the Christmas story while monkey bread bakes in the oven.

3. If you could ask Santa for one, completely decadent wish for yourself, what would it be?

A new laptop! Mine is 2 ½ years old and, as much as I use it, has started overheating (even with one of those air fans), and sometimes the internet freezes for no particular reason that I can tell.

4. How do you make the holidays special without spending any money?

Remembering that Jesus was all about helping others, it’s fun to find ways to help friends and neighbors. We also make time for family night with special dinners and Christmas movies.

5. What games did you play with your family growing up?

Oh we are a big game family and played lots of different board/card games. Our favorite was Scrabble for many years, but Cranium may have taken over.

6. What holiday tradition have you carried on from your own childhood?

Opening one present on Christmas Eve, and monkey bread for breakfast on Christmas Day.

7. Where would you go for a Christmas-away-from-home trip?

To visit family, of course! Or somewhere that really goes all out for celebrating Christmas.

8. Check out GameStop (link to: http://bit.ly/gamestop10) and tell us, what are the three top items on your GameStop Wish List this year?

1. Nintendo DS
2. World of Warcraft: Cataclysm (for hubby)
3. Zumba Fitness for Wii

New Photos


So, a few weeks ago, my blogger friend, Kimchi, and I spent the morning with a professional photographer. We had an amazing time! I don't normally like having my picture taken, but we were having so much fun that I didn't even care. hehehe... The photographer did a fabulous job of making me look halfway decent. lol... Anyway, I thought I'd share a sampling of those photos:









Thursday, November 18, 2010

Mini-Review of "Rooms"




I am on page 115 of the novel, Rooms by James Rubart. I had heard so many good reviews about this story that I just had to pick it up. So far it is living up to all the hype.

From Amazon description:

"On a rainy spring day in Seattle, young software tycoon Micah Taylor receives a cryptic, twenty-five-year-old letter from a great uncle he never knew. It claims a home awaits him on the Oregon coast that will turn his world inside out. Suspecting a prank, Micah arrives at Cannon Beach to discover a stunning brand new nine-thousand square foot house. And after meeting Sarah Sabin at a nearby ice cream shop, he has two reasons to visit the beach every weekend.

When bizarre things start happening in the rooms of the home, Micah suspects they have some connection to his enigmatic new friend, Rick, the town mechanic. But Rick will only say the house is spiritual. This unnerves Micah because his faith slipped away like the tide years ago, and he wants to keep it that way. But as he slowly discovers, the home isn’t just spiritual, it’s a physical manifestation of his soul, which God uses to heal Micah’s darkest wounds and lead him into an astonishing new destiny."

There is quite the wide range of reviews on Amazon concerning this novel. Reading through some of them, most of the 1 star ratings come from people who were bitter because they didn't realize ahead of time that it was a Christian novel and felt "duped". Others just missed the entire point of the book and thought it was just about how money/success and God don't mix (which in not what I am getting so far).

Anyway, so I'll keep you updated as I read this book. I hope to finish it this weekend. Have a fabulous day!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Let's Share! -- Thanksgiving Traditions

As a child, I always looked forward to Thanksgiving. Most years my family headed out to my grandmothers for the weekend. Now, this may not sound too exciting, but you'd have to know my family. Here are some important stats:

1. My grandmother had 9 kids--all married--all with at least 2 kids of their own. Talk about a full house!

2. My family is VERY big on board/card games, and people are always bringing new games to try out.

3. One of the favorite things for the kids was BINGO. The parents collected little prizes throughout the year and put them in a big box. Yay!

4. BIG family means LOTS of food. I mean TONS! (And not just for the actual Thanksgiving Day event)

5. My grandmother lives in the middle of nowhere. This means all kinds of things for kids to do outside. Dig holes. Play ball. Walk the creek. Go deer hunting. Play with electric cattle fences.

6. Nothing compares to the wonderful feeling of togetherness when surrounded by family.

Now that most of the grandkids are grown and having kids of their own, Thanksgiving isn't quite the same. Not everyone makes it out anymore. A lot of the family has diabetes, so the food has changed as well. Still, I retain those fond memories from childhood of a true Thanksgiving complete with all the trimmings of family.

What are some of your favorite Thanksgiving traditions? Memories?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Thankfulness with a Kick









Every now and then it occurs to me that my attitude towards certain areas of my life needs some adjusting. I think it always comes to my attention at the end of the year. With Thanksgiving and Christmas, my focus is more finely tuned to the things in my life that I’m thankful for (and too often take for granted).

Monday I talked about joy in all situations—and today delves into that from a different aspect. “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Jesus Christ for you.” (1 Thess 5:16-18) Not only should we have joy, but we should give thanks in all situations.

Too often I dwell on how much I despise housework. Yet, how often do I stop and thank God that not only do I have a house, but I have a family who would benefit from the loving care of a home. Some people consider home under a bridge or a cardboard shanty.

Too often I grumble about making dinner at the end of a long day (yeah, not so much the cook here). But how often do I thank God that not only do I have food to prepare, but that I have choices—when so many people across the world survive on the basics of basics, if any food at all.

Too often I feel stressed with all the demands on my time. When do I stop to thank God not only for my health, but for such wonderful opportunities to make friends and witness to others?

Too often I get down on myself for neglecting housework, not eating healthy, or being sick a lot. How often do I remember that I was bought at a price? That I am redeemed by a Savior who loved me enough to die for me? That I am a daughter of the King of kings? Why is that not a daily encouragement—the first thought in the morning, and then last one before I go to sleep?

We have so much to be thankful for, and I think we forget about that sometimes. We see reminders sometimes—a commercial on TV to help the starving kids, walking downtown in a larger city, when this time of year comes around and we start seeing more on all the charities like Operation Christmas Child, Salvation Army, etc.

We have a life and we have abundance—we need to live life abundantly with joy and thanksgiving. What do you need to remember to be thankful for?

Monday, November 8, 2010

Joy in All Situations

Matthew 1:18-23

I grew up a military brat, and the middle of my sophomore year my dad received PCS orders for Fort Knox, Kentucky. When were we moving? Christmas break.

Now Christmas is, and always has been, my favorite time of the year. I love celebrating Christ’s birth. I cherish the family traditions—from decorating the tree to fixing monkey bread for breakfast to hearing the Christmas story one more time. How were we going to maintain those traditions if we were “on the road”?

Over 2000 years ago, a young man faced a situation he dreaded as well. Joseph took a wife who was already with child, a mark of shame in their culture and grounds for divorce.

God had other plans.

An angel appeared to Joseph and revealed the joy in his situation. This baby was the answer to the prophecies of old. His destiny would be to save the nations from sin.

As for me, my parents made the trip memorable. They gave my sisters and I a set of small ornaments and strung a wire around the interior of our van—our mobile Christmas tree. They stocked up on Christmas CDs, goodies, and a couple of presents. We got to spend two weeks visiting family, both in Kansas and Virginia. I had my family.

What I had anticipated to be a horrible holiday turned into one of the best. Even in the darkest of moments, there is joy to be found. Is your heart searching for those possibilities?

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Let's Share! -- Who are You?




Happy Friday everyone!

The year has passed by to quickly and we're already in the last couple months of 2010. November, as we all know, is a time to be thankful. Our blessings make us realize how fortunate we are.

This year one thing I'm thankful for are my blog readers! Yes, that's right. Each and every one of you. You have shown me encouragement and support, you've challenged me to be better and delve deepers. You've cheered with me and prayed with me--you've witnessed me at my best and at my worst.

I could not have asked for better friends over the last year.

Then I came to realize...I don't know all of you that well. So, for this week's Let's Share!, how about we turn the tables. I want to get to know you! Share with us a thing or two about you and let's get to know each other better.

Have a FAB weekend!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Justice

Let’s pretend.

It’s late at night. You had to work late and now you’re rushing to the car to get home to catch the tail end of dinner and a few moments with the kids before they head off to bed. In your hurry, you fumble the keys and they fall to the ground. When you bend over to retrieve them, the sound of footsteps echo in the parking lot.

You spin around to find that pesky guy on the third floor who’s had his eye on your job for awhile. He thinks you did something nefarious to get the promotion instead of him. With a wild look in his eye tonight, who knows what he’s got on your mind.

You open your mouth to greet him. Before a sound gets out, his fist slams into your nose. Your mind reels as your body falls back. Your unsteady legs search for balance when his fist sinks into your stomach. Doubling over, you stumble to the ground.

He goes to kick you, but you block his foot with your arm. He tries again. This time, you catch his foot and shove him. He stumbles back and trips over the curb, flips over a fence, and slams his head into a tree before sinking to the ground. Dead.

Now you find yourself in a precarious situation. You did nothing wrong—but there is a good chance you will go to jail on manslaughter charges—especially if there were no witnesses to the incident.

My husband and I got into a discussion about this yesterday. Self-defense that leads to prison. Or another example. The robber who breaks into the house, hurts himself, and then sues the owners because he was injured on their property.

Where’s the justice in that?

We live in an imperfect world. Sometimes the bad guys win. Sometimes we do nothing wrong, and still our lives are ruined.

Jesus did not promise us a life free from injustice. Being a Christian doesn’t grant us an immunity to this fallen world.

God does assure us, though, that vengeance is His. He is the ultimate Judge. Each person will have to answer for what they’ve done.

I may get frustrated with events like the ones described above, but I know that God sees all. What goes unpunished or without justice here on earth, will be rectified in Heaven. Praise the Lord!

Monday, November 1, 2010

New Month, Renewed Hope




“For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all God’s people, I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit] of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.” Eph 1:15-23

Praise the Lord!

We serve an awesome God. A God who created this world and everything in it. He spoke and it came into being. A God who demonstrated His power over and over again in the Old Testament—from raising a young boy from shepherd to king of Israel to stopping the sun in the sky to bringing victory to an army of 300.

We serve a God who sacrificed His own Son for our sins—and then raised him from the dead.

Hallelujah for Jesus reigns!

Jesus, the Son of the Most High God, sits at His right hand. The Son who was made man, who walked among us for a time, showing us how to live and love one another. A Savior who, in obedience, hung on a cross that we might live. He offers us eternal life through his death. King of kings, he rules the church—his bridegroom, his body. And now, he is the Great Intercessor, interceding on our behalf.

What an encouragement to contemplate as we enter the holiday season! We have so much power at our fingertips. We are sons and daughters of God, we share in the same inheritance that Christ has (1 Peter 1:3-5). We need only have faith. Faith that God is who He says He is, faith that Christ’s death was not in vain. When we embrace who we are in Christ, we open the door for God to work in our lives and bless us beyond what we could ever imagine.

Let’s start this month with praise and worship for our Creator and our Savior. Let us raise our hands, our voices, and our hearts, pouring out our thanksgiving and our hopes, but also allowing God to fill us with His Spirit that we may live life…not just live it, but live it abundantly (John 10:10).

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

NaNo No-No

Are you participating in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) seems to be the question of the week. Of course, it would be since NaNo starts next Monday. A month dedicated to writing 50,000 words on a new writing project. Why they chose the month that begins the holiday season, I have no idea, but still it continues to grow in popularity.

I’ve participated twice in the past. Both times, something major came up that kept me from completing the novel—or even the 50,000. I was planning on giving it another go this year, but in light of a big move in December, the absence of my husband for 18 days, and not having completed the edits on Dividing Spirits, it’s just not going to happen (again).

I do, however, plan to devote as much time as I can to editing. I want the first round of edits, and possibly another once over, done by the time the movers come to pack up my house.

My pom-poms are out though. I’m ready to cheer on my friends. I know that this coming month will be full of pressure and fun, rough spots and excitement—and for those who survive, a sense of accomplishment and a neat little certificate.

Write on!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Dancing before the Lord

David, wearing a linen ephod, danced before the LORD with all his might…” -2 Samuel 6:14

It’s Monday morning—the start of a brand new week!

Last week is gone—in the past, old news—we’ve been there, done that. Next week is so far off and never guaranteed. But this week, today, is here and now. A gift from the Lord.

Monday is especially special—the day after Sunday. The day after we join with others to worship the Lord along with other believers. Our cups have been refilled and we’re ready to tackle another week with renewed vigor.

How often do we worship the Lord during the week? I’m not just talking prayer…but uninhibited worship?

In 2 Samuel 6, David brings the Ark to Jerusalem. As the Ark came up the street, he sacrificed a bull and a fattened calf. Then he danced.

I love to dance. It is freeing to use all of my body in expression. I turn up the praise and worship music…and just let go. (Of course, sometimes my husband catches me and looks at me weird, my girls just join in. lol…)

Dance is not the only way to worship the Lord, of course. Music of any kind, prayer, thanksgiving, work…anything can be worship when done to the glory of the Lord. Obedience is a big one…but that is a whole other post in itself.

Today, though—today I am going to dance.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Let's Share! -- Excerpts

I know you all are ready for another teaser. This comes from the end of my most recently edited chapter. I'm open to any advice or comments. And feel free to post your own short excerpt--I'm anxious to see what my friends are writing as well. :)

In this scene, Graham and Ninevah are caught in a fire at a factory. All normal escape routes are either blocked, or they don't know how to get there, forcing them to the one window without bars on the second floor. Here ya go:

Her balance wavered, but she pulled herself onto the window ledge. She stood there, motionless.

“What are you doing?”

She didn’t answer.

“Ninevah, are you okay?”

“It’s too high.”

He groaned. Why did she have to be afraid of heights? He wiped a hand across the sweat on his forehead. It was hot. “Ninevah, I know you’re scared. But you have to jump.”

“I can’t.”

“Yes, you can. I know you can. It’s not as far as it looks.”

“Graham, I can’t.”

So much for easing into it. “Ninevah, do you want to die? Because that’s what’s going to happen if you don’t jump.”

She whimpered, but didn’t move.

He reined his voice in. “Ninevah, look at me.”

She turned her head to peer down at him.

“Ninevah, I know this is scary. I’m scared for you. But you have to do this.”

She nodded ever so slightly.

“On the count of three, okay?”

She turned back to the outside.

“One.”

Her fingers turned white against the dark frame of the window.

“Two.”

Her knees bent.

“Three.”

A piercing scream rang out above the din of the fire as her body disappeared from his view. The sound faded until he couldn’t hear anything. He waited. Nothing. Did she make it?

He raced to the window and hoisted himself up in a second. He balanced his boots on the window sill and searched for Ninevah. He found her on the rooftop in a crumpled heap. He watched, but she didn’t move.

Taking a deep breath, he jumped—arms spread, lungs frozen. The world rushed beneath him. The rooftop approached at lightning speed. He bent his knees to brace for impact. His feet hit, and he bent forward into a rolling tuck. The jolt took his breath away. No time to relax. He turned to his side.


Your turn--let's share!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Fun with Writing Quotes




WRITE!

That’s right, that’s what today is about.

Writer’s write. That’s what we do when we cut to the basics—when we ignore the pesky guidelines, when we push aside the outlines and the character sheets, when we manage to BICHOK—Writers write.

But sometimes, we reach a point where we get discouraged. Or we suffer from a bout of writer’s block. Or life keeps getting in the way.

How about a little inspiration? Let’s explore some fun quotes on writing.

You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you. ~Ray Bradbury

Well, if that isn’t a call to write every day, I don’t know what is. Writing is like any talent, I’m sure. It fades a bit if you don’t use it. Don’t use it long enough, and it has to be redeveloped—if it’s even still there.

Writing is a socially acceptable form of schizophrenia. ~E.L. Doctorow

Yes! The voices in my head are normal. I just tell people I’m a writer, and suddenly it’s okay that I talk to myself, answer myself, carry on whole conversations with myself. And it’s only mildly amusing when I start dancing around the living room as I act out scenes.

I try to leave out the parts that people skip. ~Elmore Leonard
Noble advice—good habit. DO NOT write the parts people skip. ‘Nuff said.

The pages are still blank, but there is a miraculous feeling of the words being there, written in invisible ink and clamoring to become visible. ~Vladimir Nabakov

I included this quote because one thing I love about the blank page is the infinite possibilities. As writers, we have the power to make anything happen. Anything. If we want a hero to rescue a damsel-in-distress, we can. If we want the damsel to save the hero, hey, more power to our uniqueness. If we want aliens to come down from outer space and zap the hero and damsel to their spaceship and do experiments on them—well, we may need a little help—but it’s still entertainment!

Don't tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass. ~Anton Chekhov

This quote just makes me want to go back through my manuscript and find as many “moons” as I can to improvise a more elegant way of showing. A challenge issued—I will prevail!

Ink and paper are sometimes passionate lovers, oftentimes brother and sister, and occasionally mortal enemies. ~Terri Guillemets

A wonderful quote of the overall writing experience. I know that there are many days where I fight to get words on the page; it’s like dragging a cat to the bathtub. But there are quite a few days where I don’t struggle so hard and manage some decent headway. Then there are those rare days when it all just clicks. The characters, the plot, action, dialogue—it’s all working and I write with such fervor until I am completely spent.

What’s your experience?

Monday, October 18, 2010

Be Strong and Take Heart




“Wait for the Lord, be strong and have heart and wait for the Lord.” Psalm 27:14

Over the past couple of months, I’ve realized that the Lord is preparing me for a season of change. Little by little, bit by bit, He is revealing His plan. It’s kind of hard, though, to know only part of the plan.

I have the type of personality that when big changes are coming, I need all the information. I need to be able to formulate my plan of “attack”—lists, schedules, you know the deal. A good example is this looming Hawaii trip. I know we’re moving. Yet, other than going through my household to get rid of trash and other items we no longer need. I can’t plan much else. My husband has all this stuff that has to be completed before he can get his orders cut and we can start making plans. It’s driving me nuts!

God works the same way as the Army sometimes.

We know from the Bible that, like the Army, we are on a need to know basis with God. He has a plan, and if we’re willing, He will use us. When He has something for us to do, He may disclose a small part of what’s in store, in order that we can start making the appropriate changes in our life.

In the Old Testament, God told Abraham that He would bless him with a son—yet that didn’t happen until twenty-five years later. In the New Testament, God had a plan for Saul (who later became Paul), and incited a change in him, even though it was years later before He sent Paul to the Gentiles.

In this verse, we are not only told to wait on the Lord, but to be strong and have heart while we do so. This is the part most of us struggle with. It can be frustrating and discouraging to wait—but it really shouldn’t be. God wants us to be strong and have heart because He has something in store for us—something better than we can imagine.

I know something big awaits me in Hawaii, and I know God has used the past couple of months, and will use the next couple of months, to prepare me. I’m not fretting over what that “big thing” is, instead, I’m using this time to deepen my relations ship with the Lord, letting Him shape my life to fit His plan so that when my time comes, I’ll be ready.

Are you waiting? What have you done to stay strong and take heart?

Friday, October 15, 2010

Let's Share! -- When I Grow Up...




Happy Friday!

No one quite has the imagination of a child. Also, no one can change their minds on a whim as much as a child. Yet, we should approach our dreams with child-like imagination. The stars are the limit...well, these days, even those aren't the limit.

When I was younger, I wanted to be a teacher, a dancer, and a newspaper reporter. When I got oldereeeee (high school), I bounced back and forth between a teacher and a drug & alcohol abuse counselor. These are all in addition to being a writer, of course, which I've loved since I could pick up a pencil.

Those dreams changed, of course, except for being a writer. Although they still manifest in my life in different ways. I don't want to be a teacher in a public school, but instead, I desire to train my children up in the way of the Lord and give them a solid education myself. I don't want to be a drug & alcohol counselor, but I still am an open ear to whoever needs to talk. And when the Lord leads, I can bring them a bit of peace, a word of advice. And, oddly, I hate the news. I never watch it. However, I am finding a love for article writing that I never thought I'd have (preferring fiction).

What about you? What did you want to be when you grow up? Anything influence what you did become?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Dare to Dream



It occurs to me this morning that there are only 79 days left in 2010. 79! That’s crazy. Remember those goals we made almost 10 months ago? Yeah…only 79 days left to fulfill those goals. Oy!

Possibly more important than those goals, what have you done to reach your dreams?

Do you know what your dreams are?

Over the next several weeks (until the day after Thanksgiving), I’m going to be focusing on achieving our dreams, no matter how big or small, in most of my Monday/Wednesday/Friday posts. (Tuesdays will still be Get To Know interviews, and Thursday will still be writing related!)

We’re going to prepare to make 2011 the year of dreams come true—Cinderella-style! Okay, maybe not Cinderella-style, but I’m sure she’ll make an appearance.

In the meantime, be thinking on those questions: Do you know what your dreams are? What have you done to reach them? Let your mind wander…

Sunday, October 10, 2010

10 Top 10 in 2010

10 Top 10 in 2010

Welcome to my opportunity to throw out some link love to friends and websites that have made a difference in my life. As well as give you a few other lists that I want to share. Most of these lists are in no particular order.

Top 10 Favorite Websites

1. Facebook – Yes, I’m addicted.
2. Writing.Com – If you didn’t catch my post on it, read it here.
3. Wives of Faith – One of my new favs, this website is a support and encouragement for military wives.
4. Twitter – Yes, I’m addicted.
5. Cafemom – a great place to meet other mothers. I use it when I find out I’m PCSing to make some friends ahead of time.
6. Swagbucks – a new place for me, I’m trying to earn Amazon gift cards!
7. ACFW – a wealth of information for the Christian fiction writer
8. GA Peach Homeschool – a great resource for homeschoolers on a budget!
9. Brightly Beaming Resources – A homeschool website for tots to Kindergarten, we are using their Letter of the Week curriculum this year.
10. Faith Writers – Kind of like Writing.Com but specifically for Christian writers.

Top 10 Websites I Visit Almost Every Day (not including blogs)

1. Yahoo Mail
2. Facebook
3. Twitter
4. Writing.com
5. Wives of Faith
6. Weather.com
7. My bank website
8. Swagbucks
9. Amazon – I have a very long wish list.
10. Cafemom

Top 10 Favorite Blogs

1. Word Vessel – blog of my ACFW critique partner. She’s a darling and does fab reviews/giveaways.
2. Confessions of a Homeschooler (homeschool)
3. The Writers Alley (writing)
4. Tuckers Take Tennessee (homeschool)
5. The Kill Zone (writing)
6. Building His Body (Christian)
7. Jill Kimerer (writing)
8. The New Author Fellowship (writing--but a good mix of other stuff too)
9. SM Blooding and Crew (mostly writing)
10. Chasing Dreams (one woman's tale of her writing journey)

Top 10 Favorite Authors

1. Frank Peretti
2. John B. Olson
3. Karen Kingsbury
4. Ted Dekker
5. C.S. Lewis
6. Luanne Rice
7. Mary Higgins Clark
8. Mary Connealy
9. Cathy Bryant
10. Alex Lidell

Top 10 Childhood Authors

1. Shel Silverstein (Children’s Poetry)
2. Lois Duncan
3. Beverly Cleary (Ramona and others)
4. Lurlene McDaniels (Six Months to Live Series and others)
5. Carolyn Keene (Nancy Drew)
6. Lois Lowery (The Giver and Number the Stars)
7. Scott O’Dell (Island of the Blue Dolphins, Black Star Bright Dawn)
8. Francine Pascal (Sweet Valley Series)
9. Carolyn Cooney (Face on the Milk Carton Series and others)
10. Gertrude Chandler Warner (The Box Car Children)


Top 10 Places I Want to Visit

1. Italy
2. Australia
3. Israel
4. Disney World (ok, I’ve already been, but am so excited to take the kids)
5. Niagra Falls
6. San Francisco
7. Hawaii (oh, wait, I’m going to be doing that soon!)
8. Aspen
9. Caribbean
10. Egypt

Top 10 People Who Influenced Who I am Today

1. Mom – She was a wonderful mother and I can only hope to be half the woman she is.
2. Dad – He did his part to serve our country and taught me about standing up for what I believe in.
3. Ms. Melodie Pooler and Mrs. Kirby – English teachers I had growing up that encouraged me to write.
4. Shel Silverstein – He is who inspired me to write at such a young age.
5. Beth Moore – Helped me evolve in my relationship with God.
6. My husband – Taught me to follow my heart and not give up.
7. My kids – Taught me to ease up and enjoy life.
8. My aunt – She got me to go back to church after several years.
9. Helen Keller – has been a role model for me since childhood.
10. A certain Sunday School teacher who tried to teach me that it was okay to be a Christian and be different from the rest of the world—although that wouldn’t stick for years to come.

10 Things about Me

1. I had surgery to remove a tumor in my neck when I was two days old.
2. I was a military brat growing up, and then I married back into the military. Sheesh—you think I’d try to get out of it.
3. I was published in a city-wide literary magazine when I was in the third grade for a paragraph on Martin Luther King. Hehehe… Go me! Does that count as a publishing credit?
4. I was in 4-H for several years, and was bummed to have to drop it when we moved to KY and they didn’t have the program for high school students.
5. My favorite movie is Enchanted, followed closely by the LotR and Star Wars trilogies. Yes, I am very eclectic in my tastes.
6. Right now, my family all live in different states. My parents in VA, one sister in KY, one in NV, and me in KS (soon to be HI). I know, that was random.
7. I have always had series health issues.
8. I just recently started blogging for Wives of Faith.
9. All my kids’ names are Celtic in origin b/c my husband is part Irish.
10. I graduated in the Top 10 in my class—and I don’t think I remember anything outside of English.

10 Things I Love

1. My family
2. My friends
3. Rainy days when I can curl up with a good book/movie
4. Snow (I’m an oddball)
5. Disney movies
6. Pizza and Lasagna
7. The color purple
8. Teaching my children
9. WRITING!
10. Social Media (horrible, I know)

10 Things I Despise

1. Beans and Fish
2. Diabetes
3. Crude humor
4. Politics
5. People who are fake
6. People who disrespect the military
7. Spiders and small, dark places
8. Doing the dishes
9. Gratuitous sex/violence/cursing in books and movies
10. Speed Limits—hehehe…

Friday, October 8, 2010

Update



(The girls were flower girls in my good friend and college roommates wedding last weekend.)


Happy Friday!

I apologize that this month's update is coming about kind of late. It slipped my mind that I hadn't posted one yet. That's ok, just more to tell, right?

Well, if you don't already know, my husband received orders last month. We're moving to Hawaii! We are very excited. I am a little sad to be leaving my friends and fellow writers here in Kansas, but military life is a transiate one, and I'm used to it. It's how I end up with friends all over the country.

The move is a quick one. We'll be leaving here the beginning of December, taking about thirty days to visit family, and then arrive in Hawaii either the end of Dec/beginning Jan. You all may think I'm crazy, but I'm going to miss the snow. Yes, I love snow.

The kids are doing fabulous. We started homeschooling in September. If you saw my post the other day, you know that so far it is going pretty well. It's taking me some time to figure out how to get organized for each week and each day, but it hasn't been discouraging. The girls love it though. And they are so smart!

Connor is getting huge! He's in 6-9 month clothing. He's not big by any means, he's just long for his age. A little wiggler, too. He is squealing, cooing, smiling--so entertaining. I think he might be starting to teeth, too. Not sure I'm ready for that. He's starting to grasp toys and play with them. It's fun to watch and interact with him. He has his four month appointment on th 17th. I can hardly believe he's already four months.

Due to life in general, not much writing has taken place over the last month. I don't have time during the day to focus, so editing is kind of out of the question. But, by the time the kids are all in bed, I'm too exhausted to do much of anything. I don't know, though, if I'm going to call myself a writer, I need to start kicking myself in the pants.

My goal for this month is to edit another ten chapters. I know that's not a lot, but it's more than nothing.

What are your goals for October? Oh, and who's going to participate in NaNoWriMo?

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Hooks and Endings

We all know that we have mere pages to hook our reader’s interest in our story. There are certain things that need to be in the first paragraph, first page, first chapter that will engage the reader and keep them reading.

But what about after the first chapter? What keeps them from putting the book back on the shelf? Or cleaning the kitchen? Or, worse yet--*gulp*--turning on the TV?

Hooks are a continuous part of our novels. Each chapter beginning should start with something to grab the reader’s attention, just like the first chapter. It doesn’t have to drop you into the middle of a big action scene, but it should spark the reader’s curiosity.

Just opposite of the beginning, of course, is the end of the chapter. The end of a section is a good opportunity for the reader to put the book down for a bit or even so they can go to bed. A writer’s job is to make that as hard as possible. Yes, we can torture our readers as well as our characters.

The end of chapter should end propelling the reader into the next chapter (where they will be hooked by the beginning…see the endless, vicious cycle?) to find out something. Great places to stop our called cliffhangers. Some will be stronger than others, some are emotional and others are physical situations. Either way, they should leave the reader with a question in their mind? Will the heroine escape the fire? Will Bob cave to his fear and not ask Miss Marilynn to marry him? Where’s the baby? Got milk?

So, how do we accomplish these tasks over and over again? Here’s some tips and tricks:

*Create conflict/tension at the beginning of the chapter, stop at the height of it in the end.

*Drop the reader into the middle of an action scene, stop before an action scene is completely resolved.

*Avoid pleasantries to open/close a chapter. I’ve read in different places that most of the time, a writer can cut the first few lines, or the last few lines from a chapter, and the reader will still have all the information they need, but the pacing will be better (and possibly the tension/conflict stronger).

*Before you answer a story question, propose another one. Also, put off resolutions until the next chapter, but don’t forget to raise the stakes.

*Unless you’re writing a suspense/thriller/horror novel, not every chapter can be filled with non-stop action. Even in those novels, writers have to give the readers a break. Work on finding emotional hooks/cliffhangers to keep the tension high without resorting to someone getting killed or landing in the middle of some precarious situation.

*Never take the easy way out.

Here’s an example from my WIP:

End of Chapter 11:

She stood and brushed the loose grass from her pants. “Did you come back to harass the crazy lady?

“Do you really think you can help?”

She drew her lips into a line and shook her head. “I don’t know. I have no idea what God intends for me to do with this gift. The fact is I witnessed the murder for a reason and now I need to see it through.”

He stared off into the distance. His jaw muscles twitched.

She didn’t care if he believed her—it wasn’t like he needed to—but she needed to solve this puzzle. Her whole body ached for answers.

At last, he jerked his head toward the car. “Get in,” he growled. “But not a word to anyone as to why you are with me. Understood?”


Beginning of Chapter 12:

Axriel approached Rochester’s new office with his blood boiling. The human body’s reaction to anger aggravated him even more. The racing of his heart, the drumming in his temples, the way his skin turned an ugly shade of scarlet never ceased to irritate him. Sure, he got angry. In fact, he got angry quite a bit, but his demon form showed no physical signs. He was free to act on that emotion as well. He didn’t have to cower behind human confines and relegate his anger to a small corner of his mind.

What do you think?

When we keep our hooks/endings strong, that’s when we hear of readers who stayed up til 3 a.m. to finish our novels. We get to be the blame for tired moms, zombie employees, and children who fall asleep in class. That’s quite the accomplishment, isn’t it?

What other tips and tricks do you have to offer? Also, I would love to read your favorite chapter endings/beginnings from your own WIP.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

They Get It!

Wow! They really get it.

By "they" I mean my daughters. As you all know, we began homeschooling this year with a laid back pre-k curriculum. We've been at it officially for a couple of weeks.

It has been such a blessing to be able to watch them learn in a purposeful environment. We are learning our letters (well, they already know most of them) and their sounds through the Letter of the Week curriculum. It incorporates all basic subjects under the focus of that weeks letter.

For instance, this week we are on the letter "B". In addition to learning the sound and how to write, we are also studying bears, butterflies, ballerinas, and bananas. We're lacing butterflies, matching bears, dancing like ballerinas...just having a ball. Reading is becoming a favorite activity--finally.

They love it (most of the time). And I get a thrill when I ask them a question in a review and they KNOW the answer. It's also great to see the differences in the girls--in their learning styles (which are still developing) and in their strengths subject wise.

You know...maybe with God's help, I can do this.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

VOTW - Whose Approval?




I ran into some friends the other day that I hadn’t seen in years. In fact, I hadn’t seen them since I had kids—over four years ago. It’s always nice to get together with people after an extensive time apart and catch up, especially if it feels just like old times, don’t you think?

I love catching up with old friends, except for one thing, I’m not who I was back then. As I’ve matured and grown closer in my relationship with Christ, I’ve become a different person on a different path then the girl these people knew. I’m not afraid to be different, not worried about following the crowd. Yet, when questioned about some lifestyle choices (in a curious fashion, not a judgmental one), like homeschooling, I found out I still want to be accepted. I felt the need to qualify my decisions, even though my friends weren’t questioning my choices. My defenses went up automatically.

“Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.” Gal 1:10

This verse comes in the beginning of Paul’s letter to the Galatians, who were falling prey to false gospels. They were compromising their beliefs to fit in, much like the old me.

This is an area of weakness I know I have to fight. As believers, we are not here to win the hearts of those around us. In fact, the Bible says that the world will not understand us, nor will they like us. Instead, we seek to please God. We cannot serve two masters—the world and God. Their moralities don’t mix.

So, as we go into the first full week of October, let’s reflect on whose approval it is we seek!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Christmas Spectacular Blog Tour!




Christmas is just around the corner! What fun! How exciting!

I am in the beginning stages of planning a blog tour for Christmas—a chance for all of us to share our thoughts and memories of the holiday season.

The tour will last for four weeks—each week with a theme. All of it leading up to the big party on Christmas Eve Day on my blog. The themes are:

The Holidays are Here!—a survival guide and why the holidays are so exciting.

Holiday How-Tos—anything from tying a bow around a Christmas present to avoiding scary extended family to more serious subjects like keeping Christ in Christmas.

A Treasure of Traditions and Memories—Self-explanatory. What are your favorite Christmas traditions? Or what are some unique ones you’ve heard of? What are your favorite memories?

The Reason for the Season—Thoughts and reflections on what makes this season so special

What I need now is blogs!

Each volunteer will pick a day of the week (hopefully there will be a few each day) to create a post around the theme of the week. I’ll organize the days and keep everyone up to date. The posts can be funny or serious, long or short (but not too long…), whatever your feeling for the week—as long as you are uplifting, encouraging, and celebrating—avoid blatant negativity. Every day on my blog, I will post the blogs that are featured that day, and I invite everyone else to do the same.

If you can commit to one post a week between Black Friday (the day after Thanksgiving) until Christmas Eve Day, leave a comment on this post!

If you don’t want to participate (or even if you do), and would still like to help, I am looking for festive gifts for the big party on Christmas Eve Day. Books, baskets of goodies, ornaments…use your imagination. You won’t have to send it to me, I’ll send you the winner’s information (which will be in the US). If this sounds like a wonderful opportunity to give back this holiday season, leave a comment below.

I am hoping this will be a fantabulous party that we can all enjoy, as well as entertain our followers. In case you can’t tell—I love Christmas!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

A Personal Q&A




What's your greatest fear?

Well, on the surface, it would seem that spiders are my greatest fear. Yes, I am very arachnophobic. I can still remember my sister chasing me around with Daddy Longlegs and screaming my head off.

If you look deeper, though, you’ll see my greatest fear is linked to my greatest desire—to make a difference. My fear is that I will not make a difference, that I will be ineffectual.

What was the most dangerous thing you ever did?

Most dangerous? Oh, I am so not a risk-taker like that. Sleeping on a dock with nothing to keep me from rolling into the water is the only thing that comes to mind. Well, that, and getting pregnant in spite of all my health issues.

What's your dream?

Besides becoming a published author and making a difference? My dream is to raise my wonderful children to be considerate, loving adults who trust in God the same way I do now.

How many manuscripts do you have under your belt?

Technically, I’ve written four novels. Two of which will probably never see the light of day if I have my way. One which I wrote, revised, and pitched—but then put on the back burner. My current WIP is completed and in the editing process.

Name the top 10 people you would most like to meet in the world, in order of preference?

Number one would be Alex Lidell. She is one of my favorite writing partners and although we’ve conversed for about three years online, we’ve never met. The rest are in no particular order:

2. Beth Moore—her Bible studies are the main “human” reason I am where I am in my relationship with my Savior.

3. John B. Olson—I loved his novel, Shade, and look forward to reading Powers. He writes in the same genre as I would like to.

4. Dawne Dominique—A lady who has been so supportive and encouraging as I explore this crazy world of writing and publishing.

5. Annie and Jay—Part of the East Coast Trio (including Alex Lidell), these two are great writers, fab reviewers, and well, just all-around good people to know.

6. Ren Black—Another critique partner, her and I both hope to be published by the same publisher one day. We also have a lot in common when it comes to our lifestyles—from writing to homeschooling.

7. The Ladies of The Writer’s Alley—One of my favorite blogs, each woman is so unique and fun, I’d just love a chance to meet them all one day.

8. Sandra Byrd—My mentor in the Christian Writers Guild Apprenticeship program, she has helped me grow so much over the last couple of years. I’d love to meet her one day and give her a great big hug!

9. Sara Horn—Founder of Wives of Faith, a ministry focused on supporting and encouraging military wives. I’ve always had a heart for women, but recently found God leading me to encourage those who are just like me, which is why I’ve been so blessed to be a blogger for Wives of Faith.

10. Oh, and I guess I want to meet Kurt Chambers too. He’s a rockin’ MG writer and a fantabulous friend.

Those are my answers to your questions. Now you know me just a little bit better. I’ll meander in a few times today, so if you think of anything else you want to know…leave a comment!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Gimme Your Best Shot!

Last Friday I left an open post. Ask me any question you've always wanted to know, and I'd answer that for tomorrow's Get to Know psot. So far, only one person stopped by to comment and leave a question (or three). Now, that isn't going to make the best kind of interview.

So, for today, I say the same. Leave a comment with your burning questions and we'll see what tomorrow's post will look like!

In the meantime, Happy Monday!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Get to Know: ME

Well, I've been immersed in this blogging world for a couple of years now (off and on, different blogs), but I don't think I've ever given my followers the chance to get to know me.

I mean, you all know the basics. I'm a Christian, and a SAHM with three kids--2 girls and a boy. I married an Army soldier and we're about to move to Hawaii. :)

But what else do you want to know?

Post your questions here today and on Tuesday for my normal "Get to Know:" post, I'll answer them. Be creative, silly, funny...or serious.

Oh goodness, what am I getting myself into?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Love Begins at Home




“You are the bows from which your children, as living arrows, are sent forth.” --Kahlil Gibran

We often wonder how we are supposed to raise our children in this era, when there are so many demands on our time and our energy. After all, we’re not superhuman. So how do we instill our children with good things…love, compassion, patience, perseverance?

It begins with a decision.

What are your priorities? Where do your children fall in your life?

Children are a blessing from God, and we are entrusted with their care and their rendering. Below our relationship with God, our family should be the most important thing in our life, whether male or female.

So the first step is to decide to put your family first. This decision naturally leads into the second step.

Make time.

For a typical day, right down everything that you do—anything requirements on your time. As a busy mom myself, I understand that much of this list cannot be shaved any shorter than it already is. However, you can work in time with your children.

- Car ride to and from school/sports/activities

- Nightly dinners

- Have children help with cleaning, talk while you work together

- Family Night

- Take a half an hour to do something with them—help them with their homework, read them a bedtime story, paint a girl’s fingernails or help a boy with a model car.

- The overall idea is to show the children that they are important enough to devote your precious time to.

“Be the change you want to see in the world.”

This quote sums up the next step. If you want to teach your children the type of people to be, model these traits yourself. Of course, no one is perfect, we’re going to mess up. We will lose our temper instead of exercising patience. We will give in at times when we should hold our ground. We will say things out of hurt or anger, instead of out of love. But if we make the conscious effort to be the person we want our children to be, they will take notice, even if they don’t seem to.

When we get our priorities straight, spend time with our children, and exemplify the traits we want to teach our children, we’ve taken three major steps to raising good and loving children. Of course, they won’t always model good behavior or make the right choices, but that’s part of learning. They still look to us and trust our guidance. If we show them from the beginning that we are there for them, that trust will remain and grow. Before we know it, the loving and compassionate adults we have raised become parents themselves.

Love begins at home.

Monday, September 20, 2010

How Fertile is Your Land?

Land that drinks in the rain often falling on it and that produces a crop useful to those for whom it is farmed receives the blessing of God. But land that produces thorns and thistles is worthless and is in danger of being cursed. In the end it will be burned. – Hebrews 6:7-8

I’m not a farmer. I come from a military family. Yet, even I know that the land requires water and nutrients or it will dry up and become useless. It is the same way with believers.

We are the land. When we drink in the rain (God’s word) and nutrients (provided by the Holy Spirit), we become immersed. We begin to produce crops. Everywhere we go, people know who we are by what we do, what we say.

But when we profess our belief in God with only our mouths, without any deeds, we dry up. We become like the soil that fosters thorns and thistles. What does a farmer do with land like that? He burns it.

“A sower went out to sow his seed. And as he sowed, some fell by the wayside; and it was trampled down, and the birds of the air devoured it. Some fell on rock; and as soon as it sprang up, it withered away because it lacked moisture. And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up with it and choked it. But others fell on good ground, sprang up, and yielded a crop a hundredfold.” When He had said these things He cried, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear!” Luke 8:5-8

In direct correlation with the verses from Hebrews, is the parable of the sower. As we mature as Christians, it becomes our responsibility to help grow new believers. They look to us for examples of what it means to be Christians, children of God. If our land is dry or rocky, what will they have to latch onto?

Satan will swoop down upon them before they have a chance. Two birds with one stone—the Christian and the believer rendered useless.

How do we keep our land fertile and our crops fruitful?

Study God’s word. Pray. Listen for the movement of the Holy Spirit inside of you. Make sure your deeds reflect your beliefs (or show vs. tell for you writers out there). Find a community of believers to help teach and encourage you, for the road is long and the battle against the world is tough, but when you remain in the Lord, He will be your strength.

How fertile is your land?

Friday, September 17, 2010

Let's Share! -- Fear and Excitement

This week has been a whirlwind of activity and changes for me. I've hardly been able to sleep as my mind has just been going, going, going like a mini-Energizer Bunny. Yeah, I'm going with the cliche there, it's a little early in the morning for me to be too creative.

Anyway,the beginning of the week was just busy enough to wear my girls out (who knew that could actually happen--I didn't). It also included discovering a hole in the ceiling that was caused by a water leak, which maintenance can't come fix until next week. Grrrreeeeaaat.

Then the phone call came.

"Hello?"

"I got orders today." (It's hubby on the phone)

"What? For where?"

"Hawaii."

"Are you kidding me?" (Not the shriek of excitement)

That's not exactly how the conversation went, but it's the basics. That's right. We're on orders for Hawaii.

Now, when I first heard this, I freaked out. I was going to have to leave my friends (which I just started making some new offline friends through PWOC and church), my ACFW writing group--not to mention going to visit family wasn't going to be a feasible option more than once or twice while we're over there. Lots and lots of bad thoughts running through my mind.

I put out a plea on Facebook and Twitter for prayer assistance from friends and family. Boy, did they pull out the stops for me! What a blessing! I spent the rest of the evening and well into the night researching the area where we'll be (poor kids, they're so neglected sometimes)and learning about what it takes to move to a place like that. All that did was add to my freak out.

Then I felt a pulling. A soft voice, if you will. I needed to go do my Bible study for the night. This time a mental "Are you kidding me?" came. HellooOOooo...I just found out I'm moving very, very far away and I need to what? But the voice wouldn't leave me alone. So, being the obedient if somewhat begrudged child of God, I sat down and had my quiet time.

As you know, I've been going through Experience God with my PWOC Bible study group. The lesson was Day 1 of Unit 4, and part of it was to read Gen. 22:1-18, which is the story of God telling Abraham to sacrifice his son as a burnt offering, but then at the last minute, God provides a ram and commends Abraham for his faith. So, in the context of the lesson, it was emphasizing Abraham's willingness to walk by faith, even though he obviously didn't want to kill his son, and then how God provided for Abraham.

I just sat there nodding my head. Yep, God, I get it. I hear ya loud and clear. We're going to Hawaii, and You must have great plans for me. I just have to be willing to follow and put my trust in You.

I woke up yesterday morning light as feather. We were going to Hawaii! I was excited for all the wonderful experiences we'll have, the things we'll get to see. Yes, sad about leaving all my friends and plans, but trusting that God was putting us in Hawaii for a reason.

What about you? Have you ever felt equally excited and fearful about something in your life?

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Praises

After my plea to you all for prayers last week, I must rejoice. Our prayers are being answered. While my lifestyle changes will not happen overnight (or they haven’t yet), my hope has been restored. I have a renewed sense of faith in the fact that I can do anything through Christ.

It may take time and practice. I may not change old habits overnight, but I will make strides. Little by little, with baby steps, I’ll find God leading me down the path to a healthy life.

I want to thank all of you for your prayers and suggestions. You all are wonderful friends and I feel truly blessed to know each of you. God brings people into our lives for a reason…and He has used each of you to touch my life, and I am humbled at that thought.

So on this beautiful Wednesday, I will not complain about my messy home, or the whole in the ceiling that is leaking, or my mounting inbox, or backed up reviews, or the homeschooling that needs to get done, or anything else in my life today. I am grateful for all of it. They are tests of faith (and patience) and I will choose to be proactive, with the Lord’s guidance, and all my day will fall in line to glorify Him.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Patience

“But those who wait on the LORD
Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint.”

(Isaiah 40:31)

Wait on the LORD. In other words, be patient.

Patient is something that I am not very good at. I have always been an impatient person. I’m an act now type of person. I think, I do—no waiting.

I’ve been working through the Bible Study, Experiencing God, with my group. One thing that this study is teaching me is that I need to be in God’s will at all times in order to succeed. This is frustrating sometimes, because in order to be in God’s will, I have to be willing to wait.

Abraham waited 25 years (I think, without looking it up) for God to bless him and Sarah with a child. Saul waited for years after God confronted him on the road to Damascus before he began to preach to the Gentiles. Why? Why was there so much waiting?

God had a plan. God wanted these men to be part of that plan. God wanted them to know they were part of the plan. But they weren’t ready—yet. God had to bring them to a position in their lives where they were most equipped to carry out the plan.

Those who wait, tough, are deeply blessed. God renews their strength and helps them to soar. We are prepared to run the marathon, to traverse the mountain. We are more than we could have been without God.

Wait on the LORD.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Let's Share! -- Application

With the ninth anniversary of 9/11 tomorrow, many people have been remembering and talking about the day that changed America, wondering how we swore to never forget and how we had, etc.

9/11 was an awful day, one of the worst in the history of the U.S. Some people still struggle with how God could allow something like that to happen.

I do not want to downplay what happened on that horrible day. And I do think that we should never forget. But what about the good things that come out of such an event? What about the sense of community, of togetherness that was present for several months, even years, after that?

People are right when they say that was the day that changed America.

I know it changed me.

Yes, I can say that it reminded me of the preciousness of life, to live each day as if there was no tomorrow.

But how else?

At the time, I was in a bad place in my life. I was doing things I'm not proud of today--I wasn't proud of it back then either. I had fallen away from the path God had laid before me. I was lost.

I wish I could say that after 9/11, I did an about-face and got my life in order, but the sad truth is that I didn't. I did acknowledge that day that I needed to make some changes. I needed to find my place in God's plan once more.

Pride and humiliation kept me from taking any steps forward. With all the stories that surfaced over the next several months, I started taking baby steps. Baby steps to changing my life.

It was another couple of years later, when my husband was shipped off on his first deployment (because of the ensuing war after 9/11), that I stepped back into a church. I renewed my relationship with God, and found comfort, love, and support with many new friends.

9/11 brought me back to God. It took some time, but I know that's when it all started.

What about you? How did 9/11 change you?

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

A Little Discouraged

On Wednesdays, I like to blog about something that comes under the umbrella of "hope". Today, I am not feeling that hope. In fact, I'm the one in need of hope.

Normally, I don't show the world my more pessimistic side. I would not classify myself as a pessimist, however, there are certain aspects of my life that I tend to view in a more hopeless light. My health is one of those areas.

If you've known me for very long, you know I suffer from several ailments--diabetes, asthma, high blood pressure, and severe allergies. Most of the time, all of these (except the allergies) are managed quite well and I don't have many side effects.

Lately, though, my health has been out of control. My blood sugars are insane (even after the doc switched my meds), I've been having several asthma attacks a week, and though I have no proof, the shiny little spider-web thingies I see ever now and then tells me my blood pressure probably isn't doing all that great either.

And I'm discouraged.

I know that part of the problem (maybe most of it) lies in my diet and exercise (read: not following my diet, and the exercise I get is cleaning the house). Doc said I needed to lose the rest of my baby weight and that would help a lot.

This is my dilemma. I WANT to lose weight. I WANT to change my diet and start exercising more. I WANT to be healthy. I even go so far as to plan stuff out so that these things are included. I started planning my meals for the week so that I would buy the right groceries and always know what I was making so I wouldn't be tempted to go out to eat or make something less-than-healthy for me.

But then I always fail. Always.

I've even tried praying that God would imbue me with the continuing motivation to do this.

Then the morning comes and my blood sugar is insanely high (this morning, my fasting was 183 and it's supposed to be under 100) or my allergies are at their peak--and I just don't do it. I'll be too tired to exercise. I'll be too tired to make that salad for lunch. You can see the downward spiral.

I don't know what to do, so I'm coming to you all for help. I need prayer, lots of prayer. I need to turn my life around. I have the know-how, just not the energy/continuing motivation.

Enough about me. I think sometimes I can be too self-focused. What about you? Is there anything you are struggling with that you would like me to pray for?

Monday, September 6, 2010

Giving like Jesus

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27

One of my favorite chapters in John is Chapter 14 where Jesus comforts His disciples and then promises them that, even though He is going away, the Father will send the Holy Spirit to teach and guide them.

Do you ever notice how every time you read something, even if you’ve read it a hundred times, something new jumps out at you? I find that especially true when I read the Bible—and the same was true today.

Today it was John 14:27 (copied above). “I don’t not give to you as the world gives.” How does the world give?

I sat back and thought about that. How does Jesus give that differs from the world?

When the world gives, it gives only to those it deems worthy.
Jesus gives because He loves all of us—the saved and the lost.

When the world gives, it holds back, only giving what is necessary.
Jesus gives freely and generously.

When the world gives, it expects something in return.
Jesus gives only desiring a relationship with us.

And if you think about it, throughout His lifetime on earth, Jesus gave, not only to those who believed in Him, but to everyone. From something as simple as providing a meal during a sermon to giving up His life that we may have the opportunity to live, Jesus’ gifts were meant for all.

In our quest to show Christ to the world, we should consciously strive to give as He gave. Give both of our time and our gifts. Give cheerfully. Give without worry, knowing that God will provide for us. If for no other reason, give because He gave His life for us.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Life and Goals

Happy September everyone!

We're in a new month again and you know what that means: GOALS! If you read my post on Wednesday, you know I've seen the dangers of overscheduling, but as my good friend Annie said, that doesn't mean we shouldn't have goals for ourselves. I totally agree! If you've been following me long, you also know I'm all about those goals.

I didn't accomplish as much in August as I would have liked to where my writing is concerned. Yes, I started to blog regularly, which is awesome! I have so much fun interacting with everyone on here. When it came to my novel, though, pfft. The month started with a kick, I revised the first 9 chapters in only a few days. However, then my husband left and my writing time went from bunches to almost nil.

As Connor is getting bigger, he is not sleeping as much. In fact, I think he hardly napped yesterday. He took like 5 mini-naps instead of two longer ones. On the up side, he did actually sleep through the night for the first time last night! Praise the Lord!

Then the last two weeks of the month, everyone in the house was sick. So, even after hubby got home, very little work was accomplished. I think I managed to revise one more chapter.

Needless to say, I didn't meet my goal of finishing my edits by the end of August so I could send them off to an editor friend, but no worries. I just have to realize that two preschoolers, a baby, and no husband means I need to be much more purposeful with what little time I have.

I would still like to finish edits by the end of September. I would like to enter Dividing Spirits into the CWG Operation First Novel Contest, but if it doesn't happen, I won't be too crushed. I do, however, want to get it submitted to a few agents/editors before the end of the year. I think that's plausible.

Now...who wants to see some pictures of my precious little ones?




All three kids!




We've discovered that he loves his highchair...even though he's not being fed yet, he likes to sit in it with us at the table.

If I didn't mention before, Connor had his two month appointment on August 18th. Our suspisions were confirmed. He's a BIG boy. 99th percentile for his weight, 95th percentile for his height. So, while he is nicely proportioned, he's still BIG for his age. No wonder my arms and back hurt. lol... He's healthy and happy though, and that's what really matters. You should see him smile and coo...awwww!

Anyway, enough about me. What's new with you? What are your goals for September? Let's come together to support each other!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Safe Schedules?

Happy September everyone!

Last night, during my Bible study time, I came to a revelation. Or possibly, God sent me a revelation. My Bible study group just started “Experiencing God” by Henry and Richard Blackaby. In the first week, they touch on a few basics for having a relationship with God and knowing God’s will. Day 3 discussed what it means to be God’s servant—and that’s when I got my revelation.

“…you do not have the ability to carry out the Lord’s command except to be where He wants you to be.” (pg 18)

Let that settle for a moment as I continue.

As you know, I am a stay-at-home mom to three kids, all four and under. I’m also a wife to an Army soldier who travels quite a bit. On top of that, I’m a fiction writer who hopes to get published sometime in the near future. Add in church and sports and homeschooling…life gets pretty hectic.

I spend a lot of time planning out my week to help smooth out my days. I make lists…lots of lists. I try to structure my days to ease my stress level. However, more often than not, the schedule falls through the cracks. Something always comes up.

Then my stress level goes through the roof. I feel like I’m not getting anything done. I get overwhelmed—sometimes to the point that I just don’t do anything—which of course is probably the worst thing to do.

But maybe there’s a reason my plans don’t work out.

“…you do not have the ability to carry out the Lord’s command except to be where He wants you to be.” (pg 18)

Maybe I am too busy planning out my life to allow for the flexibility for God to work through me. Maybe I get too focused on my own business that I miss opportunities God places in front of me.

That is definitely an important lesson for me. I need to let God lead my life day-by-day and trust in what He has in store for me.

Do you allow enough flexibility in your life to let God work through you?

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Get to Know: Writing.Com

Four years ago, in July of 2006, I made the big decision. I wanted to be a professional writer. I’d been piddling around with a story for a year or so “just for fun”. Now here I was with a newborn—my first time without a job since I turned sixteen. What better way to spend my free time than pursuing my lifelong passion of writing? (And yes, I realize “free time” with a newborn is an oxymoron, but that’s another post altogether!)

So, now I’d made this big decision. I wanted to write with the intention of being published one day. Where do I start? What does being a professional writer entail? Where do I even get started?

Well, I believe I typed the words “fiction writing” in the Google search engine and hit enter. One trillion gazillion hits…great. That was a lot of help. So I pulled on my big girl panties and started clicking on every link.

One of the first websites I visited was Writing.Com. At first glance, it was a little intimidating. An interactive site where writers share and critique each other’s work—did they expect me to share too?

After some consideration, I decided to create my own account and portfolio. I had some poetry and short stories, plus several chapters of my novel that I could upload to test out the site. I was having a blast exploring and giving writers very short opinion statements along the lines of “I really enjoyed this” (b/c who was I to critique anyone, I didn’t know what I was doing).

Then it happened.

A couple of days in, I ran across The Novel Workshop. A workshop created for novel writers (a lot of WDC is made up of shorter pieces: poetry, short stories, articles, etc.) with the goal of helping writers pursue their dreams of publication through critiques and workshops. Broken down by genres for critiques, but brought together for the workshops, this was right where I needed to be.

I joined the YA genre (my first novel was a mainstream YA) and very timidly wrote my first review of a fellow member’s chapter. This is what you have to do first to get your novel up on the forum board to be reviewed. Hot dog! It wasn’t nearly as hard as I thought with their required review layout.

And then I was hooked on WDC.

I’ve participated in many groups and activities besides The Novel Workshop. Writing.Com offers a wide variety of activities for writers of all levels. From contests and writing groups to classes and support groups, there is definitely something for everyone.

So, how does it work?

When you get on Writing.Com, you first register for an account/portfolio. WDC offers free accounts, but there are paid ones as well that allow you to do different things. The paid ones offer such amenities as larger portfolios, less/no ads, the ability to host your own group/forum, even have your own website from their server.

Once you’ve registered, you can create items in your portfolio. With each item you have total control over everything from presentation to privacy. So many people are worried about privacy on sites like these, as we don’t want our work stolen. This isn’t as big of deal as we may think, but to ease your fears, WDC offers levels of privacy. You can make your item available to everyone, or restrict it to WDC members of a certain level or a certain group. You can even make it private with a passcode that you give out to those you want to review your item.

Each item can also be critiqued by others. With a scale of 1-5 plus a text box, people can leave their feedback and/or gift points (GPs I’ll explain in a minute). This is a great way to gage where you are in your writing. Granted, each review should be taken with great discernment. Some reviewers are brand new writers, some experienced with their own published books. Some people know what they’re talking about…some have not a clue, but like to act like they do. The best way to get reviews is to give reviews! People are usually pretty good about returning the favor.

WDC is a lot like its own little community, complete with its own monetary system. Gift points (GPs) are a currency that allows you to do a variety of things. You can use GPs to purchase sigs, raffle tickets, or items from the WDC store. You can even use them as a reward for reviewing, or as a gift when you review something really awesome.

WDC is very dear to my heart. It’s where I got my start in writing, and where I learned enough to get me on the right track. I’ve participated in contests…even hosted a few. I’ve been a member of several groups, from The Novel Workshop to Open Door to Grace (a prayer group for fellow writers) to Freelance Lighthouse (a group dedicated to helping start your freelance writing business). I’ve enjoyed getting to know other writers through the IM, chat, and email program. I’ve made friendships that are very precious to me. I have a handful of critique partners that I love and trust…even one in Canada and one in England!

I highly recommend that you take the time to check WDC out! You may get hooked—just like me! Oh, and if you’re not a writer, you can still create an account just to get in there to read and review. You’ll never run out of things to read!

Monday, August 30, 2010

God Knows the Truth Behind the "Why"

Hey everyone! Happy Monday! It is time for another crazy week in this thing we call life.

Things have been crazy around here. Kyra, Connor, and myself have been sick for over a week. Even though I've been on meds since Tues, I'm still coughing up some pretty nasty stuff. Kyra and Connor went to the doc this morning--didn't really get any answers, just the "it's probably viral" answer. Kyra has some decongestant medicine, and I have to get a stool sample from Connor (yuck! TMI, I know).

All this to say that I didn't really have the time or energy to write up a proper blog post this morning. Never fear! I may not have a VOTW for you today, but I would love to refer you over to my friend and critique partner, Cathy Bryant's, blog where her Meditation Monday gives us some insight on the truth behind the "why" of human behavior. Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Personalize It!

The weekend is here and it’s got me thinking about my personal time…and my personal space. Wait…I don’t have any personal space. Hubby and I are always complaining about not having a place that is just ours. He wants a workout room and I want an office. Granted, we have an office/guestroom that we haven’t done anything with.

My work area is usually either the living room couch or the kitchen table. It is convenient, but uncomfortable and offers little opportunity to focus the way I should. I am sure that many of you out there feel the same, and many probably don’t have the luxury of an extra room (this is the first place we’ve had where we’ve had an extra room).

Where can we find personal space and how should we use it?

Well, first we got to find that allusive space. Some good places to start looking are our bedrooms, extra rooms (even small ones normally used for storage), living room, dining area—even the porch/deck if you live in the right area. Now, in most of the areas listed, you won’t be able to take over the whole area, but even a corner would work. With some creative rearranging, you could probably squeeze in your personal space. Make sure that your family knows that this is your area…others trespass to their own detriment.

Now that you have this corner that may only be a few square feet, what do you do with it? Well, that’s up to you. For me, I need an office-type area where I can keep my computer, my notebooks, etc. For you…what are your hobbies? Your passions? Do you like arts and crafts and need a place to store your stuff and put up a small work area? Are you into yoga and other workouts and would like a place to put your mat, weights, videos? Maybe you have recently taken on some volunteer projects through your church or community and need a place to organize everything. This is your space for whatever you need.

The first step is to personalize it. This can be as easy as putting up some pictures or encouraging quotes. It can also be as in depth as repainting and hanging curtains along with getting new furniture. Stay within your budget. Many ways to personalize your area can be found around your home anyway. Write out your favorite quotes or Bible verses and use old CD cases as frames. Tear apart old calendars and use some of your favorite pictures. Get some shelves to store your stuff with some colorful or elegant organizers. Baskets are great for organizing and can be made funky or stylish. Cheap, see-through boxes will help you to see inside for easy searching.

The next step is to organize (if needed). Use the organizers above and start separating your stuff into piles that will be most efficient for you. For me, I have a file cabinet not in use upstairs. I’ll divide up my projects and research into different folders. I’ll keep a printed list of my contacts and potential clients in the front. I also need paper, ink, paper clips, pens/pencils, etc. That stuff can be kept in small baskets or the tidy drawers of a desk. Lol… Once it is organized…KEEP IT ORGANIZED! It doesn’t have to be neat, but the organization should reflect what will be the best environment for you. Tip: Once you have established your area, don’t let outside influences in. Bills should not pile up here. Your child’s art supplies should not weasel its way onto the bottom shelf. Your husband’s hunting equipment belongs in the garage.

Take a step back and admire your personal space. Let the possibilities excite you, fill you with energy, ignite new ideas and motivation. This is your chance to change the world—

[Insert child’s scream]

If you can find the time. But that, as they say, is for another entry. Enjoy!