"God moves in mysterious ways, His wonders to perform..." William Cowper

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Taking a Blogging Break

As the end of the year nears and I begin a temporary, part-time job, I find myself evaluating how to best use the very little time I have to research and write. Both writing this blog and reading other blogs are an enjoyable highlight of my week, but I simply can't keep up with it all, and continue to put my family first. And so, while I'm sure I'll have an occasional post of something I feel I "need" to write, it won't be regular and certainly far from weekly.

I wish anyone reading this the very best for 2011! God bless you all!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Little Drummer Boy

This Christmas favorite was written by Katherine Davis, a woman born in 1892 in St. Joseph, Missouri. Davis loved music from childhood and she studied both American and European folk music. Many of the folktales she learned of revolved around gifts given to the baby Jesus. Stories of the poor sharing the little they had to honor the Lord's birth were passed on for centuries.

With America in economic turmoil during the Great Depression, however, these stories of seemingly unworthy presents given from the heart meant more than they ever had before. Parents made presents for their children out of leftover pieces of twine, wood, and ribbon. Millions couldn't even afford a Christmas card, so gifts from the heart were all they could offer to family and friends.

With World War II an ominous threat, Davis penned a simple, heartfelt song about a poor child coming to witness the birth of the Savior. The child was a victim of poverty, a polite child whose only possession was a small drum. Tentatively, he asks Mary if his gift would be appropriate for a king. In those days of looming war and financial chaos, it was a story that millions could relate to.

Although The Little Drummer Boy didn't become popular until the late 1950's, the simple and honest tale is a beautiful example of the best Christmas gift of all.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Rejection

Every afternoon for the past month or so, I've approached the mailbox with tiny twinges of dread clawing at my stomach. I'd peer into the cold, black box and hope (and often pray) that no envelope bearing my own name, in my own handwriting, lay there ready to mock me. Every aspiring writer knows that the self-addressed stamped envelope is a sure sign of rejection.

Until last Thursday I managed to avoid such a fate. On this afternoon I once again went through my little ritual, and this time the feared envelope sat beneath a bank statement, whispering taunts up at me in my own familiar handwriting.

My baby...rejected. Ouch.

I knew it would hurt. My manuscript is a piece of myself...and someone didn't want that piece. Failure...hurt...rejection. None of these things are fun.

Still, I hear God's voice speaking softly to my heart, reminding me of that day at the post office when I gave my manuscript over to Him.

Good or bad. Approved or rejected.

I truly do believe that God's plans for His children are so much better than those we determine to make for ourselves, and so I will continue to trust Him and strive to listen to His voice.

I will not give up.

As I begin planning my second book, I feel a peace at taking things slow and at checking my priorities often--making sure my family, and my Savior, come before my writing.

I often recite Hebrews 12:1 to myself.

...let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith...

I will continue to persevere. Most of all in my faith, but also in every other good work my heart pulls me toward.

And that includes writing.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen

"Merry Christmas!"

Where did this greeting come from? And what are we truly saying when we bestow it upon family, friends, and even strangers? This week, with the help of Ace Collins once again, I've decided to dive into the story behind the Christmas carol, God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen.

During the fifteenth century, songs used by churches for worship were usually dark and serious, often written in Latin. Few church members enjoyed them, for they offered little joy. Eventually commoners started to create their own music without the approval of the church. Many of the melodies were lively, inspirational, and written in plain language.

God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen was one such song. Imagine the church leaders' surprise when they heard this joyful tune not only being proclaimed from the lips of these peasants, but also being enjoyed in dancing.

The unknown writer(s) clearly knew the gospel, which they conveyed in the song. What's more, they were excited about it, determined to share it in a passionate, emotional way.

The carol continued to find its place in the Christmas season for five more centuries. Yet with the evolution of the English language, few of today's singers fully comprehend what the words "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" actually mean.

When this song was written, merry did not mean "happy," it meant "great" and "mighty," as in Robin Hood's Merry Men.

Still, "God Rest Ye Mighty Gentlemen" makes little sense. One last word has a much different meaning in today's world. The word rest in God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen actually means "keep" or "make." And finally, we have how the song was meant to be read: "God make you mighty, gentlemen." Using this translation, this carol makes more sense, as does the popular saying, "Merry Christmas!"

Or should I wish you a "Mighty Christmas!"

God rest ye merry gentlemen,

Let nothing you dismay.

Remember Christ our Saviour

Was born on Christmas day.

To save us all from Satan's pow'r

When we were gone astray;

Chorus:

O tidings of comfort and joy,

Comfort and joy.

O tidings of comfort and joy.

From God our heavenly Father

A blessed angel came.

And unto certain shepherds

Brought tidings of the same,

How that in Bethlehem was born

The Son of God by name:

Chorus

"Fear not," then said the angel,

"Let nothing you affright,

This day is born a Savior,

Of virtue, power, and might;

So frequently to vanquish all

The friends of Satan quite;"

Chorus

The shepherds at those tidings

Rejoiced much in mind,

And left their flocks a-feeding,

In tempest, storm, and wind,

And went to Bethlehem straightway

This blessed babe to find:

Chorus

But when to Bethlehem they came,

Whereat this infant lay

They found him in a manger,

Where oxen feed on hay;

His mother Mary kneeling,

Unto the Lord did pray:

Chorus

Now to the Lord sing praises,

All you within this place,

And with true love and brotherhood

Each other now embrace;

This holy tide of Christmas

All others doth deface:

Chorus

Monday, November 29, 2010

The Twelve Days of Christmas (Re-post)

We set up our Christmas tree yesterday. Sometimes it's too easy to go through the motions without thinking of the true miracle of Jesus's birth. As I do every year, I try to get my kids (and myself) to think of why we do what we do during the Christmas season. This is a post I've taken from last year. It's the story behind that famous holiday song, The Twelve Days of Christmas. Hopefully it will be a great start to giving meaning to the season.

During the sixteenth century, British Catholics were forbidden to practice their faith. Those who broke this law were put into prison, or, if the crime proved severe enough, they would be hung or drawn and quartered. Still, millions refused to abandon their faith and went underground. The Twelve Days of Christmas was a song teaching Catholic children the doctrine of the church. So what do golden rings or a partridge in a pear tree have to do with things of spiritual importance? Keep reading and you may never think of this song the same again.

The children were taught that only pure and true love came from God, so this song was about a heavenly love, not about a boy’s crush on a girl.

Single partridge in a pear tree—A mother partridge lures enemies away from her defenseless chicks in order to protect them. As she sacrifices her own life for her children, so did Christ for us. The pear tree is a symbol of the cross on which Jesus died.

Two turtle doves—symbols of truth and peace, representing the Old and New Testaments.

Three French hens—in the sixteenth century, these were expensive food items reserved for the wealthy. These represent the gold, frankincense, and myrrh brought to the newborn king by the wise men.

Four calling birds—the four authors who told the story of Jesus: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.

Five golden rings—stood for the five Old Testament books known as the “law of Moses.” These were to remind the singer of man’s fall from grace, and the awesome fact that a Savior would indeed come to offer salvation.

Six geese a-laying—eggs are a symbol for new life. These six represents how God made the world in six days.

Seven swans a-swimming—the gifts of the Holy Spirit—prophesy, service, teaching, encouraging, giving, leadership, and mercy.

Eight maids a-milking—represents the common man (or woman) whom Christ had come to serve and save. The number eight also represents the beatitudes listed in Matthew: blessed are the poor in spirit, those who mourn, the meek, the hungry, the merciful, the pure of heart, the peacemaker, and the righteous.

Nine ladies dancing—the fruits of the Spirit—love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

Ten lords a-leaping—the Ten Commandments, represented by lords, who were honorable men and the voice of law in their domain.

Eleven pipers piping—Jesus’ eleven true apostles who took the message of his life and resurrection to the world.

Twelve drummers drumming—symbolizes “The Apostles’ Creed,” taught to all Catholics, containing a dozen different elements.

There you have it—so much more than a silly holiday song, after all. If this song comes dancing across your radio this week, may it be yet another reminder of the true meaning of Christmas!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Fun Thanksgiving Facts

I found these fun Thanksgiving/turkey facts at www.1800flowers.com. Happy Thanksgiving!

Americans feast on 535 million pounds of turkey on Thanksgiving.

According the U.S. Department of Agriculture, more than 45 million turkeys are cooked and eaten in the United States at Thanksgiving. That number represents one sixth of all the turkeys sold in the U.S. each year!

Benjamin Franklin wanted the turkey to be our national bird.

Domesticated turkeys cannot fly, however wild turkeys can fly up to 55 miles per hour over short distances.

Only male (tom) turkeys gobble. Females make a clicking noise. The famous gobble is actually a seasonal mating call.

The heaviest turkey ever raised weighed in at 86 pounds – about the size of a German Shepherd! (But turkeys are normally not used as police animals.)

The Turkey Trot, a ballroom dance in the 1900s, was named for the short, jerky steps of the turkey. It became popular mainly because it was denounced by the Vatican as "suggestive."

Turkeys are known to spend the night in trees! (Maybe to escape the Thanksgiving table?)

Turkeys can drown if they look up when it's raining!

A turkey's field of vision is 270 degrees--one of the main reasons they're able to elude some hunters.

The average age of the Mayflower passenger was 32. The oldest Mayflower passenger was 64.

There was no milk, cheese, bread, butter or pumpkin pie at the original Thanksgiving Day feast.

Contrary to popular belief, the Pilgrims did not have big buckles on their clothing, shoes, or hats.

Buckles did not come into fashion until the late 1600s – more appropriate for the Salem Witchcraft trial time period.

The cranberry got its name because the pale pink blossoms on the plant resembled a crane’s head and neck. The name craneberry stuck, eventually becoming cranberry.

Fresh cranberries are ideal for cranberry sauce. Cranberries of the highest quality will always bounce! (If you try this at home, please wash the cranberries before eating.)

President Abraham Lincoln established the original date for our National Thanksgiving Day celebration in 1863.

President Thomas Jefferson scoffed at the idea of establishing a national “Thanksgiving Day.”

Congress did not declare Thanksgiving a national holiday until 1941.

The average person consumes 4,500 calories on Thanksgiving Day. (Now that's a lot of turkey!)

Monday, November 15, 2010

Review: Sons of Thunder


Two brothers love her--but only one can have her heart.

Sofia Frangos is torn between the love of hot-headed, passionate Markos and his younger brother, quiet, intelligent Dino. Markos longs to honor his family. Dino wants to forget the tragedy that drove them from their Greek home to the shores of America. One brother offers the past she loves...the other, a future. Which "Son of Thunder" will she choose? From Chicago's sultry jazz-era clubs...to Europe's World War II battlefields...to a final showdown on a Greek island, the Sons of Thunder discover betrayal, sacrifice--and finally...redemption.

My Review: When disaster comes in the form of death and guilt, brothers Markos and Dino Stavros flee their Greek island home with Sofia Frangos, leaving their families and all they've ever known behind. Determined to protect his sweetheart, Sofia, and his younger brother, Dino, in America, Markos flirts with danger out of desperation. The result is another separation--and this time, Markos is the one left behind.

Sons of Thunder was about so much more than a tangled love triangle. Susan May Warren is a truly gifted storyteller, breathing life into each character and setting with unique beauty. I couldn't help but care about each of these people as I anxiously flipped through the pages of this book. There is much Christian fiction out there that shies away from difficult circumstances and real-life situations, but this book is definitely not one of them.

Sons of Thunder plucked chords of emotion deep in my heart with each page. Unpredictable, emotional, passionate, and beautiful. This is romantic suspense at its best!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Let's Talk Money

With the holidays fast approaching, I thought it would be beneficial to exchange some money saving tips. While I am far from an authority on this topic, I've definitely learned how to stretch a dollar over the past five years, as my husband and I have juggled a family of four and a generous mortgage payment on a single income. Here's a few strategies I've found helpful.

1) Forget the Joneses. Focus on building character into your family instead of a pile of possessions. While there's nothing wrong with cable television, Wiis, Kindles and new cars, our family chooses to do without in order to pinch the pennies.

2) Cut the dryer sheets in half. And experiment with other household products. You might be surprised to find out you don't need to fill the laundry detergent up to that recommended line to attain clean clothes. See what works and what doesn't. My dishwasher gets angry with me when I don't use enough soap. My furniture stays happy with just a touch of dust polish.

3) Snip coupons. You can even print them out online.

4) Anticipate your medical needs. Medical insurance can be a big expense. A Today Show article featuring Wendy Nice Barns, a consumer health insurance expert from eHealthInsurance.com, suggests watching out-of-pocket costs. “If you visit the doctor frequently, these can add up," Wendy says. "If you don’t visit the doctor but a few times a year, it may save you to look for a plan with a higher co-pay and lower premium." Wendy also recommends considering a high-deductible plan if you expect your medical expenses to be low.

5) Hold that tax refund check! While it might be exciting to get that big check of "extra money" in April, it may prove smarter to pay off credit cards or even pay ahead on bills. Save yourself a hefty chunk of interest on your mortgage by paying extra on your principal balance. Even auto insurance policies charge a small service fee each month that allows you to spread out your payments. Save some cash by paying ahead.

6) While we're on the topic of credit cards... Financial advisor Dave Ramsey (host of The Dave Ramsey Show and author of The Total Money Makeover) suggests staying away from these. I think most of us would agree. Yet if you're good with your money, these little plastic cards might be able to work for you instead of against you via a rewards program. The only credit card my husband and I own is a Home Rebate card from Citi Cards that pays 1% of our purchases directly to the principal on our mortgage. Many clothing stores also have a similar rewards program. WARNING: These cards are only beneficial if you pay off your credit card balance every month!

7) Give yourself a cash allowance. Decide what you and your family will buy with cash (take-out food, movie rentals, Dunkin Donuts coffee, etc.) and what you will not. Stick to this along with a planned budget and you'll never have to answer the question, "Where is my money going?"

8) Slim down the grocery trips. If you're running to the store every couple of days, chances are you're buying more than you need. One woman on KLove radio said she makes a menu plan for an entire month, buys for the month, and then takes short, once a week trips for fruits, veggies, and milk. She claims she cut her grocery bill in half. Anxious to try this one!

As far as food, my family has been known to have eggs for dinner. We skip many brand-names products and buy DiGiorno instead of Pizza Hut.

9) Turn off the lights. Your mother nagged you for a reason. Electricity is expensive!

10) Read Dave Ramsey's The Total Money Makeover. Dave dispels money myths and outlines steps to financial freedom. Most libraries have this book. Read it!

I hope something I've written is helpful to you. Now, if you're willing to help me...do you have any money saving tips you would be willing to share?


Sunday, October 31, 2010

You've Got A Friend In Me

My kids are big fans of Woody and Buzz, and their adventures of courage and unique friendship. They especially love the theme song, You've Got a Friend in Me. As I watch these movies with them, I find myself thinking about what real friendship means. I hope and pray that my two boys choose their friends wisely, and that they will grow up to be best friends with one another. Yet even more than all that, I pray that they will realize what a powerful friend they have in God--what a perfect friend we all have in Him.

The following excerpt is taken from Max Lucado's book, Fearless. As Lucado tackles the "Fear of What's Next" subject, he tells this story.

God treats you the way one mother treated her young son, Timmy. She didn't like the thought of Timmy walking to his first-grade class unaccompanied. But he was too grown-up to be seen with his mother. "Besides," he explained, "I can walk with a friend." So she did her best to stay calm, quoting the Twenty-third Psalm to him every morning: "Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life..."

One day she came up with an idea. She asked a neighbor to follow Timmy to school in the mornings, staying at a distance, lest he notice her. The neighbor was happy to oblige. She took her toddler on morning walks anyway.

After several days Timmy's little friend noticed the lady and the child.

"Do you know who that woman is who follows us to school?"

"Sure," Timmy answered. "That's Shirley Goddnest and her daughter Marcy."

"Who?"

"My mom reads about them every day in the Twenty-third Psalm. She says, "Shirley Goodnest and Marcy shall follow me all the days of my life.' Guess I'll have to get used to them."

You will too. God never sends you out alone. Are you on the eve of change? Do you find yourself looking into a new chapter? Is the foliage of your world showing signs of a new season? Heaven's message for you is clear: when everything else changes, God's presence never does. You journey in the company of the Holy Spirit, who "will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you" (John 14:26 NLT).

So make friends with whatever's next.

Embrace it. Accept it. Don't resist it. Change is not only a part of life; change is a necessary part of God's strategy. To use us to change the world, he alters our assignments.

As life pulls me along on its surprising path of not-always-welcome changes and challenges, it helps to know that God is with me, standing by me and for me every step of the way. Even in tough times, His love and steadfastness can keep me strong.

So while many of our friends may disappoint us as Buzz and Woody often find themselves doing, God's friendship won't. Rest in the fact that you have the most loving, dependable friend there is--and you don't even have to flip open your cell phone to give Him a call.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Review--Rooms

It was just a letter. Cryptic, yes. Absurd? Absolutely. But Seattle software tycoon Micah Taylor can’t get it out of his mind—this claim that a home was built for him, by a great uncle he never knew, on the Oregon coast. In Cannon Beach. The one place he loves. The one place he never wants to see again.

Micah goes to Cannon Beach intending to sell the house and keep his past buried, but the nine thousand square-foot home instantly feels like it’s part of him. Then he meets Sarah Sabin at the local ice cream shop… Maybe Cannon Beach can be a perfect weekend getaway.

But strange things happen in the house. Things Micah can’t explain. Things he can barely believe. All the locals will say is that the house is “spiritual.” Unsettling, since Micah’s faith slipped away like the tide years ago. And then he discovers the shocking truth: the home isn’t just spiritual, it’s a physical manifestation. Of his soul. Will Micah run—or will he risk everything to see what waits for him deep within the house’s ROOMS?

My Review: I came to this book already rooting for James Rubart because I met him briefly at the ACFW Conference and was struck by his completely genuine personality. His story didn't disappoint.
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Micah Taylor’s life is complete. He’s got everything: fame, a million-dollar business, a nice car, a beautiful girlfriend, and a penthouse overlooking Seattle’s skyline. His life is perfect—or so it seems. His inheritance from an uncle he’s never met in the form of a mansion by the beach sends Micah on a quest to understand his long-dead relative, but soon his search broadens to something far more important—and troubling.

Each time a new room appears in his nine thousand square-foot home, Micah discovers something about himself…and it’s not always good. As his life in Cannon Beach evolves, his life in Seattle begins to disintegrate. Micah longs for the success of Seattle, the calm of Cannon Beach. He can't have both.

Hurtling toward an ultimate choice, Micah is forced to face his worst enemy, one he previously thought a friend.

Although this is not a book I'd typically pick up to read—contemporary, somewhat spooky cover—Rubart’s thoroughly unique story had me enthralled and searching the rooms of my own soul.

I’d highly recommend this book to anyone on a journey to follow Christ. But don’t expect to sit back and relax, for Micah’s journey will surely become your own.

Looking forward to more from James Rubart!

Monday, October 18, 2010

My Marathon Experience

This picture is not of me, but of Alevtina Biktimirova finishing second in the 2008 Boston Marathon. While I didn't come close to placing in the Amica Marathon yesterday in Newport, RI, Alevtina and I have one thing in common: our tortured--relieved?--expression when crossing the finish line. :)

Yay--I did it! Certainly not as fast as Alevtina, but I did it. I ran a marathon!

I woke yesterday morning with a feeling akin to a jitterbugging frog in my stomach. I couldn't calm my nerves. Fear of failure haunted me. I picked up the book I sometimes use for devotionals, and it pointed me to a small bit of scripture in 1Corinthians. One part jumped out at me.

He will keep you strong to the end.

Ohhhh yeah, God. You got me covered. How could I forget?

Now I'm completely aware I'm taking this assurance from the Almighty somewhat out of context, but I do believe He placed it in my path just when I needed to hear it. So I latched onto this promise for the full 26.2 miles, repeating it to myself often, especially when failure seemed imminent.

I completed the race in 4 hours, 10 minutes. I couldn't have gone faster. I did my best. And for that, I'm pleased.

When I finished, I was completely drained of energy, and could barely stand. And at the same time I felt more fully alive than I had in a long time. Wierd, really. But I think accomplishing something outside of our comfort zone--taking risks--has that effect on us.

Now as for when I'll be able to wear shoes again...that is yet to be seen. My feet are just plain ugly and sore, and at the moment, I can barely walk. But it was all worth it.

So what about you? What are you trying to accomplish that may be a little bit out of your comfort zone? I'd love to hear about it! And whatever it is, I encourage you to keep pursuing...the reward will surely be great.

P.S. Have to thank my supportive hubby and my two boys, who dragged themselves out of bed before dawn and braved the biting beach wind from 7 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. to cheer me on. Thank you my sweet family!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Amica Marathon

My last run is complete. I've purchased two packs of energizing jelly beans. I'm registered and ready--only two more days until the Amica Marathon in Newport, Rhode Island.

With more than 350 miles of running behind me, I'm happy to say I've done my best. Still not thinking my best is going to earn me a Boston marathon qualifying time, but hey, my feet could still grow wings...couldn't they?

So what will I be thinking about (besides praying) for four hours of self-inflicted torture? I'll be outlining my next book in my head, of course! :)

I'll check in on Monday to let you know how it goes!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Review--A Memory Between Us

Major Jack Novak has never failed to meet a challenge—until he meets army nurse Lieutenant Ruth Doherty. When Jack lands in the army hospital after a plane crash, he makes winning Ruth’s heart a top-priority mission. But he has his work cut out for him. Not only is Ruth focused on her work in order to support her orphaned siblings back home, she also is determined not to give her heart to any man.

As the danger and tension of World War II rise to fever pitch, Jack and Ruth will need each other more than ever. Can Jack break down her defenses? Or are they destined to go their separate ways?

From the English countryside to the perilous skies over France, A Memory Between Us takes you on a journey through love, forgiveness, and sacrifice.

My Review: It’s been a long time since a book has stayed with me days after I closed its last page, but that’s just what happened after I read A Memory Between Us. Whether on a B-17 Flying Fortress or in a Chicago slum, Sundin’s effortless weaving of historical detail into her story whisked me back to the days of World War II.

Lieutenant Ruth Doherty is a spunky, accomplished nurse struggling to feed her orphaned siblings. When the chance to become a flight nurse presents itself, Ruth jumps at the opportunity for increased pay. But the journey to her goals is fraught with difficulties that force her to face her past, and a certain major that she can’t completely block from her heart.

Jack Novak is a pastor turned pilot, whose confident manner not only becomes a problem in obtaining Ruth’s heart, but also on the airfield. After a tragic accident occurs that involves a close friend, Jack is forced to search himself for true motives and God’s plan for his life.

A Memory Between Us is an honorable commemoration of those who served during this time period. Sundin doesn’t just spin an engaging story, she intertwines history with clever writing that had me flipping pages when I should have been starting dinner.

To see a diagram of a B-17, or to read more about this book or the first book in the “Wings of Glory” Series, A Distant Melody, visit Sarah’s website at http://www.sarahsundin.com/.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Running the Race--Firm in the Faith

When my church asked me to compare running a race to my faith for our Sunday School opening this year, I didn't find it too difficult since I'd already done tons of thinking on this very topic during some of my longer runs. To be completely honest, I thought about posting it on my blog but abstained, for fear it would be too preachy. Last Sunday, however, one of the truths of my comparison really hit home when I finally completed a twenty-mile run...only thanks to a fellow running buddy. That night, I decided to post what I had written for my church.

Running the Race--Firm in the Faith

Hebrews 12:1 says, “Let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily hinders our progress. And let us run with endurance the race that God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, on whom our faith depends from start to finish.”

I think there’s a reason Paul chose to compare our faith to a race. A race is hard. It’s challenging. It’s not for wimps, and certainly not for the faint of heart. Neither is the Christian faith. It requires perseverance and overcoming obstacles that hinder our relationship with Jesus.

I ran cross-country in high school and continue to run long distances. Running an actual race is similar in many ways to running our race of faith. For instance, there’s nothing more encouraging in a race than having a fellow runner beside you. A running buddy knows how hard it is to endure. A running buddy can hold you up, share your burden, encourage, and challenge you. Each one of you is my running buddy in this race of faith—this pursuit of becoming more and more like Jesus one day at a time.

Another comparison. Each time I attempt a long run, one small part of my body refuses to cooperate. Along about my fourth or fifth mile, one of my small toes—the-little-piggy-that-had-roast-beef—cramps up. It hurts—more than you’d think a small, insignificant toe is capable of. And it severely hampers my running efforts. Who would have thought one small little piggy could cause such disastrous pain? Although that little toe doesn’t stop me from running, it sure makes the race more difficult. A single complacent Christian can have the same effect on the body of Christ. The church can move forward, it can continue on its journey, but certainly not as easily, and certainly not without pain. When every part of my body is healthy and in working order, the race is indeed a wonderful thing to run.

The most satisfying part of the race? The finish. The end. When the discomfort is over, when I know I’ve endured and done my best. I’m confident the finish to our race of faith will be much more rewarding. And so let’s continue running this race for Jesus, hoping that at the finish we’ll hear him say, “Well, done, good and faithful servant! You ran the race I marked out for you, and you ran it well. You endured. You were firm in your faith. Let’s celebrate together!”

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Special Conference Edition Afictionado Now Live!

If you're a writer who didn't make it to the ACFW Conference this year, or if you did, but couldn't manage to find your superhuman powers and attend every fantastic workshop, be sure to check out the latest edition of Afictionado at


I had a wonderful time reporting this year. Hope you enjoy!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Mailing My Baby

Last Friday, I walked into the post office of a nearby town. I drove eight extra miles to reach this destination, not because I hold any grudges against my local post office, but because I've had very good relations with this particular office in the past. And I was on an important mission: today I was mailing my baby.

That's right. My baby. I've labored over it for four years, attempted to weed out as many adverbs as possible along with every insignificant sentence. I've tossed out entire chapters. I've had to say goodbye to characters I loved, and put other characters through torture.

And now it was finished, and someone of importance in the publishing industry had requested to see the entire 300-plus pages, hard copy. Lord, help me.

When I walked into that post office, I cradled my manuscript--crisp, white pages showcasing sharp, clean-edged ink. Not a wrinkle or smudge, not a fold in sight. Perfect.

I just had one little problem. The large envelope that held the pages was a tad too big. I'd been told by a published author that envelopes are preferred over boxes, and I took that advice to heart. Only now, I wondered if my manuscript would suffer in route to its destination.

When I asked the man behind the postal counter for his expert advice, he took a peek into my unsealed package. "It's just paper, right?"

JUST PAPER?

"Well, it's a manuscript," I answered.

He slid the entire 350 pages from the envelope and flipped them upside down, showing them the same courtesy he would a freshly-caught bass. It suddenly felt very warm in that spacious office.

"This'll probably work." He reached for a much smaller, cardboard envelope and shoved my four years of work into the package. Three-quarters of the pages still stuck out. They called to me for help.

I reached out a tentative hand to smooth a slightly dog-eared page. Maybe I'd start crying. "Be--be careful. It's my baby."

He looked at me as if I had something stronger than water in my L.L. Bean canteen. "I've done this before, you know."

I wanted to ask him if any other manuscripts he'd sent saw publication. Probably not.

Next, he took another small envelope and slid it over the exposed side of the manuscript. The cardboard started to tear. Very professional looking, you know.

He slipped the entire sorry-looking package into the big envelope and slapped the seal closed. I said a little prayer for my baby--that it would make it safely without much damage, that the person unpackaging it hadn't just spilled coffee on her best suit, or slammed her toe against the corner of her desk. Surely an unprofessionally packaged manuscript would put her over the edge, and effectively put me on her bad side.

Or maybe--just maybe--the postal worker had been like an angel, guarding my baby from sliding to and fro within that spacious envelope. I may never know. What's done is done, and the only thing I could do was lift a prayer to my Comforter.

Please God, be with these pages. May they find their purpose--even if that doesn't include publication.

Not an easy prayer to say from my heart, but I'm convinced it was sincere. And so, into His capable hands, I entrust my manuscript.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Fresh Air Fund-Racers Needed!

I'm the first to admit that I take my comfortable life for granted. My children run around in our decent-sized backyard. We have warm food in our bellies at dinnertime. A comfortable bed to sleep in. Heat in the winter. Air conditioning in the summer. Clothes. Clean water.

Fresh air.

Since 1877, The Fresh Air Fund, a not-for-profit agency, has provided free summer experiences in the country to more than 1.7 million New York City children from disadvantaged communities. Each year, thousands of children visit volunteer host families in 13 states and Canada through the Friendly Town Program or attend one of five Fresh Air Fund camps.

The Fresh Air Fund is looking for runners and sponsors to join the Fresh Air Fund-Racers team for the NYC Marathon on November 7th.

Over the past four years as a NY Road Runners charity partner for the NYC Half-Marathon, 325 Fund-Racers have raised close to $400,000 for The Fresh Air Fund!

Not a runner? Consider volunteering. For more information, go to

http://freshair.org/racers

Happy running/volunteering and God bless!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The ACFW 2010 Annual Conference

Wow! Maybe I should just leave it at that.

I'm still reeling from the excitement of meeting some of my favorite authors, listening to them teach, and worshiping not only with them, but with this entire fabulous family of writers.

Here's something else I learned this weekend: writers are weird. But you know what? I felt right at home. I suppose that makes me weird, too. I always knew deep in my heart that I was. :) At least I don't attach dialogue tags to conversations with my husband as Tim Downs confessed to doing....can you imagine the dinner talk now?

I made some amazing friends and laughed a lot. And the hotel was beautiful. I'm already thinking of ways to save for next year.

Okay, my next task is sending out the proposals and chapters requested by agents. Then, besides holding my breath, I'll be planning my next manuscript and diving into more writing craft books. I'm especially looking forward to James Scott Bell's Plot and Structure. He spoke a little on it, which only made me curious for more! (Yes, this is what I dream about at night--and yes, I know this fact confirms my weirdness.)

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Off to Indy!

At this time tomorrow, I'll be at the firt-timers orientation for the ACFW 2010 Conference. The house is clean. The bags are nearly packed. The pitches are practiced, and practiced, and practiced. I've never been away from my family this long, so I'm mentally preparing myself for that, too.
Can't wait to meet some of my ACFW friends and finally convince myself they're not imaginary after all! I'm going to attempt to post while at conference, but if things get busy that might not work out. Hope everyone has a great weekend, and God bless! :)

Monday, September 6, 2010

What My Children Have Taught ME





As my oldest son prepares to climb on the big yellow school bus for the very first time this morning, I can't help but reflect on all he's learned in the last five years. But he's not the only one learning. My two sons have educated me, too.

My children have taught me that:

1) I am stronger than I think I am--surviving labor twice is proof of that.

2) while time-outs might not always bring about a desired result, bribery usually does. (Not advocating, by the way.)

3) it's better to forgive and forget. Have you ever witnessed a major disagreement between two pre-schoolers? It can be a nasty thing. But I'm always amazed how quickly an apology and a new plan can reconcile the two involved parties. Adults--I think we just make it too difficult sometimes.

4) two small boys needn't look farther than the bathroom for amusement. Who can make the most bubbles in Mommy's freshly scrubbed toilet? Who can pee the farthest? (Outside activity, of course.) Toilet identification, anyone? While I'm fairly certain I've never given the letters on my toilet any thought, my four-year-old recently informed me that his grandparents and our church both have Kohler toilets.

5) sometimes I need to chill-out. Time flies and my children won't be little forever. The dust-bunnies and laundry will always be there.

6) the world really is a beautiful place. To see the beach for the first time through the eyes of a three-year-old is an amazing reminder of this.

7) if it's too quiet, be suspicious. The little cherubs might be in the backyard taste-testing the "chocolate milk" they made out of mud and that rusty bucket of rainwater.

8) a mother does in fact possess an inner voice that knows best. If I could do it all over again, I'd forego the parenting magazines and books, and other such advice. They only serve to drown out that natural mothering instinct.

9) uninterrupted sleep is never a thing to be taken for granted.

10) God is truly amazing. Not only does He create these beautiful children for us to nurture and protect, but He created the fierce love that binds us to them.

What have you learned from a young one lately?

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Double Marathon Challenge Update

I normally don't post in the middle of the week, but I couldn't resist. Drum roll please...the second part off my challenge is complete! I have received all feedback from my critique partners and have made the necessary changes to my manuscript. Done. Really. The end. And it only took seven years.

I'm happy with the outcome, but of course that doesn't mean other people will actually think it's good, or that agents will be clawing at me to get their hands on it in two weeks in Indianapolis (haha, don't I wish). Still, I did it. Next up--polishing pitches, proposals, and one-sheets for the conference.

As for the first part of my marathon challenge--the actual marathon, I managed a sixteen-mile run last Saturday in 2 hours, 18 minutes. A little shy of Boston Marathon qualifying pace/time. I'm not discouraged. However, my knees certainly are. I'm going to have to make some changes to my training schedule and set more recovery time between the longer runs.

Okay, whoever's reading this, thanks for reading and sharing in my small victory. God bless! :)

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Relating to George McFly

Those of you who have watched the movie, Back to the Future, probably remember this scene in George McFly's high school lunchroom. Marty, George's son from the future, asks his father what he's writing.

“Science fiction stories… about aliens coming down from other planets,” George says.

“Get out of town… I didn’t know you did anything creative,” Marty says, grinning. “Here, let me read some of it.” He reaches for the notebook, but George pulls it away.

“Oh, no, I couldn’t let anyone read it. They might not like it and tell me I’m no good. I just don’t think I could take that kind of rejection. But, you wouldn’t probably understand that, would you?”

I do, George! I do!

I think of you often lately, George McFly, as I prepare for the ACFW conference. Everything is coming together. My one-sheet is done, my pitch is ready for the agents I'll be meeting. My first chapters are completely polished. Still...rejection is part of a writer's journey, and it's sure to come. When it does, will I be able to handle it?

Standing at this threshold, I can't imagine coming this far just to chicken out. So I'm going to take the leap. And you know what? I'm excited to learn what journey God has in store for me. I'm excited to see what He's going to teach me through this conference. Maybe He'll surprise me. Maybe He'll teach me things that don't even have to do directly with writing. Maybe He'll teach me about encouraging and serving others. Maybe, with my friends and family 800 miles away, I'll gain a deeper trust in the ability of my Creator to take care of me. Who knows? I suppose I'll find out in seventeen days....

As for George McFly, I can't say my future has a hardcover in it as his eventually did, but for right now, it's nice to know someone else understands, even if he is only a fictional character himself.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Review: Though Waters Roar

“Thank goodness you’re such a plain child. You’ll have to rely on your wits.”
So went the words of Grandma Bebe. And for all of my growing-up years, I scoffed at the beauty of my sister and what I saw as her meaningless existence. But my wits hadn’t served me well in this instance, for here I was, in jail. And while I could have seen it as carrying on the family tradition for Grandma Bebe landed in jail for her support of Prohibition, the truth is, my reasons for being here would probably break her heart.
So how did I end up becoming a criminal? I’ve been pondering that question all night. Perhaps the best way to search for an answer is to start at the very beginning….

My Review:
I have to thank one of my critique group members--thanks, Nicole!--for recommending Lynn Austin to me several months ago. This being only the second book of Austin's that I read, I'm already looking forward to polishing off her entire list.

Though Waters Roar is a true historical adventure that swims through three generations of strong-minded women and their battles for the abolition of slavery, prohibition, and women's suffrage. Each woman is real, each woman faces insurmountable challenges, and each woman has different lessons to learn along the way.

The bulk of the novel was told in flashback, and while some may find this hard to follow, I loved the resonance it lent to the story as a whole. Austin's unique voice and powerful writing not only made me laugh out loud, but also brought me to tears during one particularly poignant scene. Her unpredictable story of hope and forgiveness is not one I will soon forget.


Monday, August 16, 2010

Top Ten Nuisances of Running

After my hard, torturous run of fourteen miles last Friday, I decided something: I like walks. Nice, long, slow, relaxing, pain-free walks. In the spirit of this hopefully temporary attitude, I've compiled my own little list of the top ten things that make running, well...downright unpleasant.

1) Cramps. Any kinds, but particularly those in the abdomen that twist and pull until I'm sure only labor is more painful, and of course, those sharp ones in the toe of the little-piggy-that-had-roast-beef.

2) Breathing in the smelly exhaust of eighteen-wheelers.

3) Blisters.

4) Almost stepping on a freshly dead snake--or worse, a freshly alive one!

5) Dogs. Yes, I've been bitten in the derriere on one occasion. Ouch.

6) Deerflies getting caught in my thick ponytail.

7) Splashing red gatorade over my face and up my nose because I refuse to slow to a walk while gulping my allotted two sips per every ten minutes. (Drinking too much while running is one of the reasons nuisance #1 occurs in the first place.)

8) Direction-askers. I really do love to help people, but can't they see precious seconds are ticking away on my stopwatch while I stop to tell them how to get over-the-hill-and-through-the-woods?

9) Sweat. Especially the kind that drips into the eyes and burns.

10) Indecent thoughts such as maybe, just maybe, it wouldn't be a terrible thing if this oncoming car swerved and hit me slightly...not enough to do serious damage, mind you, but enough to give me an excuse to stop this self-inflicted misery.

**Dislaimer To My Most Loyal Reader: Mom, only half-joking with #10. Don't worry. I promise not to throw myself in front of a moving vehicle.

So, that's about it. I'd go into the nuisances of writing, but right now my biggest nuisance is simply not finding the time I want to write.

Any runners out there? Is your biggest annoyance on my list?

P.S. Besides my five-year-old's bold outburst of "This is boring!" in the middle of their vows, my sister's wedding last Saturday went beautifully. :)



Monday, August 9, 2010

Story Behind the Story

Taking a little blogging break this week in preparation for my only sister's wedding this Saturday--yay! :)

Meanwhile, I will be guest blogging on Nicole Miller's blog, To the Heart of History, along with the rest of my critique group this week. Nicole, my wonderfully talented and helpful critique partner, is running a series on "The Story Behind the Story." If you're interested, click on the following link:


Keep an eye out for me mid-week. God bless!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

The Crazy Things We Do

"Mommy, you smell like the beach."

No, my sweet, sweet, unassuming five-year-old, that's not the beach. It's the fish oil your mother rubbed on her knees before she went on that ten mile run this morning. Ick.

I read about it somewhere online. For aching knees, massage fatty acids directly onto your joints. Avocado may smell better, but fish oil is cheaper. Mind you, I'm not even sure if this is proven, but it does seem to work--even if it's all in my head. The trouble is, the smelly stuff doesn't come out easily, even with a bar of soap and a fierce scrubbing.

Oh, the things a runner will do.

Such as periodically hopping on one foot while running to ease a painful, numbing cramp out of one's toe. Of course, I could stop and stand on said foot like a flamingo, but that would be...well, kind of like cheating. No stopping, no walking. Those are my self-inflicted rules.

So, if you're cruising around the Swansea/Dighton/Rehoboth area in Massachusetts with your windows down, and get a whiff of something...fishy...and you round a bend and see a woman hopping ungracefully on one foot with a sports drink in hand (no, I'm not playing hopscotch)...that's me...the girl who thinks she can run a marathon.

But wait! I'd hate to end the post on such a discouraging note. That ten mile run? My mile splits weren't far off from Boston Marathon qualifying time! Never mind the extra sixteen miles I need to run to make a marathon, progress is progress.

As for the second part of my Double Marathon Challenge, I'm polishing up my manuscript for a final time and will submit it to my critique group this week. Right on schedule.

This week's a high and I'm not expecting it to last forever. But today, I'm happy.

What about you? What are the crazy things you've done to achieve your goals?

Monday, July 26, 2010

Lessons from Horton


Sighed Mayzie, a lazy bird hatching an egg:
"I'm tired and I'm bored
And I've kinks in my leg
From sitting, just sitting here day after day.
It's work! How I hate it!
I'd much rather play!
I'd take a vacation, fly off for a rest
If I could find someone to stay on my nest!
If I could find someone, I'd fly away--free...."

Then Horton, the Elephant, passed by her tree.

And so Horton's journey begins. In this Dr. Seuss classic, Horton Hatches the Egg, Mayzie leaves the care of her only egg to a one-ton elephant, Horton. She then flies off on a never-ending vacation. Despite many obstacles, Horton proves "faithful, one hundred per cent."

The message packed in this book isn't just for children.

I constantly find myself drifting toward Mayzie's mindset. I'm tired of the work I've given myself, frustrated at the writing that just isn't flowing from my fingertips to my computer, or bored at the sometimes monotonous job of being a stay-at-home mother. And my oh my, do I have more than a few kinks in my legs from that ten-mile run yesterday. Mayzie, I hear you, girl. I could use a vacation, too.

Yet when I read this story with my kids, it's not Mayzie I long to be like--it's the big old elephant. Horton stands firm in the promise he's made to Mayzie. If Horton is this faithful to an irresponsible bird, how much more should I be faithful to God, my family, and the desires He has placed on my heart?

The root word of faithful is 'aman, meaning believe. Believe in what? I suppose that depends. Horton believed in his promise. I choose to believe in God's promises and His blessing upon my life. But blessing doesn't always pour out unimpeded. It requires a lot of work and prayer, and maybe a little wrestling. That's right, I said wrestling.


When Jacob wrestles with God in the book of Genesis, God bestows a token of blessing upon him in the form of a name change. He renames Jacob, Israel, roughly translated "you never give up and always believe God's promises." The blessing didn't just come, Jacob had to work for it. He persevered.


Wrestling is not a sport for wimps, and surely not a sport for birds like Mayzie. Like Jacob, I think many of us find ourselves wrestling a blessing from God. Are we up to the challenge? Are we willing to persevere? Surely our rewards will be great.

What was Horton's reward? I won't give it away, but I will tell you that something very surprising was in that egg!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

At the Starting Line

Thanks to my new trusty stopwatch, I know that last week I ran 6 miles in 52 minutes, 44 seconds. Not too shabby.

Now the bad news. That same reliable stopwatch reported a time of 64 minutes, 34 seconds during my 7-mile run this past Saturday. Ugh. I'd like to blame this last rather lacking time on the heat and humidity level at 83%, or the fact that I neglected to bring a drink with me, or that black cat that deliberately crossed my path on mile 5 (;0). But no sense spewing out excuses like raindrops during a 3-year drought--it wasn't the best run. And yet without that stopwatch to push me, I'd wager a bet my time would have been a lot worse.

Other items I find useful for my marathon training?
-2 good pairs of sneakers
-2 bags of frozen peas (for icing those aching knees)
-vitamins, including glucosamine pills--again, for those pesky knees
-lightweight running clothes and of course the ever-important sports bra (God may not have been feeling especially generous the day He fashioned my upper hemisphere, but I'm determined to take care of it)
-a training schedule. I got mine at http://www.marathonrookie.com/. It requires 4 workouts per week--2 intense, longer runs, and 2 recovery workouts with shorter mileage.

***
Writing a novel requires a few tools, also. I like to think of my laptop as my main support--the sneakers, if you will--of my writing. Sure, I could write with a pen and paper, and still often do, but it's kind of like running barefoot; I feel free for a little bit, but soon realize I can't keep up with my thoughts or the technological world without some serious blood and blisters.

The schedule is a must for me. Finding consistent, quiet time to write can be a big challenge, but I'm more productive if I adhere to certain times of writing. Early morning while my family is sleeping, or after lunch when my kids are having their quiet--I use that word loosely--time work best for me. Like my running schedule, I also try to give myself "rest" days. Tearing myself away from my WIP allows me to come back to it with fresh eyes and new ideas.

I liken my stopwatch to my critique group. They keep me accountable and on target. They push me to write my best. Although at times, they've played another role: that bag of frozen peas, soothing my frustrations and mending my soul when I feel discouraged.

ACFW? They're my running clothes--well, you can't show up to a race naked, can you? They've given me confidence and support to pursue this dream of mine. Without this group, I would have given up long ago.

Now, for the essential classes and resources. Like my vitamins, I take plenty of them. They keep me strong and help me learn as a writer. Every month, ACFW offers a different online course to cater to the many aspects of writing a novel. In addition to these classes, I've read many books on the craft of writing. Here are some I highly recommend:
Writing for the Soul by Jerry Jenkins
Stein on Writing by Sol Stein
How to Grow a Novel by Sol Stein
Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass
Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and Dave King

On my "to read" list:
Plot and Structure by James Scott Bell
Getting into Character by Brandilyn Collins
Goal, Motivation & Conflict by Debra Dixon

Also handy, Sally Stuart's Christian Writers' Market Guide, or 2010 Writer's Market by Robert Lee Brewer.

Did I miss anything important? Runners? Writers?

As a side note, on the writing front, I did a mini sprint these last two weeks. I'm about 3/4 of the way through my revisions. Then, they'll go to my critique group and they'll be more--you guessed it--revisions. Like that 7-mile discouraging run, there have been many times over these past months that I thought "What in the world am I thinking? I can't really do this."

No, I can't do any of this, I realize. At least by myself. And that's when I fall on my knees and hand it all over to the Big Guy. He'll handle it better than I ever could.



Monday, July 12, 2010

Encouraging News

I stumbled out of bed this morning to look at the results of a contest I entered last month. Low and behold, I won! What encouragement! It's called OUT OF THE SLUSHPILE, Novel Journey's Fifteen Minutes of Fame Contest and truthfully, it's more like finaling in a bigger contest that will have twelve finalists when all said and done. It sounds like there weren't loads of entries, but I'm not going to let that deter my joy. After all, it is one more thing I can add to my bio. If you want to learn more about the contest or read my entry (the first chapter of my manuscript), here's the link.
http://www.noveljourney.blogspot.com
Take care, and God bless!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Family First

With all this lofty talk about dreams and goals, I feel a tug of reality pulling at my shirt. Literally. It's my youngest son, Noah. He wants me to help him find his toy screwdriver. Another day, another interruption. Or is it? What's really the disturbance here? The more I think on it, I realize it's not my four-year-old after all, but me, myself, and my backward priorities.

I'm constantly checking my heart for this kind of attitude--the attitude that says my family is an interruption. Sounds horrible, I know, but I think we all do it at one time or another. Is writing more important than my family? Is running a marathon? You can bet your bottom dollar it isn't. One of the greatest gifts God has given me is my husband and two sons. They need to come before my own aspirations. When they don't, I become the cranky, self-absorbed mother who nobody, including myself, likes to be around. It's a juggling act. What's a girl to do?

Well, between dishes, laundry (would you believe I put my husband's wallet through the wash this morning?), refereeing disagreements between my four and five-year-old, preparing meals, cleaning, figuring out tax payments for my husband's construction company, and finding quality time with each member of my family, it's definitely hard to find time for myself. I have to wake at least an hour earlier than the rest of my family in order to run or spend some time on my computer. I take my laptop to the playground and type in a most uncomfortable cross-legged position on a blanket while the kids play. I don't watch much television. I don't wash whites separately. Instead of reading Plot and Structure by James Scott Bell, I'm reading James and the Giant Peach with my boys. Is it worth it? Of course! Is it easy? No way!

My selfish side rears its ugly head all too often. I try hard to remind myself that as much as I love my pretend characters, they are certainly not real. My family is. They matter more to me than all my dreams combined. They are my ultimate WIP (work-in-progress), and I thank my Creator for them everyday.

How about you? Any advice? How do you consciously put your family first throughout your busy day?

Friday, July 2, 2010

Happy Fourth!

Happy Fourth of July! I love history--in fact, my WIP is set during WWII. Here's a few interesting Fourth of July facts I found at http://www.star-telegram.com/. Enjoy the weekend!

1) John Hancock was the only person to sign the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. Most of the 56 men who signed did so Aug. 2. The youngest man to sign was Edward Rutledge, who was 26. The oldest was Benjamin Franklin, who was 70. Also, two future presidents signed: John Adams, the nation's second president, and Thomas Jefferson, the third president.


2) There were two Boston tea parties. You probably know about the one that occurred Dec. 16, 1773, but did you know about the repeat performance March 7, 1774? The two tea parties cost the British the equivalent of $3 million in today's currency.


3) Did you know that there were women in the Continental Army? Among them was Mary Ludwig Hays, who replaced her husband after he was wounded at the Battle of Monmouth in 1778, and Margaret Corbin, who was wounded -- and her husband killed -- at the Battle of Harlem Heights in 1776.


4) An estimated 2.5 million people lived in America in July 1776. Today, an estimated 309 million people call this nation home.


Wednesday, June 30, 2010

A Double Marathon Challenge, Continued

Okay, now for the second part of my challenge. First, some background info: I love to write. There, I said it. I've kept this hobby a secret for so long, stuffed in the very back of the closet of my soul behind two old purses, about seven pairs of shoes, and at least that many dustballs. And for good reason. Anything one writes can be criticized, ripped to shreds, and fed to the dogs. The results--I know firsthand--are like a beating to the soul.

So why take the risk? Because I can't not write. Ever since my first story in the third grade, I'd Cross the Desert for Milk (how's that for unique?), I've played around with story ideas and a handful of completed and uncompleted projects.

I decided to get serious four years ago. I joined an amazing organization, the American Christian Fiction Writers. From multi-published, award-winning authors to folks who don't know POV from PMS, ACFW caters to them all. I've been learning ever since.

This past April, I won a full scholarship to the ACFW Conference in Indianapolis this year. A dream come true! I will have the opportunity to attend and report on various workshops that will help me improve my manuscript. I will be able to meet some of my favorite authors. And, I will pitch my novel to an agent. Eeek!

So now, for the second part of my double marathon challenge: finish my WIP that was birthed seven years ago in time for conference. This means I need to complete it by the beginning of August in order to have time for my critique group to read and give their expert advice. I must have a completely polished manuscript by September 17th, or I will not be able to pitch it in this personal, preferred manner.

Another daunting marathon requiring every ounce of perseverance I possess. Another area where failure may meet me at every turn. Another race I'm willing to give my all and give to God.












































Sunday, June 27, 2010

A Double Marathon Challenge

On your mark...get set...go! I'm off on a double marathon challenge. Okay, not exactly 52.4 miles of actual running, but a summons that will require just about that much perseverance and determination.

It started two months ago when my husband and I were watching recaps of the Boston Marathon after my two pre-schoolers went to bed. I always feel a certain victory when I see those resolute, tired bodies crossing the finish line. And I'm not just talking about Teyba Erkesso, the amazing Ethiopian who ran the race in a little under two and a half hours. I'm talking about the sixty-nine-year-old father pushing his paraplegic son in a wheelchair up Heartbreak Hill, the two Marines in full gear helping a tired young woman complete the last mile, the dogged runner determined to finish--even beneath the moon.

I used to think I'd run a marathon one day. You know, in the future, when I get around to it. Well, that was ten years ago when I ran cross-country in high school and honey, I ain't gettin' any younger. ;) So instead of dismissing the idea, that night, I embraced it. That's it. My epiphany in front of the plasma.

Why do we so often sweep our dreams under the carpet, as if they don't matter--as if we don't matter? Are we too tired? Afraid of failure? Not willing to put in the necessary work?

Whatever the reason, I'm hoping to dispell some of their weighty limitations in my own head with this challenge. A Pastor I recently listened to said "It takes more faith to work with God than to sit back and wait for a miracle." Okay, God. I'm ready to work.

So here is the first part of my Double Marathon Challenge: finish the Amica Marathon in Newport, Rhode Island on October 17th with a Boston Marathon qualifying time. Yikes! Did I really just write that? Already I'm being bombarded by doubts. That's a time of 3hours, 40 minutes. Less than 8.5 minute miles. Maybe I'm crazy. Maybe I should just keep the challenge at finishing the marathon. The stakes are too high. The risk of putting myself out there and being humiliated are too great. Failure is imminent.

Or is it? I guess I'll never know unless I try. So here...I...go!

I'll tell you about the second part of my Double Marathon Challenge--which actually has nothing to do with running--in my next post.

Meanwhile, what has God put on your heart to accomplish this summer, this year, this lifetime?