Am I Crazy?

    Oh my goodness. Am I opening myself up with that title or what??

    I spend a lot of time on Facebook. Please don’t ask just how much “a lot of time” is. I’d rather not admit to! Let’s just say if there was a 12-step program for Facebook addicts, it probably would not hurt me to join it!

    Anyway, while I was on there last week, I saw an ad for college grants for moms. My big regret in life is that I have attended three different colleges and I still have no degree to show for it. So I clicked on the link. I found a school called Grand Canyon University that offers an English Literature program. It is 100% online. Looking further into the school, I learned that it is an accredited Christian college. That REALLY spiked my interested! I’ve been talking to an admissions counselor, which is only getting me more excited! He said that he can get most of my credits transferred, so I would likely be looking at only 2 years before graduation. He suggested that I fill out the FAFSA to see what kind of financial aid is available for me right now.

    I talked it over with my husband yesterday. He thinks it is a good idea, but he worries that I might be taking on too much. I hate to say it, but he could be right. Writing, babysitting a 3-month-old, leading the Wesleyan Women at our church, and school. And don’t forget all of the “normal” Wife and Mommy stuff that I have to do (and Facebook!). He said that if I am in school, I might have to give up writing for a while.


    Am I willing to do that?

    He also asked me WHY I want to go back to school. That is a question I have been asking myself as well. If I am going just to finish school, is that really the right reason? Will this degree really benefit my writing career? In my mind it would. I keep thinking that editors and agents would take me more seriously if they see that I have an English degree. But I don’t really know that it would matter. The last thing I want to do is end up in the same place my husband has found himself in—with a college degree, in a job that doesn’t make use of that degree, and facing repayment of student loans.

    I don’t know what to do here. I’ve been praying about it. I know that God will lead me where I want to be. No, that’s not right. He is going to lead me to where HE wants me to be.

    One thing I am sure of is that He gave me the ability to write interesting stories. I know He wants me to write, that my ministry lies with my words. But honestly—will a degree change that? I mean, I am already writing a lot and working hard at promoting my work. He will give me success in His time. I’d like His time to match up to mine, but who doesn’t?? Having a degree isn’t going to push God to hurry up and show me how He wants to bless this career.

Gift I Didn’t Know I Wanted

    When my brother-in-law called in November to ask what my children would like for Christmas, I was shocked that he also wanted to know what I would like. I was so unprepared for the question that I could really think of only one answer.

    “I’d like a subscription to Writer’s Digest Magazine.

    At our family Christmas gathering, he told me that he had purchased the subscription and I should begin receiving it soon. I was so excited! I’ve been rushing to my mail box as soon as I know the mailman has been here, hoping to see the first issue of my subscription. This morning, I finally found a magazine in my box. I was so excited! (I guess I get excited easily….) My excitement was short lived, however. The magazine was not Writer’s Digest, as I expectred. Instead, my brother-in-law had bought The Writer. I tried not to be too disappointed. It’s the thought that counts, right? And I am touched that this brother-in-law thought enough about me to give me something that would benefit my career.

    I read the headlines on the front of the magazine—”Top writers on fiction”, “7 Productive writing breaks”, “Is self-publishing right for you?”—and I thought, “Hey, this might not be so bad!” So I started reading the magazine. By page 9, I was hooked!! This magazine is AWESOME!!

    Plus, it is not one that my local independent bookstore carries. I can still go in there each month and buy the latest copy of Writer’s Digest, but I never would have been able to buy The Writer there. And it is FULL of great ideas and tips. It fired me up. Suddenly, I just want to write!! Even if the words don’t make sense, I cannot wait to get them on paper!

    Thanks, Mike! This is the best Christmas gift ever! (Well, besides the gift of the Christ Child, that is!)

Too Picky? Probably!

    One of my “resolutions” for 2010 (not sure I really like that word, but I’ll go with it for now!) is to write a review of every book that I read. I love having my books reviewed, and I figured this is a great way to repay the favor. Not that I think every author I read is likely to pick up one of my books and write a review or anything (though if Karen Kingsbury were to do that it would be totally awesome!!). But I figure any book could benefit from a little extra publicity.

    The problem that I am having right now is that I don’t have anything new to read. Nothing in hard copy, anyway. I do have two PDFs that are sitting on my hard drive, waiting for me to read and review them. Funny, I don’t even know why I haven’t started reading either of them yet. I know I must have a reason…. Anyway, not having anything new to read has pushed me to pick some “old” books off of my shelf. Good thing I only keep copies of books that I really enjoy there!

    I did ask my mother to recommend some books for me. She is almost as voracious a reader as I am. And she is much better at purchasing books than I am. She has some that she bought last spring that she has yet to read! On New Year’s Day, she gave me two books to read. One is by an author I’ve heard a lot about but never read. The other is by a Christian author I’d never heard of before. The first book I got through, though I complained a lot about it along the way. It seemed to be a good story, but there was too much going on. All of the characters confused me, and I found myself flipping back a chapter or two to be sure of which character was related to what other character. It was like reading a soap opera, though not nearly as smutty. With the second, I am struggling to get through chapter two. This author writes in a very formal fashion. One of my favorite authors, Linore Rose Burkard, writes that way. However, she writes about life in Regency England, about 200 years ago. That was a much more formal time. The book I am trying to read now, though, is a more contemporary story. The dialog and the narration are very stiff. Reading is supposed to be a fun activity, and this book does not make things fun at all.

    This got me to thinking—am I really too picky about what I read? Until now, I would have said that I am willing to read anything. I’ve read Dickens and Austen, and enjoyed them both. In 8th grade, I read Gone With the Wind for the first time (I’ve read it twice more since then!). In high school, I even read Michener. Talk about long novels! There was a time when I had read every Sweet Valley High book that had been written. In recent years, I’ve read a lot of Meg Cabot books and most of Karen Kingsbury’s. I’ve read young adult novels, romance novels, Christian fiction, mainstream fiction, and science fiction. As long as the book is well-written, I am willing to give it a chance.

    Maybe that is the problem—I love a well-written book, and these two don’t fit my definition of well-written. Not that I think I am any sort of an expert on the subject. And since these books made it into print, I assume that means everyone has a different idea of what a well-written book is. To me, a well-written book is one where there are enough characters to tell the story, but not so many that the reader is confused. It is one where the characters speak and act as if they belong in the time period when their story takes place.

    Well, I guess that is it for tonight. Oh, and don’t go looking for the names of the books I was reading or any clue who the authors are. I am not telling!!! J

First Weekend–WOW

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.

Hebrews 12:1, NLT

I came across this Scripture Saturday morning, and it really hit home. I was looking at the beginning of the second day of a new year and the first day of a tough weekend. This verse caught my attention ot a time I knew that I would need God’s strength and endurance to survive.

Whether 2010 started off rough or 2009 ended rough, I am not sure. Whichever way, I sincerely hope that this weekend was the toughest one that I will have to face this year.

Saturday was the memorial service for Logan Sandoval. Logan was stillborn on December 17, eight days before Christmas. His death brought up a lot of memories for me—memories of my miscarriage nearly five years ago. The hole that baby—my daughter Rylee—left in my heart was torn wide open. Once again my arms ached to hold her—an ache that felt just as strong that morning as it felt on February 14, 2005. I looked at my youngest son, a boy born two years after the miscarriage, and felt beyond grateful to have him in my life. The blessing of his love, though, doesn’t take away the emptiness that Rylee left behind.

There is a big part of me that thinks Kayla, Logan’s mother, was so very lucky. She got to feel her baby kick, to see him on an ultrasound screen, and to witness his growth through her expanding waistline. On the day he was born, she got to hold him and kiss him. She has pictures of him and plaster casts of his handprint and footprint. But then during the service, I looked over to where Kayla was sitting, right between her husband and her mother. She looked so broken. I’ve known Kayla since she was about a year old. I have never seen her look so sad, so helpless. I wanted to wrap my arms around her and take away all the pain and sadness.

The next morning, I saw Kayla at church, with a smile on her face. She was living through the most difficult thing any mom could ever go through, a more difficult time than most others at 18 would ever have to face. And she was facing it with dignity, with her head held high. That was when I realized that what Kayla has isn’t luck. It was love. She has the love of her family and her friends. Most of all, she has enough love for her son to go on with her life. Me? I’ve been so wrapped up in missing Rylee and wondering what she would look like and whether or not she would be like her brothers to really move on with my life. When I came home from the service, I put the little “In Memory” card in the memory box that I made for Rylee.

Every woman who has to say good-bye to her child could learn a lot from Kayla.

Unfortunately, Little Logan’s memorial service was not the only sadness for my family. On New Year’s Eve, December 31, 2009, my mom’s older brother passed away. His death wasn’t as unexpected as Logan’s. Uncle Bob had been ill for a long time. He had cancer and kidney problems and heart problems. My uncle led a good, full life. He had three wonderful daughters, and five grandchildren. The fight just got to be too much for him. If my math is correct, December 31, 2009 would have been his parents’ 75th wedding anniversary. Uncle Bob chose to celebrate that milestone by joining Mammie and Pappie in Heaven.

These two funerals were two totally different experiences. With Uncle Bob, there was sadness mixed with a bit of relief. We all knew—some more than others—how he was suffering. Though he will forever be missed, the thought that he is no longer suffering brought some comfort. With Logan, the sadness was mixed with a large dose of confusion and even a bit of anger. He was so young, never even getting a chance to live a life before it was over.

Anyway, my point is if this year is really a race, God is going to have to give my family a lot of endurance to get through it.