wrap up

Real joy.  Real pain.  Real hope.  Real sorrow.

I've felt all of these over the course of the past months.  It was a long and difficult fall which turned into a slightly better but still stressful winter.

I don't know if I've ever experienced the heights and depths of emotions as I have through this most recent time.  Joy so sweet I could taste it and wished it would last forever.  Sorrow so all-consuming that I couldn't believe it was happening to me.

I haven't blogged since September with any consistency.  I haven't felt like it, plain and simple.  When God's putting you through the spin cycle of the washing machine and you spend days hoping for that final rinse to come on so the whole thing can be over, it's hard to find the joy of anything to write about. 

I've been the encourager needing encouragement.  The one who usually offers hope needing hope to come my way.

And it did.

It came through unexpected friends.  As I was vulnerable with them, they were equally open and vulnerable with me and they shared their experiences that so closely matched mine, I knew it had to be of God.  While it didn't answer my situation, it gave me hope and possibility and a light at the end of the tunnel. To know others have walked the dark waters where you are gives you something to hold on to, even if it doesn't work out the same for you in the end.

Now I am at the end of December.  I am kissing 2010 goodbye and tossing it aside as fast as I can.  But if it hadn't been the 2010 it was, I wouldn't have grown.  If it hadn't been the 2010 it was,  I wouldn't have been called to trust.  If it hadn't been the 2010 it was, I wouldn't know the trials and their positive outcomes as I do.

God never wastes a hurt.  I pray that what I've journeyed through this past year will be helpful to someone else in 2011.  I pray that the highs and lows of the waves that tossed me about will turn into calmer seas.

I walk into 2011 a different person because of what I watched God do in 2010. 

And I wouldn't trade it for anything.

Unexpected Love

Loves comes in unexpected forms.

Love comes in unexpected times.

Love comes in unexpected places.

Love comes in unexpected people.

God's love was born quietly when we least expected it 
in a manger where we least expected it 
at a time when we most needed it.

God knows what we need and right when we need it.
We can expect Him to do the unexpected.

bookstore concert

Yesterday I had the wonderful opportunity to sing at Barnes and Noble.  While that might seem like an unlikely mix, it was by invitation that our theater group got asked to sing and provide some holiday music while all purchases made during that time gave a nice kickback to our theater.  Clearly a win-win for all.

But the best part of the whole afternoon was watching unsuspecting shoppers enter the store mid-concert, destined to buy books but immediately being sung to of the merriment of the holiday.  It was like an attack of festivity.  If there had been any bah humbugging going on, it all faded as soon as they set foot in the store.  Their faces said, "Am I on Candid Camera?" but their smiles assured us that they liked what they were hearing. 

It's sweetened my holiday season to look back today and remember their smirks and smiles and what-do-you-know kinds of looks.  I hope our singing sweetened theirs a little, too.

What's an unexpected shopping surprise you've had recently?

looking ahead

New day, new year.  Yesterday I turned 49; today I am fully launched into my 50th year of life.  What will this year between 49 and 50 look like?  Right now it's a bit like standing backstage and holding the curtain open to take a peek at action while waiting my turn to perform.  To me, turning 50 - and to many of us I think - is still a landmark event, even if 50 is the new 30, 40 or, heaven forbid, 65.

I made a few resolutions today.  I'd like to focus on myself (in a healthy, self-preserving way) this year so that when I get to my 50th birthday in 364 days, I can look back and say that I've invested in things and ways I want to be from that age on.

I want to....

   worry less, pray more.

   commit to less, relax more.

   enjoy and savor everyday moments more.

   soak up what's going on around me more.

   do less, enjoy free time more.

And one biggie for me .... instead of worrying about what I'm not actively accomplishing, look back and realize what I have done.

Who's with me?

Aaron Reynolds and Neil Numberman are visiting today on their Blog Tour!

by Aaron Reynolds and Neil Numberman

(Interior. Aaron Reynolds, a writer of children’s books and graphic novels, is sitting at his writing desk. He’s typing, but suddenly stops when a shadow falls over his screen. It’s a kid, about ten or eleven.)

Aaron: (looking up) Hey.

Kid: Hey. Whatcha doin’?

Aaron: Um…writing. Who are you? What are you doing in my writing room?

Kid: I’m just some random kid.

Aaron: Ah. A random kid in my writing room. Okay.

Kid: Yeah. Act like I’m not here. (pause…Aaron starts to get back to work, but is interrupted) Aren’t you an author?

Aaron: (turning back around) Ignore you, huh? That’s gonna be tricky. Yeah. I write kid’s books and graphic novels.

Kid: Graphic novels? Like comic books?
Aaron: Kinda.

Kid: Whatcha writing now?

Aaron: An article about how a graphic novel gets made, but I wanted to write it LIKE a graphic novel, so that’s what I’m doing.

Kid: But…there’s no pictures. A graphic novel has lots of pictures.

Aaron: Not at first. Not mine anyway.

Kid: What?

Aaron: Seriously. I don’t draw.

Kid: I must have the wrong house then. I thought the dude that lives here makes graphic novels.

Aaron: I do. But I don’t draw them….I write them.

(Kid pauses while he thinks about this, then…)
Kid: That’s messed up.

Aaron: No, it’s not.

Kid: You can’t make a graphic novel without being able to draw.

Aaron: Well, I do. Like my new graphic novel…it’s called Joey Fly, Private Eye

Kid: Way to work that in there. Nice plug. Smooth.

Aaron: Yeah, thanks. Well, Joey Fly starts out like this. A script, just like this one.

Kid: Just the stuff people say?

Aaron: Mostly. I also write in what I see happening in each scene.

(Kid flops into a big cushy chair and puts his feet on Aaron’s writing desk, makes himself at home. He looks at Aaron like he’s lost his mind.)

Aaron: See? Like that. It’s called “stage directions”.

Kid: Oh cool! Like actions and stuff!

Aaron: Yeah, exactly.

Kid: Do it again.

(Kid gets up, kind of excited now. He’s putting it all together in his head, but then he notices a fresh sandwich on Aaron’s desk. Goes over, lifts the bread…he’s kinda hungry…but decides he doesn’t like tuna. Flops back down in the chair.)

Kid: Hey, that’s awesome how you made me do all that stuff! And I do hate tuna.

Aaron: It’s a script. In the graphic novel, I write the story. I come up with the characters. In Joey Fly, Private Eye, I create what happens, what characters are in it, all that stuff. Then I put it into a story…a script like this.

Kid: But it’s not a graphic novel. No pictures.

Aaron: Not yet. It will be soon. But first, I break it into panels.

Kid: Panels? 
Aaron: Like this. Chunks. How I imagine it will get broken into boxes in the finished graphic novel. This helps me figure out the flow and pacing of the story, helps me cut extra junk that’s not needed, and helps the illustrator figure out how he’s gonna lay out the pictures on the page.

Kid: Cool. I notice you use lots of words like “gonna” and “whatcha” and stuff. My Language Arts teacher would go nuts on you for that.

Aaron: Yeah, well… I try to write how people really talk. I think that’s important, especially for a graphic novel. It all depends on the character. Like, Joey Fly says some gonnas, but he also uses lots of detective-y phrases…

Joey: Life in the bug city. It ain’t easy. Crime sticks to this city like a one-winged fly on a fifty-cent swatter.

Aaron: Like that. That’s his opening line in the book.

Kid: Okay, that’s pretty funny.

Aaron: Well, I try.

Kid: But it’s still not a graphic novel.

Aaron: Man, for a random kid who shows up in my writing room, you’re seriously pushy.

Kid: Do you know many eleven-year-olds? We’re all like this.

Aaron: That’s right. Not being one, I forget sometimes.

Aaron: Well, now that it’s all broken into panels, I give it to my publisher. And once she’s happy with it, she sends it off to the illustrator and he starts drawing.

Kid: You tell him what to draw?

Aaron: No.
Kid: You tell him what the characters should look like?

Aaron: No.

Kid: What do you tell him?

Aaron: Nothing. Most of the time, we never even meet.

(pause…the kid’s mouth is hanging open.)

Kid: That is seriously messed up.

Aaron: That’s how it works. Unless you are the writer and the illustrator (which I’m not…I don’t draw, remember?), that’s how it works.

Kid: So what happens then?

Aaron: The illustrator looks at it and begins to sketch out what he thinks the characters look like.

Aaron: Like, for Joey Fly, Private Eye, the illustrator is a guy named Neil Numberman.

Neil: Hey kid. What’s up? Hey Aaron.

Aaron: Hey Neil. So, Neil might decide after reading this script that you look like this:
Kid: That’s me?

Neil: Yep.

Kid: You made me a bug!

Neil: Well, we’re talking about Joey Fly, Private Eye, so I’m thinking in bugs. It’s my job to use my imagination, to come up with my ideas of what Aaron’s characters and story look like.

Kid: Cool.

Neil: And as I start drawing and figuring out what it all looks like, Aaron’s story moves away from being a script and I start creating real characters…

Neil: …and pretty soon, I take Aaron’s written words and begin to put them into the mouths of the characters I’ve created.

Aaron Reynolds is a human, not a bug, but he often writes about bugs. He is the author of Chicks and Salsa, Superhero School, Buffalo Wings, and, of course, the Joey Fly, Private Eye graphic novels.

Neil Numberman is a termite currently residing in New York City. Joey Fly, Private Eye is his first graphic novel, but he is also the author/illustrator of the picture book Do NOT Build a Frankenstein.

And for every 10 comments that are left, one random winner will be drawn to receive a bug caricature done by Neil!.  Many thanks in advance, Neil!

So- let the comments roll, and enter the chance to win!

not trying to bug you, but...

In less than 48 hours we will have the wonderful and talented pair of Aaron Reynolds and Neil Numberman stopping by my blog to give you the scoop on the creation of their latest book, 

You'll be able to read about what they do and how they do it - and the process that takes them there.  
Fascinating stuff!

And remember- for every ten comments, there will be a winner of one of Neil's drawings.

See you on Friday!