Soul Food

I read the most wonderful sentiment this afternoon for ushering in the new year of 2010. It said, "May you find the perfect diet for your soul." I had never exactly thought of it quite like that, but realized immediately that that is what I am seeking for this next set of 365 days.

Out of all the things we could be/should be endeavoring to take on, change, or be for 2010, perhaps finding the perfect diet for our soul should be first on our list. Granted, some of us are already being force-fed parts of this diet that we didn't realize were included with the original meal plan. Health, finances, and losses beyond our control factor into our lives and can sometimes unbalance the perfection we long to have.

But yet there is a peace, a joy which we can have when we know to Whom our soul belongs, and when we acknowledge from whence our perfect, prescribed diet originates. God put the soul in each one of us - He made you you. He already has the perfect diet for your soul on His majestic menu, and He's just waiting for you to order it up. Why not ask Him tonight to lay out His spread before you in this up and coming year, and see if it isn't a different year than you had imagined.


Today found me decorating the house for Christmas- a job that starts out just fine, but ends up making a big mess before it gets better. Although it does get me to cleaning very thoroughly. Underneath all of the greenery and decor are very clean windowsills, room corners and baseboards.

My wonderful husband had the tree up and lit before I even got out of bed this morning. The rest of the day found me hauling out heavy strands of ornament-laden garland to hang in the windows, adorning my dining room table with every kind of snowman known to the season before I divided them up into their new living spaces, and tucking little springs of white berries wherever I could fit them in.

It was a fun day.

Winner Takes a Prize

Remember this picture on my blog in November?

Well as of today, I have another one to proudly display!
Not only was I a "winner" because everyone was who thought up thirty new picture book ideas during the month of November, I also won a signed book by Karma Wilson through a random drawing. Very exciting! She is one of my favorite children's book authors.
You can read about it here -
Fun, fun fun. Don't you just love when the unexpected happens and it's GOOD for a change???

The Holidays

Oy vey the holidays....even though it's only December 7th, I find myself scurrying in my brain with a huge list of things to do in preparation for the up and coming December 25th Christmas event. And why, I wonder?? Shopping is easier this year, we're going artificial with the tree, and we've not bothered to consume raw ingredients from Christmas cookie dough for the longest time.

So why the stress? It's tradition, I suppose. I remind myself, "it's still early, it's still early, it's still early" like a mantra so as not to send myself into a tailspin panic. My word, the Thanksgiving leftovers are barely cold but as soon as the month with the capital D hits we are immediately thrown into merry maniac mode.

I admit I'm getting sucked into the maelstrom that seems to derail me every year from enjoying the true reason for the season (excuse the overused rhyming cliche, but it works). As I go through my day making my list and checking things off at least twice, I do manage to feel more organized and on top of things if I get a few things done daily towards my ultimate goal that lands me at the manger on Christmas Day, presents unwrapped and turkey in the oven. Like starting for the umpteenth time on a diet, I vow, again this year, to not let all the hustle and bustle of the season get to me, but to slow down and enjoy the goings-on about me, seeing each day like another little paper door on an Advent calendar opening to show what surprise is waiting for me inside.

God created Christmas, but I'm not sure He bargained on the whole holiday rush thing we've got going on. See what you can do this year to make it less stressful and more Jesus-full. Drop a comment here and let us know what you're doing to slow down a bit so we can all learn from one another!

My 48th

65 and sunny is the weather forecast for today - I don't get many birthdays on December 3rd that have a weather prediction quite as nice as that one. Feeling the warm morning air, I couldn't resist - I grabbed my camera and spent some time this morning doing what I love to do - taking photos in the early morning light and reflecting on the day, the past year, and the year ahead.

Birthdays are to a life what Mondays are to a diet- a fresh finish, a new start, a time to regroup and forge ahead. It's good once a year to take stock of where we've come from and where we are going (hopefully).

I am feeling better about myself in the late 40's than maybe I have all my life. I can stand tall,

knowing that I am content with me, who I am, and who I'm (still) becoming. Enough with first impressions and worrying about the small stuff- it feels good to be surer of myself now than when I was in my 20's or even 30's at times.
I live surrounded by a lot of love....

....and am so thankful for the family and friends that indwell my life and my heart.

I will strive in this next year to live simply, love completely, and learn continually. That truly is the best kind of life.

And, as always, my dad's words echo in my ears every time I have a birthday. He never let us forget that although on that particular day you were a certain age (48), you were now entering the next numerical year of your life ("You're now in your 49th year").

In a way to honor that and launch something new, today I'm starting another blog called, aptly, "The 49th year". It will be a daily photo that I've taken to represent that day with a caption somedays, and perhaps no writing at all other days. I'd love to have you come along on a photographic journal of my 49th year if you wish to do so - you can find it here .
Let's enjoy the journey together.

Excellent Advice

One of my favorite authors, Max Lucado, wrote the excerpt below; it's taken from his book, "Cure for the Common Life" (a highly recommended read). It gives me a lot of hope as I approach these middle age years (can it really be so?) and am just now honing in on what I really love to do as other distractions of life leftover from "the busy years" gradually fade away. His perspective and insight as to how to find what you really should be doing in life are very encouraging to me. And now, here's Max....

Read Your Life Backward by Max Lucado

God is working in you to help you want to do and be able to do what pleases him.
What God said about Jeremiah, he said about you: "Before I made you in your mother's womb, I chose you. Before you were born, I set you apart for a special work" (Jer. 1:5 NCV).

Set apart for a special work.
God shaped you according to yours. How else can you explain yourself? Your ability to diagnose an engine problem by the noise it makes, to bake a cake without a recipe. You knew the Civil War better than your American history teacher. You know the name of every child in the orphanage. How do you explain such quirks of skill?

God. He knew young Israel would need a code, so he gave Moses a love for the law. He knew the doctrine of grace would need a fiery advocate, so he set Paul ablaze. And in your case, he knew what your generation would need and gave it. He designed you. And his design defines your destiny. Remember Peter's admonition? "If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies" (1 Pet. 4:11).

I encountered walking proof of this truth on a trip to Central America. Dave, a fellow American, was celebrating his sixty-first birthday with friends at the language school where my daughter was studying Spanish. My question—"What brings you here?"—opened a biographical floodgate. Drugs, sex, divorce, jail—Dave's first four decades read like a gangster's diary. But then God called him. Just as God called Moses, Paul, and millions, God called Dave.

His explanation went something like this. "I've always been able to fix things. All my life when stuff broke, people called me. A friend told me about poor children in Central America, so I came up with an idea. I find homes with no fathers and no plumbing. I install sinks and toilets and love kids. That's what I do. That's what I was made to do."

Sounds like Dave has found the cure for the common life. He's living in his sweet spot. What about you? What have you always done well? And what have you always loved to do?

That last question trips up a lot of well-meaning folks. God wouldn't let me do what I like to do—would he? According to Paul, he would. "God is working in you to help you want to do and be able to do what pleases him" (Phil. 2:13 NCV). Your Designer couples the "want to" with the "be able to." Desire shares the driver's seat with ability. "Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart" (Ps. 37:4 NIV). Your Father is too gracious to assign you to a life of misery. As Thomas Aquinas wrote, "Human life would seem to consist in that in which each man most delights, that for which he especially strives, and that which he particularly wishes to share with his friends."

So go ahead; reflect on your life. What have you always done well and loved to do?Some find such a question too simple. Don't we need to measure something? Aptitude or temperament? We consult teachers and tea leaves, read manuals and horoscopes. We inventory spiritual gifts and ancestors. While some of these strategies might aid us, a simpler answer lies before us. Or, better stated, lies within us.

The oak indwells the acorn. Read your life backward and check your supplies. Rerelish your moments of success and satisfaction. For in the merger of the two, you find your uniqueness.
And when you've read your life backwards a time or two, leave a comment here and let me know what you found!

Morning Pictures

Inspired by the book A Year of Mornings (, my sister Adele and I have found ourselves recently taking some morning pictures of our own.
She has been working on this longer than I - last August she began her own daily project and created a book of her own with a stunning photo on each page, and then with some blank pages at the end for me to add to if I so desired ( and I do desire). That was part of my birthday present, and it is beautiful. The other part of my present was the book, A Year of Mornings.
This morning she texted me that she was taking more morning shots....and in a few minutes I found myself putting down the bills I was paying and getting out my camera and taking advantage of the gorgeous early sunlight streaming in the windows.

Give it a try!

Giving Grace in a Turkey Moment

"Great things come in the unexpected". That was a quote I profoundly (and proudly) came up with after a wonderful start to my week where the days were good, fun surprises just kept coming around every corner, and the world was my playground. Ah, what a life. I should have known that with days going so well as I floated on the mountaintop, the valley couldn't be far behind.

Lucky me. I found out yesterday afternoon that not so great things also come in the unexpected. Mid-afternoon found me struggling with an issue that I couldn't have possibly seen coming. I was blindsided. Stunned. Incredulous. A "this can't possibly be happening" feeling overwhelmed me. It overwhelmed others very close to me too, and I felt their pain. With one phone call, my day had turned on a dime and my sunny outlook turned grim. Hello, valley.

After working things through with the involved parties at the end of the day, life leveled out a degree or two and I was just starting to regain a slight sense of balance this morning when the second blow hit. This time it was a daughter in tears on the phone, unable to register for spring semester classes at her college due to lack of a required physical, thereby blocking her online records and her ability to do the urgent task at hand. As I sat in my desk chair at work listening to her, I was completely at a loss as to how to help her from 100 miles away. My head started to pound with this new pressure being set squarely on top of the tension still fresh from yesterday that had barely started to clear. Could this much really be happening in such a short period of time? Seemed so, because happening it was.

Whereas dilemma number one's resolution hadn't come yet, for problem number two God showed up in a big way and fast. At the time, I had approximately 20 free minutes at school between classes, and my daughter's phone call came at the top of those 20. Still doing accomplishable work tasks while I set up command central on my cell phone, I placed call after call to various sources trying to help her out. My husband offered to make as many 100 mile round trips as needed to get her home and back if she needed to see our family doctor. Finally, phone call number three for me was the charm- the health services office at her university assured me that if she placed a call to them, they would waive the restriction and off to registration-land she could go. My panic lessened; solutions were on the horizon. I called her, she called them, and in minutes she had a spring schedule and was on her way to the rest of her day. And my 20 minutes were up.

Fortunately as my day continued it held no more surprises good or bad, which was fine with me. After a quick dinner out, I stopped at the store. After picking up my few items, I got in what appeared to be the shortest checkout line. (if you've ever shopped, you know what's coming next.) The woman in front of me was trying to redeem her grocery store coupon for her free turkey. She had a lovely looking bird there, but as I caught the conversation, I could hear the store employees telling her she had picked too nice a catch. This was definitely a turkey upgrade from what the coupon allowed for free... instead of getting the nice fresh gobbler, I think she was supposed to have chosen the frozen block of meat that resembled a bowling ball.

They tried voiding the purchase. We waited. They tried voiding the whole order. We waited.
They tried fooling the register into thinking that she really had purchased the right fowl. We waited some more. Five minutes passed. A store employee went to get another turkey, and when she reappeared with it, it sure looked to all of us in line like the same brand of turkey that had just been denied only minutes before. So, again we waited.

As all good responsible shoppers do, the lady who was trying to buy this bird turned to us line-waiters and got very apologetic. Embarrassing to her, the line was getting longer and longer, the employees were running out of options, and the cash register was still locked up. What to do, her eyes pleaded; what to do?

Personally, for me this waiting was not a bad thing. I had been in constant motion and on my feet all day, so to stand still in the same place for five to ten minutes wasn't bothering me one bit. So when Mrs. Turkey Buyer turned to me and started bashfully apologizing for how long this was taking and how she was holding things up, I seized the opportunity to spread a little Thanksgiving cheer. I just looked at her and said, "Hey - if this is the worst thing that happened to me all day, then I'm doing pretty good." She looked relieved. I continued, "After what I've been through in the past twenty four hours, this is nothing. I don't know about the rest of the line, but I'm in no hurry; I'm fine. Take your time." Her face showed extreme gratitude and appreciation, and inwardly I felt that I had just learned that it's all about perspective. I was tired and looking for a rest; she got the wrong plucked piece of meat and had held up the entire checkout line. Together, we had the perfect storm.

On a different day, if I was late and pressed for time, I might not have reacted quite as gracefully (shame on me). But it didn't happen on another day; it happened today soon after my bad run on events. Maybe today that gal just needed a break. And maybe God knew He had taught me enough in the past twenty-four hours that I was in the right position to give it to her. For whatever the reason, it felt great to not complain and just enjoy my extra time between the candy and the magazines.

You may have a similar experience this holiday season, and if so you have my permission to smile it away and thereby spread a little holiday hope. You'll amaze those around you and gleefully irritate those who wish to be a Scrooge. But buyer beware - to avoid being on the giving end of extra minutes for others in line when you chose your Thanksgiving roaster, choose wisely my friend. Remember to downgrade and choose wisely.

Why I love the Book Fair

What a week of fun - It's certainly not hard to enjoy working retail at the book fair this week in our library. The kids' faces light up as they come in, cash in hand, ready to shop. Our Home and School Association has generously donated funds so that each child gets a free book and no one goes home empty handed- which does wonders in avoiding tears for those who are short (or nonexistent) on cash.
It's impossible not to catch the student's enthusiasm as they revel in the glee of the library-turned-shopping-mall that now holds new treasures for them to purchase.

And, for those of us who would love to one day be one of the lucky ones who wrote a book that's for sale on one of those display shelves, we get to ponder a bit and think, "Wow. How do you do that?"
Time. Patience. Perseverance. And a whole lotta rejection letters. :)

On Writing

This weekend definitely found me feeling under the weather. After a 14 hour sleep Friday night into Saturday, I still wasn't going full tilt. Rather, I just wanted to curl up under a blanket, sit quietly and read to regain my strength. So that is exactly what I did during the day on Saturday, and the book I chose is now one of my best reads when it comes to books about the art of writing; On Writing by Stephen King. If you don't mind a bit of rough language, it's one of the best.
Let me preface this to say that I have never read one of Mr. King's novels. They always seemed too "on the dark side" for my liking. I've seen Carrie and some of The Shining, and they don't fit into my form of entertainment. But this book gave me a window into the author's life story and how he approaches a life of writing and makes it work. It's practical, it's applicable, and it's a great read. Humorous, as well. It definitely gave me a different perspective on who I thought Stephen King was. Not so dark, after all.
I finished the book while still under my blanket Saturday night and immediately went online to Amazon to order my own copy (as the one I had been reading I had borrowed from the library - can't make any good notes or marks in the margins in that.) So, if you're looking for something good to read about writing, I highly recommend it.

I loved one of his quotes that read, "The scariest moment is just before you start". He is referring to writing, of putting pen to paper and seeing if anything comes out that tells a story. But I think it can apply to other areas in our lives as well - any time we face a challenge.

What are you waiting to start? (and why are you waiting??!!)

The Book Fair is here!

This is a most exciting time in our library, and this morning the head librarian and I are like two giddy children on Christmas Eve. just a short while ago, a Scholastic truck with a huge picture of Clifford on the side pulled up to our school and unloaded treasures of picture books, chapter books, easy readers, and a plethera of other things published for our Book Fair that begins on Friday morning. Currently, the soon-to-be-drooled-over merchandise is sitting enticingly in front of me, hidden away in sealed boxes and tightly closed display shelving. But....set up time is fast approaching when we can open up the containers and ooh and aah over the contents. As we unpack and arrange attractive displays, the kid in me will be mentally making a list of new books I just can't live without. Let the fun begin!
Have I mentioned before that a children's library is a great place for a picture book lover like me to work?

Nice Weekend

This was a fairly quiet weekend. It was a good weekend though, with plenty of time to catch up on things, like sleep and relaxation. I sat down yesterday to finish reading Writing Down the Bones, which I did, but it only led to more reading and snuggling under a blanket and dozing on and off for the rest of the evening. I loved every minute of it.

Today was more productive. And this afternoon was especially fun, setting up my studio area in our newly refinished garage- a place for me to scrapbook, work on photography, and write. A place I don't have to clean up. A place I can get creative and make a mess. Awesome. I will enjoy the process of making my space complete. (The process may include a trip to Ikea - one of my favorite things in life).

On another note, I was shocked today when I opened my journal to see that the last entry said, "Today is Halloween"..... I kept flipping pages, sure that I had passed over some that I'd written in during the past week. But no, all the pages after the Halloween entry were blank. Not a very good track record for a writer- that must change. I carry my journal with me all the time now, so it showed me just how busy my Monday -Friday life truly is. I think about writing most of the time, and I love knowing that it's something I can do if I have 5 minutes or two hours. It's always with me, always accessible. It hangs around like a stash of chocolate available to me all the time, only this is chocolate for my brain.

But I digress. Let's get back to talking about the weekend. It was enticingly warm today- enough to make one think that more warm weather is just around the corner. I had to keep reminding myself that winter is coming, not spring and summer. It's getting dark out earlier now, and the shorter fall/winter days are driving us into our homes, into our spaces, evaporating us from the outside world we inhabit when the days are balmy and long. I will miss the communal feel of the great outdoors, but am also looking forward to cozy winter nights by the fire.

Perhaps this will be a good season to read, a good season to write. It will no doubt be a joyous season for holidays, birthdays and anniversaries in our family.

What are you looking forward to this winter?

I love it!
I'm proud to display this badge on my blog.
This comes from Tara Lazar's website,, where she is holding an idea/brainstorming session during the month of November for those of us who aspire to write picture books. It's oh so very cool and I'm having a lot of fun following along and jotting down a new idea every day. By the end of the month I'll have thirty new ideas and a whole lotta material to work with.
I'm sure it's not too late to join if you want to jump in on the action...check it out!

Early Morning Text

Whenever I get a text before 8 in the morning, it's usually from a family member. And more often than not, it's from one of my college kids just saying hello from afar. But this morning's early text was different. It was my high schooler with a request - "Any chance you can drop off my USB to me by 10:45? If not, it's cool."

Oh man, I thought. He's forgotten an important document that he needs for a class.... but c'mon, drop off his USB to him before 10:45? I'd be deep into checking out picture books at the elementary school library where I work by then. I hurriedly looked at the clock and realized that if I flew out the door at that very second, I would have just enough time to get to the high school and back and still make it to work on time (I work a minute from home - no lights and only one stop sign.)

Initially I was frustrated that I had to make this unexpected trip, but I realized in the next moment that my son had redeemed himself thoroughly when he said, "If not, it's cool." My heart smiled. There was no demand there. No "you'd better do this for me" kind of attitude. Not a hint of insisting I change my plans to accomodate him. He was totally letting me off the hook if I couldn't do it - he realized it was his fault, his mistake, his error if he didn't get what was on that USB in time for his 10:45 class. He was just asking for some help if would work out okay for me.

As we moms know, I would have run the flash drive down to him no matter what. If it's in my power to help out my kids when they're stuck with something, I do. But the very fact that he tagged his request as he did made me want to do it for him all the more. And I plan to mention that to him when I see him after school because I think it's a good life skill to use on a lot of people besides just your mom.

It made me think of how I approach God when I come to Him with my laundry list of needs, requests, and, dare I say, sometimes demands. Just as I love to help any of my children when they need something, how much more our heavenly Father loves to help us when we are coming to Him with our wants. But how do I ask him? Do I throw in a "You need to do this for me right now" kind of tone, or do I come to Him saying, "I really think I need this, and if You can help me out, that would be awesome; if not, it's cool."

I think it's good for our hearts if we have a tag phrase in there that lets God off the hook if He doesn't produce in the way we think He should. I would be wise to realize that it is not His fault that I've gotten myself into some of the messes I have. He's not to blame, but I sure come expecting Him to fix things right up so that my day can go on uninterrupted.

The next time I have a request, I'll still ask God for it. But this time I'll allow myself to remember who's really in control and whatever answer I get, it'll be cool.

Why Do We Stop Short of our Dream?

Incredible, incredible article about dreams, doubts and fears. I can identify with every step of it- and I'm sure I'll refer back to it often to see what point of wall building or tearing down I'm in..... Give it a read- you'll love it!

Free at last

I saw this while waiting in the grocery line tonight -

and almost laughed out loud while waiting for the conveyor belt to move in my favor. I think this is the first publication I've seen to declare themselves "Gosselin-free". It's sad when they have to advertise who they're NOT going to talk about in order to entice you to buy their magazine. Even sadder yet, I suppose, to be one of the not-talked-about Gosselins. And maybe this says something about our culture- when we start attracting customers by what we're avoiding and making that our drawing card.

Maybe the same tactic would work to let others know what a children's book is NOT about? "Dinosaur free picture book" or "Non-bear themed easy reader". Nah. Doesn't sound good. Guess I better leave that angle to the tabloids.

Fall Walk

I was envisioning I'd have a totally free day- a simple, quiet Saturday of writing and reading and blogging.....kind of like my dream day......but it didn't quite work out (which, actually, is fine with me). Instead it was chopped up by errands, running back and forth to the grocery store twice, and delivering a teenager here and there. But in between - in the free hours I did have this afternoon - my camera and I took a walk down the road to see what colors I could take in before they were all completely blown off for another year. I was amazed at the variety ....

....and the complete bareness of some already.

Yet some are still waiting to be harvested - their time has almost come.

One walk, one season; so many stages of life. Interesting.

What stage do you find yourself in now?

You're Done

Yesterday I received a wonderful letter in the mail telling, not that a publisher wanted my children's book manuscript for publication, but something even more precious to me- that my mammogram results were normal. This is a test most of us go through once a year (or close to that) but the anxiety I feel during the wait time between the test and the results is something that can absolutely put me over the edge.

I've tried talking myself out of it, getting my mind on other things, telling myself I am ridiculous, getting downright mad at myself for panicking about nothing, and so on and so on. But yet, that time in between drags on...I jump every time my phone rings (or buzzes if it's on vibrate) for fear of bad news; of a callback.

People live with much worse. And there are other things that some folks would see as a calamity that don't strike a bone of fear with me. We all have our seasons where we need to trust God no matter what the circumstances and press on with Him, believing that no matter what the outcome, He knows all about it and goes there before us.

I'd be interested to hear from those of you who read my blog how you handle these tough times of waiting in your life - be it for test results, large decisions to be handed down, or jobs to come through, we have the shared experience of having times where all we can do is wait.

I wrote something a few years ago when my results didn't come out clear the first time through- so rather than reinvent the wheel, I thought I'd put that here for you to read today. The emotions and feelings at the end are just the same today as they were back then. May you find peace through God in what you're waiting for right now.
Elizabeth?” I heard her call my name and glanced over at the radiologist holding open the door to the waiting room. Since she had told me after the first round of tests that she'd be back to get me for the next level, I assumed I was moving on. I put down my magazine, wrapped that drafty hospital gown around me a bit tighter, and started to gather my things.

“You’re done”, she announced unexpectedly. “You can go.” I stared at her, then blinked. It took me a minute. My mind couldn’t quite comprehend the magnitude of what she had just said. I was sure I was dreaming, or, at the very least, misunderstanding her. My disbelief must have been written all over my face, because she said to me again with a smile, “You’re fine. Once we took more pictures this morning, we could see that there’s nothing there.”

Still sensing that I must have turned to stone and couldn’t move, she realized she was going to have to make direct physical contact with me in order to get me to believe her, so she gently yet firmly grabbed my elbow, (her eyes bouncing with a smile, rejoicing with me that she could give me great news), looked me straight in the eye and said one more time - “You’re fine. You can go!”

A flood of relief is a sensation like no other. All the cares, worries, concerns, fears, and what-if’s that had been at the forefront of your mind for hours, days, and maybe even weeks before suddenly dissolve as if they’d been swallowed up instantaneously. Even if it took quite a while for them to get there and pile up, their dismissal can be speed-of-sound fast if we get the answer we’re so desperately hoping for.That happened to me that day. And I later cried tears of joy. Then I thought about all the other people – women - I’d seen pass through the same rooms I did that morning, and wondered if any of them would receive good news too, or if some would be met with their greatest fears that day, changing the course of their life.

Later, I couldn’t help but think about the “Get-the-good-news-and-then-get-relief” cycle and how that is a perfect picture of us sinful creatures when we meet Jesus for the first time.At the foot of the cross, there we are, not even slightly covered, but exposed. Waiting. Sinful. Full of worries, concerns, regret, pride, ugliness, bitterness and shamefulness, to name a few.

But then along comes Jesus. He calls our name, we look at Him, and when He speaks to us, it’s to tell us the greatest news we could ever hear, “My child…’re fine. It’s over. It’s been done. I took care of it for you.” He smiles at us and lovingly grabs our elbow to steady us from the shock, looks us straight in the eye (heart) and says slowly and emphatically so we get the full impact, “You’re fine. You can go. You don’t need anything further. Go; go in peace; go in Me.”

And now, as we’ve established, after the good news is the part of the cycle where the “relief” part kicks in. Or, it most certainly should. But my question to myself is this- Is my relief at what Jesus says to me the same overwhelming flood of joyful emotion I felt in a doctor’s office that day? Is my reaction the same stabbing sense of “Oh my goodness, I cannot believe it….this is wonderful…” Hmmm. Good question. I hope so. It sure should be. It seems a shame to even compare the two, but the human in me does. Do I even begin to fully realize what He is saying to me- what He has saved me from, and from what I’ve been spared? Do I realize the agony He could not escape but instead went through, so that I don’t have to? Do I even get it; that because of His dying in my place, I can go on in confidence and peace and have a full life, with a guaranteed promise of heaven hereafter?

If I do, then my relief should be great; totally encompassing. It should be overwhelming; life-changing. I want it to be that way. And from now on I will remind myself to remember it on a daily basis. And may I always recall how good it felt to walk out of a doctor’s office one day with a clean bill of health, and remember to let that translate exponentially into the realization of what I walk away from the foot of the cross with – better news than will ever come from another human being. It’s the news of a Savior who took my place in certain death, and gives me the gift of eternal life. Now that’s relief.

The Sweet Taste of Rejection

Well, it's official, and it sure didn't take long- I got my first manuscript rejection letter in the mail yesterday . I thought the speed in which it came was almost comical - along the lines of, "Look, lady, you don't have a chance with us so let's just get this overwith right now." Their comment to me? "Your story doesn't fit in line with the books we publish." Fair enough; I can handle that. As my husband pointed out, at least they had the courtesy to respond (ever so quickly), which is the proper perspective.

And I feel as I thought I'd feel. Non-bothered. Still determined. Not dissuaded in the least. A published author friend of mine once told me, "Celebrate each rejection letter, because it's one step closer to getting an acceptance letter!"

So today, I celebrate. And anxiously await checking the mail.....

Having Fun

"People rarely succeed unless they have fun in what they are doing."
Dale Carnegie
Finally, I can say that the manuscripts are in the mail. About 15 of them, to be exact. I toiled for hours over the past two weeks writing cover letters, query letters, formatting my picture book manuscript, checking for every piece of punctuation, and hoping that I had editors' names spelled right on the address heading as I introduced myself to them via paper.
And all of that is well and good. Being published would be a hoot. From where I sit right now, I am proud of myself for accomplishing the goal I set out to do- submit my work and see where it leads. But I've realized it's not why I write. It's not what I'm hanging my hat on; to see whether I break into the publishing world or not. I've been writing and loving to write for years, and I still feel just as in love with writing as I did before I started the whole publishing venture. If I never do anything more than write for my own enjoyment and the enjoyment of some Facebook and blogger friends, I will feel fulfilled. I write to get something out of me, to pour out emotion and feeling and get it all down somewhere. I write because I love to put things into story form, and to use words as a means of expression. I write for fun, relaxation and pleasure, and I always will.
My usual style of writing comes out when I take something that happened in my ordinary, every day kind of life, notice the significance of it and retell it in story form. That's where I feel most comfortable and where, I believe, my strengths lie. Since this recent submission was a children's book manuscript, I had to make it up. (Well, I got the idea from a real life happening, but tweaking it into PB format was a challenge. I'm used to writing for adults to read.) In fact, it was probably even more challenging trying to tell a story, start to finish, with the character having to discover and solve a problem all within 1000 words.
But I did, and shall continue to attempt to do so, but will also continue writing in other formats that come and feel comfortable to me. I am reading an excellent book right now, called "Writing Down the Bones" by Natalie Goldberg. If you love to write- get it. If you ever thought you'd like to write - get it. If you have lived a life and experienced a thing or two - get it. There's a writer in all of us.

National Day of Writing

Today is the National Day of Writing. At the school I work in, all of the students in grades K-2 went outside for an hour this morning in the beautiful fall sunshine to draw what they saw in nature and then write a story about it. I loved getting these pictures while they were busy at work.....

What did you write about today?

Our Dad

Written by my sister, Adele.
Our Dad

He never missed Huntley and Brinkley on the news. I can still see him perching on the end of the easy chair by the fireplace; eyes on the TV for the latest updates.

He truly loved his mother and father.

He ate anything that mother put in front of him.

He loved meatloaf and mashed potatoes.

He carried little money and wanted for little.

He built our home, a project that spanned a number of years. His Dad worked alongside.

He was an expert at telling jokes and at remembering them.

He always read all of the jokes in the Reader’s Digest first.

He was never interested in buying the “latest thing.”

He never bought a new car. Practical.

He loved working outside. Mowing, trimming. Coming in for iced tea breaks.

He loved to work hard.

He built a lot of things. I am blessed with many of them. You had to be careful of what you might want him to build, because the minute you told him, the car was on the way to Tinsmans.

He made people laugh. Our son Tom often makes a remark that sounds just like what Dad would say.

He adored Mother.

Farmer’s Club was a favorite night out for Dad. All those desserts and casseroles, coming down the line to be served to you. All those friends to talk to.

He was never late for anything.

He loved boat rides on Mirror Lake. Dad always new just when to slow the engine to get around the big rock underneath the surface right before going under the bridge.

He pushed us to do the best we could at school. A “C” required an explanation.

He helped me through advanced math class in high school. I’d cry out of sheer frustration and we’d keep at it until I eventually “got” it! I never would have passed the course if not for him.

He loved visits on the porch with Mark and Ed on summer evenings, talking until darkness fell, candles were lit, and the dessert came out.

He cried when Jim left for Vietnam. He and mother were so concerned about his safety, and very proud of his accomplishments as a pilot. We all were.

Dad, Happy 91st birthday. We miss you and love you. October 20th will always be a special day, because that was the day God brought you into the world!
"You can't cross a sea by merely staring into the water." - Rabindranath Tagore
Up until this beginning of this week, I had been staring into the water for a very long time. This whole blog began as a space for me to record the journey towards possibly (hopefully) getting a children's story that I had writtten published. Somewhere along the way, I put that on the back burner and my blog turned into the telling of other things, which was fine. A recording of family events, a funny story here and there; things of that nature.

But recently it was nagging at me that I'd let myself slip away from my original goal - the pursuit of publication for my children's book manuscript. The closer I got to the completion of the task, the more overwhelming it seemed and the more doomed I felt. There was a definite fear of failure that held me back from going any further- with my manuscript tucked safely into my laptop, there was no chance of rejection because it hadn't gone anywhere yet to be subject to that possibility.
So this past week I jumped in with both feet. I decided to push through the barrier in my life that I was feeling, and proceed with things I knew I needed to do. I joined SCBWI, the professional organization for children's writers and illustrators, worked up both a cover and a query letter to send to publishers, joined a critique group, and was more fulfilled and giddy than I've been for a little while. And yes, it required quite a bit of my free time this past week- Tuesday and Wednesday nights found me hard at work writing and revising and researching, but I got it DONE. Done, for me, is a good thing. I feel much more like the Snoopy up above now- hard at work, pounding those keys. Great feeling.

I'm proud of what I've accomplished this week, and I respect myself all the more for it. No, I'm still not a published author, and yes, my manuscript is still safely tucked in my laptop. But it's about to come out of there and enter the real world- the world where it can fail or stand on its own merit, the world that can be harsh and real and cruel if it wants to be about something I find to be a passion and a hobby. But that's a chance I have to take.

Let me ask you this- and I'd really love to hear from some of you - have you ever gotten stuck up against a wall of fear that inhibited your ability to proceed towards a goal? Did there come a time in your life where you were about to see if you could pass muster and it positively paralyzed you? Maybe you were like I was - afraid to find out if you really have what it takes to do what you really want to do. In actuality, that's a great place to be. Because it's where the rubber meets the road- where heart meets life. Fear not. Press on and do it.

I live in an artsy town - it seems to be a mecca for aspiring artists, photographers, musicians and craftspeople. Today one of the streets was roped off and they held an Arts and Crafts Festival- it was a lot of fun, and I got to take advantage of the photo opportunity.

'Twas a fun afternoon!