Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Do The Next Thing Devotion

Thanks to all of you who stop by today after reading my "Do The Next Thing" devotion. Some of you will remember this ran originally as a blog post here. When I got a good response from you all, it convinced me I should format it as a devotion. I love when that works out because that way I know that what I wrote hit home with someone already!

As for me, my "next thing" is writing, writing and more writing-- finishing up the speaker book edits and making changes that were recommended to me in my critique group at the Colorado Christian Writers' Conference. This is still leeching into how much blogging time I get. But I am still optimistic that I will be back soon! My self-imposed deadline is June 1 for finishing up the changes to the manuscript... so until then I might be hit or miss.

Just for fun, leave a comment and share what your "next thing" is right now. Whether it's exercising, changing a diaper, signing a permission slip or running an errand there's never a shortage of "next things" to attend to in the lives of women... that's for sure! Thanks for visiting with me today!
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Monday, May 25, 2009

Write At Home: Interview With Ann Voskamp

Don't miss my interview with popular and inspiring blogger, Ann Voskamp over at Heart of The Matter. If you have been reading my blog for any length of time, you know that I read her blog faithfully and have long been fascinated with her philosophy on homeschooling and life. I was thrilled to be able to pick her brain about being a writing mom. I hope you enjoy her thoughts and that she inspires you to chase after your dreams, whatever those dreams may be!
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Sunday, May 24, 2009

A Memorial Day Hodgepodge Post

What says Memorial Day better than a big ole ice cream sundae?? This one features me and my daughter! How cool is that?? The other day while the kids were testing I ran to the grocery store with two of my children. We were delighted to see a big Smuckers truck outside giving away mini ice cream sundaes, bags of coupons, and even taking these cute pictures. It was a fun little surprise in the midst of an ordinary Wednesday. I thought it would be fun to share here. Thanks for indulging me.
(Want to know if the Sundae Tasting Tour is coming near you? Just go here.)
What are you doing for Memorial Day? We are having people over for a cookout. Hamburgers, hot dogs, baked beans, chips. watermelon, with... what else? Ice cream with hot fudge for dessert! All foods that remind me of my favorite season... summertime! Our neighborhood pool is officially open and summer is in the air.
I hope to blog more this week than I did last... thanks for your patience. I cut and pasted this quote from Elizabeth Foss' blog because it was so fitting:

...My life is not my own. My writing is not my own. It's the bubbling
up of what's happening here and what's happening here is not conducive to
contemplative musings...

That's the truth for me as well. With some writing deadlines and other life stuff, I am not feeling the freedom to blog as much as I want to. But that doesn't mean I won't. I will find the time, or make the time. And when I can't, I know you guys will understand, as you are living similar lives. But I know I will continue to blog because I love it. Blogging provides an outlet and an accounting of the many moments that make up my life. If for nothing else, I blog for the sake of preserving a bit of the zanyness that is my life. It all goes by so fast. If I didn't have blogging to help me notice things, to slow things down to a manageable speed, I could miss it all together. And, to quote Aerosmith, I don't want to miss a thing.
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Saturday, May 23, 2009

Good News For Thirtysomething Fans

This is good news! I have been waiting for YEARS for this to happen. Best of all, it will be released while I still qualify as thirtysomething...,0,2834407.story

If you used to love it, now you can own it. If you never watched it but are married with children now, plan to watch it. It's just good tv.
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Wednesday, May 20, 2009


Sorry if I am missing in action around here this week! Between getting rightside up after my trip and needing to do the final round of edits for The Reason We Speak, I am busier than usual and feeling the pinch. Today I am sitting at the library while my kids are tested for our state mandated standardized tests. Thank goodness for laptop computers and great children's sections to keep my other kids occupied! The testing process takes three hours between the two kids so we are a captive audience!

I shall return with lots to say-- I might not be writing right now, but you can bet I am composing blog posts in my head for the future. See you back here very soon!
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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Learning To Live Financially Free Book Review

Our book was reviewed over at Five Minutes For Books. Thanks guys for your kind words! Head over here to read it and to enter for your chance to win a copy!
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Monday, May 18, 2009

The Colorado Christian Writer's Conference

A shot of the Contemporary Christian Women's Fiction Clinic, led by award-winning writer Susan Meissner. A small group of us spent lots of time together learning about being better fiction writers.

I had a great time at the conference. It was a wonderful time of instruction, introspection, and inspiration. The longer I was there, the more I understood why I have heard that you should attend writers' conferences if you possibly can. My time there was spent not just receiving input and critique on my writing, but also working on the craft and, most importantly, fellowshipping with other writer types. Writers are an odd bunch-- so to have a place where you can talk to others who think like you and see the world like you is more important and energizing than I realized.

One of my new clinic friends took this photo of me outside one day before clinic. Thanks Lori!
A shot of the majestic Rocky Mountains in Estes Park, CO. We were surrounded by breathtaking beauty everywhere we looked.

Wind River Lodge, where we stayed.

Elk sightings are quite common on the property. They are very at home around humans. These walked right outside our patio one evening and I snapped a photo. Notice that even the bulldozers and construction equipment didn't deter them!

When I left at 6:30 am yesterday morning to catch my shuttle to the airport, I was the only human being around. I snapped these photos of three elk just grazing in the parking lot!

And here's a blurry close up-- it took my breath away how close I was standing to these wild creatures... and I was all alone so that was pretty scary if truth be told! What if they decided to use those horns??

Here's the obligatory photo of me and Susan Meissner. She's a great teacher and helped me a lot with my writing. She showed us how to structure a novel in a way that made complete sense! Thanks Susan! I had a blast getting to know her, as I have long respected her work and now feel like I know Susan the woman, not just Susan the writer. Let's just say the writing comes from a very beautiful heart.

Me (looking tired) and my roomie (and fellow P31 speaker team member) Suzie Eller (who still looked quite perky, you will notice). We had not spent much time together prior to this conference, but I have to say we had a great time together and I count her as one of my good friends now. Thanks Suzie for your late night counseling sessions, your enthusiasm and encouragement, and for just being a great roomie! Can't wait til She Speaks when we will see each other again!

If you have ever thought of going to a writer's conference, I highly recommend going. It's not for the faint of heart and it's not a place to go and get stroked for your expertise. It's a humbling and stretching experience. I lost heart several times and had to rely on the friends I made there to pick me up, dust me off, and set me back on course several times. I will never forget the ladies in my clinic and can't wait to see the books that come from them in the future. I will never forget the friends I made on the shuttle ride over and sitting around meal tables throughout the conference, and I can't wait to see what God is going to do in and through their writing lives. I will never forget the opportunities God provided for me during this past week-- opportunity to talk about writing, to learn about writing, to connect with other writers, and to get away and hear from Him about writing. It was time well spent and I am already scheming about how I can go back next year, and maybe attend some other conferences in the future!

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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

From "No" To "Now"

Last winter I won a scholarship to attend a writers conference that I have always wanted to go to. I was ecstatic and began planning my trip. But the more I researched the details of the trip, the more the costs seem to add up that I was going to be responsible for. As I prayed about it, I felt God telling me not to go. I truly thought that it was because it was not a wise use of our money at that time, because we were still not out of debt, nor had our house sold. So, I accepted God's "no" but wasn't thrilled about it either. Just being honest...

A few months later, I broke my foot. (Some of you will remember that chapter in my life.) I will never forget the day I went to the doctor and looked at the date on the calendar. It was the same day I was to leave for the writers' conference! God had not been telling me no because of the money... (Why do I always feel compelled to supply Him with reasons??) He knew I wasn't going to be able to go because of something I couldn't foresee, but He could! I was so glad I listened to His prompting and saved myself some extra chaos.

A few months after that, I found out about another writers' conference that a friend and I wanted to go to. She and I hatched a plan and I took the idea to Curt. He felt that it was a good idea for me to go, as one of my favorite writers was going to be there and I could get a 15 minute critique appointment with her. Since I was a few chapters into writing a fiction novel, we felt that was a good place to start finding out if I had what it takes. But as I began to pray about the trip, again I felt God telling me "no." What was the deal?? Was He just against me going to all writers' conferences? Was He trying to let me down easy because I didn't have what it takes? (Again with the reasons...) Sadly I informed my friend that I couldn't go. I was pretty down about it to be honest.

Then this winter I got another opportunity to apply again for that same scholarship from the year before. This time I researched the flight costs beforehand and the other fees I would be responsible for. While it still wasn't cheap, we were no longer in debt (glory hallelujah!) and had moved so things were different from one year earlier. I applied for the scholarship, never thinking I would win again... but I did! And guess what? That writer that I wanted the 15 minute critique appointment with? She was going to be there... teaching a six hour clinic with just six other ladies! I applied for the clinic and was accepted to that as well. That was a very cool little arrangement and I thanked God for it. I couldn't stop smiling.

In a few hours I will board a plane to CO, flying cross country to do something I have dreamed about for a long time. When I look back on those other two trips I wanted so badly, I see that it just wasn't the right time for many reasons. I see that God was saving me from wasting time, effort and money when He told me "no." I see that this time He has flung open the doors, whispering to my heart, "Now."

Was it easy to hear "no" those other times? No! Did I want to surrender my agenda and trust His? No! I want the control, baby! But I am glad I waited on Him. Because He had something so much better in store. This trip my agent will be there. I get to room with one of the P31 speaker team members I don't know very well. That writer (Susan Meissner, I am not trying to be cryptic) will be there-- and instead of a fast 15 minutes, I get 6 hours! And I am going with an actual fiction manuscript this time... something I didn't have those other times. I see His protective hand on me-- not bullying me or controlling me as some would paint it. But guiding me, steering me in the direction that matches His will and His plan.

If you are hearing "no" about something right now, please don't let that shatter your dreams or deter you from hope. Accept the no and then tell your Abba Father that you can't wait to see what that "no" is going to lead to! Set your sights on the future and go confidently towards it, knowing that Your Daddy has a good and perfect plan for you. A plan that involves some no's... but that also leads to fabulous "nows" in the future!

(I will be gone through Sunday evening so expect an update about my time at the Colorado Christian Writers' Conference early next week! I appreciate your prayers for me and my family while I am gone! Thanks y'all!)
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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Free Forms To Get Organized

Have you been planning to do some spring cleaning around your house? Is spring slipping by without that happening? This free downloadable form might be just the ticket to get you motivated! (Shhh! It's really a chore list to help you assign spring cleaning to your kids! Beautiful plan!)

And for those spring and summer birthdays you have coming up, here's a form to help you plan those.

I just love forms and the illusion of being organized that come with them! Don't you?
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Monday, May 11, 2009

The Simple Woman's Daybook: Monday, May 11th

Outside my window... it's raining. Ugh.

I am thinking... about all the things I need to do before I leave on Wednesday.

From the learning rooms... wrapping up a year of learning. Only a few days left til our end of the year testing! There are decisions to be made about a new year on the horizon. Time to get out all those catalogs I love so much! Last week I hosted ladies from my church who homeschool and we spread out our favorite curriculum for a show and tell time. It was great fun if you are into that sort of thing, which I totally am! Thanks to our conversations, I think I am close to a decision about what we will use next year and am looking forward to hitting a large used curriculum sale at the end of this month as well.

I am thankful for... a great weekend with friends and family.

From the kitchen... easy, no-fuss meals this week. Am thinking of making these for breakfasts or snacks. Yum!

I am wearing... my "Modest is Hottest" tee shirt, grey track pants-- I will do my 35 minutes on the treadmill later so this is my workout attire.

I am reading... I just read Happens Every Day, a heartbreaking nonfiction book about the dissolution of a marriage. Next I am starting Moon Shell Beach by Nancy Thayer. With the feel of summer in the air, I am in the mood for a good beach read!

I am hoping... that my trip this week is every bit as awesome as I have imagined.

I am creating... nothing but a clean house and a happy childhood for my kids. I am on a project hiatus after finishing up my spring speaking season and turning in the second edits on The Reason We Speak. It feels good to have a drastically shortened to-do list.

I am praying... for God to speak to me while I am on my trip this week. I am looking forward to time to hear from Him and press into Him away from the noise and distractions (as much as I love my little noise makers!) of home.

Around the house... laundry, dishes and meals... the usual.

One of my favorite things... the month we are in, the glorious month of May!

A few plans for the rest of the week... we're back to nightly swim team practices, a new friend is coming over on Monday, an old friend is visiting me on Tuesday, I leave for my trip to the Colorado Christian Writers' Conference on Wednesday, returning on Sunday.

Here is a picture thought I am sharing with you...

Some of our salt dough creations-- teddy bears, a bunny, a heart (this was a gift for a friend who was going through a rough time) and a snake. The three yo put so many coats of pink paint on her bunny that it made the baked salt dough mushy again. He had to "disappear" when she wasn't looking. Glad we have the pictures!
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Sunday, May 10, 2009

A Day To See The Roses

More than this
You know there's nothing
More than this...
Bryan Ferry, "More Than This"

My Mother's Day began with the smell of bacon waking me up. I followed my nose to the kitchen, where I discovered my husband making strawberry pancakes, which I enjoyed immensely. After breakfast, we got ready and headed to church. Service was great, as usual. After service, we headed home to eat leftovers... I know, how anticlimatic. But it was my choice as my morning indulgence in pancakes left me unable to think of eating a big lunch out. After lunch the question was: what do we do now? I mentioned wanting to visit the McGill Rose Garden, as I had gotten an email earlier in the week saying that they were having their annual Mother's Day garden celebration, which is free! Curt liked the sound of that, so we loaded everyone (except the 16 yo who is 1) too cool for rose gardens and 2) working on a paper for school) in the van and trekked downtown (or uptown as some prefer) to stop and smell the roses.

Our family-- we found a generous man to take our photo

Curt and me-- both squinting into the bright sunlight

Musical entertainment for garden visitors

This train car is parked in the middle of the garden, surrounded by roses. The kids had to climb on the train!

Unique sculptures sit in parts of the garden

I loved this "4th of July" variety of rose, with the red and white striped blooms

A view of part of the garden

In the middle of the urban city landscape lies this oasis of beauty. We enjoyed seeing the thousands of roses and appreciating the colorful display. It was something different to do for Mother's Day and seemed fitting to spend time amongst flowers, celebrating the time we have together as a family and making a unique memory for all of us. I know this is one Mother's Day I will always remember... not because we spent a lot of money or went to a fancy restaurant, but because we spent time together and appreciated how precious that is. My 12 yo son said to me as we were walking through the garden, "All these roses remind me of what Uncle Bob said at Stephanie's wedding. How some people look at roses and say 'It's too bad they have thorns.' But instead we can say, 'Isn't it great that thorns have roses.'"
I guess that's what Mother's Day is all about... a day to see the roses. Motherhood is a tough job-- there will always be plenty of thorns. As a mom I can see the thorns or I can focus on the roses. As I walked through the garden with these people who made me a mom, I saw roses everywhere I looked. And the most beautiful ones weren't the ones growing in the ground.
PS. We weren't the only ones to enjoy the roses. Click here to see a slideshow from our newspaper.

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Friday, May 08, 2009

Great Resource

I found these great podcasts put out by Sonlight. This is free information that you can listen to and glean from. If you are a homeschooler, or are thinking about or planning to start homeschooling, check these out!
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Thursday, May 07, 2009

Less Like Scars

Yesterday I had fun going through some old cd's, pulling them out and playing them for the kids while they danced around like little maniacs while I cleaned house for our church homeschool moms' group. It was fun. At least it passed as fun for us.

One of the cd's I pulled out was Sara Groves' As soon as this song started playing, I was reminded of the richness of the lyrics, and how when I first got the cd, I wore it out, just soaking in the message. I had had a tough phone call about a struggle an old friend is going through right now and it left me feeling down-- wondering why bad things happen to good people. As I listened to these lyrics, I was reminded that "in the end, the pain and hurt look less like scars and more like character."

I know my scars look like character to God-- character I wouldn't trade now that the struggles are behind me. If you are hurting today-- listen to this song and read through the lyrics. Let them minister to you as they did to me:

It's been a hard year
But I'm climbing out of the rubble
These lessons are hard
Healing changes are subtle
But every day it's
Less like tearing, more like building
Less like captive, more like willing
Less like breakdown, more like surrender
Less like haunting, more like remember
And I feel You here
And You're picking up the pieces
Forever faithful
It seemed out of my hands, a bad situation
But You are able
And in Your hands the pain and hurt
Look less like scars and more like
Less like a prison, more like my room
It's less like a casket, more like a womb
Less like dying, more like transcending
Less like fear, less like an ending
And I feel You here
And You're picking up the pieces
Forever faithful
It seemed out of my hands, a bad situation
But You are able
And in Your hands the pain and hurt
Look less like scars
Just a little while ago
I couldn't feel the power or the hope
I couldn't cope, I couldn't feel a thing
Just a little while back
I was desperate, broken, laid out, hoping
You would come
And I need You
And I want You here
And I feel You
And I know You're here
And You're picking up the pieces
Forever faithful
It seemed out of my hands, a bad, bad situation
But You are able
And in Your hands the pain and hurt
Look less like scars (x3)
And more like
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Wednesday, May 06, 2009

A Quote To Ponder

"I praise You for Your sovereignty over the broad events of my life and over the details. With You, nothing is accidental, nothing is incidental, and no experience is wasted. You hold in Your own power my breath of life and all my destiny. And every trial that You allow to happen is a platform on which You reveal Yourself, showing Your love and power, both to me and to others looking on."

From 31 Days Of Praise by Ruth Myers
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Tuesday, May 05, 2009


Today I have a devotion running for Proverbs 31. The days I have devotions run seem to always be busy ones-- and this one is no exception. We have two radio interviews today (which is so great) and my daughter has a physical therapy appointment in the middle of the day. (Just one of those things that couldn't be helped.) I am still trying to figure out how I am going to entertain my younger three for that hour in their tiny waiting room!

But in the midst of rushing around, I wanted to thank those of you who come by after reading about living a little i life... Today I get to practice living that life, serving and giving to those I love all day long.

How will you live a little i life today?
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Monday, May 04, 2009

A Great Time Was Had By All...

Especially me! Thanks to all the ladies at First Baptist Simpsonville for a wonderful, memorable weekend in Charleston! I won't forget you all... you are a special group!
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20 Of My Favorite Things

Note: All of these are current favorites-- subject to change at any time!

1. Color-hot pink
2. Dessert-brownie a la mode with mint chocolate chip ice cream on top and homemade hot fudge... or my mom's strawberry cake, I can't decide
3. Smell-the beach
4. Flower-hydrangeas
5. Animal-Golden Retriever
6. Month-May (August is a close second)
7. Beverage-right now, water with lemon, in the past, sweet tea
8. Pair of too cute (and very comfortable) polka dotted flip flops
9. Snack-currently...almonds with sea salt
10. Song-currently... too hard to pick just one!
11. Book-currently... I just read Shelter Me by Juliette Fay and it was quite good. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
12. Fruit-Texas Rio Star Grapefruit, or strawberries, or watermelon
13. Hairstyle-blunt bob (the cut I always seem to go back to)
14. Piece of clothing-currently... a new dress I just bought that makes me smile every time I look at it
15. Store to clothes shop-Steinmart
16. Season- Summer
17. Hobby-writing, blogging
18. Thing to collect-friends
19. Movie-The Notebook
20. Restaurant-Outback

To see more lists of favorite things, go to
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Friday, May 01, 2009

Friday Morning

Thanks to all of you who left me a comment yesterday or emailed me privately to let me know you are reading! That was so sweet and brought a smile to my face! One of you guys pointed out that it is all about the writing and the creative expression, not the numbers. That's exactly what I was trying to say, but didn't know it. That without the numbers, I am re-discovering the joy of writing just for the sake of writing, not to craft my writing around what "hits" with people or what I think will draw numbers. To just write for the love of expressing myself, recording the big and little moments of life. And that is a good thing. A great thing.

Speaking of moments in life, last night my husband and I went to see Chris Botti (pronounced Boaty, not Bahti, don't make the same mistake I did). Some of you know who he is already because I have posted about my love of his music in the past. When I found out he was coming to our town, I had tickets bought within minutes! The show did not disappoint. Instead it exceeded my expectations. If he comes near you, I highly recommend going. It was a fun night of culture for me and Curt, doing something we don't normally do and branching out a bit from what is a "normal" date for us. I love that!

I have had a rough week... one filled with obligations I can't quite meet and working through some tough issues I didn't want to think about. But in the midst of that there has been laughter and even some joy spliced in for good measure-- just so I don't forget that God is in the mix, don't lose sight of His grace always working. The concert was that for me. Before I went, I was wishing I hadn't committed to going the night before a retreat. I was thinking of the million things I *should* be doing. And yet, getting away from the "shoulds" and focusing on my husband, our marriage and just enjoying some good music on a beautiful warm spring evening was exactly what we needed. God provides times of refreshing (Acts 3:19), and this was one for us.

Want to know more about Chris?

Watch this:
(We got to see this done live. Amazing-- my favorite part of the whole concert.)

And here's just a favorite one of mine... no Sting was not there (sadly):

Pick up some of Chris' music on cd or download on ITunes-- you won't be disappointed! It's great to play when you have guests over, or are working around the house, or while you are writing, or when you are having a romantic night with your husband...
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