"If you write FOR a particular market or FOR a particular editor you will often miss the mark. But if you write because your fingers have danced across the keyboard, because a character has tapped you on the shoulder, because a story has settled in your heart, then even if you never sell it you have done the work you were meant to do. And sometime, dear readers, real magic happens." Jane Yolen

6/29/09

(Giveaway too!)One Year Ago Today...

I posted my fifth blog post at An Open Book. (Monumental, eh?) Rolling Eyes

So - I missed my 1st blogoversary--which just happened to be a week ago Sunday, on Jun 21. I could make the excuse that my internet was down (which would be true), but even if it had been up, there wouldn't have been a post about it. Because, well, I forgot until just a couple days ago.

But that certainly doesn't mean I can't still celebrate! (at least I hope not. Don't call the blogoversary police if it is...please!) And I wanna, cuz blogging, and my readers, have become a huge part of my life over the past one year, one week, and one day.

When I put up my first blog post, I had no idea if I would ever post another, and even said so. But now, 200+ posts later, I can honestly say I'm pretty certain this blog will be around for a while (God willing, of course!). Cuz I'm ministered to by you guys, my readers, as much as, if not more than, I may be ministering to you.

AND because of that, I want to celebrate my giving something back to YOU. So, in honor of your support for me over the past one year, one day, and one month (or even over the last one minute, if you've just found me!), I'm having a GIVEAWAY.

All you have to do to enter is comment on this post (one entry per person), and you qualify. You've got until next Monday evening, July 6, to enter. I'll post the winner on Tuesday, July 7.

And what am I giving away, you ask? A copy (signed, if you'd like) of a wonderful book called Women of Passions: Ordinary Women Serving an Extraordinary God. Yes, I DO have a story in there--but it's nowhere near the best one in there. Trust me. This book is full of inspiration from some wonderful women and their passions: for God, for family, for ministry. You will NOT be disappointed.

So, thanks for making my year plus as a blogger an enjoyable one. And enter!

6/28/09

Honestly - Thanks, Karlene!

The sweet (and fellow Michigander!) Karlene from The Joyful Scribe has blessed me by giving me the Honest Scrap Award. She's always a blessing to read - and has wonderful insights. Be sure to check out her blog!

To receive this award, I have to list ten honest things about myself. Then I have to pass this award on to other bloggers who inspire and lift me up. Sooo...here I go!

Ten honest things about me
  1. I LOVE to encourage people--but occasionally I get cranky if I don't get encouraged back (I'm workin' on it!)
  2. My house is a mess 99% of the time (and when I say mess, I MEAN it!)
  3. Sometimes it is SO hard to work on my book - reliving the emotions can be quite a bear. But God's called me to write it(and it isn't always that way). So I'm doing it.
  4. I have never actually met, face to face, some of my very, very closest friends (and some folks think I'm crazy because of it). Actually WILL meet some of them this summer, though!
  5. I talk WAY too much
  6. When I look at my son's mannerisms, I sometimes wonder if I am autistic.
  7. My husband is one of the best things that ever happened to me (though I don't always appreciate that fact!)
  8. I sometimes forget to eat
  9. The taste of coffee (even a little bit in coffee ice cream) makes me ill
  10. Mosquitoes LOVE me (biting me, that is). The feeling is NOT mutual!
Okay - now I'm supposed to pass this award on to bloggers who inspire and uplift me. I'm trying to give it to folks who haven't received it yet (though there are no guarantees!)--it helped me limit my list - cuz EVERY blog I read regularly blesses me. Anyhow, here we go. (and if you don't wanna pass this out to others - no pressure, seriously. Just take it with my thanks for the inspiration!)
Lynda at Grains of Sand - Lynda is a dear FW friend in Caracas, Venezuela with a true heart for God. I found her blog only recently, and am blessed and convicted every time I read it.

Billy at What I Learned Today - He stopped by and commented on my blog one day several months ago, and I followed the link. I am SO glad he did. Billy is an incredible writer with an absolute gift for storytellin' (yep - accent intact!). His posts always, ALWAYS, blow me away. Do NOT miss this guy!

Kristen at Dancing In The Margins - She is sold-out for Jesus and an incredibly insightful lady with incredible passion. She makes me giggle, cry, AND think.

Elaine at Peace For The Journey - She is an incredible blogger with an amazing talent for getting her message across. Just a WOW lady with a deep, deep passion for her Jesus. She has encouraged and inspired me numerous times.

Be sure to stop by these blogs - they are well worth it (and come back tomorrow! I'm having a bit of a celebration - with a giveaway!).

6/27/09

Nurturing The Whole Writer (part 3)




It's getting CLOSER! I have my conference registration sent in and paid for (have for a while), and my hotel room reserved (just this week - with three of my dearest friends!). I also know how I'm getting there (by car, with yet ANOTHER friend - of course, I only live a few hours away, so it makes sense). How much have YOU done in your "getting there" process? (That means YOU, Cat!!) Again, here are the basic details--if you haven't registered yet, click on the conference button, either at the top of my blog sidebar or the bottom of this post, and take care of it!
FAITHWRITERS' 2009 CONFERENCE
Nurturing the Whole Writer
Friday and Saturday, August 7 and 8, 2009
Radisson Hotel, Livonia, MI
Cost: $72 for FW 500 members
$82 for others

This week, I'm going to talk about what I'm going to call "the hype." There is a special kind of excitement and anticipation that goes with this conference that, as far as I know, is completely unlike any other writing conference (not that I've actually BEEN to any other conference, but others who have will vouch for me, I'm sure).

People. Loving, amazing, Christian writer friends who UNDERSTAND YOU.
I'll be honest. You're not going to find an agent at this conference. Or find an editor from Zondervan to publish your book. But you will find writing encouragement, fellowship, and a VAST amount of knowledge that WILL help you in your writing, and Christian, journey.

Don't take it from me. Check out these "quotes" from past (2007) and/or future attendees (taken from the FaithWriters message boards - the FW US conference area).

That [conference or high school reunion] was my dilemma for the first conference on '07 - for about 5 seconds. I went to the FW conference. I decided I'd rather spend the weekend with my dear friends from here than people who barely new I existed 20 years ago. The ones who do, I was still in contact with.
It was a no brainer.
Shari Armstrong

Well I am officially going to get to go to the conference, and I am so excited! Since I joined FaithWriters in January 2008, I have been anxious to get to meet some of the awesome people that I converse with regularly here, and who I share writings with. The workshops look like they will be very informative as well, so it's a double blessing. My flight is booked, and I am mailing my registration and booking my hotel room today. Can't wait to see you all there! Very Happy Josh Janoski

I'm so excited... Wild horses can't keep me away, even if I have to stick a glass to the window from the garden outside...(hehe) Now, if the mtgs are held in rooms without windows, I'll have to climb into the air ducts. Cool That is if the money comes up short... but I have time to plan on it.
Maybe I could take the kids lunch money Rolling Eyes Oops, they go to school in the kitchen.
Confused Alright I'll Zip Up Mouth be Zip Up Mouth quiet Zip Up Mouth now. Mr. Green One more thing: Embarassed I can't wait to see you all! Very Happy
Karlene Jacobsen

Well… The stars have aligned. Prayers have been answered. Miracles have occurred. (And my miracles have proper names...Thank you!)I am coming to the conference! Hooray!!!I am so unbelievably excited, I could start packing NOW! Tee hee! Michelle Roach

If you are umming and ahhing about attending the FW conference in August, I really want to encourage you to take the step and come. I had loads of information to share with you all in August before I attended the Publishing Conference this week, but believe me, now I have mountains of things to tell you about (more than I can cram in). Apart from the information factor, God is positioning FaithWriters to be a full service writers' site with the focus on excellence. Don't miss out on a minute of being a part of it. The FW conference is incredibly good value, and it's going to be an amazing weekend. I can't wait to see you all.... Seriously, this conference is not like other writers' conferences. It's so much more because of the relationship so many of us share. If there is any way at all to get there, please do. I'm not just talking it up to get people to sign up. I mean it most sincerely. Deb Porter

What did I learn[at the 2007 conference]? 1) I learned that it's quite scary how much alike Shari and I are. 2) That I need to laugh more. 3) That, yes, it was like being with family (only you all are so much better than my biological extended family!) Very Happy 4) That talking until 4 AM is just fine, but you're pretty tired the next day. Razz 5) That this was one place I could truly be myself. 6) That Tanya is somethin' else, and I'm so blessed to have met her! (Tanya, I love ya, girl, but the idea of taking you to Wal-Mart scares me - I might start laughing and not be able to stop!) Lauren Bombardier

It will TRULY be a weekend to remember. Are you coming??? Hmmmm??


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6/26/09

Friday Fiction: Wandering Wanda

Welcome to my contribution to Fiction Friday, hosted by Sherri at A Candid Thought. Make sure that you head over to her blog and link up with your own fiction. Or, if you just want to read some great fiction (ALWAYS great in my opinion!), head over to http://candidthought.blogspot.com/ and check out the links there.
I enjoy writing children's stories, though I don't do it very often. Here's one I wrote earlier this year during the "geography quarter" for the Faithwriters' writing challenge. I think you'll guess what region was covered that week after a VERY short time :D

Hope you enjoy it!

Wandering Wanda

Wanda the wallaroo lived with her parents near the Australian outback in the plains of the Top End. She had beautiful gray fur on her back and a ghost-white belly.

Wanda loved to play in the grasslands, jump with her friends, and listen to her mum's stories. But more than anything, she loved to explore. So, one day, Wanda decided to go on a grand adventure.

"I'll hop and hop until I can't hop anymore," Wanda thought. "Then I'll stop, take a rest, and see what I can see."

After a quick meal of plains grass, she started off. She passed the spot where her friend Sarah lived and the watering hole where she drank and bathed. She saw the small pit where she often played, and considered stopping.

"I mustn't," she reminded herself. "I'll never have a grand adventure if I don't keep going." So she continued on.

Wanda hopped for a long time, until she arrived in a wooded area and could no longer see her home. Her legs were tired, so she rested, just as she had planned. It wasn't long before she fell asleep under the tall trees.

After sleeping for a few minutes, she was awoken with a start by a series of pokes in the side of her left leg. She looked down and saw a small animal with a pointy snout, its body covered with hairs and prickly spines. It was sticking its long tongue out into a nearby log.

Wanda knelt down. "Hello, Little Echidna. What are you doing?"

"I'm having lunch." The little creature pulled his tongue, covered with termites, quickly into his mouth. "What are you doing, Miss Wallaroo?"

"I'm exploring. I've never been this far from home before."

"Well, have fun, but don't get lost." The echidna burrowed further into the log. "The woodlands can be tricky."

"Thank you. I will," said Wanda.

Wanda hopped deeper into the woodlands until she heard a loud screeching sound from above. She spotted a beautiful multicolored bird with a small orange beak.

"I've never seen you before, Miss Wallaroo." The bird preened her feathers. "I'm Reina the Rainbow Lorikeet. Where is your mum?"

"I'm Wanda, and she's at home, over across the plains." Wanda stood up tall. "I'm exploring."

Reina giggled, then flew and landed on Wanda's shoulder. "I see that. Do you need directions home? I can see much further from the top of the trees than you can from down here on the ground."

"No thank you, Reina. I will find my own way when I'm ready to go."

"All right." Reina flew back into the tree. "Just take care that you don't get lost."

"I will."

Wanda wandered through the forest, looking around at the different animals and plants, chatting along the way. Finally she was ready to end her adventure. But she didn't know how to get home. The plains were completely out of sight.

Wanda started to cry. "How will I ever find my way?" she whimpered.

She looked up again and saw a small, fuzzy, silvery-gray animal gliding through the air from one tree to the next. It had a black stripe on its back and a mouse-like face.

She hopped to it. "Excuse me, Mr. Sugar Glider, do you know how I can get back to the plains and to my mum and dad?"

"I'm sorry, Miss Wallaroo. I live among the trees in the midst of the forest." He looked around. "I don't know where the plains are from here. But I did see my friend the emu just around that bend. She spends time in the plains, and is quite fast. Maybe she can help you."

Wanda's eyes brightened. "Thank you, Mr. Sugar Glider."

Wanda hopped as fast as she could. A tall, shaggy, gray bird looked up from her insect lunch as Wanda approached.

"Is that you, Wanda? What are you doing out here?"

Wanda could hardly believe it. It was her mum's friend Ellen. Wanda put her head into Ellen's feathery torso.

"I went exploring, and I was having so much fun that I got lost." Wanda looked into Ellen's eyes. "Can you help me get home? I promise I'll never do this again."

Ellen nodded. "Of course, dear Wanda. I'm sure your mum and dad are worried."

"Oh thank you, Ellen, thank you." With Ellen leading the way, the two animals traveled through the woodlands, out to the plains, and back to Wanda's family among the grasses of the Top End.

Thanks for reading! Be sure to stop by Sherri's blog for more great fiction.

6/25/09

Frustration and Thankfulness

It's amazing what gets me frustrated. My daughter, five, was supposed to have started tennis last week. As we drove to the lesson at a local elementary school, she and her brother (eight) were "playing at the top of their lungs" and I felt like I was about to blow a gasket (at least it wasn't the car I was concerned about!). With God's help, I made it to school on time and we were each still in one piece.

There were quite a few kids playing on the playground. I saw a man in his early 20's or so, and asked him if he was the tennis coach. Nope, and he pointed me to another part of the playground. So my son went to play with the kids and my daughter and I approached the area we'd been directed to.

But nobody was there, besides another woman and her son, also apparently wondering where the coach was. About five minutes later, a couple more showed up-but still, no coach.

I was getting annoyed. Who's late to the first class? What kind of coach was this? I'M here (and it wasn't a joy getting here either). What's wrong with this guy?

As I simmered, the phone number for the office came to my head, so I pulled out my cell phone. They'd look into it, they said.

That didn't improve my mood.

Anyhow, a few minutes later, the director of the program drove up and apologized. It seems the coach had taken sick and forgotten to call in. So tennis was postponed a week.

I was still a bit peeved, but there was nothing I could do. I figured the kids could play for a while, and I could get some R and R (Rest and wRiting) time. Keep them out of my hair for a bit.

Then suddenly I heard the kid I'd talked to earlier calling for the YMCA kids. Before we realized it, 99% of the kids on that playground were lined up. A moment after that, they were gone, leaving only my own kids and a couple others.

I glanced toward the kids and sighed with relief that they were still playing. A little more time.

I was engrossed in my project when my daughter approached.

"Where did all the kids go?"

"They are in day care during the day and they had to go back." I see confusion on her face. "Do you know what day care is?"

She shook her head.

"Sometimes, when mommies and daddies have to work during the day, their kids go to a day care, where people watch them: kinda like school, but all day. They don't get to see their parents until nighttime."

"They don't get to see their mommies and daddies all day?" Her eyes were wide. "They have to go to day care all day?"

I smiled. "Yup. They don't get to spend the day with their mommies and daddies, like you and Andrew do."

She squirmed in and gave me a hug. "I'm glad I don't go to day care."

I kiss her forehead. "Me too, Annika. Me too."


Heavenly Father, thank You for reminding me of what a blessing it is to be able to be home with my kids. Help me to remember, when they are frustrating me, of what an incredible gift from You they are, and of other parents who would love to be able to spend each day with their children but cannot. Help me to be slow to anger, especially with the two wonderful blessings You have given me. In Your Son's precious name I pray. Amen

6/24/09

Word-Filled Wednesday: Splendor

Welcome to my contribution to Word-Filled Wednesday, hosted this week by the lovely AmyDeanne at the 160-Acre Woods. Be sure to stop by there and check out other visual inspiration from Scripture - and don't be afraid to add your own!

My internet was out for THREE DAYS plus (went down Friday night late and didn't get back up until yesterday afternoon). Yeah - I went bonkers - but it forced me to use one of my own photos for this WFW (LOL and I had plenty of time to work on it) - and to use MS Paint (NEVER again! Picnik is SO much easier!!

Took this picture several years ago at the "Butterflies are Blooming" exhibit at the local gardens and sculpture park. A WONDERFUL excursion if you ever get to Grand Rapids, Michigan during butterfly season :)

Let them praise the name of the LORD, for his name alone is exalted; his splendor is above the earth and the heavens. Psalm 148:13

Thanks for stopping by! Be sure to stop by for more

6/20/09

Nurturing The Whole Writer (part 2)

Hi. It's ME again! :D




I LOVE watching that ticker going down. This conference is going to be wonderful. Click on the button on the top of my sidebar (or the same button lower down in this post!) to get all the details. I'm gonna repeat the basics here real quick, then give you some information on the COMBINED SESSIONS.
FAITHWRITERS' 2009 CONFERENCE
Nurturing the Whole Writer
Friday and Saturday, August 7 and 8, 2009
Radisson Hotel, Livonia, MI
Cost: $72 for FW 500 members
$82 for others

The conference will include both combined sessions (where everyone attends) and workshop blocks (where you choose from two options). This week, I'm going to focus on the combined sessions. If these topics (and speakers!) don't induce you, I'm not sure what will! (but if this doesn't work, I'll try again next week)

FRIDAY EVENING: Unchaining the Screaming Muse: David Ian
This man is incredibly entertaining and creative and..well..just, DAVID IAN (trust me - there is no better description). He's a writer, playwright, actor, director, and more. And to open this incredible conference, he's going to explore the difference between your inspiration (aka Screaming Muse) and editor (Genghis Khan), and how to get the Muse moving without old Khan cramping your style (excuse my paraphrase, but I'm EXCITED).

SATURDAY MORNING: Book Marketing 101 – How to Market for Online Success – Linore Rose Burkard
I have to admit I don't know this author personally (or even "internettedly"), but I have read a wonderful interview of her at Patterings. She is a multi-published novelist, and a successful marketer of her inspirational regency romances. She'll be teaching us how to harness the potential of the Internet to get our message/book across. This is geared especially toward the first-time novelist.

SATURDAY AFTERNOON:
Oh the Times, They are a Changing! – It’s a Whole New Publishing World Out There - Deb Porter
EVERYONE at Faithwriters knows Deb, our very own breath of fresh air from Down Under. She is a writer, editor, encourager, speaker, and runner of nearly everything at Faithwriters. She JUST got back from a conference for self-publishers, and has been talking about all the incredible information she has for us on the changing publishing world. She'll be talking about all the many new publishing possibilities/options for the 21st Century writer.

SATURDAY EVENING
A. You Got Style – Yes You Do! – Finding Your Voice in the Midst of the Melee - Corrine Smelker
Cori is another amazing writer, editor, and all-around talented lady (and she has the COOLEST ACCENT EVER!! Seriously - worth attending just to hear it!). She was a fabulous presenter at the last conference, and I know this time will be no different. With so much written material available to readers today, and so many writers clamoring for attention, it’s not always easy to impress a client or grab a reader’s attention – and there’s very little time to do it. Let Cori show you how to develop your own unique style and then flaunt it in the best possible way.

B. Fit to Write – Nurturing the Whole Writer – Deb Porter
Yup...our wonderful Deb again. And this one, I'm sure, will help us close the conference with a bang--and a blessing. Are you glued to your keyboard? Is your exercise regime restricted to your fingers? Are you spending so much time writing about God that you don’t have any time to spend with Him? These are just some of the common physical, emotional and spiritual pitfalls faced by many Christian writers today.With warmth, humor and personal experience, Deb Porter provides encouragement and solutions to help nurture the whole writer.
So, have I convinced you yet? Click on the button below for even MORE information, and to print off your registration. Hope to see you there!

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6/19/09

Friday Fiction: "Ailing Body, Nourished Soul" Exerpt

Guess what? I'M hosting Fiction Friday! Welcome to my contribution. Make sure that you comment on my entry and include a link to your contribution. Or, if you just want to read some great fiction (ALWAYS great in my opinion!), check out the links below.

Not only is this not fiction, it's longer than my usual entry. I hope two strikes doesn't make me "out." This is an excerpt from my current work in progress, Ailing Body, Nourished Soul. Still not done polishing, but I'd LOVE your feedback!

Ailing Body, Nourished Soul
Chapter 3

If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.
James 1:5 NIV

CAT scans. MRIs. Blood tests. Intravenous drugs. Poking and prodding. Monitor hooked to half a dozen or more parts of his body. Getting woken every two hours for shots and a check of vitals.

Despite all the tests, checks, and monitoring, they don’t tell what is in Marc’s heart. They don’t tell of the doubt, the fear, and the frustration of lying in a hospital bed two full days after arriving, with hardly a bit of information more than when he was admitted.

We were told to come to this different hospital on Friday because the best neurosurgeon in the area was on duty that weekend. Yet it’s Sunday night, and we still haven’t seen him.
Sure, we’d seen an intern or two, and they’d certainly done enough tests. Yet, what was the purpose of moving us here if he wasn’t gonna show up for us while he was on call?

Of course, the worst part of not having seen the doctor is that we spent the entire weekend just as clueless as we were when we were admitted on Friday. Marc has a mass on his brain. We knew that at Metro. We’d heard the word “tumor,” but nothing really beyond that. The only thing that we DID know at this point was that we were supposed to see the doctor the next morning, early. Just makes us wonder why they bothered to keep us in the hospital over the weekend anyhow.

I look over at my husband and see his eyes drooping, and his whole face seemingly without rigidity. I know he will try to force himself to stay awake until I go.

I wriggle my arm under the covers and rest my hand in his. “I think I’m going to head home so you can get some sleep. I’ll be back first thing tomorrow morning with your parents.”

He smiles and nods. “I love you.”

My lips meet his, and I run my hands through his hair. “I love you too.”

“Drive safe, hun.” His eyes scrunch up. “Be careful.”

“I will.” I grab his hand once more and squeeze as I leave the neuroscience unit and head toward the elevator.

What a long weekend it has been—for all of us. Marc has been in the neuroscience unit the whole time, of course, and I’ve been back and forth, with and without Andrew and Marc’s folks (who are staying with us to help out) while we wait for answers.

Tomorrow, though, answers look promising. I plan to be there at seven, and Barb has agreed to watch Andrew for us so all three adults can be there to meet this illusive doctor and hear what he has to say.

***


“How’d you sleep, sweetie?” I sit in the chair beside his bed.

“As well as you can being woken every two hours,” he quipped. “How about you?”

“Okay.” I look up at the ceiling, the monitors, and then back to his face. “Has the doctor shown up yet?”

Marc shrugs. “It’s pretty early yet.”

I look at my watch: Seven AM. I guess so.

“Your folks will be here soon. They were a little bit behind.”

Just as I finish my sentence, I hear footsteps. I bounce from my chair to see Dave and Sharon. I attempt to hide my disappointment, smiling and pointing to the two empty chairs beside his bed.

After two days of speculation and frustration, we’re in no mood to discuss the elephant in the room, so we the four of us make small talk until close to 9am. Yet, I can feel the fear—that anxiety about what this doctor is going to say.

If, of course, he ever arrives.

By nine, I, personally, am done being patient. “I’ll be right back,” I announce as I head for the nurse’s station.

“Can I help you?”

I force my voice to calm. “Do you have any idea when the doctor will be here?”

She shrugs her shoulders. “Soon, I’m sure. I believe your husband is first on his list. I haven’t seen him yet this morning.”

“Okay. Thanks.” I slowly walk back to the room, taking the time to breathe in and out slowly, and to pray.

Lord, I know You are here, and You know what is going on. Help comfort us, and prepare us for whatever news may be coming. Help us not to get caught up in the anxiety of waiting, but to use the time to prepare us for the information to come. I love You. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

As I walk into Marc’s room, everyone looks my way. “Nothing yet. We’re supposed to be first on his list. I guess all we can do is wait. The nurse said she hadn’t seen him yet.” I shrug and sit down in the chair between Marc and his dad.

I extend my arm toward Marc, placing his left palm in mine. “Can’t be much longer, hun.”

I smile and return to the small talk. “Did I tell you what Andrew did yesterday?”

***

At 10am, two unfamiliar faces enter the room. I eyeball their badges from my seat. The first is the neurosurgeon, Dr. Stern, who looks about as old as Marc’s father. It may be my own impatience, but he looks like he has better places to be, and is in a bit of a hurry to get to one of them. He is followed close behind by Jennifer, his nurse. She, on the other hand, appears ready to sit down and chat.

The next few minutes are a blur of rapid-fire doctorese. I know it’s going to take some serious time to comprehend this. From what I can figure, though, the tumor is likely one of two types – a pituitary tumor, or a craniopharyngioma (I have no idea what it is either). Regardless, it is big enough that they need to open him up and do some serious brain surgery: a craniotomy. (Apparently, smaller brain tumors can be removed through the nasal cavity. I shudder at the thought.) And Dr. Stern is pressing immediacy.

“Some of my non-critical patients have offered move their surgery dates so I can get you in on Wednesday,” he says.

In two days, my husband is having brain surgery. A couple days before his thirty-sixth birthday, and three months before his second child is due to be born, my husband will be lying on a cold operating table with scalpels probing his brain—all because of a tumor we didn’t know existed a week ago. I sit down in my chair.

As disoriented and confused as I currently feel, I can’t even be close to Marc’s contemplations. I rest one hand on his shoulder, rubbing some tension out: or trying to, anyway.

Suddenly, my brain goes into planning mode. Who will watch Andrew? I certainly don’t want to take him with us to sit in the waiting room for hours. What about Dave and Sharon? How long am I going to need to be on the phone telling everyone and their brother what’s going on? What about me? I’m six months pregnant. How is this stress going to affect the baby? Am I going to need to force myself to eat for her? What are the short-term repercussions of this? Long-term?

Jennifer is speaking to me, but I’m not hearing. I try to focus my brain.

“Let’s go in the conference room,” she is saying, I think. “We can all sit and talk about this, and any questions you have.”

We follow the nurse, me in a complete daze. I imagine the others were the same, though I didn’t check. Dr. Stern doesn’t join us. Strange, I think. We all sit – Marc wheeled over in a wheelchair, me beside him (holding his hand), and Dave and Sharon opposite us. Jennifer sits at the end. Our heads turn directly toward her.

Despite the hundreds of questions that zipped through my mind not ten minutes ago, I can’t think of a single one now that I have someone who can possibly answer them. Thankfully, neither my father-in-law nor my husband are not as tight-lipped.

Jennifer, however, rests her hand on her chin and really focuses on the two men and their words. She seems to be truly listening to not only to what they are saying, but to the feelings behind them. Then she looks at some of the papers in her hands and seems to contemplate how to answer. Then she does.

Something about Jennifer’s tone of voice calms us, making us feel like we’re with someone who can speak to us in plain English. She explains what she can.

The surgery will last three to four hours. The doctor plans to go in and remove the tumor, then have a biopsy done on it. Most of these tumors (whichever of the two it is) are benign, but of course there is still a chance it could be malignant. Treatment afterward will depend on what they discover.

He’ll be in the neuroscience unit recovering for several days after the surgery, and he’ll have some restrictions once he does get home. He’ll likely have to stay on several of the medications after the surgery for a while, and there will be a period when he can’t be left alone, due to an increased risk of seizure after brain surgery.

“Thank you, Jen.” The rest of the family echoes my thoughts. “This has really helped.”

She pops up from her seat and rubs both Marc and me on the back. “Whatever I can do to help. And don’t be afraid to contact us if you have any more questions. I know how overwhelming this can be.”

And I feel like I have someone—someone who knows what she’s talking about—on our side.

QUESTIONS: Is patience a struggle for you? Do you find yourself getting more and more anxious the longer you have to wait? Does your brain go into ‘what-if’ mode, dreaming up the most terrible possibilities as you wait? When you do get bad news, or news you can’t understand, how does it make you feel? Do you find it easy or difficult to trust God in situations like this? Do you feel it necessary to find an explanation before you are comfortable accepting a difficult situation?

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, help us to know that no matter how long we are in the dark about our situation, You have already known since eternity past exactly what will happen. Help us, Lord, to trust You as we wait, and to believe You are in control when things don’t turn out exactly as we’d like. Help us, Lord, to accept Your sovereignty as the best for us, for that is exactly what it is. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

Thanks for reading! Be sure to leave your link below, and read the others!

6/18/09

Behind You...

I'm over at Exemplify today, with the latest post in my Ponderings on the Pentateuch series. I read through a VERY FAMILIAR passage (to all of you also, I'm sure), and discovered something I'd never noticed before. Come see what it is, and learn a bit about what to do when you have Fear and Hope Behind you.

And be sure to come back tomorrow too. I might just post an excerpt from my current (non-fiction) work in progress for Friday Fiction. (If not - there will be SOMETHING here for sure :D)


6/17/09

Word-Filled Wednesday: Angry

Welcome to Word-Filled Wednesday, hosted this week by eLisa at Extravagant Grace. Be sure to stop by there for more visual inspiration from Scripture.

I love my daughter incredibly, and she's absolutely adorable. However, everything she does is not adorable. There's a problem with this, though. Cuz, most of the time, she still looks adorable when she's not acting adorable. And sometimes I forget that.

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An angry man stirs up dissention, and a hot-tempered one commits many sins. Proverbs 29:22

Cute, isn't she? But she's also copping a major attitude, and is an angry little girl (for no reason other than selfishness). And God doesn't like it. Sometimes, I admit, I let her get away with stuff I shouldn't - cuz she's so adorable, and cuz it's easier to appease her than to teach her to stop. But when that happens, both of us are sinning. (yeah - I said the "s" word) And I am responsible for teaching her that her anger is a sin.

I think I need to commit this verse to memory. And maybe teach it to my daughter too.

Heavenly Father, thank You for Your Word, that teaches us right from wrong. Help me, Lord, to ignore my daughter's beautiful exterior when necessary, so I can focus on her ugly interior - her sin nature. Guide me in correcting her, Lord, and in keeping my own anger in check. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen

Thanks for stopping by! Be sure to stop by Extravagant Grace for more

6/15/09

Monday Manna - Slave

Welcome to Monday Manna. The purpose of this meme is to get together and get to know Christ more through His Word. On the first and third Monday of each month, anyone who wishes can post their thoughts on a verse I introduced at my blog the Thursday before. It doesn't have to be a long post -- just a few thoughts, a picture you feel helps express it, a poem, a short story, a devotional.

Anyone is welcome to participate. Just put a link to your Monday Manna blog entry in your comment (there have been problems with Mr. Linky), and check out others' thoughts.

This Monday's verse is a very thought-provoking one.
You have been set free from sin and have become slaves of righteousness. Romans 6:18 NIV

My thoughts are below. Looking forward to reading yours!

**
We like to think we have control of our lives: that we're free to do what we wish and control our own futures. That we choose the course of our existence and are masters of our own destinies.
But we aren't. We aren't truly in control, or even in charge. Every one of us is a slave.
Despite what my children (and occasionally I) may think, the world does not revolve around them. Everything on this planet is affected by hundreds of factors beyond its control. I can't change the weather, my husband's mood, gas prices, or the airplane above me. But they can change me.

These factors, however, are minor in comparison to the affect sin can have on humankind. And no one is immune.

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Though some philosophers deny it, sin has been an issue (and a big one at that!) since birth, if not earlier. At the center of each of us--at the very essence of our being--is a sin nature. Note that. Sin is our natural state. It is our essence. We are slaves to it. It is the only nature we know.
Until God made a way.
Not from anything we did. Not because we deserve it. Because of Our Lord's great love for His creation. He gave us a way to loose our shackles from sin. Because He died to take our punishment, we are not longer enslaved to our evil natures.

Yet, we are still not free--but our taskmaster loves us. He cares for us more than we care for ourselves, than we care for anyone. And he is loving and gentle.
"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." Matthew 11:28-30
Our yoke - our enslavement - is from the Lover of our souls. And there is no kinder master.

*
Thanks for reading! Please put a link to your post in a comment on this post, and read some of the others' thoughts.

6/13/09

Nurturing The Whole Writer (part 1)




I am generally a very mild-mannered person(if you believe THAT, you haven't been reading my blog very long!), but I am INCREDIBLY excited about an event I'm going to be attending later this summer, and that I would LOVE to see you at as well. I'm so excited, in fact (and so hoping to encourage you to join me), that I am planning to post about it weekly until I'm actually there.

What event could this possibly be?
The Second Faithwriters' Writing Conference, of course!
Today, I'll start with the basics, but watch this blog. This is going to be an INCREDIBLE conference, and I'll be giving you many reasons for you to attend. It's definitely not too late to sign up. Click here for all the details!

The conference will be held Friday and Saturday, August 7 and 8, at the Radisson Hotel in Livonia, Michigan. The cost to attend is amazingly reasonable: $72 for FW500 members, and $82 for anyone else. This price includes the conference, Saturday breakfast, lunch, and afternoon snack. What a deal!

The theme of the conference is Nurturing the Whole Writer. Speakers will include Published Inspirational Regency Romance Author Linore Rose Burkard; Published Writer, Editor, and Public Speaker Deb Porter (all the way from Australia!); and others.

I was privileged to attend the first Faithwriters Conference in 2007, and it was an incredible time of learning, fellowship, and just plain fun.

So, have I gotten you interested yet? Go register. And check back here next Saturday for more info!

6/12/09

Friday Fiction: "Our Promised Son"

Welcome to my contribution to Fiction Friday, hosted by Ms. FF herself, Patty/Peej from Patterings. Make sure that you head over to her blog, comment on her entry, and include a link to your contribution. Or, if you just want to read some great fiction (ALWAYS great in my opinion!), head over to http://pattywysong.com and check out the links there.
My very favorite type of short fiction to write is Biblical fiction. I just love bringing Biblical characters more to life, and looking at them from different perspectives. I always learn a little something more by trying to see the Scripture from different angles (though I'm sure I've messed up my view in the past as well LOL). I've probably written more Biblical fiction for the Writing Challenge than any other genre. In fact, one quarter a year and a half or so ago, I challenged myself to write Biblical fiction for each of the ten topics. And I succeeded. This is one of those pieces, and was lots of fun to write. Hope you enjoy it, and see this story from a different angle. That WAS my purpose.

Our Promised Son

It was a blessing straight from God. The answer to my prayers. My dream come true. What I'd been hoping for since I was a little girl.

Or so I thought.

Then again, who would blame me for expecting the best? When the angel of the Lord shows up on your doorstep not once, but twice, who wouldn't think life was about to get rosier? Yet, that's not exactly how it ended up for me.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. Maybe I should just start from the beginning.

When Manoah and I got married, we planned to have a houseful of children. We were soon reminded, however, that we could prepare all we wanted, but it was only the Lord's plan that was guaranteed to come about.

As the years went by, we (actually, I) began to wonder if I'd done something to fall outside of God's favor. Children are, after all, a blessing from Him, and we just weren't getting any.

I have to admit I was close to losing hope when the angel showed up. That all changed the minute I looked into his face. How could a woman be pessimistic when an honest-to-goodness angel announced that her prayers would be answered beyond her wildest imagination?

Not only was I going to be blessed with a child, it would be a boy. To top that off, he would be a Nazirite from birth, dedicated to our Lord, and he would grow up to deliver us from 40 years of Philistine rule. What could be better than that?

Apparently, several things. But I'm getting ahead of myself again.

I told my husband what the angel said, but it seemed he needed confirmation from a higher source, so to speak. He asked God to send the angel again, and before I knew it, that awesome figure was before me. He informed Manoah that our son was to avoid anything from the vine and all things unclean, and all the other Nazirite restrictions (Exactly what his loving wife had told him earlier, by the way). So, it was settled.

Manoah and I assumed our job as parents would be easy. After all, God had hand-picked our son for the job. Our sovereign Father would raise him up to follow Him devoutly, right? We were certain our boy would graciously and wholeheartedly live up to his Nazirite vows. After all, why would God have us devote him in the womb if our son wasn't going to follow through?

I hate to say I may never know the answer to that question.

Now, don't get me wrong. I love my son. He is God's gift to Manoah and me. It's just that he seems to have this tendency to go against our, and the Lord's, commands. Trouble seems to be his middle name, and, besides his physical strength, defying authority appears to be his defining characteristic, if you know what I mean. We tried to bring him in the training and admonition of the Lord, but there's only so much a parent can do.

Like that Philistine woman. I tried to warn him that she was trouble, that he should marry one of his own kind. But did he listen to me? Not for a moment. He dragged us off to Timnah to arrange the marriage with that pagan anyway. Imagine our shame. Our son, a Nazirite, marrying outside the faith.

Fortunately - thank the Lord - their marriage didn't last very long. His exploits didn't stop, however. It seemed all he wanted to do was incite the Philistines to anger. I thought the angel said my son would deliver us from our oppressors - not rile them up at every opportunity. He doesn't seem to be making much progress, either. Makes me wonder if that really was an angel.

I do have a bit of hope. He's found himself a nice girl, it seems. She's certainly pretty, but seems sweet too, and our son clearly adores her. Perhaps my dream come true is still possible. Maybe all he needs is the right girl to help him get straight with God, to help him live up to the promises the angel made all those years ago.

Maybe, just maybe, Delilah is that girl.

**
Judges 13-16

So - how long did it take you to figure out who the story was about? What did you think?

Thanks for reading. Be sure to stop by Patty's blog for more great fiction!


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