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

Monday, May 30, 2011

Ten Secrets to a Happy Marriage

Tomorrow my husband and I will celebrate our eighth wedding anniversary. Although a day doesn't go by that I don't thank God for this wonderful man He put in my life, today seems like an appropriate time to do it a more public manner.

In honor of our anniversary, I've decided to post Ten Secrets to a Happy Marriage, found in a novel by Karen Kingsbury called Forever. I am constantly needing these reminders and hope that they may bless your marriage (or future marriage) as well.

Ten Secrets to a Happy Marriage

1. God has you here to serve one another. Love acted out is serving.

2. Women need respect and nurturing. Love your wife so she knows you'd lay your life down for her. Continue to date her and admire her. Share a hobby--find something you can do to have fun together.

3. Laugh often.

4. Be patient. Love crumbles quickly under the weight of unmet expectations.

5. Spend more time trying to fix yourself than your spouse.

6. Keep short accounts. The Bible says, "Do not let the sun go down while you are angry." Make it a habit to forgive.

7. Determine up front that divorce is not an option.

8. Learn about love languages. Not all people show love or receive it the same way. You want a back rub and your spouse wants a clean kitchen. The love languages are fairly simple: acts of service, time, physical touch, gifts, and words of affirmation. Learn them. Love is better received when it's in the language that person speaks.

9. Words of affirmation are a love language for all men.

10. Men are born leaders. He cannot lead unless she gives him the confidence to do so. If you love your husband, build him up. Confident men do not seek love outside the home.

There you have it. On paper they may look simple, but as I strive to do these things I often find myself falling short. Lucky for me my husband is excellent at following secret number 6! ;)

I love you, honey. These last eight years have been the best of my life. Happy Anniversary!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Short and Sweet Friday: Mommy's Stories

"Mommy, can you tell us one of your stories tonight?"

This was the request from my six-year-old. Both my sons love my make-up stories. And while I may have the audacity to send my historical fiction novels out to literary agents and hope and pray for a positive answer, I am in no way under the illusion that the stories I tell my children before bed are worthy of being published.

So why do they love them? No doubt it's the personal level I create them on. I always put both my sons in the story, often along with their favorite stuffed animals and favorite activities (trucks, Legos, dinosaurs). They go on adventures without getting out of bed. Isn't that the same reason we open a book?

Do you have children that love your make-up stories? Do you remember being told such stories as a child?

Monday, May 23, 2011

I'd Cross The Desert For Milk

Talk about original titles. This was the title of the first story I ever wrote, in third grade. I dug it out recently and thought it would be fun to share the first page. It's amazing that the same writing struggles I have now, twenty years later, are the same I had back then! (Although I'd like to think I've improved significantly at spelling, grammar, and showing instead of telling.) :)

One morning in May I woke up and I felt that this was going to be the happiest day anyone ever had.

Then I got up and made my bed. My mother was very surprised she said that there was no wrinkles. So, I looked. I was surprised also, there was not one wrinkle in it.

Then I went to eat breakfast. I saw bacon and eggs in my plate and said in a loud scream, "Grose!" "Laurin Kay Ramsy! my mother yelled, but she said nothing else. Maby this wasn't going to be the best day ever. So I sat down and ate my breakfast. It was delicious! I told my mother they were very good. She said, "thank you very much."

Then I went to brush my teeth. I loved brushing my teeth, but today I loved to brush them more then ever and after I did they were shinier than ever.

I was so excited for school! At school on every paper I got a 100!

Okay, I'll be surprised if anyone actually made it through that entry--and not just because of the bad grammar and spelling. I'd hate to be too hard on my third-grade self, but facts are facts: this first page is pretty boring. It's all setup for the next chapter, where the conflict begins (Laurin's father loses his job).

It's amazing how badly I still want to start a story by setting up, and not plunging the reader right into trouble from the get go. Reading this story I wrote twenty years ago has increased my awareness of my current weakness as a writer.

Did you write any stories as a child? Do you still have them?

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Short and Sweet Friday: Writer's Block or Writer's Fear?

Wikipedia online encyclopedia defines writer's block as "a condition, primarily associated with writing as a profession, in which an author loses the ability to produce new work."

I'm not convinced I've ever suffered from writer's block. I seem to have tons of ideas--especially those juicy new ideas. I'm a planner, so I rarely run into a plot problem while writing (although editing may be an entirely different story).

Recently though, I've experienced what I like to call writer's fear. What I define as "the crazy notion that putting nothing on the page is better than putting something horrible on the page."

Ridiculous, really. And yet I often succumb to this fear when I've been away from my work-in-progress for more than two days. I've found the cure to be simple: write that first word. That first sentence. That first paragraph. Sometimes I'll look at the clock and see how many words I can write in thirty minutes. Any small accomplishment or mile-mark is helpful.

Have you ever experienced writer's block or writer's fear? How did you overcome it?

Sunday, May 8, 2011

A Different Form of Book

I remember when I first heard of the concept of an e-reader. What??? Read a book without pages!? I was completely against the idea. How could I possibly enjoy reading a book without the pleasant weight of it in my hands? Without the beautiful cover gracing the front?

Well, I've come a long way.

My husband recently bought me a Kindle, and I have to say I never expected to enjoy technology so much. I'm amazed at how the screen mirrors that of a book. I can make the words larger or smaller, according to my preference. I can listen to the story on my Kindle as I drive or sew. I can take multiple books with me, wherever I go, and slim down my heavy bookshelf. I can purchase a book and start reading it in less than a minute. I can read blogs or check my e-mail.

Yes, I love my Kindle. Of course this is not to say that it will ever replace a good old-fashioned page book. And I do have a couple of minor concerns: the screen is difficult to read in dim light, and it is much more tempting for me to buy a book now. As for the screen, one of my critique partners urged me to buy the Kindle cover with the built-in light and I absolutely love it. Very handy. Problem solved.

As for the second problem, I have to admit I was a big library user before my Kindle. Free books. I'd just have to wait...and wait...and wait. Sometimes a book that was newly released would be considered old by the time a copy made it to my waiting hands. And sometimes the library wouldn't get it at all. I dealt with this problem by either never reading the book, or buying a copy. Now, with it being so easy to buy books on my Kindle, I need to be careful how much money I'm spending. True, the Kindle store has many free and discounted books, but even $3.99 books can add up. I'm treading carefully.

Overall, I'm entirely pleased with my e-reader. I don't think book-reading will ever be the same. And yet I still enjoy the old page-turner, the satisfaction of a thick, juicy book in my hands. I can't see that publishers will be getting rid of them anytime soon. And when I head for a bubble bath or even the beach, I'm simply not going to bring my e-reader. Some things are best when they're not electronic.

Do you have an e-reader? Are you planning to purchase one, or are you against the idea of a electronic reading device?

Embracing The Uniqueness of My Small Appliances

An alarm clock that hums.

A faithful bread machine that never fails me.

A hairdryer that shuts down after ten minutes.

A mixer that sounds like it's chugging up a steep hill.

An iron that leaks water only on the second item I'm dewrinkling.

A food processor that makes a high-pitched squealing sound when it catches on a chunk of onion.

What can I say? My small appliances have character. They are unique. And more often than not, I keep them around, with or without perfection.

They remind me of myself, and of the people in my life. None of us are perfect. We all have a jumble of traits and quirks that comprise who we are. They make us unique.

As I form a character in my mind, I try to come up with a realistic array of characteristics that will breathe life into that character. What will make them believable?

I was praying on my run this morning and I caught myself starting to pray for a fictional character in a particularly moving story I'm reading. Pathetic, I know. Yet two characters in this story are so real to me. They have flaws. I can sympathize with them. One is faithful. One seems hopeless. I'm reminded of my consistent bread machine...and my ever disappointing hairdryer.

Maybe I'm reaching here, but as I plan a trip to Target today to replace some of these small appliances, I can't help but wonder if I might miss them--just a little. We've been through a lot together. And I've come to love their character.

Do you have any unique appliances around your house?

Friday, May 6, 2011

Short and Sweet Friday: Childlike Faith

One lego out of a thousand. That was the challenge my six-year-old requested my help with yesterday morning, and the search was on. This one specialty piece was crucial in the building of his lego castle.

I searched all the pieces. Twice. Three times. We both looked. I took out his big lego box and searched through all those pieces.

"I don't know, James. I'm sure it'll turn up eventually." I couldn't spend my entire day looking for one lego piece, after all.

"Mommy, I'm going to pray," he said, confidence in his tone.

I love when he does this, turns to God with that precious childlike faith. But I have to admit, I stifle the urge to warn him. We just looked. God probably won't answer his prayer. I want to protect his budding faith. I don't say anything, but bow my head in prayer with him as he beseeches the Lord with his urgent request. I suppose he'll have to learn sometime that the Lord doesn't always answer prayers in the affirmative.

After he finishes, I tell him I'll look on the bookshelf where we store the lego kits. Maybe it fell out.

I hadn't made it but five steps before he yells, "I found it!"

Right where I had looked before. Three times.

And once again, I am ashamed of my little faith...and in awe of my child's.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Life Without My Computer

A couple of weeks ago, I opened my laptop to see fuzz--something akin to the fuzzy picture you may sometimes get with a television. Of course I panicked. Assumed my computer was upon its death bed. Frantically, I backed up my manuscripts, proposals, and my husband's work files. When I took it to a computer fix-it shop, I found out it was a fairly easy fix...fairly easy, although I wouldn't have it for a week.

At first, life without my computer was a bit--dare I admit it?--freeing. Kind of like how I feel when the kids are out of the house. I was free of e-mails, facebook, even blogging. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy all these things just as I enjoy my children, but without them, I realized that sometimes social networking efforts can consume me.

As I was preparing for bed, however, an unsettling feeling came upon me--like both of my boys weren't safely tucked in for the night. Only it wasn't my children, but my computer...fifteen miles away. And so, the freedom did not last. Even now, as I write this blog post by hand (planning to post when my baby is returned to me) my hand is cramping and I'm regretting taking my computer, or any other luxury God blesses me with, for granted.

What modern technology would you miss the most if you woke tomorrow to found it gone?