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Thursday, November 3, 2011

Confession Time - Twilight Style

I'm not a very good trend follower. It takes me a long time to finally get around to certain fads.

I never let myself like Britney Spears, cause everyone else did. I refused for years to buy a pair of Uggs, because they were all the rage. I made certain when choosing my sunglasses that I didn't buy the huge, bug-eyed ones. And don't get me started on the whole skinny jean phenomenon!

I usually try to go against the crowd - for as long as I can. To do my own thing.

So I find it totally frustrating that I love my Uggs and practically live in my skinny jeans. (Still don't like Britney.)

Why did I wait so long to give in?

The other night, Twilight was on TV. Another fad that I have avoided for years. I would hear friends and, well...the world, talking about the movies, the actors, the "teams", etc. and I would think, I'm so glad I'm not into all the crazy, pointless debates about who is cuter, Edward or Jacob. And who should Bella choose? Vampire or Werewolf?

Who cares! (I shouted at my TV during one Oprah episode where they interviewed a bunch of over-the-top fans.)

Turns out, I care! I'm only a few years late - but I loved Twilight. Insane how much I liked the movie! I thought it was going to be a total horror/blood and guts movie so I was totally unprepared when I was completely caught up in the love story.

Needless to say, I ran around like a crazy person trying to find the next two movies. Netflix would take at least two days. Redbox didn't have them. And I didn't know if my old high school Blockbuster card would still work. So I did the only reasonably sane thing I could think of in my craze to find out what happened next.

I scoured my Comcast cable OnDemand section until I found out which premium channel was playing the series and then ordered that channel (at a ridiculously high premium) just so I could watch New Moon and Eclipse back to back. Which I did...until 2:00 in the morning. (Only to find out that I would be awake the rest of the night with my two girls who were crying because their throats hurt. Found out today they have strep. I'm exhausted!)

But the point is - I loved the movies! And It only took me four years to finally give in and watch them. Sounds like my Uggs.

But I still refuse to watch Vampire Diaries! :)

Humor me - since I'm just now joining the party - Which Twilight movie was your favorite and why? And which hero were you rooting for?

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

A Few Halloween Pictures

Halloween decorations in our neighborhood were a bit over the top for my kids this year. Did you notice this in your area? Lots of scary moving parts or figures, fog machines, cackling witches and other terrifying objects had my kids refusing to walk up to certain houses.

Maybe it was the Monday night that felt off. I don't know. But Halloween felt...darker...somehow.

Anyway, here are a few pics of the kiddos before they were scared out of their wits. (I'm fully expecting nightmares tonight. Bummer - I'm really tired and could use some uninterrupted sleep. Not tonight...)

Did you have a good Halloween? Did you notice more "aggressive" decorations this year? Are you happy with your kids' candy loot? (Even the candy doesn't feel as great this year!)

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Halloween Questions...

Four simple questions today...

1. Do you usually dress up for Halloween?

2. What are your kids dressing up as this year?

3. What was your favorite Halloween costume as a child?

4. What type of candy do you pray is in your child's candy bucket? :)

(My answers: I never dress up. Darth Vader, Cinderella, Tinker Bell. Rainbow Bright. Reese's )

Have a fun and safe Halloween everyone!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

More Results - Questions 2 & 3

Today I'm revealing the results to questions 2 and 3 from my online survey regarding our online habits.

I expected the winning answer to question 2 to be a popular choice but I was surprised that it took the cake, so to speak.

I asked:

What draws you to certain sites/blogs regularly?

- I know the blogger/blogger is a personal friend
- Blogger always posts helpful information
- There's something intriguing about the site/blogger
- Routine/loyalty
- Funny/uplifting
- Searching for specific information

The most popular answer was...drum roll please...can you guess it?? YES! Something intriguing! Did you guess correctly?

I don't know why I'm so surprised by this. I was sort of thinking the winner would be 2 or 6. Or something pertaining to wanting to read about what interests you.

Instead, this just proves that social media is indeed SOCIAL! We are all about people and their creative takes on any given subject - even a subject we might not care that much about.

"Content is King", "It's not about you". Do you believe this? Or will you admit that you visit blogs that hold no value for you other than there's just something about the blogger that you like...maybe their hair, or their humor, or their pictures, or their voice. Or maybe it's the other way around. Maybe you're totally intrigued by some other irritating nuance and you just have to confirm regularly that, yup...still not a fan.

I will shamefully admit that there are a few blogs I visit often that do nothing for me other than to answer the question, "what did so-and-so write about today?". These are the blogs I never comment on. I just drop by...to see. But, for whatever reason, they do have the intrigue factor in their favor.

Question 3 was:

Do you prefer the blogs you love to be...

- Longer, meatier posts/information
- Short, sweet and to the point
- I like both. Mix it up some.

This one was split. Half of you said short and sweet and half of you said mix it up. So head's up to all you long winded folk. :)

What do you think? Do you agree with the results from my survey? Is intrigue your biggest pull to certain blogs? How do you interpret the results from question 2?

Thursday, October 20, 2011

What is Your Favorite Fall Treat?

I've been feeling "homey" lately.

Like I want to decorate and bake and glue orange tissue paper to pumpkin shaped cardboard.

This feeling usually takes over around this time of year when there are so many different ways to make the holidays fun for my kids!

I was sitting and watching TV the other night and a sudden sweet craving hit me. Only I couldn't place what it was I wanted.

It wasn't chocolate (weird!) or ice cream (too cold) or even something warm and cakey (which is usually what I want).

And then it hit me! Caramel apples! Yum! And so totally fall-ish!

So I went searching for a recipe and found this one from Betty Crocker.

My goal is to attempt to make these with my kids this weekend. Worse case, I'll have a large pot of melted caramel to lick!

What is your favorite fall treat? Do you find you always crave the same sweets or do your cravings sometimes shock you?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Survey Results - Question 1

Last week I posted a social media survey to figure out where you spend most of your internet time, how much time you have to allocate to web socializing and just what you are looking for when surfing cyberspace.

Some of the results were expected and some made me go, "hmmm?" I plan to share the results over the next few weeks.

1. How much time do you spend on social media sites?
Less than 30 minutes a day = 21%
About an hour every day = 36%
2-3 hours a day = 43%
More than 3 hours = 0%
Hardly ever, maybe once a week = 0%

The results for this question didn't surprise me that much. After all if you want to create an online presence you have to be online. Go figure!

This news seems discouraging at first glace to someone like me, who literally has about 15 minutes in the morning to skim blogs, maybe pop onto Twitter and add a quick status update on Facebook (which if I'm honest hasn't happened for days.)

Is it possible to build a web presence if you're never on the web? Or if you never make your presence known? The obvious answer is no. Worrisome...for writers like me.

The majority of the people who took my survey are online between 2-3 hours a day. My measly 15 minutes can't compare to that. And truth be told, it shows. Authors like Jody Hedlund and Keli Gwyn, who make a concerted effort to be everywhere, have very successful followings. But I'm willing to bet they put in the hours to make it all happen.

What do you think about the results to this question? Do they surprise you? Is time spent on social media sites something you have or something you find?

Thursday, October 13, 2011

A Thursday Funny

I saw this commercial and just had to share! It made me laugh so hard.

Oh, the things we try...



That poor lady is totally me...or has been at one time or another.

I've been the runner that's always being passed.

I've been the lady returning an ab roller.

I've tried the green smoothies.

I've been the one pushing my bike up a hill.

I attempted the Wii fitness game.

And yes...I've even done strip aerobics. (Although the video kind cause I was way too embarrassed to try it outside of my home!)

Smile! It's almost Friday! :)


Oh and if you haven't taken my social media survey, please do!!! I'll be sharing the results next week but until then would love all the perspectives I can get!!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

QUICK Social Media Survey

I often wonder about bloggers, their followers and what exactly readers are looking for.

So whether you're a blogger or a reader, I'm really curious about what you have to say.

I promise it's quick and easy. Only 10 questions. And it's anonymous so you can be as brutally honest as you'd like!

If nothing else...it's always fun to take surveys...right? :)

Click here and have fun!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Tis The Season

Halloween is right around the corner followed by the fast moving weeks that lead up to the end of the year.

In a blink it'll be 2012. Geez!

And since I pulled out my calendar today and started plugging in events for the next three months (pumpkin patch, apple picking, turkey hunting, Christmas light decorating, tree chopping, etc. Just kidding about hunting a turkey...although, now that I'm thinking about it...) I'm wondering what does your next three months look like.

Are they jam-packed with fun kiddie activities? Do you like to keep it slow and simple? What is your favorite holiday? And what is a favorite tradition of yours for that holiday?

I'm a Christmas nut. So, we'll all be singing along to the Chipmunks the day after Thanksgiving - sometimes sooner if I can justify robbing Thanksgiving of it's moment of glory. :)

Happy Thursday!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

My Conference Experience, The PG Version

Today I have a few pictures to share from my recent trip to St. Louis. There have been many wonderful pictures floating around various blogs and Facebook and I'm so thankful there are!

When I got home and scrolled through my pictures, I realized that I hadn't taken very many at all. And the ones I did take aren't of stellar quality.

But even considering my lack of photographic proof, I had a wonderful time! Aided greatly by my tour guides, Keli Gwyn and Erica Vetsch, two angels that always seemed to appear every time I felt lost or overwhelmed or alone.

The conference itself offered a plethora of learning opportunities; from the various workshops and publishers spotlights to the nerve-wracking appointments and the early bird session.

Which, by the way, I have to talk about for just a minute. Stanley Williams gave a wonderful 150+ slideshow presentation about story structure and the moral premise behind it all. For the record, this five hour class made the entire trip worth it for me. Seriously. It was wonderful!

But if I may be a goof ball for just a moment...

So, I'm sitting in a big conference room with two ladies that shall remain nameless. We're on hour 3.5, we're getting hungry, I'm freezing(!) and things started to become extra...funny.

Mr. Williams was citing the movie Where the Heart is with Natalie Portman. He was going into great detail about the symbolism (amongst other things) in the movie and how beautifully it was scripted. One of his examples was how the character Forny, was a safe place for Natalie Portman's character (I forget her name). He said, "Since she has been searching her entire life for a home it's only obvious why they named the guy Forny. Forny...homey...they kinda rhyme."

In my head I'm thinking, "no they don't" but I wasn't about to point out what word really came to my mind since I didn't want to offend my new friends - just in case they weren't as jaded as I can sometimes be. Thankfully, one of them leaned over to me and said, "uhh, that's not what that rhymes with."

It took me 10 minutes to compose myself enough so that I wasn't biting holes in my tongue to keep from laughing out loud! That poor lady sealed her fate then and there. I'll forever be a big fan!



Another fun moment was the morning I had breakfast with these three awesome ladies. Too sweet and too much fun. There are some people you meet and you feel like you've known forever. I love it when that happens!







The food on the other hand was not as wonderful, in my humble opinion. There was just always a little something that seemed...off. This was served one morning for breakfast. I won't say any more! :)


For me, this conference was just what I needed right when I needed something. I learned things I've wanted to learn, I talked with people I wanted to meet, I got dressed in something other than my mommy sweats, I found other Seat of the Pants writers (definitely more spiritual), I bonded with other "I'm-all-about-being-a-mommy" mommies, and I laughed and laughed! Which is always such good medicine for anything.

Interesting how I haven't mentioned my appointments yet (which were all very successful). I guess it just goes to show that relationships truly are more important than anything else.

Have you ever been to a big conference? Was it scary for you? Did you have people to help champion you along?
And for extra credit: Do you know what a Home Run pie is? What is your favorite flavor? (It has nothing to do with anything except for the fact that I'm eating a cherry one right now!) :)

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Time Off

After four days at the ACFW conference, my brain is mush. I haven't been able to fully wrap my mind around the entire experience and process all that I learned.

So I'll be taking the week off from blogging in order to get myself refocused and reorganized.

But I do want to give a huge thank you to the ladies that made my first conference such an easy and fun milestone. Keli Gwyn and Erica Vetsch, I don't know what I would have done without either one of you! Praying big time blessings on you both!!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

I'm Off

Blogger doesn't like me today. It completely deleted the post I had slotted for today.

Oh well. Here's a recap:

- Going to conference TOMORROW. So excited!

- Won't be posting this week.

- Hoping to have wonderfully fun insights, photos, and stories to share when I get back!

Enjoy your week and I'll see some of you in St. Louis! :)

Thursday, September 15, 2011

When is Your Birthday?

Quick and easy today...

I'm nearing the end of the season of birthday's in my family and it got me thinking about YOU!

When is your birthday? And how do you like to celebrate? Are birthday's a big deal for you or just another day?

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

God, Community and Jessica R. Patch

Today I'm honored to allow the beautiful and talented Jessica R. Patch to have her way with my blog and introduce us all to her new Facebook group, Living by Grace. A kinder soul simply doesn't exist! If you haven't already checked out her page, by all means, do it!

Here's Jess...


Living by Grace...Together

What does living by grace mean to you? For me, it means walking each day knowing I am weak, but He is strong. I get tired, He never does. I stumble, He holds me up. I make mistakes, He’s perfect.

So many things pour into me every day. Responsibilities of being a wife, mother, employee, a writer, a woman (if you’re a woman you know what I’m saying). I wear many hats. I love each one. I love each responsibility, but they can all wear me out.

I need my thirsty soul, quenched. I need to be saturated with His love, with the washing of the water of His Word. I can’t be good at any of the things above, if I don’t first fill myself up with Him.

Can anyone relate?

And because I’m a woman, I like to share. Women love to share, don’t they? My husband is amazed at some of the things I’m willing to divulge to my girlfriends. I love it when a bunch of us get together and talk about life and most importantly the foundation of life.

Jesus Christ.

It renews me, encourages me, revs me up, and gives me hope. We bond through friendship and faith. We care for each other, pray for each other, laugh together. It’s a wonderful experience, especially when coffee and chocolate are involved!

“…A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” Ecclesiastes 4:12

Doesn’t this sense of belonging, renewal, and friendship sound wonderful? Wish you could have it on a daily basis?

You can.

I’m honored to be partnering with some incredible women of faith who want to live by grace, together. We want a sense of community and camaraderie with other women. On September 12th, we’ll be launching a devotional facebook community. Living By Grace. We want to invite you to come by and let your souls be quenched, your minds and hearts challenged. Each day an amazing woman will bring the word through a devotional and feel free to mingle, chat, ask questions, and just have a good time.

We’re building bonds of sisterhood through faith and facebook! Come and join us.

Contributing Writers: Jennifer Slattery, Joanne Sher, Patty Wysong, Lynda Schultz, Maria Morgan, and yours truly.

If you haven't already, you can connect with Jessica through her blog or through the Living by Grace community. I highly recommend it!

Have you already joined Jessica's new group? Or are you on your way to do so right now? :)

***The winner of The Doctor's Lady by Jody Hedlund is Kendra! Congratulations and enjoy the great read!***

Thursday, September 8, 2011

The Me Project by Kathi Lipp

"Though no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now on and make a brand new ending." Carl Bard

I have been looking for a book like this for many years! If you're like me you go through phases of extreme motivation to accomplish something you dream about to slumps of depressed despair that you simply don't have the time, resources or energy to follow through with your goals.

The Me Project is the answer to that problem. Kathi Lipp is a gifted encourager that knows how important it is for women to find, pursue and enjoy the unique callings that God has placed on our lives.

Using the 21 "projects" that Kathi has outlined, it's easier than ever to make forward progress in discovering and accomplishing the big-picture life we've always dreamed about.

Each chapter is broken down into easy to accomplish sections - The project, Prayer for the day, how to Get Creative, a Project Report, and Results.

Kathi's writing style is fun and easy to read. I promise you'll laugh out loud on more than one occasion. More importantly, you'll be inspired and motivated to find out what God specially created in you to use for His glory!

I think the biggest take away for me as a stay at home mom was this: It's not selfish of me to want my own time and dreams. I'm not hurting my family by pursing a desire that God placed in my being and more astounding than that is that God wants us to feel pleasure and enjoyment when we follow through with His designs for our lives. How can you beat that?

So be encouraged! Fitting life all in is possible. One step at a time...thanks to Kathi!

And, as a special BONUS, Kathi is sharing her article, Three Super Simple Kick Starts to get you ready to begin!



Book Summary

Has that rush to make (and break) New Year’s resolutions already waned? According to Daniel Pink, author of Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, taking small steps every day will not only help you stay committed to your goal, but will also help you ultimately achieve that goal when obstacles come up. Author Kathi Lipp wants you and your friends to live out those dreams—and have some fun along the way.

As women, we forget the goals and dreams of our younger years. The busyness of everyday life gets in the way. To-do lists replace goals. The Me Project provides women with fun and creative ways to bring back the sense of purpose and vitality that comes with living out the plans and dreams God has planted in our hearts. Kathi Lipp’s warm tone and laugh-out-loud humor motivates women to take daily steps toward intentional goals. The end result? We get back our lives and enjoy living in the confidence of a purposeful life in spite of our chaotic schedules.

This handy guide coaches women to do one simple thing toward achieving our goals each day for three weeks. A woman experiencing the exhilaration of a rediscovered life offers more as a wife, mother, friend, volunteer, career woman.

Finding the balance between living day-to-day with purpose while pursuing the passions God has placed in our hearts is a delicate pursuit. In this refreshing, insightful book, Kathi lays out a doable plan that makes sense and helps make our God-given dreams a reality. Never stop dreaming, because women who dare to dream do make the world a better place.
—Jean Blackmer
author of MomSense: A Common Sense Guide to Confident Mothering
Publishing Manager, MOPS International www.MOPS.org



Kathi Lipp is a busy conference and retreat speaker, currently speaking each year to thousands of women throughout the United States. She is the author of The Husband Project and The Marriage Project, serves as food writer for Nickelodeon, and has had articles published in several magazines, including Today’s Christian Woman and Discipleship Journal. Kathi and her husband, Roger, live in California and are the parents of four teenagers and young adults. For more information visit her website: www.kathilipp.com

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Jody Hedlund and The Doctor's Lady

Today is a very special Tuesday!

Because...

I have the extreme honor of reviewing (bragging about) Jody's latest release The Doctor's Lady. If you haven't heard of Jody Hedlund or of her fabulous books (The Preacher's Bride and The Doctor's Lady) than you must be living under a rock.

Seriously, her books are wonderful! I highly recommend that you get yourself to Amazon quickly and order a copy...or ten! Or you can leave a comment today and you might win a free, signed copy of The Doctor's Lady!

We have a lot going on this morning - my review, an interview with Jody, her contest information and a book giveaway. Yes, I know, it's just like Christmas around here!

Let's get to it!

My Review:

There are a few specific things I look for while I’m reading a book. How well these things grab me determine how much I enjoy the overall story. Some of my criteria includes: cover art, interesting and historic setting, likable characters/understanding of their motivations, unique plot, and romantic tension…just the right amount (so I'm not wanting to throw the book out the window). :)

When I first heard about Jody’s newest book, The Doctor’s Lady, I knew immediately that I was going to LOVE it! For two reasons…the cover is breathtakingly beautiful and the setting is the early days of the Oregon Trail, a time period I’m obsessed with.

When I finally got my hands on the actual book, I devoured it. True to her reputation Jody didn’t disappoint. She is gifted at weaving stories that naturally unfold, adding in the right amount of suspense and tension and romance along the way. She far exceeded any criteria I had so I was no longer "judging" the book but simply enjoying the story.

It only took me three days to read this book because I just couldn't put it down! It's one of those books that you wish would go on and on and on...A definite must read!

My Interview:

Jody is so talented at transporting us back in time through her stories that I thought it would be fun if we took her along with us. So I asked Jody a few questions about her wagon traveling abilities. ;) And there's a hint at the end about her next book, releasing in 2012!

Here's what she said:

Lacie: If you could serve as a missionary, what part of the world would you like to reach?

Jody: My husband and I have some friends who are living in England and doing youth work there. We get to hear the stories of what they’re doing to try to make a difference in the lives of the young people. It sounds really exciting (and hard too!). But I think that would be one of the places I’d love to go.

Lacie: If you were journeying via wagon across the country, what would be the hardest possession for you to leave behind?

Jody: My coffee pot. Oh and my microwave. Yes, I’m a modern girl to the fullest extent! I love all of the conveniences of the twenty-first century and I couldn’t live without them! (I only live without when I’m in my story worlds!) As far as personal possessions, I’d have a difficult time leaving behind my all of my many books by all of the many authors I love!

Lacie: Which part of the journey would cause you the most discomfort or fear? (example: river crossings, bugs/insects, heat, lack of food, long days, etc.)

Jody: Since I get hot very easily, I’d probably dislike the constant heat. I can’t imagine always wearing the heavy layered clothing that was customary AND living and working without air conditioning. We have such light clothing nowadays and AC at the flip of a switch. It’s hard to imagine getting along without!

Lacie: What part of writing The Doctor’s Lady was the most enjoyable for you? (research, plotting, writing, etc.)

Jody: I actually enjoyed the entire process of writing the first draft. I always fall in love with my books during the researching and planning phase. That love just continues to grow when I sit down to write the book. The writing and the creative process is something that feeds me, refreshes me, and brings me to life.

Lacie: Why do you choose to write historical romance stories? What draws your heart to a certain time period or character?

Jody: I love reading historicals, so naturally that’s what I’m drawn to write. I’m fascinated with all of the things that happen in other times and places that seem so foreign to us now. I really appreciate when historical facts are woven into books seamlessly so that I’m learning but don’t really realize I am. And I hope that I can do that in my books too.
I’m particularly drawn to strong women of the past. I like being able to bring their stories to life because there is so much we can learn from them, and their courage is so inspiring.

Lacie: Can you give us any hints about where/what your next book might be about? :)

Jody: I’ll have another historical romance releasing next year in 2012. I’m really excited about this story because it’s set in my home state of Michigan. It takes place during the 1880’s at a time in history when the lumber era was at its height. Although the story isn’t inspired by a true person the way my first two books have been, I do include several real people, particularly a real villain by the name of James Carr who was notorious in central Michigan for his violence and for introducing white slavery into the state.

Thanks Jody for being such a good sport! I love learning new things about my favorite authors!

Before we get to the book giveaway, I have to tell you about Jody's fabulous contest. I entered it myself and am hoping I win so...actually, maybe you shouldn't enter it. My odds of winning are better if you don't. :)

But I know you'll want to put your name in the pot because she put together the most beautiful trunk full of goodies. Check it out here:
Enter the Be A Trailblazer Contest!

Tell your friends about Jody's BE A TRAILBLAZER contest!


Share on Twitter!

Share on Facebook!

By now you're all dying to get your hands on a copy of The Doctor's Lady. Rightly so. Here's how you can win an autographed copy - it's simple - Leave me a comment before midnight on Friday September 9th and I'll randomly choose a winner! (Winner must have a U.S. mailing address.)

Have you already read The Doctor's Lady? What is your favorite thing about Jody's stories and writing style? If you haven't read Jody's books yet, what criteria do you have that help you decide if you love a book or not?

Thursday, September 1, 2011

TV Re-do

Back in May I blogged about shutting off my cable and how I wasn't sure if I'd survive the ordeal.

I had lofty ideas about how I could better use my time if the TV distraction wasn't available.

I made it three months. Not too bad. But yesterday as I sat in my kitchen while the Comcast cable guy re-hooked up our cable box (Thank you, Jesus!) I couldn't help thinking about how much I was looking forward to some nice, quiet evenings alone with my TV and maybe a scoop (or two) of cookie dough.

My mind began to wander as I thought about all the shows I would get to catch up on.

I'm not a dark and edgy person so you won't catch me watching anything vampire or murder mystery. But man, I love a good reality show...and food! Cupcake Wars, Iron Chef America, Survivor, Bachelor, Shark Tank are some of my favorites.

As I channel surfed with my sparkly new remote my attention was drawn to a show called Hoarders. Have you seen this show? Wow! And I'm not sure how I mean that "wow" exactly. The show is gross and complicated and heart-wrenching and frustrating to watch. I was yelling at my TV almost the entire time, "It's trash! Just throw it away already!"

Take a person, add some type of emotional issue, toss in several tons of stuff and sprinkle with a generous helping of rodents, bugs and mold and you have the makings of a very disturbing hour.

I shudder when I watch. But I still watch. I can't help it!

Are you a hoarder to some extent? Do you know a hoarder? Are you drawn to these types of shows? Why do you think some people struggle with collecting "things"?

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Agents and Friendships

I'm excited to announce that the first annual Write to Inspire conference was a huge success! I'm told that next year the conference might be in July as compared to August like it was this year...so mark your calendars now for 2012 if you're near CA or if you just like to travel! We can carpool. :)

I can't believe how much I learned in a day and a half! And not just about the craft of writing (although there was plenty of that) and not just about the publishing industry (lots of that too).

What I came away with more than anything is that...I love Jesus! (Yes, I already knew this but it's nice to feel it deep in your soul when you're not exactly expecting to feel it overmuch.) And I especially love being around other people that love Jesus!

I was beyond impressed with agent Karen Ball. Now, for the record, I knew that Karen was a Christian and I sort of expected her to talk about God a little bit - it was a Christian conference after all. But I was blown away by her fire and passion and depth. God's love just oozed from her every word. I love watching people like that!

One of her workshops was about the importance of literary agents. What they do for their clients, how to find an agent, what to look for in an agent, questions to ask agents and how to catch an agents attention. All good stuff.

But what struck me the most was the relational side of the partnership she has with many of her clients. That probably jumped out at me because I'm a relational person and I hope to one day have a partnership with an agent that goes beyond business. Someone that I can form a friendship with and someone that has God at the center of everything they do and are and represent.

And it got me thinking about CBA agents and their relationships with their clients and I was wondering, if you have a Christian agent, do they just ooze God? Was that a requirement for you or not? Or do they keep business and faith separate? Do you have a friendship with your agent? Do you even want one? Or are sales more important? If you don't have an agent, what are your non-negotiable requirements for one? Share with me!

(The picture is of Karen and her hubby Don. What a great story they have!)

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Scatter Brain

Today I am fine tuning my one sheet and pitch just in case someone (namely, Karen Ball) happens to ask tomorrow or Saturday at the Write to Inspire conference. (Does it make sense if I say, I'm praying that Karen asks but hoping that she doesn't?)

I'm too excited and too nervous and too scattered to focus at the moment so I'm afraid that's all I have for today. Not very interesting and definitely not remarkable. Thomas Umstattd would be shaking his head at me if he saw this post.

So to all my lovely blogging buddies, have a fabulous weekend! :)

P.S. The picture has nothing to do with anything except that I thought it looked happy and cheerful. And ever since I saw the movie You've Got Mail (years ago) I always think of Meg Ryan and how her character in the movie loves daisies because they're just the happiest flower. Weird that I remember that. Just proves that I am indeed scattered today.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Observations From A Football Game

Okay, today you're going to learn a few random facts about me.

But first, you need to know I married a sports nut. And that doesn't even marginally describe my husband's obsession with all things sports. To give you a clue to his craziness (in my opinion) before he would propose to me, he made me memorize all 32 NFL football teams, cities and mascots. Nuts, right? (Although at the time it was very cute and somehow flirty...not anymore!)

Fact # 1 - Somehow, in over seven years of marriage to this nut, I have never been to an NFL game. Watched plenty on TV, been to a few pro baseball games (SF Giants = great fun!) and even basketball games (Sac Kings = not fun).

So this past weekend, I surprised (hindsight - ask the sports nut his opinion on whether my surprise idea is even a good idea before I buy the surprise) Chris with tickets to the very first pre-season football game (do any of you even follow football?) between the SF 49ers and the Oakland Raiders. What I didn't know is that the Raiders are known for their...let's say "unfriendly" approach to other teams' fans. I'm told that if you're brave enough to enter into the Raider stadium you'd better not be wearing the opposing teams jersey.

Fact # 2 - I live in a bubble. Probably a self constructed bubble but a nice, white-picket fences, daisies on my doorstep, bunnies and rainbows bubble. I love my bubble. It's safe and clean and marijuana free.

Quote from hubby during the game: "Well, if nothing else, at least you can say you now know what weed smells like." Thanks, dear.

Fact # 3 - Sometimes I just want to be comfortable. During a sporting event, I usually opt for jeans, a t-shirt and tennis shoes. Maybe, if I'm feeling "groupie-ish" I'll add a jersey or a baseball cap. Nothing special, nothing fancy. Mainly I dress for comfort during a game.

I could not believe how much black eyeliner I came face to face with at this football game. Skinny jeans, Uggs, designer handbags, 4 inch heels and prom style hairdo's. What! Where the heck are we? At a game or on the runway? I've never felt like such an ugly duckling before. I was way under-dressed. Next time I go to a game, I'll know you're supposed to wear a cocktail dress with a very uncomfortable looking G-string.

Fact # 4 - Devastation and poverty bring me to my knees. All kidding aside, the stadium we visited was in a very bad part of San Francisco. The homeless, including one very sad looking child, were swarming the tail-gate area collecting the mountain of cans and bottles. The homes in the nearby areas are run down shacks with bars on the windows.

While I was looking down my nose at the deplorable housing, Chris informed me that a single mom living in this area would be fighting desperately to secure one of those houses to live in. It's easy to see how a persons environment as a child plays into who they become as an adult. (In case you haven't heard...at the end of this particular football game there were two shootings and numerous arrests. During the game itself, hubby and I saw at least 10 fist fights and many people taken out of the stands in cuffs.)

Fact # 5 - I tend to hold grudges. On the way home, Chris kept assuring me that this isn't what a typical 49er football game is like. He even went so far as to say, "Next time you want to surprise me, please don't." I'm not sure if or when I'll ever feel like visiting that stadium again. Even with my man's assurance that "it's just the stupid Raiders", I'm not too keen about going back.

So you can guess my reaction when half way home, Chris says, "I can't wait to bring Cody to his first game." Yeah right dude! Over my dead body!

Are you a sports fan? Do you attend games regularly? Who are your favorite teams? Have you head about the mess after this particular game?


Thursday, August 18, 2011

A Sister's Wisdom

A few weeks ago, I was whining to my sister about some mundane job in my life. Probably laundry. I whine a lot about laundry! (That's my beautiful sister Nicole and my niece Ashley in the picture.)

Sometimes when I want to whine, it's nice to have someone to commiserate with me. You know, to agree with me that yes, in fact, doing laundry (or whatever else it may be) stinks...Ha!...sometimes literally! :) (I'm cracking myself up over here.)

But on this particular day, my older, apparently wiser sister, didn't acknowledge and understand my gripe like I was hoping she would. She basically said knock it off (the complaining) and do it (the laundry) with a happy heart.

Well, I don't really like to be told what to do very much. In fact, if I can, I'll probably find some valid reason to do the exact opposite of what someone tells me to do in the first place. But in this instance...she was right.

And it didn't hurt that she reminded me of the new Steven Curtis Chapman song Do Everything. So now, every time I hear that song, I'm reminded of how I can do even the most grueling, boring, unimportant tasks with extra fervor and umph because I'm really doing it to glorify my God.

Wonderful lesson, right?

One problem though. now when I hear that song, I also think of how my sister was right. And sometimes that's as stinky as the laundry!



Smile, we're doing it all for HIM! Happy Thursday!




Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Just Curious...

When you submit your work, who do you find brings out your anxious tendencies the most? Knowing everyone is going to have some judgement of your writing, who do you want to like it the most?

~ Agents

~ Editors

~ Readers

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Oreo Hunting

In honor of my new Liebster Award, I'm supposed to write about other fabulously small but powerful bloggers today...in fact I want to! But I just noticed that the majority of the blogs I follow are BIG. Hundreds of followers, some even thousands.

So I have to put off this post while I research. And believe me, researching other blogs is sweet fun!

On a completely different note, today is the first day of school for my two munchkins. My little Ava is in Jr. Kindergarten and Cody is in Kindergarten. Not sure how I ended up with two kids in Kindergarten but it is what it is. :)

To be completely honest, I'm not thrilled about school starting today. I'm just not one of those moms that looks forward to sending off her kids. I'm selfish that way. I want them with me.

So today will involve a lot of whimpering and sniffling (when my kids aren't looking - I don't want to rain on their parade, after all).

Truth be told, I just kinda feel like being sad today so I'm off to find a box of Oreo's.

Happy Thursday everyone!!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Gotta Start Somewhere

I have a confession to make.

Last week I was so plagued by self-doubt and insecurities that I almost canceled my registration for the ACFW conference in September. Who am I to think I’m ready to attend a writers conference? My book isn’t finished. I’m unsure of my theme. I’m just not ready!

Thankfully, I came to my senses. Aided greatly by some wise words from Ginny Yttrup, author of the “masterpiece” Words, and one of the speakers at the Write to Inspire Conference on August 26th and 27th.

“I began attending writers conferences when my sons were toddlers-about 18 years ago. I learned everything I know about writing from those conferences…”

You know what that tells me? It’s never too soon to attend a conference! After all, the learning needs to start somewhere. Why not learn at the feet of those who have traveled the road before you?

Ginny’s statement is one that I needed to hear. I try so hard not to have super huge expectations as I prepare for my upcoming conferences but truth be told, crazy hope manages to squeeze in.

Hearing that Ginny attended conferences for 18 years! Wow! What a wake-up call. A needed reminder that learning to craft a masterpiece takes time.

The bottom line is this: all we have control over is writing a great story – something that can be learned. The rest is up to God’s perfect will and timing.

“I'm not the writer of masterpieces-I'm simply a gal who loves God and followed His call in faith even when all seemed hopeless. He is the One who created the masterpiece and gave me the gift of doing it through me.”

No matter where you’re at on your writing journey (thinking about writing or the author of piles of books), I hope I have the opportunity to meet you at the Write to Inspire Conference or ACFW’s Conference.

I’ll be at both…learning! :)

Will you be there too? If not, what’s holding you back? Do you think there's a "right" time to attend a conference or is any time a good time?

****I want to give a huge THANK YOU to Kelley Gerschke over at Between the Bookends for bestowing on me the Liebster Blog award and even kinder words that just plain made my day! I had never heard of this award so I googled and found two different meanings for Liebster: Friend and Dearest. Neither of which I mind. ;) I'll devote some time on Thursday to loving on some of my favorite, smaller blogs in honor of this award.*****

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Getting To Know You...

I just finished watching The King and I with my kids. Do you remember this old Rogers and Hammerstein movie?

I love all the fun songs and the beautiful costumes. And the love story is so subtle, as a kid, I missed it completely. But watching it today made me tear up in between my kids' crazy giggling every time the King said, "etcetera, etcetera, etcetera".

One of the songs in the movie is all about getting to know someone new so I thought it would be fun to get to know all of you a bit better.

Answer all or one. I just wanna know YOU! :)

Flip flops, tennis shoes or heels?

Old movies or modern flicks?

Beach or mountains?

Sweet or salty?

Clean or cluttered?

Tent or hotel?

Salad or steak?

Quiet or loud?

Thoughtful or impulsive?

Eat out or eat in?

Up early or up late?

What is one of your biggest dreams?



Here's to getting to know you all!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

How Much Is Too Much?

(Warning: I'm thinking out loud today. Not sure where I stand on this issue.)

In my teens and early twenties I was obsessed with all of Johanna Lindsey's books. Ever heard of her?

You must have, because she's the best-selling author of some of the steamiest, well-written love stories ever! Her regency series about the Malory's was intoxicating, make-me-swoon perfection! Who am I kidding? Each of her books was the BEST!

My heart would flutter throughout each story. The way she crafted her characters and then wove in their flaws and struggles...tension everywhere! It was pure brilliance! Seriously, I'm wiping drool off my chin as I think about how much I enjoyed reading those novels.

And then I heard a comment from a friend that went something like this: "Those books are glorified porn for women. Smut."

So I stopped reading them because, well, the P word is a bit too much for me.

What do you think? Are romance novels "glorified porn for women?"

If you're like me than you don't need the heroes body parts labeled six different ways to get that heart-flutter feeling. Some innocent flirting, a longing glance, a kind gesture, a heartfelt confession, a sweet kiss, something completely innocent can send my pulse racing.

We call those things "romantic" but if you stripped away all the fancy, polite descriptions are we left with the P word? Do you think the heart fluttering is equivalent to porn?

Please weigh in. I'm so curious to hear what you all think about this.

(It took me forever to find a cover to one of her books that I wouldn't feel too embarrassed about posting on my blog. The picture above is as G-rated as it gets.)

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Thank You!

I'm doing something a little different today.

I've been hearing a lot from other writers about their highs and lows along this crazy journey (moods that can change from one minute to the next) and it got me thinking...one of the reasons the lows are bearable (for me) is because of the wonderful, kind and friendly faces that I have met along the way. Kind people that cheer me on without even knowing they're doing it!

Being a writer can be a lonely thing sometimes. Even your spouse, who might be your biggest supporter, might not get why you talk to yourself so much, or why you jot down notes as you drive, or why you're constantly reading blogs and twittering.

But other writers get it. This is something that I'm beginning to see firsthand...and I'm so appreciative of the people that go out of their way to lift me up.

So today I want to give a giant THANK YOU to some of the ladies that I met through social avenues like blogging and Twitter.

These beautiful, funny people make my lows worth it!

Katie Ganshert - I think Katie's blog was the very first blog I stumbled upon from Rachelle Gardner's website last year when I first started researching agents and writers. And she was one of the first people to follow my blog and offer oodles of encouragement. She's one of the biggest cheerleaders I've seen!

Jody Hedlund - I found Jody's blog when I was looking for a clear answer about when to attend a writers conference. I got my answer from Jody and her informative blog. A blog I have come to equate with just plain awesomeness! To top it all off, this lady can write a killer book!

Erica Vetsch - Erica is who I want to be when I'm a grown up writer. She is dedicated and gifted and can throw down some word counts like nobody's business! And she is funny as all heck...without even trying!

Wendy Paine Miller - I love Wendy! She is so full of questions and curiosity. Most of her questions go over my head but she is definitely an encourager and someone that everyone should know!

Keli Gwyn - Keli should get an award for taking so much of her own time to help and mentor other writers...while she is buried in her own stuff. I don't know how she finds the time! She is my personal hero and I'm looking so forward to soaking up all I can from her.

Jessica R. Patch - Jessica is a hoot! I mean, really! This lady is funny and wise and kind and godly. God is using her to love on others and she probably doesn't even know it! She's just plain addictive!

I appreciate you all so much and I'm thankful that I'll get to meet most of you in person in only 56 days!

If you don't already know (or follow) these writers, I highly recommend it! They will enrich your lives far beyond anything you can imagine.

Who have you met online that has lifted you up?

Happy Thursday everyone!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Highs And Lows

The life of a writer can be many things: exciting, wonderful, thoughtful, frustrating, calming, drawn-out, fulfilling, stressful...fill in the blank (depending on where you're at today).

One thing that I have heard repeatedly from other writers is that the highs are really high and the lows are really low.

The other day, I was writing (go figure...) and the words were just stuck in my fingers. It was so bad, it was like I forgot how to type. The delete key became my new best friend. Awful!

When I felt I had suffered enough, I went to bed, tossing the entire night because I was feeling so horribly about my writing. The man with the red pointy horns was in my head big time. He kept feeding me lines like: "Who do you think you are?" "Do you actually think that book is ever going to be any good?" "No one even likes you."

I hate when I give Satan power in my thought life. He was certainly running a muck! And I felt very low.

Then came the dawn (which always makes me think of an Avalon song). I crawled out of bed and went about my new routine. I spent time with God, I exercised and I wrote.

And wouldn't you know it...that writing hour was the best ever! I flew through my story, action and tension dripping onto every page. Awesome!

When all was said and done, I stood back and wondered how it was possible to hate one chapter, feeling as if you've never written anything more horrendous only to be followed by the next chapter which yields some of your best work? Highs and lows for sure!

Here's what I concluded about a writers Highs and Lows:

The highs are important because they keep us excited and motivated to push on towards the prize, towards improvement, towards finishing, towards publication, etc. They give us hope and keep the spark lit in us.

They also show us what our best can look like.

But

The lows are also necessary because they teach us about our character, our desires, our motivation, about our ability to persevere. Are we writers just when it's easy and fun? Or do we write for a deeper reason? Is there more to it than mere enjoyment?

The lows also clue us in to our reader intuition. If you write a scene that you don't like, sometimes we stand back and think, "I can fix that. A rewrite is all it needs." But other times, something in us just knows that it's no good. For whatever reason it doesn't work and it's in the best interest of our readers to toss it and begin again.

What do you think? Do you regularly experience highs and lows along your journey? Have they taught you anything about writing? About yourself? Which are you experiencing today?

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Have You Been Tested?

I'm going to be honest here. I'm hormonal. Ack!

I'm embarking on a whole new decade (my 30's) and I'm already noticing too many changes for my personal comfort.

Since I was due for a physical I decided that I'd go in with my prepared questions about "aging". I wanted to go in knowing my stuff. What I should be looking for to be preventative, to borrow a word from Kaiser Permanente.

So I Googled. I always Google when I don't know something. And this time I wanted to know what medical tests I should have done to be proactive in my physical health.

Here's the list I found. Probably a good list for anyone's overall health.

1. Have your cholesterol tested. Just another way my doctor, or the lab guy, will know I eat too much junk food. Great!

2. Diabetes blood test. See #1.

3. Regular breast exams and pap smears. No biggie, used to these.

4. Skin cancer screening. Visit a dermatologist and have a full body scan. Especially if there's a history of sun burning/tanning or if you have large moles.

5. Thyroid levels checked. Just another blood test. Easy.

6. Dental check up. Nothing new here.

7. Eye exam. This is especially important if you get headaches since many are caused by eye problems.

8. Lifestyle review. Now, I'm not thrilled with this one. It's not exactly a test but it feels like one. Start keeping a log of food intake and daily exercise and adjust accordingly.

So, that's the list. Not too scary, right? Pretty basic stuff. Now, when it comes to other procedures, like a colonoscopy, I might get a little more nervous.

Are you proactive with your health? Or do you steer clear of doctor's at all costs? Is having your blood drawn a big deal for you? Which of the above appointments would you put off as long as you could?

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

A Father's Love

** YOU HAVE TO WATCH THE BELOW VIDEO. AMAZING! **

Have you ever wondered how much God loves you? How He can still love you after you continue to make the same mistakes day in and day out? I wonder this all the time. It is something that I am continually praying about.

Romans 8:39 says that nothing can separate you from God's love - NOTHING!

Last Sunday, our wonderful Pastor delivered a soul stirring message about how much God loves us and how He carries us in the hard times. He remarked on the old Footprints poem. If you've never read Footprints in the Sand, you can read it here.

He went on to share about a father and son racing team. Dick and Rick Hoyt. Their story is incredible!

Rick was born with severe disabilities such that experts advised Dick and his wife to institutionalize their son. Thankfully, they didn't and soon learned that Rick was an intelligent and eager young man.

After a five mile fundraising race, in which Dick pushed Rick in his wheelchair, Rick said "Dad, when I'm running, it feels like I'm not handicapped."

What loving father could resist such a statement? Their running career began and they have since raced in over 1,000 races including many Ironman competitions.

For those of you that don't know what an Ironman competition is (I didn't either!), it is a 2.4 mile swim, immediately followed by a 112 mile bike ride, immediately followed by a marathon, 26.2 miles of running. All with no break!

Their story in and of itself is difficult to imagine but what my Pastor was illustrating is that Dick was displaying a Christ-like quality in his overwhelming love for his child. God's love for us is so great, that like Dick, He drags us along through the tough spots, He pushes us forward to teach us and He lifts us up and cradles us until we cross the final finish line. Such is a Father's love.

The below video is of Dick and Rick and their journey in one Ironman competition. Please watch it! You won't regret it! It is truly inspiring!

The Journey of Team Hoyt from teamhoyt on Vimeo.



To learn more about Dick and Rick Hoyt you can visit them at their website: www.teamhoyt.com

I hope their story is able to encourage you today - no matter what you're facing, God is with you!

Happy Tuesday!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

30 Day Experiment

Let me start by saying: I don’t know if this is going to work. It could be a colossal failure. But since I’m striving for “my all” in life (I’m channeling Beth Moore, June Cleaver, Jillian Michaels and Martha Stewart) I thought I’d give it a try and see if maybe, just maybe, I’m able to form some new daily habits.

It could be just the thing I need to be intentional about some of my goals. After all, if I just hope and pray that I’ll have more time to get things done but don’t actually make a plan to do exactly that, then I’ve just daydreamed away my opportunity. Not productive.

So I’ve been reading up on how to form new habits. Thirty days seems to be the magic number (if there is one…). My hope is that forcing myself to do certain things daily for thirty days straight will eventually retrain my brain to automatically and willingly accomplish a given task consistently.

Sound simple?

We’ll see.

I’m adding daily quiet time with God, one of my cheesey but fun workout DVD’s and as much writing as I can get in before the kids rise and shine, which is usually around 6:00AM.

My rules: I’m not trying to set a record here. I’m just trying to be consistent. So I’m shooting for at least 10 minutes each of quiet time and workout. And at least 300 words added to my WIP. And I’m not allowed to check email, Blogger or Twitter until I’ve finished those three things.

I have a lot to prove to myself. And I need the accountability that telling others brings. So that’s my plan. If any of you want to build a new habit as well, we can do it together and cheer eachother on. Shoot me an email if you want to tag-team!

My 30 day ticker starts Saturday, July 16!

What’s your deal? Do things like this come easy for you or do you find, like me, that you need a plan? What is an area of your life that you wish you were more consistent with?

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Do You Use Symbolism In Your Writing?

According to Webster, Symbolism is the art of using symbols especially by investing things with a symbolic meaning or by expressing the invisible or intangible by means of visible or sensuous representations.

Huh?

Let's break it down. Using symbolism in our stories gives the reader clues about something. Little hints that affect the reader...and here's the best part...usually, they don't even realize it.

Sort of like brainwashing. But in a completely good way. It sets the stage for whats to come.

A while back I heard Dennis Hensley speak about the importance of symbolism in our writing. The idea intrigued me. Here are a few of the ways he suggested using symbolism to deepen our stories.

COLORS

Most of us probably have heard that certain colors trigger different emotions in us. White = life, black = death, purple = royalty, gold = wealth.

But did you know that green = rebirth, pink = femininity, yellow = enlightenment and red = danger or emotional pain?

Also, interesting is that the colors orange and blue have almost no impact on a reader.

NAMES/NICKNAMES

When naming your characters you want to connect the fictional character to the reader. Give them a bond. Nick names are a great way to do this. If you hear someone call your hero "Slim" won't you naturally assume that he's tall and skinny? And something like "Tex" just screams cowboy! It's a great way to describe something or someone without actually having to do it.

Also consider the regional implications. What do you think of when you hear the name "Bubba"? (Okay, after you think Gump.) Bubba is a totally southern nickname, right? So this character must have some connection to the south.

Use names to your advantage.

OBJECTS

Another area where you can use symbols is with objects or props relating to your characters. Indiana Jones wouldn't be Indiana Jones without his hat and whip. Mary Poppins wouldn't be Mary Poppins without her umbrella. And Clark Kent wouldn't be Clark Kent without his glasses. (Although, that one drove me crazy. I'm just saying...)

There are many different ways we can use the readers' subconscious to help move along our stories. Look for little ways to incorporate a color, prop or nickname to strengthen your story.

Do you use symbolism in your writing? Are you intentional about it? Can you think of any other ways in which symbolism might help our stories?

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Lessons From A Vegetable


My kids have been in a Veggie Tales movie-mood lately. It seems like every time they get to pick a movie, the Veggies get selected.

Not that I mind. The songs are catchy, the jokes are funny and the stories are spot on. And if all else fails, I can snooze for a good thirty minutes and know they won't move.

The two most selected Veggie movies in our household are Abe and the Amazing Promise and Josh and the Big Wall. Both great, fun movies.

The other day, I found myself completely engaged in these stories myself, when it occurred to me that God's word is living. It's active. It's always applicable. And there can always be something new to learn (or to be reminded of) at any age. His word speaks to the heart no matter how many times you've heard it before.

I love that!

So for fun...here are the two simple lessons I learned (re-learned) from Bob and Larry.

- God's way is the best way. Even if you don't understand God's directions in your life, don't worry. He's there. And He is faithful.

- God's timing is perfect. Sometimes it's hard to wait. Don't I know it! Patience is not a gift of mine. BUT God sees the big picture that we can't see. He knows when the timing is right for you.

Do the simple messages of the Bible ever seem new and exciting to you? What Bible lesson are you happy to learn over and over again?

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Can We Have It All?


Have you ever been told that you can’t have it all? Thereby implying that you have to settle for greatness in only one area of your life. You can either have the perfect ministry, the perfect marriage, the perfect career, the perfect friendships, the perfect whatever, but you can’t be great at everything. I hate that!

I’ve been wrestling with this concept for years. You see, I want so much out of life on this earth: Godly marriage, obedient children, cherished friendships, inspiring writing career. I want it all. The clean home, healthy meals, homemade bread, a daily (enjoyable!) workout routine, a balanced budget, a mowed, weed-free lawn, a green thumb, a brilliant mind and I want to look cute and fashionable while I’m at it. Is that too much to ask for?

Why can’t we, as women fully empowered by God’s spirit, have it all?

I believe we can.

Have you ever heard of the Proverbs 31 woman? For the longest time I hated this poor lady because she showed me exactly where I was lacking. Where I didn’t measure up. But, I’ve come to view this passage as something else.

Proof…Hope…

Proverbs 31 shows us that it’s possible. It’s possible to have it all and do it all well.

“A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies. Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value. She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life.

She selects wool and flax and works with eager hands. She is like the merchant ships, bringing her food from afar.

She gets up while it is still night; she provides food for her family and portions for her female servants. She considers a field and buys it; out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.

She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks. She sees that her trading is profitable, and her lamp does not go out at night. In her hand she holds the distaff and grasps the spindle with her fingers.

She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy. When it snows, she has no fear for her household; for all of them are clothed in scarlet. She makes coverings for her bed; she is clothed in fine linen and purple.

Her husband is respected at the city gate, where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.

She makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies the merchants with sashes. She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue. She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.

Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: “Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.”

Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.

Honor her for all that her hands have done, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.”

Proverbs 31:10-31


So the next time someone tells you (or you hear that little voice in your head, like I often do) that you can’t have it all, remember this woman. She had it all…because God equipped her to handle it all.

One last thing.

Have you ever noticed that this lady doesn’t have a name? I mean come on! There are far less interesting and pivotal characters in the Bible that have names…hard names, with twelve letters, that no one can pronounce. But this lady, who is the very essence of who we need to be, doesn’t? What gives?

I was thinking about this the other night and the thought occurred to me that maybe she doesn’t have a name on purpose. Maybe if she had a name, we would lump her successes solely to her. Does that make sense? Sort of like we do for Noah. He was so faithful, he built an ark! Or David. He was so courageous, he brought down a giant. Or Daniel. He was so steadfast, he survived a den of lions. We associate those things with the specific people that accomplished them.

But what if she’s nameless because she’s…us. No comparison. No name to give the credit to. Just a woman, who pleased God.

We can each be this godly woman. Just plug in your name and allow God to equip you to have it all.

What about you? Do you believe we can be great in many areas of our lives or do you think that perfection in a specific area comes from undivided focus on that one thing? Do you ever struggle with wanting to be great at many different things?

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

A Week Off

I'll be taking a week off from blogging since I have some very special family members in town from North Carolina. We've spent the last few days having a blast.

This picture is of part of our group at Sand Harbor Beach in Lake Tahoe. We spent the day there yesterday and it was breathtaking! I especially loved looking at the snow-capped mountains in the background while my kids splashed in the water.Weird. But beautiful!

Enjoy your week!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Summer Family Fun, Week Two

Happy Thursday everyone!

Were any of you brave enough to try some of the activities I posted last week? (If you're not sure what I'm talking about, click HERE.) No pressure, since even I didn't get all of them done. We ended up taking a very spontaneous trip to Santa Cruz for a few days so the kids could chase some waves.

But I'm more determined than ever to make the most of this summer since I'm already getting mail from my kids' school informing me of the first day of school in August. Didn't we just get out?

Here are a few more suggestions to help keep your kiddos busy this next week.

Day 1
Activity - Sock Dust

Directions - This is exactly what it sounds like. Put an old sock on your little ones hands and allow them to help you dust the house. It not only teaches them responsibility with chores but by doing it together you get time to listen to them ramble on about the darndest things. Priceless. Not to mention, kids love doing this...at least mine do.

Day 2
Craft - Rock Paint

Directions - Find a somewhat flat rock in your backyard or on a nature walk and let your kids paint them. Anything goes. Painting is always fun for kids but when they get to paint something other than paper, you become the most awesome mom ever! Once they dry, they're fun to set in your flower planters or garden or by your front door. And the kids are so proud to show them off to any visitors.

Day 3
Activity - Puppet Show

Directions - Using stuffed animals, actual puppets or paper bag puppets, put on a puppet show with your little one. String up an old sheet somewhere in your house (I use chip clips to do this) and set up your audience (more stuffed animals). Make a big deal about coming up with your story, practicing and the actual performance. The giggles abound. Take turns acting out your story together and then each take a turn in the audience.

Day 4
Activity - Pick Fruit

Directions - Find a local You-Pick fruit farm and take your kids to pick a basket of your favorite fruit. If you're not sure where your closest fruit farm is, click HERE for a very helpful resource. Make sure you eat as you pick and take lots of pictures. Pack a picnic lunch and enjoy a few hours of being silly.

Day 5
Food Creation - Bake a Pie

Directions - Using the fruit you picked the day before, bake a special fruit pie. Allow your kids to help as much as possible. If you're really brave, try making your own pie crust. Betty Crocker has a pretty easy pie crust recipe HERE. Bake and enjoy!

**As an extra fun bonus** If you bake a pie with your child, send me a picture of your delicious dessert and your little helper and I'll send you a secret prize that both you and your child will love! Happy Baking!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

When Life Won't Play Along

Life is hard. Marriage is hard. Raising kids is hard. Balancing work with everything else is so hard. And then at the end of the day, we're still supposed to find the energy to wash and fold all the laundry, make a healthy and delicious dinner, read for twenty minutes to each of our kids, prepare whatever we can for tomorrow, add to our word count total and on top of all of that (and much more) when we fall into bed, thinking the day is over, we're still expected to be incredible lovers to our husbands.

Sometimes, I feel like I just can't get a single item crossed off my to-do list, let alone the dozens of tasks on it.

I recently heard this new MercyMe song and decided to claim it as my war-cry. I hope it motivates and gives you as much hope as it does me. So start dancing because there are brighter days ahead...even when the laundry isn't done! ;)

MercyMe "MOVE" live from Mr. Lovewell on Vimeo.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Summer Family Fun, Week One

I really enjoy writing things out - to do lists, goals, groceries...anything. So after a few days of my kids saying that they were bored, I pulled out a huge calendar and asked them what they wanted to do. What was their idea of a "fun" day?

My now 6 year old said things like visiting a bounce house or going to the library. (A boy after my own heart!)

My 4 year old said she wanted to go to Chuck E Cheese and Hawaii. (Also, just like mommy!)

We sat together for a while and brainstormed some fun things we could do to pass the sometimes long summer days.

I'm happy to share our list with anyone that can use it but just so you don't get overwhelmed, I'll only post a week at a time. :) (We came up with over 60 days worth of fun and silly things to try.)

A few tips first...
- My kids are 6, 4 and almost 2 so most of these ideas are geared towards those age groups. However, ALL of these ideas can be amended for older kids too.
- As with any activity, parental supervision is a must and only increases the fun. (That's my disclaimer for all you lawyer types out there.)
- I've divided up our ideas into three categories: Activities, Craft Projects and Food Creations.
- Most suggestions won't require any prep or planning ahead but sometimes a trip to Michael's or your local craft store might be in order.

Okay, here we go. Five days worth of fun...

DAY 1 -
Activity: Build an obstacle course in your backyard
(or house, depending on the heat).
Directions: Use things around your home (bikes, slides, hula hoops, balls, tunnels, etc.) to create a massive obstacle course. Build it together, play in it together and for extra fun, set a timed goal for how fast your child needs to get through it (according to their age). Offer a fun reward (like an ice cream cone or sticker) when they beat the goal...and make sure they beat it. :)

DAY 2 -
Activity: Find a local lake or pond and feed the ducks/fish
Directions:
Gather your old or stale bread for this outing and then relax under a shady tree. (For some reason there are always hot dog buns in our home. We don't even eat them that much but the buns appear anyway. Weird. So that's what I always take for the ducks.)

DAY 3 -
Food Creation: Make Kabobs
Directions:
Allow your kids to choose the veggies and meat that go on the skewers. Then let them help with the assembly, making sure to watch their little fingers on those pointy skewers. They just might be more adventurous in tasting new vegetables if they get to choose and help make dinner. While dad is BBQing, make some fun kabobs as well using their favorite fruits. And don't forget dessert. Use marshmallows, brownie squares, anything you can poke a hole in. Lot's of fun!

DAY 4 -
Craft Project: Crayon Rubbing
Directions:
Go on a hunting trip around your house and yard. Have your kids carry a basket or bag to fill with their treasures. Find things like sandpaper, yarn, leaves, fabric, coins, etc. Then place the items between two sheets of paper and using the side of a crayon, color over each one until you can see the object clearly. (Not sure why, but my kids love doing this!)

DAY 5 -
Activity: Shaving Cream
Directions:
Buy inexpensive shaving cream and spray a pile onto an outside, washable surface. Roll up their sleeves and let them goop it up. For extra fun make separate piles and add a few drops of food coloring. Sit back and watch what they create. Be sure to have your video camera on hand to capture the funny faces they make when they squeeze it through their fingers for the first time. If you're like me, you'll be cringing the entire time but trust me, they'll love it. Warning: This is messy but washes off easily with water.

There you have it. I'll be doing these things with my kids too. Let me know if you try them and if your kiddos enjoyed them. I'll post more of our ideas next Thursday.

Have fun! :)