Monday, October 03, 2016

Spilled Out

Almost seven months later, I'm settled into my new town. Or as settled as I can be. I've found my drugstore, a cool doctor, love my hairdresser, and attend a church five minutes from our house, Last week we finished painting the last side plus painted the patio All that's left is the garage.

And we are talking of selling already.

It seems the market is escalating again. We missed it last time and don't want to do the same this time around since we moved here to make money. Oh it might not be for a few years yet but still we spoke about it. When we do that, I find my heart not digging into my new home. I look around me and think temporary.

I knew this whole Florida move was temporary from the start. I have a home in PA waiting for me to return to finish. But still the thought of temporary makes living here harder. The church we attend is made up of great people--people who have known each other for years and years. Some more than twenty. The pastor has been there twenty-six and they are a huge family. With this move I told myself we wouldn't church hop trying to find the best one for fellowship like I did in the past. We love the sermons and I have told myself that's enough. We might not ever fit in but for whatever reason, we have been spilled out here and that's where we will lay our roots.

Even if it is temporary.

Isn't that what we do as Christians? I'm beginning to understand that concept more and more. This is our temporary home yet we are supposed to be planting roots. making a difference for Christ but always looking ahead to our permanent home.

So maybe being spilled out here isn't so bad. However long we are here. As I move about the country, I believe more than ever in God's plan. If is for me to grow in one area by living here or interact with that one other person, then I'm okay with it.

I've been spilled out but I can still bloom.

Monday, June 06, 2016

Around the Corner--An update

I can't believe six months have flown by. I promised myself to update this blog occasionally and I think that time has arrived.

We have moved again! We left SW Florida behind to move to the NE coast of Florida. Another husband job change--one I can report he loves. February proved to be a rugged time for us as we lived in an extended stay hotel, applied for a loan and finally purchased a home. Finally is the word as we didn't want to pay rent any longer while we worked in Florida.

For over two months, we renovated the house. Painted, put in flooring, cleaned and updated. I loved the experience. Now I'm decorating with thrift store finds for when we sell someday. Yes, we still own our PA home that we now call our retirement place.

As for writing, I'll finish my edits this week on The Bend and send it to my editor before handing it back to my agent. Publication takes time starting with a good story. Hoping my current story will find a home soon.

But God has given me so many fun activities to do along with writing. I'm redoing furniture, learning photography and playing my guitar. Sunday we visited a new church. Hopefully, we won't need to visit any others.

I never thought I'd be living in this part of Florida. Never thought I'd ever own two homes after our loss in 2007. I never thought I'd be enjoying so many new hobbies.

But as I always say: God knew.

Keep your eyes open. You never know what is around the next corner.

Monday, January 04, 2016

Happy New Year with Changes

It's a new year. 2016 is a special year for me with blogging. It marks my TEN year point. I began way back in 2006 with a short post to reach out to other writers. A lot has happened over the past decade. I've joined Good Reads, Twitter and started my own author page at Amazon and Facebook. I've also begun dabbling in photography as well as completing my 10th novel.

And yes, my first book was published last year.

Changes every day.

Another change today. I've watch blogging transition from when I first started. I don't post as often because I believe people prefer quicker interactions like from Twitter or Facebook. I'm finding since I'm writing novels, my time is more limited to getting around to my favorite blogs.

What that means for me is less blogging and more interactions other places. My plan for the new year is to post here when major events happen with my life, my writing or anything else  I can't share in fifty words or less.

Consider this page like a website. It will carry information but still be me. After all, I don't think any real blogger can give up blogging forever.

Please pray for me as I move into edits on my current suspense novel. It's a stretch for me. A book written unlike any other I have written. I've moved out of Women's Fiction into Suspense as I prefer the fast pace but am able to still delve into the characters. I appreciate your support as I ready it for my agent later in the year. Hopefully as well, the book she is shopping will land into a home this year.

That would be my dream!

But God is in control of all things, isn't He? So I'm waiting on his direction.

Praying your year reveals wonders you can't imagine. Blessings!

Monday, November 16, 2015

When Friends Pray

Because we never know where our paths lead, I wanted to share about a friend  today. I'll call her Pam. She and I met over thirteen years ago on the first day of class to become real estate agents.

Since then through many moves, we remained close, encouraging each other with life's ups and downs. She's the person I can call and not feel dumb because of my fears. She does the same with me. When Curt lost his job, she stood by my side as we pulled ourselves together and moved forward. When a serious relationship of hers turned sour, I did the same for her.

We joke about whose turn it is to support the other. One of us always needs to be together enough to help the other as life strikes.

Last winter, right before the end of the year, she called me. "I'm depressed. It's not just the holidays. I think I will never feel Joy again or love someone and always be alone. My life is the same day after day."

I remember trying to encourage her. Promising her that life can improve. Pointing her toward past events. Past moments of triumph. Nothing I said worked this time. She cut her calls back, Went to a doctor, Tried everything.

Each morning, I pick up a notebook where I keep names. Names of people I've met online or in person who need prayer. I'd prayed for Pam in the past but this situation warranted more,  I added her name and beside it wrote JOY.

Nine months passed.

During that time, I finally convinced her to join Facebook. "You might meet old friends. Find new relationships. Feel connected." She hesitated. Complained she didn't have time. Didn't know how to do it. Finally she wrote her first post. Maybe one line, I can't remember but I do remember how soon she connected with friends from her childhood home.

Before I knew it, she talked about going home to her class reunion. I said, "Do it!" She found someone to care for her 93 year old mom, her dog, and booked her tickets.

We always love a good ending, don't we?

Hang on, I'm going to give you that.

She called to say she wept when she drove toward the town she grew up in. The weather was cool, unlike her hot years spent stuck in Florida. She met up with more friends than I can count and she felt JOY.

Answered prayer.

But that's not the best part.

My friend was approached by an old boyfriend. A long lost love. A guy she broke up with because she went to college and felt it was the right thing to do considering the circumstances.

Let me end here because I don't want to share too many details. What amazes me is how God answered not only my prayers for my friend but turned her life upside down in a way we never imagined.

Friends praying for friends. Changing the course of lives.

Check back for the rest of the story...

Tuesday, November 03, 2015

When Your Inspiration Goes into Hiding

When I left for vacation over a week ago, I'd written 50,000 words on my new book. I was excited to see it finished. Then I spent a week with family: dance classes, soccer and watching my daughter juggle a busy schedule.

As usual, when I returned, I took a hard look at my own life. What are my goals? What purpose do I have? Why am I writing? Will I ever be good enough? Will I be a one-book-wonder author? Does what I do really mean anything at all? Do I still like it enough to finish this book and then maybe have it rejected like my last one?

As you can tell, I tend to get a little melodramatic.

Most writers do at one time or another. We envision ourselves on a wave of writing success and crashing down periodically. Waiting on the next wave.

I guess that's where I'm at right now. Rowing my boat trying to catch the next wave so I can finish my book and let God take it where it should go--on my shelf or on a bookshelf in a store.

I've always read that you don't wait for inspiration to appear to write. Just write. That's why this blog post.

Already I feel the water rising, lifting me back onto a wave.

Monday, October 19, 2015

The paths we follow

When my husband and I first married, we moved to Virginia. The DC area. It was part of the deal when he proposed. I refused to move to his hometown--a town with one tiny grocery store and a population of maybe 400. Okay, maybe 500. Or less.

He re enlisted into the Marines. A career he just left. And didn't really like. That's how much he loved me.

Two years later, he got out. We moved back to PA to Scranton so he could go to school. Nothing against that place but the first thing I noticed was the trash along the roads. Our house was a duplex in an alley with our landlords right next to us. Polish. They screamed at people when they blocked the parking with garbage cans. Today my rental home is a condemned property.

Another two years passed and we moved an hour north to Tunkhannock as I was driving too far to my job. We rented another house that touted peeling wallpaper and woodburners. Our water froze in the toilet that first winter. We installed another woodburner. Built a back porch and hung fresh paper. Even adopted our first dog. Panda. A cat wandered by and I adopted him too.

Our life was forming. We were becoming adults.

And then I got pregnant. The dog went outside. We longed for our own place. We finally found land and after begging three banks to give us a chance, we secured our construction loan. After months of grueling work, we moved into our house on the hill that promised me a kitchen and cupboards someday. Plus carpeting and doors. But we loved it.

Now we felt grown up. We had a mortgage. Jobs. A child. A church.

What more could we want?

Evidently not what we had. I still remember the day. Fifteen years later, my husband stood at our bedroom window. "I can't take this cold weather."

And so it began. The search. The packing. The crying. The move to Florida. New beginnings. New friends. New schools. New jobs. New churches. Everything new again.

We adjusted. Were warm. Bought a beautiful home. Watched our only child move across the country away from us. Watched the recession choke Florida in its grip. Lost our careers. Lost friends. Grieved.

But grown ups don't give up. Even though we felt like children again.

We tried everything. Part time jobs we hated. School. New business. Cashed in our savings. Finally moved to Texas. Sold our home. Hated both choices--the job and the state.

 "I have to go home, " I told my husband. He loved me enough to agree.

So we made the long trip across the country back to PA. Now everything would be fine, or so we thought. It wasn't. I cried when I walked into our new rental. Was I twenty-one again? We stacked our boxes in the spare rooms. Prayed for strength. Prayed that God would once again see us through. Started building a house in that town I first refused to live in. Started a business. Hope sprang.

A year and a half later we worried we were going to starve. No work. Bills. Cold.

Then another opportunity. Florida. Again. The job my husband left years ago. Really God? Move again?

We left our half-finished home, packed the small UHAUL and made the trek to a rental we found online.

We couldn't give up. There was no other choice.

No one ever promised our path would be straight. What made us think that so long ago? Today I find myself dreaming about another return to PA, to my house, to another pet, to a slower lifestyle. To friends and family.

But I can't hack out my own path. I must just go with it as it opens before me. Climb when we need to climb. Swim, run and drag each other when we get weary.

And thank God we can do all of it.

What's your path look like today? Are you preparing for the twists that will come? Are you thanking God for the cleared path in front of you?

Thursday, October 08, 2015

Why Do You Write?

A writer friend of mine is struggling. She's writing her first book. She's been writing that same book for more than twenty years. It's almost done. Her original goal was the end of this year. Sadly, she is sabotaging herself and her writing.


With fear. Fear that the book she's poured her entire life and work into won't measure up. Won't be the one that changes the world or lives. 

So she is frozen. Like that stature above. Paralyzed to drop his wheel and spin into the future,

Are you that writer? Have you considered why you started writing? Why you want so badly to produce a book and see it in print? Sure, I know you are going to say it's not about the fame. It's not about the numbers. It's because you want to make a difference. 

But how big a difference? How big an impact? 

What if only one person buys your book. Would all your sweat and tears and labor have been worth it? Would you write the next book? 

You better know your answer. I'm going to tell you what happened to me. I sold my seventh novel. Finally. Oh JOY! I had made it. It's been a little more than four months. I might have sold 350 plus books. Sure, some were given away in a marketing plan from the publisher. And yes it was a small publisher. And then I could have done more to push the sales...Are you listening? There will always be some reason we can come up with but the fact remains my first book was not a BestSeller. Yours might not be either. 

Does that mean you give up? Does that mean you don't write your book after hearing numbers? Or are you thinking but mine will be different. I hope so. I feel that way about my next book and the one after that. As I grow as I writer, I plan to improve my skills and my marketing abilities. 

So think again. Why do you write? Why do we waste time day-after-day turning out a book that maybe not a lot of people will read or buy? 

Here's my answer: Because ONE person might.

I can't tell you how many kind and sweet emails I received by readers who were touched by my words. They encouraged and comforted me. 

But is ONE enough for you?

It was for me. Once the reality of publishing washed over me and I came up coughing but alive--I found new resolve. One reader IS enough. Will I always dream for more? Of course. Hey, I'm human. But until then...ONE is always enough.

Want to impact a life with what you write? Then do it. Write it. Get it out there.

Someone is waiting.

Monday, October 05, 2015

Hobbies: Do you or don't you?

I always wanted to be an artist but lacked talent. So I wrote instead. I then needed a hobby to take my thoughts away from my writing projects so I could return energized. Last December, with my husband's persuasion, I purchased a camera and lens and bag. The works. I went to work reading every book I could get my hands on about taking good pictures.

You see, years ago, I had tried photography but it was before the digital age. For some reason, I couldn't figure out F Stops, Aperture, ISO, Bracketing, etc, When I finally sat down and read book after book, a light came on. I finally understood what it took to take a good photo.

Understanding and expecting results didn't come hand-in-hand. I have to practice and practice as much as I can. Just like my writing. I started writing small challenges for Faithwriters.Week after week. Studying the comments to improve. Eventually I submitted online to free forums. Then I challenged myself to submit for pay.

I'm following that same process with my photography. It may be years before I'm any good but I'm enjoying it as I go. Just like I did with writing.

But I also take my new hobby seriously. I carve time out of my schedule to make those practice shots. To push my creativity.

I'm still finding the kind of art I want to create with my photos but that's the joy in starting a new hobby. Anything goes

What new hobby have you taught yourself in the past years? Is there something you have been wanting to try but haven't taken the steps yet to do it?

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

It's my day and I don't plan to waste it

The first thing I do each morning is open my curtains on the patio. I can't wait to see what the light looks like as it shines across my building. Part of that love is from being a photographer. I've learned that the best times to take photos are early in the am or just before dusk.

The other part of my love for that morning light is what it means about my day. A new beginning, Another chance to accomplish what I'd planned. Another day to correct the mistakes I made yesterday. Another day to enjoy. Another day to live.

Another reminder that I'm alive. 

And who doesn't want to wake up and see the sun?

I didn't always feel that way. I have had my share of dark moments where I rolled back over and groaned, wishing I didn't have to get out of bed and face the day. I'm trying now to live in the moment that God has given me. He doesn't promise us more than today. So today is here and I have a choice--how best to use it.

That gives me excitement. Anything can happen today. Something could change the course of my life with a phone call, an email, a letter. Yesterday I booked a trip to Seattle to see my family. It's been three years since I last went. Now I rise with thoughts of how much fun I'm going to have then. Later today, I might get an encouraging email from a reader of my book. Maybe I'll have the opportunity to congratulate someone on their day. Maybe I'll be able to lift my friend who's feeling down now. Maybe I'll step on that scale and finally see the number I have been shooting for!

What I do know is this day won't be wasted. Not a moment. Not a thought. Not an action.

It's God's gift  to me and I plan to open it. 

Hope your day is just as sweet!

Monday, September 14, 2015

My Daughter Says I Ruined Her

The other day, my daughter called earlier than usual. "My stomach hurts. I was up all night from something I ate. I wish I could call in sick."
"Call in," I said. "You've worked there ten years and have taken few sick days."
"I can't," she said with a sigh. "You ruined me."

When my daughter was ten, she asked to take tap dancing lessons. We gave in and bought the shoes and tights and paid the fees for a month even though it stretched our budget. We wanted her to have the opportunity to enjoy an activity like many of her other friends.

After two lessons, she came to me in tears. She hated it. She couldn't get the steps right. She wanted to quit.

It was the only time I let her quit anything. 

We had this rule. If you aren't throwing up or have a high fever, you go to school. My daughter had an excellent attendance record. We also had this other rule. If you start something, you finish it. That meant when she signed up for softball or field hockey or gymnastics or band or Awana, she finished the season whether she liked it or not.

She did.

Except for tap dancing.

A part of me knew that I'd encouraged tap dancing because it was something I'd always wanted to try but never did. She was fulfilling my dream not hers.

When we moved to Florida, she had to start a new school in her Junior year. She came to me that morning with tears in her eyes and pain in her belly. I knew if I said she could stay home, the next day would be harder. It broke my heart to drop her off  and watch her walk in alone.

I did what I thought was right even though it was hard.

It paid off. 

Today my daughter is married to a fine man, raising two fine children and works in a very good position with her company. She moved across the country the day she married and started over again in a strange city. She survived and blossomed.

I couldn't be prouder.

What more could a parent want who ruined their only child?