Confessions of An Adventure Writer Who Disdains Change

by Elizabeth Van Tassel

 

I’ve lived through death-defying moments ducking from flames as we survived a wildfire, losing every possession and our home in one day, working in South America and had my hotel surrounded by machine guns going off at night and rioting. I’ve been closeted in a hospital room with family living on the edge of life and death, gotten on stage in front of hundreds, held thousands of dollars of pink and colored diamonds and a Faberge Egg, and have moved fifteen times in my lifetime all over the country. I write for tweens and teens about Indiana-Jones-style adventures in other worlds and nonfiction to encourage families to live with resilience after big life changes. Yet, when I first hear that a test or trial is coming, I cringe. That moment of trust is still slightly terrifying! Can you relate?

 

The Choice

When a challenge comes I first need to assess it and understand the parameters—what’s the cost going to be? To me? To my family? Our finances and life in general? It can be an unwanted medical scare or a child needing more attention—an extraordinary life event or amazing opportunity. It doesn’t even have to be all negative. It’s just the pain and distortion of comfort with change that gets me. I find it slightly humorous that I can imagine all kinds of terrors and torture, beauty and gems, and poignant lessons for my characters, yet I really don’t like having to endure them myself.

 

The Hovering

In every kind of change, there’s the point of acceptance. Now you understand it involves a move across the country, a whole new diet, a drastic budget change, or a huge open door you never could have dreamed up. The latter is more fun, of course, but in a walk of faith there’s a moment like watching a seagull hover in the wind currents at the beach, circling, wings spread wide. The winds whisper …

Will you accept or fight me?

Will you seek wisdom or do this on your own strength?

Will you allow others to bless you in this transition?

Will you be bold with your feelings or hold them inside?

 
In this hovering state, you meet the Maker, the Designer who holds the fiber of your integrity in one hand, and the ability to create in the other. He wants to shape and mold you. Will you be pliable?

I believe it’s a conscious choice at this point to decide to live a vibrant life. Resilience is found in those moments. Resilience is made in that crucible of belief and willingness to be open to change. I don’t have to like it, but I know its voice well. I won’t refuse the whispers that the Lord brings that can open doors I never would have dreamed, whether through pain or through perseverance.

 

The Change

You can feel yourself stretching. It is often uncomfortable and brings humbling times where you’re at a total loss. You can truly no longer go it alone on your own strength. You’ve not only come to the end of the rope, but the rope is waving in the breeze, floating away. You’re just living in the trust-zone.

I am right there now. We are getting ready for move number sixteen, living on wisps of trust with a new job, new life, new city, so many things all at once will be new. It is very tempting to question and even when there’s been significant signs of affirmation, it still
makes cringe. Someone else will live in our home, walk our paths, feel the Southern California sunshine in my place. You can even meet skeptics and others with difficult journeys where you’re headed.

But all I know is one simple truth.

I’d rather be walking where the Lord directs my path, than anywhere outside of it that seems easier or more comfortable. Jesus is found in those moments of trust. He’s at work inside of me and our family and is being the wonderful Craftsman that He is. Chiseling away at my inadequacies, making a whole new life ready. Ready for change.

Are you ready for change? Do you love the fresh experiences it brings or want to hide in a corner? How have you seen fingerprints of faith on your own journey of change and growth?

 

 

Author Bio: 

Resilience Expert Elizabeth has lived a life with diamonds, wildfires, and miracles. The gemologist and communication specialist has held a modern-day Faberge egg, played with pink diamonds, and spoken to hundreds of people about adventures with heart. She winds her tales of wondrous gems and destructive loss into fantastic fantasy for teens and tweens, and meaningful nonfiction for adults.

But it’s not all sparkle. Elizabeth has found gems of true meaning as a wildfire survivor who lost every possession. She has helped her family through horrific medical traumas with her son almost dying, and her husband’s stroke. Determined to thrive, rather than just get by, now she spots potential as much as she finds inclusions in her microscope. Her creative eye and stories of survival help others to rise above circumstances and begin meaningful life changes. She also speaks, hosts classes, and blogs for adults and kids about how to live a resilient life.

Starting in April, Elizabeth is featuring a guest-blog series on Thorn & Vine with terrific authors sharing their own stories of resilience and invites you to participate at Elizabeth Van Tassel.com

 

LINKS

(http://elizabethvantassel.com/) where you can sign up to receive the posts to your email personally. She hosts a YouTube channel and interviews inspirational people, actors, and authors to encourage your journey (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCbfGSIRoGjwywnyAto0IQKA) and family-friendly or beauty inspired activities to lift your perspective. Her Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/elizabethvantassel/?hl=en) features moments of beauty and inspiration, as well as gems from her gemology life to dazzle and delight. Catch her on Twitter (https://twitter.com/ElizVanTassel) too!

 

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 an Independent Woman

by Emilie Hendryx

Hello, my name is Emilie and I am an Independent woman … but sometimes I think I’m too independent for my own good.

That may sound funny—especially in the atmosphere of today’s world. Women are encouraged, even pushed sometimes, to be independent. The more independent the better! A common phrase I hear is: “I don’t need a man to complete me.” Well, of course you don’t! You go, girl! But, at the sake of sounding a bit countercultural here, I want to look at the other side—dare I say, the downside?—to independence.

Note: This is not a political post. Really. I promise—it’s not! Secondary note: This is not about bashing men or other independent women. I feel very strongly in supporting other independent women! If anything, it’s a caution to myself and others like me to see our independence as a blessing and to use it wisely.

I enjoy my independence. I like the fact that I can make decisions on my own, do what I want, and rely on ME.  >insert finger snap here< But … the flip side of that is the occasional presence of self-doubt, feeling alone when it’s just me in my one-bedroom apartment, lugging heavy boxes/groceries/furniture in by myself, or wondering what I’m really doing with my life when everyone around me seems to be getting (or already is) married or having their first, second, or third child. Most of my adult friends are at a different stage in life. That’s good … but it’s also hard.

I’m an only child, and I think a lot of my independent mentality comes from strong parents who raised a strong daughter (thank you, Mom and Dad) and who encouraged me to know my own mind. I wouldn’t have it any other way! But, if they had done that and also instilled a sense of single-minded heroism in me, the type of “Emilie, you don’t need anyone—ever” kind of thinking, I’m not sure where I’d be today. Instead, they encouraged me in my independence while they encouraged my faith and my friendships, gave me help and advice, and portrayed a strong marriage ethic for me. Yes, they really are rock stars.

As I’ve gotten older though, I see my independence both helping and hindering me. It helps me when I face new things in life, turning to the Lord with a confidence that can only come through His strength. It helps me when I remember that He has made me the woman I am. I know I have what it takes to make it through whatever I need to (through Him). And it helps me when I decide to go to the movies alone and I’m reminded that it’s okay to be by yourself—that I am not less-than because I’m single or a woman.

But, this sneaky, old independence has its downsides too. When my independence get’s in the way of community, there’s a problem. When my independence incites arrogance in my heart, there’s a problem. When my independence allows thoughts of control, there’s a problem. And when my independence overshadows who I am: a woman who loves God and loves people, there’s a problem.

I am more than my independence. I am a child of God, one of many brothers and sisters around the world, and I am called to love. Sometimes that means giving up some of my independence and allowing others to help me even if it makes me feel “less in control”. Sometimes that means forcing myself to take a step back and listen to what others are saying—is my independence stifling them and their gifts? And sometimes it means being alone and resting in Him and seeing myself as needy—I need my Savior and His strength.

I’m Emilie, an independent woman who is dependent on a strong God and an amazing community of believers.

_____

Author Bio:

Emilie lives in Dayton, Ohio and fills her time with creative pursuits. She writes, takes pictures, designs, reads, plays guitar, and drinks too much coffee. She’s a member of ACFW and currently working on a romantic suspense novel and plotting a YA Sci-fi series. She’s got a soft spot in her heart for animals and a love for the mountains of the Pacific Northwest.

 

 

Connect with Emilie:

Blog: www.eahendryx.blogspot.com

Instagram: www.instagram.com/createxploreread

Twitter: www.twitter.com/eacreativephoto

Facebook: www.facebook.com/emiliehendryx

And check out her shops full of bookish things:

www.society6.com/emiliehendryx & www.etsy.com/shops/createexploreread

 

Looking Ahead at 2017

busyThis post comes about a week late, but that’s okay. The kids and I were all sick last week and needed the time to recover. What a blessing that time was! But now we’re (mostly) recovered, and it’s time to embrace our time with renewed vigor.

Normally, in the week between Christmas and New Year, I take an evening to go off by myself and start considering my goals and such for the New Year. I take time to praise God for the stuff that happened in the previous year, and to pray about what’s to come. Then I start listing goals in different life categories:

Spiritual

Health

Relationships

Business

Education

Homeschool

Financial

(Most of these categories have sub-categories.)

I usually try to limit myself to 3 goals in each category. Then, each new month, I pick about 3 goals from different categories to work on. Even though I might have a few other goals during that particular month, those 3 are usually my focus.

 

Word of the Year

I could go through and list each goal for the year, but that would be at best cumbersome, at worst boring. I will say that most of the goals center around my word of the year.

to-michelle

Consistency has been something I’ve struggled with, especially given my health issues, for many years. I am always sick(ly), and I struggle to find the time to do everything when I’m in a perpetual state of catching up.

Inconsistency leads to more stress, more illness, more of all the bad things. In order to get myself off of this circle I seem to be riding, I have to break the cycle.

Of course, this is a big undertaking. I know that I cannot do it alone–I’ve tried time and again. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Phil 4:13), is definitely the Bible verse I’ll be clinging to this year (among others).

 

January Goals

So, what are my first few goals for 2017?

Health: I am focusing on menu planning and portion control as I aim to get my blood pressure under control. Each week, I’ll review my menu for the month and shop from that (cutting out most junk food). And with each meal, I’ll be sure my carb level falls within appropriate ranges.

Overall: Write out a new routine/schedule that will allow me to include all the necessary aspects of my life and business in a more orderly (less stressful) way. Be sure to include “me” to help me relax.

Business: Write 40,000+ words on Soter, the 2nd of the books contracted by Elk Lake Publishing (releasing in the fall, most likely). I will be writing 2,000 words in the evening after the kids are in bed.

I’m already plunging my way through the first 2 goals. Sadly, I haven’t even started on the 3rd goal, but I’m getting to it! I just have some catching up to do!

 

So, what are your goals for January? Do you have a word for your year?

Confessions of a Writer with Depression

by Victoria Grace Howell

 

confessions-1I’ve been creating stories for as long as I can remember, but I’ve been struggling with Depression since I was fifteen. I didn’t fully understand Depression until recent years when I finally started taking steps to manage it. For years, I didn’t know why I would feel sad for days on end or abruptly stop being motivated to do things I’ve loved or why I was just so darn sensitive.

Depression is a chemical imbalance in the brain. When I get depressed, my thoughts spiral into doubts and kicking myself over every little thing. It’s not just feeling sad. It affects my entire body. I’ve sometimes felt so “down” that it’s hard to wake up in the morning, my back and neck hurts, and I lose my appetite. Some of the things I do to feel better are take walks or drink tea with lavender, chamomile or chocolate or watch a favorite TV show. Sometimes writing out my emotions in my stories is therapeutic. All of this in turn affects how I handle life as a writer.

I know I’m not alone. A lot of writers struggle with mental illness. Perhaps some who struggle with Depression can relate to these confessions.

I Have to Take Breaks – I watch writers able to type out thousands of words a day or write every day for a year, and I think that’s fantastic, but having Depression makes that hard for me. I can get burnt out so easily if I do that much. I usually have to take a mental health day every week or that can make my depression act up and then I’m out of the game for days.

Sometimes I Have to Take Days Off on Down Days – Sometimes my Depression hits me at times I don’t expect. I get so down that I can’t concentrate and just uncontrollably think of anything that could possibly be bothering me on repeat. Therefore I need to take an hour or up to several days off to pick myself back up.

It’s Very Hard for Me to Develop a Thick Skin for Criticism of My Work – I’ve gotten so much advice on how to develop a thick skin for critique. Critique is a wonderful tool, but I still procrastinate for days before I read any feedback of my work, because I’m afraid it’s going to be bad enough to send me into a spiral of Depression. I usually have to spend a good five minutes or more psyching myself up before opening the document. Then if the critique is bad, sometimes I take a day off of writing to recover to make sure it doesn’t cause a down day.

Rejections Hurt A lot – When I see an email from a publisher or agent in my inbox, I feel a rush of cold go down my spine. Then I steel myself for a rejection. I’ve only gotten one acceptance, so this has happened a dozen or two times. Sometimes I can shrug off the rejection, but it usually sticks with me like a parasite for a day. More often than not I have the battle off feelings of doubt that I’m a good writer. Sometimes I have to take days off writing to make sure I don’t get a down day or sometimes because it incites a down day.

I Feel Things Deeper in My Writing – People with Depression feel emotions deeper than the average person. They are more sensitive to feelings of others around them. This in turn can be a writer super power.

This post isn’t to ask for sympathy. This post is to come clean about how it is be a writer and live with Depression. I can’t just eat some chocolate and feel better five minutes later whenever I start feeling sad after an agent made the decision not to represent my work. No matter how much I wish I could yank myself up from being knocked down as anyone not struggling with depression seems to be able to I can’t.

It’s not all in my head. It’s a real thing that affects me. Depression is part of my struggle, but it helps me relate to my characters who struggle with it. I don’t know how long I’m going to struggle with Depression. It could be my whole life. I may have to tweak my schedule a bit to keep it under control, but I won’t let it stop me from being a writer.

Have you struggled with depression? How does it affect your writing? What do you do to cope?

 

vicVictoria Grace Howell is an award-winning, author of speculative fiction, a social media manager, an editor for the non-profit organization, Geeks Under Grace, a staff writer for Geekdom House, and has been published in Splickety: Havok Magazine and Area of Effect Magazine. Since she was a child growing up in the state of Georgia, she’s always had a heart for stories. When not typing away at her novels, she enjoys drawing her characters, blogging at Wanderer’s Pen, practicing Kung Fu, cosplaying, and having a really good hot cup of tea. Connect with her on her blog, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

 

Confessions of a Crazy Parrot Owner

confessionsof-accrazyparrotownerWhen I was 15, I went with my folks to get fish for my brother’s fish tank. Fish are interesting, but I’m not a terrific fan. You can’t do much more than sit and watch them and clean up after them. That amused Belle, my parents’ mostly cocker spaniel, who’d sit and watch the tank for hours. Literally. Even when it was fish-free. Not much fun for me.

While we were at the pet store, my folks and brother went look at the fish while I stopped to chat it up with a couple cockatiels. They were cute little critters. One, the typical gray color, was chattier than the other, a yellow and gray splotchy one.

The pet store had them on consignment from someone who needed to rehome them, so the owner was game to give my folks a good deal on the cockies and the cage they were in. When we left, I had my first two parrots. I named the gray one Sijon after a character in a story I was writing and the yellow-and-gray one Lockheed because she could fly incredibly well.

Since then, I’ve had a third cockatiel, a pearl named Spot; two pionuses, a white cap named Johnny and a dusky named Tiercel; and my current goofball, a Timneh African grey named Masika.

Parrots are all at once a terrific amount of fun and a bit of a drag to keep.

They’re chatty. Each of my parrots, to varying degrees, liked to whistle, chirp, imitate sounds, or even talk to me. One, Johnny, even showed signs of understanding exactly what he was saying. When he saw me doing something new, he’d ask, “Whatcha doin’?” He’d keep asking until I answered him, and then he’d never ask again if I were doing that activity. Another, Sijon, tried to teach me stuff. He was a wolf-whistler. If he started wolf-whistling and I answered with anything but another wolf-whistle, he’d stare at me, then whistle very slowly until I “got it right.” Then he’d resume normal speed.

Parrots are also amazingly clever. Masika can undo quicklinks, bolts, screws, latches, and dog-clip closures. Not even a problem. She is Houdini with feathers. I have to padlock her cage to keep her from taking some of it apart. Once, she even moved one of her toy from the top of the cage to a perch halfway down. Johnny figured out how to get my attention when he was scared by something. He had a particular screech that he used only when spooked. Spot figured out that if she bounced against the door of the cage enough times, the door would flop open and she and the other cockies could escape.

Unfortunately, keeping parrots can be a bit of a drag.

They have no concept of “sleep in.” Sijon and Freebie were up with the sun. Johnny was quiet until he heard me moving around even if I got up in the middle of the night. Masika has no concept of “night time.” That, I assume, comes from living some indeterminate time in a dark warehouse. Two in the morning is not inappropriate for bell-ringing, in her humble opinion. This was problematic when she and I shared a room.

Finding bird sitters is tough if I need to leave town for a while. Most people aren’t too keen on getting close to even a small bird beak, and boarding at a vet is often not an available option.

Birds are also a terrific mess. Every bird I’ve had could mess up an area in a 10-foot radius from the cage. Cleaning up after them is like taking care of a tantrum-prone toddler.

Surprisingly, I have learned a lot about writing from my parrots.

I’ve built some alien characters around my birds’ personalities, particularly when it comes to humans trying to communicate with the aliens. Birds communicate with posturing, vocalizations, and micro-expressions. Although there have been some similarities, each bird had a unique “accent” to the way they communicated with me. Whether it was Johnny’s call for help, Sijon’s world-class hiss, or Masika fluffing up, I learned how to read each particular parrot and birds in general.

The couple times I’ve tried to use speech-to-text software have been a bust because Masika or Johnny started making ruckus at inopportune moments. (I did come up with some fun non-human names that way, though. Dragon attempted to translate a squawk into letters.)

Owning parrots also showed me that all members of the same group do not necessarily act the same. No two birds were alike, even within the same species. Each parrot had a unique personality. Sijon was the straight man in the comedy troupe. If he had a sense of humor, he never showed it. Lockheed was very motherly. She was the gentlest bird I have ever had. Even when she was upset or defending a “nest,” she never did any damage. Spot was the adventurer. If there had been an avian version of X Games, she would have taken top marks every time. Spot did crazy things like spelunking in my purse (and emptying it out in the process) and purposely walking off the edge of the cage. She didn’t start flapping her wings until she was halfway to the ground.

Johnny was a protector. We worked together in a pet store for a while. If someone was picking on one of the birds, Johnny would do his special “help!” screech until one of the workers arrived to stop the gooberhead. He also tried to protect me from my abusive ex by flying off his cage or off my arm and attacking my ex.

Tiercel was a grouch until after I rehomed him. I’m not a fan of rehoming pets, but in his case, that was the best thing. He was clearly unhappy with me. His new owner has assured me that he’s doing much better now. He’s much calmer and happier. His new owner loves him easily as much as I did, so I’m happy for them both.

Masika is very wary. There is cause. She is a rescue bird, whose history we can track back 30 years. No idea how much older she is than that, but she was rescued from a warehouse where she’d been left after the pet store she’d been in was shut down. Getting her to trust me even a little has taken most of a decade, and there are still more days than not when she isn’t very friendly.

Using my birds as examples showed me that you can have huge variation even within a close group.

Owning a parrot isn’t for everyone. There are some real challenges about owning birds, even down to silly things like what kind of cookware, cleaners, and air fresheners you use. For me, though, owning parrots has been the best. I’d have a flock, but they deserve individual attention and my current one, Masika, is territorial. Just me and she until one of us passes away.

There you have it. Confessions of a crazy parrot owner. I’ll let you decide if that’s “crazy parrot” owner or crazy “parrot owner.”

 

headshot-for-avatars-doesnt-seem-to-pixellateAuthor Bio:

After hatching years ago in a land very far away, Cindy tried to hide under a secret identity, but she finally gave that up and started openly telling people she was an alien capable of adopting many forms. To her surprise, with the exception of one class of elementary students, no one believed her. They assumed she was joking, thereby giving her the perfect cover story.

She spent 14 years mutating the minds of four-footers – that’s height, not leg count – but gave that up to study the methodology needed to mutate the minds of adult humans. In her off time, she writes about her adventures under the guise of telling science fiction and fantasy stories, records her blog articles, and reads wonderful books in exchange for editing help.

Goals: May 2016

PIC1068506062At last. We have come to one of my favorite months of the year. So many fun things happen in May–including Mother’s Day and my birthday. 🙂 This year just happens to include a book birthday as Bellanok: The Dragon’s Oath will be released soon.

So, what are my goals for the month? I have 2 writing goals and 2 life goals:

  1. Finish Bellanok 4 so I can release it in June. I should finish the first draft this week, then after a revision send it off to my CPs. Hopefully get it back mid-May so I can apply edits before sending it to my proofreader/formatter–and get ready for a June release! Who else is as excited as I am about this?
  2. Revise Bellanok as a whole to get it ready for paperback release. Yes, you heard that right. I will hopefully have a paperback version available sometime this summer.
  3. My husband and I sat up a new schedule/routine for us to find some stability in our crazy busy lives. We start today. So it is my goal to keep with this schedule and make sure that my family does as well. Hopefully this will help me to keep from dropping too many of my various spinning plates.
  4. My husband and I are also determined to start getting healthy. We both know what we NEED to do to get healthy, but we just keep putting stuff off in favor of more convenient options–largely due to lack of planning or poor scheduling on our part. Number one this month is to get our diet under control.

I think that’s plenty for one month, don’t you? I’m looking forward to feeling better and less crazy, and especially excited about having another completed book–and one that is published at that!

What about you? What are your goals for May?

Share a couple of your goals, and let’s keep each other accountable!

Life and Updates

file0001024202589Happy Monday, everyone!

I know it’s been awhile since y’all have heard from me. Life has been, well, crazy around here the last few months. So much that I can’t even get into right now. So, I thought I’d catch you up on some stuff . . .

  1. Yes, Bellanok 3 is coming out soon. Look for more information at the end of the week. I’m going to have y’all help me with something! I’ll just say for now that Bellanok 3 will be out in March and part 4 will be out in April.
  2. I am (finally) open for editing again. If you’re looking for an editor (or getting close to being ready), check out my editing services page and shoot me an e-mail! (E-mail is basically my name at gmail.)
  3. Two of my friends are celebrating some pretty amazing stuff this month.
    1. J.L. Mbewe is celebrating her birthday hobbit style–a birthday bash on her blog with fun prizes!
    2. Zachary Totah is celebrating his one-year blogaversary with some reflection and, of course, some prizes. One of which is ebook copies of both of Bellanok novellas so far.
  4. In April, I’ll be participating in a couple of Facebook parties with other speculative fiction authors. Stay tuned for more information to come! If you haven’t signed up for my blog/newsletter, do so now so you don’t miss out on all the fun.

In other areas, my daughters both have birthdays in March. We’re throwing a joint part–a slumber party. What am I getting myself into? I just can’t believe my oldest will be turning 10! TEN!

Homeschooling is as much a joy as ever–even if we are a little behind. The kids are all loving the books we are reading this year with our Sonlight curriculum. We’re studying the first half of American history and have read books like The Sign of the Beaver, and we’re just finishing up The Witch of Blackbird Pond (one of my fave books in elementary books).

In 6 weeks, we’ll be taking the family (along with my husband’s side of the family) to Disney World! We’re very excited about it–and so are the kids.

So, that’s a little update on me. What about you guys? What’s new with you? What can we celebrate?

A Season to Shine Beyond

candles_2aAs my friend and I began to redesign my website to reflect more of my fiction writing than my editing (although I still do both), I found myself reflecting on what themes connected me, my writing, and my editing–not an easy task. I didn’t want to take away from my editing tagline (Making your next project S.H.I.N.E.), but I needed something that was more.

Shine Beyond is a vision for me, for my life, for my writing, and even spreading into my editing. As a born again child of the King, I have this light that I am responsible for. (“This little light of mine . . .” Yes, you’re welcome.) A light that needs to shine beyond me, beyond the darkness in this world.

This year, on Wednesdays, I’m inviting my friends–writers and non-writers–to share stories, articles, devotions, etc. that encourage others to Shine Beyond. If you haven’t already signed up to receive my blog posts/newsletter, I encourage you to do so. You won’t want to miss these posts!

If you are interested in participating, shoot me an e-mail! (My name at gmail.com–all lowercase.) In the meantime, I’m curious . . .

What or who has made a difference in YOUR life?

Accomplishing the Ordinary

Ever feel ordinary? When you read the stories of past and present heroes and heroines of the faith, do you ever wonder if you were in the bathroom when the call went out for volunteers?

I’m about as ordinary as can be. My days are filled with planning and preparing meals, cleaning the house (admittedly that fills as few of my days as possible), and writing stories about made-up people and events that exist only in my imagination. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve asked God, is this really all you want me to do? Shouldn’t I be out feeding the hungry, stopping abortion, ministering to the sick and imprisoned? It seems so ordinary. So unremarkable. I confess that when I read about others who follow the Lord’s call to minister in Uganda or the Middle East or even inner city USA, I’m a little bit…convicted? Intimidated? Embarrassed at my lack of accomplishments? Makes me wonder, am I not listening? Did I not recognize the Lord’s voice when He called me to do something extraordinary? Was I not paying attention?

Whenever I’m feeling common, ordinary—may I say, useless?—I remind myself that God makes some vessels for special purposes and some for common use. (Romans 9:21) We tend to remember the Biblical giants of the faith, like Abraham and Moses and Paul, but there were many who were used for ordinary purposes. Read the genealogies of the Old Testament, or even Jesus’ lineage in Matthew 1:1-16 or Luke 3:23-38. No doubt, you’ll recognize some of the names, but a lot of them we know nothing about. They were just ordinary people like you and me, going about their daily routines. Unremarkable, except that they were the human ancestors of the God-man, Jesus Christ.

I often think of Susanna Wesley, a mother who went about her daily chores. Would we know anything about her if not for her famous sons, John and Charles? The same could be said for most well-known figures, from presidents to movie stars to business leaders to sports figures. Someone had to do the ordinary things of life in order for them to fulfill their special purpose.

Maybe that’s why Solomon wrote, “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might…” (Ecclesiastes 9:10) And Paul wrote, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart as working for the Lord…” (Colossians 3:23)

Even common ordinary vessels are important in their own way. God has a plan and a purpose for us. It may not be glamorous. It may not make us famous, but that’s not the goal anyway. The goal is to make His name famous. And if He chooses to do that through ordinary means, I’m one of His first volunteers.

 

Alt. headshotAuthor Bio:

Not exactly ordinary, Mary L. Hamilton grew up at a youth camp in southern Wisconsin, much like the setting for her Rustic Knoll Bible Camp series. While raising her own three spectacular children, she was active in her church’s youth ministry, hosting small group Bible studies and pancake suppers. She even volunteered as a camp counselor for a week—and decided once was enough.

When not writing, Mary enjoys ordinary activities like knitting, reading and being outdoors. She and her husband make their home in Texas with a rescued Golden Retriever.

 

Connect with Mary:

Website/blog: http://www.maryhamiltonbooks.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/maryhamiltonbooks

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/@MHamiltonAuthor

 

Book Links:

Hear No Evil, Book 1: http://tinyurl.com/kl5bovo

Speak No Evil, Book 2: http://tinyurl.com/oaleqya

See No Evil: http://amzn.to/1MtOkMj