It’s dinner time and the pasta on the stove is bubbling over. The boys come screeching through the house pretending to slaughter one another as they play ‘Hunger Games,’ and the baby hollers in the living room for the toy that’s rolled out of her reach. There are pressing matters that need my attention, and yet I cannot fully focus because there is this story I’m working on, and the characters just aren’t right. I grab my phone.
“I need your help!” I text. “Do you have ten minutes to read this story and tell me if I’m on the right track, or if I should just scrap it altogether and go back to the drawing board?”
I shoot the text to Bethany, and I close the computer because sometimes you just have to walk away. In no time, I got her reply: “Yes!! Absolutely!! Email it to me. I love stories! And you know I won’t flinch from giving edit.”
I don’t know what I would do without Bethany. She is my lobster in so many ways – the heart sister the Lord gave me who shares my love of books and learning. Bethany is the one who challenges me to be better as a wife, a mom, a writer, and a friend.
Bethany isn’t satisfied with mediocrity, as can sometimes be my tendency, and so I know when I hand her something I’ve written, she’ll will come back to me with an honesty that’s refreshing. She knows that I don’t want to settle for “good,” but that I’m striving for “great.”
As a writer, I need someone like that in my corner. Bethany not only believes in my ability to tell a story, but she makes sure I believe in my ability to tell a story. Because sometimes I forget that I can do this. Sometimes I get bogged down in the trying, and I start to question why I’m doing this in the first place. Bethany is there to keep me from walking away.
Also, Bethany is wicked smart. She’s smarter than me. She’s probably smarter than all of you, too.
When she returned the edits, I breathed a sigh of relief, because it was exactly what I needed to hear. “You have a really good base,” she wrote. “But the story is flat. I need you bring it to life. Stop TELLING me the story. SHOW me. Do what you do best. Make me love the characters.”
What would I do without a friend who wasn’t afraid to push me? What would I do if there wasn’t someone who had my back, someone who was willing to tell me the hard things so that I could get better?
We all need Bethany’s in life. We need someone who will look us in the eye and tell us what we need to hear, not just what we want to hear. As a writer, I’ve been blessed to have a whole group of women surround me in support. The buzz word nowadays is “Tribe,” and I believe mine to be one of the best.
I put up my first short story today over at Short Fiction Break. Short stories are a new challenge for this novelist. It’s an art form all it’s own, and I am excited about the challenge. I’m also immensely grateful to Bethany for pushing me to infuse the story with life. When I was doubting my ability to pull it off, she gave me the courage I needed to hit publish.
We are on Spring Break this week, taking a much needed time away from the daily grind of an over-scheduled life. We will be on a bit of an adventure as the six of us share one hotel room.
This could either be miraculous or a total disaster.
Either way, I will be taking a few days to enjoy my family, to read books (the kind with paper), and to make a few memories. I’ll pop in online now and then to share photos and the joys of family travel.
Blessings to you all as you head into this next week. Spring is upon us! Rejoice!
The stomach flu, that most unwelcome of visitors, has made a pit stop at our house. I shouldn’t complain. We haven’t met up with the the stomach bug in years. He was bound to stop by at some point.
Landon is down for the count, though I’m hoping the worst of it is behind him. And I’m going to be busy disinfecting, and praying that somehow the rest of us are miraculously spared.
Really, is there anything worse than waiting for the stomach bug to make it’s rounds?
So no new words from me today. But I am over at Extraordinary Mommy this week talking resolutions, and giving a few tips on how to get your kids on board with your goal setting as you plan out your year.
So why don’t you join me over there. It’s for the better, really. You probably don’t want to linger here in germville anyway.
Happy weekending, everyone! May your days be puke-free!
It’s that time of year again.
The time of year when we write down a list of ambiguous, unrealistic resolutions for ourselves – goals that we more than likely won’t accomplish because what does “Eat Healthier” really mean, amiright? Does it mean one spoonful of Nutella instead of two, or should I start Pinning fancy recipes for Kale and Brussel Sprouts now?
In recent years, the idea of making New Year’s Resolutions has become less popular. I think we’ve all come to realize that we set ourselves up for failure using the traditional resolution model of the past.
There is something invigorating about the first of the year, though. It teems with possibility and in many ways it feels very much like a fresh start. Setting plans for the coming year doesn’t have to be stressful, as long as we do it the right way.
In recent years, I’ve enjoyed bringing my kids in on this little goal setting tradition. It’s fun to sit down together as a family and discuss where we’d like to be as a unit in a year.
Kids love to set goals. It makes them feel safe when life is predictable.
How children set their goals, though, will depend almost entirely on their personalities and, to a lesser degree, their birth order. Most (not all, of course) Type A first borns will want to set very high, lofty goals (get all A’s on my report card), while feisty second borns will set the bar much lower (eat ice cream every day).
Setting goals as a family is a fun way to tap into your children as unique individuals, and it gives you shared direction as a unit heading into the New Year. Here are a few tips to get you started.
Maybe it’s because my kids were younger, and I could tie them up in their rooms for hours at a time without fear of them ratting me out.
They did take naps, though. Is that when I wrote? Or perhaps it’s because they were younger, so a strict bedtime was important, which gave me more evening hours, and made getting up early easier.
Or maybe I just neglected them altogether?
Whatever the case may be, for some reason this summer it has been nearly impossible for me to find time to write. I tried waking up early so I could savor the quiet hours of darkness, but I have a child who also likes the quiet hours of darkness. The only way to beat him up would be to get up in the middle of the night.
I like blogging, but I like sleeping more.
We’ve had late nights and busy days, and blogging has been firmly placed on the back burner until next week when school starts.
SCHOOL STARTS NEXT WEEK! You can’t see it, but I just started dancing – a comical sight when one is 15 months pregnant.
Since I haven’t had time to come up with decent bloggy words, I’m going to leave you with a few links of posts that have impacted me this week. These were all probably written by people who still lock their kids in their bedrooms all day long.
I’m kidding! Actually, one of these links was written by me, so…
Looking for adorable lunch boxes to send to school with your children this year? I would suggest these gems from Rockey Paper & Design. Not only are they fun to look at on this outside, but inside is equipped with a small chalkboard on which you can write notes to your cherubs each morning.
In short, these lunch boxes will set you well on the path to that Mother of the Year nomination you’ve been working toward.
If you, like me, have wondered why more Muslim leaders aren’t standing up against the atrocities happening in Iraq, then this is the post for you. I was relieved to see that Muslim leaders from around the world had taken a stand against the actions of ISIS, condemning it for the wickedness that it is.
I would also urge you to spend a little time on the Preemptive Love website to learn about the amazing work this organization is doing in Iraq. There is an opportunity to do more than watch in horror by giving to this organization as they work to aid the persecuted people of Iraq.
It’s been a hard week, hasn’t it? Worldwide news of destruction, the death of beloved celebrities, and the heaviness of this world were enough to darken the walls of our hearts. But take joy, my friends. There is still beauty in this world, and there’s hope for tomorrow.
I pray this weekend is restful, peaceful, and filled with enough laughter to chase away the pain.
Yesterday I clicked on a link. I shouldn’t have done it. The warning at the top of the link told me exactly what I would find in the article.
WARNING: GRAPHIC IMAGES.
It was an article on the current terror of evil sweeping across Iraq, where ISIS has issued an ultimatum to the Christians: “Convert to Islam or die.” In my safe, bubbled American mind, I didn’t really believe that the images would be that graphic. I’m used to having my news sugar-coated. It is a benefit of living in the land of the free, after all.
The images were the worst I’ve ever seen. In all my research on the holocaust, and the horrible images that I ingested as I researched World War II, I’ve never felt a reaction quite like this. I was sick, immediately. I shut my computer and walked through my house in absolute horror.
Friends, the atrocities being committed in the Middle East are the most base, wicked acts of evil imaginable. I will not even link to the articles posting graphic pictures here.
As I walked and prayed, I begged God to help me understand – to give me the right words to process such unthinkable crimes. I pleaded with Him to erase the images of beheaded children, but I know in my heart I will never forget that sight. And perhaps I shouldn’t.
Every day, I scroll through my Facebook feed and see opinion after opinion on the current situations plaguing this broken world. We fight behind our screens, from the comfort of our quiet homes, over whether Israel should continue to bomb Hamas, or whether two heroic doctors with Ebola should be brought back home. We argue immigration, and we stake our claim on the right response to any and every situation.
It’s so easy to take sides from the safety of our homes. It’s easy for Christians to be passive when our children aren’t the ones dying brutally for our faith. It’s easy to condemn Israel’s actions in Gaza when we aren’t the ones with rockets pointed at our heads. It’s so easy to tell one another to “turn the other cheek,” but what does that mean when you are being systematically targeted by terrorists?
I don’t have the answers to this, but I know I can’t pretend it’s not happening. I can’t erase those images from my mind, and I cannot escape my own human reaction to these images of children being beheaded by ISIS or chained to fences by Hamas.
There isn’t a hell hot enough for the monsters committing these crimes.
That is the very real, and very base reaction I feel every time one of those images flits across my mind’s eye. I will neither defend the condemning thought, nor will I try to justify it. I will simply feel it, ingest it, and move forward in prayer for these desperate people.
The desperate people of Israel defending their land.
The desperate innocent in Gaza trapped between Israel and Hamas.
The desperate Christians in Iraq enduring the worst form of persecution imaginable.
I will pray for them, and I won’t try to dissect what’s a right or wrong way to respond to such events. I will not condemn Israel for defending herself, though I do pray that the leaders of that land can find a way to fight without stepping into the trap that Hamas has set by using children as human shields.
I won’t look at the images coming from Iraq again. I simply can’t. But I won’t forget them, either. We can’t ignore this. We can’t pretend or deny it isn’t happening. We can’t be content to simply live ignorantly in our bubble. And we can’t deny that something needs to be done to stop this – something swift, immediate, and drastic.
Peace is such a lovely word. We cry out for it and we pray for it, but I don’t know that we will ever truly understand or see it this side of heaven. Let’s not pretend we have all the answers for these countries who are warring. These situations are so far beyond what we can even comprehend.
Join me in praying for this desperate world, my friends. And please, I urge you not to ignore what’s happening, but I also encourage you to heed the warnings on the articles you see online. Don’t deny the problems. Don’t ignore the evil.
I’ve had three posts go live this week, so rather than try to write some more words, I think I’ll just share the ones I’ve already labored over. So, without further ado…
She said the words softly, her voice halting as she looked forward out the front window. I leaned a little closer, trying to decode the sentence. My Russian is rusty, and though I understood each word, when strung together with the many grammar rules, I couldn’t quite figure out exactly what she was asking.
“What?” I asked. A single word in her tongue seemed to give her a little more confidence. She glanced at me out of the corner of her eye and took a deep breath.
“I will call you Mama?” she asked.
It took a minute for the words, and the meaning behind them, to sink in. She had only been with us for three days, so I worried that maybe I was still not fully understanding.
“You want to call me Mama?” I asked. She looked at me with glistening eyes and nodded.
“Is it okay?” she asked.
I nodded back, wordless not because I couldn’t find the words in Russian, but because the lump in my throat had blocked all sound.
Last Christmas we hosted a young girl in our home for one month. Through an organization called New Horizons for Children, we had the blessing of opening our home to “K,” a child who knew more heartache in her short 17 years than I likely will in my lifetime.
Abandonment. Death of a parent. Life in an institution. Loneliness and fear.
These are words that identified her past, but in our home, we had the privilege of telling her that she is loved, she is worthy, she has value on this earth, and she will always have an advocate.
I’ve been asked several times what I think about orphan hosting through programs such as New Horizons, and others like them, that bring children to the United States each summer and winter.
There are Pros and Cons, and I’d like to offer my thoughts on these hosting programs.
When I had my first child, everything shifted. I welcomed the shift, because as I held his warm body next to mine, I realized that the entire meaning of my life had now taken a new course. No one can really prepare you for that when you are expecting your first child. It’s simply something that happens. It’s a good thing.
t can also lead to an identity crisis.
Before having children, I operated in full freedom. Putting faith in action seemed so much easier then, because I could get up and go when I felt like I needed to. Add a child to the mix, however, and suddenly everything gets a little more complicated. It happened rather slowly. In fact, I didn’t even realize it was happening until many years later, when I had three children, all pulling at my feet and vying for my undivided attention.
“Mom, I have three different things I could do when I grow up, and I don’t how to decide.”
I suppressed a smile at the earnest concern in her voice. Genuine worry laced her eight year old face, and I pulled her close to me on the couch. This is the child who hates to make decisions. She’s so fearful of making the wrong decision that even breakfast can turn into an ordeal of tears if not handled with grace and patience.
“Well,” I said gently, “what are your options?”
“I want to be a gymnast’s coach, a soccer coach, or a doctor. But I also want to be a mom. How will I decide what to do?”
My first born ambled up at that point. He’s trapped in that phase right now between boy and man. He’s long and sinewy, all knees and elbows. He still dreams like a child, but I see the practicality creeping in.
“I’m going to be a missionary,” he says. “I want to help people who don’t have anything. Or…” he pauses, conflicted. “Well, I kind of want to be a professional golfer, too.”
They both look at me then, as though I will have all the answers to these life decisions that seem so important right now. Before the youthful freckles have faded, and the white blonde strands of hair darken into a more mature golden, they want to know the future. They want me to tell them what to do.