Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Blogger's Guilt

I have a confession to make: I have blogger's guilt.

blogger's guilt: noun. 1. chronic nagging when writer takes prolong absences from blogging

I find myself thinking about my blog, especially when it's most unlikely that I would be able to write a post. But the days have not allowed for such writing as of late. Thus my blogger's guilt. I have been writing but nothing that I can share via the blog-o-sphere. (if that's even what it's called) In fact I'm super excited to be bringing a few stories closer to publication. Well, to seek publication with them.

However, when I am writing elsewhere, I think that I should be updating my blog, as well. Lest those who anxiously await my character to actually develop believe I have given up on the pursuit.
So fear not, though the drama is happening off stage at times, there is plenty of it. And my guilt will keep me coming back to share as much as I can, when I can.

I feel better, don't you? :)

Monday, October 21, 2013

Storytelling

If a picture is worth a thousand words, than what are a thousand words worth? I have not been writing as much as I would like these days but that doesn't mean I haven't been storytelling. Recently, I was blessed to find an affordable SLR camera. It's an adventure learning to take a photo worth looking at. The journey is not unlike learning to write a story worth reading.

While I have tons to learn in both of those areas, the combination of the two is like a dream come true! I hope to take pictures and write about what God is doing for the rest of my life; years and years to learn the skills I need to do such work.

I have been quiet about an opportunity I signed up for in the last month. Next summer, I will be traveling with the Fuller Center for Housing Bike Adventure. In years past I have ridden my bike but this year I will be there with pen and camera in hand, recording and reaching out to media sources to tell the stories of the trip! I am nervous and excited to take part in this adventure. Hopefully, it will be a great training ground for whatever is next.

There are stories all around us to tell. Some are captured with images and some with words. I hope that I can do both and tell of the works of God along the way! This is going to be fun and a lot of work, but it will be worth it!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Ode to the Sock

The first day of fall officially arrived today bringing with it cooler temperatures. I love fall. While the beauty of nature surrounds us, so also does the softness of cotton and wool. Yes, my friends, it is officially sock weather! 

I love socks! It's likely I have more than any one person needs. However, I believe that each occasion and events require corresponding foot coverings. As I changed socks today I was inspired to write a few couplets declaring the perfect "coupling" I know.  :)


Oh how I love thee, the covering of my feet
‘Tis a joy to be the first garments my shoes greet.
Splendid fabric so soft and comfortable,
Cotton, spandex, polyester and wool,
All I love and do require,
To keep my feet dry as they perspire.
Throughout the day and in the night
You cover both my left and my right.  
Thank you fine sock for having a twin,
When we are together we all win!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Psalm 66:5

"Come and see what God has done, how awesome his works in man's behalf!(Psalm 66:5 NIV84)

This verse simply states my "hot dog cart." This is what I want to do! 

I want to tell the stories of God's work; what he has and is doing on man's behalf. It could be my story or someone else's. Either way I would like to write about what God has done as a reminder and encouragement for those who read it. 

I am not sure how this will take shape just yet. However, I would like all of my writing whether directly or indirectly to do this: declare the works of God, past and present and maybe even dreams of what the future could bring. 

I have my thoughts on how this should look but it is merely a rough outline at this point. But now I know what I working towards! 

My first steps are resigning from part of my job. I have tremendously enjoyed getting paid to be creative. However, my creative energies have not been spent on my projects but someone else's. I think that time has come for me to chose between the two and I have chosen my own projects. I will sacrifice pay for now so I can get serious about what I believe I am called to do. 

This is another step in telling what God is doing in my life and I know there is more to come! The fun is just getting started, come and see! :)

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

September 11th

In my less than 30 years on this earth, September 11th, 2001 holds a vivid place in my memory. Settled between family vacations, lessons learned and funny moments with friends, the events of this day reside.

I was a junior in high school. The first plane struck while I was switching classes. My neighbor met me at the locker we shared and told me about it. I didn't believe her. The words she spoke sounded more like a scene from a doomsday movie than truth. So I chose to ignore them. Entering my next class I was more focused on the test I was about to take than anything else. But her words rattled around in my head.

Soon after our principle announce via the p.a. system that the second plane had hit. Staring at the math problems before me seemed so trivial after that. There was no category or place in my understanding to put this kind of news. The rest of the day passed in surreal silence. News of the Pentagon attack and Flight 93 barely penetrated my consciousness.

After school when I went to the barn where I worked, I remember even there it was oddly quiet. As if everyone, even the horses, were astonished at that mornings events. It's incredible to recognize how used to air traffic we are and then be struck by it's absence. The sky that afternoon was a cloudless blue, a rarity in Pittsburgh weather.

Changing into my work clothes, I had brought my shirt from two years earlier. It was on from the band trip we had taken to New York City, the skyline across the front of it. The sight of the Twin Towers shook me. At that moment, they no longer stood.

I don't know what happened to that shirt but I am almost positive I never wore it again. It was too painful a reminder of what was lost that day.  However, it was replaced by a F.D.N.Y. shirt as a sign of respect to those who did so much on that day.

After I returned home, I think the news overtook the airways for at least three or four days. It was talked about so much I felt numb. It's only been in the years since that I have begun to process the events of September 11th. They still do not have a logical place in my mind but I have hope that they did and do have a place in the sovereignty of God. He wastes nothing. Not grief, tears, blood, suffering nor tragedy.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Not Working Out

I have a beef with myself. Every blog post I have written lately (some published, some not) are meant to be funny but they keep coming out serious. They start with a laugh and end with something honest and real. But I just want to be funny!

I guess I don't get to have the last laugh when my heart knows better than my humorous.

Fitting In

I was the girl in 3rd grade who had the same shoes as the teacher. He liked basketball too. Though I have never been known for my fashion sense; I wanted to be cool. And I knew that wearing the same shoes as a man wasn't a good sign. My cheeks reddened a bit when he observed, "Hey look, we have the same shoes," or something along those lines. For the rest of the school year, I think I tried to hide my shoes so that no one else would make the connection. I really liked those white high tops with the navy swoosh. They were cool.


In those moments, I couldn't have said what I now know. I wanted to fit in, be accepted and if possible cool. By middle school, the option of cool was out but my other two desires were as stronger as ever. Any 12 year old would likely say the same. However, no one tells you that as you get older that feeling doesn't really go away.


It's taken countless readings of Ephesians, especially 1-3, to catch the words: adopted, chosen, reconciled, included, and family to realize my anxiety to fit in has been soothed (and solved) in Christ. Because of Christ's work on the cross I am not longer separated from God and his people but part of his family. Ephesians (4-6) goes on as Paul explains how we should then live as members of this family aka the Church.


It is this truth that reminds me, fashion or being cool isn't the way to fit in. Not wearing certain shoes will only externally yield either approval or disgust. And who's opinion of me is more powerful than God's. He has told me who I am in a way no other person can and that I do fit in. So I can walk confidently in those high top sneakers because while I may never be cool, in Christ I am accepted.



Warning: Being a member of God's family in Christ will definitely keep you from fitting in elsewhere.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Patience

Patience is probably one of my least favorite fruits of the Spirit. They are as follows in Galatians 5:22-23 (ESV) "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law." I would be lying if I said any one of these were easy for me, but I guess that's why they are of the Spirit and not of me. God by his Spirit must do these things in me. 

Yet, it is the fourth fruit that I struggle most with today. Patience. It sounds so nice and serene but really it's a short way of saying, "I do not have as much control as I want; therefore I must trust God and wait for Him to do what is best for my good and His glory." And this is offensive to my pride which I have written about before (and likely will again).

Please, take a moment also to notice that pride isn't among the fruits; basically making everything on the list above offensive to my pride. Ultimately, I know this to be a good thing but at my base level without Christ, this would be a hopeless picture for multiple reasons. Check out all of Galatians 5 for a glimpse at the bigger picture:
http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Galations%205&version=ESV

Now, returning to primarily to patience. I remember early in my college career asking for other to pray that I would be more patient. What was I thinking? I wouldn't consider myself to be impatient but I guess somewhere in the working of the Spirit, I knew it would be needed someday.

I can't say, definitively, but I think that day or days have arrived. Sure, I have lived through them before and I would be naive to think I won't live through them again. But patience is hardest to exercise when you don't know how long the waiting will last. It's much easier to wait for a few extra minutes when you know in a hour it will all be over. But that isn't probably true patience. It's easy to say, "God I will trust you for these ten minutes because I see you working but once you are done, I will take over again."

Yet, God isn't done. He continues to work even when I cannot see what He is doing. And true patience looks much more like trusting Him and waiting for Him to fulfill His promises than giving me what I want. Which again becomes offensive because I want what I want and preferably now. However, that is not how this works.

Thanks be to God of withholding from me the things that I want so that He may give me the things that I need. Those things aren't money, fame, a different job, my own house or marriage.

It's Him.

What I need is to grow up in Christ which includes growing up in the Fruits of the Spirit. Hence why He gives us his Spirit when we are in Christ. To do what we can't do on our own, the very things He calls us to.

And this will be a life long process. But what about the things that I want. Perhaps God will give me some of them along and maybe some He will withhold. Either will be for His glory and my good. I must wait, be patient, and trust that He knows what He is doing. No matter how long it takes.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Crushes

For most of my life I would describe my interactions with those of the opposite sex as awkward. In recently years, I have improved by leaps and bounds but when I was a kid things were...not great.
My first crush wasn't the boy who sat next to me in first grade but rather Sully from the TV show Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman. When you're seven I am not sure what more you need in a man beyond great hair and the ability to ride a horse. Sully had both and I liked him based solely on those characteristics.

When I was about ten, I started to recognize that personality was also important in who I turned my attention to. So I promptly developed a crush on Joe from the PBS show Wishbone. Joe was a nice guy. He played basketball and loved his dog. What could be better? He also had the best bowl cut I had ever seen. Sigh. I must have had a thing about hair back in those days.

By high school, I was focused more on guys that were actually people instead of TV characters. It wasn't the easiest transition. I tended to be most awkward with the guys closest to my age and who I was most attracted to. I think I little of that still lingers these days but I no longer follow men in the hallways to give them little hand written notes with jokes on them. I would have been such a catch if I wasn't the only one laughing.

Oh well.

Now that I am older, I look back on those days with fond memories. It doesn't surprise me that when you are the girl version of Urkle, dating doesn't come easy. However, on the other side of a getting my heart broken, in addition to a few less than stellar dates, I wonder if I am not regressing a bit.

But thankfully, I have my priorities in the correct order. Character is more important in a man than his hair. (But not my much :) Which reminds me, where is Uncle Jesse these days? :)

Friday, August 9, 2013

Offensive

This past week I learned about a friend who has been in a terrible accident. Her prognosis looks hopeful and she will have a long recovery. However, the new of this struck me deeply.  She is a cyclist and I am a cyclist. I have ridden enough miles to know that at any time I could have incurred the injuries she has. As I have thought more about this, I have found something in it rather offensive to my pride.

I don't have as much control as I would like.

If we are honest, at any moment, our plans, preparations and perceived course could change. While we take for granted that it won't, sometimes it does, in an instant. Over the last few years, I have watched as my life has slowly changed from what I thought it would be to what it is; but that isn't the same thing.

When things happen over time it still allows me to feel as though I have control. That I know what's best and that I can make it happen. However, when life changes drastically in mere seconds, I can't help but be shocked by it. That is normal. Yet, it leaves me wondering how much of the control I thought I had was real and how much was an illusion.

This is where I come face to face with God's sovereignty. He is doing things I don't understand and at times that can be painful and confusing. He is also in control of this world and not me. And that is offensive to my pride. And if you are honest, it might be offensive to yours too.

I alluded to this in one of my last posts, that I would rather do my own thing but that is not who I am called to be in Christ. The same is true here. I want things to go how I want and that doesn't always happen. Because God is in control and I am not.

And because I am in Christ, I have great hope that this means I can rest on God's workings and not my own. It also means that when life changes instantly, it may be difficult but it is not outside of God's sovereign control. So while my pride may be offended. Once I am humbled it is a great reminder of how gracious and faithful God really is in his sovereignty over this world.

*I am not suggesting that God caused my friend's accident. But I am suggesting that God is in control over it and we can have hope that He will be at work in her recovery. And that is was not a meaningless event.

**I recognize that some of my posts may be unclear as they are written both in content and theology. But this is the whole purpose of this blog, for me to work though what I am learning and creating so that I may develop in character. please bare with me.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Steve Urkel

If Steve Urkel would have had a white twin sister it would have been me. I'm only half joking about that.

When I was a kid Family Matters was a popular show. For me there was something so lovable about Steve. He was annoying, awkward and generally a bit of a pain. But he was also sweet and thoughtful. The scraps he got himself into helped me to keep in perspective that maybe there were worst things in life than being an awkward pre-teen.

I also appreciated Urkel, then and now, because he wasn't afraid to be himself. He didn't fit in and was "aged" beyond his years by his clothes, among other things. And he had such a dorky sense of humor that would cause almost everyone to roll their eyes.

But not me.

I love him, in a sisterly way. He and I are not that different. Goofy, funny (but maybe only to ourselves), and occasionally awkward. I wish I could say that there was a television/movie character I related to more then Steve, say a Disney princess or someone really elegant, but in many respects there isn't.

Steve and I could be two peas in a pod. And if you know me you know how true this really is. I have been known to say, "Did I do that?" and snort while laughing. As well as, what made me truly thing of my brother from another mother today, when I hiked my running shorts up as high as I could. Not because I have to but because it just makes sense.

Now if I could only find my suspenders... Love you Bro! :)

Saturday, August 3, 2013

By Faith, not Sight.

It's one thing to look back and see how things went. But it's another to look forward and not really know where things are going. Yet, as Christians, this is exactly what we are called to do. "For we live by faith, not by sight." 2 Corinthians 5:7 It's context discusses the very thing I am learning these days.  We live in a world where things are not as they should be but God is at work and by His Spirit through the work of Christ, we can rest in knowing that one day we will be with Him.

But where does that leave us today? I don't know how my life will turn out. I've already written about now hard it is to live in the ambiguity but maybe that's exactly what we are called to do. To live by faith. To live, as though its all going to change one day, even if that isn't today. 

I think I am trying to sort out two different thoughts here. One is that we may not know where things are going temporally but eternally we do. Thus my decisions can be informed by what's to come. However, that doesn't guarantee that I will get what I want in the mean time. I can be sure that God is at work but it would be much easier to live by my sight rather than His. 

In trying to make sense of what I am supposed to be doing with my life, I have noticed that I focus more on my circumstances than needed. I am waiting for them to change. Maybe a new job or living arrangement or relationship would translate into the "answer" I have been waiting for. 

But that isn't true. The "answer" is here all along. I am called to live by faith, not by sight. And that means I must trust in the work of God, not my own. This is offensive to my pride and somewhat culturally outlandish. And this is my second thought with which I wrestle. 

How do I live each day knowing things are eternal sure but temporally unsettled? I think it's a question Christians have been asking for years. What if I never get what I want? or My circumstances never change? Does that take away from what's to come? Does that change who God says He is, what He has done or how I am called to live?

No, but I might not fit in as well as I would like. And maybe that's a bigger part of the issue. Living by faith is not glamorous. It's not easy and because things move at God's speed not mine, there can be more waiting than I would ever want. 

But isn't that what living by faith is all about. Trusting the God knows what's best and is doing that, whether I "like" it or not. Thus simplifying this all down to I would rather get what I want than live by faith.

Oh...now this is getting more honest that I would like.

Praise God that this isn't the end of the story. I know how this is going to end though I don't know how we are going to get there. And now I have a better understanding of what the real problem is...

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Barbies

There comes a time in everyone's life where we find we have grown out of our childhood toys. Sadly, for me I have come to realize this has happen to me and my Barbie.
The following are signs you are too old to play with your favorite plastic friends:

1. You don't care that Barbie has been wearing the same cocktail dress for the last ten years. 
2. And just the thought of trying to get her clothes over her non-bendable arms makes your arthritis flare.
3. You no longer think the short hair cut you gave her fits her face. 
4. You know that between Ken's flat feet and Barbie's six inch heels, you should have become a podiatrist. 
5. Setting up Barbie's Dream House now feels like more work than trying to get her to sit inside that Corvette she likes to drive around in. 
6. You starting thinking existentially about who Barbie really is and why her sister Skipper was brunette. Is it possible blondes have more fun?

I know there are more reasons but I have to go to work now and I can't take my Barbie with me.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

"I don't know..."

These are three of the scariest words anyone could utter. They are uncomfortable and at times can make you look rather foolish. But if we are honest, I wonder if we don't wrestle with them and their meaning more than we care to let on.

This has been my life lately. I am asking lots of questions or being asked lots of questions about my life. For which, I simply don't have an answer. In one of my last posts, I wrote about figuring out what I am supposed to be doing or what my dream is in life. I do think for some it is a definable and practical thing but for others it isn't so clear.

I think I fall into the latter category. There are people who from the time they are kids grow up knowing exactly what they are going to do. Then there are people who no matter what job they work find ways to use their gifts and talents. And then there is everyone in between. What makes it hard in my opinion, at least to some degree, is that culturally as Americans we have little time for ambiguity. It's tedious, it's uncomfortable, and it doesn't provide tangible results of success, in most cases money.

However, if we flip this around a bit, this place of unknowing in terms of career or future plans could be defined as an area for faith to be exercised.
Before I say more lets talk about what I do know:
1. God created the world and me. (Genesis 1 & Psalm 139)
2. Because of the sin of Adam and Eve (Genesis 3) the world is no longer functioning as perfectly designed. Adam and Eve wanted to be like God and know all things-which lead to their disobedience and broken relationship with Him.
3.Thus we live in a world which is broken but by God's work alone in Christ we are reconciled to Him. (pick your New Testament book)
4. Then God calls us to "grow-up" in Christ and in community. And He has prepared things for us to do in advance. (Ephesians 4 &2)

And that where my knowledge "stops." What are the good works God has prepared for me? What am I supposed to be doing?
I don't know but by faith I will.

Moving Forward

Not long ago, I had to get honest with myself. My novel isn't working. For reasons I will eventually share the time to set it aside has come.

It was a tough decision because I love the characters and the story. However, sometimes letting a project go for another project that makes more sense is a better choice.

I think learning to write and finding one's voice means that every word is a step forward, whether it is finished story or not.

So fear not, I have plenty to write and one day that that novel will be finished. It just might not be the first story I really tell.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Who's Gonna Pray?

If you have ever been part of a group or community of Christians, there is one inevitable question which brings the group to a deafening silence. "Who would like to pray?"
These words are enough to make even mature Christians stare at their plate. The moment is guarantee to arrive any time we gather for a meal or Bible study but oddly enough it's one for which no one is ever prepared.

Well, fear no longer my Brothers and Sisters in Christ. I have found a way to head off these moments of awkward silence with suggestions as easy as knowing who is in your group. If all goes well, then your group's prayer volunteer hierarchy will be made clear.  And the next time this question is asked, you can all breathe a sigh of relief.

Groups which have pastors and/or missionaries have it easy, as they are the first and most obvious choice. If someone with a completed seminary or Bible degree is not an option. Don't worry, whoever has had a class or two a such an institution will do.
Should your community strike out there try for someone who holds a church office, such as elder or deacon or anyone who works in any capacity for a church of para-church ministry.
If your fellowship is lacking of members of these groups; then anyone who has participated in the most church activities is the next best choice. Those who have been on short term mission trips, taught Sunday school or VBS or attended a church retreat are the top candidates.
If none of these categories do not reveal prayer times most likely choice, double check, don't let those who may have retired or been formally involved in any of the aforementioned positions get by unnoticed. Let you conscience be your guide.

Yet, if the initial selection process is over without a clear pray-er order developing. There is nothing left to do at this point than to revert to the very situation I was trying to help you avoid. So when the question comes, sit and wait in that awkward silence.
Someone will crack.
They will either stumble into the cardinal mistake of making eye contact with the group leader or a volunteer will actually emerge. And at the risk of usurping my whole suggested hierarchy, this is the only way to truly avoid all of this.

Amen!


"Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." 
Phil 4:6-7

Sunday, June 16, 2013

My Hotdog Cart

My job continues to surprise me with the opportunities it provides. They are much farther reaching than I ever would have imagined when I started there almost two years ago. I never would have thought I would have been there this long or done some of the things I have. For instance, this summer I am working our booth at local farmer's markets. I am enjoying being outside, meeting new people, and learning to drive a box truck.

At one of the markets this week, I was speaking to another vendor. He has a hotdog cart from which he serves some of the best meat in a bun I have ever had. For thirty years he talked about his dream of having a cart and has been living that dream for the last eleven. I walked away from that conversation thinking two things. 1. I have never heard of anyone else dreaming to own a traveling food stand. 2. I'm really happy that he is having the chance to live his dream.

As I have thought more about our chat, I have started to wonder what's my hotdog cart? What do I hope I won't have to wait thirty years to actually do?

I am surprised that I don't have an instant answer. I thought I would have one. I dream about a lot of things but I am not sure one has risen to a "hotdog cart" level. Part of me isn't sure something has to instantly, but I don't want to waste what I have been given chasing "frivolous" things when my hotdog cart awaits.

This is what this blog is all about, sometimes more seriously than others. :) The process it takes to develop into the character I am called to be.

What's your hotdog cart?

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Reading Rainbow: The Bible

(Too be read in the voice of an over-excited child)

If you like reading then I have a book for you!

Do you like history, poetry, legal dramas or love stories? Or do you have some complaints to be heard? Or do you like reading other people's mail?

Then the Bible is the book for you!

It has everything from murder and intrigue to miracles and merriment. It's the story of God's work on behalf of his people and the world. From the dawn of creation to the apocalypse, the Bible has something for everyone! As God's Word it speaks to all kinds of things we humans face. Just be careful, this book is about Truth. And reading it may cause changes in your life, especially the parts about Jesus.

Anyway, I've been reading it for years and I still learn from it. So, I recommend you stop by your local library or church and pick up a copy today! 

(If I could read this to you I would :)

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Losing your "Cool"?

Recently, I have noticed that I am not keeping up with things like I used to. The young people I am around speak a different language than I do. I find myself asking them to explain themselves or walking away confused.

Has this ever happened to you?

If you aren't sure or you need some help deciding use these five examples to tell if you are loosing your edge on "Cool."

1. If your best musical references are about obscure bands whose biggest hit is more than a decade old. You know the song by Savage Garden?

2. If you have to use Google or other outside resources to decipher Twitter hashtags, Facebook posts, or everyday conversation. What's a YOLO?

3. If you are reading best-selling novels from five or more years ago. Whose ready to discuss The Davinci Code?

4. If the only actors you recognize were the stars of your favorite childhood shows. Has JTT been in anything recently?

5. If today's latest fashion were the clothes everyone made fun of you for wearing in high school. I love leggings!

How'd you do?

I'm losing my "cool" faster than I can say the latest hip phrase, which I would say...if I knew it.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Details

I'm a little embarrassed to share this but what can I say, I am learning as I go. My tangent is ending and I am getting back to finishing my novel. Progress is a little slow and I have been working through areas where the story was lacking. Most season writers may have caught this earlier but some of us newbies need a little extra time. Soon enough, I will be ready for Draft #3.

As much as I have worked to developed my characters and plots. I found a few rather crucial gaps. Though fiction may be strange but it has to make sense. It's the feeling of truthfulness that makes it work. Therefore, I found making your main characters work together just because you want them too isn't enough.  I kept thinking, "Why do they care about each other at all?" As the author, I know why but if the words on the page make me ask that question, I wouldn't blame the reader for asking the same.

When I started to press the details of their relationship, I stumbled, almost literally (my room's a mess), onto an even bigger gap. Once I sorted out my characters bond over a common goal and enemy with more detail than before. The question became, "Whose their enemy?" Thus far I have left their nemesis as a shadow figure. For all villains dress in dark clothing and laugh maniacally, right?

At this point, I had to laugh at myself. Sometimes I think others can read my mind so I don't have to write the details. Apparently that isn't true...

Details aren't easy for me to write but I live them every day. My story must be developed in action and relationship. That goes for all characters involved. My villain needs to be just as developed as my hero/ine(s).  For the roots of the story are just as they are in life, based more in our interactions than merely action itself.

My fictional friends relationships are as real as my own. That is with enough detail. So here's to closing the gaps, making characters who make sense and are worth caring about and getting to Draft #3!

I guess I don't have much to be embarrassed about. How else will I learn? What about you? How have details helped your story?

Friday, May 24, 2013

Cat Lady?

This week is my cat's birthday. Now before you judge me and a call me a "cat lady", let me say that my cat is practically a dog.

 In our 16 years together, he has proven to be a loyal companion except for when he wants to be else where. He comes when he is called pending any pressing obligations to look out the window or take a nap. "Speaking" is basically his past time when he wants something and begging through starring isn't working. He can give you his paw on command or on occasions when he might feel that you are distracted from your focus on him. He wags his tail but only in your face. He trots beside you to check your reflexes with sudden stops and turns.  And he even plays games at least until he gets bored.

See, he's practically a dog. Aren't you glad you didn't judge me? :) 

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Runs in the Family...

This week my Grandma would have turned 89. I used to tease her that with a family like ours, I had "no hope of being normal." We would both laugh at the truth of that statement. I will admit I don't really know what normal is but I'm probably not it and neither was she.

These are my Grandparents in 1957.
She grew up in Depression era eastern Michigan as the oldest child of Swedish immigrants. She married my Grandfather in what I like to pretend was some sort of Gatsby-esque soiree. They had four children including my mom. As a child I remember her being the only artist and designer I knew. She was always working on a project in her sewing room. I was sure one day she would be buried alive there by fabric, buttons, and patterns while she watched her "stories" and hunched over her latest design. She dabbled in a bit of everything. She worked on things practically up until the day she died. And as I watched her, I thought I would never be anything like her.

She's been gone for almost four years now and slowly I seeing inherited qualities popping out of me. We aren't creative in the same way but we both use our work to express what we can't quite say. Her life wasn't easy and I can see how she used her projects as a way sort through things. I didn't understand that as a child. Her seemingly scattered actions to finish whatever lay before her seemed meaningless to me. But they don't anymore.

Honestly, I was scared to be like her. She thought like no one else and proceeded accordingly. Where I once saw her work as separating herself from others, I think it was really an attempt to engage them. To draw people into her world in the way she was drawn into theirs. It was an imperfect process but that didn't hinder her determination to try.

I respect that and I hope I become more like my Grandma. We may not have understood each other when she was alive but we do now. Us "abnormal" people have got to stick together. I am so thankful I've got such a great example to follow!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Ten Year Reunion

As much as I hate to admit it, nor can I really believe it but I have been out of high school for ten years. Yes, a whole decade has passed since I walked across the stage for my first of three graduation ceremonies. This has brought about much reminiscing. High School was well...interesting. All these years later, I am finding out that I am almost the same person. I just didn't have the means then to understand what that meant.

I was an awkward teenager. I hadn't quite learned how to control my long arms and legs. I was terrified of boys and I used humor to cope. Hmm, maybe even less has changed than I thought... Then came my senior year. My friends began making plans and I spun my wheels. I didn't know what I wanted to do or where to go to school. Everything seemed like a good idea at the time but I knew it wasn't all a good fit. 

Around the end of the year, my friend Leslie decided my humor was amusing enough to nominate me for funniest girl in my class. Much to the chagrin of another, I won. I was by no means popular but everyone knew me. Kids would say, "I heard you were voted funniest. Say something funny." I would always look at them and think, "you don't understand humor."

It's funny how long it has taken me to actually embrace this label. But I am the perpetual late bloomer and typical high school students don't need ten years to "grow up" after they graduate.  At the time, I had no idea it would take this long but, I am guessing, I am not the only one.

I graduated thinking the world would lay out a path at my feet. I would know what to do and where to go. But any adult can tell you life isn't that simple. The last decade of my life is proof of that. But on this anniversary, I can say that Leslie named sometime for me, I couldn't at the time. I spent a good eight years trying to avoid being funny but it always crept out. And now I have spent the last two learning to let it out. To translate that goofy kid into a goofy grown up and be okay with it.

And that's really were the story begins...

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Something

This is either the beginning of something great or a great something. I am so blessed by the response to my Church Seating Post. It is encouraging me to unleash the variety of "thoughts" I have for blogging topics. It may not help get my novel done but it is certainly is growing me up a story teller and writer. No words are wasted, but some are goofier than others. Thanks for reading!

Conspiracy?

I find myself shocked there is not more mention of this! What is it you might ask? What have the "THEYs" and the "THEMs" of this world been hiding from you. Well, probably a lot, but nothing as sinister as this. It is none other than the car radio...

I can see your jaw has fallen to the desk with this news and you sit in utter disbelief. However, you must compose yourself. The truth will about this will ease your nerves.

Many years ago, car manufactures and radio makers met in the wee hours of the night and formulated a plan to make you forget about the creeks and rattles your car makes. The thumps and screeching emitted from your vehicle while in motion. The plan was simple. Put a radio in every car so the sound of talk radio and the day's greatest hits would drowned out our doubts about the drive-ability of our bucket of bolts.

And friends, we fell for it. Only a cliche best describes it. Please select your own. We bought into this plot against us so much so that radios have gotten fancier and sound systems in cars are now better than the surround sound in a 3-D movie.

If you think I am kidding, try driving with the radio off for a whole car trip. What you might hear could be disturbing... but just remember, THEY did this to you!

Don't fall for any longer. You control the volume button or knob. The choice is yours. 


(This is a humorous account. No car radios or vehicles were injured during the writing of this article. The "THEYs" and "THEMs" finally remarked, "No Comment," when asked about this. If you would like a real history lesson, here it is. )

Friday, May 10, 2013

A Presbyterian's Guide to Church Seating

As someone who's not too far removed from the tricky process of finding “my seat” in church, I thought I might offer a few helpful tips for those who are still looking. This can be a difficult endeavor but with these easy tips, you can avoid the much dreaded, “in Christian love, remove yourself from my seat" glare.

We all know that picking your seat is as serious as joining the church. Selection cannot be taken lightly, for it is permanent.  This is a multi-phased process which executed properly should yield the idea worship service spot. 

First, consider the room. How is the seating arranged? Chairs or pews? Is the sanctuary long or wide? Where is the pulpit situated? And where are the heating/air condition vents located? Where are the exits?

You may believe these questions to be nonessential but if you have ever found yourself unable to hear, packed in a pew with thirty others and suffering from mild hypothermia, you know their importance. 

Second, upon completion of your sanctuary review, you need to do a personal evaluation. Do you want to sit near anyone else? Do you need to see the pastor? How quickly do you wish to exit after the Benediction? Where do the children sit?

This will help you to determine two of the most critical criteria for where you sit. Front, Back or Middle? And in many sanctuaries/meeting rooms, Left, Right or Middle?
(Hint: True Presbyterians sit mostly middle or back) 

The more difficult of these questions is the Left, Right or Middle? Please allow me to offer this simple yet handy reference guide based on how you sleep.
If you sleep on your back? The Middle is likely for you. Are you a side sleeper? Then choose the side which matches the shoulder you rest on most frequently. If you are stomach sleeper, whichever way your head naturally turns is your preferred side. Doing this will also minimize your physical discomfort during the service.

Which brings us to the third step in the process, seat visiting. Now that you have selected a general area where you might like to sit, you will need to run several "test seat" visits. Take this seriously because it could be the difference between true community and Church discipline.

To make the best selection, I suggest varying your arrive to Church. Come early, come late, come right on time and after a few weeks which seats are open will become clear. Don't be embarrassed about the time it takes, we have all gone through this process. 
I also recommend, if needed, draw a diagram and cross out seats as they become occupied. It will shorten your test seating time. 

During this period, it is wise to test as many seats as possible, without moving mid-service. Keep in mind the previous steps and soon enough you will find your permanent Church Seat.

The final selection process comes with further evaluation. 
Consider: Does your chosen seat surround you with people who make a joyful noise or do they sound more like the angels? Do you happen to be seated behind the only seven foot tall man in your church? Have you  received a glare? Or perhaps a welcoming smile from you selected section? Can focus on the sermon or are the children near you more interesting? (Oh, sorry that is a different issue entirely)

Once you have chosen your seat, it will likely be a blessing for years to come. Chose carefully, pray for wisdom and consult Church leadership, if needed. Aside from a few who were born in their pew, we all understand this trying time in attending a new church.

Don't be discouraged. I am living proof this process works. I sit Middle Right.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Gentle

Tonight, a friend posted about the Myers Briggs Personality Test turning 70 this year. It spurred me on to take my own test and see what came up. I have taken it before and usually recieve an INFP or ENFP and according to one test I was an INTJ. While I have many of these qualities of these personality types. I am most often an INFP. Then I looked up the picture or as they are called on this occasion "party favor." I was surprised by what I found.

Reading the words on this picture elicited nods of agreement as I thought, "Yes, that's me." That was until I saw the word "gentle" placed with almost certain intention where the mouth would reside. This struck me sending a pang through my heart of...I'm not sure. For all my love of words and encouragement, what I say wouldn't generally be classified as gentle. I am staring to thing that pang is a reminder that I would like them to be.

Not that opinions and humor don't have their place but maybe I need to learn to choose my words with more discernment at times. I can think of at least three people I usually crush instead of gently uplift with only a few syllables. And I can think of at least one fictional character receiving the same treatment. This is far from what I want my words to be.

Oh, how I need the grace of God to grow me up in Christ so that I would be gentle. Not just in my wording but in my heart as well. Several of the other words on the page do describe me well, but because gentleness isn't necessarily characteristic, they are hidden away behind harsh words. Time for some serious prayer and consideration, which considering makes a lot of sense.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Twitter's "Unofficial" Side Effects.

I joined Twitter a few months ago after years of resisting it. I thought it might be a plausible outlet for all of the "extra" thoughts or randomness I have in my mine. Although, at times it is a tremendous distraction, I am constantly learning from it (shockingly) and enjoying nearly every tweet. This interest has lead me to consider what some of  the "Side Effects" of Twitter might be.

They are as follows:
  • Don't use Twitter while operating a motor vehicle.
  • Twitter may interfere with your ability to operate heavy machinery.
  • Twitter Feed's may cause dizziness, scroll slowly.
  • Twitter is most effect when used with various forms of Social Media. 
  • If you experience an increase in blood pressure due to amazing Tweets, Retweet.
  • Should boredom occur, please refresh browser. If symptoms persist, try Pinterest.
  • When used correctly Twitter will entertain in exchange for time depletion. 
This list is far from conclusive but I think you get the gist. Happy Tweeting from this Happy Twit! 


Friday, April 26, 2013

Bunny Trail aka Tangent

The progress on my novel has slowed because I have less time these days. However, that is not the only reason. I've been taking the time to go down a "Bunny Trail" as some would call it to explore a repeated theme of my story. I started to think maybe this Trail held some insights for my characters and for me. As it turns out, I was right.

I've written before about how stories are not always about what happens in the main action. In writing, what is read is often a clever way of telling a more honest, heartfelt story in less frightening terms. Well, on my "Bunny Trail" I have tried to push away all the clever overtones and just be honest, real. I can't say its especially well written but there is a freedom to it, an enjoyment of allowing my characters and myself to say what's on our hearts.

Yet, it leaves me feeling vulnerable to be this real which is why I think so many stories have more than one layer and context. So I will finish my novel eventually. Hopefully before another year passes. That story will be for you. And my "Bunny Trail" which will aid in the tell of that story will be for me. Unless I become bold and less self protective before all is written.

Hmm, I think I have already said to much... A theme which is close to my heart must not be that far from my words either. Good to know.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Promotion

About three weeks ago, I was promoted at work. Its been a challenge and logistical nightmare in some respects and ridiculously fun in others. While it has slowed my own writing projects, it has opened my eyes to others.

I was nervous about taking on a job which would limit my writing time because I figured it might drain my creativity as well. But this job has only impacted one aspect while expanding so many more. I thought of myself as somewhat creative but this has been even beyond my imagination, which I love.
 I am working to write and develop communications for my work and that has stretched how I think about what I say. I have also had the chance to take pictures and think of media importance. These are things I never thought I would be a part of before this. 

I have been blessed by the glimmer of possibility that my hobby and my work could become one. Not just yet but maybe in the future.

So my second draft may take a little longer to finish but the experience I am trading that  for is worth it, for the time being. It's all part of the process and I needn't be afraid of where it leads.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Permission

There are times when I misunderstand or take too literally the things said to me. I have been limiting myself on this blog. I didn't want to write about too much or about too many topics for fear it would work against me in the future. However, I think it could be working against me now.

Yes, I am writing a novel and writing about it is enjoyable. But I also have lots of other thoughts and silly stories to share. So I am giving myself permission to write them. To stop worrying about what might happen in the future with my work and just write. Write now and see how it all unfolds. Now is not the time to hold back but the time to let go and write anything and everything. How else will I grow up as a writer?

I also know that I need to take the same approach to reading. I need to read more of all kinds of things and if I don't like it give myself permission to put it down. Growing up my parents always told me to "finish what I started" and wow have I taken that to heart. In many areas that is what I need to do but not when it comes to books. From now on if I would rather gouge my eyes out than read another page of a book then I will stop. I will try another story.

I will learn from each one whether I finish it or not. Just like writing, now is the time to read  without the pressure that somehow I am a terrible person for not finished a book. I realize how silly that is but it has been part of my process until now. And the truth is there are books not worth finishing out there. My main goal is not to write one of them.

Hurry Up!

Over the last few weeks I have be super busy with other things and other adventures, so draft 2 has been waiting for me. But tomorrow April begins and it is my goal to recreate November's writing production. It is my goal to finish draft two by the end of the month.

It may be had to do with my schedule filling by the minute and extra responsibilities at work but I plan on doing it anyway. I am beginning to see the wisdom in getting stories finished in shorter periods of time. Well, at least complete drafts. Once more time passes it seems to become harder to keep going, harder to keep characters and plots together, just harder.

I think part of this is because I am not a static character nor are those I am writing. Time gives opportunity for reflection, learning and growing which are great things but not if they kill stories. Time changes me and my writing. So finishing drafts together will make them easier to work with later because they won't have been impacted by too much time. Congruent stories come from congruent writing. I guess I know its time to hurry up and get this draft done before my character(s) eat up too much of the clock.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Hard Words

Its getting serious around here. My second draft is coming together and the plot is thickening. Thickening enough that I am struggling to make sense of it. I know my characters and where they want to go but getting them there is more challenging than I thought. Its like wading through waist high mud.

At times like this words become harder to find. Its really fun when the words come easily but the temptation to quit appears almost immediately following a word count slump. Then the inner editor begins to find ways to rear its ugly head. I'm guess this is where many people do quit and rightfully so. I never thought telling a "simple" story would be this difficult. But I am not going to give up.

I refuse to let this get the better of me because as much as I can't imagine how I will get there, I also can't imagine not getting there. I must remember this is a process and piece by piece, word by word this story will be finished.

We'll deal with whether its any good later. For now finishing draft 2 is the goal, hard words or not.






Thursday, February 14, 2013

There is no Subsitute,

For hard work. No one can do it for you. No one can make it easier. No one can make it go faster. Doing something that requires hard work takes time, lots of time.

I have been a little distracted lately. I am working on my novel but I have also spent sometime trying to figure out a way to make the process go faster. This has help me realize the above statements. And my search for a short cut has only drawn out the process. The only way my novel will be written is if I sit down and write it.

The other pursues might be fun and make me laugh. Thus they are not a "complete" waste of time. But they are a distraction keeping me from taking steps toward finishing the story.

Its a story no one else can write. No one else can because it my own. I have to do it. And in a world full of microwaves and miracle pills, the time it will take is not any easy thing to swallow.

In many ways, it seems as though I should be done by now. But in all honesty, I am just getting started. There is no substitute for hard work. There are no short cuts. At the end of the day, I have to do it, no matter how long it takes. And its mine to do. To write.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

"I am writing a Novel"

A year ago these are words I genuinely never thought I would say. I was too afraid that if I said I wanted to write people would think me rather odd. While that may be true in many respects, the last year has also proved just the opposite. The words, "I am writing a novel," usually generate interesting conversations instead of condescending looks. I am not sure what I was thinking but it's not often I am pleased to admit I was wrong.

It seems that in being able to say the words myself, I am touching a on a part of me which was previously hidden. That's what others are responding to.

However, saying the words do not eliminate the work. Writing my be a solitary activity but it doesn't have to be a lonely one. A few days ago, I sent some rough draft pages to friends for feedback. I need it. I need help because "I am writing a novel!"

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Writing is like Sports...metaphors.

Lately, editing/re-writing is going at snails pace. Now that I have a better handle on what story my characters are telling the struggle becomes how to tell it. How do I organize it? Which point of view would tell it best? What do I leave or take out? Will this story ever be coherent? Is the question that tops the list.

So to be honest I have been reading much more than writing. It seems easier until my characters remind me they have something to say. Their unfinished business looms around me and their (annoyed) voices push me to keep at it until the story becomes clear.

A friend recently suggested to me that outlining was helpful to direct and focus his story. The word "outline" practically jumped at me in bold letters. Hmm, why had I not really thought of this before?

I have notes, diagrams and numerous scribblings of gathered thoughts but nothing organized, nothing which resembles anything like an outline. I think last outline I wrote was for a paper in college about history or something much less thrilling than my story. Yet, this word, the idea of organization revealed much more than my lack of clarity. It showed my inappropriate approach.


To make sense of this revelation in terms I could understand I naturally turned to sports. A short story is like running a 5k or maybe a 10k, it takes some planning and training but not nearly as much as a marathon.  3.1 miles is much different than for 26.2. Some of the process may be the same but what is needed to complete 5k is like the ground work for finishing a marathon. And with that I understood the time as come for me to approach writing this story like its marathon.

I need a plan. I need an outline. Because it's not a 5k...I mean short story. It's a novel.