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I’m trying something new. I’m going to see if I can stick to publishing a weekly “week in the life” update, which will consist of non-writing related events from my life during the past week. The purpose is twofold: first, it’ll make sure I post at least once a week; and second, it’ll give my readers a peek into their favorite author’s 😉 life.

Let’s begin with…

…the Great Micro-Drone Haircut.

If you read this post, you know that J and I recently purchased a micro-drone for our son. These smaller-than-adult-hand toys are intended for indoor use, so the other day, he was flying it around indoors.

I was sitting at the table, eating lunch, when suddenly something light impacted my head and began whirring angrily in my hair. A second later, and I knew I was going bald.

One of three or four tangled knots of hair my husband had to cut off the back of my head in order to free B’s drone.

B had accidentally flown the drone into my hair. And in his panic, took a good five or ten seconds to realize that the smart thing to do would be to turn it off.

So the four tiny propellers kept going around and around, winding my hairs around them. J had to cut the thing out with scissors.

Yes, I know a photo of the drone in my hair would have been much more interesting and social-media worthy. But J was busy cutting it free, and B was so worried that he’d destroyed the drone only the second day after he got it that I didn’t want to bother him with fetching the camera. So you’ll have to be happy with the knot of hair picture.

The good news is, the drone still works, and I actually didn’t lose all that much hair.

But we have a new rule in our house: when B is flying the drone inside, Mommy must put on her hat!

It happens when you have a tile floor

I knew this was going to happen someday. I mean, I knew it. I knew, one day, I was going to drop my glass liquid measuring cup onto our tile floor. The next two photos show it after I’d tossed it into the trash.

I have a two-cup measure that we’re using for the time being. But it, too, is made of glass. The next Amazon order, there will be a plastic cup measure in the cart.

Soggy, boggy

This is how much rain we got in a forty-eight hour period. Can you see the number 7 a bit up from my finger, where those little lines are to mark off tenths of an inch?

Yep. Six inches. In forty-eight hours.

Please don’t let us have another autumn/winter/spring like last year! Oh please oh please oh please!

5-HTP

Finally, I started taking a 5-HTP supplement a couple of days ago. It’s too soon to tell how well it’s really working, but I have a feeling that in about a month I’m going to be screaming toward the sky, “WHERE HAS THIS BEEN ALL MY LIFE?!”

Click here to read about why I started taking it. And feel free to share, in the comments, one of the highlights of your week! 🙂

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Early Morning Adventures With An Excited Kid

It all began two or three years ago when B lost his micro-drone. It was his own fault, he’ll admit now. J told him not to fly it so high because it was a windy day, but B wanted to get it as high as he could.

And the wind whisked it away, out of reach of the remote control.

It was a tragic day, but J and I decided we wouldn’t replace it because B had to learn the consequences of his actions.

Fast forward to a few days ago. His interest in his larger drone re-ignited, but it wasn’t of good quality and no longer would fly very high or very long.

I talked to J, then we talked to B. We would be happy to buy him another drone, if he thought he was going to start playing with it again. The next day, I was ordering another micro-drone from Amazon, which is due to come tomorrow from the writing of this story. We figured he’d learned his lesson, and since losing the first micro-drone he’s matured. Now that you’ve got the background, let’s get into the adventure…

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“I can’t sleep.”

I happen to already be awake when B makes this announcement from his bedroom at around three in the morning. I think J is awake, too.

(In case you have no idea why J and I should be able to hear, from our bed, B calling us from his bedroom, watch the following video which is a tour of our tiny house.)

I’m not terribly shocked by B’s way-too-early announcement. After all, he spent half the day yesterday wandering around restlessly, and warned us that he was going to have trouble sleeping.

Still, I don’t welcome the interruption.

I’ve been lying on my left side, and turn my face up so my voice won’t be muffled. “That’s not our problem! We’re trying to sleep!” I scold, then turn back over.

If J hasn’t been awake, he is now.

Silence for a minute. Then, my Mommy Sympathy descends. I should do something to try to help him sleep. So I ask, “Do you want Daddy to put some lavender on the bottom of your feet?”

Why do I volunteer J’s services, you might ask? TMI coming up…

…We sleep in our birthday suits.

And it’s a lot easier for J to slip on a pair of shorts than for me to get properly covered if B needs tending at night.

“Might as well try,” comes the reply from over the loft above the bathroom.

Without a word, J gets up and does his fatherly duty.

Not five minutes after J slips back into bed: “I need to go poop!”

It’s not B’s habit to need to defecate so early in the morning…unless he’s super-excited about something. As a Highly Sensitive Person, he has a sensitive digestive system that is affected by strong emotions.

I groan and roll onto my back yet again. “You’re supposed to take care of that yourself.”

See, here’s the thing: since we live in such a small house, to turn on the one main light in the middle of the house when it’s still dark is to ruin any hope of sleep for anyone for the next hour. So I’ve instructed B about how to turn on the light in his own room, then take his flashlight into the bathroom so he can turn on the bathroom light, then use the flashlight to help him wash his hands in the kitchen after.

“Sorry,” B says. Some rustling, then, “My flashlight doesn’t work.”

I can’t see, but I’m sure J rolls his eyes as he rolls out of bed, trudges to the bathroom, and flicks on the bathroom light. Then he goes into the kitchen to plug in the lamp.

He hasn’t even made it back into our bed when B declares, “Never mind. I don’t have to go anymore.”

I squeeze my eyelids with a sigh.

More silence. Then, “I’m nauseous.”

Please don’t let him throw up. Please don’t let him throw up, I pray. Because in the past, a bout of excitement-provoked diarrhea has led to a bout of puking, and vice versa. Then I tell J, “Give him the empty peppermint oil bottle to sniff.”

I guess it works, because he doesn’t complain anymore about being nauseous. And the light above his bedroom goes off.

Finally. I might get a little more sleep before it’s time to –

Light back on. “I need to go poop again. Hurry! Before the urge goes away.”

With a groan, J gets out of bed and turns the lights on that he’s turned off minutes before.

B climbs down out of his loft bed and has success this time.

Somewhere in there, I manage to doze off for about half an hour. But B never does get back to sleep.

And I remember the real reason it took us so long to replace the lost micro-drone:

B gets excited at the prospect of a new toy. When he’s excited, he loses sleep. And if B loses sleep, so do we. 

PS – B would like everyone to know that “It was the worst night of my life.”

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I Finally Forgave Him.

Around twenty years ago, some genius finally figured out that sexual harassment had been a rampant problem in the high school of Byron, Minnesota. For a long time.

Duh. Back in the mid-1980s, I had been one of the victims.

But of all the boys who had groped at me, or run a finger down my back asking if I was wearing a bra, I was only truly afraid of one of them.

I’ll call him by his initials, C.B.

The story

He was fat, taller than I, and had a glint in his eyes that today I would recognize as evil. I could actually sense maliciousness emanating from him.

C.B. terrorized me during the eighth and ninth grades. In eighth grade, he sat right behind me in math for a while, and the long-term substitute teacher couldn’t have been more clueless about the lewd things he was whispering to me, about how he’d reach around to my front and fondle the small bumps on my chest.

In ninth grade, we were in the same social studies class, and again, for a while he sat behind me, taking advantage of my shyness and fear, and the fact that back in the 1980s, girls and women weren’t being taught to speak out against sexual harassment.

Plus, I had no idea that such things were happening to other girls. I thought I was wearing some invisible target that boys could somehow sense. I thought it was my problem, and mine alone.

To make matters worse, C.B. rode the same school bus as my siblings and I. And sometimes, we were forced to sit together. I still remember the day I, the girl who never broke any rules, stood up while the bus was moving so I could squish myself against the window to get away from him. His response? To reach out and grab at my privates through my jeans.

I finally told my mom about what was happening in the social studies class, and she drove to the school to insist that the teacher move me away from him. I gotta hand it to my mom: while she’d never been shy about voicing an opinion, she’d also never been much for taking actions on her opinions. So I don’t take lightly the action she took on my behalf that day.

Thanks, Mom. 🙂

Of course, the very next school day, after the social studies teacher moved my seat, C.B. cornered me and demanded to know if I’d told on him.

Long story short, at some point during ninth grade I became convinced that if I stayed at that school, one day he was going to find me in the restroom and rape me. At the end of the year, I told my parents that if I had to return to Byron High, I was going to drop out and take night classes to get my GED, as my brother was doing at the time.

The terror was so real, I have few other vivid memories of that school year.

What happened next

Two things resulted from the situation. First, my mom talked me out of dropping out of school, and into attending a Catholic high school in Rochester.

The second thing that happened was that I harbored a growing hatred for C.B. for decades after. Until a few days ago.

You gotta understand, I’m almost fifty years old. That’s a long time to hate somebody.

I’ve tried over the years to forgive him. I really have. I know that verse well where Yeshua says that I have to forgive if I want to be forgiven. But even though C.B. never violated me the way I’d feared he would, he did violate my tender and vulnerable teenage soul.

How I healed

A couple of weeks ago, I decided to write a novel based on that year in high school. Originally, the plot was going to revolve around how Byron saw its first black students that year, and the quiet uproar it caused among the community that, up until then, had seen zero black people. But when I sat down to write it, it started to be all about the sexual harassment.

I was struggling with the story – as you might understand – and set it aside one day to write a blog post about the dangers of traditional education. I had written several bullet points, then got to the one about bullies.

I got angry. I began fuming. J and B were outside at the time, but when they came in, I let my emotions and opinions explode. Then I went off about C.B. J already knew about him, what he had done – and what I had feared, so many years ago, that he might do. B, however, had no idea what I was talking about. I had to give him the thousand foot view. (He was twelve, so he had been told about “the birds and the bees.”)

After he was safely tucked away in his room, watching videos, I bawled onto J’s chest. And as my dear, sweet husband held me, I realized that this was the first time I’d ever cried over the situation.

In essence, I had held in my emotions surrounding it for around thirty-four years.

Thirty. Four. Bleeping. Years.

I didn’t feel better about it right then. But I did sit down with J and B and confess my sin of unforgiveness, and of hating. I asked God to help me forgive C.B. I asked the Holy Spirit to fill the place that had been full of bitterness and anger and hatred.

And, guess what? A couple of days ago, I was thinking about C.B., and for the first time ever, I didn’t feel any negative emotions toward him. The hate was gone. The anger was gone.

The burden was completely, totally, and thoroughly gone.

I had finally forgiven him.

What I learned

Here’s what I learned about forgiving.

#1. It’s as important to forgive imagined terrors as it is to forgive real events.

#2. You can’t forgive if you’re hiding the wounds the person caused you. You have to get vulnerable, expose the wound so God can touch it.

#3. The longer you walk in unforgiveness, the more difficult it becomes to forgive.

#4. You need someone who loves you to be by your side once you decide to let your guard down, and allow the old wounds to be exposed. The pain is often too deep to handle alone. You need the extra strength and courage that the other person brings to the table. Without it, the wound could fester further, instead of being healed.

Everyone needs a hand to hold onto. Everyone needs a shoulder to cry on.

#5. For deep, long-term wounds, you need to call on your heavenly Father for help to forgive the other person.

#6. Asking for forgiveness from Father for your unforgiveness and hatred will move things along even faster. The original wound may have been caused by someone else, but you make it worse by making yourself judge over the person.

Asking God to forgive your unforgiveness equates to humbling yourself, and admitting that you’ve tried to take the Lord’s place in judging that person and that you’re ready to step down.

#7: Walking in unforgiveness is akin to playing God, which is a heavy burden.

#8: When you ask the Holy Spirit to come and fill the places in your soul that you’ve emptied, He will. And it will change your life. Make it both brighter and lighter.

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I think the reason I started writing the novel, and that blog post that brought me to bullying, was that my subconscious couldn’t handle the burden anymore, and led me to begin to vent. At that point, God put His finger on it and began to expose the evil beast inside me.

Or, maybe Father knew it was past time for me to forgive, and nudged my subconscious into this path.

However it happened doesn’t matter. The important thing is that it happened.

I forgave C.B.

And I almost feel like I’ve been born again, again.

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Perimenopausal Inertia

I just spent half an hour doing nothing.

Scratch that. I’ve spent about the past week doing nothing.

Three of those days can’t count, though. I had a hormonally-induced I.B.S. flare up that was so bad, I was in discomfort, if not pain, most of the time, needing to skip snacks and even a couple of meals.

Back to today. And yesterday. My digestive system has been almost normal, but I haven’t been working on the novel I started. Actually, I gave up on it. I haven’t written any blog posts (until now). No practicing my guitar or keyboard. I can barely get myself to sit down with B to do our language arts lessons in the morning.

During the past half hour, I “looked inside” two books on Amazon which I had no intention of buying. I scanned someone else’s blog without really reading anything. I stared at a Blogger blog I’d started last year, wondering if I should keep it up. I…well, I’m not sure what else I did.

Except, I wasted my time. Like I did the rest of the day.

Normally, when I don’t do something productive with my time for a good part of day, I feel guilty.

Not today. Not yesterday, either.

Certainly not those days when every bite of food I took felt like it went down my esophagus with a double-edged knife.

But forget the misery of digestive disorders. Understandable, my difficulty with concentration – or motivation to do anything beyond survive the next minute – under those circumstances.

The fact is, during the past two days, I could have done something. I could have worked on a novel. I could have improved my musical skills (though, I did play the keyboard yesterday, yay me 😉 ). I could have tried calling a friend. E-mailed my sister a long overdue “how ya doin’?”

Except.

Hot flashes.

No, you don’t understand. I’ve been having them off and on for the past year or so. But during the past couple of weeks, they’ve been an almost hourly, if not more frequent, occurrence.

And.

They are now being preceded by that “aura” I’ve heard tell about. My hot flash aura? I have a mini-panic attack. I suddenly feel like I’m being pulled into hell.

And this has been happening many times a day for the past few days.

Tell you one good thing that’s come out of it: I can now empathize with people who suffer from anxiety disorders. And maybe this sudden intensity and increase in symptoms means that menopause cometh soon. And maybe I might stop feeling crazy half the time when it does?

The bad thing: I have no idea when I’m going to feel balanced enough to actually commit to a project as massive as a novel.

The long and the short of it: I’m not going to worry about being productive right now. This journey through intensified perimenopause symptoms is a job in and of itself – unpaid though it be.

Pray for me. And perhaps expect more blog posts while I await a calm enough mind to tackle another novel. Because I have to write. I’m a writer.

TTYL. 🙂

PS – Do me a favor and don’t comment telling me about the glories of HRT. Increased magnesium supplementation and an M.D.-created progesterone oil have me a lot better off than I was a couple of years ago.

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Write To Inspire

It’s hard to dive into the world of self-publishing and, despite your best intentions, not get obsessed with making money. Even for long-time believers, like me.

Yes, I confess: I’ve gotten sucked into the money-is-number-one trap. I’ve heard and read about how so many Indie authors, often with fewer novels published than I, make well above the average household income, and become frustrated. And therefore, I’ve taken my eyes off the Ultimate Prize that comes from doing the will of my Father.

And therefore, tried to figure out how “everybody else” is making good money, and begun to try to emulate that.

On the right track, then a wrong detour

I was on the right track for most of the novels in my “Texas Hearts” series. I was on the right track for my “Choices and Chances” series, as well as my latest series, “Pine Mountain Estates.” But when I finished proofing the latest book in that series, Pine Mountain Christmas, I took a detour.

I started to write a novel for the sole purpose of increasing my income.

After the Lord had specifically spoken something to me about my fiction writing.

Write to inspire

I’ve learned not to be too quick to say, “The Lord told me…,” because in the past, many times when I’d believe the Spirit of God was speaking, it was actually my own spirit. Or, worse, my soul.

But I’ve also learned that if I “hear” something in my spirit that flows into my mind, and it’s not an answer I’ve been trying to conjure, and it goes against the lust of my flesh, I can be 99% certain that God has spoken.

And a couple of months ago, I heard something deep within that fit those criteria exactly: Write to inspire, not to make money.

Of course, being the mature believer that I am, my reaction was to yell inside my spirit, “What’s the point of writing, then?!”

You might not be shocked to hear that I hit a brick wall after about three chapters into the clean romance novel I recently began. It just. Wouldn’t. Go. Any. Farther.

What’s the point, indeed?

Here’s what I’ve figured out. The Lord wasn’t telling me not to write in the popular genres. He wasn’t telling me to give all my books away for free. He wasn’t telling me to write obscure, literary works that wouldn’t sell.

He was telling me that my primary motive for writing and publishing a story should be to inspire. And to trust Him for the results.

I may be able to salvage this new novel. The storyline – I think, anyway – is interesting and intriguing. Worth putting out there for my readers to enjoy. But it can’t be your run-of-the-mill clean romantic comedy-suspense. I have to write it with an angle to inspire.

Which brings me to my current dilemma:

How do I want to inspire my readers?

I was going to brainstorm a list of ways that I want to inspire my readers via my stories on a piece of paper. But then I thought, it’s time for a new blog post. How about I share it on my blog?

That said, I want to inspire my readers to:

#1. First and foremost, live in the freedom that God’s grace has provided. Religion has created a lot of rules and ideas about how to please God. Do this, don’t do that. But people who preach these same rules and ideas define grace as God’s unmerited favor.

Talk about talking out of both sides of your mouth! If God’s grace is unmerited, there is absolutely nothing we can do to earn it. He’s already provided it; we accept it by faith. And when we do, we have true freedom, because then we have access to all the healing and spiritual growth and wisdom we need.

We don’t have to follow rules, but God’s leading.

#2. Struggle through trials until they get to the other side. A lot of people give up halfway through a struggle with obstacles, burdens, or pain. But it’s in those very struggles that we grow into the potential that God placed inside us. And when we reach the other side, our faith grows, as well as our strength and confidence to triumph over the next time of trial.

#3. Forgive. Unforgiveness is unhealthy in every way. The worst way is that it cuts us off from the grace I just talked about. We have to forgive others, or God won’t forgive us [Matthew 6:14]. This makes God sound mean and cruel, but think about it: when you refuse to forgive somebody, you’re judging them. When you judge others, you’re making yourself like God. You are being prideful and stubborn, not to mention spiritually blind.

You are, in essence, acting like Satan himself.

Ouch, right?

#4. Discover, and walk in, their calling. I’ve already said my piece about purpose here, and calling here. In essence: if you are doing what the Father has called you to do, you will find fulfillment and help the world to become a better place. Even if only a small part of the world, in small ways.

Every little bit helps.

And obedience is better than trying to live up to the world’s definition of success.

#5. Trust God. This goes along with my second way I want to inspire readers, about struggling through trials. How can a person get to the other side of a trial without faith and trust? But it’s possible to not trust God in a situation that doesn’t feel like a trial, a situation where you have the ability to manipulate things to go your way. Believe me, if ever you read one of my novels in which a character is struggling with trusting God – especially where they’re trying to manipulate their circumstances – know that I’m writing from my own experience!

#6. Be healthy, as much as possible, in every area of life. It’s hard to care about your calling when you have zero energy and/or are experiencing uncomfortable physical symptoms. It’s hard to obey the command to not worry when your finances are in a mess. And so on.

#7. Make communing with God a daily and ongoing habit. [Note before I continue: I don’t mean to put this one as a low priority. I was just jotting down ideas as they came, in no particular order except for the first one.] Many believers, though they’ve accepted God’s grace through Yeshua’s sacrifice, relegate God to church services, morning devotions, and times of crisis. I want to inspire my readers to communicate with their Father often, throughout every day. He’s always right there, waiting for a “thank You,” “help me,” or “I love You.”

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Along the way, I’ll probably come up with more ways to inspire my readers. But I could probably write an endless number of stories based on those seven alone! Now I just need to tweak my latest novel by figuring out which angle of inspiration to add.

If you have any ideas you’d like to share, feel free to leave them in the comments below. 🙂

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