Confessions from a Daughter of a Schizophrenic

by Karen Sargent

Not a single photo exists of my father and me. He had just turned 27 when I was born, but during my mom’s pregnancy, mental illness had clutched him so quickly and so deeply that his eyes, his face, could no longer hide it. My father’s illness at my birth and in the months following were not memories my mom wanted to keep so—no pictures.

That was in the ‘60s when schizophrenia was a complete mystery and the stigma of mental illness was even more isolating than today. My mom didn’t understand what was happening, and her in-laws lived in denial, leaving her to cope alone.

When it was time for my arrival, my father was AWOL. Mom called a friend to take her to the hospital, stopping along the way to leave my two-year-old brother with our grandma. A few days later my mom returned home with a newborn and a toddler—a toddler who my father began to insist was a little person impersonating his young son. His mental illness escalated, and so did my mother’s fear for the safety of her son.

I remember a story she told about bundling my brother on a harsh Chicago winter evening and pushing him in a stroller two blocks to the store to buy formula. She had fed and changed me and was certain I was asleep before leaving me with my father, who was always gentle with me. But leaving my brother with him was out of the question. As she pushed through snow-covered sidewalks and blistering wind, a woman approached, glanced inside the stroller, and hissed, “You should be ashamed of yourself.” My mom didn’t respond aloud but inside she said, “Lady, if you only knew.”

I was 16-months-old when my father took his life and my mom moved us to another state. She never hid the truth from me—about my father’s illness or his death—so I grew up knowing I was the daughter of a schizophrenic and wondering if the disease would target me, too.

As a teenager, I developed a fascination with schizophrenia. When teen drama took the stage, I wondered if girls were really talking about me, or if I was being paranoid. If I was paranoid, was it normal paranoia or was it my father’s paranoia? How would I know? And I was a daydreamer, but was I really? What separated a daydream from a hallucination? I worried I wouldn’t know the difference. I marked each birthday as another year I had successfully evaded the disease, and when I finally made it through my teens, through my twenties, and into the next decade, I relaxed because I knew the research. I was 30. I should be safe.

But then I had children…and new questions. Could schizophrenia skip a generation? What does it mean that my daughters are “genetically predisposed” really? Could some trigger set off the illness? What could be the trigger and how could we avoid it?

I discovered my daughters’ chances of inheriting the disease were higher than the general population—but only slightly. And since parenting presents daily challenges in the here and now, I decided not to waste energy on what ifs. I tucked away my fear, but still I find myself gauging my daughters’ behavior, their emotional reactions, their ability to cope.

One morning I realized I wasn’t the only one with genetics on her mind.

“Mom?” My 15-year-old daughter sat with her phone in her lap as I drove us to school. “Do you think I think weird things? You know, not like normal people think?”

She was digging for something, but I wasn’t sure what. “You don’t think weird things, but you do think differently than a lot of people. That’s the creative, artsy part of you.” I glanced at her. She seemed satisfied.

After a few white lines on the highway passed by, her next question came. “When you think about things, you know, in your head, is it like a voice, like you hear your voice or maybe other people’s voices?”

“You mean if I think about a conversation I had with Dad, do I hear our voices?”

She nodded.

“Sure.”

She glanced at her phone, touched the screen to scroll down, and then looked out the window a few seconds. When she spoke, I heard the forced nonchalance in her voice. “Sometimes I think people are talking about me, like, at school and stuff. Do you think I’m paranoid?”

The destination of our conversation was suddenly revealed, but we were taking an indirect route via a list of symptoms I assume was displayed on her phone. I smiled. “Honey, you are in high school. People probably are talking about you. That’s not paranoia. That’s drama. Sweetie—”

She turned toward me. I took my eyes off the road long enough to look hard into hers.

“You don’t have schizophrenia.” I smiled, a little amused, a little sad.

“How do you know?” I heard the hope more than the question.

“Because I know. I used to worry, too, when I was your age. And all that worrying was for nothing.”

She clicked a button on her phone and the screen went black. “Good.” She settled into her seat and her shoulders relaxed.

But mine didn’t. I wondered if she knew about 30. I wondered if she’d check off each year she celebrated a birthday as I did, like it’s a rush to the finish line. She may not. But I will.

 

AUTHOR BIO

Karen Sargent used to believe that being an English teacher and a mother interfered with her dream to become an author. After more than two decades in the classroom and 21 years of momhood, she now realizes teaching her students great literature and how to write made her to a storyteller and a better writer. Raising two daughters gave her something meaningful to write about. Karen is the author of Waiting for Butterflies, an inspirational women’s fiction novel, and she blogs at The MOM Journey…where moms aren’t perfect and that’s perfectly okay. She and her husband are preparing for their nest to be empty when their youngest daughter joins her sister at college in the fall. Visit Karen at www.karensargentbooks.com or on The MOM Journey at www.karensargentbooks.com/blog/.

Confessions of an Insta-Mom (PLUS a Giveaway!)

by Tosca Lee

(Stay tuned at very end of post for information about how to win a copy of FIRSTBORN by Tosca Lee.)

 

Last year, in the space of “I do,” I married the man of my dreams, became a farmer’s wife and insta-mom of four.

And so this city girl who’d once sworn off marriage and had long given up the dream of children moved out to the farm and into my new family’s lives.

My confessions, to this end, are myriad:

 

  • I own three crockpots. I’m not afraid to use them all at once.
  • I now understand why my mom hid her Russell Stover candy under the chair in the living room.
  • I may or may not have several caches of goodies stashed around the house.
  • And there might be more hiding behind the vegetables.
  • I have never downed so many energy drinks in my life …
  • Or gone to bed before 9:30pm more than once in a single year—until now.
  • No one other than these kids has ever had the propensity to make me cry with a hug.
  • This blog was late because I was catching a neighbor’s visiting chicken.
  • I gained 15 pounds last year because of Totino’s pizza rolls.
  • I fantasize about clean refrigerators.
  • I’m still trying to beat my kids in Black Ops III.
  • I threw a sweet pass for a TD in last night’s football game.
  • They were right: I can’t tell the difference between deer meat and beef.
  • I keep a list of funny things the kids say to use in stories. Or for blackmail.
  • My kids are totally unimpressed with what I do for a living.
  • I had no idea that the treads on the bottom of boys’ sneakers were so diversified or important.
  • Who knew exploding targets could be so fun?
  • When one of my kids said he didn’t want to try brussel sprouts I said that’s fine and that I hoped he wouldn’t die from rickets. He now loves Brussels sprouts.
  • When you refuse to teach the kids your secret French toast recipe so you’ll always be needed.
  • When your life is suddenly made because the grocery store delivers to the farm.
  • The night I saw a tick crawling across my comforter I nearly burned the place down.
  • I’m ruined for store-bought eggs.
  • I still aspire to vegetarianism. In theory.
  • I live in a house of four boys and a dog that drinks out of the toilet. Every time I sit on a wet seat, I don’t know who to blame.
  • I’m the only mom I know who openly weeps when her son runs 50 at trapshooting meets.
  • I literally had a debate with my son one night about who should run into the possibly skunk-infested barn to grab the raccoon trap to catch a tom cat and who should cover the other with the pellet gun.
  • My son offered to video me going in in case I got sprayed. “Just think how many views you’d get,” he said.
  • I actually considered it.
  • I still have not received my motherhood manual from the Office of the Comptroller of Parenthood. I’m flying blind here.
  • I have now actually seen a piece of lunch meat come out of a kid’s nose.
  • A year later, I still have no idea what I’m doing.
  • I have never loved life so much.

The other day, one of my boys came up to me and handed me a dollar bill. “What’s this?” I said, figuring it was something he found in the wash.

“It’s a tip.”

Me: “A wha—?”

Him: “Because you’re doing a good job.”

Me: “I do my best, honey.”

Him, petting my hair: “You don’t need to try. You are.”

Oh man. (Also: do I need to report this as income?)

Last week, as my ninth novel released, I spent several hours writing guest blogs, many of which touched on all these life changes. I wrote about being a new farm wife, the grace my kids show me, and boo-hooed through it all.

Probably my biggest confession in this new parenting journey is how much these young faces have become as mirrors to me. By the time I start lecturing one on having patience, I’ve already lost mine. It’s convicting and challenging. And I worry that the one who lost his electronic privileges for the day is going to yell that I’m not his real mom and hate me the rest of his life, but when he emerges later from his room, he pets my hair.

“You’re a good mom, Tosca,” he says.

I’m not sure if that’s a gimme or not, but I’ll take it.

 

About the Author

Tosca Lee is the award-winning, New York Times bestselling author of THE PROGENY, FIRSTBORN, ISCARIOT, THE LEGEND OF SHEBA, DEMON: A MEMOIR, HAVAH: THE STORY OF EVE, and the Books of Mortals series with New York Times bestseller Ted Dekker (FORBIDDEN, MORTAL, SOVEREIGN). A notorious night-owl, she loves watching TV, eating bacon, playing with her kids, and sending cheesy texts to her husband.

You can find Tosca at ToscaLee.com, on social media, or hanging around the snack table.

The sequel to THE PROGENY, FIRSTBORN, is in stores now.

 

GIVEAWAY OVER!!!

And speaking of PROGENY and FIRSTBORN, how’d you like a chance to win a copy? All you have to do is sign up for my newsletter. That’s it. In addition to being entered in the giveaway, you’ll get a copy of the first part of Bellanok (my own novel). 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Confessions of a Middle-Aged Teenager

by Heather Fitzgerald

 

I’m a late bloomer. It took many years of marriage and four kids to figure out what I wanted to be when I grew up.

When I graduated high school back in *ahem* 1987, I had plans of becoming a model and world traveler. Yeah. I know. Very realistic and attainable. But college was definitely not part of my head-in-the-cloud plans because there wasn’t anything I wanted to do that could justify the cost.

Thankfully, the Lord had other ideas. He brought Prince Charming my way a year after graduation, and we were married shortly after I turned twenty. Billy (aka the prince) was the left brain to my right brain—quite literally—and helped me to keep my feet on the ground without giving up my desire to dream big and embrace life.

But once we started our family, a lot of my hopes and daydreams had to be set aside for a season. This was before the internet and smart phones too, so when I see busy moms that—somehow—juggle school, jobs, writing, housework, and social media, I’m a bit boggled and incredulous. I don’t think I could have managed such an itinerary with any measure of grace, let alone success! Hats off to you millennials that have grown up with social media diversions as part of your norm. I guess it’s all a matter of what you’re used to.

By the time my oldest daughter was seven, we also had a boy, age six, with autism, and two more daughters, age three and newborn. Let’s just say there’s a large chunk of my young married life that’s rather fuzzy. Beyond laundry, meals, school work, and therapy, I don’t have a whole lot of clarity on the day to day. Pretty sure everyone made it through well fed and with clean underwear, but I wouldn’t bet large sums of money on it.

Still … in the midst of our busy family life, I knew there would be another season that would allow more time for creative pursuits. Fanciful ideas always bubbled just under the surface. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t merely biding my time as a mother so I could get to the ‘fun stuff’. No. I loved being a mom, a wife, and a teacher. Creative pursuits just looked different at that time…like learning to cook and enjoying the challenge of decorating on a shoestring budget. Still, my mind constantly came up with ideas, both realistic and impractical.

One thing I had always loved to do, from childhood through high school, was dance. Think Fame and Flashdance—iconic 80’s movies. Although my parents didn’t have the finances to put me into any sort of lessons or program, public school had quite a few outlets for it, between dance team, cheerleading, and talent shows (not to mention hoofing it around my house). However, after graduation I really didn’t have an opportunity to continue dancing.

When my youngest was two, my husband encouraged me to get involved with it again (told you he was a prince!). Being that I could only take classes when he was home in the evening, there wasn’t a wide selection of adult dance classes to choose from. I could take ballet, or ballet.

I chose ballet.

Since I hadn’t any experience with this form of dance beyond a plie, it was a whole new discipline. To be honest, it wasn’t nearly as fun as contemporary dance because it’s much more technique driven and all about uniformity among dancers. I’m more of a free spirit. But it was still an opportunity to dance, nonetheless, and I learned to enjoy it.

Around that time, my kids began to take classes at a fine art school for homeschoolers. Eventually, I put my son in their ballet program to help with his coordination. I stayed in class and assisted him since his coordination and flexibility were about as natural as my talent to work quadratic equations (hint, that’s a left brained activity and I don’t have one of those).

Because of my involvement, I was eventually offered a job teaching ballet at this fast-growing school.

What???

Okay, the Lord definitely had a secret agenda for me when ballet had been my only option for dance classes a few years earlier. Someone was actually going to pay me to teach dance and I’d get to choreograph performances—which was my favorite thing ever.

Fast forward fourteen years. I’m still teaching ballet at this fabulous school. We’ve grown from a handful of students to close to one thousand! We’ve expanded from two ballet teachers to five. And choreographing for our ‘showcase’ is still the best part of the year for me. Choreography is storytelling set to music. I prefer to use songs with lyrics so that we can express the story through dance, though certain instrumental pieces can move me in much the same way and I’ve used them as well.

As my children became teens and tweens, I began to see how swiftly our school days would come to a close. When my youngest was in sixth grade and my oldest had graduated, I could feel the fetters of schedules, classes, rehearsals, and performances loosening, little by little, as each child became a young adult. What was I going to do with myself? Ballet classes were only a once a week event. I didn’t want to choose a career path after our final graduate walked the stage. I needed a goal to work toward.

Enter writing. If I could begin a career in ballet in my thirties, why couldn’t I begin a writing career in my forties? I’d always had the desire and the ability lurking just under the surface. Where I had struggled tremendously to keep my head above water in math, I had easily coasted through English and literature courses. And as a homeschooling mom, I enjoyed reading to my kids most of all. “Just one more chapter” was a sure way to take a bite out of my well-intended schedule.

I had already been playing around with writing kids books and venturing into the blogosphere, so writing wasn’t a brand new pursuit. But I made a firm commitment to have some sort of career in place by the time my youngest graduated. Though I had often dipped into creative pursuits only to let projects sit unfinished for eons (if finished at all), I felt like the Lord was calling me to look at the big picture, the long term, and the future of my grown up self.

Well, number four graduated in May of 2016. My first book The Tethered World was published in February of 2016 with The Flaming Sword releasing that November. The Genesis Tree is coming out this June which means my first publishing contract has been fulfilled. Pretty much divine timing, right? Divine indeed because I look back and wonder how my blonde, right-brained self managed to pull this off.

I can’t help but view the past twenty-seven years of marriage with a thrill of awe and thanksgiving over how well the Lord orchestrates our paths. He has blessed me with a wonderful husband, terrific kids that have grown into treasured friends, a beautiful grand daughter, and—amazingly—a dual career doing things that I absolutely love. It’s humbling to look at how little I had to do with any of it. Even the talent to dance or to write are gifts from Him, designed by Him.

I feel like I’m getting some sort of do-over from my graduation in ’87. Probably because I needed to grow up a bit to know what I wanted to be when I actually grew up. Thanks to the disciplines of being a wife and a mother, I’ve matured enough to handle the freedom of self-expression that would have been wasted in my youth (on me anyway).

Yep. I’m a late bloomer. What about you? Maybe you had different opportunities than me and were able to enjoy a career before you reached middle age (okay, maybe you’re not anywhere close to being middle age but, I promise, you’ll be there in a blink). Still, we all have hopes that are deferred for one reason or another. What are your future dreams?

Although there’s controversy surrounding whether or not C.S. Lewis actually said this, it is still a favorite quote and sounds like a tidbit of his wisdom. “You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.” I’m certainly proof of that.

And I’m not done dreaming!

 

Author Bio:

Heather L.L. FitzGerald writes from her home in Texas, while dreaming of being back in the Pacific Northwest, where she grew up. When her four kids were young, she enjoyed reading aloud until her voice gave out. (Her son, who is autistic, would just move on to his favorite audiobook).

Certain stories became good friends—the kind you want to revisit. The kind you wish never needed to say goodbye. Those are the kind of stories Heather aspires to write. Stories worthy of delicious coffee. Stories difficult to leave. Her YA Fantasy trilogy The Tethered World Chronicles will be complete when her third book, The Genesis Tree, releases June 1st. Her other books, The Tethered World, and The Flaming Sword, are available on Amazon or can be ordered at any book retailer.

Heather is a member of the North Texas Christian Writer’s group, ACFW, CAN, and helps with the Manent Writer’s group in Fort Worth, Texas. You can connect with Heather on her website/blogFacebook, Pinterest,(Belongs to her main character, Sadie), Character blog: (Sadie’s mother has a blog pertaining to legendary creatures), Twitter, Instagram, Goodreads.

Confessions of a Medical Mom

by Lindsay Franklin

 

Red lights flashing in the darkness, sirens wailing in the middle of the night. Your child being loaded onto a gurney and whisked away to an emergency room. It sounds like the start of a horror story. Every parents’ nightmare. The worst day of your life.

But if you have a child with a medical condition, this may be routine. It may be the eleventy-hundredth time you’ve watched EMTs load your kid into the back of an ambulance. It may only barely affect your blood pressure these days, which is good, because you have to be calm enough to recite your kid’s entire medical history at three a.m. to the paramedics who have probably never heard of his rare neurological condition.

I’m only speaking for myself, of course. Every medical parent’s story looks different—indeed, the variance can be wild. But the sirens don’t scare me anymore. When my son has a seizure, my husband and I time it carefully (our comfort zone is five to six minutes) and watch for signs of respiratory distress. Most times, we don’t call an ambulance anymore. What are the ER docs going to tell us? “Your son has something weird in his hypothalamus.” Yes, thank you. We know.

The way I’ve described it, maybe it sounds like medical moms (and dads) are the chillest cucumbers in the vegetable bin. In some ways, that’s probably true. We can’t afford to panic in the midst of an emergency. We have to stay calm and level-headed to make sure our kids get the care they need. But that’s only one facet of the medical mom life.

Anxiety has become part of my essential makeup. It always has been to a degree—I’m just wired that way more than some others, like my husband who doesn’t startle at loud noises and barely blinks when he hears glass breaking, people shouting, or atomic bombs dropping.

But my journey as a medical mom has upped the ante. The part of my brain that wants to protect my squishy, exhausted, grieved heart always has me preparing for the worst. When the worst has already happened—when you’ve gotten the very last news you ever wanted to hear—it’s hard not to constantly wait for the other shoe to drop.

I’ve had a lot of dropping shoes in my life.

There’s a strange layer of shame that tags along when you or your child is not healthy, especially in the faith community. I’d need a couple extra hands and feet to count all the times well-meaning people have subtly (or overtly) suggested my life would look different if I had a little more faith—if I prayed better or more frequently, if I had better theology, if there weren’t some underlying sin lurking in my past or present.

Look, I said they’re well-meaning, and I meant that. People don’t realize the hurt they cause when they say such things, and really, no sick or differently abled person should be surprised by these comments. They’ve been happening for millennia: “Who sinned, Jesus, this man or his parents?” But what these folks don’t realize is that the medical parent’s life requires a certain kind of faith just to reach ground zero, if you will. Just to get to the starting place where others begin growing in their relationships with God, we have an uphill battle.

That’s because we start in a pit. We start in a place of constantly wondering why our child is suffering, constantly working to overcome the anxiety and shoe’s-going-to-drop mentality. We start in a place of being reminded every moment that we are weak, that our children are hurting and there’s nothing we can do to fix it. So it is simultaneously true that I’m barely clinging on and my faith is a solid rock. Both those statements are my raw, naked truth—my confession. My faith is tested by the moment, and I’m still here.

The places where I’ve seen God working most clearly in my life have been related to my medical kid. Small miracles—and a couple big ones—have unfolded before my eyes. Medical parents may have a strange, arduous road to walk, but we also have a sharp, unshakable sense of hope. Hope that we’ll make it through today, hope that tomorrow will be easier, hope that even if it’s not, God will see us through.

 

Author Bio:

Lindsay Franklin is an award-winning author, freelance editor, and homeschooling mother of three. Her debut fantasy novel, The Story Peddler, releases in 2017 from Enclave Publishing, and her book of devotionals for young women, Adored, releases October 2017 from Zondervan/HarperCollins Christian Publishing. Lindsay has had dozens of short stories published, and she is Faculty Director for Realm Makers, an annual conference for speculative fiction writers of faith. She is a Bible college student and has taught fiction to wildly creative homeschooled junior and senior high students. Lindsay may or may not be addicted to full-leaf tea and organic coffee. Don’t tell anyone. Connect with Lindsay on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. You can also follow her stuffed wombat on Instagram. Yeah, you read that right.

Confessions of a Recently Married 20-Something

My name is Adrienne Niceley–I mean Rollick. Still getting used to that. I got married in November 2016 to my hero, David.

Most people when reading that will get visions of sunshine and roses and smiles and sparkly rings. But for us, things haven’t been quite that shiny from the beginning.  

We met online through The One Year Adventure Novel community. Tried a relationship, and it failed. A little while later tried again. And, while it worked, (obviously) it was hard. David lived hundreds of miles away in Kansas while I lived in Kentucky. Our relationship was long distance for almost a year. And if you’ve never been in a long distance dating relationship, let me tell ya, it’s tough as nails.

Because of the distance, the time commitment for our relationship was larger than a normal one, and that, paired with my part-time job, family commitments, and volunteer conference work, took it’s tole on me both physically and creatively.

Now, I’m at the other side of the taxing journey, and I stand before you a recently married 20-something who is … struggling.

Why?

Being an adult and dealing with life and building a marriage all while desperately trying to fulfill the longing in my soul to just create drags me down more often than I’d like to admit.  It’s hard when you have ten loads of laundry on your bedroom floor and three days worth of dishes piled on your counter tops, and all you want to do is run after your dreams of becoming a published author and small business owner.

Life has a way of slowly sucking away at your creativity, joy, and time no matter what stage of the journey you are in.

But today I am also celebrating.

Because I am more myself now than I have been in three years. I am brainstorming again, and my writer’s brain is churning out a story that I am genuinely excited over. I’m reading, knitting, crocheting, cooking–all the things I was too exhausted or too preoccupied to do for the past couple years are all coming back, even if it’s not as much as I would like.  I am building a marriage with my husband that we can be proud of and planning adventures for us to go on together.

The seasons of life are a mixture of the good and the bad, and, more often than not, they show up at about the same time. I’m learning that keeping fast hold on the good isn’t always easy, but it’s abundantly worth it.

 

Bio:

Adrienne has often been compared to Anne of Green Gables. Although she’s never desired to sleep in a wild cherry tree, she has yearned to use stories as a way of reaching out to others and pointing them to God. A student of The One Year Adventure Novel, Adrienne has been pursuing the art and craft of writing fiction for seven years, and is involved in several writing communities. A newly wed, Adrienne is currently working on settling into her new life as a wife and homemaker, as well as getting back to her passions of writing and yarn creations. Visit Adrienne at https://thestorytopian.wordpress.com/

 

Confessions of a Shelf-Elf Mom

by Lindsay Franklin

 

My name is Lindsay, and I’m an Elf on the Shelf mom. This is where you all give a resounding chorus of “Hi, Lindsay!” and then we discuss the tribulations of recovering from shelf-elfdom.

Except I’m not in recovery. I love my elf. Her name is Wendy, and we have excellent adventures together. Like this one:

wendy-with-killer-bunny

That was the time Wendy hopped in my Rabbit of Caerbannog slippers and terrorized the boys’ knight figurines. Or there was this one:

steampunk-wendy

That was when Wendy wanted a steampunk costume just like mine.

Last year, Wendy got super lonely and joined ElfMatch.com (no, it’s not a real thing). She met some interesting characters during her online dating escapades.

wendy-on-elf-match

elf-match-screenshot

But then she met the love of her life, Josepher Twinkletoes.

wendy-and-josephers-first-date

And on Christmas morning, they made it official.

wendys-wedding

Not only do my kids have Wendy and Josepher’s antics to look forward to now, but Josepher’s little sister, Julee, moved in, too. Our house has turned into an elf party this December. Okay, so maybe I do have a little bit of a shelf-elf addiction. Either that, or I really love to tell stories. We’ll go with the latter.

So, what’s my confession? Aside from the fact that the whole world now knows I’m a little nuts … Shelf-elf haters bum me out. For every one social media post I see from a shelf-elfing parent, I see five or six people talking about how much they hate Elf on the Shelf. I’ve even seen suggestions that parents who “inflict” EOTS on their children are bad parents (see also: Santa Claus). Hopefully these things are said tongue-in-cheek, but still. It stings a little when you’re an enthusiastic EOTSer and your own friends loudly voice such opinions.

Here’s the thing: There are innumerable holiday traditions spanning most cultures across the globe. No one family participates in all of them. And that’s totally okay. It’s okay if going caroling is something you can’t imagine skipping. It’s also okay if you wouldn’t be caught dead singing to strangers in freezing weather. It’s okay if there’s that one cheesy Christmas movie that absolutely makes the season feel right to you. And it’s okay if that same movie makes another person want to take a nap.

There’s no single correct way to celebrate the fun, sometimes silly, traditions surrounding Christmas. There’s only what your family enjoys, and each family’s unique culture leads to gloriously different incarnations of the same traditions, as well as eschewing some traditions altogether. My EOTSing doesn’t look quite like my friends’, but I love to see what mischief their little guys get into. And I love to see my non-EOTS friends celebrate in their own special ways. Tree-cutting and trimming, outdoor light displays, candlelight church services, over-the-top décor, subtle décor, even no décor and a more solemn take on the season.

My Christmas wish? That we allow our friends (and strangers) the space to enjoy the holidays with their families the way they deem best. Because it’s all just fluff surrounding the core of Christmas—and that core has nothing to do with trees, tins of cookies, twinkle lights, or Toys R Us. So why hate on each other’s traditions? Ain’t nobody got time for that sort of Christmas negativity.

What is your family’s favorite Christmas tradition?

 

 

l-franklin-headshotAuthor Bio:

Lindsay Franklin is an award-winning author, freelance editor, and homeschooling mother of three. Her debut fantasy novel and first book of devotionals for young women both release in 2017. She managed the flash fiction mayhem for two years at Splickety Publishing Group as Senior Operations Manager, is a Bible college student, and has taught fiction to homeschooled junior high and high school students. She may or may not be addicted to organic coffee. Don’t tell anyone. Connect with Lindsay on Facebook, TwitterInstagram, or her website. You can also follow her wombat on Instagram. Yeah, you read that right.

Confessions of a Hybrid-Homeschooling Mom

goals-for-2017by Lisa Godfrees

 

I have two daughters, both of whom have been in public school until recently. Without going into the long story behind why, let me say that public school works very well for most students. In fact, my 7th grader excels in school and when given the option to be homeschooled, she decided to stay with her friends.

But some kids need a little more one-on-one time, or a different approach to learning, than a public school can accommodate. Such is the case with my 5th grader. While she misses recess, she is overall relieved not to be in the classroom, much preferring to be taught by Miss Mummy Pants (her teacher name for me—I have absolutely no idea why).

While I cannot claim to be an expert at homeschooling after less than a semester, I can offer some unique insights even in my short time. Feel free to add to it in the comments below.

 

Homeschool parents: Public school is not evil.

Some parents who have exclusively homeschooled have the biased view that sending a child to public school is inexplicably evil. And to listen to some of the people who speak at homeschool conferences, it’s no wonder parents hold that view. Homeschool associations that have fought for parental rights and seen the bad side of the system tend to have a jaded view of public education and its administrators.

Thankfully, I live in Texas which is still a conservative part of the Bible belt. In my experience, public school teachers and administrators do their best to offer safe and quality education away from the hot topics of gender and sex education. Many of the teachers/administrators my daughters have had are Christian. And thank God for that! Can you imagine what our school system would look like if no one involved in it were Christian?

 

Homeschool kids are not necessarily better educated.

I have several friends who homeschool their children. Depending on the child and the parent, their kids may be ahead or behind public school grade levels. What some of these kids learn is truly amazing, and what others don’t learn is concerning.

A child’s performance depends on what they are taught. If their parents don’t select a well-rounded curriculum, if they don’t take schooling seriously, if they don’t push, if they don’t monitor what their students are learning and retaining, then we can end up with high school students that can’t link countries to continents. They might place China in North America, or the Philippines in Greenland. (I’m not joking. I’ve graded tests.) Or students that don’t complete homework, or don’t come prepared for class, or whine when asked to do a more coursework than they are used to… more than can be completed the night before the class.

After teaching high school students at a co-op this fall, I’ve seen that some kids are directionless. Graduating seniors who don’t know what they are going to do next year. College, work, neither? Homeschool children need vision casting for their futures too. It might not be college, but it should be something. We all need a goal to shoot for.

 

To public school parents: Homeschool kids are socialized just fine.

If you’ve been around homeschoolers, you’ll realize what a laughable misconception it is that children who are homeschooled aren’t well socialized. You probably work or know people who have been homeschooled and don’t even know it. Don’t mistake children with special needs or learning disabilities (at home or in public school) with poor socialization.

Socialization can be a concern. Since it’s just me and my daughter at home, I try to make sure to encourage activities and play dates with other kids, but many homeschool families have a lot of kids, so this is more the exception than a rule.

 

To public school parents: History makes a lot more sense when the Bible is taken into consideration.

As a product of a public-school education, this one came as a surprise to me. I’m not sure why it should—I mean, I went to seminary. It’s not like I’ve not learned the history. But the thing is, when you start looking at world history from a biblical perspective and consider everything together, it Just. Makes. Sense. In a way that separating church and state from one another is fundamentally flawed. It’s enough to make me wonder what great disservice we’re doing to our kids. How are they going to understand God’s ultimate plan if they don’t learn a comprehensive view of history and the Bible? We can’t expect them to learn it at church/Sunday school once a week. The Bible illiteracy of our culture probably has a lot to do with the Bible being taken out of the school room. It’s a historical document, folks!

 

Moms on both sides of the equation feel guilt.

My public-school daughter is out in the world, interacting with peers, learning about due dates, tests, competition, and expectations. She has extracurricular activities that my homeschool-child doesn’t have, but she’s missing out on the comprehensive Christian worldview my youngest is learning. She’s spending time doing some ridiculous school bureaucratic things, because – hey, that’s public school, right? There’s a reason we make fun of it.

But I worry for my homeschool daughter, too. Am I teaching her my bad habits? Is she missing out on real-world experiences that she needs to turn into a well-rounded adult? Am I sheltering her too much? Am I ruining my kid?

 

Whatever the case, we can only live in the moment and make the best decisions we can at the time. And pray, pray, pray – for one another, for our kids, and for our country.

 

lisa-godfrees-lr-5Author Bio:

LISA GODFREES worked over a decade in a crime lab. Tired of technical writing, she hung up her lab coat to pen speculative fiction. Her short stories have appeared in anthologies and online. Mind Writer (Elk Lake Publishing) co-authored with Mike Lynch, is her first novel. Lisa is a member of ACFW, SCBWI, the Houston Writers Guild, and serves as the Production Manager for Splickety Prime. She currently resides in Houston with one dog, two cats, two girls, and a husband.

Website: www.lisagodfrees.com

Social Media Links:
www.facebook.com/LisaGodfrees
www.twitter.com/LisaGodfrees
https://plus.google.com/u/0/+LisaGodfrees
www.instagram.com/fictionmom

mind-writer-3

Confessions of a Writer, Mother, and Pastor’s Wife

Confessions of a ...Every time I share that I’m a writer, I have people look at me and ask how do I do it all? How do I balance raising four kids, being a pastor’s wife, and writing?

Confession time: I haven’t always done a good job juggling all three. Honestly, I think the only person who could is Supergirl, and even then I think she would struggle. But what I have learned is to have priorities, and those priorities have changed as I went from writing as an unpublished writer to an author with a deadline, and from having four kids under four to kids in the double digits.

When I first started writing, I was home with babies and toddlers, snatching bits of writing time during naps and nights when my husband was at church meetings. The more I wrote, the more I wanted to be published. I think this is the desire and goal of most writers (after all, we write so that we can share with the world). There were moments where I grew discontent with just being home with kids. I wanted more. I wanted to be an author so bad I could taste it. But that wasn’t where I was in life. So instead, I took the time I had to learn all I could about writing, then continued writing during those spare moments I had.

That period of my life taught me the value of waiting, of putting aside my desires, and to put my family first. As a pastor, one of my husband’s goals was to never have our children grow up and feel like the church took their daddy away. I had a similar goal: I never wanted my children growing up believing writing was more important than them.

New FotW coversNow, as a published writer, I am thankful for the boundaries I set earlier on around my writing and around my family. I write when my kids are in school, but when they are home, I put my writing away. There are those few weeks every year when I’m on an edit deadline, but because I have invested into my children and husband, they help me out during that time instead of resenting mommy disappearing into her office for hours on end.

As far as being a pastor’s wife, honestly, I’m not any different that other women in the church. I just happen to be married to the pastor, other than one thing: the more he is gone, the more I need to be home so I can hold down the fort. I serve where time and gifts allow, and in some ways, my writing is also part of my ministry. As a shy introvert, it is hard for me to be around people. That’s why I love writing! I can communicate my heart and faith with people in a way that bypasses my weaknesses.

So what advice do I have for mothers? Enjoy the time you have with your little ones now. The writing will always be there, but your children will not. They grow up and before you know it, they’re gone. Also spend time with your husband. Your marriage needs you to be a part of it. It might mean you only write a book a year, but your relationship is worth it. If you want to be writer, you need to write. But find a time and a pace that allows you to be a mother and wife as well.

Tainted_Hi_ResAlso, saying “no” is okay. You can’t do everything. That is something I learned early on in ministry. I can do a couple things very well, but if I spread myself out, my effectiveness diminishes. In order to juggle the role of mother, writer, and wife, I’ve had to use “no” many times in order to say “yes” to a few things so I can do those few things well. That might come in the form of saying no to writing three books in one year (no!), or heading up three different ministries at church (no!), or having each of my kids participate in three sports, piano lessons, and drama club (no!).

So how do I do it all? By giving each area the time in needs, and saying no to everything else. My kids and husband get time with me, my writing gets its share of time, and I serve the church when I can (and sometimes that means being home for our family and allowing my husband to go off and do everything he needs to for the church).

How about you? Do you struggle juggling everything? How do you prioritize your time, obligations, and relationships along with your writing? Share below!

 

morgan-busse-NLR-5Author Bio:

Morgan L. Busse writes fantasy and steampunk for the adult market. She is the author of the Follower of the Word series, including Daughter of Light, Christy and Carol Award finalist. Morgan lives on the West Coast with her husband and four children. You can find out more about Morgan at www.morganlbusse.com

 

Website: www.morganlbusse.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/morganlbusseauthor

Twitter: https://twitter.com/MorganLBusse (@MorganLBusse)

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/morganlbusse

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5827587.Morgan_L_Busse

My books: http://www.enclavepublishing.com/authors/morgan-busse/

September 2015 Goals

PIC1068506062Ah, summer is finally gone. I can smell the start of autumn in the cool night air. My frustrations with heat and humidity combined with allergies and taking on too much made for a sick Ralene for most of the summer. Also, I realized that not taking my goals and priorities seriously caused a lot of the problems.

That brings us into September. A new month–a time for change. We’re done with the craziness of summer and ready to embrace the glories of fall and prepare for my favorite time of year–the holiday season between Halloween and New Years! But I digress . . . here are my goals for September!

 

1. Rediscover my priorities and develop a schedule that reflects said priorities. I have the coming weekend to think over things and decide what is most important and how much time I need to devote to the important things–and how flexible I need to be. Then I need to draft a schedule and talk it over with my hubby.

2. Finish editing Bellanok Pt. 1 and get it ready for publishing, then write Bellanok Pt. 2 & 3. I’m going to be setting a goal of 2,000 words/day, which would be 48,000 for the month. Ambitious, especially considering I have ACFW later in the month. Eep!

3. Reinstate family night and date night. With Ray’s school hours this year and my hectic work schedule, we have let go of these precious and important experiences. So, when I make up the schedule, I will choose a night for both and start planning out some family/date fun!

 

Baby steps. Those are important for me. Big chunks make me freeze. Anyone else like that? I keep thinking I can take on big chunks, but then when I fail I think I AM A FAILURE. Instead, I need to make sure I’m setting myself up for success. And, when I do fail, it is an opportunity to try again!

 

What are your goals for September? Let’s keep each other accountable!