Wednesday, May 30, 2012

8 Seeds of Encouragement (For Fellow Desert Dwellers)



Ever have a season stretch on for what seems like forever? I have. Whether you’re dealing with infertility, a hard-to-discipline child, an unfulfilling job, mixed feelings about an estrangement, a rocky marriage, chronic pain, illness, or any other specific season that feels like the desert I aim to encourage you today.

In fact, I’m kinda wondering if that’s why my computer crashed yesterday. The 8 seeds of encouragement I’m about to share are full of hope, courage, and motivation. And not everyone wants you to feel encouraged.

But I do. And I was at church on Sunday. So I’m going to share my own take on what our pastor shared with us. We’re working through Exodus. You know, Moses, the mumble grumbles, and the manna. Ultimately, the question seeping out of that book in the Bible is this: Are you going to trust God, turn to Him with faith, and follow His instruction. (Spoiler alert…if not, He loves you anyway.)

8 Seeds of Encouragement for Fellow Desert Dwellers:

God Is Humbling You
Deuteronomy 8:3 states “God humbled you and let you hunger.” Now I bet you’re thinking where’s the encouragement in that. The Bible is saturated with verses detailing how God humbles those he loves. He blesses the humble, lifts them up. It was the humble Jesus hung around most.

You Have an Owner’s Manual
Sometimes I don’t feel like reading the Bible. Sometimes I don’t feel like exercising or eating veggies either, but I can honestly say I’ve never regretted doing any of the above. They’ve nourished me. God’s word is living and active. It bleeds into us, our outlook on life, our perception more than we could ever know.

You Are Not Alone
This is the greatest and most convincing lie we all believe at one time or another. It’s seductive. But it’s false. Yes, no one will ever know exactly what it’s like to walk in our sand-caked sandals, but Jesus promises that He will not leave us nor forsake us. And He’s pretty cool about connecting us with others who’ve gone through similar circumstances. But we need to keep our hearts and eyes open.

Oh Manna
God provided food for the desert dwellers in Exodus. Every morning. Fresh food. Sustenance. What they needed. He does the same for us. Most of the time all is takes is for us to shift our focus, to look down at our hands and feet in grateful recognition of all He’s provided.

Can You Handle It? Why Yes, You Can
We’re told He won’t give us anything beyond what we can handle. I’ve been known to ask God to throw me a bone. There are times I feel borderline crushed. I’ve grown from every single one of those times. And I never got the bone, but maybe a phone call or a hearty laugh or something small but significant to help get me through.

Complaint Meter
Time in the desert can do wonders to teach us how much we complain. Moses had to hear his people repeatedly grumble up a storm. If we pay attention, we’re able to detect how mumbly-grumbly we’ve gotten. Then we can DO something about it.

Testing 123
A test, it’s only a test. Looking at a trying circumstance this way can alleviate the disparity and hopelessness of it all. It gives instant perspective.

Ability to Distinguish Wants from Needs
I’m a crazy shopper. I’ll often whisper this question under my breath (but still out loud so other shoppers give me that “she’s batty” look). Talking to anyone? “Do I want this or need it?”

Here is one more gift that comes from desert time. We’re able to become clear about what we need in life versus what we want.

So whether it’s been 40 minutes, 40 days, or 40 years you’ve been wandering in the desert, be encouraged. Refiner’s fire. You’ll come out of this. You’ll shine.

And just like in a marathon, I’ll be waiting to encourage you on until the end. Oh Manna!


*photo by stock.XCHNG

Friday, May 25, 2012

Moving Thoughts Friday--JAVA


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.

What’s your favorite coffee shop haunt? And what about it appeals most to you?

*Happy Memorial Day weekend! Hope you find ways to make it meaningful! See you next Wednesday.
**photos by Stock.XCHNG

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

8 Stages of Waiting to Be Published


I’ve had a blast these past few Wednesdays creating 8 Stagesof Writing a Novel & 8 Stages of Procrasti-writing.

For my last 8 Stages of…I’m going to tackle the big bad beast of WAITING.
As with grief, when we wait we often feel like things are out of our control. Especially if we’re trying to get published traditionally waiting can become excruciating. But as with all things, it can also be what we make of it. Today I’m making a little fun with it. It’s what I do. Laugh to stay sane.
Quick review of the stages of grief:
Denial & Isolation
Anger
Bargaining
Depression
Acceptance

Now for the 8 Stages of Waiting to Be Published:

Blessed Naivety
No idea how long this will take. But I’m good at waiting. I’ve got this. No biggie. I’ll just keep busy and the time will fly. (Any published authors laughing yet?)

Denial & Isolation

This is what I like to call the fanciful denial stage. I tell myself I’m not waiting. I get all wrapped up in some massive project. But at some point, likely when the project is nearing an end, I’m sure to bump up against feelings of isolation. I come down with an Eeyore bug. “I’m all alone in the world.” (*See* Frodo in spider’s lair before he finds the Elven light, Phial of Galadriel). “Everyone else is getting published.” Ho hum.
 
Anger
 
What the hey? Why is this taking so long? I get all Sally Field on myself. Like me…somebody like me! And then I get all Cheap Trick on myself. I want you to want me! Dagnabit.

Bargaining

What can I do to speed this thing along? I’ll write more. I’ll build a platform so impressive it rivals the Taj Mahal. I’ll sell my kidney. No, no I wouldn’t do that…unless…

Depression

Woe is me. Nobody likes me, everybody hates me, why don’t I go eat worms.

Stubborn Persistence

Yeeha Grandpa. Hop back up on my saddle. Remember why I’m in this. Fall back in love with writing. Doin’ my thang.

Acceptance

Here’s where I experience the “Alladin” moment. You know, when Alladin is chillin’ on the magic carpet outside Jasmine’s palace balcony. He holds his hand out to her and says, “Do you trust me?” Pretty sure I’ve heard my agent utter those exact same words to me. (Like how I made you Alladin in this example, Rachelle?) J

Between my own skill, my agent, and my God, I need to find the courage to leap off the balcony (sounds crazy, but we’re writers, we get it.)

Elation

Well, would you look at that, they offered a contract! Go figure. Waiting is over. Ha! (Laughing harder now, published authors?)

And somehow we fling ourselves through each stage over and over again. We do the Maytag merry-go-round as we cycle through these all too familiar emotions.

Notice how similar the Stages of Waiting are to the Stages of Grief? Hmm…Which stage do you feel like you’re in right now?

*photo by stock.XCHNG

Monday, May 21, 2012

Starring Hansel & Gretel as The Question Why


If ever there were a time for two young children to beg the question why, it would be when Hansel and Gretel, children of a poor woodcutter, were sent to the woods under their stepmother’s sharp-tongued orders.

Today I’m probing this Grimm story from a new angle. What would this children’s fable look like if H & G melded into a question themselves?

What happens when Hansel & Gretel become the question why…

Afraid of starving, H & G’s cruel stepmother persuades her husband to take the children far enough into the woods so they’ll never find their way home.

Why likes to feel safe. Why likes a home base. It likes to be fed, cared for, and tended to.

With a twist of fear in his gut, Hansel assures Gretel they’ll find their way back, and he reveals a fistful of white pebbles in his hand.

Why craves protection, security, a surefire way to get home. Why is always thinking, often planning.

Their woodcutter father leaves them alone in the woods.

Why is given plenty of opportunities to reflect, to wallow in guilt, shame, and doubt—tempted to remain in each of these.

Fear and sadness entangle the siblings in the dark forest.

Why is regularly accompanied by longing and grief.

The tiny white pebbles gleam in the moonlight, guiding their way home.

Why is skilled at creating a shining path, glimmering with hope. Reasons to move on, reasons to inquire more.

The woodcutter, in another moment of cowardly weakness, leads the children to the woods again, obeying the demands of his wife.

As soon as Why gains a flicker of hope it’s dashed. Or tail spun. Unspooled into new threads of anxiety-ridden consequences.

Hansel drops breadcrumbs in hopes to mark another trail.

Why is persistent, intent on finding its way home.

Birds fly behind H & G, eating the path of crumbs.

As Why well knows, infinite outside sources are beyond its control.

H & G are frightened, cold, and hungry.

Why feels things deeply, viscerally, used to this as the most layered of the basic W questions.

They come across a strange cottage in their wanderings.

Why keeps looking, willing to consider all vantage points. A 180 degree scope search. Nothing is ruled out.

H & G delight in the sweet taste of the cottage when a witch opens the door, surprising them.

Once given a taste, it’s difficult for Why to stop. But at some point, a sliver of hesitation will inspire a doubtful pause.

“You’ve nothing to fear,” says the witch, planning to eat the children.

Why is familiar with the head games, the mind tricks, and how sumptuous it might taste to a starving soul.

Hansel is too thin for the witch’s liking. She intends to “fatten him up.”

Why understands upon surveillance, almost everyone decides more is needed. Is necessary.

Made a slave, Gretel seizes an opportunity to shove the witch into the stove in order to free them from her lair.

There appears to be another side of Why. A problem-solver. A way out.

H & G stay and eat more of the house. They stumble across riches in the form of a chocolate egg nesting gold coins.

Why can be resourceful.

H & G return home to learn their stepmother is mysteriously dead. Gretel asks her father to promise them he’ll never desert them again. The chocolate egg provides them with food money to allay their fear of starving.

Why is above all things mysteriously gifted, grateful to be kept from starving, ever-seeking the promise not to be deserted.

Can you identify any additional parallels between Why and Hansel & Gretel and their plight? What kinds of thoughts did reading this stir in you?


“I ended my first book with the words 'no answer.' I know now, Lord, why you utter no answer. You are yourself the answer. Before your face questions die away. What other answer would suffice?”  C.S. Lewis
*photo by stock.XCHNG
**Next Monday (or perhaps the next b/c of Memorial Day) I’m going to portray Little Red Riding Hood Starring as Who

Friday, May 18, 2012

Moving Thoughts Friday--Show Time


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.
Just for kicks, Hollywood calls & wants to make your life into a movie. (Realistic, right?) Which actor or actress would you want to play your part?
*photos by Stock.XCHNG

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

8 Stages of Procrasti-writing

Last Wednesday I provided a list of the 8 (fabricated) Stages of Novel Writing. Loved the strong response to this post. Seems many of us are paddling along in the same boat. (Ah, paddle boats, remember those?) Anyhoo…I’m playing off the stages of grief again.

Quick review of those stages:
Denial & Isolation
Anger
Bargaining
Depression
Acceptance

But today I’m giving you the 8 Stages of Procrasti-writing. These are the times we spend our energy focusing on any method of writing other than concentrating on our novels or works in progress. Because we’re scared of the big bad beasts. I say we need to stop being sallies and get to it.

Before we can do that, however, let’s have a hearty chuckle about the tried and true ways we stall “the process”.

Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Doodle
Artwork stirs creative vigor. So what if it’s just lined paper pockmarked with seventy pictures of flowers or cartoons that closely resemble Popeye. All in the name of stirring.

The Grocery List (not to mention the infamous “To Do” list)
Must eat to incite meaningful story lines. Scrawl down avocados and carrots (the better to see the screen with). Oh, and throw tp on the list because it’s never fun to run out of that.

Na na na na na na na na…Notes
Main character has Medusa hair. No. Bird’s nest hair. No. Listen, if it’s taking this long to figure out the appearance of the MCs hair maybe it’s best not to comb through that one. Move ahead until the bouffant is bold.

Calling all Status Updates
Twitter, Facebook, anyone? Both are intentionally designed to stop writers in their tracks. A trick that often works with me is to ask myself: Is what I’m about to post necessary? And if it’s not necessary is at the very least funny? And if it’s not funny, is it at least…If not, I crack the whip on myself and get back to work.

Sure, I’ll Review Your Book
Because reviewing means I’m reading and reading is what authors do, right? If you’re anything like me when I write a book review, you take a studious approach. I’m careful with my wording. Sometimes it takes me over an hour to make sure I’ve adequately communicated all I intend to for a book review. And it’s still writing, right? Oh heck yeah. Except I’m neglecting to mention one wee little thing—it’s not my MS I’m writing about.

Thank You and Thank You and Thank You
The old fashioned thank you letter. Nothing beats it, except when it’s being used. Oh how sad, we even use thank you letters. We’ll just call this one the positive stall technique and leave it at that.

Researching Baby Names
Not pregnant, no one remotely close to you is pregnant. Makes perfect sense, you’re looking for character names. And everyone knows you can’t name your bad guys after any ex-boyfriends. Shucks, Carter would have been a perfect name in my fourth novel. Guess I better click on one of those name finder .com sites and scroll through to make note of some more.

Bucket List
The noble one of the bunch. This is the door holder of the crew, the queen of hearts, the longest straw. How can you vilify the creation of a bucket list, Wendy? I’m not. I’m pleading the fifth. However, I’ll say in a teeny tiny voice…it’s not going to add word count to your WIP. Ah, feels better to get that out. ;-)

Am I talking to anyone today?
*photo by stock.XCHNG
**Hmm…notice how I conspicuously left writing blog posts off my list of 8?

Monday, May 14, 2012

Novel Hat-trick



I’m not sure you’re supposed to feel “proud” of folks your own age. I’m not even sure proud is a PC word for a Christian to use, but you know what? That’s exactly what I feel—I’m proud of Katie Ganshert, Beth Vogt, and Dani Pettrey. Each one of these dear friends accomplished a respectable feat. Wildflowers from Winter, Wish You Were Here, and Submerged (their books respectively) have all released. They’re out there for you to read. So I say get to it.

I’m an expressive soccer coach and I feel similar overjoyed feelings stir inside me as I witness these books take off. I’m extremely proud of my friends!
Now a little more about my reading experience, the authors, and how they responded when I asked each of them about their proudest moments…
Katie Ganshert is a Midwest gal who’s passionate about Jesus, family, writing, and all things romance. When she’s not plotting ways to get her hero and heroine to cross paths, she enjoys watching movies with her husband, playing make-believe with her wild-child of a son, hanging out with the crazy but lovable junior high students at church, and chatting with her girlfriends.

Katie’s proudest moment: So hard! It's a tie between....
-Seeing our son for the first time
-Crossing the finish line for a marathon
-Holding my book for the first time
All three were the end result of a whole lot of really hard work!” 

Wildflowers from Winter
In her debut novel, Wildflowers from Winter, Katie Ganshert weaves a highly engaging story wrought with a skillful balance of tension, healing, and forgiveness. I immediately softened to Bethany Quinn and empathized with her restless spirit. On every page I found myself entwined in the lives of the characters Ganshert so realistically portrays. I understood why Bethany would feel hesitant to return to Peaks, Iowa, hesitant to delve back into her past and face the perceived demons that awaited her there. With an intentional deftness, Ganshert has crafted a literary work that is sure to both entertain and stir the soul.

 ***
Beth K. Vogt is a non-fiction author and editor who said she’d never write fiction. She’s the wife of an Air Force physician (now in solo practice) who said she’d never marry a doctor—or anyone in the military. She’s a mom of four who said she’d never have kids. Beth has discovered that God’s best often waits behind the doors marked “Never.” She writes contemporary romance because she believes there’s more to happily ever after than the fairy tales tell us.

Beth’s proudest moment: “My proudest moment is repeated every time I am surrounded by my family: my husband and my children (now extending into their spouses): It's not a proud "Look what I did" moment. But more of a humble "Wow, look what God has accomplished in spite of me and through me and because I said 'I do'" to my husband so many years ago. To have good relationships -- fun relationships -- with my children -- I've worked hard at that. Prayed for that. And it's priceless.”
Wish You Were Here

Because of the out-of-the-gate-running, tension-filled start, I was instantly hooked while reading Beth Vogt’s debut novel, Wish You Were Here. Vogt masterfully blends humor with deeper, heartfelt issues, as well as intersperses comedic timing with a precision I’ve yet to come across. Allison Denman is faced with one of the greatest life-altering choices. Throughout the novel, I consistently rooted for the “postcard relationship” to cement, but before rushing to any conclusions, Allison needed to find an unencumbered route to happiness. I love how Vogt addresses faith in this novel with the skill of sewing a patchwork quilt, adding it at integral moments, and using it to empower Allison toward wisdom. If you’re in the mood for humor mixed with genuine depth, this book won’t disappoint.
***
Dani Pettrey is a wife, homeschooling mom and author. She feels blessed to write inspirational romantic suspense because it incorporates so many things she loves—the thrill of adventure, nail-biting suspense, the deepening of one’s faith and plenty of romance. She’s a huge fan of dark chocolate, is always in search of the best iced mocha and her dream is one day to own a little cottage on a remote stretch of beach. She and her husband reside in Maryland with their two teenage daughters.
Dani’s proudest moment: “I think my proudest moment (not sure why I should be proud--it was all God) was at the births of my daughters. I just felt so blessed to be a mom and to have given birth to two beautiful baby girls--again, all God.”

Submerged
I immediately gravitated toward the unique setting of Yancey Alaska, and devoured the suspense-filled elements of Dani Pettrey’s debut novel, Submerged. Pettrey’s command of characters and ability to inspire readers to express repeated sharp audible gasps speaks to her advanced writing skills. With carefully constructed twists and turns, Pettrey navigates Bailey Craig and Cole McKenna through a well-plotted mystery. Because Pettrey succeeds in creating such relatable and layered characters, I was deeply engaged in Bailey’s plight, not to mention that more than once I viscerally feared for her safety. Submerged—a page-turner!

Such stellar authors, such beautiful friends, such gifts from God. Novel Hat-trick!

What is your proudest moment?

*Congratulations, Johanna Garth, you won Katie Ganshert’s book, Wildflowers from Winter. Please contact me with your mailing info. so Katie’s team can get it to you.
**I received complimentary copies of these books

Friday, May 11, 2012

Moving Thoughts 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.

Interpret dreams or Decode espionage files?

*photos by Stock.XCHNG
**Happy early Mother’s Day to all the mamas out there!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

8 Stages of Writing a Novel

Likely you’ve heard of the five stages of grief, yes? Well maybe you didn’t know there are eight stages of composing a novel. (Making this up. But let’s go along with it for the sake of this post.)

Quick review of the stages of grief:
Denial & Isolation
Anger
Bargaining
Depression
Acceptance

Now for the universal stages of writing a novel:

Brilliance
The birth of the idea or character.  You are pure genius.

Enamored
The characters, the plot, the setting…all of it. You’re in love with all of it. Words spill out of you. The sun shines brighter. Bluebirds land on your windowsill, serenading you with a song you’re pretty sure you can interpret as “You are made for this writing gig.”

Frustration
Ack. You’ve hit a stale patch. What to do here? Invent a nemesis? Stop writing? Delete everything you’ve written? Create a new story? You slam your hand in the window while shutting it to block out the jabbering birdie. Ack!

Confusion
Wait, you thought you were born to write this story. What’s going on? Why the lull? Why the lack of tension, or characters weaker than tea that’s been steeped for mere seconds? Why? Why? Why?

Doubt & Fear
You’re only halfway in. Not sure you can do this. Bit off entirely more than you can chew. No one will read this. No one will buy this. No. No. No.


Perseverance
Suckin’ it up. Getting back on the horse. Cantering. Shoving the words on the page with the effort one might use to smash a bullfrog into a thimble. I will do this. I must accomplish THIS!

Shock
The End. Typed. You stare, scrunch your nose, then reread the words. Me, you think. I did that? Why yes, you very well did.

Release
After a good scrub, shake down, declawing, shave, bath with stringent soap, and 182 other ways to edit your work, you find a way to let it go. Into an agent’s hands. To the Internet. To a publishing house. Take your pick. Find your way. But no matter, you release it and watch it soar.

Which stage resonates with you most?
*planning to continue with these 8 Stages of ____________ over the next few Wednesdays
**photos by stock.XCHNG

Monday, May 7, 2012

What if Time Disappeared?

What if one morning you woke up purely in response to your circadian rhythm? Summoned to morning by the light streaming in through the curtains. No squawking alarm clock. Must have forgotten to set it. You head downstairs to prepare breakfast. No green glow on the stove to indicate how much time you have until you need to bust out the door to work. Huh, maybe the power went out? You shower, dress, and toss granola bars and bruise-less apples in brown bags for your pre-teen kids. No watch to check at the flick of your wrist. Where did you put it? Even your iPhone appears out of batteries and unresponsive.

“Kids? You awake yet?” You call up the stairs.
As you tromp through the house, restless to know whether you’re aimed to make it to work on schedule it suddenly feels as though an umbrella has opened up inside your chest. Why is it so impossible to locate one working clock?

In fact, there isn’t a single way to read time anywhere in sight. The wall clocks stare at you sans their hands. Those kids playing tricks. The cable box, where the numbers usually light up the color of a sunset, remains black and useless. No numbers at all.
It’s as if time no longer exists, as though the night swallowed it whole.

The entire morning has become Alfred Hitchcock meets Ecclesiastes (the whole chasing after the wind bit).
What is going on? Who stole time? Please don’t let this be a sign of early onset Alzheimer’s.

No, that can’t be it.
You rush to your desk to check your calendar so scrawled over with family events it looks like a train schedule, grocery list, and roadmap smashed together. Funny, all the activities are listed, but the dates are gone. Vanished—missing even the month.

Forget this. You throw up your hands, yell to rouse the kids one more time, then log online. Surely your computer won’t fail you now.
Ah, the monitor blips and the computer hums to life. Alas, some answers. Time sweet time.

Guess again. All appears as normal, but the absence of any reference to the time.
Are you being punished? You squint and tap hard on the keyboard, willing one, just one substantiation of time to materialize. Had you fooled yourself into thinking you could capture time like some hovering butterfly? Netting it. Controlling it. Planning so much, with such intention, expectation, and precision that time would bend to you like a flower opening to the sun’s rays?

Is this your fault? Did you erase time?
***
These thoughts were inspired the other day when I realized the insane number of methods that exist for keeping track of time. I thought about the verse instructing us to be stewards of our time. I thought about Kansas and their song “Dust in the Wind”. I also thought about The Twilight Zone. My thoughts have a tendency to do that—to keep moving from one to the next—connecting, always connecting.
Then I began to envision the above scenario playing out in my mind. I asked myself how my world would change if time simply disappeared. (Yes, these are the wacky things that keep me up at night.)
I landed on this:
It’s not seconds and minutes that define who we are, they’re merely the shell, but the moments we create inside those seconds and minutes that embody us most.
Here’s another quote that speaks well to this imaginary scenario:
“Life is made up of moments, small pieces of glittering mica in a long stretch of gray cement. It would be wonderful if they came to us unsummoned, but particularly in lives as busy as the ones most of us lead now, that won’t happen. We have to teach ourselves how to make room for them, to love them, and to live, really live.” ~ Anna Quindlen, A Short Guide to a Happy Life
How would your world change if time simply disappeared? Initial thoughts…

*photo by stock.XCHNG

Friday, May 4, 2012

Wildflowers from Winter Bloghop: Daffodils of Hope

It would take the prompting from a treasured friend to get me share something I so rarely talk about. Katie Ganshert’s doing a new thing. As a part of her blog hop she has stirred writers to share unique stories of how God brought beauty from pain. Katie’s debut book, Wildflowers from Winter wonderfully portrays this. (I’m looking forward to posting my review in the coming weeks.)

There is something noble in uniting readers this way; something intrinsically spiritual and healing.
You are not alone…

***
It was a dark season.

Feelings of despair had tangled around my heart, clutching with vine-like intensity. And I still had to carry out my day-to-day routine of raising two young girls. Preparing breakfast, trips to the park, combing hair, baths, and tucking in at night.
Carrying on—all while my resolve withered inside.

I was in the midst of a time of great loss, repeated loss. Experiencing hurt like none I’d known before. I was enduring pain I so rarely talk about to this day.
As my body bled, I stammered in my faith. I questioned God. I grieved the future I’d imagined for the babies I’d never meet. I took it personally.

I cried so much my eyes felt as though they’d shrunk. And in some ways my vision had diminished. I was dying to self. Dying to my hopes and dreams. It was a cavernous losing season.
No matter how many lights I flicked on all around the house early that spring, every room still seemed to evoke a dull, lifeless gray. A muted perception seeped through my every waking moment; mockingly present every corner I turned. I forced myself to attend the MOMS group at our church. I led it. They expected me to be there.

I had no idea what awaited one afternoon soon after I returned from the MOMS group.
I busied myself by wiping down the kitchen table, sounds of Blues Clues creating a numbing background noise. The doorbell sounded.

I walked as though in a trance to open the door. A young girl with gorgeous brown curls stood before me holding up a bundle of bright yellow daffodils.

She hardly spoke a word. I spotted her mom, a friend of mine, waiting in the car. I took the daffodils in my hand. My friend gave a quick wave, the girl smiled and spun on her heel, then skipped back to the car. Off they went. I felt as though I’d been dropped in an antiquated silent movie, all but the vibrant yellow flowers in my hand.
Then I brought them inside.

I filled a medium-sized vase, then plunked the stems into the cool water. I set the cheery daffodils on the table I’d just cleaned. My girls ran over to me, asking questions. Questions I couldn’t answer because I’d been rendered speechless. Women had lovingly made me meals during this time, sent notes with kind words of encouragement, and continually offered to watch my girls for me. I’d felt loved. But nothing spoke love to me quite like those flowers in my kitchen. They communicated God in a way that nothing else was able to up until that point.
They brought color back into my world.
The daffodils reintroduced hope into my wilting belief.
They brought life back.

 Today, I’m brimming with gratitude as I carry out my day-to-day routine of raising three young girls. Preparing breakfast, trips to the park, combing hair, baths, and tucking in at night…Blessed be the name of the Lord.


***A complimentary copy of Wildflowers from Winter will be sent to a random commenter. Comment away!***
*Thanks to Lori Genrich (and daughter) for the impression you had no idea you were leaving with me
**photo by stockXCHNG




Wednesday, May 2, 2012

8 Indicators I Have Allowed Stress to Body Snatch Me

Life tends to get a little crazy this time of year. End of school activities, recitals, conferences, coaching soccer, teacher appreciation…you name it. (And that’s not even to mention what’s going on with my writing career.) Though, stress can sneak up on me at any time. And when it does there are usually a handful of indicators that it’s trying to body snatch me right out of my skin.

They are:
While I’m coaching a soccer game my “Go to the ball” encouragement quickly turns to “At least move your two feet an inch, one teeny tiny inch, will ya?” (I jest, but only a little.)

I forget the pill. Yes, that pill. And there’s to be no forgetting that pill around here. We’re all out of babies.
I pick fights with weeds. Yeah, it’s been done. I’ve yanked, tugged, and then yelled at a particularly stubborn one in my time. So proud.

I start a lot of sentences…
Things constantly end up where they don’t belong. I find pens in the fridge. I leave my keys everywhere other than where they’re supposed to be. It’s like an ongoing game of Hide-N-Seek with myself. It was also very freaky reading Still Alice when this kind of stress kicked it.

I toss and turn in my bed to the point where I convince myself I have restless leg syndrome. To the point where I wrestle long enough and flip floppy enough I throw my hands in the air and retreat downstairs for a bowl of Raisin Bran…which brings me to my next indicator…
I stress eat.

Finally, I know I’m at risk of being body snatched by stress when my response to “What’s for dinner?” is “Woo hoo, we’re having eggs and cereal for the 3rd night in a row!”

What are your clues that stress is attempting to snatch your body?

*photo by stock.XCHNG

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