Being More Than Me :: A Christmas Wish

Living beyond ourselves...

This is what I am trying to teach my daughter, and how very hard a task it is.

When she doesn't want to finish her dinner or eat her lima beans, I try pull the same, tired old rabbit out of the parenting hat. "Don't you know there are kids in Africa that have nothing to eat?"

She blinks. Africa? What is Africa?

It never works...

In Lucy's world, there is only us. She has a roof over her head, clothes on her back, a warm bed to sleep in at night, food in the refrigerator and family and friends to love on her and receive her love in return. There are no starving children. There are no children crying because they have no parent. There is no TRUE want.

Trying to teach her that we have self-control has proved to be the most challenging. When she cries and I tell her, "That is just about enough of that," she still FEELS sad, so cannot stop the flow of tears. How do I teach her that we must learn self-control?

But do I even have complete self control?

Do I know at starving child in Africa?

Have I ever, truly been without?

Do I have a heart that is sensitive to the idea that I am blessed and there are countless people out there that are not? And what do I do to help those people? What can I really, honestly do?

But how great is our God to give us countless opportunities to live like Him...

My children have seen me direct their father to turn the vehicle around and trudge through the snow to give a homeless man a hot Starbucks and a wad of money. They have heard stories about their Great Aunt chasing down thugs who stole a homeless man's backpack and demand that they give it to her so that she can return it. They have seen their grandparents serve others, from feeding the homeless to fixing daddy's car when a body shop would be too costly. They have seen the pictures of their grandfather's mission trip to Africa...and the want and need that the children there suffered. They sat and listened as he explained where Africa was and how Jesus needed people like him to love on the people there.

And so I stand on faith that they really are learning how to serve and love others; learning to live outside themselves.

Because what I want more for them than anything else in the world, is to learn to love others in such a way that they reveal the face of Jesus. Yes, they ARE blessed. Yes, they ARE fortunate and loved. And yes, they WILL learn how to gift others with the same things.

That's all I want. I want my little family to learn how to love the Lord, love themselves, and love others. Self control and selflessness will come with the growing pains. But oh, how sweet the growing pains are...


Hot Air Balloons Take Us To Heaven

Mommy: Who's birthday do we celebrate on Christmas?

Lucy: God and Jesus!

Mommy: about just Jesus?

Lucy: No. I want to say Jesus AND God.

Mommy: But God was never born.

Lucy: Oh, yeah. So, let's just say Jesus.

Teddy: Dog Poop! ((He was coloring something))

Mommy: So who in the world is Santa?

Lucy: I don't know. Can you tell me?

Mommy: No. You tell me. Who is Santa?

Lucy: He is a man who brings us toys...for me!

Mommy: That's it?

Lucy: No...I mean...yes.

Mommy: Teddy, what about you? Do you know anything Santa?

Teddy: Nope.

Mommy: Do you know anything about Jesus?

Teddy: Yes.

Lucy: He makes clouds for us and trees...and even Christmas trees and ornaments...even the big fat ones.

Mommy: Do you think Jesus got presents on his birthday?

Lucy: I think so. But I don't know what he got. Maybe gold!

Mommy: What else?

Lucy: I don't know. Do you Bubba?

Teddy: ((sticks fingers in his mouth))

Mommy: If you could give Jesus a present, what would you give?

Lucy: I would give him a basket of fruit.

Mommy: Seriously? Is that what YOU would want?

Lucy: YEAH! But I'd rather give it to him.

Teddy: I want Sissy to give me a bassssskkkkket. But you need to wwwwaaaaasssssshhhhh those fr-fru-fruits in my bassssssskkkkeeettttsss.

Mommy: So why don't we give Jesus presents on Christmas if Christmas is his birthday?

Lucy: I don't know. Well, I guess because he lives in heaven and we don't.

Mommy: There's nothing we can do that will reach heaven?

Lucy: ((sits up in excitement)) A hot air balloon!!!! That will get us in heaven!

Mommy: There's one of those at Conner Prairie. Think we can use it to take Jesus' presents to heaven?

Lucy: Yeah.

Teddy: That would be scurry. ((scary))

Lucy: But they shoot fire out when people are in it. So...that might be dangerous.

Mommy: Oh. And I'm kinda scared of heights.

Lucy: But mommy, you promised that you won't be scared to fly to China for our Christmas vacation.

Mommy: We're going to China?

Lucy: I picked that instead of Florida.

Mommy: WHY???

Lucy: Well...because I want to go there. There's Chinese noodles there. My favorite kind of noodles!

Mommy: We have Chinese noodles here.

Lucy: And there, too, Silly.

Mommy: ((shaking my head)) But don't you think that when me pray and sing worship songs, they reach heaven?

Mommy: So can't we sing and pray to give Jesus gifts?

Lucy: We can sing PRETTY to give him gifts!

Mommy: Do you think he would like that?

Lucy: Yeah. ((Turns angrily at her brother)) Bubby! I need to finish coloring!!! ((Then in panic to me)) Bubby needs to blow his nose! Look at it! It is so snotty! There is snot on his mouth! ((Bubby starts to touch the snot)) Ewwwwww! Mommy look! He is spreading it! Gross!! Go get some toilet paper, Bubby, and I PROMISE, it'll be done! Okay?

Teddy: ((Picks up a coloring crayon and resumes coloring))

Lucy: He isn't listing to you, mama!!!!

Mommy: ((amused by little Miss Hen)) I never said anything.

Lucy: Bubby, listen to mommy! Get some toilet paper! ((Her voice is as high as can physically get))

I suppose I should get some Kleenex.


I Will Never Know

I will never know what it is like to stand on a sandy beach with my heart in my throat...

Shells exploding overhead...

Sand flying in my face and in my mouth...

Voices shouting orders...some crying out in agony.

I will never know what it is like to run toward an enemy with sights trained on me...

Fear somewhere in the back of my mind...

Survival my only thought.

I will never know what it is like to kill a man...

To raise a rifle...

To pull the trigger...

To watch a stranger turn lifeless before my eyes.

I will never know what it is like to kneel beside a wounded comrade...

To hold their head in my hands and pray for them.

I will never know what it is like to watch the light fade from their eyes...

Or know what it is like to pick up my weapon and leave them behind to continue to fight...

To continue to soldier on...

To continue to try to survive.

I will never know what it is like to be a veteran, but I will always know what it is like to honor them.


Spiderman and His Ah-Mazing Sister

Me: What is the most amazing thing you?
Lucy: I go to Conner Prairie.
Me. No, I mean...what makes you
Lucy: Oh, I put cool things, you know, cool dresses and cool pants and cool shirts and cool gloves.
Me: And that's what makes you amazing?
Lucy: (smirking) Hmmm huh.
Teddy: As me!!!
Me: Teddy, what makes you amazing?
Teddy: I'm the REEEEAAAALLLL Spiderman! See! (He shoots imaginary webs at me) Like that! (He presses his hands against the wall) I can stick. (He commences to shooting us all with webs) Pssssss!

Me: When you feel sad, what cheers you up?
Lucy: I just go away from Bubby if he makes me feel sad.
Me: But what else cheers you up?
Lucy: Playing with bubby at the park.
Me: I don't think you understand this question.
Lucy: I do.
Me: Well...I get cheered up when...what cheers mommy up?
Lucy: Um, I think...hugging her.
Me: Chinese food. That's what I think.
Lucy: How do you know?
Me: Teddy? What cheers you up when you're sad?
Teddy: Chinese food.

Me: Do you have a boyfriend, Lucy?
Lucy: (shocked) No! I don't. My only boyfriend is baby brother. I don't have a real boyfriend. That would be silly.
Me: What is a boyfriend?
Lucy: It's a girl makes a boy a boyfriend...then they are friends...he's her boyfriend.
Me: That's it? They're not in love?
Lucy: They ARE in love!

Me: What does it mean to get married?
Lucy: I don't know, mama.
Me: Are mommy and daddy married?
Lucy: Yeah.
Me: What's that mean?
Lucy: You guys keep being married...even on your day off.
Me: (Perplexed)

Lucy walked out of the room and didn't come back. She said she was through with questions. Teddy was busy shooting things with webs anyway...trying not to pee his pants while he waited for the bathroom to become available. I'm certain that if I could see through his eyes, everything in the house would be covered in webs...including the monsterous bad guys that are only visible to him. Somewhere else in the house, Lucy is singing to herself...more than likely a song about how daddy will cheer mommy up with Chinese she colors on one more page that will end up pinned haphazardly on the refrigerator door.

I'm sure there are 'big' things happening in the world today. Presidents and world leaders are pumping coffee in their veins as they try to wage war or make peace. Business men are sealing deals of a lifetime. Doctors are saving lives and watching others end. My mom is somewhere out there in a very important meeting...stressed, more than likely. The kids' dad is off to work with his newly pink faux-hawk...

And, yet, here I am sitting atop Lucy's bunk mug on my lap...train tracks all around me...imaginary webs tangled in my hair...and somehow, I think I just might have the best outlook on this world from my perch of pink, stuffed bunnies and Tinker Bell blankets.


PS: Teddy got tired of waiting for the bathroom to become available, so he went and got a cup. Yeah. THAT just happened. With the wet pants crisis avoided, regular programing of web-slinging has begun once again.

All Important Answers To All Important Questions

1. What is Occupy Wall Street?

I don't know. Um...I think it's where some people live and their dads are the they built some houses.

2. Where did the dinosaurs go?

They are dead. That means that their skin is gone...which means a paleontologist goes and digs them up and brings them to the kid's museum.

3. What does love feel like?

Love feels like when I love someone. It hurts when it comes on me.

4. Where does the sun go at bedtime?

It goes all up in space. We can't see it because it up up up up in the sky. We can't feel the earth moving around the sun. Only the planets move, and we live on the planet named earth.

5. How do doctors make us all better?

By healing making us better. They take care of us...and they don't kill us. That means they are nice to us and it makes us feel better. (After a few seconds) I need to go to the doctor. I have a very bad cold.

6. What's the best movie in all the world?

Captain America and Snow White...and Princess Rose.

7. What is the United States?

I don't know. I don't think...I know. I just can't remember this one.

8. What makes rainbows appear?

The rain and the sun. After the rain comes, the sun comes out and that makes a beautiful rainbow come out.

9. At what age is a person an adult? Why do you think so?

Six Hundred, because I think that's you, mommy.

10. If you could change one rule that our family has, what would it be?

I really don't like to dry my hair with the hair dryer.

11. What makes our family special?

Giving presents that they want. But if you get a present you don't want, you don't be bad about just want it. (I'm not sure this is what makes us special, but it is a conversation we talked about recently)

12. Are you a good friend? Why do you think so?

Yes, because I be nice to other people. I don't be mean.

13. What is the hardest thing about being a kid?

When we be bad. I just can't stop being bad...because it is so hard not to be when Bubby takes my toys.

14. If you could give a present to every child in the world, what would it be?

A barbie with a swimming pool that has real water in it. And the barbie would have a puppy that could swim in the water.

15. What would be the hardest thing about being blind?

When our eyes are closed, I would bump into the wall. Because it would hurt, I would cry without tears.

16. If you could be invisible for a day, what would you do?

It would be like I am God. You would walk somewhere and go right through me. I would be sad because you wouldn't be able to see me...and I wouldn't be able to see me. And I wonder if I would bump into I am blind. I would give you a hug and you wouldn't know it is me.

17. Where would be the best place in the world to live?

Florida. There are real princess there, because that's where princess live. I would just like to visit there.

18. Would you rather be, a dog or a cat?

A cat...I mean, a dog. I mean, I'd like to be both because I could run around all day. If I was a cat, I'd stay inside where the dog can't get me. If I were a dog, I would lick my paws to keep them clean.

19. What will you do best when you are a mommy--even better than your own mommy?

I will take better pictures.

20. What is the worst thing that mommy and daddy do?

Going to work but dropping me off at someone's house that I don't know. (Me: We've NEVER dropped you off at someone's house you don't know!!!) Yeah...but that might be something you will do to me sometime.


Twenty Important Questions Answered By Lucy

1. What is Facebook?
It's a book that we put picture on--blue pictures.

2. What is the worst food in all the world?
Ratatouille, because it is yucky. Me and mommy don't like the green we don't eat it. But I do eat my salad.

3. Where do bad guys go?
They go to fight super heroes and then go to their secret hide-outs. But the super heroes find their secret hide-outs and catch them. Sometimes.

4. What is a hero?
It's a person that's dressed up in costumes with capes and goggles. And they have boots and sandals.

5. Where do our tears come from?
Our eyes when they are watering when we are sad.

6. How big is God?
Giant. (she reached her hands a head taller than her)

7. What makes jello giggle?
It's bouncy because it is freezing. It jiggles because we touch know, and we put whip cream on it and it makes it yummy.

8. What is the scariest thing in the world?
Bears and monsters. Oh, and a T-Rex. A T-Rex is a Sharp Tooth, and a Sharp Tooth is the scariest thing in the whole world because of the sharp tooths, and because it eats meat. Oh, and it stomps on us.

9. Why are tickles ticklish?
Because tickly spots are ticklish because we are ticklish like on our backs and on our feets. But why is it tickly? Because we are made out of skin and because we are breakable.

10. What is God's name?

11. What is hate?
Hate means we hate our brother when he hits us and pulls our hair, or doesn't play with us, or takes my toys away, or won't let me play with him...and he won't let me tickle and hold him. That's hate because I get angry when he doesn't let me do stuff with him. I get hate. But it's bad. (oh, I have work to do)

12. What is love?
Love means when Bubby lets me hold him, tickle him, play with him and play super heroes with him...and he takes turns with me, sometimes. (hmmmmm)

13. How old is very old?

14. What will you do when you're 17?
I will just take care of myself. I will wash myself...and wash my hair and dry it on cold days but not dry it on warm days.

15. How old is your Grandma?
Grammie? She's 15.

16. Is that really old?

17. What do you do at church?
Worship God and play with my friends.

18. How can we feed all the people in the world?
With swords and shields. Because we have to get rid of the bad guys first.

19. What makes a bad guy bad?
They catch us in their traps that we can't see.

20. How can we love everyone?
Because our heart keeps beating, and if it keeps beating we can keep loving everyone.


Lucy's Answers to 'Important' Life Questions

Questions answered by my 5 year-old:

1. How old is mommy?

2. How old is daddy?

3. What is a President?
A card

4. What country do we live in?

5. Where do babies come from?

6. Who is God?

7. Where does God live?
In Heaven

8. Where is Heaven?
In the sky

9. What's in Heaven?
God...and my friends. (I don't understand that last part)

10. Why is the sky blue?
Because God colored it blue.

11. How is peanut butter made?
Dirt and water...and NUTS!

12. How do think shows get onto our TV?
God created electricity...well, actually, God just makes the TV show get on.

13. What does mommy do?
Clean and make the beds and take the baths and showers and talk...and laundry and feed me.

14. What does daddy do?
He uses the bathroom, he feeds us, he gives showers and baths. He talks and sings concerts. He takes us to church. He kisses mommy. He gives bubby and I hugs and kisses. He let us color and he plays games with us.

15. What do you think Heaven is like?
It will be full with all the things on earth. Like the mall.

16. How do you think God sent you to this family and why?
He colored me. He thought you wanted a little girl.

17. What will you be when you grow up?
I am going to be an artist...a princess...a queen. I'm going to be a Grand Duke. But that last one is a joke. Actually, I'm going to be a fairy. I'm going to be a...uh...mommy.

18. If you could change your name, what would you change it to?
(that's mommy's name)

19. What is your favorite thing about your brother?
I love to play with him.

20. What's inside your heart?
A heartbeat.
(I was hoping she would say Jesus...oops)


What Am I Doing Here?

There are times in my life when I just stop, blink and look around me as if I'm not sure how I got to where I am. Ever feel like that? Kinda like when you get in the car and start off on a errand and arrive to your destination, and for the life of you, you can't recall how you even got there. Did you stop at the red lights? Did you cut someone off? Or is that just me? Lord, I hope it isn't just me...

But right now, I'm in a point in my life where I'm driving toward a destination, but I don't even know what that destination is. I don't know what turns to make--I can't even seem to see the green and red lights. I'm just plowing through, holding tight to the steering wheel and hoping that I'm not running anyone off the road.

"Lord, what am I doing here? Where am I going? Where am I supposed to be going?"

Right now I could tie in that Underwood song (is that her?) about Jesus taking the wheel. But I won't do that. It is too easy. Besides, I have this feeling that God wants my hands on the wheel. It feels like He has told me that it is time to start driving, start plowing through...because heaven help me, I would rather pull the car over to the side and just sit there and cry. But how am I ever going to arrive if I am sitting on the sidelines wearing my toddler panties?

The trick is remembering to ask God to sit beside me as I drive. You see, without Him sitting beside me, it's like I'm driving at night (I have night blindness). But when I remember to ask God to sit beside me, navigating for me, He brings light into this crazy, insane world of mine and I can see. He has the map in His hands--a map that He already planned out and drew with His very own, capable hands long ago before I was even born. That map is something beautiful--custom designed for me and my family. I wish I could see it, but every time I take my eyes off the road to glimpse over to see what it looks like, He turns it away and tells me gently, "Trusting me, dear heart, means letting me navigate."

So...I don't know where I am or where I am going. I don't know what I am doing here. Not yet, anyway. I know that right now, right at this moment, I am a wife, mother, daughter, sister and friend. I know that I am a photographer and a writer with a heart full of hopes, dreams and desires that God planted deep in my heart. I know that I am afraid at times--worried about things that are monster in my life that I can't chase away. There are hard times, adventurous times...and times when all I can seem to do is cry. But I will choose to whisper to my Father, "Sit beside me. Navigate me. I don't know where You are leading me, but I'll trust You. Bring light into this darkness of mine so that I can see the signs pointing me...guiding me."

And that's enough for me in this moment.


Tea Cups Full Of Promise

Years ago, I didn't think I would be a mother. It seems silly to me (now that I am one) to recall that fear and hopelessness. There once was a time when I was sitting quietly in a church where I knew no one. I was all alone, and I felt so lost and wounded. It hadn't been long since my last miscarriage and tears were always burning behind my eyelids. A woman sitting in front of me turned with a confused frown on her face. "I'm sorry," she said. "I know I don't know you...and I don't understand this because you look like a very young girl, but I feel that I need to tell you that God wants you to are going to be a mother one day."

I cried. I couldn't even explain to the woman how much her words meant to me. She just patted my hand and turned around...

But years passed by and I was not a mother. I started to doubt in the truth of the promise. Then I met Courtney who was a blessing from the Lord. Her heart matched mine, and her wounds were as deep and fresh. She wanted to be a mother, too. And just like that woman in the strange church, God told me she would be a mother. We had our promises. We encouraged one another, we exchanged tea pots as a symbol of the promise that one day we would sit down together for tea with our children running around us.

But still years passed by...

Yet, here I am, sitting down to tea in one corner of my world while I know Courtney is in another corner with the most handsome little boy in all the world (tied with my little handsome boy, of course). Motherhood has come to kiss us both with wonderful children that live up to the meaning of their names...bringers of light...laughter...promises kept by our Father. There are times when I feel like the worst mother in creation and I want to pull out my hair. There are times when I feel inadequate and worry about if I am doing the best that I can (which, at times, I am not). But in moments like that, it is good to have this tea pot here with me. I can sit down, pour tea from it and remind myself that God already planned this--He will help guide me.

Today, I find myself in new, scary days. I have new promises that I am waiting to see come to life. I have new worries and struggles that I need to leave at the cross. I'm waiting...and waiting...and waiting for something, anything, to happen. I'm almost to that point where I feel that these things will never come to pass--that I misunderstood and never really heard from God but created those promises with my own breath...

So, I sit here with my tea....poured from my friendship pot...and remember that there once was a day when I nearly gave up, but in HIS perfect timing, He poured an abundance upon me and gifted me with two children that are more wonderful than the ones I created in my dreams. He always hears me. He always love me. He never gives up. He never comes to that moment when all hope is fading. He holds my tea pot in His capable hands, just waiting for HIS time to pour me my cup in which will brim with more perfection than I ever dreamed of. With that promise, I can keep waiting.

I wish I could time travel. I would find that young Gia with a broken heart and empty wound and dance with her...laugh with her...celebrate in the TRUTH of that promise. But I can't. Instead, I will choose to int he TRUTH of the promise that I clutch with desperate hands TODAY. One day soon, He will breathe life into it and bring it to life in my hands. That's my God for you. He waits until the very moment when the gift will dazzle the most. He is always showing off--just like He did the day He created my babies.


Just a Little Longer

What Can A few More Minutes Really Do?

It only takes a simple smile...

"Hello. How are you?"

A gentle touch of a hand...

"I appreciate all that you do."

A little bit of time well spent...

"Do you know how special you are?"

An hour over coffee...with only your ears listening...

"What can I do to help you?"

A few laughs...

"You make me happy."

"You are so very special to me."

"You are beautiful."

"You have a purpose."

Helping that woman with the arms loaded down with groceries...

Standing a few moments longer to talk to the cheerful Wal-Mart greeter that you often hurry past...

Staying at the dinner table longer, letting the spaghetti mess pile up on chubby cheeks of three year-olds who chew with their mouth open...but listening as they prattle about why the fall leaves change colors...

"You make my heart swell with joy."

"I would never replace you."

"Do you know how much Jesus loves you?"

Sometimes, it only takes a few more moments, a few more kind words, a little bit more love from your heart to build, encourage and love on those that really needed it in that moment. Kind words erase a lifetime of bitter ones--words that have scared and wounded. Your time builds up tiny bodies to take on the world with courage to face adversity. Just a little bit more time...

"When she speaks, her words are wise, and kindness is the rule for everything she says." ~Proverbs 31:26

Do you know that you are beautiful--irreplaceable? Worthy enough to die for?

Can you see people around you--people with eyes that do not shine as bright as they should? Do you see weary shoulders burdened by worries and haunting shame? Look around. Is there anyone with fading laugh lines, or hands that need held? Just a little bit longer. That's all it takes. A moment can begin a lifetime of healing. A moment can bring the warmth of a tender God into their lives. A moment can stop time.

"Just a little bit longer, daddy. Just a little bit longer. Hold me."


Love Like Him

Sometimes, my heart breaks for the love that suddenly overwhelms me for the stranger sitting across the restaurant. I don't know why. Sometimes, this stranger can be sitting with his wife--they are both old and cuddled as close as their bodies can be in a booth. Other times, it is a middle-aged woman alone, carefully wiping up the crumbs with her tattered napkin--her eyes slightly dim.

Sometimes, I glance out the car window while sitting at a red light and have a flood of love wash over me for the old man in the car next to me...or the teenage girl staring with blank eyes straight ahead...

There are times when I wish I could get out of the car and wrap my arms around the woman standing at a busy intersection with a sign that reads: Mother of two. Lost my job. Trying to pay rent...

I see her tears. I understand her fear. But what do I have to give but the sudden Christ-like love that has just overwhelmed me.

There are children in church that I want to hold and snuggle close. I've cried just at the sight of 90 year-old woman in her wheelchair as her eyes light up like a candle at the sight of my smiling daughter prancing through the hallway...

Sometimes, the love that the Lord places in my heart for His children crushes me. I think it is His way of reminding me of how He looks at all the people in this world: the homeless, the wounded, the ones in bondage by their shame and pasts...

And I want to take them all in my arms and tend their wounds. That's what I was created for, isn't it? If I know the unconditional love of a Savior, why wouldn't I want to pour it out on all those around me?

So I try to be a bit more patient with the waitress taking my order that hasn't gotten it right the last two times. Because I see that the Lord loves her, fiercely.

I bite my tongue when someone says that we should never give the woman or man on the corner money because it is only for drugs...because I see that Lord loves them BOTH...fiercely.

I will be patient, loving and kind to my friends and family (I will TRY) even when pain and hurt comes my way.

I will teach my children to do the same. Because you never know who needs it the most.


Hero At Eight Years-Old

Arriving in Spencer late Tuesday night, a church sign lit up by a spot light caught my attention: Pray For The Brett Family. In the morning, by the light of day, there was no mistaking the yellow ribbons, the candles, the flags lined up and pressed deep into the earth, the pictures of a 'Hometown Hero' and the multiple business signs replacing their specials with words that honored PFC Brett Woods.

Being the girl that I am who keeps herself in books, writing and picture taking, I rarely ever catch the sound bytes on the news. Truth be told, the news causes dark clouds to settle around my shoulders, and I avoid it as much as I can. But now I was curious (the greatest thing about smart phones is having the ability to google just about anything, even if you are in Nowhere, USA).

One quick google search will tell you that PFC Brett Woods was killed on September 9th in Afghanistan where he served in the United States Army. But what it doesn't tell you is where he was ten years ago...

On September 11, 2001, I was nineteen years old and had been married to a Marine for one year and two months. Sleeping, I woke up to a ringing phone and the sound of my mom on the other end. "Have you seen the news?" Of course not. I didn't understand what she was telling me...something about planes and towers and people dying...and Roger. I switched on the TV and just froze, the phone pressed to my ear, my heart somehow both in my throat and plummeting to my toes at the same time. My mind tried to catch up, trying to recall where Roger was right now--where in the world he was. Roger was deployed on the USS Boxer off the coast of close to home, but suddenly stopped. What in the world was going on? Everything mind was heart was breaking...and fear like none I had ever felt turned my world upside down.

Brett Wood was eight years old on that day. I have no idea what he was doing, but I imagine he was in a Spencer elementary school. Yet, somehow, on that day he fell in love with his country and the idea of justice and courage.

It leaves me breathless to compare that day in September, between PFC Wood and my husband and I. How have we come to a war that generations fight together, replacing one weary solider for a new one? Ten years. So much can change and remain the same in ten years. At least in war.

In ten years...what will have changed? Who will be fighting? What mothers will be mourning? What little boys will have grown to soldiers? What ground will be won and where will it be lost? Will we still remember? Will our memories fade?

I have no answers. I don't even have a theory. But I have pride. I am thankful that God makes little boys like Brett...who desire freedom at all cost, even when they are only eight years-old. I am thankful that God gives young men brave hearts and courage to face an enemy that may never be defeated (at least in this lifetime). Thank the Lord that young boys grown up to be men like PFC Wood...and like those that have fallen before him. Because of that, ten years is nothing. Give us twenty years, forty years, sixty or a lifetime...but we will never give up, never tire and always fight for that which is right. There will always be budding heroes that know what is right in their heart and do whatever necessary to protect that--to fight for it--to preserve it.

So remember him, his family, and never forget. And never underestimate the heart of an eight year-old.


A Lesson In 1900

Shortly after the Second World War, Max, a transplanted American, visits an English pawn shop to sell his trumpet. The shopkeeper recognizes the tune Max plays as one on a wax master of an unreleased recording, discovered and restored from shards found in a piano salvaged from a cruise ship turned hospital ship, now slated for demolition. This chance discovery prompts a story from Max, which he relates both to the shopkeeper and later to the official responsible for the doomed vessel, for Max is a born storyteller.

Though now down on his luck and disillusioned by his wartime experiences, the New Orleans-born Max was once an enthusiastic and gifted young jazz musician, whose longest gig was several years with the house band aboard the Virginian, a posh cruise ship. While gaining his sea legs, he was befriended by another young man, the pianist in the same band, whose long unlikely name was Danny Boodman T.D. Lemons 1900, though everyone just called him 1900, the year of his birth. Abandoned in first class by his immigrant parents, 1900 was found and adopted by Danny, a stoker, and raised in the engine rooms, learning to read by reading horse-racing reports to his adoptive dad. After Danny's death in an accident, 1900 remained on the ship. Increasingly lured by the sound of the piano in the first-class ballroom, he eventually became a gifted pianist, a great jazz improvisationist, a composer of rich modern music inspired by his intense observation of the life around him, the stories passengers on all levels of the ship trusted him enough to tell. He also grew up to be a charming, iconoclastic young man, at once shrewd and oddly innocent. His talent earned him such accolades that he was challenged by, and bested Jelly Roll Morton in an intense piano duel that had poor Max chewing paper on the sofa in agonies of suspense...

And yet for all the richness and variety of his musical expression, he never left the ship, except almost, once, in the aftermath of his infatuation with a beautiful young woman immigrant who inspired the music committed to the master Max discovers in the pawnshop. Max realizes that 1900 must still be on the ship, and determines to find him, and to find out once and for all why he has so consistently refused to leave. (IMDb)

To me, 1900's is a fascinating creature. He managed to shine bright while secluded on a ship. He captivated many...his records going far and wide while he remained in one solitary location...never leaving...never venturing. But in one moment, one single second, beauty stepped into 1900's life and turned everything upside down. And it was in that moment that something beautiful happened in him, as well....

Watch and see:

It was not until 1900 set his eyes on something beautiful, something that captivated his heart...that the sound and tone of what his fingertips were playing changed. In that moment, what he was creating came to life, with blood in its veins and breath in its lungs. Would it have been the same if the woman had not appeared in the portal? Would the song have born the pulse of his own heartbeat?

I can try to do things, create beautiful things, but if my eyes are not on the One who gave me the ability...if my intentions are not to glorify my will never turn out as beautiful and meaningful as I wanted it to. And what would be the point?

I want my works to change a life. I want a simple portrait of a young girl to spark within her the knowledge that she was created for greatness...and shaped by the hands of a glorious King. I want the words I write to cut into the hardened hearts, the wounded hearts of those that read. I want the songs that we write and sing to win ground for a Savior that made us to be his disciples, who made us to walk in His ways and reach the hearts of those He loves so very much.

We were created for greatness. We were made to do and make beautiful things. We are not meant to be ordinary...unnoticed wallflowers that blend into the pattern. We were created to stand out, shout, fight, rally and dance like David in the streets. You and I...we are something more than what this world wants us to be!

But without out eyes set on the Beauty that breathed air into our lifeless lungs...we will never shine as bright or as far as we were supposed it. So, I, for keeping my eyes trained on the Savior, the King, the Abba...

And I will shine. We will shine. We will become a fraction of the beauty that He is.


Run To You

"Run To You"

I was tired of waiting
Playing all the games and
Living in a place that was not for me
So I thought it was time
For me to get what's mine
And to do it all, everything I dreamed
What I thought was the best of me turned to be
All the worst I could find

If I run to you
Will you hold me in your arms forevermore
If I run to you
Will you hold me in your arms forevermore

Now I got a feeling
That I've got to leave and
Find a way back to where I came from
Though I don't deserve it
I know it's unheard but
Living here without you, my life is done
I confess that I shouldn't have run from you
Now I know I was wrong

Nowhere to run to
And no one to turn to
I'm dying out here on my own
Long before I even thought of returning
Your arms are wide open
Waiting for me to come home

Lord, I know these words. I know the desperation that they hold...the tears and fear. And every time, you've held me. I love you for it.

Teach me to rest in You. Teach me to WAIT on You. Because I need you in the very center of my life. I need Your whisper in my ear...telling me...teaching me...telling me that I am Yours....

Because I will never be half the woman I am meant to be unless You are by my side. And that's my be Your beauty.


Just A Little Bit Of Hope

Sometimes, all we need is a little bit of hope...just a little bit.

With a little bit of hope, we can get ourselves out of bed and whisper a quick, "Thank you, Jesus, for this day."

We can keep writing when we wonder if anyone will ever see our words...printed...bound between covers.

We keep taking pictures, determined to bless as many people as we can with an image of their true...deep-down beauty.

We keep being the parents we dream of being...with patience and kindness...that learn to discipline with the right blend of love and affection (Lord, HELP me with that one!).

We keep our eyes tuned to the lost and hurting, looking for creative ways to shower them with love.

A little bit of hope brings the lyrics and harmony to new songs and new sounds that will take the world by storm.

Hope reminds us that our loneliness is only for a second...and before we know it...we will be in someone's arms--arms created just to hold us.

Sometimes, all we need is a little bit of hope to keep on believing, to keep on pressing, to keep on fighting to become that man or woman we know we were created to be. With hope, we notice the King's breath on our cheek...we can feel the warmth in His shadow...we can hear the faint beat of his heart as it picks up speed just from watching us...

Sometimes, all we need is a little bit of hope.

Sometimes, all God wants to do is drown us in hope.

Sometimes, we don't notice it...sometimes we don't want it...

But today is Friday--a new day. And I feel hope pulsating through the air.

I know things are about to change.

I hear the rustling in the Mulberry trees...

I can feel His breath...

And I'm running in it...dancing like a giddy little girl that cannot get enough of it.

I have a little bit of hope that is quickly growing and taking shape into a whole new world.



I Want To Cover You In Stickers

My husband has been very busy in and out of many churches lately. God has blessed him with so many contacts that I can barely keep their names straight. One church wants him to lead worship on a Sunday morning, and then another for a Sunday night. Because of this, my children are shuttled from one new church to another. Thank the Lord that he did not give me children that were terribly shy like me. They are having a blast! Lucy (my 4 year old daughter) loves to make new friends, and Teddy (my 2 year old son) is enjoying all the new activities that the churches offer.

Last Sunday night we were at Waterline Church for Roger to help with worship. I dropped the kids off, signed them in, got a sticker with their name and a code in case they needed me (BTW, it helps if you DO NOT worship with your eyes closed in case the code flashes across the screen and you don't notice it). I enjoyed the entire service...and it was wonderful (again, keep your eyes open!). When it was finished, I went to pick up my children...and Teddy walks out with a sticker that reads: Your child was prayed for today.

My first thought was, "Teddy, what did you do?!?!" ;)

But that sticker has been sticking with me all week--pun not intended...but it is cute. What would happen if all the people I prayed for suddenly had a sticker appear on them that read: Don't worry! You've been prayed for today!

So that poor woman sitting at her cubical, thinking that nobody cares how terribly her heart is aching looks down and notices a scrap of white that reads: You've been prayed for today...and JESUS DOES KNOW. He is going to make it okay!

The newly married man that doesn't know how to adjust between passion, talent, love and work to a husband that needs to meet another person's needs as well as his own...a sticker appears that reads: Even though you don't feel it, someone is praying for you and God is going to help you!

To the couple that is struggling to make ends meet and keep their lights on and their children in their home, their sticker appears even as the tears are falling and it reads: I prayed for you today. Jesus sees your tears. He WILL NOT let them go uncounted...He WILL honor them...He knows your way out!

What would happen if all the people out there that feel so lonely and struggle to keep believing in a God that rescues and loves unconditionally began to be covered in stickers that said: I am praying for you! God will deliver you! You are NOT alone! Keep fighting! He will hold your hand!

What might happen if in my weakest moments, when I don't feel like smiling...a sticker appeared on me that said: Don't give up hope, dear heart...because I prayed for you today.

Maybe we could all relax a little and breathe deeper, filling out lungs with His peace...

Maybe we could take another step, put one foot in front of the other...and carry on with our chin a little higher than it was...

Perhaps we would be cloaked in His warmth, shielded by His angels, nestled in the palm of His hand and empowered by an unknown person's simple prayer...

So, I want to cover people in invisible stickers that will fuse together like armor of God, toughening them, strengthening them in peace and our King's mercy. I want to close my eyes and picture my family and friends walking about their day slowly being covered with white stickies and post-it notes that reaffirm God's promises to never leave us to battle this world on our own. And that mental fills me with such joy that I giggle. :)

"Put on the fill armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand...stand." ~Ephesians 6:11-13

There are days I don't have the strength to dress myself in armor...or even dress myself. Period. Some days...I forget to utter a prayer for strength. But I believe that when I pray for others...those stickers really do become like armor for them. "We have the power to help," from the mouth of my incredibly smart 4 year old.



I Don't Need Big Muscles

When the storms rage in and the rains fall in sheets, it can be pretty scary. I remember when I was a little girl, a tornado blew up across the field from our house. My mom pulled my brothers and I down into the cellar, but she wouldn't get down there with us. She stood at the top of the stairs, watching...listening...waiting. I caught a glimpse of the sky outside the windows. I've never seen green like that before...thick...dangerous...menacing.

Water was standing in the bottom of the cellar--the cellar I wasn't even aware was there until that day. My brothers were jumping around in it, laughing, playing, not acting as if--at any second--the house could be blown away right over our heads. But I stood still, my heart thundering inside of me, my eyes dancing between my little brothers and my mother's worried face at the top of the stairs. She told us to sing, so I did..."Jesus loves me, this I know." Over and over again, I sang with a voice uncertain and afraid.

When I was seventeen, I was in California for the very first time. I was excited because I might see a movie star, see the Pacific and see my handsome boyfriend graduate from the United States Marine Corps basic training. On the first night, his sisters and I were about fifteen floors up in a Holiday Inn hotel in L.A. Everyone had fallen asleep, the room was pitch black, and suddenly, the hangers and door chain began to clatter as they swung back and forth. At first, I thought someone was trying to break in to our room, but then the entire room began to sway...and then the building began to move in a circular motion. I sat straight up in the bed on hands and knees, and cried out, "Jesus, save us!" I said the same thing over and over again until the earthquake was over. I didn't feel the least bit silly about it, either. I knew that earthquakes were serious...and that the only one that could help me in this situation was my Heavenly Father.

Now as a mother, I've had to take my children down to the basement several times. Sirens blare and rain and hail pelt the windows. I still get a glimpse of that green sky beyond the windows...but somewhere in the midst, there is peace.

And would you believe me if I said I have felt several earthquakes since that first one in California...and that all the rest have been felt here in Indiana? Each time I wake up to the bed shaking and the windows rattling, I feel peace...

I stand in a grown-up world with a far different view from that of a child's, and I find other things more frightening than tornadoes and earthquakes. The checking account is empty and bills are due. Children are sick and running high fevers...and I don't know how to make them feel better. Jobs are lost and new ones are hard to find. Wars rage in distant lands and I wonder what it all means. My heart can ache, feel lonely, and my mind can taunt me with past lies and failures. People say mean things, hurt me, wound me and leave me to figure it all out and heal on my own. You're told to, "Put on your big girl panties and move on," but sometimes, big girl panties do nothing to help the situation. Life can stink...and I can stand in the middle of it and not come up with a single solution. I can't change this. I can't make it better. This is all far bigger than tornadoes and earthquakes.

But I know a single, simple truth that will carry me through:

God will fight for me. He will carry me when I cannot walk much more. He will wrap His arms around me and hold me in a bear hug until the pain fades away. He will breathe new life into me when this world tries to steal my joy. He never gives up on me even when I give up on Him. Those promises that He placed in my heart? Well, no matter how much times passes, He always fulfills them. He will not leave me alone. He will not make me stand alone. If I get scared and run, He will chase after me...because HE WILL fight for me.

"God will fight the battle for you." Exodus 14:14 (Message)

I don't need big muscles because my God has the biggest of them all...and He uses every single one of them to fight for me.


No Doubts

As a writer, I struggle to believe. Are these words really good enough? Are my characters strong enough? Does God's work shine His breath on the page?

As a photographer, I struggle to believe. I wonder if my talent is really breathtaking. Are my clients truly pleased? Do they see the beauty of creation reflected in their children's each belly laugh caught in the shot?

As a mother, I struggle. What am I doing wrong that is going to screw up my kids when they are adults and parents themselves? Do they see the love of Jesus in me?

The list goes on and on and on. I am hard on myself. I beat myself up and hold my image to high standards that are nearly impossible to achieve. When I fail, I fall deep into gloomy darkness. When I succeed, I doubt the success.

But God has called me to greatness, and I must find a way to believe in that. He has put stories in my imagination, set them deep within me to be stirred to life by the mere sigh from His lips. He has given me the ability to capture His beauty buried deep within every human soul. H gave me incredible children, trusting me to be the mother He needs me to be in their lives. And my dear, wonderful, most courageous husband (just to endure and choose me)...for him, God gave me patience and a warrior mindset to stand beside him and never run. He has called me to greatness.

We all need to start believing...and stepping out. For He knows the plans He has for us...


Those First Words

I am particularly critical of my own first sentences. I rake them over the coals, delete them, yell at them, kill them and start fresh, cry over them and sometimes even damn them to the deepest parts of the earth where no one can find them even if they wanted to. (hehe)

So this morning I have stacked a pile of books that were nearest me, and I am pouring over their first sentence. This is what I've found:


"Sister are overrated, she decided. Not all of them, of course, only the beautiful ones who never let you forget it."
~A Passion Most Pure by Julie Lessman
(Hooked me)

"When the sun set over Thebes, splaying its last rays over the limestone cliffs, we walked in a long procession across the sand. In a twisting line that threaded between the hills, the viziers of Upper and Lower Egypt came first, then the priests of Amun, followed by hundreds of mourners."
~Nefertiti by Michelle Moran
(Pretty good image right off the bat)

"Robert Cohn was once middleweight boxing champion of Princeton. Do not think that I am very much impressed by that as a boxing title, but it meant a lot to Cohn."
~The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
(It's okay...intriguing)

"Scarlett O'Hara was no beautiful, but men seldom realized it when caught by her charm as the Tarleton twins were."
~Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell
(Love it...but I'm biased)

"'This will be over soon, and then I can go back to Tara.' Scarlett O'Hara Hamilton Kennedy Butler stood alone, a few steps away from the other mourners at Melanie Wilkes' burial." ~Scarlett by Alexandra Ripley
(GREAT start!!)

And is mine....

"As Rafe walked through the crowded officer’s club, he stirred the air scented by KREML hair tonic and booze. He breathed in deep, savoring the thick fog of cigar smoke that filled his lungs, reminding him of the dusty Texas saloons back home. But there were no spit-shined cowboys here, nor any curvy blondes with Chantilly perfume dabbed at their necks."
(I just don't know...)


So what do you think? Do first lines matter to you? Because I think they certainly do. From the beginning of the process you are trying to hook an agent, a publisher and then a reader. The first lines are the first thing they see (duh), so do they matter to you?


Music to write to:


Hop In And Follow Me Friday

Book Blogger Hop

Grab the Logo!

In the spirit of the Twitter Friday Follow, the Book Blogger Hop is a place just for book bloggers and readers to connect and share our love of the written word! This weekly BOOK PARTY is an awesome opportunity for book bloggers to connect with other book lovers, make new friends, support each other, and generally just share our love of books! It will also give blog readers a chance to find other book blogs to read! So, grab the logo, post about the Hop on your blog, and start HOPPING through the list of blogs that are posted in the Linky list below!!

The Hop lasts Friday-Monday every week, so if you don’t have time to Hop today, come back later and join the fun! This is a weekly event! And stop back throughout the weekend to see all the new blogs that are added! We get over 200 links every week!!


How many books are in your To Be Read pile?


Exactly Two. And those are both books that I have already started but found something more interesting to read. Does that not speak well for the authors? No? Well...then I guess I won't name the authors. ;)

Q. In light of the Summer Solstice. Also known as Midsummer...let's talk about fairies. What is your favorite fairy tale or story that revolves around the fae?

A. I never got into fairy stories as a kid...and now I have a little girl who is love with them. So, as silly as it might be, I love her Tinker Bell movies. How sad is that? I'm ridiculous, I know.



Grace Within The Words

I have a vein in my body that I believe pumps all the dreams and creativity to my heart where they must be processed and turned to action, or risk clogging my poor little heart, causing it to swell to bursting point...

You know that I am mostly joking, right? Because I'm pretty sure my veins carry nothing but blood cells and oxygen. ;)

But if I had this vein, today, it would be pumping so much to my heart that my brain and heart cannot process it quickly enough. My heart is swelling; demanding that I do something. But I have no idea what to do. There are so many words, so many thoughts, so many pictures passing through that I can only stand here, open-mouthed, heart pounding and aching, and do nothing but think, "Oops."

But the thing that is grabbing my attention the most is the simple word: Grace.

And maybe that's because last night I got into a silly discussion about grace, acceptance, tolerance and how Christians should or should no contain all three of those things for the sinners of the world who will not repent and turn to Christ. Like a graceless idiot, I got angry and lost my temper...and dropped my grace on the ground. There I stood, heart pounding and aching, open-mouthed, and thinking, "Oops."

But here is the thing: I am a writer...and my stories are fiction. But in every story that I sit down to write, I am asking God to breathe life into wretched, messed-up, sinful little ragamuffins that are trying to do things their own way but doing a miserable job at it. Some of my characters get drunk, kiss the wrong girl, kill the wrong person (well, not really), curse God when their life falls to shambles, and, sometimes, turn their back on him like a stubborn little child. But grace always steps in and sweeps the filth away.

Isn't that how it really works? Isn't that how you and I once were? Did you ever kill the wrong person? No? But maybe you kissed the wrong person, rallied at God when things didn't go your way, or crossed your arms in stubborn indignation? Because I have. Well...except for the kissing part.


noun /grās/ 
graces, plural

  1. Simple elegance or refinement of movement
    • - she moved through the water with effortless grace

  2. Courteous goodwill
    • - at least he has the grace to admit his debt to her

  3. An attractively polite manner of behaving
    • - she has all the social graces

  4. (in Christian belief) The free and unmerited favor of God, as manifested in the salvation of sinners and the bestowal of blessings

  5. A divinely given talent or blessing
    • - the graces of the Holy Spirit

  6. The condition or fact of being favored by someone
    • - he fell from grace because of drug use at the Olympics

  7. A period officially allowed for payment of a sum due or for compliance with a law or condition, esp. an extended period granted as a special favor
    • - another three days' grace

  8. A short prayer of thanks said before or after a meal
    • - before dinner the Reverend Newman said grace

  9. Used as forms of description or address for a duke, duchess, or archbishop
    • - His Grace, the Duke of Atholl

verb /grās/ 
graced, past participle; graced, past tense; graces, 3rd person singular present; gracing, present participle

  1. Do honor or credit to (someone or something) by one's presence
    • - she bowed out from the sport she has graced for two decades

  2. (of a person or thing) Be an attractive presence in or on; adorn
    • - Ms. Pasco has graced the front pages of magazines like Elle and Vogue

Don't you just love that definition of grace? I especially love the 'acting in a polite, attractive manner'. So, my philosophy is not only does God love my stories of the messy person that lacks grace yet is in dire need of it, but he also loves me and every other dreadful sinner out there that cannot figure out how to make themselves clean. My God is love, acceptance (and I'll go so far as to say patiently tolerant), and will never ever cross his arms in indignation and turn his back on me, or them! Because of that, I will do my best to join in the fun and behave in an attractive, polite manner, while finding those people that have never tasted of grace and wrap them up in it with the love of Christ that is in me. Because I owe my Savior that much, don't I? If He gave me such a wonderful, irreplaceable gift such as grace, then shouldn't I be giving it freely to every single person around me? Even if I don't think they deserve it?

"Grace strikes us when we are in great pain and restlessness. It strikes us when we walk through the dark valley of a meaningless and empty life...It strikes us when, year after year, the longed-for perfection does not appear, when the old compulsions reign within us as they have for decades, when despair destroys all joy and courage. Sometimes at that moment a wave of light breaks into our darkness, and it is as though a voice were saying: "You are accepted. You are accepted, accepted by that which is greater than you, and the name of which you do not know. Do not ask for the name now; perhaps you will find it later. Do not try to do anything now; perhaps later you will do much. Do not seek for anything, do not perform anything, do not intend anything. Simply accept the fact that you are accepted." If that happens to us, we experience grace."

~The Shaking of the Foundations by Paul Tillich


Stepping Into The Shoes Of Another

This morning, I had the pleasure of reading a beautiful article that now has my heart pumping and my mind racing. There are few things in this world that I believe can lift us to honor, but the woman in this article has certainly done so. I love her story so much that I want to share the article here or listen to the author interview here. Read her story and let me know...could you do her job? Because I would. I honestly think that I would. :)


He Always Shows Up

There is a post that I want to place right here, but the words just will not come. I guess it isn't time yet. My mind is too full and projects are screaming at me from every direction. Amazing music is blasting in my ears...and my heart is fingertips are eager to write...but my body is all frazzled, as if I just downed my hundredth cup of coffee. So, I guess the deep, meaningful post will have to wait--along with all the rest that have been piling up on that dusty shelf in the darkest corner of my mind. One day soon, the words will burst out...ready or not.

Just give me a sec.


The Story

There are some things that I come across that reach my heart in a way that leaves me breathless. Some things just tell your perfectly...that tears fall before you can check them. I love it when that happens. Because, there are times in our lives when we feel so much joy, or so much pain, that we have no way of knowing how to voice it. There is a story in us that just won't make it out--a story with words that evade us. But we feel it. I believe those moments, when we find something that stirs those waters, is God's way of kissing our foreheads.

And here is my most recent story...

This is me.

This is my husband.

This is the pain and joy, and all the boundless love...that I've not been able to find the words. for.


Five Minutes Ago, I Was A Drunk Marine

I write Christian fiction, but I just finished a scene from the POV of a drunk Marine. I realize this might make it hard when I look for a publisher, but that's okay with me. I'll take my chances.

I've made a lot of mistakes in my life, and as a writer, I tend to draw from that place when I create my characters. I want to make them flawed--broken. As I write, I toss them in as much hot water as I can, making those flaws even more prominent. I want POVs that are marred and ugly (not always literally). I want a character that is 'real'...that people can relate to.

So, I took my main character...a man that was raised in church and knows right from wrong. I tossed him into a military dinner where and abundance of toasts are made. Despite his better judgment, he does what he is expected to do and swallows every bit of alcohol given to him. Drunk, beat up, unruly...he meets to the woman of his dreams who just happens to be a button-down Christian woman. Not exactly the best way to make a good first impression.

And I suppose that my novel may not make a good first impression to an inquiring publisher. In fact, a successful Christian writer told me so.


I want my stories to be the kind that breath truth. I don't want to paint pictures that are witty and interesting, yes...but fail to make an unbeliever relate to what is unfolding. Nearly every Christian novel has a 'come-to-Jesus' moment. But that's not enough for me. I want all the grit, sin, ugliness in my novel that is in the real world. Because only then...can the truth of what Jesus saves us from be brought to light.

So here is to you, drunken Captain Dalton. I raise my cup of Earl Grey to you and your shameful predicament. May you win the lovely nurse Jessup over...fall madly in love...and then lose it all on a bloody battlefield. Your story might not have a happy ending, but you'll die a hero (sober, too) Most importantly, may your life transform that of a reader's. That makes it all worth it, now doesn't it?


My God Doesn't Always Look Pretty

It is hard to paint a picture for someone about who God is and what His character is like. You can travel from one church to another, and doctrine will always provide a different picture, or a different angle. For me, learning who God is involved pain. I'm not claiming God inflicted the pain. But it was in that darkness that I caught a glimpse of who He is.

This is what I have learned...

From the beginning, even before Eve ever accepted the fruit from the serpent, God has been in a battle with Satan. Think on that: A Battle. God is not a King that sits idle on a throne, reigning over all creation. Yes, He is a King...and, yes, He reigns (make no mistake of that). But God is so much more. God is the Commander of the Angel Armies. God is a fighter, a warrior, a commander of fierce troops, seasoned and ready to go to battle.

No matter how wonderful it would be to look to God and see nothing but pretty colors and perfect, cheerful hymns, God is something much more powerful--and frightening--than that. His voice calms raging seas. That is a voice to be reckoned with! His orders move mountains; His hands hold the entire world in their palm; His breath brings life; there is nowhere you can hide from Him; He crushes His enemies; He is quick to love and forgive.

I know that God loves me and wants good things for me. But more than that, He wants me to learn to fight for Him/with Him. He needs me to learn to stand up in a battle that I cannot see with my eyes. God yearns for me to grow and mature through the dark moments in my life--for they are my training days. I understand that when I come out of the valley, I am going to be broken, battered and bruised. Life is really going to stink (it already does)...and bones might even be broken. I might feel that there is no way I can take one more step...that my strength is gone. But He LOVES me enough to allow me to walk through those dark times, simply because He SEES my value and worth. He KNOWS what I will be when I come out. He KNOWS how strong, how tough, how capable I will be.

God wants a warrior out of me, and a warrior needs trained--they cannot go into battle without it. A warrior that can lead is usually one that has already gone through one dark battle after the other--unafraid no longer. They know what their blood taste like. They know what the pain feels like. And they've learned to go without comforts.

So, here I am. Everything has been stripped away. My capabilities are nothing I can rely on. My life is out of my hands. Troubles fall heavy on my shoulders. I stand in my Father's shadows...I feel His jealousy for me...and I tremble in the fierce strength of His love. I will not set my eyes on the pretty things of the world--the comfort of abundance. I will not settle. I will not be distracted. Instead, I am going to lift my eyes to him, hold out my arms, and say, "Let it be."

Don't get distracted. Don't shy away from the darkness. Run towards it when it comes your way, for there is no avoiding pain in life anyway. Hold to the truth that this was never the world you were created for from the start. Remember that God is still there, ready to help you when you need Him. But do not be distracted by the safe path. Become a warrior who learns that His grace is sufficient. Bend like a tree in a hurricane under the strength of His love; for His love refines. His love even hurts, at times. His love is not always comfortable.

And that is what God looks like to me. Mel Gibson in the Patriot. He fights fiercely for His children...but His children also end up fighting right along side him. That's my God. He trusts me, He wants me, to fight by His side. :) And together, we're a sweaty, dirty pair fighting with all the passion we've got.


I Shoot People

Not really! But I do shoot people with my camera. Aside from being a wife, mother and writer...I'm also a photographer. Over the weekend, I had the opportunity to photograph a band my husband is the lead singer for. I might be biased, but I think they are pretty awesome. I also might be biased, but I think the pictures came out fantastic! :) So, since it is sunny out and I don't want to write a true blog post, I'll just send whoever is interested over to my Giafoto Fine Art Photography blog page. Enjoy the pictures!!!


Facebook Needs A Conscience Filter

This past week, I've hated my facebook news feed. With the death of Osama bin Laden, everyone has had something to say. But this recent spike in current events isn't the only time facebook and other social networks have gotten foul-mouthed, opinionated, and offensive. It happens a lot. The wrong person gets kicked off American Idol (which I don't even watch), a nation suffers a natural disaster (including our own), that woman you met once at the park starts adamantly protesting against (fill in the blank here), or someone simply just woke up on the wrong side of the bed. All give reasons for people to write and post without a second thought. Sometimes, it sparks a heated debate among your friends, or those random people you knew way-back-when. Sometimes, you wake up the next day and burn with embarrassment...did you really just post that?

So, my solution is this: Facebook and Twitter need a conscience filter. You may still choose what you want to write, but it will fire a series of questions at you before you post any questionable status update. For instance:

1. Do you really want your parents to read that?
2. Have you any idea that those words may deeply wound a great deal of your friends?
3. Do you understand that you sound a tad-bit racist by saying that?
4. Should your friends really know THAT much personal information about you?
5. Does this reflect your faith in a good light?
6. After she read this, will your grandma smack you upside your head next time she sees you?
7. Does EVERYONE need to see THAT picture?
8. Are you belittling others with this post, just because you HAVE to let the world know how you feel on this issue?
9. Do you realize that you sound like a pompous donkey's backside right now?
10. It's a wonder you have any friends on here to begin with!

Really, just because it is so easy to fire off a status in under 60 seconds, does not mean we necessarily should. In the long run, you might wish you had invested in a time machine so you could go back to 20 minutes ago when you called that lady sitting next to you in the church pew, a big ole' ninny. ;) Or something worse.

"Watch the way you talk (or, in our case...type). Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth. Say only what helps, each word a gift. Don't grieve God. Don't break His heart. " Ephesians 4:29-30 (Message)

"Make a clean break with all cutting, backbiting, profane talk. Be gentle with one another, sensitive. Forgive one another as quickly and thoroughly as God in Christ forgave you." Ephesians 4:32


Hop In And Follow Me Friday

Book Blogger Hop

Hop in and Follow me Friday are weekly meme's hosted by Parajunkee's View and Crazy-for-Books.

"Which book blogger would you most like to meet in real life?"

I don't think I would want to meet any blogger in real life. I am too much of an introvert and then would have to worry about what to say. But I suppose in an effort to answer the question correctly, I would choose BookGeek because she seems so nice. :)

What character in a book would
you most like to be? What character in a book would most like to date?

Oh, this is so easy! The characters are even in the same book! I would want to be Scarlett O'Hara for a few days...and date and marry Rhett Butler. However, I don't want to be caught in Gone With The Wind Forever, because, truthfully, I don't like Scarlett. It takes her two thick-bound novels to finally start to act like a decent human being. She marries three different men, nearly looses the one-true-love of her life, isn't the most amazing mother, and extremely money-hungry. So, I just want to be her temporarily. I would ruin her reputation, though. I would be too kind and loving...and when she got her body back, she would wonder why Rhett is so incredibly warm to her and beckons to her every call. She won't be able to walk down the Atlanta streets without people coming up to her and making cheery small talk. She'll be so mad. :)