Monday, August 30, 2010

Developing Lighthouse Friendships

Making lasting connections has always been important to me.

I’ve encountered some rough waters when it comes to friendship. Through the years I’ve learned so much about what it means to be a good friend. I’ve discovered what smooth sailing in relationships feels like.
~~~
Why do Solid Friendships Remind Me of Lighthouses and Ships at Sea?
  • Close friends are fun to hang out with, just like lighthouses are fun places to visit. They are a welcome sight.

  • My rich friendships stand out like beacons in my life. They are loyal when all grows dark.

  • I’m guided by the wise advice my friends share with me, as well as the way they model integrity in their relationships. Ships and lighthouses survive through storms.

  • My closer friends are bright and positive influences in my life (not draining and/or self-seeking). Instead, I experience a mutual give and take. One acts like the lighthouse one day and becomes the ship the next.

  • Some of the most rewarding and beautiful friendships I’ve had are the way they are because of the lighthouse keeper. They operate from a Holy Spirit place of love, relying on the light keeper to care for us so we can care for one another.

In these days when connections can be made online or offline, how have I worked to secure these relationships?

Here are four of the best ways to develop lighthouse friendships:

  • Take Risks

We’ve moved over six times in the eleven years we’ve been married. I should have a black belt in friend making by this point. I’m unafraid of striking up a conversation on the playground, shooting an email to invite someone over, or going out of my way to help a preschool mom, etc.

Recently I had one of the most refreshing lunches I’ve had in quite some time with a fellow author all because I bothered to reach out. You might not make a strong connection—unable to anchor and get deep, but it never hurts to try.

  • Find Common Ground

What do a ship and a lighthouse have in common? The ocean, of course. Friendships thrive when there’s something binding them together—when there’s a common focus. Look for it. You’d be amazed how easy commonalities are to unearth. The obvious connections I’ve made would be with fellow moms, but I’ve also grown close to women who share a love of chocolate, reading, asking questions, and leading.

  • Look to Serve

Uplift and build up others before you think to ask others to build you up. The lighthouse doesn’t make the ship give it something before it shines the light—it simply shines the light. It takes the lead. Having this mindset is essential in creating strong bonds. Be a lighthouse or a ship, not the barnacles suctioned to the rocks.

  • Be Bold with Gratitude & Follow Up

Modern lighthouses flash and have the capability of rotating 180 degrees. It isn’t enough to express gratitude in a friendship once. It’s imperative to follow up nowadays, while still in the building stages of the friendship, but also once anchored. It’s worth it to keep that light flashing.

And don’t forget to thank the light keeper who makes wonderful friendships possible.

What have you learned about strengthening friendship bonds?

Friday, August 27, 2010

One Question Friday













Every Friday I’m going to ask a question. The questions I choose might be ambiguous on purpose. The goal is to have you answer the question according to your beliefs, where you’re at in life or a circumstance that might have recently impacted you. The only thing I ask is that you provide an explanation for why you answered the way you did.







It's my hope to understand you better through this and also to gain a greater understanding of humanity and how people make decisions.






Talk
or
Listen?

*Congratulations to Jan Cline and A.L. (Amy) Sonnichsen! You were chosen by random selection and you both get a copy of Chasing Superwoman.
Please email your address to millerct1{at}cox{dot}net
**photos by flickr

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Chasing Superwoman by Susan M. DiMickele

What does an average day look like for you? If you’re laughing at that question right now, Susan M. DiMickele’s stories will resonate with you. In Chasing Superwoman, DiMickele explains what it’s like to balance life as trial lawyer and as a mother of three children.

Laugh out loud examples and honest reflections of what it’s like to be a multitaskaholic make Chasing Superwoman both a relatable and enjoyable read.

If ever your child has busted out naked at the most inopportune time this book is for you. When DiMickele describes a day shopping at Macy’s, I swore I was reading something right out of a page of my own parenting history. Hiding inside clothes racks. Escalators. Are you with me, moms?

And tapping into her Lady Lawyer role, as she calls it, DiMickele vents about nasty parking garages and how she’s resorted to writing in her calendar “Meeting at HS re: H&B” when she plans to attend an all important “Meeting at Hair Salon regarding Hair and Brows.”

DiMickele shares her encounters with such a blend of humility and accrued wisdom; she endears readers to her passion for her career and her role as mother. She emphasizes that while engaging in a promising career and building into her children’s futures is taxing, she doesn’t feel like she must choose one or the other. Her career and her children add to her life and God has gifted her in both capacities.

It’s been a pleasure to connect with Susan online. She wants to connect with you too. She’s sending me two copies of Chasing Superwoman to give away. To enter the drawing, leave a comment with a memorable mom moment. I’ll announce the winners on Friday.

About the Author: Susan DiMickele serves as partner in a large law firm and has practiced law for nearly fifteen years. She has won numerous professional honors, including being named Ohio Super Lawyer since 2004 and being selected for The Best Lawyers in America. She has written dozens of articles in her field and has served as a contributing author to several national publications. For the past seven years, her greatest accomplishment and challenge is raising her three children to know and love God. She is happily married to her husband of eighteen years, Doug, and they are the proud parents of Nicholas, Anna, and Abigail.

Susan's blog: http://susandimickele.blogspot.com/

Susan on Twitter: http://twitter.com/LawyerMommy

*As a side, I’ve loved every single book I’ve read published by David C. Cook.
**Now enter the drawing for your copy of Chasing Superwoman. ;)

Monday, August 23, 2010

Prologue Recovery Program

Prologue
Disclaimer: the following post is not intended to be hurtful, but rather I solely aim to poke fun at myself.

Hi, my name is Wendy and I’m addicted to prologues.
~
Group chimes in: Hi Wendy.
~
Hairy Group Facilitator (GF) locks eyes with Wendy: How did this begin? What started this?
~
Wendy: I blame Beach Music. Even The Book Thief. Didn’t matter it was short in that one. Who cares about the length? It’s there isn’t it? One sentence is enough, right? I’m hooked. I paid too much attention to what I read—to what I liked, I guess.

GF: Okay, no more blame game. Let’s focus on you. What’s your drive to include prologues in your work? What makes you prologue?

Wendy: If I had an answer for that I wouldn’t be here, would I?

GF: Ah, you’re one of those, huh?

Wendy: One of what?

GF: You add in prologues because you’ve seen it done, but you haven’t explored your own need for them. You don’t know why they keep you up at night thirsting for a beginning to the beginning.

Wendy: I know why I add them.

GF: Why then?

Wendy: I don’t owe you a reason.

GF: How do you ever plan to break yourself from this prologue addiction if you’re not gonna fess up?

Wendy (in a whisper): I like prologues.

GF: And you want us to believe they’re always good—helpful to you and your work even?

Wendy: Well, I guess I’m here for a reason. Maybe I don’t need them as badly as I think I do.

GF: It’s why it’s called addiction.

Wendy: So is there a twelve-step program for people like me? Do I need to stay away from books with prologues?

GF: That depends. Are you willing to openly admit it’s a problem?

Wendy coughs and dodges eye contact: Okay, fine. It’s a problem.

GF: I won’t even tell you what F.I.N.E. stands for.

Wendy: I already know. Thanks.


Do you prologue? If so, is it becoming a problem?


*photos by flickr

Friday, August 20, 2010

One Question Friday


















Every Friday I’m going to ask a question. The questions I choose might be ambiguous on purpose. The goal is to have you answer the question according to your beliefs, where you’re at in life or a circumstance that might have recently impacted you. The only thing I ask is that you provide an explanation for why you answered the way you did.










It is my hope to understand you better through this and also to gain a greater understanding of humanity and how people make decisions.









Monday
Tuesday
Wednesday
Thursday
Friday
Saturday
Sunday?






*photos by flickr

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Firewords

Words are wonderfully playful. Here’s a list I’d like to see tap dancing across a stage or shot into the sky like fireworks. Firewords.


Onomatopoeia
Wonky
Persnickety
Scuttlebutt
Ampersand
Catawampus
Marsupial
Flabbergast

Any words you’d like to see uncorked from a champagne bottle?




*I'm still teaching the writing workshop (ends tomorrow). The kids are asking great questions and they're taking lots of risks. Loving it.
**photos by flickr

Monday, August 16, 2010

Light-seeds

The following verse stirred something in me recently & has been inspiring me every day since I discovered it:
Light-seeds are planted in the souls of God’s people…
~from Psalm 97, The Message
~~~
*I’m going to be jumping on & off Blogger this week. I’ll be hard at work teaching a Creative Writing Workshop for 2nd-6th graders.
**photos by flickr

Friday, August 13, 2010

One Question Friday
















Every Friday I’m going to ask a question. The questions I choose might be ambiguous on purpose. The goal is to have you answer the question according to your beliefs, where you’re at in life or a circumstance that might have recently impacted you. The only thing I ask is that you provide an explanation for why you answered the way you did.






It is my hope to understand you better through this and also to gain a greater understanding of humanity and how people make decisions.






Beach or lake?






*photos by flickr

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

8 Reasons Why I Like Smart Friends

I have friends all over the intellectual aptitude radar. I love all of them. But I can’t lie. I have a fondness for my smart friends and here’s why:

Ever ask a smart person for advice? If not, try it sometime. The wise don’t just spout off the first thing that comes to mind. They think. They might pray. Their words have weight because they’ve learned from experience what prudent choices look like. Smart people give excellent advice. (Please, for the love of Einstein don’t bombard your smart friends with questions now. Be discerning.)
~~~
Smart friends make me feel smarter. Oh yeah. I wrote it. Being around those with high IQs fools me into thinking I might actually be as smart as they are.
~~~
I love a challenge. My intellectually gifted friends challenge me. They motivate me not to stay status quo, but to keep learning and growing. To keep reading.
~~~
I happen to think the way we empty our pocket books reveals a lot about our character. My smart friends tend to make wise spending decisions. They model good behavior and for the love of Donald Trump they don’t go around flaunting their money (if they haven’t given most of it away to charity). Pure class.
~~~
If want to get your Solomon on you’ll notice your tendency to complain will diminish. Smart people tend not to complain much. They know it’s useless. It’s fun to be friends with people who don’t make a habit of complaining. They are brilliant, really.
~~~
Smart people don’t only talk about themselves. Often they are others focused and they have a wonderful curiosity about the world around them.
~~~

Women get jealous. I get that. I’ve been that. But one thing my smart friends teach me time and time again is how to reshape jealousy into gratitude. Instead of harboring envious feelings about another person’s intellect, why not learn from them. Be grateful they are engaged in the friendship. Be grateful for what you do have. For what they have. Uplift your smart friends. Women, we need to stop being so threatened and start learning to become more encouraging toward one another.
~~~

Saved the best for last. My smart friends know how to fire up some magnificent conversations. They give great book suggestions and actually enjoy hearty book discussions. Finally, I acquire a diverse vocabulary from my smarties. They’re like walking dictionaries.

What do you appreciate about your smart friends?


*photos by flickr

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven


Book Review

The Boy Who Came Back From Heaven by Kevin & Alex Malarkey

From page one I was gripped by the account of what happened to the Malarkey family after a tragic car accident. I imagined the sheer devastation of enduring a car wreck with my child. I envisioned what it might be like to visit my child’s bedside for months hoping and believing improvement was in sight. I empathized with the chain of events that led Alex to a mysterious spiritual awakening.
~~~
In other words, I felt like I experienced this book. As Alex described his interaction with angels, while in a coma there were times I fought off skepticism. Kevin, Alex’s father, enabled me to work through my doubts. He admitted to having to process what his son encountered. This emotional vulnerability and authenticity helped soften my heart to the events that unfolded. To what Alex saw. To where he went.
~~~
Angels. Outer heaven. Inner heaven. Even demons and Satan.
~~~
This book reminded me God orchestrates all things, seen and unseen.
If you’re wanting have your eyes opened by a wise young soul, I highly recommend this read.
*I received a free copy of this book from Tyndale in exchange for my honest review.
**As a side, this book has been the impetus to several meaningful conversations I've had lately.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Work Hard, Play Hard

Work hard.
Love, the Ant

~~~


Have you ever delighted in watching an ant haul a Goldfish flake or cracker bit over a grassy terrain? The little guy works so hard. Only I would think about what the ant envisions. Does he imagine he’s an African elephant transporting loads of valuable cargo over the Himalayas?
~~~
Here’s my confession today: I like to work (sick & wrong, right?). My parents instilled a strong work ethic in me that only intensified as I learned to apply Col. 3:23 (Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as though working for the Lord, not for men…). My mom ironed for hours at a time. Blech. My dad spent chunks of his weekend working in the yard or scraping paint off his boat. Some of my favorite memories with him involve weeding and scraping. My folks also enforced a rule that we were not to move home after college but head out and secure a job. That I did.

In high school one of my friends liked to tease me by calling me janitor. I made it a regular habit to clear off any remaining napkins and items left on our cafeteria table and I even went so far as to wipe the table down every day. Less work for him, I figured. I got mocked for it.

This fervor for work can be both a blessing and a curse. I wake up excited to write, edit, create and parent. Yesterday my family spent over an hour yanking out pesky weeds that sprouted up through our patio stones. Guess what? I had fun. I enjoyed spending time with my girls, teaching them about the benefits of working diligently and that great feeling of accomplishment that follows. I don’t smile and adopt a Snow White whistle while I work attitude with all things, but for the most part I love how it feels to dig my hands in and get something done.

So what’s the curse, you ask. Remembering the model God set for us when He rested on the seventh day? I need to learn to chill sometimes.

I’d be wise to take heed of God’s example and the way of the ant. Ants aren’t always trekking around with forty times their body weight upon their backs. They know all about attending the party at the picnic (where they still are likely to work…okay, enough…I get it).




Go to a picnic.
Love, the Ant


~~~


Who do you want to thank for your work ethic today?

Friday, August 6, 2010

One Question Friday


Every Friday I’m going to ask a question. The questions I choose might be ambiguous on purpose. The goal is to have you answer the question according to your beliefs, where you’re at in life or a circumstance that might have recently impacted you.
The only thing I ask is that you provide an explanation for why you answered the way you did.










It is my hope to understand you better through this and also to gain a greater understanding of humanity and how people make decisions.







What would you change?



*photos by flickr

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Good to the Last Drop

Maxwell ain’t in the house today. But I am and on this I 8 Wednesday I’m giving you 8 things that make a novel good to the last drop for me.

Textured Characters
A jaded acrobat, a sniffling, overly emotional business executive with a propensity to give money away at random, a young prodigal with only nine fingers and a flurry of Jim Carey jokes up her sleeve. Who are these people? I don’t know, but I want to. I feast on reading well-rounded, fleshed out characters with depth, motivation and the all-important fascination factor.

Hook Sentences
I look for sentences that snap. Sentences that wake me up and give me the sensation of inhaling coffee grinds. There’s nothing that beats memorable Snap, Crackle & Pop lines sprinkled throughout a novel. In the right place at the right time it’s sentences like this that cause me to say out loud, “Oh so good.”

Creative Descriptions
Equal to a whopping hook sentence beginning or ending a scene is an imaginative detail that leads me to believe I’ve just read an original thought. Gutsy details inspire me. I hit the mother lode on this when I read Peace Like a River. Bend an ear. Get this:
“Once in my life I knew a grief so hard I could actually hear it inside, scraping at the lining of my stomach, an audible ache, dredging with hooks as rivers are dredged when someone’s been missing too long.”
Bold. Beautiful!

A Fluid Plot
I’m drawn to stories with movement. When I pick up a book I expect a journey, even if the venture is merely an emotional one. Hopping all around makes the lining of my gut swish and shred. And we already know from the quote above my stomach has taken enough of a beating.

Someone I Can Identify With
Now, I don’t mean this down to the nitty gritty. Hair color. Eye color. Someone who grabs their neck when their nervous (any...way). What I’m referring to is an immediate sense of connection. I can often tell when an author has done their homework with their characters. The opposite is also true. People like to identify with others. It establishes trust.

Tension—Make Me Grind My Teeth at Night
Does this really need explanation? I think not. Make me care and I’m yours ‘til the last drop. Bore me and I’m puttin’ you down.

A Memorable Theme, Symbolism or An Unforgettable Scene
Chocolate pie anyone? The Standover Man. A praying mantis. Each of these may mean nothing to you. But they float three wonderfully written novels to the surface of my thoughts. Chocolate pie: Now if that wasn’t one of the most memorable scenes in The Help. I’m tellin’ ya. The Standover Man helped carry the theme in The Book Thief and the praying mantis beautifully represented the use of symbolism in The Hour I First Believed.

This one may surprise you: A Cover I Enjoy Looking At
At any given moment if you were to crash my house you’d see I live like a whirling dervish. I’m apt to pick up and put down a book I’m reading twenty times in one day. Call me a sucker for aesthetics, but I like attractive covers. I’m drawn to them. On days I’m feeling wiped out I’ll sit on the couch and just hold my book for some time, gaining energy to read. As I’m enveloped by the couch I like to look down and see something that reminds me of the journey I’m about to reengage in. A picture that brings me back.
~~~
What makes a novel good to the last drop for you?
*head over to Sage Girls Ministry to read how we could learn a thing or two from turtles
**photos by flickr

Monday, August 2, 2010

Sit on It

You know how the Princess slept restlessly all night on her pile of mattresses above the wee little pea? I have my own way of discerning whether or not something is a wise decision in my life.

I sit on it.

I don’t get to find out whether I’m a princess or not, but I do get to celebrate that I’ve made a good choice.

My husband and I call it the three day rule.

We’ve implemented it numerous times and each time we’ve been grateful. When there’s a big (key word here) decision looming over us, we sit on it. We wait three days. We pray. We turn the thing around so many times it resembles an out of whack Rubik’s Cube. We hope for clarity.
~~~
So glad we had this rule when we attended a time share meeting and the sellers nudged us to sign on the dotted line within minutes of hearing the presentation. Thank you three day rule. No thank you, time share.

We own some beautiful pieces of furniture because of the three day rule and we also own some fine looking shabby chic pieces I refurbished after I found them. Priceless.

Now, here’s something you need to understand, I’m an insanely passionate soul. This means I throw my whole self into something when it wins me over. This can present a problem when it comes to following the three day rule. In order to simmer any tendencies I have to act a wee little impulsive I respect the three day rule.

One time I remember throwing our rule to the wayside was the day we bought our dog. Had we thought about buying a dog? Absolutely. Did we know 100% the day we arrived to check out the Samoyed pups that one of them would be ours? Not so much. After all, we were “just looking.” But we brought one home and I’ve never regretted that decision.

Time is good. It allows the fanning fires of passion to calm some. It helps me to know whether I’m thinking clearly. There’s a time for fervent action. And there’s a time for contemplation, prayer and weighing.

When it comes to making decisions are you apt to act fast or sit on it?
*photos by flickr

10 Things Anyone Can Benefit from Doing this Holiday Season

It’s a mad-rush time of year. Lines are long. Tempers flare short. Traffic stresses. To-do lists feel endless. These are the best times ...