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 me....no, 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…..you’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.