linkups · writing

What’s Saving My Life Right Now :: Winter 2017 Edition

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Also, these boots. Wal-mart. I’m not kidding. Kept me toasty warm for our one snowfall this year.

In these days of rampant internet-grouchiness, it’s nice to have an online “friend” or two you can always count on for something uplifting.

Modern Mrs. Darcy is topping my list for always answering my never-ending wondering What Should I Read Next? and she may (definitely is) responsible for the ridiculous number of thrifted/library sale/borrowed books on my TBR shelf.

Today our book loving community is linking up the small, yet notable, things saving our lives in the right here and now. Because I’ve found it’s most often in the small stuff and the menial tasks where I regain my composure and find my joy.

On my list for this Groundhog Day (really? Six more weeks of winter, I’ve heard. Except in Georgia, we’ve only had like 3 days of winter, so I guess it’s okay):

1. The Skimm is rocking my inbox. Y’all, I want to be informed, but sheesh? Is there anywhere online to read news that’s not biased/filtered/full of typos? Yes. Yes, there is. Sign up for The Skimm and get the biggest news of the day straight in your inbox. Best part–these writers are speaking my language, literally. This is the vernacular of the people, that is, those of us who want to be educated but don’t want to have to look up that word some CNN reporter thought was important to use but not important enough to spell correctly. Plus, I appreciate that, so far, they’re not leaning left or right but telling it like it is–with a little tongue in cheek satire for the kindergarten squabbles happening on the Capitol floor right now.

2. Reading Eggs. I told those of you who get my newsletter about Reading Eggs a couple of weeks ago. Here’s the deal: if you’re homeschooling (like me) or have a student who might be a struggling reader (like me) or find that you want to pull your hair out working through a reader with one of your kids (LIKE ME), go sign up for the free 4-week trial. There’s a talking duck and some games and actual learning happening here. Yes, it’s a computer program. No, I don’t believe kids should only learn from the computer. Yes, I’m going to pay for a subscription when our trial is up BECAUSE IT IS WORKING AND DOESN’T MAKE EITHER OF US CRY.

3. I’m composing this treatise during the YMCA Homeschool PE class my girls started last week. For $45 apiece, we get a 15-week class that lasts 2 hours. And there’s swimming. And it lasts TWO HOURS. Do you know how many words I can write in two hours? (Answer:  A lot.)

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4. The Mitford Books. I’m trying to be a better counter of my books this year. So far… I’ve written down two but I’ve read five? I think. See the problem? Anyway, there’s a long list of to-be-reads and want-to-reads and should-have-already-read but I keep coming back to the Mitford series, which my husband finds ironic since I directed the play last fall and you’d think I’d have read the books then. Yeah, not so much. I was a little busy with, you know, moving and editing my novel and directing my play. I’m picking up Mitford these days whenever I’m feeling low, whenever I’ve read something that makes me feel uncomfortable, whenever I need an immersion that’s soothing to my soul like a hot bath and a glass of wine… which I may be indulging in while reading.

5. Southern Living. I think it goes without saying that my mother raised me on Clemson football and  Southern Living like any good woman from the Lowcountry should do for her children. But we had a few years where SL was not winning in the recipe department for me. Listen, if I can’t find this ingredient at the local Ingles, I’m not making this dish. But the 2017 issues are already redefining the SL kitchen with family-friendly, budget-friendly, live-in-the-sticks-with-only-one-grocery-store-friendly recipes. We have especially enjoyed this Chicken with Cornbread Dumplings as an (almost) gluten free alternative to my family’s favorite. I even made it with the frozen turkey leftover from Thanksgiving and it was like turkey and dressing in bowl with a side of comfort.

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Conversations the latest issue of Southern Living causes with my sisters.

6. Writers Conferences. Finally, anytime I’m overwhelmed trying to figure out this homeschool/writer thing I’ve got going on, I take a deep breath and count the days on my calendar because FCWC is almost here. I’ll be heading out in nineteen days for the Florida Christian Writers Conference where I’ll be teaching How to Write Flash Fiction and hanging with my writer friends. For four days I get to be writer-Lindsey and nothing else and I cannot wait. Plus, it’s Florida in February which is pretty much perfect. (It’s also 15 weeks until the Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference in case you’re wondering. I’ll be there, too.)

7. Meal Planning. I’ve always been a meal planner, but we’ve taken it one step further right now and made the attempt to stop my children from eating anything they find at any hour of the day. I’d say it’s working about 50% of the time. However, posting my meal plans is doing wonders for my social media interactions, so there’s that.

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What’s saving your life? I’ve got some books lying around that need a new home. Leave me a comment and you might win one!

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1000 gifts · favorite things · linkups · writing

What’s Saving My Life :: Winter 2016 Edition

What's Saving My Life Right Now __ Winter 2016 EditionI adore that Anne of Modern Mrs. Darcy says this about the Saving My Life posts…

The idea comes from Barbara Brown Taylor’s wonderful memoir Leaving Church. In it, Taylor tells the story of when she was invited to speak at a gathering, and her host assigned the topic: “Tell us what is saving your life right now.”

This is one of those six-degrees-from-Kevin-Bacon moments. (Did you ever play that in high school?) Barbara Brown Taylor is a professor at a local college here, so I see her and read her writings in the way that frequent small towns do–without much recognition that greatness lives among us. I haven’t read her memoir, but I might add it to my #60in2016 Reading Challenge.

But anyway…

Saving my life right now doesn’t look much different from last year about this time when I penned a post for the same link up with the same theme. But this time last year I was drowning in fear over my daughter’s neurological diagnosis and every moment seemed a blessing in disguise.

This year I’m aiming for renewal–of my soul, my hope, my joy, my focus. Last year was hard on us emotionally and many times, the year was as crushing as it was uplifting. For all the strides I made publishing-wise I still found myself floundering for my purpose, wondering how I could really be called to much beyond these four little souls (who try my temper daily) and making sure everyday physical and spiritual needs are at least acknowledged.

But there’s a call to not just write but share. And I hope that’s what this little corner means to you–that it’s a place I share the real and just write life.

Saving My Life Right Now :: Winter 2016 Edition

  1. The Trampoline. Seriously best Christmas present ever. Keeps them all occupied with something that’s not digital for longer than 20 minutes. Netflix, you’ve been replaced.IMG_0964
  2. My Reading Challenge. I love this group that came about because so many of you said you wanted to read 60 books in 2016 with me. I’m six down: Gone Girl, Dear Mr. Knightley, Jane Eyre, Raising Grateful Kids, The Extroverted Writer, and Restless which leads me to…

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    On the nightstand for February.
  3. Scripture. Which, I know, is the point of believing the Bible is God-breathed, but when you’ve been a good church girl your whole life, like me, you run the risk of letting the familiar become… familiar. Which is why I read Restless and why I’m exploring some verse-mapping ala Kristy Cambron (and also I’m an author blog stalker). Also why this one is on my reading list. IMG_5278
  4. My Better Life Bag. An early birthday present (twenty days until I tip early-thirties and into late-thirties) from my patient husband who appreciates a specific request. And, you know, a list for him that’s been commissioned as a blog post.IMG_8875
  5. This boy and his trucks. He both saves me from days of uninterrupted computer time, which would undoubtably result in back spasms and poor eyesight, and drives me batty because we’re trying to sell the house and piles of dirt and rocks don’t exactly say curb appeal. But that grin? It’s kind of irresistible.

 

Tell me about you–what’s saving your life right now? And if you want in on #60in2016 let me know!

Books · family · linkups · motherhood

Raising Grateful Kids (review and promise)

The very thing most parents long to give their kids— a grateful heart—is destroyed in our attempt to simultaneously give them the worldOn a rainy December Monday just before Christmas, I spent my “work hours” in the waiting room of a Honda dealership getting our infamous 2004 Odyssey fixed of all the recalls that had filled up our mailbox. And I told them to figure out what was wrong with our doors, change the oil, and give it a general inspection.

Needless to say, this was an all day process. Luckily my mom came to my rescue and we Christmas shopped and went out to lunch. Smack dab in the middle of my Panera Autumn Squash bread bowl, the service department called. All those recalls—airbags and starter switches—fixed free of charge. But they’d evaluated all our other… issues and those came with a $2500 price tag.

For a van they’d give us $500 on trade-in value.

We almost bought a new vehicle that afternoon. I had that moment of “this-is-ridiculous-and-it’s-not-safe” followed by the overwhelming truth: I really, really want a new van.

And I don’t want one because of the work this one needs (which we actually are getting done in stages for half the price at local mechanic shop). I want a new van for one primary reason—the recall I most want fixed, Honda won’t honor. The peeling paint.

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That’s a cosmetic issue. Not a safety factor.

My friends joke how much they love our van—they always know it’s me! And while I truly don’t believe anyone who knows and loves us judges us, I still have to swallow a whole heaping mouthful of pride every Sunday I park in the lot beside much nicer and shinier and newer vehicles. At Ingles, I duck my head in shame and make sarcastic comments about Honda when the bag boys bring out my groceries. I beat others to the punch when giving directions to our house—just pull in the drive with the paint peeling van!

Clearly, I’m really, really bothered by this. And I could raise my voice and shake my fist and fight a fight with corporates who don’t care (because I’ve tried); I can rage against God how unfair it is I always manage to pick the lemon of the group; I could just throw down the tax return on a new paint job and be done. But I won’t get to go to the beach this year or make another dent in our debt.

Truth is, while we do need a new van, it’s not a dire need. We can drive this one (and we intend to for one more year while we save). I can be grateful that it gets us everywhere we need to go, and I’m not devastated when Gus pokes a hole in his Chic-fil-A cup full of Sprite on the way home. (Seriously, every single time.)

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So one of those kids isn’t mine. But this van is big enough for all of mine plus a couple extras. And this is Gus just before he spiked a fever. Fun times.

But I’m convinced I’m entitled to a new van because this one, to be honest, just makes me look bad. And I’m so tired of looking bad.

Then my daughter tells me she needs new jeans. Because she only has one pair of jeggings and she needs more. Oh, and her shirts aren’t cute and can she go to camp this summer and when is she getting a new bike?

But she doesn’t actually need any of this. Which is what I say.

And you don’t need a new van, whispers that still small voice. I know what you need and when you need it, and I promise I will provide.

Unless my pride gets in the way first.

This last month, I joined with over 300 other bloggers and people of influence to read and generate interest in Kristen Welch’s new book, Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World. To be honest, I had to walk away from it early on because of this:

Entitlement didn’t start with my kids. It began with me. I entitled them because I was entitled. (p. 10)

Ouch.

Truth is, I can’t raise my kids to be something I’m not and grateful probably isn’t the first word that comes to mind when people describe me.

I complain. A lot.

I gripe. A lot.

I want things. A LOT.

But I have everything I need.

What I love most about Kristen’s voice in this book is how real she gets. She relates their mistakes and failures along with their successes and she humbles herself over and over to say, she knows she’s not always getting it right–but she knows there’s a better way.

There’s a better way to raise our kids than to just give them the world. Because this world is temporary and it is not our home. This world is harsh and it is not forgiving. This world is broken and we are called to heal.

And gratefulness starts the same place as entitlement–in my home, with me.

So that’s my review and here’s my promise:

If you buy this book, Kristen’s not going to tell you how to fix your kids. She’s going to give you some words to ponder and apply to yourself first. Then, when you’re ready she’ll give you some practical advice that will help you raise grateful kids and your own grateful heart.

I promise you won’t feel the same after.

If you read it (you can get it here on Amazon of course!), drop me a line! I’ll be posting some more thoughts with #raisinggratefulkids on my Facebook page. I’d love to have you join in the convo there, a little mini-book club for the late winter blahs…

and the days when raising kids is hard, hard, hard!

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http://schemas.google.com/blogger/2008/kind#post · linkups

What’s Saving My Life Right Now

So I stumbled onto Modern Mrs. Darcy this week. How have I been missing her? Anne with an ‘e’, loves books, mom of four….I’m pretty sure she doesn’t know we’re soul friends. I’ll have to work on that. But she had this post about what’s saving her life, just all the random little goodies that make days easier, those thousands of gifts I count inconsistently but bow my head in gratitude for when I remember that He didn’t have to make this easy.

Saving my life right now? My chaotic, doctor appointment, insurance debacle, temper tantrum (me, not kids) life? These little fun gems. Necessary? No. Blessings? Yes. Reminders that I really do have it good and that’s the life I need to share.

Gilmore Girls on Netflix. 

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I totally justify my current Loreli-Rory-Luke binge by telling myself that it’s a dialogue study. It is. Rachel Hauck wrote a post about what writers can learn from the Gilmore girls, and besides that, a girl needs background distraction when folding laundry. Right?

The iPad for the littles. They’ve taken over my iPad for their own Netflix binges that include Harry and the Bucket Full of Dinosaurs and anything with a dump truck or train. Don’t judge. It’s winter and cold and trust me, we get our fair share of imaginary play and outside time. But letting them watch what they want so the big girls can watch what they want? Sometimes that’s called saving my life and saving dinner.

Chai tea latte. It’s my new Starbucks fave. Alas, my gift cards have run out, and I’m having withdrawals. I made a version at home a few weeks ago, but sometimes it’s just worth it to cough up the few bucks and have someone else do the work. Hot, sweet, low-cal and soothing me through tough days. Thank you, Starbucks in my local Ingles.

Chic-fil-a giftcards. 

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Speaking of gift cards, friends keep sending us these. They want to help at a time when we don’t know what we need, and here in the South, it’s figured that food’s always a safe bet. So we fill up on waffle fries and nuggets for them, salads and sweet tea for me, and then we head to the doctor/physical therapy/test appointment a little less stressed.

Birthday plans. Amelia’s birthday is the 19th. She’s been talking about it for months. We’re planning a little party with all her favorite things (and it’s quite a hodgepodge, let me tell you). She makes a new plan everyday. We’re also planning something special since we’ll be in Birmingham at the specialist for her birthday….maybe a pool at the hotel? To add to the birthday fun, mine’s two days after hers. There’s a cousin, an uncle, my sister, an expected baby, and my daddy’s birthday all in February too. We like to cram it all in the shortest month possible.

Chocolate. I’m taking myself to Trader Joe’s after our next neurologist appointment and buying the dark chocolate caramel popcorn my mom gave Joshua for Christmas. He didn’t mind a bit I ate it all. These days just a little chocolate hit at nap time keeps me going.

Jazzercise.

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The above would be one of the reasons I keep going to class. That and the 30 in 35 days challenge that has the cutest shirt for a prize! Jazz keeps me up to date on music too. That’s not my forte, but after an entire class of Katy Perry yesterday, I must confess, I think I might be a fan.

Unroll.me for the email subscriptions. If you don’t do this, stop reading and sign up now. Unroll.me is the personal assistant I’ve always needed. All my various subscriptions (blogs) now come in one email that I can read at my leisure. Changed my life. And my inbox.

Tsh’s ’round the world adventure. Except Tsh. I didn’t roll her up because I don’t want to miss an update of where in the world the Oxenreiders (#worldwideox) are now. Follow on Instagram for an instant passport and dream of what it would be like to go around the world with your kids. Then dream of what it would be like without them! (Probably not as fun.)

Bloggers who confess the truth about blogging. Read this today: My Slower Paced Blog from Micha Boyett. Got the link from a Tsh email, just so you know. Spoke to me profoundly. I’m not a big blogger. I’m jealous of them, I confess, but I don’t want to be a big blogger. I don’t want to have to comment on every piece of news media that’s getting twitter feed or Facebook views. I don’t want to be controversial just to get views. I don’t want to write about things that don’t inspire me. So if you’re still sticking with me, I thank you for appreciating this slow little blog that’s leading to a slowly written little novel. Because I’m a writer first and a blogger way behind all that.

And of course there’s this kid. He kills me. Makes me crazy. But gracious, I’m beginning to think God gave him to me because he makes me laugh all the time.

So what’s saving your life these chilly winter days? And where’s all that snow that was persimmon-seed forecast down here? 35 degrees is not worth it unless there’s snow.

Linking up at The Modern Mrs. Darcy.

Christmas · faith · Friday Five · holidays · linkups

Dear Ones Who Bear Sad Tidings This Year (Five Minute Friday)

It can be hard this time of year to find the joy in the twinkly lights and the broken nativity and the limp garland when all you want to do is hide away in a corner from the well-wishers and the do-gooders and the hope-bringers.

It can be hard to be facing a holiday ringed with family dinners and friendly hospitality and gift exchanging when there’s one less seat at the table, one less card in the mail, one less gift under the tree.

When I was ten years old my mama walked this journey. My daddy walks it now. This stumble through the season of glad tidings when the tidings dealt you this year were dark and doomed. The tidings of grief under the shadow of fear.

I don’t remember how Mama got through that Christmas. Her mother died three days before December 25 and we buried her two days after. My most vivid memories are that she bought me a black velvet dress and my uncle reamed all the grandkids for daring to ask if we would open the presents Grandmommy had already wrapped and placed beneath her tree. There would have been five of us kids at that time. Five of us to get through breakfasts and toys and tantrums and the joy of Christmas that would forever be tainted with shock.

I remember how we got through last year when the cancer was doing its death march across my grandfather’s gut and the dementia was already eating away his memory. We just didn’t talk about it. We visited and the last time I saw him speak and smile and know me was Christmas Eve. This year I want to talk and celebrate and remember that he loved the mountains and coffee and another plaid shirt wrapped alongside a good book.

I don’t know how you do it. I don’t know how you walk through a season of grief during a season of happiness, but I do know this. You’re walking through a season of love.

Let yourself be wrapped and swaddled and cared for like that baby in a manger. Let that be the only hope you hold because it’s just too much to try and care about shopping deals or holiday feasts or gingerbread houses.

Let this be a season of nothing but love and let love put you back together again.

In that glorious coincidence way God works, I wrote this as part of the Five Minute Friday crew. I haven’t participated in months, but saw the prompt on twitter and had just five minutes this afternoon to word thoughts that had been tossing around for a few days. Then I click over to Kate’s place to link up and her words today? They’re on grief. So much so that she wrote an ebook about it and you can get it for free until midnight tonight.

Christmas makes the pain acute. My prayers are with you if you and yours are walking this journey right now. 

Friday Five · linkups · reflections · writing

When It’s Just Fine to be Finished {five minute friday}

On Fridays the writers gather at Lisa Jo’s. We write in five minute increments like ones scared braved. We’re not supposed to edit or backtrack or over think, though everyone confesses to that at least once and that’s why there’s grace for even the most ordinary of writing tasks.

Except on Fridays five minute ordinary becomes extraordinary. Join us? Link up here and give us your five minutes on

Finish

He says it in a sweet little voice that bears no trace of sarcasm or disrespect. In answer to everything I say.

“It’s time to take a bath now, Gus.”
“We’re going outside to pick tomatoes.”
“Do you want to go see the goats?”

Fine.

Fine, he says with his two-year old lisp and blond curls bobbing. I know he says it because he hears me sigh it in exasperation and his sisters reply it when they’re tired of being asked.

I know it has so many meanings. But sometimes that little four letter word just means what it is:
Fine.

It’s fine. It’s okay. It’s all right. Don’t worry about it. Let it go. Pass it on. Breathe deep.

It’s fine to be finished.

Lisa-Jo is passing the baton. Four years of wild five minute writing in flash mobs and dark bedrooms and late nights that have gradually gotten earlier because let’s face it–all us mamas are tired by 10 p.m. on Thursday, and she knows it’s time to pass it on.

She’s mentored my writing from afar since the day a friend forwarded me that old Gypsy Mama page and I thought who is this woman who knows the words my heart is whispering and weeping even though we’ve never met?

She told me in a crowded room at a conference last fall that I would know when the time was right to write that book that God has laid on my heart and I’m laying back down at His feet.

She was right.

And that time came before I was really read to wrap my mind around it and for months I’ve been trying to do it all.

But I think I’m finished too.

I think it’s time I admit that it’s fine if the blog doesn’t get the best of me and instead that part goes to my children and the legacy of words I truly hope to leave.

It’s fine to let what was once the best thing become something I used to do, for the sake of doing what I’m meant to do at this time, this season, this moment.

It’s just fine to be finished with one season so another can come.

I’m not shutting this down….just taking a break. I’ll be posting sporadically and not worrying about being faithful for numbers or platforms or expectations. I have long believed my best writing comes from when my soul is prompted and I need an alter to remember. This past spring I got caught up in trying to promote and that really didn’t work well for me or sit well with my heart for this space. This is the place that has given me the courage to try for new and bigger dreams and I want to honor it with words that are worthy. But mostly, I need to live and focus on those who share my home and life and give breathe to every word I write. 

linkups · writing

Why I Write (a Blog Hop)

 One of the great things about the internet is how this network of satellites and landlines brings people together. I love finding other women who understand what it means to be a writer, a creative, and a busy mama with way too many projects half-finished on the shelf. But it’s a really busy place too, and with so many people making so much noise, I sometimes struggle with wondering what I have to bring to the table. So when Christie asked if she could include me in this blog hop for writers to share their whys and wheres, I was honored that she had found my little space of rambling an encouragement despite all my shortcomings.

Christie and I met in real life, actually, at the incredible Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writer’s Conference. (A conference I wouldn’t have really known about had it not been for my real life friend Amy, who has been my cheerleader in all these endeavors for the past several months.) We were both taking a course in freelancing and discovered we had both been a part of the (in)courage writer’s group. She’s a beautiful person, inside and out, who uses her blog At the Well to reflect on the intersections of faith and motherhood while reminding us as women what it means to really sit at the well of living water with Jesus.

I love how she answered these questions and admits that the process isn’t always easy but when God has given us words, we are powerless to ignore them. Words are a legacy we are leaving to the next generation of the faithful. I’m stealing this reminder from her blog:

You show that you are a letter from Christ…written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.  2 Cor. 3:3 (NIV)

So why do I pack lunches and pay babysitters and hide in corner booths of restaurants with free Wi-fi? Because when I don’t, I’m not being His letter. I’m not preaching the gospel I know.

So here are my thoughts on the questions of why I do this writer thing now.

What am I writing or working on now?
So many things….likely too many. But as much as I’d like to dedicate myself to one project whole-heartedly, that just doesn’t seem to be my nature. I’m getting better about prioritizing and turning down projects that I don’t need, but I’m still not as focused as I should be. The good news is, I believe God is helping me narrow my overflow of ideas into the places He wants me to be. So right now I’m working on three major writing projects but I’ve managed to narrow each one to suit my style and build off one another.

First, I’m in the editing/finishing stages of my first novel. It’s been a work in process for a looooonnnngggg time, but I can see the end and I can see how God has grown me and groomed me to tell this story. It’s not the same story I would have told five years ago when I first sketched out some weak pages, but as I’ve grown as a writer, it’s grown to be the story that it’s supposed to be. I’m hoping to pitch it officially this fall.

Secondly, I’m freelancing. I’ve had some success recently with Splickety Magazine, Thriving Family, and Georgia Magazine published one of my favorite stories back in May. For Splickety I’m writing my first short stories and guest blogging about writing. Thriving Family lets me use my parenting “expertise” and I’m working on some articles for Georgia Magazine and similar publications that let me talk about one of my favorite topis: living local. I’m thrilled to finally be seeing my words in tangible print and that others are giving credibility to my work. I know it’s not all about that, but honestly, bills have to be paid. Writer’s conferences aren’t free 🙂

Finally, I’m blogging. It’s not as regular as it once was, but that’s okay. Something I learned at Allume was that it’s far more important to have quality than quantity. So that’s what I’m focusing on now. Blogging is my outlet, it’s my publishing without worrying about fitting a genre or a category, and it’s my connection to those I love to share my life with.

How does my work differ from others of my genre?

This is a tough one for me. As a “mommy blogger” I don’t feel that different from others. But as I’m working to enhance my writer’s voice, I think I’m finding what does set me apart. Ann Voskamp posted recently about a quote that inspires her “Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it.” I think that’s really where my voice is. I didn’t realize how much of the slow life I was missing until I quit my full-time outside the home job as a teacher to stay home and just be a wife and a mom. And I love that “just”. There’s value and admirality in this role and it’s taught me to be a better writer because I’ve become hyper aware of my children and how quickly this stage of life is passing us by. I don’t want to miss a thing. I want to revel and delight and enjoy. Then I want to tell you all about how there is grace and amazement and peace in growing gardens and waterfall hikes and popsicles on the porch everyday. I’m seeing this in my fiction writing too. For me, the stories I write aren’t about the big changes people make. They’re about all the little things we wake up to on a daily basis but are at risk of never appreciating. My stories are all about those moments when we realize what it means to really breathe in grace.

And wow, giving words to this makes me feel like I’m finding my focus all over again.

Why do I write what I do?

Sarah Mae talked about “making alters” at Allume. She was referencing how the Israelites would make actual alters when God had done something incredible they didn’t want to have the next generation forget. Then ever since she said that, I’ve heard that phrase over and over in various capacities. And it’s helped me give a name to why I blog–it’s how I don’t forget what these hardest and most glorious moments of motherhood were like. Fiction writing is like that too–there’s a handful of stories in this world and we tell them over and over again and again in new and exciting ways because these themes of overcoming failure and desperation and experiencing grief and love are tales we need to never forget. My freelance work is all about that notion of being astonished when I really pay attention. I am beyond blessed to live where I do and have the opportunity to share it with others. I want families to come away from their screens and their booths at McDonald’s and know how easy it is to go on a picnic and shop a farmer’s market. This world is not scary. It’s beautiful and God gave it to us for our delight and our sustenance. I hope when I share stories of how I camp or hike or cook with my kids, that others don’t feel put down. Rather, I want them to feel empowered. I hope other moms say to themselves, “Well, if she did that, then so can I.”

How does my writing process work?

Yeah….I don’t know. All I know is I look for pockets of time I can steal and then I write. I like to get up early, but I have to be up super early to beat my kids out of bed. So during the school year, I’m aiming for 5 a.m. That’s when I do my best writing on the novel because I can almost always get a solid uninterrupted hour. Then I just try to find time for all the rest. Naptime sometimes works. I almost never write at night (except for Five Minute Friday) because I’m usually completely drained by 9 p.m. I make myself prioritize. If there’s a deadline for a publication I want to submit to, I work on that first. If I haven’t blogged in a few days, and I have a story I want to tell, I get that out of the way and I’m always better for it. I like these short pieces for freelance and blogging because I can almost always finish it and feel a sense of accomplishment. Short stories are good for that feeling too. If I get a story idea, I jot it down and if the muse is really working, I move that to the top of the list. (I wrote this story in two hours. It was just flowing.) I’m trying to build a cache of stories I can submit. This probably sounds a little crazy,  but if I’m working on something I believe the Lord has given me, I can usually work at lightening speed. It’s a mom thing too. I know I only have a certain amount of time, so I have to guard it carefully. I’m doing this post today while my kids are at a Mother’s Morning Out program and I’m already 8 minutes over the allotted time I gave myself to finish this project!  But that’s okay because I’m really learning about myself right now and that’s been completely worthwhile.

I’m grateful and blessed to be included in a community of writers who understand all that crazy rambling. The women I’m passing this hop onto are recent discoveries, but I love how I can visit their blogs and feel their heart.

Amy at The Little Farm Diary is a new real life friend. We connected at the community theater and I’m delighted to have the opportunity to get to know her (and her sweet daughter) better over the next few weeks as we perform. You absolutely want to click over to her page and check out her sweet farmhouse style.

Andrea over at 7-7-at-7 is a friend from my (in)courage group and I love her honesty about being a “newbie” to publication. It’s hard to into this industry and you need a thick skin. Having friends who have experienced these ups and downs is a blessing. She’s a creative writer and a fabulous photographer.

Erin is who I’m sending #fmfpartysnailmail to this week! The coolest thing was when I got my list and her name was right above mine–just like her hometown. We’re getting together for lunch someday soon and I can’t wait. She has a beautiful blog and I love popping over and reading about her life as a newlywed…ah, those days from twelve years ago that I so didn’t appreciate.

So who are some of your favorite writers or bloggers? Why do you carve out time to be creative? I’d love to know and share.

Happy Tuesday, everyone!