Monday, March 29, 2010
I am thinking... about what a wonderful church service we had last night. God moved and it was amazing to witness. So glad I had a friend with me-- it was a great night to visit!
I am thankful for... being part of our church.
From the learning rooms... reading chapter books with the kids at night. Revisiting old favorites from my own childhood.
From the kitchen... tonight--roast beef and gravy over egg noodles, green beans, for dessert- apple crisp and homemade whipped cream
I am wearing... gray tee shirt and plaid flannel pants
I am creating... a menu plan for Easter lunch
I am going... to be busy this week getting ready for the big day Sunday. Outfits, Easter basket filler, egg hunt items, and lunch. One holiday-- lots of preparation. Curt said that if men were in charge of holidays they would be much simpler... but also not as much fun!
I am reading... The Journal Keeper by Phyllis Theroux
I am hoping... I get everything done this week in time for Easter. I will breathe a sigh of relief when the kids are at church in their spring clothing, having woken up to Easter goodies, with a yummy lunch waiting for us at home.
I am hearing... the dryer going. It always seems to be.
Around the house... more spring cleaning this week!
One of my favorite things... family time.
Sunday, March 28, 2010
This book is available at Proverbs 31. Every time you order a book from them instead of one of the big discount sites, your purchase goes to support this dynamic, worthy ministry that is touching women's lives all over the world! (Amazon can't say that... just sayin.)
Friday, March 26, 2010
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Here's some randomness that I am going to throw out and call it a blog post so I do not have to feel bad about not writing anything in awhile:
- Curt has a cold. He just boldly told me a few weeks ago that he doesn't get sick. Of course he has gotten lots of teasing from me for that. He was in denial for a bit, but he now freely admits he is, in fact, sick.
- Still no job for Curt though he has started some part time work to bring in some income. It's not enough to float this family of 8 so we would appreciate your continued prayers if God brings us to mind.
- I finished my rough draft for my second novel. I had slated to finish it by mid April so this is a bonus that I finished up earlier. I am taking a few days to enjoy myself before I dive into tweaking and finessing it. It's due to the publisher (David C Cook) June 1.
- Spring is here! I think I say this every year but I have never been happier to see it arrive!! I just can't get enough of the fresh warm air. This was a long, cold winter for us in more ways than one as we dealt with Curt's unemployment and cabin fever too. Spring brings with it a feeling of beginnings and possibilities. That's what we're praying for.
- I have a blog post planned about how I am enjoying my quiet times more. Can't wait to share that with you all and, now that I am not working hard on the novel, you might see that post sooner rather than later.
- Have been reading some great books lately. I go through spells with my reading-- dry spells where I have nothing to read... and I get quite sulky about it too... or deluge seasons where I don't have time to read everything I want to read. This is a deluge season and I am so good with that!
- I have my novel now-- an advanced copy was mailed to me last week. It's been very cool to hold in my hands. I met my mom for lunch the other day and was so excited to hand it to her. I had meant to surprise her but a family member spilled the beans before I could surprise her. Oh well, she was still tickled to see it. I think she's as proud of that book as she is her grandchildren! That's been one of the most fun parts-- other people's excitement. Not as many people got excited about our financial book. Hmmm, I wonder why? Book about getting out of debt or book about second chances for first love on a beach?? I know what I choose!
- Please pray for Melissa Taylor's family as they say goodbye to their mom and grandmother. She has been a shining example of grace under pressure as she has been at her mom's side these last few weeks. I got to make a meal for her family tonight and it was an honor just to have some small part in what they are going through.
- Have had She Speaks on the brain a lot this past week as we've been making some fun and exciting She Reads plans for that weekend. If you are thinking of coming this is a great year to register and join us! If money is a problem, Lysa TerKeurst is giving away scholarships on her blog. Get creative and find a way to finance it-- one of my friends is asking for it for her bday. It's a great time and I hope to meet you there. I may or may not have already started planning what I am going to wear...
- Easter and Spring Break is fast approaching! We have no plans whatsoever... just plans to take it easy and enjoy the slower pace of no lunches to pack and no early morning dashes out the door. It seems these breaks always come when we need them most.
Monday, March 22, 2010
Ok?? Did you read it??
So, what do you think? Is she right? What do you look for in a novel? Story or excellent writing?
I know of several authors that came to mind as I was reading her post. They are great storytellers but not necessarily excellent writers. And you know what? Judging from their sales it doesn't matter. What people want is exactly what Bonnie said... they want to get lost in a great story.
I sure do hope they get lost in mine this summer! :)
Saturday, March 20, 2010
I found out about this the way I find out about most things... I stumbled upon it. Being the huge reader that I am, I decided to play along and thought some of you might want to as well. Here's my list for spring:
1. Keep reading books to consider for She Reads. (Top secret as to what those are!) As the director of She Reads I am constantly looking at and considering titles for our selections. The arrival of novels at our house has become commonplace and we are having to get really selective about what books we even ask for. At first our eyes were bigger than our stomachs, so to speak as we wanted to devour (just going with the metaphor here) all the potential books out there. That, we've learned, is simply not possible. My co-director and I have now recruited some of the P31 ladies to serve as a selections committee just to help us read and weigh in with their opinions. That's already been extremely helpful... a relief! But suffice it to say there are a lot of really good Christian fiction authors and titles out there. We choose the best of the best and we want to consistently pick titles you all enjoy so you will rely on us as the go-to place for the novels you buy. That's our goal.
2. Read secular fiction titles that are by my favorite authors. Beside my bed right now is House Rules by Jodi Picoult, and a new fiction author I connected with last week, Sarah Pekkanen's debut novel, The Opposite of Me. I am excited about these titles. On my library hold list is The Wife's Tale by Lori Lansens, and Love In Mid Air by Kim Wright Wiley (she lives in my town so that means I have to read her novel... it's required)
3. Read writing books. On my "To Be Read" shelf are the following: The Art of War for Writers by James Scott Bell, The Anatomy of Story by John Truby, No More Rejections by Alice Orr, Writing Fiction for Dummies by Randy Ingermanson, and The Maeve Binchy Writer's Club by-- you guessed it-- Maeve Binchy.
4. As for what I want to read with my kids, I am on a kick of going back and re-reading all the favorites from when my older three were little to my younger three. There's no reason they should miss out on the things we loved. Our all-time favorite book is The Seven Silly Eaters by Mary Ann Hoberman. Also Patricia MacLachlan's All The Places To Love and What You Know First.
5. Finally under the nonfiction category, I have Beth Moore's newest, So Long Insecurity, You've Been A Bad Friend To Us and a memoir entitled Making Toast: A Family Story on my list.
If you are looking for some great recommendations on books to read, be sure and check out She Reads. We choose a selection a month and provide interviews with the authors, recipes to go with the book in case you want to start a book club and cook something to share with the group, activities or games for book club meetings, guest posts from the authors, etc. If you love novels then this is the place for you!
Many people ask me how I find time to read. They want to read but can't figure out how to squeeze it in. I will say that there are two places I get my reading done: on the treadmill and at night before bed. I can get a whole lot of reading done if I spend 40 minutes on the treadmill reading and then read an hour or more at night. Note: this means I do not watch much tv. I also will grab a book and sit on the couch with my kids, reading while they are watching their kid shows. I can tune those out and enjoy the story I am reading, yet still be with them. I don't do that unless I am really into a book, mind you.
And finally, a shameless plug for my own book, The Mailbox, which will be out within the designated time of the Spring Reading Thing (June 1, 2010). So please, I humbly beg you to BUY THIS BOOK!! I am going through final edits on it right now and it really is a good beach read. Plan to take it with you to the pool or the beach and enjoy the story of Lindsey, a divorced mom of two who has faithfully visited the Kindred Spirit mailbox (a real landmark on the coast of NC) every year since she was 15. As she returns for the 20th year, she runs into Campbell, the guy who first took her to the mailbox... and ended up breaking her heart. Will Campbell and Lindsey get a second chance? And what does the mailbox have to do with it? You have to read to find out...
Friday, March 19, 2010
In the devotion I asked how you choose whining over worship. I am looking forward to your responses! As I thought about how I would answer this question, I thought of a couple of examples. With Curt being out of work right now, I've had chances to practice this a lot lately. I don't always succeed. Sometimes I just want to whine, to wallow. Here are ways to see the potential to worship that I have found:
Realize I have a choice to make instead of going with my feelings. I wrote about how last weekend we were supposed to go on a fun family trip that fell through due to illness. I had a choice to make when that happened-- focus on how disappointed I was or thank God. I chose (and I don't always so hear me on that) to focus on thanking Him. I trusted that for whatever reason, we were just not supposed to go on that trip. And so I was able to praise Him for protecting us and accept His plans. Just that shift in thinking helped me not get angry and frustrated and still enjoy our weekend.
Read Scripture. There is something about immersing myself in God's word that shifts my perspective. I can't stay upset or angry when I start reading the words of the Psalms or the story of David, or Paul's letters. I find hope lurking in the words... and hope doesn't disappoint.
Have verses posted around the house. I am a slow learner. I forget the Truth I know. I am someone who can really go into the pit of her feelings quickly so having verses that mean something to me posted around the house-- my bathroom mirror, my dresser mirror, my fridge-- keeps Truth in my face where I need it. So instead of that slippery slope of what I feel, I can refocus on what He has to say to me.
Talk to God. When things happen that I don't like I run to that friend who sticks closer than a brother. I tell Him everything-- the feelings I am struggling with, the doubts I am having, the stuff that just stinks. I let Him have it all. After I give it to Him, I feel better. And if I don't, then I keep talking. I unburden myself and He is always there to carry whatever load I can't. The lighter feeling I get makes worship possible... even likely.
So what do you do to help you worship more and whine less? I would love to hear...
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
Then we got a call from Matt and Lori, who had gone up the night before... and ended up all getting sick. They were wiped out, but being their generous selves said we could still come. This was late Thursday night. We were supposed to leave Friday morning. We told them we would try to scramble and find sitters for our kids for the Saturday thing, but we didn't want to mix it up getting our kids around their sick ones. If we could find sitters, we would still come on Saturday, but the family part of our family trip was off. Bummer.
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
I am thinking...about The Mailbox edits. Is it possible to catch every error?
I am thankful for...a great trip for just the two of us this weekend. Thanks Matt and Lori for making that possible and to the grandparents who took our kids for us to go!
From the learning rooms... Patricia MacLachlan books, revisiting old favorites with new children
From the kitchen...dinners from our menu this week, and a few desserts. Especially looking forward to making an Irish meal in honor of St. Patrick's Day!
I am wearing...jeans, a Hollister tee shirt my daughter gave me, moccasins with fur in them-- the one part of winter I will be sad to give up!
I am creating...a novel.
I am going... to try to do better with blogging. I have been slack, slack, slack these past few weeks. My apologies.
I am reading...Jodi Picoult's new novel, House Rules. I didn't think I would like it but I really, really do. There is nothing that makes me quite so happy as a well-written, engaging novel on my nightstand to look forward to after a long day.
I am hoping...Curt finds a job soon. Thanks, as always, for your prayers.
I am hearing...my Pandora station playing on my headphones.
Around the house... I need to wash sheets. I really hate washing sheets.
One of my favorite things... books. And good movies that I can watch again and again.
A few plans for the rest of the week: My calendar is blissfully empty. I do need to take two of my children to the orthodontist because they both have things wrong with their braces. Mostly I will just be working on the final edits for Mailbox while also trying to stay on schedule with writing 1000 words a day. If all goes as planned I will type "The End" on this novel by mid-April and then will have about 6 weeks to mess with it before I turn it in June 1.
Monday, March 15, 2010
Monday) Tacos (daddy's in charge of dinner while I sneak off to Barnes and Noble to edit the final final final, betters-speak-up-now-or-forever-hold-your-peace copy of The Mailbox)
Tuesday) hoagies (small group night so we do something simple), German Chocolate Cake for small group
Wednesday) St. Patrick's Day! Irish Stew, Irish Raisin Bread, Irish Apple Cake served warm with vanilla ice cream. Here's a link to an Irish Cream Pound Cake that looks like it's worth trying!
Thursday) Pork Chops in the crockpot served over rice, peas
Friday) Baked Chicken (recipe on the back of the Bisquick box), Mashed Potatoes, Green Beans
Saturday) Grilled Chicken, Coucous, Corn
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
We couldn't have ordered more perfect weather. And her youngest and my youngest got along like they had known each other all their lives. They promptly disappeared to play and we chatted and chatted and chatted-- catching up on each other's lives. She made us a delicious pasta lunch with fruit on the side. It was a lunch grown ups would eat. (The kids got dinosaur shaped chicken nuggets.) After lunch we sat on her beautiful porch that overlooked the lake and talked some more. The view was spectacular, the company great, the weather perfect and the conversation inspiring. We talked of our lives now versus our lives then. She's become a photographer. I've become a writer. When we met we were young moms who had no idea what we wanted-- except maybe one full night's sleep.
We talked about the changes in both of us since that time, and in our marriages, our families. She said that her mom recently said that she seems happier now that she's got her own business. We decided it's not really that we are happier because of our outside interests-- but more because we are less overwhelmed by our children's needs. The years where our lives were spent chasing and tending and wiping are behind us. Now we fret about different things-- college plans and boy/girl relationships and social issues. But we fret while seated.
We are still moms, just different kinds of moms than those frazzled, frantic moms we once were. We are more settled, more certain. There was a time when we both thought those years of raising little ones would never end and yet, as we marveled, it somehow did. We are not those same moms, but we are-- made better, stronger, wiser for having endured. Only someone that "knew you when" can fully appreciate the scope of how far you've come. Yesterday we celebrated the distance we've both covered.
a Marriage that Will Last a Lifetime."*
The call will be two parts, Thursday 3/18, 8-9 pm and Thursday 3/25, 8-9 pm
(EST). The cost is $20 total.
You can register by calling Melissa at the Proverbs 31 Ministries office at
this toll-free number: 1-877-731-4663.
It will be so much fun! Once you've registered, you'll be emailed a number
that you can call, and then you listen as Melanie talks. There will be a
time for interaction, or if you prefer, you don't have to talk at all.
Also, the call will be recorded, so if you can't listen at the time of
recording, you'll still have access.
The description of the talk is listed on the sidebar of Melanie's blog.
melaniechitwood.com If you have any questions, feel free to email her at
Monday, March 08, 2010
I am thinking... how great it was to take one of my daughters out to run errands, just her and me. We had a great talk and I was so glad God prompted me to take her with me. He knew she needed to talk... I didn't. I need to listen and obey more often.
I am thankful for... evenings at home.
I am wearing... jeans and a pink long sleeved tee shirt.
I am remembering... how fun it was this weekend to watch my son doing something he loves.
I am reading... a stack of books. I had a bunch of holds come in at the library and I want to read them all! First up is Jodi Picoult's new one.
I am hoping... for a fun family time this coming weekend.
On my mind... the novel I am writing. I am getting into that "heading for the homestretch" phase where I can't write fast enough or get enough time to write.
From the learning rooms... the Fancy Nancy books for the 4yo
Noticing that... We are emerging from a long, cold winter slowly but surely. This change of weather feels like a bigger change is on its way. Tonight that seemed possible.
Pondering these words... If there's a book you really want to read, but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it. ~Toni Morrison (That's what I did with The Mailbox.)
From the kitchen... Barbecue ribs, baked potatoes and salad tomorrow night, Spaghetti Wednesday night, leftovers on Thursday night
Around the house... getting ready for small group meeting on Tuesday night
One of my favorite things: Southern Praline ice cream
A few plans for the rest of the week: visiting an old friend tomorrow at her home by the lake-- hoping for great weather and some time outside for our preschoolers
Sunday, March 07, 2010
Then today I had a conversation with a family member after my son's performance. "So what is he interested in?" she asked.
"This," I said, gesturing at the theater and actors around us.
"No," she said. "I mean, after this."
I laughed. "This."
"Well then, how are you going to direct him to do something more reliable than this?" she asked.
I gave her some answer just to hush her up. But later I thought about these two conversations-- how one person commended me for supporting my son's dreams and one person chastised me, encouraging me to push him in another direction. The truth is, I don't know which is right. I am just going on what I would've liked when I was his age. I would have wanted the people closest to me to support my dreams, to tell me that the things I believed in were worth believing. I would've wanted the adults in my life to let me jump, and to be willing to catch me at the same time. I would've wanted someone who was old enough to say with the gift of hindsight, "This is the best time in your life to chase your dreams." Because it is.
As parents it's hard to know when to let our children take risks and when to pull back the reins-- when to, as my concerned family member asked-- urge them in a different direction and when to say "Go for it!" For us, for now, we feel that it would be tragic for our son to one day say that he has regrets because of something he didn't do when he could. Will he go to Hollywood or NYC and chase his acting dreams? I don't know. Next year this time he could have a new plan. What I want the most is for him to remember parents who bought into his dreams, who told him to go where ever they take him and to believe in himself and God's plan. I have no idea where our children's dreams will take them, but I can't wait to see. Dreams are powerful things. We have to listen to them and that's what we're trying to do. Are we doing it right?
Time will tell.
Wednesday, March 03, 2010
"Mommy! Watch me!"
"Mommy can you see me? Can you see me play the drums?"
I am on the treadmill which faces the opposite direction of where my 4 year old daughter sits, banging away on a makeshift drum set with a pair of tinkertoy sticks, bliss etched on her face as she makes a noise that is somewhat like music. The rhythm is mostly drowned out by the sound of the treadmill.
She calls to me again so that I have to crane my head around at an awkward angle to see her. I watch her play the drums, per her insistent requests while my neck aches and I feel dizzy from moving forward at a rapid pace yet looking backward. I give up and turn back around to face forward.
"Mommy!" She calls. "You better be watching!"
I turn my head back around praying her drum solo ends soon.
Later I think about what she has said: I better be watching. In whatever she does in life this is true. When she looks up, when she turns around, whenever she needs me... I better be watching. My personal comfort aside, I better be watching. Even though she looks busy, she is still keeping track of whether I am watching. I might think she's forgotten but she doesn't. She never gets too busy or too distracted to be unaware of my eyes on her, my smile, my approval, my applause.
No matter what I do or where my life takes me, I better figure out a way to watch because if she looks up and finds me not there, it will steal her joy, lessen the experience. My job as her mom is to watch as much as possible, from now on. I want to watch her forever, to always be there to tell her "Great job!" Watching, after all, is as much for me as for her. The joy I see etched on her face can't be replaced. If I wasn't watching, I would miss it. I better be watching... and not just for her.
Monday, March 01, 2010
Thanks to retreat coordinator Barbara and her team who worked so hard to make the weekend happen and to Crystal, who led worship and Sam, who ran sound. And those of you who took the time to share some part of your own stories and let me know how God showed up for you this weekend. If I started naming names, I would be worried I would miss someone. But just know I loved you all. Some of you-- you know who you are-- kept me up laughing long past my bedtime but the missed sleep was worth it for the unforgettable and hilarious stories you told! Yes, I think some of it might end up in a novel someday... be on the lookout. :)
All retreats are special but this one was unique in that I came in broken and empty, as I shared with the ladies on Sunday morning. Last week was hard. My marriage was hard. Our situation seemed harder than usual. I felt defeated and unqualified to lead a retreat. I wanted to stay home and sleep all weekend with the covers over my head, not walk in and share with a bunch of total strangers. So I went to some of my writing sisters who I knew would pray and begged them to pray me through. And they did. I literally felt their prayers holding me up and experienced the miracle of stepping out to speak and feeling God step in to fill me up. I left there different than I came-- lighter, more hopeful. And with lots of new sisters to share this journey with. Thanks ladies. You made my weekend beautiful and I will carry your beautiful faces in my heart.