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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summer · writing

Tips for Time Management (not ironic coming from me at all)

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For us, summer started behind and never caught up. All good things. But there hasn’t been enough watermelon on the porch time.

And I’m tired. Between camps and deadlines and driving 264 miles a day (an exaggeration but that’s how it feels), I’m wishing I had someone to manage my time.

Instead I just made some notes so I’d remember how to do better. Then I blogged them over at one of my other internet homes.


People crack me up when they ask how I “do it all.”

I’m pretty sure if these same people were a fly on my wall, they’d:

a) have full run of the house because I’m too busy to buy a fly swatter.

b) realize pretty quickly, I’m definitely not doing it all.

Read more at Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers.

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. 

school · writing

How to really appreciate your kids’ teachers this week (and all year long).

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Y’all. It’s May-hem. May-member. May-day. May the force of common sense be with you.

And Pinterest crafting isn’t in my wheelhouse this month. (Or ever, honestly. So if you love some sanding and painting and cutesy font notecards this post is not for you, and please, sell me your services next year because I have the black thumb equivalent of gift giving.)

I love my kids’ teachers. LOVE them. One math teacher gave us her cell so we could text if my middle schooler is on the verge of fraction-induced tears. My son’s kindergarten teacher has a son with the same name as mine AND THE SAME BIRTHDAY 10 YEARS REMOVED so she basically treats him like he’s hers. These are good, good people teaching my kids how to navigate Google and divide negative numbers.

However.

I can’t be all thanks a latte because you helped me grow into one smart cookie since you’re such a sharp teacher.

(For the record, I do appreciate the puns.)

Between my four kids we have TWENTY TEACHERS.

We’re all barely surviving May as it is. Teacher Appreciation week should be moved to September because HALLELUJAH! SCHOOL IS BACK IN SESSION AND WE REALLY APPRECIATE IT.

Also, teachers really need supplies. And support. And extra snacks because some of us (hangs head in shame) can’t be trusted to read the snack schedule.

So if you want to appreciate your kids’ teacher without feeling like a crap mom when everyone else (i.e. half my Insta feed) is cranking out adorable-ness on their Cricket, the best things to do are simply done all year long.

I taught school for years. Middle school mind you.

And this is what I appreciated:

  • Boxes of expo markers
  • Extra supplies for a kid in need
  • Cases of Lysol wipes
  • New books for my classroom
  • Kids who came to school on time
  • Kids who were picked up from extracurricular activities on time
  • Kids who said “Yes, ma’am” and “No, ma’am” and “please” and “thank you”
  • Ink cartridges
  • Tissues
  • Agenda signed
  • Homework done
  • When you have a problem and you come to the me before the principal
  • When your kid is dressed appropriately for school so I don’t have to measure their shorts with a ruler
  • When you see me in the grocery store and you say, “My kid really loves your class.”
  • When you see me at church and you say, “My kid really loves that book you made him read.”

According to my kids, what their teachers really want is:

  • Quiet
  • Good listeners
  • Mint chocolate candy
  • Pepper

Here’s what one third-grade teacher told me she wanted:

  • Parents to read her newsletter
  • But she’ll take a gift card

Here’s the thing. For years, teaching was my job. I didn’t need a reward for doing it because it’s the job I chose and the job I loved/hated and like parenting—my days were endlessly long but those years flew by.

I have a box full of teacher ornaments and magnets. They’re buried beneath a stack of letters from kids telling me my class was their favorite. I’ve long ago spent the Starbucks cards and broken the personalized tumbler (blame: toddlers) and lost half the pair of earrings.

But those parents who raised up respectful kids? Lovable kids? Those are the parents who showed appreciation everyday because they recognized teaching is hard and kids are harder and it’s a calling and a profession that commands respect—those are the parents and kids I remember.

And these days, in the grocery store, I go out of my way to speak to them.

P.S. That picture is from that time my students had a “stick it to ’em” day and stuck post-its all over our doors. BEST GIFT EVER.

P.P.S. In case you didn’t know (but your probably do) I quit teaching to write books and have this fourth baby.My debut, Still Waters, released last fall and is currently a finalist for three different awards. But thank you notes and reviews from readers (like thank you notes from students) are still the most appreciated.

writing

Dear Gus, Today You Are Six

Dear Gus,

Today you are six.

I’m not sure how this happened. I thought we talked about not getting bigger and you told me to talk to Jesus and I DID and you still became six.

And Lord willing, someday you’ll be sixteen and thirty-six and sixty.

But you’ll always be my baby I didn’t even know I wanted and definitely didn’t think I needed.

But, oh, how we needed you.

With your wide, infectious smile. With your chocolate donut smeared cheeks and squinted up eyes and hair that’s my very favorite on humid mornings when you’ve just tumbled out of bed. With your gusty throaty voice singing A Million Dreams along with Hugh Jackman and your soft pats on the head of our friend’s baby boy and your admonitions to me that Jesus lives in your heart and you need to be baptized but you are not going to talk to that pastor. Nope.

I love you so much, baby boy. I don’t think I can ever say it enough to make up for when I walked that dark path of fear and fury that my plans were not going my way and you were caught in the crossfire. How thankful I am for grace. For glory. For God’s perfect, indeterminable will that I can’t always know but I can trust.

Today you are six.

Let’s stay this way for just a little while. I’m not ready–I’ll never be ready–for what comes next.

Love, Mommy

 

writing

Spring Fever Promo :: Day 9 with Stacy Monso

Welcome to Day 9 of the Spring Fever Promo! Only one day left to enter to win!

Stacy Monson is the author of the Chain of Lakes series. Her stories show an

extraordinary God at work in ordinary life. Residing in the Twin Cities, she’s the wife of a juggling, unicycling physical education teacher, mom to two amazing kids and two wonderful in-law kids, and a very proud grandma.

Some notes from Stacy about her books….

SHATTERED IMAGE (Book 1): Just a small-town Iowa boy, Peter is living his dream of music, fame, and the celebrity life but secretly wonders why it’s not what he expected. Fired from the only job she knows how to do, smiling pretty for the camera, Kiera struggles to make sense of life outside the spotlight.

DANCE OF GRACE (Book 2): Vanessa has lost everything and is angry at everyone, including God. Especially God. Kurt leaps at the chance to live his dream but finds it may be easier to build a house of cards than a safe haven for troubled kids.

THE COLOR OF TRUTH (Book 3): Sam managed to pull his life together after some rocky teen years, only to have his new life blown to bits. Marti believes the lies she’s lived under her whole life; she’s never known anything different. A better life seems unattainable to both of them.

These true to life characters struggle with issues just like anyone else—identity, forgiveness, redemption, grief. Who am I? What am I supposed to be doing? Is there a way out of the chaos of my life? All of them learn lessons they never expected, truths that seemed impossible to believe, and discover forgiveness, joy, and love along the way.

My next book, Open Circle, will release later this spring, and I couldn’t be more excited! Here’s a bit about the story and a peek at the cover. I have a very special place in my heart for those with dementia or Alzheimer’s, and especially those working in the aging industry. This book is my simple way of recognizing those lovely, hard-working, underpaid people!

Mindy Lee “Minnie” Carlson’s dream job has dropped into her hands, but there’s a catch. She has four months to revive Open Circle, the town’s only Senior Adult Day Center, or the doors will close, leaving her beloved seniors stranded, and eliminating the only job she’s ever wanted.
Globe-trotting photographer Jackson Young documents the forgotten people of the world, focusing on the poor and elderly. After decades on the road, he’s stunned to learn his beloved Grandma Em is still alive in the small town he’d had to leave decades earlier.
Overjoyed, Jackson sweeps back into town to reconnect with her and discovers she’s been Minnie’s adopted grandma for the past twenty years. When Grandma Em has a stroke, his ideas about her care pit him against Minnie’s determination and expertise. For Grandma Em’s sake, and the future of Open Circle, they’ll need to do the impossible—find a way to work together.

If you’d like to know more about the books, be the first to know when books release, get yummy recipes, and discover new authors, sign up for Stacy’s newsletter at stacymonson.com. As thanks for joining the fun, you’ll receive a FREE ebook version of Shattered Image.

The Color of Truth is on sale right now for only $.99!! Get it HERE before the sale ends!

Here’s the link for today’s chance to win!
And today’s Word of the Day is: extraordinary

Come back tomorrow to meet our last featured author, Shannon Taylor Vannatter!