Blogs

5 authors in 5 days & How They’ve Inspired Me: #1 Janette Oke

  Janette Oke is an icon in her field! I grew up LOVING to read, and as much as I’d like to say that I’m well-read, probably I’m not. I pretty much stuck to the one genre: christian historical romance. My gateway book was Janette Oke’s Roses for Mama. It was a gift from my Aunt Belinda one Christmas when I was about thirteen or so. Before that it’d been The Babysitters Club and Sweet Valley Twins all the way, baby (anyone…anyone?).  Roses for Mama was the first “grown-up” book I can remember reading, and once I did, I was hooked! And fortunately for me, I had a mother who had a whole shelf full of them. It was like finding a gold mine!

I quickly read through Janette Oke’s entire Love Comes Softly, Canadian West, and Seasons of the Heart series, as well as singles such as A Woman Named Damaris and Julia’s Last Hope… It was through these books that I realized I loved historical fiction. Contemporary fiction has its appeal, but for me, the historical element just adds that adventurous bit of flavor that I find myself seeking out again and again.

Now, that I write historical fiction, myself, I’ve had people comment, “Wow, you must love history.” …meaning, do I love learning about history in general? Um, surprisingly, not so much, but I’m getting there. For example, after reading a series about Pirates sailing the seas around Port Royal, I didn’t immediately rush over to the library to learn all I could about that time or place… But just this last year when I read Gideon’s Call by Peter Leavelle, a book set just after the Civil War in the Carolinas–near Port Royal–I was like, “What?! Port Royal’s near the U.S. coast? Or is it? I have no idea–how do I not know this?!” Since then, I’ve been wanting to go pick up a book on the history of Port Royal. I haven’t yet…but like I said–I’m getting there 🙂

My husband, on the other hand, will download podcasts on Rome and the Carthaginians just because, and will listen to them while he woodworks in his spare time. And thank God for him, because it’s comments from him that really spur me on to do the kind of research I ought to.

Eg. I read him a  chapter from my first book (pre-release, of course), and it had my character being served tea. “Woa, woa, woa,” he says. “They can’t be drinking tea.” I roll my eyes, because everyone knows the English drink tea. Then he continues, “Tea originated in China, and it hasn’t made it to England yet…oh, and Velena’s brother being in Jerusalem won’t work either because Jerusalem was closed to outsiders during that time.” What?! Who’s writing this book, him or me??? 🙂 That would be a resounding “us!” haha. Well, at least he’s a great big help and I love him to pieces for it.

So, who else out there has read Janette Oke’s books? Do you have a favorite? …and is that even possible 😉 It’s been years since I’ve read anything by her…any recommendations of her newer stuff that I should read, now? How are the co-authored books she’s written with her daughter? I regret to say I haven’t read any of those.

YouTube interview with Janette Oke. So, what do you think of her writing?

 

My Inbox is EMPTY

Do you ever just feel like you’re floundering through your day–jumping from one task to another without any true gratification? I mean, as busy wives and mothers, how can we find the joy in spending all of our time putting out life’s small fires, when once they’re out, we’re still left staring at the foamy mess the fire extinguisher left behind–figuratively speaking, of course.

Well, this is how I feel most of the time…except that I just fire proofed a tiny little corner of my world. I need pie and an e-book from my kindle wish list to celebrate. Everyone go to your rooms so mommy can celebrate in silence. Hehe.

I was browsing on FB when I came across an ad promising to de-clutter my life. It was a free webinar that gives just enough info to wet your appetite, and then the price for the full program. I knew that going in so no biggie…pretty standard. So, although, I would have loved to have paid for the full thing, the free stuff was actually very helpful. And I love love love anything that is helpful to my everyday way of being. Existing in clutter sucks! …and I mean that of mental clutter as well. In fact, I mean that more so for mental clutter.

If my head is a jumbled mess of have to’s and need to’s, and a thousand ideas that I want to implement but haven’t, what good is that. I had to clear a pathway through my cluttered hallway, for instance, but all I could think about was that email my publisher sent me with the document I needed to edit. I want to edit that document…I NEED to edit that document, but it’s in my…….inbox. And I can’t start editing until I find it. My brain starts whispering, what if you can’t find it? I know I can find it. What if you accidently deleated it? Don’t be absurd! It’s too important. There are a million emails coming in from your publisher, what if you grab the wrong one and start editing the wrong document? It could happen. Shut up, shut up, shut up! Is this paragraph getting creepy yet…I’ll jump to another one 😉

Anyway, one thing I learned from el free webinar was, if you’re not getting something done, then figure out what the problem is and what steps you need to accomplish in order to fix it. Make a list of every step down to its most minute detail so that you find something you can’t help but do now. Eg. I need to open that email. I can’t open that email until I organize my inbox because it’s stressing me out. I can’t organize my inbox until I can sit at my desk, which is to messy. I can’t clean my desk until I figure out a place for all of those papers. Can’t organize papers until I get to Walmart and buy some folders, etc etc…. can’t do any of this until I get a baby sitter because I don’t want to take the kids. So what’s the first step to getting to that email??? Pick a day and hire a baby-sitter. Sound crazy? …perhaps. But if that’s the way your brain works, then that’s the way your brain works. In my case, my desk was not messy, and I have a wonderful husband, so I just waited until my husband put the kids to bed, I ignored my messy kitchen, didn’t put the food away, and sat down to create all of the virtual folders I needed in my email to stay sane. But you get the point. My favorite folder is labeled A-Get It Done. This is where I put the emails that I need to deal with now (the “A” keeps it at the top of my list so it’s always visually in front of me).

inboxIf I knew I’d get such a high from emptying my inbox, I’d have done it long ago…maybe, haha. Getting a moment to myself to perform such a task is often not the priority of the day, but sometimes you just have to make it one. So now my brain is happy, and that email… I know exactly where it is!!! Have I opened it? hahaha I still need to find my moment of quiet to edit my document properly, so that is an entirely new problem I will have to work out to its easiest step. I may have to call that baby-sitter after all…or send Aaron and the kids out for some dessert so that I can find my quiet…and so they can bring me back some pie 😉

Thanks for sticking with me guys! This post was a bit long-winded just to say that I emptied my inbox…but I’m just so HAPPY! But since you’re here, I want to remind you that the second book in my Walk With Me series will be coming out soon. So make a mental note, A Little While Longer coming to a computer near you! Amazon baby! Or better yet, subscribe to my website and make an email folder to put my updates into. It’ll make your brain happy…just sayin.

If you haven’t read the first book, Beneath Outstretched Arms, it’s available in hard back or kindle version (only $3.49).

 

Homeschool Day 1

Well, today happened 🙂 That’s about the most I can say for it, haha. I chalk it up to a success, but it turned out nothing like I’d envisioned. Absolutely nothing like I’d envisioned. I feel as though that statement merited repeating.

I had all the time in the world to plan… and I did. And I think that because I did, and because I had my new systems in place, it was the only reason today was not a total waste. Well, that and God. He is a very present help in times of trouble, so I’m never alone in that respect. Not even today. But seriously, today makes me laugh.

Here’s what I wanted to happen:

~wake up to a clean house

~have my morning devotions and pray time as usual

~leisurely breakfast

~complete our awesome morning box

~complete all of our school work (good attitudes would have been a plus, though not required…I’m an optimist not an idiot)

Here’s what happened:

~got home from my parents house too late last night to clean the house and do my last minute prep work, so I settled for the prep work… house was a disaster.

~Just before I turned in, my 3 year old woke up crying. Her runny nose had turned into the croup and she was having a hard time breathing. Out came the Vicks and essential oils. I made her honey peppermint tea while Aaron held her in bathroom with the shower running so the steam could loosen up the phlegm. After finally throwing it up, she slept on one couch in the living room, and I on the other.

~I did not get up at 6am for my devotions (having stayed up much of the night), but at 8am (didn’t do my devotions) when my husband came down and went out back to read his Bible.

~We did eat breakfast together, but we barely touched our morning basket, as the kids began going in four different directions in regards to their school work and what they wanted to start working on.

~I stayed in my jammies till noon before getting a shower.

Despite all of this…here are the lovely blessings I received from the moment I opened my sand filled eyes…

~When Aaron opened the back door, a cool breezed drifted in over me. We live in the desert, so this is significant. It wasn’t just “not hot” …it was actually cool! It was wonderful and it brought a smile to my face.

~As I came out of my coma, I watched as Justus (8yr old) brought his laundry to the washing machine without me asking (he didn’t put them in, but baby steps people)…then he pulled out his three ringed binder and asked what he needed to do first (before you think he’s perfect…said boy is still the only one not done with his work and it’s after dinner, lol).

~Despite our messy house and late start on school, today was Labor Day, and Aaron stuck around downstairs with us as long as I needed him…happily helping me with the kids school work.

~We had no plans today at all, so it really didn’t matter how long school took us…and so we had plenty of time to gawk at the little caterpillars and baby lady bugs we got from our co-op last night.

I can’t exactly say that I want a repeat of today, but all in all, it was a day well spent. I was able to take note of some weaknesses in our school work and schedule that I can attend to. My only concern is that I’m now too tired to clean up for tomorrow, lol. But again, on the up side…school work for the week is planned out, so there’s no excuses for not doing that. My 10 yr old even worked ahead so she’d have less work to do tomorrow 🙂 My only real prayer is that Vienna is able to breath easily as she sleeps tonight. Everything else will fall into place. I’m not sure what place…but it’ll fall somewhere 🙂

I hope that all of you other homeschooling moms out there can always see the good along with the bad 🙂 Wait for the blessings, and listen for all of the whispers of love that drift by when you least expect them. We can do this!

Day 2, look out… here we come!!!

14269474_303934539971328_1988192137_n

P.S. I am trying to get my Saturday homeschool planning day videos out, but I am still having technical troubles…so when I can, I will. Until then, have a great week!!!

A Garage Sale of Thoughts

So, these last two weeks have truly been an adventure for the mind. I had promised to post on Mondays and Thursdays, but last week I felt spread thin. I do not mean that I was experiencing stress in any way, but rather that I had a million different thoughts that would have looked better laid out on garage sale tables then typed onto my computer.

I was still in the midst of experiencing them…and I wasn’t ready to share. Yet, if you could have talked with me, and asked, “A penny for your thoughts,” I could have easily handed you one and rambled on about it for a good while. Why was that, I wonder?

Have you ever been under construction? The kind of construction that makes you mentally pause because you know something important is happening and you don’t want to miss it. The kind that prompts you to pick up that metaphorical bag of nails, and watch in awe as God starts adding on to your soul. Well, I have an entire west wing now, ya’ll.

Sort of weird to explain I know, but seriously I’m more ready for this school year…if not life in general, than I’ve ever been ready before.  So much so, that I have to bullet point my progress or else this blog would far exceed the 500 words I need for my Write 500 Words A Day for 30 Days challenge (yes, I’m doing another challenge, and it’s not my only one 😉 ).

-After my blogging challenge, I joined a 30 Days of Prayer for Your Homeschool Challenge, and it has blessed my socks off 🙂 I’ve never been one to have a consistent quiet time/prayer time in the morning, but just before this particular challenge, I had decided to read one chapter in my Bible every morning after my hubby left for work… 6:30ish am. It lasted all of 15 min. Then after I started the challenge…reading more verses, receiving prayer prompts, still doing my chapter and praying for the other moms in the fb group page, I am easily on the couch until 9:00am…which is crazy! Usually, it would be easy for me to rail on the ills of social media, but the Lord has used it mightily in my  life!

-I’ve been following two blogs: Raising Clovers and The End In Mind… and I have now completely redone my homeschool organizing and anxiously await online pep talks in the form of “vlogs.”

-My husband and I had our annual 11 year argument about me getting up to make him breakfast (long, long story), which resulted this year in my now getting up at 6 instead of 6:30 to eat breakfast with him and see him off to work…and I have a good attitude about it 🙂 this time!!! (un-heard of)

-I found an online 10 min pregnancy yoga video series on Youtube that now has me stretching and feeling loosy goosy. I know this isn’t that “spiritual” of a thing (depending on how into it you are), but for me, it’s about being disciplined in taking care of myself…physically, spiritually, mentally…in my marriage…

-Moving on!.. Last week, I completely lost it with my daughter and berated her for something that I could have just been frustrated about, and then raised my heart in praise to God. Do you know why?????? Because it felt so completely foreign, that’s why. I’ve always had a fairly big temper… much exacerbated by children… and have spent many a day crying out to the Lord in repentance over it. It seemed unfixable. Then last week happened and I realized that I hadn’t yelled like that in I couldn’t tell you when. It was no longer the norm. Realizing this sent me over the moon in happiness. …so I apologized to my daughter (lots of hugs and kisses), and then walked around the house with a silly smile plastered on my face because I am changed!

True, I don’t start homeschooling the kids until after Labor Day….that will head a whole new routine/set of emotions to our day.

True, we just joined a new homeschooling co-op and don’t know what kind of a fit it will be yet… though it seems great, and I have really high hopes.

True, my brother and sister in law are moving into town in a month and we haven’t been that close (in the same city) ever, and I can’t help wondering what this new dynamic will bring… I’m excited!

And true, I know that life still isn’t perfect… but I’ve never expected it to be this side of Heaven.

This I know, though. I’ve received a life lift. It’s like a face lift, only instead of gaining a new face, I’ve gained a new outlook. Hard days are coming, and testing often follows days of ease, but if the Lord has been doing in me what I think He has…He’s made me ready.

Accept the good with the bad…or the bad with the good, as the case may be. Accept the Lord’s testing, and his gifts… keep your hands open ALWAYS!!! He will take things out and put things in. His will is accomplished regardless, but it’s so much easier on the soul when we willingly accept it. Blessings… and in everything give thanks!

14159720_301938930170889_2135580079_n

 

What’s a “Job” day?

Have you ever heard that expression before? “It’s such a Job day.” I don’t mean “Job” as in job, as in go get a job. But “Job” as in the Biblical man mentioned in the book of Job in the Bible. Okay, just making sure we’re on the same page.

I think this must be a fairly old expression, because I remember them having Anne Shirley use it in the movie Anne of Green Gables, while Marilla rolled her eyes at her.

I bring this up (and maybe I shouldn’t because I’m still processing) because I have been contemplating a few things that at first seemed random, but on closer examination…not so random at all (they never are, of course).

So that new car we were just gifted…the pretty burnt orange one, it’s dead. We had to get it towed the day after getting its plates, insurance, and whatever else my hubby did at the DMV. I sort of rolled my eyes when I received the text from my husband that said, “do we still have towing?” Oh great, I thought. Seriously! The Lord just gave us this car! We didn’t have to pay a thing! I had just written a blog in which I gushed and gushed over His goodness to us, and now it won’t even start. I mean, we laid hands on it as a family and everything, thanking the Lord for His provision…and we’re not even Pentecostal, ya’ll (I’m not southern either, for that matter, lol).

At this point, you probably wouldn’t have faulted me for saying, “Lord, what’s going on? I thought this was from you.” But… actually I didn’t. This surprised me as much as anyone. My first thought was actually, “The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away,” lol.

Seriously, though, I picked my husband up in my mother’s vehicle (because how funny would it have been if I took our van and it decided to die also…because it has been whenever it feels the need to) and we went to Walmart to get computer ink, cereal and graham crackers…and we just laughed. We decided since we didn’t have the kids with us, it was kind of like a date, so I bought Oreos too. This is where my husband reminded me that nothing happening to us was at all random.

You see, first our four bikes were stolen (this was only a couple of weeks ago), so we filed a claim with our insurance and are awaiting the results of that. Next, our van starting stranding us all over town, so Aaron’s been tinkering with that. Finally, we received this wonderful gift of a car from the Lord (I have no doubts it was from Him still), but then it died. And I mean died! The timing belt snapped and it would cost more to fix than we were willing to buy it for pretty much…so by by pretty car.

All this and I’m not mad…and I’m so taken aback by that. In fact, I was in the shower this morning thanking the Lord for everything He was doing for us, when I suddenly remember the car, and started laughing that I wasn’t mad about it. Why?! I’m so confused why I’m not having a pity party right now…why I’m not crying out that I’m having such a “Job Day”…or month for that matter, but on the contrary, I’m filled with so much joy. I can only credit all of this to Him, because I feel as though my normal response would be to stress…and in some moments I have, but He has refused to leave me in that place. So I think, maybe He wants us to have no vehicles and stay home a whole bunch more, lol. Maybe there will be a giant car pile up on the road and we’ll miss it because we have no car! It makes me want to yell, “Hey Lord, we have a motorcycle too, You know. Don’t forget about that,” and then stand back and wait for Him to do His thing. Because you know what….His thing is not to take things away.

The book of Job is not about our God making bets with the Devil and taking things away. It’s about His sovereignty over all things!…and that we can trust in Him. This just hit me today, as I sat fearful on the floor wondering if He would take the motorcycle next, because though I didn’t dwell on it, to be honest, it did cross my mind. I even started to have a little panic attack when Aaron took the kids on an errand in our van, hoping that it wouldn’t stall out and get them in a huge accident. So, not every moment of my day has been trust, trust, trust…but then Lord reminded me about Job. Job didn’t do anything to deserve to have all of his worldly possessions taken away…it wasn’t his fault. Neither, is there anything I can do, or not do, to end this crazy month…or to see it last into tomorrow. It’s not about the stuff. God owns all of that. He gave us a $1500 dollar car for free in a day…and three days later it wasn’t worth the parking lot it stalled out on. Nothing is out of His reach.

Everyday, I could be fearful that something could be taken away. But then it hits me. Nothing has ever been secure in my hands…ever!!!! Nothing has ever come to me by my own means…outside of the grace of God. So we trust…and thank him that we’ve had our van as long as we have, and that it ran today just fine.

I still feel a bit like I’m on Blue’s Clues, pulling out my handy dandy notebook, and trying to figure out what it all will look like in the end. I’m still crying out for a few more clues, because I think we must still be a little bit dense as to His intentions. I mean, I didn’t ask for a free car, so His giving it to us and then taking it away must have been for some other reason than for us to have had it…was that confusing? Right, that’s why I need another clue.

But I cannot fear my God…I can’t be afraid of Him and serve Him at the same time. I read that somewhere, though I couldn’t tell you where, and it has stuck with me.

One last crazy example. Prior to this pregnancy I’ve had two miscarriages in a row. I won’t go into the emotions of those right now, except to say that with the second (which was farther along than the first), I kept wondering why the Lord was taking away a perfectly happy, healthy baby from me. Then the pathology report came back…it was a chromosomal defect. Had I carried to term, it could have been extremely non-functioning. The Lord took my baby to be with Him. It was a mercy, not a curse.

We were going to spend $1500 on a car that might have been okayed by the mechanic because he might not have been able to tell the timing belt was about to break…but God knew. He also knew we were set on buying it…so He may have given it to us for free, because He knew it was a dud, and He graciously wasn’t willing that we spend that money for nothing. Just sayin… why do we always see the gray and not the silver lining?

I don’t know if this was the reason, only that my God is good…and a good God gives good gifts. …and life lessons that make us stronger count as one of those. 🙂 Hope this encourages some of you who might be having “Job days” yourselves. So, God bless you if you are. It’s an opportunity to trust!

clouds-silver-lining

 

Homeschool Ready…steady as we go.

Happy Sunday everyone. I know that Saturday was to be my normal day for posting, but it was supposed to be a video blog and I had the most difficult time figuring things out.

I made two videos because the first one only played sideways, and the second one upside down. I finally turned to Google and figured out how to flip them upright.

Then I tried to upload it directly to this page…but again Google suggested that it was better to use a third party to embed the video instead, like YouTube or Vimeo. Still, with doing that, I had to go to bed by the time things were said and done and it’s been over two hours and my video still hasn’t fully uploaded to YouTube… and it’s not that long. Maybe ten minutes.

So today’s blog, which should have been yesterday’s, does have my “Homeschool Ready” video, but it is also a cry for help 🙂 If anyone else out there makes regular videos or vlogs and posts them, is there a more efficient way to get this done? Any help would be…you know, helpful. 🙂

Tip #1 to myself. Smile before pressing play on the camera so your still image isn’t a funny one, lol.