amelia · gus · just write life · motherhood · writing

When Determination Comes at the Pace of a Bear Crawl

IMG_0368They tell me bears are fast. If we see one when we’re hiking, the worst thing we can do is run because they will chase us down and eat us.

Okay, not really, but mauling for sure. Maybe.

My kids participated in a bear crawl this morning because the bear is their school mascot (of course because we live in the mountains) and this fun run raised lots of money for their school. Specifically the teacher’s classroom libraries, which I think should be stocked with Cynthia Rylant and plenty of gorgeous picture books.

(I told this to my youngest’s kindergarten teacher from last  year. I don’t know his first grade teacher well enough yet to go all book bossy on her.)

Thirty-five laps around a “track” made of tiny cones and discarded water cups. I have no idea who long the actual footage was, but I know it took most kids about thirty minutes to complete. I expected my turbo charged little boy to run his heart flat out.

He did. He also made his hair look like this which is why I cannot bring myself to cut it.

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But my third, my youngest daughter, who has given us a history that involves words like atrophy and MRI and oligloconal banding, the girl who wears a brace to walk so she doesn’t get too tired, the child who had a complete meltdown at my kitchen table Monday afternoon BECAUSE THIRD GRADE IS SO HARD, I didn’t have any expectations. I just hoped she wouldn’t get run over.

Y’all.

She ran and ran and grinned and ran and cheered and laughed. She beat her friends. She never stopped, never gave up, never worried that she couldn’t do it. Watching her reminded me she’s stronger everyday. She’s better every scan. She’s living with a new normal that’s been her normal for over half her life now.

This is her life.

And she’s determined to live it at high speed–not crawl through it cowered down by the what-ifs.

I think it’s time I took a cue from my baby girl and found my own endurance.

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I adore this book. It is wonderfully written and tells the story beautifully.-2

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just write life · Recipes · summer · writing

Creative Summer Suppers

3 Creative Summer Suppers

These days supper might be my most creative moment. Four busy summer kids is a lot to handle, making the moments we gather around the table all the more special. Summer cooking is its own lesson in creativity and color, and there’s nothing I love better than the simplicity of yellow squash and green zucchini tossed with a sliced onion and sizzling in my cast iron skillet… Read more.

Sharing simple creative summer suppers over at Soulful Ink today. Join me there?

just write life · writing

Still Waters Wins Selah Awards!

My writing career launched in 2014 through the connections I made at the Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference. So last week, when I was double nominated as a Selah Award finalist for First Novel and a fiction finalist for the Director’s Choice Award, I felt like I’d come full circle.

Four years ago I sat in that crowd and wondered if I’d ever cross that stage to accept a plaque with with mine and my book’s name on it.

Last week I accepted three.

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My oldest daughter, Madelynne and my husband Joshua came with me. Joshua, to be a my support. Madelynne, to fangirl over fellow writer, Kristen Hogrefe, whose book The Revisionary was also a double winner for Speculative and YA.

Still Waters won the Selah Award for First Novel and to my everlasting surprise, I also won Selah Fiction Book of the Year.

Eva Marie Everson is the contest director, but she wears many hats, and one of those is as my editor. She’s a great secret keeper.

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Then, conference directors, Edie Melson and DiAnn Mills, talented and accomplished women who trusted me enough to name me a member of their prestigious faculty in 2017, announced the Director’s Choice Award for Fiction.

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And I received another decoration for a wall I didn’t know I needed.

I’m deeply honored and humbled to have my story recognized for its merit in the very place where I first believed I could write and sell a novel.

As Cora Anne learns, there’s nothing like coming home.

Photo credits: Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference and friends.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. 

Friends · just write life · reflections · writing

Lessons Learned from Red Shoes

My friend Kim (aka The Well Dressed Writer) loves red shoes. She says they’re sassy and classy and can elevate an outfit from boring to brilliant.

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Kim loves bows. And red.

She’s right.

I like comfortable shoes. Clogs. Crocs. Converse. These go-with-everything clearance finds that slip on easy when I’m headed out the door for the elementary school drop-off.

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Y’all. I’m all about the easy.

But sometimes, sometimes, it’s good to be all about the brilliant. Good to find a new place to connect–even if it’s over something as simple as shoes. When I wore these fun (but so-not-me) plaid heels of Kim’s at the Ohio Christian Writers Conference last weekend, they sparked conversations and broke down barriers.

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One pair of sassy red shoes. All it took. Because suddenly, I wasn’t just a writer talking about her book. I was a writer wearing cute shoes and others–even the men–made commenting on my shoes a thing.

And I made it through the whole day in the highest heels I’ve ever worn. I’m not going to lie. My feet hurt at the end of it. But isn’t that the way of life? Don’t we sometimes let ourselves hurt and sacrifice just a little so we can pour into others?

Obviously this is about more than red shoes. 

I can get pretty obstinate at times about wanting to do things MY way. MY plan. MY goal. MY expectation. But sometimes, when I let myself be given a piece of advice and then I take it (i.e. these shoes will look better), I find myself experiencing a whole new world. One where I can suddenly connect with a woman I wouldn’t have known how to approach. One where I can praise my friend for her fancy and frugal eye. One where I can wear a pair of shoes that caused me fear–what if I trip? What if everyone can tell I don’t usually dress this way?

What if everyone still sees me as just that mom scribbling words in her yoga pants and praying they get read?

Or… what if I wear these shoes and I feel smart and confident and well-dressed? What if all that spills over and out as I talk about my book and my writing journey and motherhood and the chaos of everyday life that makes a non-ordinary day with it’s non-ordinary shoes so very, very special.

Get yourself some red shoes, friend. Or your equivalent. Do something outside your norm and embrace the doors that open, welcoming you inside.

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Sweet shoe buddy. Apparently red plaid is a thing I didn’t know about.

I adore this book. It is wonderfully written and tells the story beautifully.

just write life · writing

Why I Don’t Enjoy My Grocery Store (and other things I’m learning)

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At least they have pretty flowers.

We moved over a year ago. Ten miles down the road, jumped the county line. New schools, new community, new grocery store.

But I keep going back to the old one.

Because I like my routine and I like what I know and I don’t like it when I have to figure out something new. That takes time. And energy. And mental capacity.

It would be fine if every Ingles or Walmart or Target or –insert your favorite chain store here–was the same. But they’re not. And now my local Ingles has gone and REMODELED. It was bad enough the frozen foods were flanked by the rice aisle instead of the cereal like my old store, but now the register counters are different and there’s sushi next to the fried chicken.

Come on, people. Can’t we let things just stay the same?

Ahem. I think we’ve found Lindsey’s issues.

Whenever I find something that’s working, I want to keep it working. I don’t want to change it. I don’t want to make it better. I want to keep what I know because that’s easy and not mentally taxing. I don’t have to make any new decisions if the old decision is STILL WORKING JUST FINE.

This marketing for a book business has thrown me under the bus, y’all. Seriously. I feel run-over and run-down because what works for twenty-four hours may not work for the next forty-eight. I’m trying to learn a whole lot of information at once because–spoiler alert–I have perfectionistic tendencies/procrastination issues.

I know you’re all shocked by that little revelation.

But as a result, I’m struggling to figure out what’s best for my little book’s sales gain and my emotional capacity. Because–this post is full of random Lindsey trivia–I am on social sensory overload and this experience has me teetering right off the edge into full Highly Sensitive Person meltdown.

If you don’t know what I’m talking about, go over to Amazon (or a local indie) and buy Anne Bogel’s Reading People. She explains it better and also has figured out how to navigate social media life as an HSP. I’ll be on the porch with my iced coffee and my highlighter if you need to join me.

But I’m still shopping at the Ingles in my old town because I KNOW EXACTLY WHERE EVERYTHING IS ALREADY. Also, I know this: word of mouth sells books way better than the Canva ad I spent 30 minutes creating. So if you like my book, tell a friend, please and thank you.

Anything making you feel a little crazy today?

Still WatersVirtual Book Chat-2

 

1000 gifts · just write life · madelynne · motherhood · writing

13 Ways to Live When You’re Only 13

Dear Daughter Turning 13 Today,

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Yesterday I couldn’t reach the paper plates on the top shelf of the tall cabinet and you could.

Yesterday you lay in bed with me, snuggled up like you were still five, but we read Harry Potter instead of Llama Llama.

Yesterday, you were still twelve. You were still considered a kid by society and all the people who create children’s menus at restaurants.

Today you are thirteen.

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This getting older is pretty much like standing on that mountaintop again, realizing we still have so far to go. 

Your daddy doesn’t like when I wish it away. This growing up, growing older, growing taller by the second. He loves having you all independent and that I don’t make him carry a diaper bag anymore when we travel.

But when you were small, I could tuck you into my lap and protect you from the world. I could hold you close and make everything okay with a Disney movie and some popcorn on a school night. (I keep trying to use this tactic, hence Gilmore Girls on the first day of new school when you cried because you didn’t have any friends.)

When  you were small, I was all that stood between you and all things scary. Now you’re growing up and you’re the same age as students who once called me Mrs. Brackett and talked me into reading Twilight and told me about which boys were no good. I can’t imagine you being the same age as Ansley or Cassidy or Katie or Maribeth or Mattie or Savannah or Jessica or Veronica. In my mind, you’re still five and you love coloring and mismatched clothes and playing at the house up the hill and when you grow up, you’re going to be President and Jackson is going to be your Vice President.

Now you’re standing in front of a world that when the news or weather channel is on–thank goodness we don’t have cable TV–seems awfully scary. Do I caution you about social media? Cyber bullying? Nuclear missiles? Hurricanes? EMP pulse? ISIS? Zombie apocalypse?

Or do I just teach you how to live in the face of a world we can’t control? 

I think this is a better lesson.

13 Ways to Really Live When You’re Only 13

  1. Sing. Loudly. Off key or on key. Hamilton score or Taylor Swift (the old stuff though). It makes you happy. So do it no matter what anyone else thinks.
  2. Laugh. At yourself and with your friends and always, always with your family. We yell enough. We don’t laugh enough.
  3. Wear the clothes that make you feel good. I wish I’d learned that sooner.
  4. Try harder everyday. Keep practicing volleyball and geometry and music and all the things you like.
  5. Enjoy the sugar now. Though we do talk about healthy choices… I’m so jealous you can drink a Dr. Pepper without an ounce of guilt because you’re young and full of never-ending metabolism.
  6. Be yourself. You’ve never cared what the popular kids thought. Don’t start now.

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    Case in point: sparkly hat.
  7. Keep the compassion. Walk between the crowds, see the ones outside.
  8. Know what you believe. Now’s the time to ask all the questions. To maybe find all the answers. Talk to us now, while we’re closer than a phone call.
  9. Talk as much as you want. I know we joke about how you could talk the wallpaper off the dining room wall (and I really wish you’d try) but I love to listen to you tell me about every detail of your day. Truly, even when you think I’m not listening, I am.
  10. Delight in all the small stuff. You already do–let that be a part of the young woman you become. One who sees how all the little moments really matter.
  11. But let the little hurts go. We talk about this almost everyday. We’re both working on it and I hope you learn faster than me that letting some things roll on off will make you happier.
  12. Like what you like. Music. Books. Clothes. Games. Like the things that make you grin and let others do the same.
  13. Stay honest. You tell me you’re like me–but you’re not. You’re stronger and more confident than I’ve ever been. And you’re honest–with yourself and others. You talk things out. You wrestle your hurts. You ask for help. Because you don’t pretend to be something you’re not.

While I could happily wait a little longer to see you become a young woman… this time keeps coming at us and the days and years seem shorter every time. Settle in, baby girl. We’re going to make it to the other side.

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Madelynne was born so long ago WE DIDN’T USE DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHY AT HER BIRTH.

 

Thirteen years ago I birthed this baby. Eleven days ago I birthed this book. Let’s just say one took longer than the other and they’ve both caused me immeasurable amounts of tears–and incomprehensible joy.

joshua · just write life · marriage · writing

Dear Twenty-Two (a lesson in marriage)

561065_4402535546884_1042303218_nDear Twenty-Two,

Look at you, so flush with love and naivety in your crinoline and Scarlett O’Hara curls. Wedding day dress up. But you don’t know, twenty-two, what I know now. Thirty-seven and fifteen years later. You don’t know anything about marriage or motherhood or making every moment count.

You don’t know about mortgages and missed opportunities and meeting in the middle. You think you do. That’s the lovely beauty of youth. The endless idealism and optimism that rides the top of the waves, cresting right into the shore of adulthood, so certain and pure.

Bless your heart. You’re only twenty-two.

Fifteen years will pass quickly—in a blur really. You’ll have four different homes and four different children and the constant love of a steady man. You got that part right, twenty-two. You picked a man who’ll stick it out through the thick and thin and threadbare years of lean tables but baby-plump waistlines.

Fifteen years later you’ll understand a smidge more about the mystery of a good marriage. But only a smidge. Because there’s folks like grandparents and church leaders and pillars of the community who’ve been sticking it out for much, much longer, and when you tell them it’s your fifteenth anniversary on that hot July day, they’ll smile with knowing.

Fifteen is barely beginning in the long journey to fifty or sixty or seventy-five.

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Oh, twenty-two, you thought that one day was perfect and nothing could be more right, more true, more content. But more is coming.

More blessing. More sadness. More love.

If I could have told you then what I know now, you’d never have believed me. You’d never believe you’ll make selfish decisions or impractical ones; you’ll say hurtful things you nurse into the night on your side of the bed. You’ll say proud things too, and brag about how he loves you even when you’re broken, even when you’re wrong, even when you’re ridiculous with fatigue and deadlines.

Twenty-two, you believe all the right choices add up to a just right life. But standing on the other side of fifteen years, you’ll learn it’s not about right or wrong decisions. Making a life is about handling the choices you weren’t given—like the child with the neurological disorder or the job he believed in until the bitter end or the responsibilities that come with melding two families into one.

You’ll learn, sweet twenty-two. But when you do, promise me, you’ll never lose that spark of naïve idealism—that eternal, hopeful belief everything will all work out in its own time. That dark days can only get brighter and bright days will shore up your soul for the ones to come. Marriage is hard; life is difficult. But the journey through these years, the beauty of growing old with the one person who knows you inside out? More than worth the bumps along the way.602545_4402534626861_359516234_n

Keep smiling, twenty-two. That look of joy on your face? I want to see it there in another fifteen—or fifty—years.

Originally published in The Elberton Star, July 26, 2017. 

 

P.S. My debut novel, Still Waters,  is available for pre-order! It’s a Lowcountry love story about the power of family and forgiveness.