As for me, it matters very little how I might be evaluated by you or by any human authority. I don’t even trust my own judgment on this point. My conscience is clear, but that doesn’t prove I’m right. It is the Lord himself who will examine me and decide.

I Corinthian 4:3-4, NLT

How often do I worry about what others think of me, especially where my writing is concerned? I am not perfect and I know I am not perfect. Paul said, “My conscience is clear,” but I can’t say that. There are issues that I have to work on every day. I have this fear that someone will latch onto one of those issues, one of those “faults” and decide that I am not living out the Christian life will enough to qualify me to write Christian books.

Could that fear be part of what is getting in my way, part of why I can’t seem to finish anything that I have started lately?

Am I letting that fear of not being good enough keep me from being the me God wants me to be?

I am depressed. For years—even before the miscarriage, though that really brought things into a greater focus—I have battles against clinical depression. Even at times when I seem “normal” and the medication is working, the depression is there. IT’s like a big scary beast, waiting in the shadows for a chance to take over. I’ve come to accept that the depression is the results of a chemical imbalance in my brain, an illness just like diabetes or high blood pressure. It’s not something I should be ashamed of. Yet I still am at times. I still remember words, spoken years ago in a Sunday School class, about depression that hurt, confused, and even angered me. This woman sat in class there and said that if your relationship with God is where it should be, you wouldn’t be depressed.

How many others feel the same way? How many potential readers could I lose if they find out about my depression and assume that my relationship with Christ isn’t where it should be?

Maybe it would help if I make an admission here—my relationship with Christ is not what it should be. And it is far from what it could be. It changes every day. I don’t think it will ever be perfect, and honestly I hope it never is perfect. I don’t want to get to a place where it stops growing, where I close off my heart and decide I know all I need to know about God.

But I will leave that all up to God to determine. All I can do is follow Him to the best of my ability and leave the rest up to Him.

Past Regret, Current Headache

I sometimes wonder if there is anyone who does not have something in their past that they regret.

There is not enough ink and paper in the world to capture every small regret that I have. I don’t even want to think about them or talk about them. They all stem from choices I made—not necessarily bad choices or even the wrong choices, just choices that led down a certain path. Would my life be different if I had made a choice that took me down a different path? Should I have allowed myself to travel in another direction? Who knows? All of those little choices, all of those regrets are things that I have to live with now. They have all—good and bad, right and wrong—added up to the woman I am today. I can’t do anything about them. I can’t change them. I can, I have, and I will continue to rectify the mistakes and heal hurts that have come from some of those choices, but the regrets will always be there. I just have to learn not to dwell on them.

And then there is “the big one,” the one thing I regret above all else. It’s a regret that has followed me for most of my adult life, almost haunting me at times. It’s a regret I’ve tried in the past to rectify, without complete success. I was tempted to say that I have had no success in rectifying this regret at all, but that’s not true. The steps that I have taken have enriched my life. I just haven’t followed through enough to get to the end of this journey. And so this regret hangs on. It is still there, mocking me.

But not for much longer! In January, I did something to finally silence this particular regret—I went back to school. Yup, you read that right. I enrolled in classes at Southern New Hampshire University. Didn’t move to New Hampshire, though. Thanks to the internet, I am able to take classes from home. And because of previous steps I have taken to silence the regret of never completing my college education, it is not going to take me 4 years to finish my undergraduate degree. If I have figured correctly, I should be able to graduate in June 2014.

Funny. Exactly 20 years after I wore a cap and gown and left the halls of Jackson High School, I will finally have the degree in hand that I, at that time, assumed would take only 4 years to earn.

I am glad that it looks like it will be a short road to graduation, because it is not going to be an easy one. Is it because a nearly 40-year-old brain doesn’t absorb information as quickly as a not-yet-20-year-old brain does? Possibly. OK, so probably. But I prefer to think it’s not age so much as the added pressure of raising children while studying for this creative writing degree that has led to the near constant headache I’ve been battling.

It’s fun, in a strange way. Especially last term, when I was taking a statistics class. Math is so not my thing, and doing those problems was not easy. And to be completely honest, it wasn’t very much fun to actually do the work in the class, either. The fun part was seeing the grade at the end. Somehow, even though I barely passed the tests in the class and did not pass the final at all, I still earned a B for the class. I wanted to jump up and shout with joy! That was so great!

I am hoping to have a similar reaction at the end of the literature class I am taking this summer. I know the headache from this class has very little to do with my age or my sons, and a lot to do with the subject matter. It’s a world literature course; we are studying works from Czechoslovakia, Argentina, Vietnam, and Mexico. So far, the subject matter is NOT what anything I would have picked on my own. The Czech book is very sexual and at the very least borderline offensive. I am trying to keep in mind that while this kind of literature may not be to my liking, it could be a cultural thing—perhaps this is a very popular style of literature in that country. And it is for a class assignment, so I have to read it. There is nothing that says I have to enjoy it, right?

But, oh, I wish the school provided headache relief along with the textbooks.

Shock, Jealousy, and Discipline

I recently entered a contest on Facebook, sponsored by WOW, Women On Writing. The prize was an autographed copy of a book called From First Draft to Finished Novel: A Writer’s Guide to Cohesive Story Building. I didn’t expect to win, but I did, and when my copy of the book arrived, I found something else that I didn’t expect—a rather large stack of pamphlets about novels written by the same woman who had written the book I won, Karen S. Wiesner.

The really amazing thing to me is that not all of the novels listed on her pamphlets have been written yet.

Yeah, that’s right. She is already promoting novels that she hasn’t written yet.

Even more amazing than that to me is that Ms. Wiesner had release dates for books ranging from fall of 2013 to fall of 2018. Five years worth of novels.


I have to admit, I am actually more than just a little jealous about that. Not about the novels she has under contract with a traditional publisher. But about the sheer number of novels she has either written or planned out enough to be confident of when they will be released. It’s not that I don’t have story ideas. In fact, I probably have enough ideas that I could have novels (not as many as Ms. Wiesner, I am quite sure) to release each year for the next five years. The problem is that I seem to lack the discipline to actually write them.

Do you know, that really gets to me. I love writing. I really do. It makes me happy. Most people who interact with me on a daily basis tell me they can tell when I am writing regularly; they say that I am happier when I am writing. So why do I find it so hard to sit down and do it?

I have a ton of ideas. The ideas aren’t a problem. Seriously, you should see my journal. (On second thought, please don’t. There are thoughts in there that I don’t particularly want anyone else to read….) There are some highly detailed novel outlines in that book, as well as ideas for stories that I thought would make good novels but realized after trying to outline the plot that they would be better as short stories. But that’s all they are…ideas, plots, and outlines. There aren’t any complete stories in there.

Why, when I know the good that writing does for my mental state, do I find it so hard to just sit down and actually write?

What Might Have Been


It’s never too late to be who you might have been.

I read that on Facebook this morning and I just thought, “HUH????”

I think it is supposed to be a motivational quote.  I think it is supposed to push you forward, to tell you that no matter what, it’s never too late to follow your dreams, to make different choices, to change the direction of your life.

But I think it misses the mark.

When I read that, a song by Little Texas began playing in my head.  It’s a beautiful song, really, about a lost love.  Part of the song says, “I try not to think about what might have, ‘cuz that was then, and we have taken different roads.”  It’s those different roads that make the post I saw on Facebook this morning wrong.

It may not be too late to redirect your life, but you can never know who you might have been if you’d made different choices.

That’s probably not what you wanted to hear.  Heck, it’s not what I want to hear.  But it’s something that I have to face.

This fall I will begin my senior year of college, twenty years after the start of senior year of high school.  I am not the same girl I was back then.  I don’t have the same dreams that I did then.

Twenty years ago, I looked forward to graduating high school, starting college, and becoming a high school teacher.  The plan was to teach English and history from September through May and write best-selling novels from June through August.  Somewhere along the line I would marry and have children, but my schooling and career were the main focus.  I made choices, though, that changed that focus, choices that resulted in no college degree, no teaching career, and no best-selling novels.

Not that I regret those choices.  They also led to 13 years of marriage and three beautiful sons.  And I have written a few novels.  The books I’ve written are not what I would have written had I stayed on the course I planned for myself twenty years ago.

I made the choice to finish my education because I do have that one regret hanging over my head—I regret that I never finished.  My dream now is to earn my BA in creative writing and then move on to a Masters in creative writing.  The desire to teach is still there, but not in a high school.  I want to teach writing at the college level.  It’s kind of funny.  I didn’t realize I still had any desire to teach at all until one of my instructor commented that though I may know how to write, I don’t know much about literature.  She said that knowing how to write a novel is not the same thing as knowing what good literature is.  Maybe I am still somewhat idealistic….  I just don’t think a “teacher” should criticize a student like that.  Her comments just sort of pushed me to not only want to continue my own educational journey, but to help others to reach their educational goals as well.

My goals now are different than they were twenty years ago.  Finishing school isn’t going to help me to “become what I might have been.”  I can’t get back that girl I was, the girl who was untouched by sadness and heartache and the “real world.”  Who I am now is a result of the choices I made yesterday; who I will be tomorrow will be because of the choices I have yet to make.  There is no way to know “what might have been.”  All I can do—all any of us can do—is move on from today, make the best choices we can, and build a brighter tomorrow.

For ourselves, and by extension our families and our world.


Letter to My Dad

Dear Daddy,

There are five words that I really want to say to you; five words that are so simple and so profound all at once.  While I could just say the words, they don’t seem to be quite enough.  I want to say “I love you” and “thank you.”

For what? You may ask.  Well, let me try to explain.

For letting you five-year-old daughter have the fantasy that her 25-year-old father really was ancient….  And for laughing with me as much as at me when your grandsons have used similar words to describe my age.

For teaching me that while it may be ok to “buy” a friend, it takes a whole lot more than money to keep one.

For comforting me after Hilarie and I were robbed while delivering newspapers…and not letting me know until years later, when my young mind was better able to understand, just how serious that situation really was.

For allowing my teenage friends to spend time at our house and not letting it go to your head when one of them, for reasons I still do not comprehend, decided you were good looking.

For always encouraging me to reach for my dreams, and promising to watch the film version of each of my novels.

For choosing to raise me with five sisters, not two sisters and three half-sisters.

For being the kind of man that causes my son to grin with pride whenever anyone tells him (whether it is meant as a compliment or not) “You are just like your grandfather.”

For loving me when I felt unlovable and seeing my beauty even when I didn’t.

For just being YOU, because really, there is no one I would rather call Daddy.

For all these things and so many more, thank you.

I love you.


Father's Daythank you

Successful Self-Publishing

I have self-published six books.

Six? Is that right?

Um, let’s see…. Five novels, one devotional. I am not good with math, but I am pretty sure that five plus one is six.

Wow. Six books. And all since my youngest son was born, just six years ago. Amazaing.

But I digress. I didn’t come here today to talk about how many books I’ve written in a short amount of time. I came to talk about self-publishing.

All of my books have been self-published. I chose to publish through CreateSpace for a variety of reasons. There are two main reasons I chose this company, though. One is the quick turnaround. Yes, I will admit it. I was impatient to see my first novel in print. For twenty years before I wrote it, I had dreamed of being a published author. And while I was proud of my book and the work I had put into it, I was scared to go the traditional publishing route.

Yes, I was scared. I freely admit it. I was afraid that I would send my completed book, my baby, to publishers and agents who would tell me it was not as good as I thought it was. I know myself well enough to know that it would only take one, possibly two, rejections to make me question my writing ability enough to give it up. The joy I get from this craft wouldn’t matter; if someone told me my work was not as good as I believed it was, someone in the publishing industry, rather than work at it, I would have walked away. Knowing that about me, I chose to pursue self-publishing rather than traditional publishing.

The main reason I went with CreateSpace, though, was the minimal costs involved. I have a decent amount of writing talent, but I don’t have a lot of money to invest in my talent. CreateSpace has no upfront costs. I order the number of books that I want, and that is what I pay for. Sure, I have to do the marketing work to sell copies of my books. My understanding, though, is that I would have to do this with a traditional publisher anyway. So really, that’s not a big deal. Sometimes, I feel lost with the marketing, though. That’s why I follow a few blogs by writers, especially by self-published writers.

This morning, I read one by a woman who seemed to be complaining about her decision to self-publish. She was moaning about the lack of money she has brought in and the lack of fame she has seen from her writing. She said something about wanting to see her book, her baby, shine in the limelight and how that is just not happening with self-publishing. She didn’t come out and say it, but she implied that she had been duped into believing that all she needed to do was come up with a good story, write it well, and the readers would be flocking to her to purchase her book. And since that wasn’t happening, she was a failure.

Now, self-publishing isn’t for everyone. It’s not an easy thing to do. For that matter, publishing PERIOD is not an easy thing to do. This is not a field to get into if you want to make a lot of money. It’s not a field to go into if you are hoping to get noticed or become famous. I mean, yeah, those things CAN happen, but that’s the exception, not the rule. Especially with self-publishing. If fame and fortune are how you define success in writing, self-publishing probably is not for you.

My definition of success changes with each book that I write. While I wouldn’t say no if a healthy dose of fame and fortune (especially fortune, as finances are tight) were to come my way, those are not the things that keep me writing. Success to me is a completed book, a book that one person, just one person reads and enjoys. I am a successful author if my book reaches someone who has never heard about Christ before. All I want to do is plant the seed with my book. That is where my success from self-publishing comes in.

The rest is just a bonus.

Accepting God’s Plan

I’m open to whatever God has planned for my life.

Have you ever said those words?

I have. So many times that I can’t even begin to count them. And when I’ve said them, I’ve thought that I meant them. But as God’s plan has unfolded in my life, I have to wonder…. Did I really mean it? If I had known then what I know now, would I have said them? If I could have seen just what God had planned for my life, would I have been so eager to follow His plan?

I don’t really suppose it matters. One thing I’ve learned over the years—God gets what He wants. He is in control, and His plan will be worked out in my life, whether I open myself up to accept it or not.

It’s just up to me to choose whether to be happy about it or not, whether to be happy with it or not.

In all honesty, I can’t say that I am pleased with the plan He is working in my life. Apparently, God’s plan includes some physical difficulties. About 18 months ago, I had a severely herniated disc in my lower back that had to be repaired. Unfortunately, the disc wasn’t repaired as quickly as it should have been (and I am not going to go into the reasons why) and I’ve been left with some long-term problems. I am 37-years-old, and I have to rely on a cane because of balance issues and I have to use adult diapers because of bladder control issues. At the time the herniated disc was found, I was told that within a matter of weeks, I would be paralyzed from the waist down. That I can walk is a miracle, and I am very grateful for that. Please understand that I am not complaining about that at all. I know that God has worked in my life already.

That doesn’t really make it any easy to deal with the way that my body is betraying me.

There are things that I want to do that I physically cannot do. I am dealing with a severe kidney infection right now because I didn’t know that I had the infection until it got to this point. My sons are 6, 9, and 12—I thought my days of carrying a diaper bag were long over. But, no…. I can’t leave the house without carrying an extra st of clothing with me, just in case. There are times that I am scared to leave the house at all because of the issue.

And I can hardly believe that I just shared that on this blog!

Some days, I sit at home in tears—or close to it. How could this be part of God’s plan for me? Well-meaning friends will tell me things like “It’s going to be ok” or “It will get better” or “God will heal this,” and all I can do is smile and nod. The truth is, I don’t think it is going to be ok, I don’t think it is going to get better, and I don’t think that God is going to heal it.

That’s to say that I don’t think that God CAN heal this. Of course He can. At any moment, He could say, “OK, enough,” and all of the nerve damage will be reversed, the strength will be back in my legs, and my body will be whole again. I have absolutely no doubt that God could do that. My doubt, if you want to call it doubt, comes into play with whether He WILL do it. I don’t think it’s wrong for me to feel this way. For thirty years, I’ve prayed that God would physically heal my mother after her cancer surgery. He didn’t. Instead, he brought an emotional healing, an acceptance of her limitations and the ability to adjust to the “new normal” of her life. That is the kind of healing that I am trusting Him for now.

I haven’t found that yet. I am still having a hard time adjusting to this and accepting that this is what my forever life will be like. And yes, I do wonder, “If I had known this is what God had in mind for me, would I have been so eager to follow Him?”

The scary thing? I cannot confidently say yes.

A Question of Faith

So, there is a reason that I’ve not kept up my blog well.  I’ve debating whether I want to share that reason or not.  This morning, I’ve decided that the best thing to do is share it.  After all, the reason is really eating at me.  It’s keeping me from more than just writing this blog; it’s kept from doing much of any writing at all.  I think if I talk about it, maybe I’ll be able to work through and get back on track.

I’ve been dealing with a crises if faith.

It’s not that I don’t believe in God.  It’s more that I don’t understand Him.  He has a plan, and I’ve done my best to just trust in that plan, no matter what.

But lately, His plan doesn’t make sense to me.

And I don’t know about you, but I have a hard time trusting in something that doesn’t make sense.

It’s actually kind of odd.  I mean, the whole crucifixion thing makes no sense.  Come to think of it, the whole life-on-Earth that Jesus lived makes no sense.  Born for no reason other than to die a horrible death in the place of a bunch of people who deserve eternity in Hell….  It makes no sense that Jesus would do that for me, let alone for the whole world, and yet I’ve never had a problem believing and trusting that He did that.

But when life goes a little wonky, I have trouble trusting.

Maybe it’s not God that makes no sense, but Lynn…..

Sports Lessons

Sports have never been my thing.  As a kid, I was never interested in playing.  To play a sport would require me to set aside my book, pencils, and notebooks in order to participate.  Not to mention the whole getting off my hind end and actually moving aspect of it all.

As a certified lazy person, I am highly allergic to intense movement of any sort.

Even watching sports has never been a favorite thing of mine.  Well, except for the Olympics.  But those don’t count as sport.  Those are more art.  At least they are to this observer.

Anyway, my athletic aversion ended when God chose to bless me with son’s.  My third son in particular has put an end to this.  Oh, even he has not succeeded in getting me to actually participate in a sport.

But his enthusiasm for pretty much any activity that involves chasing a ball has caused me to spend many Saturday mornings watching different athletic contests.

Even worse, it’s caused me to begin learning rules for different games.

That is not all I have learned this year from watching my boy play ball this year. I’ve also learned that I do not enjoy watching sports with my husband.

I suppose this is not a new revelation. I have watched college and professional sports with him since our dating days. The man takes his sports seriously. (Except the Olympics, which he also does not view as sport; to him, they are an every-four-year annoyance.) I thought, though, that it would be different watching our children play. I have no athletic ability and while my husband has been known to at least attempt to play, he is not exactly Michael Jordan either. To me, it seems only logical to expect our boys to follow in footsteps. We should be sitting on the sidelines, cheering them on for attempting to play (which is far more than their mother has ever done) and for giving their best effort.

What I did not expect was that one of the boys would actually show some athletic talent.

That middle son of mine…. Wow! He not only enjoys sports, he is good at them! My heart swells with pride when he is on the football field and another parent says, “Did you see what number 5 just did? That kid’s got moves!” And it brings tears of joy to my eyes when I am on the sidelines of a soccer game and I hear, “Way to go, Robin!” I may not always understand what he did, but someone else does. And it feels good that he is being recognized for it.

But then to hear his dad during a game grumble about what he is doing wrong…. That about breaks my heart.

I am not one who thinks that kids should get a trophy for showing up at a game. If the child wants an award, he or she needs to work hard and earn it. And if the child does something wrong during a game, by all means he or she should be told after the game , “Hey, if that situation comes up again, you should….” But I don’t see how comments such as “What are you doing?” Or “Can’t you move faster?” Or “What in the world are you thinking out there?” Should be shouted at the child during the game.

Or maybe it’s just because this is MY child and I am still amazed that something that carries my blood is coordinated enough to participate in an organized sport. But anytime my husband and I sit together at a game, I leave feeling bad for my boy.

He is out there, trying his best, putting his whole heart into the game. Can’t the correction wait until we are home?