Thursday, December 18, 2014

Life Explosions

Life is going along just fine and then 5 different things happen and you aren't sure how you got here. That has been this week. It hasn't been anything horribly awful bad. It has just been a bunch of little things. 
Photo Credit: Umberto Salvagnin

Last week we were crazy busy. There was something every night from Monday to Saturday that kept us away from the house until 7 or 8 pm. So we were looking forward to this week being a little quieter. And it has been, but not based on our plan of quieter.

Sunday morning about 1 am, I woke up to hear Ben coughing and then running to the bathroom. That was followed by him vomiting. I got up and helped him as best I could and we went back to bed. This pattern continued about once an hour for the next several hours. Sometime around 7 or 8, Ben moved to the sofa. Needless to say church was out for the two of us on Sunday. Drew started getting ready and got Lily ready, but he felt awful himself. A lingering cold/cough/thing has left us worried that it could turn into pnuemonia. And Lily still wasn't over her cold virus either. So Sunday was spent on the sofa and in the bed instead singing and playing Marc's amazing Christmas song.

Monday was a little better. Ben stayed home from school just to make sure he was better. The gunk in Drew's chest was moving along and he was feeling better. Lily was still snotty and gunky sounding. I stayed home from work to keep caring for them all. Lily went to the doctor. She had a sinus infection. Since Drew took her, he didn't get done working until later. Since he didn't get done working until later, he didn't get to go to Bible study with me and the kids. However, the three of us made for the first time in months. It was good discussion and a couple points hit close to home. So Monday was looking up.

Then Tuesday morning at about 2 am Drew and I were each in a bathroom getting sick while Lily played in the floor of our bedroom because she thought that was a good time to play. So a minor bump in the road became a minor life explosion. This was one of those awful can't move off the couch because it will make me sick stomach bugs. And that's not really possible with two kids in the house. I was able to get Ben to school and get myself back home before I got sick again. Lily slept quite a bit that day, which she needed and so did we. Nana and Aunt Terry took for a little while too. Drew got Ben home from school and later went to go get him food. I pretty much stayed on the couch trying not to get sick anymore. So Tuesday didn't go as planned.

On Wednesday I get back to work and discover that several others had been sick in my absence and there are 3 Christmas meals planned for the end of the week. I also found out that there was water damage to the parsonage of our church. The music minister had to work late on Wednesday. And there are several student absences due to sickness this week. There was a computer crash that derailed a student project.

So the family dinner and Christmas movie didn't happen this week. The looking at Christmas lights didn't happen. The special Christmas music didn't happen. The Christmas meals at work are sort of happening. The group projects for this week are only sort of happening. The music at church sort of happened. 

All of this sort of happening and didn't happens could really throw me off and stress me out, but I decided that what will be will be. I don't need to make anything different happen. God is in control and not me. I can only do what is in my control, which isn't as much as I think. I can rework some things and give up on other things. It is all okay. These little life explosions are not the end of the world. They aren't even unexpected events because God knew what was going to happen anyway. So I lean in to Him and away from me. 

"God's in his Heaven and all's right with the world." Anne Shirley

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Here I am again

Attribution: Alice Popkorn


So after unintentionally taking a 2 month break, I'm finding myself wanting to blog again. Let me start by saying THANK YOU! So many of you still read what I have to say even though I only say it every great now and then. I really would like to get back to doing this regularly. I want to look at my world again though the lens of my blog. I want to see the stories that happen in life because stories are important. Stories connect us to each other. Stories challenge us. Stories encourage us. Stories stick with us. Stories make us better people.

I look back through past posts and I laugh about some stories. I cringe about others, but even those are memories. And those memories are recorded here for you and me to see and remember. So as this year is coming to a close and we begin to reflect on what has been and start thinking about what will be next year, this blog is on my mind. I am happy with what I have written because it was good stuff. I am happy with my One Word for this year, rest. I think have done well with that. I even thought about keeping it for next year because I need to remind myself to rest so often.

But more than just reminding myself to rest, I need to remind myself that I am living a story. Some days I live it well and some days I live it poorly. This blog really does help me live it well. I know I want to encourage people with this blog. In order to do that, I have to look out for stories of encouragement in my life. I can't look at a situation and only focus on the negative in that situation. I have to see some positive because I'm going to be back here telling you guys about that positive.

I'm going to be honest. Right now, my positivity sucks! I'm not positive. I'm not the light I have been called to be. I'm a dark complaining void of a person who is caught up in all the 'if you just did it my way' thinking that I should be getting rid of. Hello, Romans 12:2. I think we need to be friends again.

So here I am again saying thank you for sticking with me and I promise to do better. Not just for you, but also for me. I need to do better here because these stories make me a better person in my real life. Feel free to call me out if I'm not spending time here with you guys because that probably means, I'm not being the person I need to be in real life either.

Love you all.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

What NaNoWriMo Success Means To Me

I have attempted to participate in NaNoWriMo since 2012. I had heard of it before that, but was too scared to try. In 2012, I got to 30,000 words. However, I had a huge section of the story that I hated. In 2013, I got about 32 words. So yeah, I basically forgot about it, but I was pregnant and stuff like that happens when one is pregnant. So this year I wanted to participate, but October was closing and I had nary an idea. I had all the characters, like 9, I had created in an attempt at the 31 days of blogging. Surely in 9 characters there would be an idea somewhere. But no. There wasn't one idea.

Then we went to lunch at Wendy's as a family on October 31. As I sat there waiting on our food, I looked around at the people eating there. I wondered what their stories were. I saw some by themselves reading. I heard frustrated conversations. I heard laughter. There were people of all ages, races, genders, and socioeconomic statuses there. Then I got to thinking that this would be a great story. All of these people gathered in this place and then going out to finish living their stories. That was the entirety of my idea.

So the next day was a Saturday. NaNoWriMo month could not have started any better for me. Saturday morning is the one day I have a few hours to myself and no where to be. So I started writing about this diner on a highway somewhere in America. I had took some of the characters I had created and added a few new ones via a Random Name Generator. I picked a table and started writing. I didn't have a story planned for each person. I didn't even have an ending planned. I just wrote about that table until the story came to an ending point. Then I went back to another table and wrote about it until there was an end. Some characters eked out a few meager words just because I wasn't going to edit anything out. Some characters got just a few words because I hadn't really connected with them yet, but I had to get something on paper. Other characters got several pages because I started to fall in love with them. One character even got 40 pages. It is safe to say that she is my favorite. Then on November 29 I crossed the finish line! I wrote just over 50,000 words.



So after a month of writing and planning (Yes I did them in that order most of the time.), I learned a few things. NaNoWriMo is about writing. I have to have words before I can edit them. And that is where most of my problem lies. I start editing in my head before I have the words written. So I need to stop listening my inner editor and just write. The words have to be there before the editing.

I also learned that I am a pantser. I fly by the seat of my pants. I like not knowing where the story is going. The more I plan the less I want to actually write. And if I don't know where the story is going and there is no plan, then my inner editor can't tell me not to write it.

Editing is important, but not as important as the writing. Now that I am done with the novel, I know there are several places that need to be trimmed away and there are places that need to be filled out. There are characters I need to make less harsh and monologues that need to become dialogues. There are large sections of telling that need to be more showing. And I'm excited about doing that. I'm excited to go back and fix these things and make a better story. Now that the words are on paper, I don't have to stress about them. They are there, now I can just focus on making them better.

NaNoWriMo success = writing breakthrough.

Friday, October 3, 2014

How to get Free Books and More

You may or may not know that I have another blog where I review books and post some creative stuff as well. I am currently participating in the 31 Days Challenge and blogging about 31 different characters that I have created, but not written into any stories yet. So click over and enjoy that. You can also snoop around and see some of the books I have read.

You will notice many of them are from the website Story Cartel. Story Cartel is pretty awesome because they give you free books! You get the book for free if you post an honest review on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Goodreads, etc. You read it and tell other people what you think and you get free books. And that's not all.

You get other free stuff too!





Last month I got this box of great stuff for book readers. A classic novel, moleskin notebooks. candles, tea, coffee, headphones, and a gift card to buy more books! I reviewed a book and was entered in the giveaway. And I won! Even the box they sent it in is cute!  How amazing are these people!

(In case you can't tell by the exclamation points, I'm really excited about it.)

So go check them out, get some free books, review them and get free stuff. It really doesn't get any better.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

River's Deep by Erin Keyser Horn

If you have been around here or my Facebook page for any length of time, you know that I love the books this lady writes. So this one is no exception. In fact I love it so much that I'm going to post a review on here and on my other blog site.

Photo: Folks in the Thomson, Savanna, Morrison area: I'll be at the Heirloom Market & Cafe this Saturday, 9:00 AM to noon, with all my books, including River's Deep! Stop by to chat if you wish!

So here we go with my review praise. (I might as well be honest.)

The character of Kasia  is one of my favorite people. She is honest and fierce in her love of people and protection of them. She is not afraid of the truth, but isn't always willing to share this truth with others. It is that protection thing again. She is trying to find faith, but has trouble loving herself  to believe God can help her. Thankfully she has a strong group of friends around her to push her to be better. Blay, Jen, and Scott never back down from the challenge. They are with Kasia every step of the way. These 4 people will make you believe in love, friendship, faith, and hard work.

The author, Erin Keyser Horn, did an amazing job with this book. She was not afraid to take her characters to hard places and push them through to become better people. The characters don't have an easy journey in front of them, but they really have no other choice. They have to walk through this. Sometimes as a reader it is hard to read as characters go though the hard stuff. This is not one of those books. They go through the hard stuff and we can read that without drowning in the pain. And for me, that is huge!

Some might be hesitant to read a book about the supernatural and God. You shouldn't be! Horn does a fabulous job balancing faith and fantasy. The characters of Slavic mythology fit into the rivers of Illinois and the overall Christian worldview. Some might find the final battle to be telegraphed, but I would disagree with that. The enemies are compelling characters and the heroes areas well. You care about who wins and who loses. The how doesn't matter as much as the who.

The who is the best part of Erin Keyser Horn's novel. These characters will become your friends and you will want to come back and visit them several times.

DISCLAIMER: I received a copy of this book from the author for an honest review.

You can buy it here. And you should buy it!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Good Stuff Saturday 9-6

You may have noticed that I haven't posted a Good Stuff Saturday in a while. I find that I have less time to read blogs these days. So this might become a monthly feature instead of weekly.

Photos

Blue!
Flames and trees
Beautiful land
Bear swimming
Fall beauty
Mountains

A good reminder that what we say and do can make a difference.

This one really made me think about brokenness and holding on.

Friday, September 12, 2014

A Musically Significant Moment

Thanks to today's post from Carl's blog I have a story to tell.


Photo Credit: Chris Moore

This is the story of the day I discovered Jimmy Buffet.

As a grown up looking back on my childhood, I have a few snapshots in my mind of various events. There is the first time I remember throwing up, my Pink Panther cake, and waking up from the surgery on my adenoids. But today's story is the day I discovered Jimmy Buffet.

It was Father's Day around 1986. Well it was before Father's Day. My mom took my brother and I to a record store. Do you remember what those were back in the day when we actually bought physical copies of music albums? Anyway my mom was a brave woman and took a 5 year old and a 3 year old to a music store. I remember being in awe of all the albums they had in the store. I was equally in awe with my mom for being able to go right to the one that she wanted. I had no clue how she managed to pick that one album out of all the ones they had in that massive store.

She went right The Last Mango in Paris. It was a black background with some red words on it by a man named Jimmy Buffet. The words seemed fantastical. I couldn't imagine what story would bring mangoes and Paris together. I couldn't even imagine what a mango was or what Paris was. Who was this person that could use such fun words like mango and Paris in a song? And what were the other songs like?

I'm sure within a day or two we gifted the present to my dad and I know we listened to that tape a lot in the coming years on vacation especially. To this day that is one of my favorite albums. It brings me back to when I was kid and reminds me that songs can tell stories too.

Here are a couple of the amazing songs from this album.