Saturday, February 26, 2011

A Proverb to Ponder

"As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another." Proverbs 27:17

My church is in the midst of a series on wisdom. We have been spending a lot of time in the book of Proverbs, which is where I got the idea for "A Proverb to Ponder" Saturdays.

This past Sunday we discussed the opposite of a wise person...a fool. Turns out there are three kinds of fools, none of which we want to be. But what I want to share with you today is how we can avoid being labeled a fool. (Thanks Pastor Jake for these great tips on becoming wise.)

Accept Criticism. Seek Input. Be a Lifelong Learner.

Obviously this advice applies to how we can grow to love and know more about Christ. But I found myself comparing it to the writing journey as well.

Iron sharpens iron. Who have you been rubbing up against to sharpen your faith? We need to be surrounded by those that long for Christ. Their longing and passion will naturally sharpen our own desire to know Him more.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Helpful Tips

Today I am supposed to post something personal or family related but I just finished reading an article in my March/April Writer's Digest magazine and I had to share the brilliance.

The article is titled 50 Simple Ways to Build Your Platform in 5 Minutes a Day by Christina Katz. Have any other writers out there read this article? I loved it and found it to be very helpful. Here are a few of my favorite suggestions:

#12 on the list - Brainstorm 20 Ideas. I've heard this suggested before when it comes to blogging topics or any writing topic for that matter. I always love it...and I never do it. Why do the simple things never get done? The article suggests that for five minutes a day we sit with a notebook and "drain your brain" of its ideas. That way when we need a blog topic or a new sub-plot or a unique character name, all our random but wonderful ideas are sitting, patiently waiting for us in our journals.

#27 on the list - Say Thanks. For the record...I appreciate everyone that reads the things I write. I appreciate those of you that take the time to respond. I appreciate those of you that have taken the time to give me encouragement or guidance, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant. This journey is scary and unfamiliar. Your presence makes it easier. THANKS!

#41 on the list - Round Up Resources. Find great books or websites and post them on your blogs for others to take advantage of. I personally haven't done this yet but I've scoured many other blogs and have used their links and resources to find what I'm looking for. It's been invaluable to my journey.

#42 on the list - Boost Others. Helping to get the word out about an upcoming book release or writing a review for someone or just being a friendly face in the crowd goes a long way to encourage or to lift up someone you may or may not know personally. After all, helping others is never a bad choice.

#50 on the list - Break Out of Your Box. Don't just create the expected or the usual. Try something new with your writing style or your blog. Heck, even your parenting, your wardrobe, etc. This tip applies to life in general. Especially for people like me that love routines and the safety of the known. Try something new and might just pay off.

All 50 of the tips were very helpful. Find and read this article! =)

Happy Thursday!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

How Many More Minutes?

I survived. We made it home from our Disneyland trip with some silly stories and tired feet but none the worse for wear.

The question "How many more minutes?" was asked at least two hundred times from my 4 and 5 year-olds during the drive there and back. Our go-to answer, since they are still fuzzy on the whole concept of 'time', is figured out in Tom and Jerry episodes. Since each one is 30 minutes long we are able to say "10 Tom and Jerry's" which gives them some idea that we still have a long way to go.

Regardless of the drive, we had a very fun family trip. Here are some of our pictures:

Getting ready to head to the park on a rainy day.

Our first meltdown, only five minutes after entering the park. Ava didn't want her picture taken in front of Sleeping Beauty's castle.

Yay for Dumbo! We went on this ride after all three of the kids cried on Snow White's Adventure.

Ava took pictures with many characters. Cody refused...but "I'm not scared, I just don't want to. Don't you get it?" He asked us when we questioned him.

Standing in the long lines. This line was for Alice in Wonderland.

Thank goodness for Disneyland strollers. Lexie loved looking around and relaxing while the rest of us walked for miles.

The one character Cody would take a picture with...probably because it was just a statue. Lightning McQueen is his ultimate favorite.

Getting ready to go into the 3D Bugs Life show. They warned us that younger kids may get scared so we needed to sit near the exit. Right on cue, Cody lost it when a giant tarantula dropped from the ceiling. Lexie lost it when that same tarantula started throwing bombs at the crowd. And Ava lost it when a stink bug sprayed what a stink bug sprays, in her face. We used the exit and only caught about 5 minutes of the show.

Does anyone know who Duffy is? I wasn't sure but Ava wanted to take a picture with him, so we did.

My husband loves rollercoasters. I do not. He was brave enough to go on Screamin' by himself.

Chris took this picture during our Finding Nemo underwater experience. Again, the kids got very worried when they saw Bruce, the pretend shark in the water.

The best part of Ava's trip: meeting and hugging her favorite princess, Ariel.

One of the best parts of my trip: watching my son blush deep red when the beautiful Cinderella wanted a picture with him.

Having breakfast before our long drive home. The happy faces you see here lasted for only about two hours.

Rides and amusement parks are a funny thing to me. I don't personally understand the thrill rides or the desire to scare yourself silly but I can't deny that most people like them. Are you one that enjoys the crazy rides or do you prefer the safer ones? What makes you like one over the other?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Happiest Place On Earth

Disneyland here we come! Today after our kids get out of preschool and kindergarten, we are hitting the road on a seven (hopefully only six) hour drive to Disneyland.

Our kids are 5, 4 and 1 year old and as you can imagine, they're in full swing when it comes to all things Disney.

Please keep me in your prayers as I'm not a big fan of long lines and crowded places...or car trips with lots of whining.

See you all next week!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Update: Rejected

It seems like forever ago. Last November I entered one of my short stories in a writing contest for the first time. The top twenty were to be notified by February 14.

As I continue to cross off the days of my calendar, I'm realizing that it's not looking too good for my story. I'm not sure how I feel about this. Obviously, no one wants to be rejected or in this case ignored. But I think I was prepared for this outcome...even expected it.

Admittedly, I had the hope beyond a hope that I would place first and my phone would begin ringing off the hook with possibilities. Does that even happen in the writing industry? Everything I've read says absolutely not!

I'll keep working and writing and who day...maybe...

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Crossing The Finish Line

I've mentioned before that I am training to run a half marathon (I'm making very slow progress). The other day while running with a friend she said something that has been stuck in my head for a while now. Most 'real' runners have probably heard this before: The first 10 miles of a marathon you run with your legs, the next 10 you run with your mind and the last 6 are all heart.

It got me thinking, is that mantra true in writing? Heck, is it true in life? Here are a few of my thoughts:

Physical Strength/Desire
The desire to do something can pop into our heads at any moment. It doesn't require much to want to do/learn/complete something...we need only the tiniest spark of interest. Three years ago, I wanted to learn how to play the piano. I took lessons for an entire year, learned some new things and then I began to hate going to my lessons. I wasn't able to sustain my dream of playing the piano with the reality of actually attending weekly lessons. Our training in the physical stage needs to be more than just a thought, more than just some "thing" we wish we could do. It needs to grow roots, to become part of who we are so the training doesn't feel like training.

Mental Strength/Perseverance
This is where most goals die. When the newness and adrenaline fade, what's left to sustain it? When running, I'd imagine this is when you start repeating "I can do this" over and over. When writing, this phase is when you sit and type words even when they don't come easily, even when you must miss The Bachelor to meet your daily word goal. Perseverance is a common thread for almost anyone who has succeeded at something.

Heart Strength/Determination
I can't even imagine what getting to 20 miles feels like only to know that you're not done yet. I can't even imagine how wonderful it would feel to finish my manuscript or to secure an agent only to know that I'm not finished yet. This stage is hinged on only one thing. How badly do you want it? How determined are you to find a way to make it happen?

I am no where near my ultimate goals of being published or crossing a finish line but I am trying to do things that will get me closer, one baby step at a time.

1. Invest in some "gear". Whether it's a laptop to get your thoughts down or a new pair of running shoes, you need to be prepared to act when the desire strikes.

2. Set small, personal goals. Knowing you have something to do at a specific time is very motivating. Just make sure you don't miss the appointment!

3. Start telling people about your goals. This does two things. It gets people interested in what you're doing and it creates accountability. You're more likely to work towards your goal if you know someone is going to ask you about it.

4. Start to believe that it can happen. I still struggle with this one. But I have noticed that I make the most progress on the days I believe in myself.

5. Align yourself with like minded people. Just knowing there are others out there attempting the seemingly impossible or better yet, those that have made it across the finish line, are wells of information and encouragement.

6. Talk to God about your goals. God longs to give us the desires of our hearts. Sometimes all it takes is for us to ask!

Which phase (physical, mental, or heart) is the hardest for you to overcome? What are some things you do to get yourself motivated?