One Year Ago

Today has been a year since I first started writing in this blog. In some ways, it has been the fastest year I have ever lived through, and in others, time has passed slowly. I have grown so much this year–as a writer, as a teacher, as a person. I have lost things, and I have regained things too; most especially my relationship with Jesus Christ. I read this in my devotion book this morning.

“Make a big deal out of God. Become who you are for him! Has he not transferred you from a dull, death-destined life to a rich, heaven-bound adventure? Remember, “You were chosen to tell about the excellent qualities of God.” And do so every day of your life. With God, every day matters, every person counts. And that includes you.” (Grace for the Moment, Max Lucado, pg. 319)

“To tell about the excellent qualities of God.” That told me God knows what my gift is and how he wants me to use it like I posted the other day. It is a marvel to me that I can read just what I need when I need it or that I get a phone call or an email just when I need it. But, it really isn’t a marvel. It’s God working in my life showing his love and his grace even when I know I don’t deserve it. My main goal is to show that love and grace to others so that people can see Jesus in me. I look forward to growing more in this next year.

Until next time, be real!

Appreciating Our Mentors

My husband and I are in our late 40’s/early 50’s. Nowadays, this would be considered to be a fairly young age especially with people living into their 80’s or beyond. But, this is also the age where you start hearing of people who die either from accidents or from illnesses such as cancer. The reason for this post is because the former happened to a friend and mentor of my husband’s on Monday night. It is hard to get news like that and not think of your own mortality. This gentleman was not much older than my husband, but was someone who meant a great deal to him in his younger years. He died in a plane crash.

When I heard the news earlier this morning, I thought of other people who had been mentors in my life over the years. It’s easy to let daily life slip up on you and not tell those people how much you appreciate them. With today’s news though, I have realized you need to make every moment count because you do not know when a moment will be someone’s last.

In closing, I quote a poem by John Magee.

“High Flight”

Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
of sun-split clouds, — and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of — wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there,
I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air….

Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue
I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace.
Where never lark, or even eagle flew —
And, while with silent, lifting mind I’ve trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
– Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.

Intimacy

Now, before I write anything else, let’s get one thing out-of-the-way. Today’s topic has nothing to do with what people usually take the word intimacy to mean. I don’t even know what I would write if I wanted to write about that. 🙂

No, today’s topic has more to do with being true to yourself. In the few years that I have been writing seriously again, I have used writing in one part of my life while putting the other parts of my life over to one side while I write. So, my life has been in parts, and my writing has been fragmented because of it. What has been amazing to me though is that people have told me that my writing has touched them even though it has been fragmented. With the steps I am taking today, I am hopeful that it will touch even more people. My plan is to take the two halves and make them whole considering all the parts of my life and experience during the times I am writing and creating.

The biggest part of this is going to be acknowledging my faith as I write.  I am a follower of Jesus Christ, a Christian. Now, you will notice I did not say that I go to such and such church although I do. In my opinion, the biggest problem with Christianity nowadays is that people don’t live their faith. They don’t have a relationship with Jesus Christ. Their faith is contained in the four walls of the church, and they don’t go anywhere else with it. The world sees people who claim to be Christians not doing what they’re supposed to do which is love people in Jesus’ name. I’ve read the debates; I’ve heard the arguments on just about every topic that Christians argue about among themselves and with others who are not of the Christian faith. I think that is sad. God is supposed to convict. God is supposed to judge. We, who are Christians, are only supposed to love people in Jesus’ name.

That is the biggest reason I am making these changes. I want to show people Jesus’ love through my writing, through my stories. This doesn’t necessarily mean every story I write is going to be a specifically Christian story though I know God wants me to remain open to the idea. What God doesn’t want is for me to hide who I am anymore. I used to be afraid of being condemned, afraid of not being liked. I think that comes from unrealistic expectations from my younger years. But, no more. I’m going to do what I should have done a long time ago.  The two halves of my personality are going to be united into one, and I’m going to share from the deepest parts of my soul. Stay tuned to the blog for further changes.

Until next time, be real!

 

One More Day

This holiday weekend promises to be very exciting for me because I will be going to our local sci-fi/fantasy/comic book festival. I went to the inaugural festival last year, and I believe it’s going to be even better this year. My favorite part of it, of course, is the literature component. This is where authors, editors, and other professionals come in and talk about different parts of writing. I also get to network and meet other people who are as enthusiastic about writing as I am. I can’t wait! Refilling my cup is important because I’m about to have more time to write.  I will also be attending panels in the Science and Engineering track, the Star Trek track, and the Sci-Fi and Fantasy Media track.

Science fiction and fantasy are two of my favorite genres because they explore new possibilities, new ways for human beings to relate to each other. They also help us to use our imaginations which is important to writing too. Looking forward to approaching my writing projects with new enthusiasm once the festival is over!

Almost Summertime

We’re on the downward slant for number of days until school is over, and I was thinking of the things people like to do in the summer, some of which we will do and some of which we won’t. Just thinking of the long and lazy days doing whatever I want is enough to make me lick my lips with anticipation. What kind of things will we be doing? First, of course, we will spend time in the pool. Spending time in the pool is almost a given during the hot summers in the South. We’ll also spend time practicing baseball, doing things with our friends at church, reading books, and possibly going to the beach.  I like the slower schedule during the summer. The frenetic pace of life slows down, and people seem to take more time to enjoy it.

Now, I also have goals for what I would like to accomplish. First and foremost, I am planning to write as much as I can and doing other activities that complement the writing such as editing and reading. I am also planning to get out and get to know people at our church better. Don’t get me wrong. I do enjoy homeschooling, but having time with other adults is important too.

I hope everyone has a great summer, and if you write, keep writing!

The Purpose of College

Over the past few months I’ve expanded the purpose of this blog from writing what I know or don’t know about writing to writing about what’s impacting my own life. Having a son who is two years from graduating high school, the purpose of college has been weighing on my mind recently.

There have been many articles out decrying the amount of student loans owed by people who have graduated and how expensive it is to attend college. The last few days have brought articles with a more personal touch discussing individual stories of how students weren’t able to attend the college of their dreams because of lack of funding and the sacrifices parents were making to make sure their students weren’t graduating with student loan debt. Some things bothered me about two of these stories. One of the stories talked about how the student was devastated they had to settle for a less expensive college. I looked back at what the cost was and was flabbergasted at the price. Is this what we have trained our students to expect–that the only good college education is one that is expensive? The other story talked about how a student was attending an Ivy League school, and the extreme sacrifices her mother was making so her daughter could go there. The per year cost was over $60000, and my first thought was ‘Was there ever any kind of conversation about going to a less expensive school? What about going to a community college for the first two years to get basic courses out of the way?’ I was able to answer my question almost immediately. The student probably did not see it as desirable to go that route even though the name of the community college would not have appeared on the diploma.

So, what is wrong with this picture? For that, I go back to the original question. What is the purpose of college? Well, I always thought the purpose of college was to get an education and then be able to go into the world, find productive employment and contribute to society.  With the number of students who go to college with no idea of what they want to do and the colleges whose aim is to keep them there as long as possible, I think the purpose of college has gone by the way side. And society is at fault too, for training all of us to think that the only good education is an expensive education. For me, I don’t believe that is true at all, and that is what will be in the forefront of my mind as we begin the college journey with our older son.

Last Excerpt of Blogging from the Ballpark

My younger son finished his season last night with a second loss in their double elimination tournament. This spring was a major achievement for him. Although he played fall ball back in 2012, this was his first full spring season of playing baseball. You normally don’t expect boys to take up the sport at the age of 13 which is how old he is. They usually take it up at a much younger age. But, my husband and I have the philosophy of letting our children choose to do something and not making them do it just because everyone else is. For that reason, we waited until he and his older brother expressed interest in taking up the sport. They both had to learn a lot on their own, and I think it meant more to them because they did so. I heard my younger son’s coach last night say he had improved a great deal since the beginning of the season.

Now, on to the actual game. The team we played spent the first part of the game outscoring us. It was a situation where the boys on my son’s team could have given up. But, they didn’t. They started hitting towards the end of the game and were able to score several runs although it wasn’t enough to win. That tells me they have learned the value of persistence which is always a good value to have. I know persistence will serve them well as they seek to improve on their game this summer and on anything they do in life. Congratulations on a good season!!

Creating versus Consuming

I read someone’s Facebook status earlier this morning where the person was lamenting not having seen certain television shows in a while, but then said one of the reasons he had not done so was because he had been working on a couple of stories. He then said something that was totally telling for me and something I know I need to remember. “You can’t always consume and create at the same time.”

I think that’s a telling statement on our entire society. A lot of people spend their lives consuming various forms of media (television, computer) and don’t take the time to create the things they are capable of creating. It’s always, ‘I have to get home so I can watch this television show.’ or ‘The news is on. Don’t bother me right now.’ Things like Facebook and Twitter have also become distractions and an excuse for not creating.

What can be done with the distractions? I think it’s a conscious choice you have to make. You have to say, “I want to get out there and live life and not let your life control you.”  For me, I want to be a part of the solution instead of a part of the problem. So, the next time I complain about not having enough time to write I will look in the mirror as I think of the reasons why that is the case.

 

 

Being a Mentor

I’ve thought a lot about this recently–what it takes to be a mentor. Here is the definition from Merriam-Webster Dictionary.

mentor–a trusted counselor or guide; tutor; coach

Those are all words that I’ve heard in reference to the people who have invested themselves in others’ lives. I would add one other part to that definition. To have a willingness to invest in other people’s lives. See, you can be a coach or a tutor or a counselor. But, unless you truly care about the people you are working with or talking to, it is just lip service. And when you are talking about mentoring teenagers, trust me when I say, they know you are being fake from a mile away. Fortunately, I know people who have invested in mine and other teens’ lives who are real and who deserve the title of mentor. This post is for them as a way to say thank you.

To the men who coached each of my son’s baseball teams this spring, you have been a true example of good sportsmanship to the boys you worked with. I’ve truly appreciated each and every one of you and the time you have taken to show my sons what being a true man means.

To the men and women who helped with the homeschool bowling league, thank you for the time you took to organize it and for teaching my children about bowling.

To the men and women at our church who have invested themselves in the lives of the youth, I have watched my sons branch off and begin to fly in the past year. It’s nice to see adults who care about them and who want to see their faith grow.

Finally, a quote about mentoring from author Ann Patchett.

“Why do I write? Because the person I wanted to be came down and sat with us from time to time and showed us what he was working on, as if to say that what we were doing was all the same thing….Mentors are extremely hard to come by.”

I chose this quote because of the last statement. Mentors are hard to come by so, to the people who invested themselves in my children’s lives this year, I want to say thank you.

Keep Going–Even When it’s Hard

This used to be a given in our society. People respected hard work and would work to surmount whatever difficulties came across their path. There was no saying that a person deserved something just because they existed. They worked for what they received and helped those who were unable to work. The selfishness that is paramount today existed in, well, less amounts years ago, and we were more willing to help each other.

How does this translate to writing? There are some people who think their writing is good enough for publication immediately after they’ve written it. They don’t understand anything about what an editor does or what it takes to make their writing better. Putting in the hard work and effort to make their writing better just doesn’t translate for them. They think they are entitled to the benefits of publication without the work necessary to get there.

Fortunately, I know many people for whom this is not the case. They are making the effort to be the best writer they can be even through the rejections from agents and editors.  They are getting better with their craft day by day. That is my goal too. To get better, to be better at writing. So, my goal for today is to keep going; even when it’s hard.

Until next time, be real!