Nine years ago, I started my first blog. Like a lot of people, I didn’t start off smoothly. It was a rough few months figuring out exactly what a blog should be, how to tell a story in a way that was interesting, how to share what was happening in our lives without oversharing.
Blogging filled a need for me. I was a writer, but I needed to practice the art of the written word, and I learned a lot in those early blogging days. I also had a lot of fun.
I owe a world of gratitude to the blogging community and all it has offered me. This is why it’s sort of painful for me to step away from it, but more and more over the last few months I’ve felt that it was time for me to take a hiatus from the blogging world.
I’ve fought this decision. I didn’t want to stop blogging, and discontinuing my blog goes against all conventional wisdom for writing and marketing books, but the current life stage in which I find myself demands that I make some changes.
Right now, my heart’s desire is to continue to build my publishing career, and with four kids, homeschooling, taxiing said children to ALL THE SPORTING EVENTS IN THE WHOLE WIDE WORLD, and every other daily responsibility that falls on my shoulders, something has to give.
Right now, I can either write good books, or I can write good blog posts. But I can’t do both.
So I will be taking a hiatus from the blogging world. I don’t know if I’m stepping away forever or for a time – I just know I need to give myself the freedom to walk away so I can focus on writing my next novel, as well as the novella I’ve been mulling over. I’m also fleshing out an idea for a new nonfiction book.
My brain is spinning with ideas, and this is exciting!
So, while I’ll be stepping away from blogging, I’m not completely disappearing. I still want to connect with all of you!
I’m going to start posting Facebook videos a couple of times a week on my Facebook page, and I would love to have you join me there. I’ll be discussing books I’m reading, talking about the writing process, telling funny stories – pretty much everything I would have done here only in short 2-5 minutes video bites.
I will miss sharing my life in this medium, but for now this is the right decision. To whomever has hung on with me from the beginning (and there are a few of you!), I thank you for taking this life journey with me. You all have been such a blessing.
And for those of you who are new, I sure hope you’ll continue to follow along, because if I’ve learned anything during this blogging journey it’s that life is so much more fun when it’s shared!
I’ve been at this parenting gig for awhile now. Not long enough to call myself an expert, but definitely long enough to feel like I’ve got a handle on a few things. Of course, I’ve got a teenager now, and a tween right behind him, so on any given day I pretty much feel like I’m winging it in some way or another.
Besides that, however, I’m pretty sure I’m nailing this motherhood thing. AS IF IT’S HARD!
Every once in awhile, though, I’m thrown for a loop, and it’s usually by something fairly benign. Sometimes the old lessons that I feel like I should have mastered come back to bite me in the backside, and I find myself back at square one, looking at all these small people and wondering why there are so many of them and what on this side of heaven could they possibly want from me?!
My 11-year-old is currently obsessed with making slime – making homemade slime in one of my tupperware dishes. And what does one do with homemade slime, you might ask?
Well, I asked the same question and I got “the look”. You know…the look that kids throw your way that make it ten shades of obvious you are completely clueless to anything really important in life. It’s the look that says you should probably just go ahead and give up, because clearly you are failing at life.
“You play with it, Mom,” she answered, and I felt like I needed to apologize for even asking the question. “It’s very satisfying.”
Then she had me stick my hands in the slime and squish it around, and…okay yes, the way it rolled through my fingers was kind of satisfying.
Then she took her tub of slime to her room, and I stared at the aftermath and felt my blood begin to boil ever so slightly, because making slime is a messy endeavor. It involves Borax and shaving cream and glue, and then you throw in food coloring, because obviously. And you top it off with glitter because everyone knows that the world spins on an axis of glitter.
The agreement we’d struck in this whole “slime making” ordeal was that she had to clean up after herself, and she did that as well as any 11-year-old would, which means there were faint streaks of shaving cream spanning the width of the table, half dried drips of glue running down the sides of the chair, and Borax crystals crunching beneath my feet.
But the piece de resistance was the glitter that now permanently resides in the cracks of my table. My brand new table. The table that Lee and I spent actual dollars on for the first time in our adult lives. Every table before this one was a hand me down. The last table was in such bad condition that it became a hazard to anyone who attempted to sit at it.
But this new table is a gem, and now it sparkles. Hot pink sparkles, to be exact.
My initial reaction was indignation. I mean, how dare she?! Why couldn’t she be more careful? WHY DID SHE NEED TO MAKE SLIME IN THE FIRST PLACE?!
So many questions, none of them with decent answers, and as I set to trying to remove as much of the glitter as I could the two year old came tearing by me, belly laughing at the top of her lungs while her brother chased close behind.
“Hi Mommy!” she yelled as she ran past, and then she crashed into the end table where someone had left a cup of lemonade, which immediately spilled and scattered across the floor I had mopped just moments earlier.
I wanted to cry. I wanted to erase all the glitter, and silence all the noise, and dump slime over all the heads, then drink wine and eat ice cream and wallow in my own self pity.
I opened my mouth to let out a sigh of frustration, but then I caught her eyes. They were big and wide, and full of toddler remorse, and it stopped me in my tracks.
I felt suddenly so foolish because hadn’t I already learned this lesson 100 times over? Don’t I know that these children don’t keep – that they grow and suddenly they’re not into slime, but boys and makeup and trendy clothes?
I knelt down in front of her and gave her a big hug, squishing her soft cheek against mine because it sinks in and feels so sweet. She threw her arms around my neck and squeezed hard, then kissed me straight on the mouth.
“I wuv you!” she yelled, then off she ran again while I pulled out a rag to mop up the lemonade that was sure to make our feet stick for days.
[Tweet “And now I’m sitting at my table alone, remembering once more that babies don’t keep.”]
And now I’m sitting at my table alone. The kids are all in bed, and I’m here typing out the story of a day when I had to relearn the lesson that babies don’t keep, and that spilled lemonade isn’t worth losing my cool.
And while I write, the table sparkles in the glowing lights, flecks of pink glitter lighting up the cracks right in front of my eyes.
We are now one month into Donald Trump’s presidency, and it has been a heckuva ride so far, hasn’t it? The world is alive with noise right now, everyone jockeying to make their opinions known, fighting to prove their “rightness” and everyone else’s “wrongness.”
And along for the ride, bouncing in the wake of this political madness, are our children. Young and old, they’re watching and listening, and make no mistake, they are trying to figure out their place in this crazy world.
I’ve seen a number of disturbing posts and articles from parents lamenting their fear at raising children under a Donald Trump presidency. While I can certainly empathize with these sentiments, the truth is they baffle me.
Parents, why are we afraid? Now is not the time for fear, but for action, and what better way to exact change in this world than by raising strong, confident children who care well for the needs of others?
Here are 3 Keys to Raising Confident Kids in a Contentious World
1.) Have Age Appropriate Conversations About Politics
My seventh grader is currently learning about Individual and Civil Rights in his Civics class at school.
“I have the right to say whatever I want!” he boldly proclaimed at the dinner table the other night. “It’s my freedom of speech. I can say anything because it’s my natural, individual right.”
Ah, seventh grade is fun, isn’t it? Sometimes I have to remind myself of how cute he was as a toddler so I don’t throttle him now as a teenager.
“Yes,” I responded, my voice sugary sweet. “You do have the right to say what you want. And I have the right to take your phone away if I deem your speech hurtful or inappropriate.”
I had to bite my lip to keep from ending my comeback with a good old fashioned, “BOOM! Take that sucka!”
Because my first-born is older now, we’re able to have deeper conversations about what’s happening in the world and how we should be responding. He’s privy to a little more information because he’s old enough now to process it, and to dialogue with us through it all.
My nine-year-old, however, is still a little boy. He doesn’t need to hear everything that I perceive to be wrong with our nation and the world. He’s not ready to process that information, so I don’t share my every concern with him.
Our kids are bombarded with enough messages on a day to day basis. Let’s not fill them with undue and unnecessary fears over political messages that we may or may not agree with.
2.) Teach Them to Be Kind
Most parents are already doing this. It’s a pretty second nature response when we have children. From a very young age, we admonish them to share with others, to speak kindly, to treat one another with gentleness, and so on.
That training has to continue, though, and as the children grow into young people we need to change our tactics.
We need to be teaching our older children to be kind to those who may think or feel differently about things than they do. Basic kindness may already be ingrained into their youthful hearts, but grace toward others is a skill that needs to be honed over a lifetime.
Today’s youth are bombarded with messages from the world, and social media takes the nuance out of difficult discussions. We need to work with our kids to help them navigate conversations, both online and off, with kindness.
3.) Show Don’t Tell
When I was a senior at Baylor, I took a class called Writing for the Popular Market. Our only assignment for the year was the write the first draft of a novel.
Every week, we met at a local coffee shop (there were only six of us), and we exchanged papers, reading and editing one another’s stories. And over and over in the editing process, our professor would repeat the same basic principle of writing:
Show, don’t tell.
Don’t just tell the reader what happened, show her. Give her the action that paints a mental picture.
The same is true for parenting. We can talk to our kids until we’re blue in the face, but our actions will have a greater impact than our words.
So let’s show them how to care for others, how to put the needs of our neighbors (both near and far) above ourselves.
Raising children in this contentious time feels like a gigantic hurdle, but really this time is no different than any other in history. Now is not the time to fear for our children, but rather to dig in and fight for them. And that fight starts at home.
What are your thoughts? How are you working to raise confident children in a contentious world?
Reading books with children in the house is a bit like trying to brush your teeth while eating Oreos.
Finding time to read has been a challenge since I took on the title of “Mom”. Where once upon a time I devoured books, now I simply nibble at stories here and there. Bedtime is my favorite time to read, but many days I find myself so exhausted by the time I lay down that my eyes close just minutes after cracking open my book.
In recent months, I’ve made more of an effort to fit reading back into my days. My reasons have been two-fold: First, I just miss reading. I miss getting lost in a book. Second, I want my kids to see me reading.
With the onslaught of social media, and the ever present electronics, I’ve found that motivating my children to read has become increasingly difficult. Too may other things vie for their attention, and reading is a chore. It is one more thing to check off the list so they can have their electronic time.
By sitting down in the middle of the room and reading in front of them, I hope to show my kids that reading is actually an acceptable, and even enjoyable, pastime. If I only read before bed, then they naturally assume that I never read books, either. And if I don’t do it, why should they?
It’s a huge challenge, but the effort has been worth it. I finished three books in January, which isn’t necessarily brag-worthy, but it’s something!
Below, I’m going to leave my review of the most recent book I finished, Everyone Brave is Forgiven. But first, tell me: When do you find time to read? Do you set reading goals for yourself each year, or just see what happens? Do you try to read in front of your kids?
I’m honestly still processing this book, trying to discern how I feel about it.
On one hand, it might be one of the most beautiful books I’ve ever read. The story in and of itself wasn’t overly impressive or unique, but the language used to tell the story was achingly poetic and rich…most of the time.
Sometimes, I simply didn’t know what the author was saying.
Chris Cleave is undoubtedly an incredibly talented writer. His use of language to describe a scene is awe-inspiring, and there were several times that I found myself rereading a paragraph just to soak in the description again.
“She laughed then, brightly and without complication, and he laughed too, and for a moment the war with its lachrymose smoke was blown away on a bright, clean wind.” (Everyone Brave is Forgiven, pg. 173)
Besides the face that I had to look up “lachrymose” to see what it meant (“tearful”), it was descriptions like this that often gave me goosebumps.
Sometimes, however, the descriptions were so wildly cheeky, I couldn’t for the life of me figure out what was being said.
“Rubble to build on caught no one’s attention but theirs. It did not catch the light, having no promise but what the brought with them. He tried not to be afraid. London was a lightening of the sky. It was the bloody last hour of a milk tooth. It was a city dying to begin.” (Everyone Brave is Forgiven, pg. 402)
I think I know what he was saying there, but I had to read that entire page several times before I finally just gave up and moved on.
As for the story itself, it was a sad one, but the war was a sad time, wasn’t it? My American sensibilities are constantly in conflict with the painful reality of history. Happily ever after is a notion that doesn’t fit well into the back drop of World War II, so as stories go, I appreciated the realism, even if I occasionally wish things could turn out differently.
In the end, I would recommend this book to others on the caveat that you may want to keep a dictionary nearby. And understand that this isn’t one of those quick beach reads. This is more a book to be savored, read slowly and digested carefully.
I tiptoed down the stairs moving slowly and deliberately. Every once in awhile I’d freeze, certain I heard footsteps approaching, then resume my movement down this deviant path.
I’d laid in bed for a long time thinking about this. I’d tried to convince myself that I shouldn’t do it, but the tug of curiosity outweighed reason, so I finally gave in to the temptation.
I approached the Christmas tree, it’s piney scent strong and full in the dark room. Christmas morning was still a week away, but the urgency to know what was wrapped under the tree was more than I could handle. Reaching over to the lamp on the table, I quickly flicked it on, then swiveled my head down the hall toward my parent’s room to see if they’d noticed.
When I was certain the house was still, I made my way to the large gift under the tree – the one with my name written on it. Very, very slowly I pulled back the taped sides, and I peeked beneath the wrapping to see what it was.
All these years later, I don’t actually remember what the gift was that I peeked at in the dark. I must have been eight or nine that year, and I was certain that I couldn’t wait all the way until Christmas morning to know what was in that mystery package.
One thing I do remember, though, is the disappointment. Not in the gift – I’m sure the gift was great. No, I was disappointed on Christmas morning because the thrill of opening the gift was gone. I’d peeked under the cloak of night, and with no one around to enjoy my delight, the magic of the moment disappeared.
If only I had waited.
“Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain. You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.” James 5: 7-8
I’ve been thinking a lot about waiting lately. Waiting is hard. It is as active as anything else we do in this lifetime.
Likewise, I’ve been wrestling through this idea of waiting when coupled with prayer. Both seem so easy, requiring little to no physical exertion, but paired together they can sometimes feel like an emotional marathon.
I don’t want to wait; I want to know right now. I want to see beneath the wrapping, just a tiny glimpse of the waiting gift. I want to assess if I’ll even like that gift with my name on it. I want, I want, I want…
Waiting on answered prayer makes me feel like the little girl lying in her bed, wondering and wishing she knew what was on the other side of Christmas morning. I cling tight to the hope and dream of seeing this desire of the heart answered while also wrestling fear that I will never see the other side of this waiting.
Sometimes I pray as though it is a magic potion, an incantation that will produce immediate results. Most often, these prayers that I pray are good prayers. They are in line with God’s character, and with His spoken desire for His people. I’m not praying for a new car or a better life. I’m praying for healing, for restoration, for reconciliation, for the fulfillment of His goodness here on earth.
But the waiting part? I’m afraid I’m still not very good at it.
There is a frustration that can creep up when waiting on an unanswered prayer. We speak our words of petition into the quiet sky and watch as those heart longings drift up into the void, and we wonder if it even means anything.
Maybe you, like me, are waiting for an answer to a deep, heartfelt plea. Can I offer you this encouragement?
Keep waiting. Don’t give up hope. Hope is Slow, after all, but it’s real.
And while you wait, watch for the little ways that the Lord is reminding you of His goodness. See the ways He’s showing you that He’s still at work, even if it feels so very silent.
[Tweet “Keep waiting. Don’t give up hope. Hope is Slow, after all. A post on Waiting and Prayer.”]
And whatever you do, try not to take matters into your own hands. Don’t look for a peek at the gift that’s waiting. It just may taint the glory of the surprise.