Friday, August 10, 2018

On Motherhood...and Contentment.


When asked what I wanted to be when I grew up,
My answer was always, "I want to be a mom."
Always.
My mom was a stay-at-home mom and I never imagined doing anything else.
The value of her presence was not lost on me.
So when I became a mother,
There was no question that I would be home with my kids.

When I became a mom, it was MUCH cooler to be a working mom.
Perhaps it hasn't changed much.
Over and over, I was asked, "What do you DO all day?" 
I couldn't answer definitively.
What did I do all day?
Never what I planned to do when I woke up.
The days were a blur of meeting never-ending needs.
And snuggles.
Lots of hugs and sticky kisses.
Which made the messes and tears a lot easier to deal with.
But always the question - asked in a group no less,
"What do you do?"
"I'm a stay-at-home mom."
"Aren't you bored? I could never do that. I have to use my brain." (Yes, that was a real response.)
How does one describe a 24-hour-a-day-with-no-breaks, emotional, exhausting, hilarious, dirty, fun, smelly, sleepless, satisfying, dream job?

When my kids went to school, I had extra time during the day. 
My plan was to look for a job, but I didn't. 
I made work for myself by selling on Ebay and eventually launched a successful business on Etsy.
I made more money at home than I would have made working part-time...and I didn't miss a single track meet or soccer game.
That was the goal.
With my husband's crazy law-enforcement schedule, I wouldn't compromise being available for our kids.
But, I had big dreams for me.
I wanted to be a writer.
I tried to write when my kids were little but I felt the Lord tell me to focus on my kids.
He knew how obsessive I can be when a story takes over.
So I waited.
I obeyed.
I wrote Christmas letters but that was the extent of it.
And then the last kid graduated and I dove right in.
I don't know what will come of what I write, but I trust that God will use it.

I am so thankful that God chose to make me a mother. 
I'm so grateful to my mom for being an beautiful example to me.
I'm thankful for my husband for supporting my desire to be home with our kids.
And I'm grateful for my children - for loving me and honoring my efforts (mistakes and all) by working hard to be the wonderful, successful people they are. I couldn't be prouder.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Christmas in Time: What Will You Do by Kyle Pratt


October is coming and it won't be long before the release of Christmas In Time, Seven Stories of Christmas Through the Ages.

This week Kyle Pratt shares the inspiration for his story: What Will You Do

Pondering the Nativity
The writing of What Will You Do
Most of us are familiar with the birth of Jesus from the biblical account. In Luke, we read that on that first Christmas an angel appeared to shepherds and tells them that the Messiah has been born in Bethlehem. They run to the village and see the baby Jesus.
While that account is beautiful, in both its telling and meaning, I’ve felt for a long time that it’s merely the surface layer of a much deeper story. Why did the angel tell the shepherds? Did Satan know about the birth? Did he try to stop the shepherds or even kill the baby Jesus?
Perhaps I will receive answers to those questions when I stand before God, but probably not while we’re here on Earth. Still, I wonder and, since I'm a writer, I took pen in hand and using the talents God gave me created an answer.
My story, What Will You Do, will appear in the Christmas in Time anthology coming out this October. Between then and now you can read more about both right here. I hope you enjoy my contribution to the anthology along with the other six stories.
Kyle Pratt is the bestselling author of Through Many Fires, A Time to Endure, Braving the Storms, Through the Storm and other books. You can learn more about Kyle on his website, www.kylepratt.me or visit his Facebook home. You can also follow him on Twitter at @KyleonKindle
  


Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Christmas In Time: Two Golden Rings by Heather Morse Alexander



            My great-grandfather owned a grocery store in Montebello, California in the 1930’s and 40’s. It was a difficult time in American history as the country suffered through Great Depression.
            One day a woman came into the store, did her shopping and brought the order to the counter to be tallied. When the time came to pay, she offered her engagement and wedding rings as payment. It was all she had.
            My great-grandfather accepted the rings, but he didn’t sell them to cover her bill—he kept them. He hoped she’d come back and pay him what she owed so he could return the rings to her. Unfortunately, she never did. We still have those rings today. They are a testament to my great-grandfather’s kindness and a witness to the desperation of the times. They represent honor and heartache.

            I wrote Two Golden Rings as a tribute to my great-grandfather.
            Violet Finnigan is a young widow struggling through the Depression with her parents and sisters. Her family is pulled under by a wave of misfortune in the plunging economy. The wealthy and handsome Sam Caldecott sweeps Violet off her feet with his charm, and the potential of financial security. Will Sam rescue her family from the throes of the Depression?
            Two Golden Rings is filled with the same honor and heartache of the tale that inspired it—as well as an abundance of faith and joy. It is one of seven stories in the Christmas In Time anthology coming out in October. I hope my story warms your heart this Christmas. 

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Lightning and Thunder

            One summer evening a thunderstorm loomed on the horizon. I love a distant display of lightning, but the dark clouds were coming my way. Static interrupted the music on the radio as the storm approached.
            It wasn’t long before the flashes of lightning and static became more frequent, the thunder rumbled mere seconds after each flash. It was almost here. I decided to hunker down in the hallway. I felt a little foolish. I’m a grown woman. I like to think I’m fairly brave, but there I sat, knees to my chest, fingers in my ears.
            The flash came as a blinding, white, light and in the same instant, silence. My radio went dead, the lights went out and the silence was deafening—for a millisecond.
            CRASH!
            An intense angry blast jolted the entire house. The windows rattled and the house vibrated as thunder growled across the sky.
            I thought of only one thing.
            What came to my mind in the split second the radio went dead and the house shook was the caricature of a lightning bolt hitting a stick figure from heaven—God striking someone down for disobeying Him. As the windows rattled, my mind raced to the way that our country, our world has rejected God. How angry He must be.
            The bible speaks of the anger and wrath of God.
            But we focus on the kinder, gentler scriptures that speak of His grace and mercy. It seems we sugarcoat our testimony with the sweetness of his lovingkindness. “God loves you, God is gracious, God is kind and merciful”
            All of those things are true.
            That night, as the floor trembled and darkness enveloped me, I felt the power of that bolt of lightning. I felt a tiny minutia of power in comparison to the power of our God. It reminded me that some day, a day that is closer with every moment that passes, He will return and righteously judge us all. When that day comes, will those who have rejected his love and mercy and grace say to us, who knew of the wrath to come, “Why didn’t you tell me about His wrath?”
            Could it be that while some are drawn to him by His love, some will require the fear of God to recognize their need of a Savior?
            Should we be like the man on the street corner holding a sign that says: God’s wrath is coming! No. I don’t think that’s the answer. But perhaps we could season our witness with more of the full truth of His character—sharing the consequences of rejecting God as well as sharing the benefits of accepting His grace and forgiveness. Perhaps in the dark of night, when the radio goes dead and the earth is silent, that knowledge will seal in someone’s heart the need for a Savior and will cause some who are lost to be found.

Revelation 6:15-16
Then the kings of the earth and the great ones and the generals and the rich and the powerful, and everyone, slave and free, hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains, calling to the mountains and rocks, "Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb."

But wait... 2 Peter 3:9 says, The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Beauty Marks

            Six years ago, we turned our rarely-used tiny living and dining rooms into one big den. My dad and I worked together to make a built-in cabinet and bookshelves. We measured the room into oblivion and went to a lumberyard to pick out the boards. My dad wanted me to pick clear wood, free of knots and “scars” as he called them. I couldn’t. I liked the interesting knots and scars. He reluctantly agreed to let a few slip into the mix, figuring we could work around them.
            As we got busy ripping the boards, we disagreed about which boards should compose the top and most visible parts of the cabinet. I liked the imperfections. They added interest and color and life to the piece. He saw them as blemishes, ugly warts that would take away from the beauty. It occurred to me that I could rename them and perhaps persuade him from shunning the boards I preferred. I began to call the imperfections “beauty marks”.
            By the time we were finished, he learned that arguing the superiority of clear wood was lost on me. I only saw beauty and he wasn’t about to convince me otherwise. He admitted, once the piece was installed, that it was particularly beautiful, blemishes and all.  I made the above sign to hang in his shop as a reminder.

            Perfection is nowhere to be found in this world. We strive for it, we think we find it occasionally, but it’s doesn’t exist. We won’t see it until we get to heaven. Clear wood may be stronger, more desirable, easier to work with, but imperfection is beautiful, interesting and unique. We all have blemishes—visible and invisible scars from the wounds of living life. It’s time we see them as beauty marks—the evidence of lessons learned and trials endured. Evidence of the faithfulness of God.

Monday, June 18, 2018

My Greatest Source of Inspiration is...(drumroll please)

Aren't they FUN!?!!?
I recently revealed a few of the places I find inspiration.
It wasn't a complete list and I left out a biggie...(on purpose)
Vintage Photos.
I love them so much.
Snapshots are my favorite although sometimes you can find a very funny portrait.
This guy is thinking about the wedding night...
Photo booth photos hold a special place in my heart.
They are usually taken in fun...or while drunk.
Oh, the stories hiding in those tiny gems.
Which is why I love photos so much, they hint at a story.
Sometimes they inspire a character.
Isn't this lady just the SWEETEST?
They help me to think outside the box.
What's going on in this photo?
How did that boy get a shiner?
What is that woman doing in that tree?
Why are those people so close to that bear?
Nothing inspires a story like a three-year old having a tea party on the roof.
So many questions that only my imagination can answer because I have no idea what the real story is.
Is Great Aunt Helga evil or is little Suzy a tyrant? 
I've spent the past several days (weeks, actually) cleaning out my studio.
My collection of vintage photos must have the ability to reproduce because I certainly didn't buy all of those photos! (or maybe I did)
These might be full of photos...maybe...
Sometimes I buy photos individually,
But often I'll buy boxes of them.
When I get home, I set aside the ones I really, really like for myself.
This is where I keep my very favorites...
I like funny, curious, "what the heck is going on here" types of photos.
I have quite an interesting collection.
A HUGE COLLECTION. (translate: thousands of photos)
Many scenes in my novel are inspired by vintage photographs.
The expressions, the scenery, the simplicity of a time gone by...so much inspiration.

In my messy studio are thousands of stories just waiting to be written.
I'd better get busy!