Friday, June 30, 2006
I witnessed a miracle today - literally. My husband, Brandon, called me this morning just minutes after he left for work and asked the dreaded words "Do you have my wallet?" Well, I panicked, because NO, I didn't.
Thus began what can only be called The Franctic Hunt. I backtracked in my mind the events of the past 24 hours and came to the conclusion that it could ONLY be in the truck, in the yard, or in the house.
I knew this because last night we were coming home from his softball game and I had his wallet in my purse (I always hold everything for him while he plays) and in the truck I took it out of my purse and put it on the middle console between us, knowing I'd forget to give it to him later. He even remembers me putting it there! Well, the wallet started sliding around on the console, so I put it in my lap so we wouldn't lose it - haha! How's that for irony? That was my last recollection of the wallet.
I tore the house upside down trying to find it. I looked in the washer, dryer, checked all pants pockets, looked under the bed, under my pillow (wishful thinking!) even became desperate enough to look in the oven, fridge, and trash. The whole time I'm searching, I'm thinking that this upcoming holiday weekend is probably the worst possible time for this to happen because everything was going to be closed, plus the fact that Brandon's birthday is Sunday and this wasn't a great Happy Birthday situation!
While I'm searching, I'm telling myself it could be worse. At least the wallet didn't have cash in it, although the whole credit card/debit card/license thing would be a horrible hassle to go through.
It's not in the house. So, I go out (in my pajamas, no less!) and search the yard, driveway, flower beds, neighbors yard, even the outside trashcan. Ilooked EVERYwhere. Nothing.
Thus began what can only be called My Frantic Prayer. "God, please just put it in front of us! Forgive our carelessness! You know where it is and I don't want to ruin my sweet hubby's birthday weekend by having to deal with this mess!! So please put it in front of someone!!"
Well, I combed the yard again, even looked under my car! Nothing. Finally, I had to leave for work or I'd be late myself. I backed out of the driveway slowly and looked in the driveway ONE MORE time before I pulled onto the street, just in case.
I called my mom while driving away and she said she'd go over to my house at some point and look around with a "fresh pair of eyes" to see if we had overlooked it.
I get to work, practicing like a good Christian girl the lesson I learned from a recent Women of Faith conference - "this is not a problem, just an inconvenience" though I knew deep down that I did consider it to be a problem! (hey, I tried, right??)
I logged online and checked our bank account - no charges so far. At least if someone had stolen it, they weren't shopping yet! I hated to call and cancel all the cards when I was hoping so strongly that we'd get it back!
Well, I was in the middle of typing out an email to my coworkers, asking for their prayers, when I get the call from Brandon. "Your mom found it!"
Such blissful words. Delicious, really.
I screamed with joy, literally - people stared. I then called my mom for the details and you'll never believe where she found it...My house is about four houses down from the railroad tracks on our street. Well, as soon as she had crossed over the tracks, she could clearly see the wallet lying in the driveway. She picked it up and it was fine - nothing was missing, it hadn't even been run over by either of us! I said, "MOM - I checked the yard TWICE this morning, thoroughly. It wasn't there!!" I got chills as I said the words!
I know it's possible that I overlooked it, but I really don't think I did. Either way, God answered my fervent prayer this morning and put the wallet right in front of someone - just as I had asked.
Praise Him today!
Friday, June 23, 2006
As of Wednesday at 6:00 in the evening, I have a new title to add to the list of roles I play in life. Daughter, Wife, Sister, Cousin, Niece, Granddaughter, and now...AUNT!
So far, it's a wonderful role!
This is the first child for my husband's sister. Little Carissa was born via C-section, but both mother and daughter are doing just fine. They should be coming home from the hospital today! I got to hold the beautiful little doll when she was only 2 1/2 hours old.
Sitting there, holding that precious little life in your hands, really makes you reevaluate your priorities. All I could do while holding her was pray that God would bring her up to know Him, and keep her safe and spare her from the darkest temptations in life, while at the same time providing her with enough knowledge of the world to cause her to choose God, and God alone. I pray she won't be given over to alcohol, or drugs, or promiscuity, but would grow up secure in her faith and in the love of her family.
I can't wait to babysit!
I've already set the date - when Carissa is old enough to have an opinion, we're going shoe shopping. I might not know how to change a diaper, but picking out sandals, heels and flipflops is just my thing! =)
Friday, June 16, 2006
I feel its presence, lurking just out of reach in the depths of my soul. Once in awhile, I catch a rare glimpse of an unspoken word, a shadow that flashes and disappears before fully conceived. It lingers, brushing my soul teasingly in gesture, wrapping around my heart...but always, always beyond my grasp.
It resides deep inside, tainting reality, forming a contradiction of self. It's why nothing is as real to me as fiction.
I fear the day it emerges will be the day my very breath is pulled from my body, a ripping forth of my identity onto paper, naked and vulnerable.
I have a story.
I sense its potential. But it's not ready.
I'm not ready.
Tuesday, June 13, 2006
If you go to any writer’s conference, spend any time speaking to published authors, or visiting a writer’s chat room or email loop, one phrase you will hear over and over is "Write your passion!"
This might mean something else entirely, but to me, it means that I need to look deep inside me and figure out what it is that makes me tick. What do I get excited about? What revs up the creative juices? What am I passionate about? What topics get me riled up, in both good and bad ways? What cause do I fight for? What organizations do I support? What makes me mad, or happy, or sad, or jealous? What subject matter, or person, for that matter, reaches down deep into my gut and brings out everything within - the good, the bad and the ugly?
My current WIP mixes several of these aspects. I wouldn't say it is the "Story of My Heart" (that's for another post!) but it does combine a mixture of passionate subjects in my life.
I was talking to a fellow author the other day about "revenge in fiction" and we had a good laugh at the concept. One theme in my current WIP is based on a real past experience in my life, and uses a real person - even though I changed the name of the person just slightly. I know this is possibly dangerous ground to tread, but for now, the name brings back all the memories of this person (both good and bad) and enables me to write more freely. I find that the truth flows through my fingers and out onto the paper with little effort. I am finding a release for the pent-up emotion that never got properly purged regarding this situation from my past, and it is pretty cathartic.
If we can identify with our characters on some level, and experience the things they experience, and deal with the same emotions they deal with, our writing will ring true in the hearts of our readers. I'm not saying that we must experience something before we can have our characters do it - that would lead to disaster! But when it comes to emotions, and matters of the heart, I feel it is better to write what you know. To write what you have felt and experienced, in order to properly express those feelings to your readers, and in turn, make them feel the same and really connect with your words.
Maybe that's not "writing my passion", but it sure brings out passionate writing!
Wednesday, June 07, 2006
Characters can be born from an afternoon of people-watching at a coffee shop, or from piecing together parts of other characters from your favorite novels. This character's hair combined with this character's love for animals, pieced with this character's car and this character's family life, etc.
One thing I have trouble with at times while writing is keeping my passion for my current work-in-progress. This is especially hard when you are working on more than one book at a time. I am currently writing a romantic suspense and a straight romance, and for awhile, the suspense was my sole focus, because it was more interesting. I had less trouble getting words to flow while working on that project.
Then, last night, I had a dream, and now my passion is back for my back-burning romance WIP. I've written several pages today, excited once again, all because of some unconscious memories in the form of a dream.
If you're a writer, my advice is to stay alert! Assume that nothing is a coincidence, but that everything is for a reason. Anything and everything around you can be inspiration for your next book.
Keep your eyes open and that notepad handy! You never know when God will bless you with an fresh idea or a brilliant twist that will keep you and your characters on your toes!
Sunday, June 04, 2006
The youth pastor at my old church used to say that sometimes God gets our attention with a feather...and other times, has to resort to the good ol' 4x4.
This weekend I think He chose to use the wood!
It started out innocently enough. I started adding blonde highlights to my hair back in high school. Eventually, I became an "all over" blonde and that suited me fine for awhile. My hair color is naturally a dark brown with a lot of red mixed in. It took people a while to get used to the blonde, but it all worked out.
I've changed since then (as has my budget!) so I decided it was time to go back to a good ol' brown. It's a more mature look for me and is closer to my natural color, so it seemed to be the best bet. I went to my usual hair dresser and he gave me what he calls "low lights" and covered up the blonde.
I LOVED it!! It was a new look, but subtle, and was just "me" again.
Well, the color didn't stick well, because less than two weeks later, the blonde highlights (now grown out, so I had roots as well!) were popping back through and it looked pretty bad.
So I went back last Thursday evening. My hairdresser graciously agreed to redo it for free, since it hadn't even been a month. I was appreciative, and he colored it brown again.
This time, it's a DARK brown. Very dark brown. It was a change - not as drastic as black would have been, but definitely a noticeable change. My hairdresser assured me it would lighten some in a week or so, but that he had to do it this dark at first in order to make it stick this time. That was all fine and well with me. Whatever works!
Hubby loved the color, and so did I. That's all that matters, right? Well here's where I think the lesson comes in...
I didn't get the reaction I wanted. All weekend, I've seen several friends and even friend's family (it has been a very busy weekend!) and everyone said "oh, look, you colored your hair!" I'd smile and nod and then...silence. No compliments. No "oh, that looks nice!" After a long pause, I'd receive "I'll have to get used to that" and "I didn't even recognize you" and "It'll lighten up, don't worry".
That's a surefire way to knock a girl down!
So all weekend, while at a crawfish party, at the lake, at a friend's house, at a pool party, etc, I was paranoid. I was taking every little look and comment WAY too seriously. It almost ruined my whole weekend. I kept thinking I had to call my hairdresser back ASAP Monday and demand that he give me some lighter brown streaks to compensate. I became obsessed!
Then I realized something this morning when I woke up.
There are starving children in Africa, but STOP THE PRESSES, my hair is a slightly different shade of brown then I wanted!! I was digusted with myself. I confessed to God my selfishness and vanity and felt pretty ashamed. Afterward, when I looked in the mirror, I couldn't help but my smile. My hair was pretty. It was the perfect shade of brown, fit for a Daughter of the King. I truly like it now. It seems I needed a heart change more than a color job.
There are several lessons to be learned here:
1. The world is a much bigger place than just the top of my head!
2. Caring SO much about what your peers or even friends/family think of you is a surefire way of becoming obsessed with yourself. Nothing good can come from that!
3. Change is sometimes hard to adapt to, but usually worth it in the end.
4. Beauty is in the inside - and when you fully grasp the fact that what you look like in the mirror doesn't matter compared to the content of your heart, then you'll see a significant different on the outside. The peace and contentment of a heart right with God shines through the face and radiates with the love of Christ - yes, even through the hair! =)
Friday, June 02, 2006
I think one of the hardest things for writers to decide is when to discipline themselves to stay at the computer, and when to realize that its time to take a break!
This past week I really haven't done much writing on my current work-in-progress, but I really think that's been okay. I've been able to do some other creative things, such as start this blog, and have some fun on the ACFW forums (Hi Dineen! Hi Ane!) I feel like the break has been productive, in a sense, because it's given me time away from my story and now I'm eager to get back at it! I have new ideas and a fresh outlook.
This weekend, I'm still planning on kicking back - we have a pool party tonight and a day at the lake planned for tomorrow and a crawfish boil Saturday night! (for those of you not from the South, you don't know what you're missing!!) but starting Sunday afternoon - it's back to the keyboard!
Thursday, June 01, 2006
Ask any fellow ACFW member - they'll tell ya!
I think our chocolate fettish is a means of survival, really. As writers, we get more rejections than requests, more suggestions than compliments, and more "pats on the shoulder" than "high fives".
When at the end of the day, you've received not one, but TWO rejection emails, you do two things. Cry out to God and reach for the chocolate. Surprisingly, it works. Prayer, combined with chocolate, can do amazing things. Of course, prayer by itself is a powerful force, and all a Christian woman TRULY needs...but add a Hershey kiss or Dove bar to the factor, and, well - you're unstoppable.
God apparently understands this need I have for the smooth, creamy deliciousness of chocolatey calories...because only three days before I received my double-whammy rejections, I won a prize in Sunday School. Our teacher is FUN and even though our class ranges from ages 21-33, we still get giddy over awards like the kids in the nursey down the hall. I knew that Lazarus was Mary & Martha's brother, so I was awarded not just a Hershey bar...but a KING SIZE GIANT Hershey bar...
Dentists don't like writers...
I just have to share with you one of the most delightful treasures I've found in a long time - Allibags! My good friend Diane (a fellow ACFW member!) makes these adorable purses, that as you can see, come in all sizes and colors. Check out her website at www.allibags.com and get yours today!
Here's a three-generational Allibag photo from Easter - my mom, my grandmother, and me!
I've been trying to have a clearer discernment of people this week. It's been a personal goal. I'm a receptionist, so I see a lot of people each day that come in for appointments, or deliver mail, etc. I wondered what would happen if I made it a point to make each person smile. It's a lot easier than you might think. All it takes is a simple "I really like your purse!" or "That green is a great color for you". I was truly amazed at the responses I got. People that looked exhausted, irritable, and moody would suddenly smile and light up the room.
If we all made it a goal to make someone else feel good during the day, what would happen? Just think about it - if the entire world just tried to make one person smile, one time a day - how many lives would change? How many people out there are searching, desperate for a touch, a compliment, a simple sign of recognition? How many people could we snatch from the gripes of suicide by just telling them they look nice? Or that they have a lovely phone voice? Or just by saying "I hope you have a good day" and MEANING it?
I think we as a nation, but also as individuals, have become very selfish. We stay so focused on our own goals, our personal projects, our appearance, money and possessions, that we forget why we're even on Earth in the first place!
God didn't place us here to see who would gather the most "toys" and "win". He put us here to draw us to Himself, and to have us help spread the Word about Him. If we don't really see people, how can we accomplish that mission??
Just a thought...