A Pause of Thanks

I’m taking a pause this week so celebrate the gift of family. This means opening my computer as minimally as possible, laughing as often as I can, eating more than I probably should, and choosing to embrace the craziness of the holidays.

We spent two nights in the great outdoors camping with friends – or, well…Lee and the big kids spent two nights sleeping outdoors. I came home the second evening to stay with the baby. It was a mighty sacrifice I made for her, choosing to sleep in my warm, comfortable bed instead of on the cold, hard ground.

Motherhood is sacrifice, man.

Today, family will sweep down upon us, and tomorrow we eat TURKEY!

I love Thanksgiving. It’s such a non-fuss holiday, isn’t it? That’s probably why it gets so easily overlooked. But what a great day! We sit around, eat, and enjoy family. No place to go, no errands to run. Just family and food.

So in the spirit of Thanksgiving, I will be taking the rest of the week off. But I’ve written several posts lately that I’d love for you to check out if you’re in need of a little light reading. *wink*

1.) Merry and Bright: Tips for Enjoying the Holidays

The holiday season can be hectic and overwhelming. I’m over at Extraordinary Mommy sharing a few tips to help you enjoy the upcoming weeks.



2.) Baba Yaga: Part I

Have you heard of Baba Yaga – the witch who lives in the forest in a magical house? She’s truly terrifying, and I’m enjoying stretching my fiction chops over at Short Fiction Break with this short story series.


3.) Dear Son

There is so much out there bombarding our children these days. It sometimes makes my head spin. And now that I have a boy in middle school, I find myself increasingly aware of the dangers. This was my love letter to him over at Extraordinary Mommy.


Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Eat Turkey! Play flag football! Enjoy family!

Yay Thanksgiving!

Respect the Power

“Hey, Mom. In the new story I’m working on, is it okay if I use a cuss word?”

He asked the question casually, as though he were simply speaking to me about the weather. He didn’t look me in the eye, but rather squinted upward, focused on some invisible speck floating above his head.

“Why do you need to use a cuss word?” I asked.

“It just…feels like it will make the story more effective,” he said, the hint of a smile turning up the corners of his mouth. He’s in 6th grade now, and four letter words fly around him at school every single day. He finds them fascinating, and deeply tempting.

“Well, I’m going to encourage you to try hard not to use any cuss words in your new story.” He opened his mouth in protest, and I held up my hand, shushing him with my best mom-look.

“There are always other words you can use. Sometimes a four letter word is appropriate in writing, but you should try to first come up with other words, because if you can’t think of a way to communicate without using a cuss words, then you’re just not trying hard enough.”

And also, you’re my baby, and you kiss my cheek with that mouth, and you’re supposed to stay sweet and innocent forever and ever…and ever.

I left that last part out.


I’m headed to the middle school today to talk to the kids about the art of writing. It is the Great American Teach In, and many a professional will come in and give these kids a glimpse into their working lives.

Since my working life consists of caffeine, yoga pants, chocolate, and much time staring at a blank screen, I’m having to come up with something more creative. Because to stand up there and tell them that working as a career writer means rejection, emotional exertion, and overall feelings of inadequacy feels a bit like a downer.

Instead, we’re going to talk about the power of the written word, and how with that power comes great responsibility. So basically I’ll be Spiderman in there, only without the skin tight red suit, because my child would disown me.

My sister-in-law recently wrote the most beautiful post about writing. It’s been rolling around in my head since I read it, particularly the last couple of paragraphs.

Before parchment and paper, words meant to last were always cut in with some sort of incision.  The Word was cut in with nail pierced incisions.

If our words are to make a difference today, then how should writers go about the craft?  Sometimes, I throw my hands up in anguish and tell Him that I don’t have enough words to describe Him.  When I try to get Him on paper, I wonder if I’m like a child that’s been locked inside a closet her whole life and yet she is asked to describe the sky.  He is so much more.  There aren’t enough words to contain Him. 

But, if I can offer a piece of my story, then others might get a glimpse of who this beautiful God is.  If I can make an incision into my own heart and let all of the joys and sorrows intermingle out into one grace swirled and bloody mess, then just maybe readers will get a taste of this Good-Good Father who loves deeply.

If we are going to write well, then we must cut into ourselves and bleed out.

Writing with Meaning: The Art of Carving by Becke Stuart

We’re all, writers and non-writers alike, impacted by words, and this is perhaps the message I most long to convey to these young kids.

This generation is growing up in a world full of words. Their entire lives play out in pithy little soundbites, and they’re constantly bombarded with poorly thought through ideas.

We fling words around like they don’t mean anything, constantly stringing together rants and epithets without any thought for the impact those combined letters leave on lives.

But words matter.

The entirety of our history lives on through writing. Everything we know about the early civilizations is because of storytelling and writing. If mankind hadn’t developed the written language, history would have died long ago, or it would be terribly warped.

Imagine if man had simply decided to preserve history by orally telling the generations behind. It would be like a bad game of telephone in which we all ended up believing that we descended from monkeys or something ridiculous like that.

Oh, wait…

The point is this: A great deal of power resides in the written word, and anyone who chooses to chase words and pen them, whether that be in a book, a blog post, an email, or a status update, should respect that power.

Because words matter.

Words ignite imagination. They initiate conversation, reveal new ideas, new ways of thinking, inventions beyond comprehension. Words were written in the beginning, and they tell us of the many great things this world has to offer.

Words are power, and we would do well to respect that power.

Love Wins. Light Wins. Prayer Wins.

The television droned on in the background as I prepared dinner, my eyes ever trained on the flashing screen. I was taking in the horror against the juxtaposition of my children laughing and dancing in the room next to me. The pictures of death a back drop to the sounds of life.

Like everyone else, I watched in horror at the unfolding of events in Paris on Friday night. I did not, however, feel either shock or surprise. Because evil has been lurking in the periphery for some time, and we’ve allowed it to trickle in to our vicinity.

Oh, what charitable people we long to be, but charitability combined with passivity leads to tragedy.

Don’t get me wrong. I want to extend my hands to the people of this world. I want to open my home to the hurting and the deprived, and I would give all I had to the children whose tears bleed through my computer screen. I am not an unmerciful woman, though for much of my life I’ve been painted as such.

On the contrary, I feel deeply. Mercy and compassion cut to my core. I am not one prone to hold on to anger. These are all strengths passed down to me from my parents, and nourished by God Himself, and for them I’m grateful.

I’d rather bask in the grace of forgiveness and mercy than wallow in the darkness of anger and hurt.

But there’s a measure of protectiveness that settles upon a mother’s soul when her children dance and sing, and the world burns just beyond her borders. I will call out evil for what it is, and I will condemn it, and by God I will support the fight against it. And here’s the kicker:

I am not unmerciful in my condemnation of evil.

prayforparisIn the wake of one more wretched attack, the world has rallied yet again. Only nowadays these rallies take shape via social media. Because what else can we do but voice our horror and our pain, and support the cry for swift retaliation?

And for those of us who cannot fight back, what more can we do but pray?

In the days following the attacks, I’ve seen more than one article calling people out for using the hashtag #prayforparis.

“The world doesn’t need your hashtags!” they cry, and maybe they’re right. Maybe the world doesn’t need my post or my photo layered with blue, white, and red stripes. After all, a hashtag and a filter are nothing more than symbols. They mean nothing in the wake of disaster and death.

The carnage in the streets is not revived by mere symbols. And yet…

There is power to be found behind a symbol, if we’re willing to follow through. Will I simply post #prayforparis, or will I drop to my knees and pray for Paris? Will I pray for this world, and for the people who are grappling for security and safety in a land the explodes around them?

It feels so monumental, praying for the world. Dear God, I pray for the world?

What does that even mean?

No, I must pray for them by name. I have to pray for the city of Paris, that life, and laughter, and beauty, and love return to the weeping streets. I will also pray that God would comfort the hearts of His people.

And I can move on – each country has a name, and that name is not lost on the God who formed the land. I believe this. I believe in all the good things of this world – in the beauty of laughter and dancing, of friendships, travel, family, children, and above all things, I believe in love.

And I also believe that evil will always be lurking in the shadows, waiting to snuff out those beautiful gifts. Because evil cannot stand the light, and all those things bring light. Evil hates light – that is why it’s evil. It can only exist in the dark places.

So get up, world! Let not evil darken the doors of our hearts! Let not the darkness snuff out the beauty of laughter and love. Evil may look like it’s winning, but it cannot claim victory because light won’t be chased away. I know this for a fact.

As I set dinner on the table, my nine-year-old danced out and looked at the television. She froze as the images pushed into her youthful consciousness.

“What happened?” she asked. I explained as best I could while muting the TV. She looked up at me, bright blue eyes swimming with compassion.

“We should pray for them,” she whispered.

So we did. And we will. 

Love wins. Light wins. Prayer wins.

Every time.


Dear Writers – I Am For You

It’s cold in here. I’m sitting in the corner, bundled up as I stave off the air conditioner that refuses to quit running. Thanks to an unseasonably warm Florida fall, most buildings are keeping their spaces unbearably cool. Perhaps this is our only means for experiencing fall weather here in the Sunshine State.

The cafe is loud, but I don’t mind because I can smell the stories in the air. The scent of imagination mingles with that of my Cinnamon Spice hot tea, and I feel heady with delight.

If I had my choice, I’d hunker down in more intimate location. Barnes and Noble is a chain, and the cookie cutter nature of this space is less delightful. But still…the books.

I love books. I love words. I love imaginative storytelling.


As a new author, I have such a deep appreciation for the work that went into these books. I had no idea. Writing looks romantic on TV. It’s grittier in real life.

Writing isn’t just sitting in front of a typewriter in a quiet, breezy room tapping rhythmically on a typewriter. Mainly because no one uses typewriters anymore.

But also because writing is awful lot of sitting in front of the screen and staring at a blank page until some muse chooses to show. It’s hard, and solitary, and feels an awful lot like bleeding openly for the world to see.

Then you put your book out there, and you ask everyone what they think. And they can choose whether or not to love this work of your heart.

In short, writing is a profession of vulnerability.

Writers pour their hearts and souls into their stories, and then, if they’re willing to wait and fight for their stories, they find a publisher willing to print their words on paper. After all that, they turn their books in to the waiting publisher, and it’s all VICTORY! YOU DID IT!

Now get to work.

Authoring a book is more than just writing pretty words, and finding a publisher. There is marketing and promotion, pulling together a launch team, and finding endorsements.

Writers have to get their books in front of people who are willing to read them.

Launching a book may be the hardest and scariest part of the publishing journey. It is the moment when writers feel the most vulnerable, because this is when others decide is the work is worthy of their endorsement.


In the rocky soil of Texas, there’s a yearly beauty that springs up. Bluebonnets carpet the hot ground each spring, blanketing the state in vibrant color, and they always spring up from the rocks.

In an environment that seems completely unconducive to growth, bluebonnets defy the odds and bring beauty to the landscape.

You writers are doing the same. The terrain is rocky, saturated with others already fulfilling publishing dreams, and it seems that everyone else is springing up, and you wonder if there’s any space for you.

Dear writers – I want you to know that I’m standing in the gap for you. I see more than ever before the fight it takes to get a book to market, and I want you to know I’m on your side.

You’re doing hard things. You’re writing every day, sharing stories and messages with a world that needs to hear them.

You’re facing rejection, fighting to get your words out into a void already full of great works. But you believe you have something to add, so you don’t give up. This is hard, and I admire your tenacity.

You’re putting yourself in vulnerable positions, emailing friends, and perfect strangers, to ask for endorsements. You’re asking people to decide if your words are worthy of a recommendation, and it’s terrifying. I see you, and I’m for you.

You’re sharing your gifts with a small group, but longing to see that message spread to a wiser audience. As you seek to plant yourself in this rocky terrain, I want you to know I see you and you’re doing a good job.

Writer friends – don’t be afraid of the hard things. Keep typing those words and sending those awkward emails. Keep putting yourself out there, because beauty grows in the rocky places, and your dreams are beautiful.

Take the First Swing

“There will be many times in your lives – at school, and more particularly when you are grown up – when people will distract or divert you from what needs to be done. You may even welcome the distraction. But if you use it as an excuse for not doing what you’re supposed to do, you can blame no one but yourself. If you truly wish to accomplish something, you should allow nothing to stop you, and chances are you’ll succeed.”

The Last of the Really Great Wangdoodles

I opened up the attachment, and immediately my eyes began to burn. The photo was everything I’d imagined, and nothing I ever allowed myself to dare dream. It was a colliding clash of conflicting emotions, and it all washed over me in a giant wave.



When I first dared to dream of writing a book, I was twenty-one years old. I was told it was an attainable goal, and I believed that fully and without doubt. I had no reason not to believe it.

I didn’t understand how difficult the process would be, though – how hard I would have to fight to tell the right story in the right way. I didn’t know that I would sweat and labor and toil, and I had no idea the effect all that fighting would have on my confidence.

All around me, it seemed other people were living out my dream. People launched books, and they all seemed to do it accidentally, never having really wanted to publish in the first place.

So I wondered if I wanted it too much. But then I realized, it’s okay to want it, and it’s definitely okay to fight for it. In fact, the fight makes the end result that much sweeter.

I am constantly telling my children that they have to fight for their dreams. Success doesn’t just fall into your lap – you have to work for it.

This week, my daughter got a much coveted skill in gymnastics – the cast to a handstand on the high bar. When she came home after practice, I asked her how she felt when she did it.

“Scared,” she replied. “I was so scared to try it, and the first time I didn’t get all the way up. But then one of the bigger girls told me to do it again, and I reminded myself that I have to just keep trying, so I got up and tried again. And I did it! The third time I tried, I wasn’t even scared anymore.”

Out of the mouths of babes, right?

Friends, big goals and dreams take courage. You’re holding yourself up on the high bar, arms quaking under the strain of desire and fear, and you have a choice to make. Will you cast, or will you jump off the bar?

Maybe you cast and you don’t get all the way up. Maybe you even fall. That’s okay. Cast again. And again. And again and again and again.

Because one day, after all that casting, you will manage to push into the handstand. You’re heart will thump with adrenaline as you teeter high above the ground, and you’ll realize that all that casting was worth it.

It mattered.

Accomplishing goals takes courage, yes. But it also takes hard work and perseverance. You have to look at your dream for what it is – a bar high above the ground, and it begs for you to swing.

So what are you waiting for? Take the advice of my tenacious nine year old with the big dreams. Remind yourself that you just have to keep trying, and climb back up on the bar. Because you can do this, friends.

All you have to do is take that first swing.