December 17, 2012

Christmas Plans and Blogging Break

I can't believe Christmas is so near!

I still feel like I've got lots to do, including finishing my Christmas shopping and wrapping presents. Oh, and baking some yummy banana bread. This year I might even throw some chocolate chips into the mix.

I'm taking the week of Christmas off of work and I cannot wait to lay around watching movies and reading. It's going to be glorious! We've also got some plans to hang out with friends and family.

I think it's so good for us to take off time to relax at the end of the year. There's something rejuvenating about taking a break between the end of one year and the beginning of the next. It's like it helps me to gear up for the next year.

And I think 2013 is gonna rock!

So, with that being said, I'll be taking a blogging break until Wednesday, January 2. I hope you have an amazing Christmas and New Year with your family and friends.

Your Turn: Any fun plans this holiday season? Do you like banana bread? If so, what's your take: chocolate chips or not?

December 14, 2012

Be Your Own Secret Santa: Guest Post by Jill Kemerer

I'm thrilled to welcome my good writing buddy, Jill Kemerer, to post here today. I got to meet Jill back in September at the ACFW conference and she is one of the sweetest--and funniest!--people ever. Her generosity knows no bounds and I can't wait to someday hold one of her books in my hands. So, take it away, Jill...

---

I'm so excited to be here today, Lindsay, and I'm also full of glee that it's mid-December. I love Christmas!

Sure, the month gets hectic. We all want to deck the halls, bake the cookies, and wrap the gifts, but the frantic pace rarely throws me into a panic. I’m convinced I’m able to handle all of the hoopla because of the things I buy for myself every Christmas season.

As a stay-at-home mom slash full-time writer, I don’t participate in work festivities, so I decided to be my own Secret Santa. Why not?

Things I gladly purchase for myself in December:
  1. Bags of holiday M&Ms in different varieties. Plain and peanut are essentials, but sometimes I’ll buy a bag of pretzel, mint, or for giggles, all four!
  2. Scented candles. The smell of cinnamon wraps me up in a warm hug. I also like coffee or cupcake scented candles. Mmm…
  3. A new day planner for my purse. I like the slim two-dollar jobbies you can find in a supermarket. They don’t weigh my purse down, but they do keep me on track.
  4. A new pair of slippers. I wear my slippers every day, and they get ratty really quick. With all of the holiday sales, I don’t mind popping a new pair into my cart.
  5. Hershey’s Pot O’ Gold. Minimum of one box. Preferably two or three, depending on how good the sale is. A buy one get one deal? Yes. Oh, yes.
  6. Any magazine with one of the following headlines: “Stars Without Makeup,” “Celebrity Nannies Tell All,” or “Best and Worst Beach Bodies.” I’m shameless.
Sometimes the things that bring me the most peace aren’t purchased. They’re the simple things, the ones that take time—a cup of tea and a good book or working through another lesson in a devotional. Watching a Christmas movie on the Hallmark channel is another sure-fire way to de-stress. A walk on the treadmill for twenty minutes also keeps me from having a holiday-induced meltdown.

Do you treat yourself special in December? If yes, what is your go-to treat? If not, would you like to try it? Write down one simple thing you’re craving—and satisfy it!

Thanks again, Lindsay, for letting me take over your blog today.
 
Have a very, merry Christmas!!

---

Jill Kemerer writes inspirational romance novels. Coffee fuels her mornings; chocolate, her afternoons. A former electrical engineer, she now enjoys a healthy addiction to magazines, fluffy animals, and her hilarious family. She is a member of ACFW, RWA, and MVRWA. Jill is represented by Rachel Kent of Books & Such Literary Agency.

To learn more about Jill, check out her website, stop by her blog, find her on Facebook, and follow her on Twitter.

*PS - Lindsay here. I'm guest posting today over at the MBT Ponderers blog, chatting about one of the best gifts God gave me this year. Stop by and say hi!

December 12, 2012

One Word 2013: Rejoice!

A lot of people make New Year's resolutions. I've done it. They're cool.

But...they usually don't last.

Why?

Well, usually they're very high and lofty goals, and life gets busy, and it's too hard to fit that goal in. So it goes buh-bye.

But last year, I heard about a concept (thank you, Beth Vogt) whereby you pick ONE word to focus on during the year. I thought I'd try it this year, and started to think...and pray...about what word I'd choose.

My instant first thought was TRUST. I have a hard time trusting and waiting on God. Not all the time, but let's just say that in general, me and patience don't get along very well. Ha. Plus, this year at the big writers conference I attended, God gave me my life verse: Philippians 1:6 (thus the header on my blog!).

But I kind of feel like trust is a life theme, not just one for 2013.

Then one word popped into my head: rejoice. It didn't make all that much sense at first, since I don't know if I'll have anything to rejoice about in 2013 (I hope so, but you never know!).

I'd mulled it over for a few days but hadn't committed quite yet.

Not until I got a birthday/Christmas present from my awesome critique partner, Melissa Tagg. She sent me a journal (see pic) with this written on it: "Rejoice in the Lord" (Philippians 4:4).

Um, yeah.

Okay, God, I hear you!!

So in 2013, I've got plans. Plans to rejoice.

No matter what happens--what I want, or what I don't want.

What I expect or what I don't expect.

It doesn't matter. God's calling me to REJOICE in whatever it is, because He is good, all the time. No matter my circumstances.

I get chills just thinking about how much He loves me, and am rejoicing already about what's to come in 2013!

Your Turn: Do you have a word you're planning to focus on for 2013? I'd love to hear it!

December 10, 2012

Bless the Lord Reason #11: He Gives Me Perseverance

You know those Staples buttons that say "That was easy" when you click them?

Yeah. Maybe on some things, it'd be true.

But anyone who has ever drafted a novel knows...it AIN'T easy.

That's why I'm so grateful to be able to say that on Friday, I reached THE END on my second novel.

I'm pausing right now for a Snoopy dance...

Okay, I'm back.

My original goal had been to finish drafting this book by sometime in October.

Things came up (as I talked about last week). Important things. But I still wanted to finish this draft.

I know, I know, I didn't have a set deadline from anyone but myself, but I still want to move forward in my writing career. And sometimes I just get so impatient and wish I could sit down and bust out my scenes like *that* and be done super quick.

But it doesn't work that way.

It's like that saying about eating an elephant (which is just a horrid mental picture, so I'll spare you...although now you're probably thinking it anyway!)...

Anyway, I know that without the prayers of a lot of people and God's grace, I wouldn't have completed this book draft. So today, I'm blessing Him for that.

I'm also blessing His name for perseverance in this whole writing path, not just this one task. It takes a lot of stick-to-it-ness to keep going. There have been several times I've come to a ledge, wanted to just pack the whole thing up--but I didn't, not because I'm super amazing, but because God is.

He gave me this gift and He wants me to use it.

And I'm confident that He'll finish the work He started in me. I love, love, love that it isn't all up to me!

Your Turn: When has God given you perseverance?

*Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

December 7, 2012

Fun Friday Christmas Tradition Style: Breakfast Casserole (Recipe Included!)


Every Christmas morning since I can remember, I've eaten my mom's breakfast casserole.

There's something about it that screams CHRISTMAS MORNING to me. We usually eat it with blueberry muffins...yum yum.

Today I thought I'd share the recipe with you. It works great for brunches too because you make it the night before and just stick it in the oven in the morning. It's sooooo easy!

My mom would always preheat the oven and pop it in when we started opening presents in the morning, so it was hot and ready to eat when we were finished unwrapping.

Breakfast Casserole

Ingredients
- 1 lb Jimmy Dean Mild Sausage (or similar product)
- 8 pieces toast (I usually use white bread)
- 8 eggs
- 8 oz grated cheddar cheese
- 2 cups milk (I use skim and it works just fine)
- 1 tsp dry mustard
- Salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions
Brown sausage. Drain off excess grease. Dump into bowl. Cut toast up into little squares and mix into bowl. Mix in eggs, cheese, milk, dry mustard, and salt and pepper. Grease bottom of 9x13 pan and dump mixture in. Cover and set in refrigerator overnight. Place in oven uncovered at 350 degrees for 1 hour or a little longer.

Hope you enjoy. ;)

Your Turn: What do you normally eat on Christmas morning?

December 5, 2012

Worship Wednesday: One Thing Remains


Ever had the radio play a song your heart just needed to hear?

Over and over?

Like, every time you got into the car?

It's as if God is speaking directly to you. It's awesome. A little scary. So comforting, thinking that the God of the universe knows what I need and how exactly to communicate that to me.

The song, "One Thing Remains" by Kristian Stanfill, was that for me earlier this month.

When I was really tired, and everything wasn't going according to plan, and I thought my puppy might die, and a friend was going through a really hard time and I didn't understand why...

God reminded me of the ONE THING that remains, regardless of "the mountains that I face."

Because His love never gives up on me.

He won't desert me.

Even when I'm angry, or a pain in the butt because I'm tired, or questioning.

Never.

Take a listen. I hope it speaks to you like it did to me.

Your Turn: What song is God using to speak to you recently?

December 3, 2012

Bless the Lord Reason #10: He Changes My Plans

I had high hopes for the month of November.

I was supposed to finish the first draft of my book.

Didn't happen.

I was supposed to make ahead meals for the whole month of December to alleviate some of the holiday craziness.

Didn't happen.

I was supposed to get more done for the course I'm teaching online.

Wanna guess what happened? Yeah. It didn't. That's what.

I'm a planner. It's like, ingrained in my DNA to plan and organize. Can't be helped.

Disorganization? Does. Not. Compute.

But instead of doing all the things I'd planned, the month of November found me
  • Dealing with two very sick puppies and nursing them through parvovirus.
  • Taking on not one, but two freelance editing jobs that fell into my lap.
  • Singing not one, but two duets that I had to learn pretty much from scratch.
  • Throwing a Christmas party for 40 people when I was supposed to have an extra week to plan it.
  • Teaching the same online class I've taught several times--but oh yeah, they revised it and that required a bunch of extra work.
I've gotta say: there were times I wanted to beat myself up because I didn't get done what I'd set out to accomplish. I started to feel like a failure, a slacker. Why was I so tired? Why couldn't I get up at 4 am to write those scenes I desperately needed to write?*

Why couldn't I just buck up and do it all?

But you know what? Slowly God started changing my attitude, giving me a peace about the unfinished goals, reminding me that I'm not a failure, and that sometimes, He has different plans for us and our time.

I realized...I was essentially like a little kid, flailing and stomping because things hadn't gone MY way. When, if I looked at the bigger picture, the change in my plans provided me different opportunities than those I'd set out for myself:
  • Getting a glimpse, however small, of what real motherhood might be like someday, and how, when my babies are sick, nothing else really seems to matter.
  • Earning extra money for a writing retreat that fell into my lap.
  • Blessing others with music.
  • Blessing others with a night of food, relaxation, and fun, at a time when more people could attend before the craziness of December kicks in.
  • Improving the quality of my students' learning experience.
In the end, God's ways are better.

It doesn't always seem that way when I'm going through the change, but I do bless His name today for making me more flexible.

I was never a gymnast, so I need lots of help. ;)

Your Turn: How do you react when God changes your plans?

*I've gotta say a BIG THANK YOU to my husband and to my critique partner, Melissa Tagg, for putting up with a lot of whining on my part regarding this feeling of failure. Their encouragement and support meant the world!

November 30, 2012

Fun Friday Christmas Tradition Style: Trees

Our Christmas tree this year.
From now until Christmas, I'm going to be talking about Christmas traditions. I think it's awesome how different families do things...well, differently. I'll share my traditions with you, and you share yours with the rest of us! Deal? Sweet.

When I was growing up, my mom gave my brother and I an ornament every year so that when we moved out, we wouldn't have to start from scratch. So we had to have somewhere to put all of these kids ornaments in the meantime. Thus, a kids tree.

Because something about my mom...well, she liked things to be pretty. And if our Christmas tree was going to be in the front window for all to see (much better than a leg lamp, dontcha think?), then it needed to be flat-out gorgeous.

And kids ornaments? Yeah, they didn't really fit the bill.

So, a separate kids tree was born. Mom had her pretty tree in the front room, and we had the kids tree in the family room. It worked really well.

When Mike and I got married, we had this dinky little tree in our apartment that we decorated with those kids ornaments--some from me, some from him (his parents gave him ornaments also!). When we moved into our house a few years ago, we bought a nine-foot tree. And suddenly, I wanted to do something different.

I wanted the pretty tree, like my mom used to have. So I asked my dad for all of my mom's decorations and he gave them to me. Now, for the past three years, I've decorated our tree with her decorations and something about it makes me feel close to her.

In a way, it's the little thing I do to remember her at Christmas time.

Your Turn: What traditions do you have regarding a Christmas tree? How do you decorate it? Did your parents give you ornaments every year when you were growing up?

November 28, 2012

Worship Wednesday: Winter Snow



Music is a huge part of my life.

Not only am I a singer, but music is one of my main ways of worshipping the Lord.

When I feel the music moving through me, getting inside of me, working its way into my heart and out through my raised hands, dancing feet, swaying body--I feel nearer to God.

Because music is so important, I thought it would be fun to share with you songs that especially move me. I'll post a link where you can hear the song, or maybe I'll post a video of me singing it myself. Then, I'll tell you why it moves me, what about it strikes me and has stayed with me.

Sound good?

For today's post, I thought I'd highlight Audrey Assad's song, "Winter Snow." I first heard this song last year at a Christmas Eve service and the melody stirs me. But more than that, I love the concept that Jesus could have come to this earth in so many ways to display His awesome glory and power.

But instead, He came as a child. Unobstrusive. Vulnerable.

Sometimes, I don't get that. Why not sweep in like a hurricane or a forest fire or a tidal wave to show the world WHO HE IS?

But that's just it.

His ways are different. He doesn't beat us over the head with His majesty. Instead, He uses it to woo us. Yes, He is powerful. Yes, He is glory itself.

But when the world expected a god to be only those things--hurricanes, fires, waves on the powerful ocean--our God gave us something entirely different.

Doesn't that just awe and astound you even more?

Your Turn: Have you ever heard this song or anything else by Audrey Assad? I'm really excited because I get to sing it for our church's annual Festival of Lights production this Christmastime. What's one of your favorite Christmas songs?

November 26, 2012

Bless the Lord Reason #9: Another Year

Every year on our birthdays, we get teased for "getting old," right?

And though we laugh at the teasing, sometimes, we actually do hate the fact that we're hitting certain age marks.

In two years, I'll be 30. I know, some of you are older and thinking, "Ha, young'un, you just wait!" Others are younger than me, snickering, thinking I'm old.


But seriously. Those decade markers seem to be milestones of some sort. Sometimes I can't believe how quickly the time has flown by. Sometimes I worry that I haven't achieved enough for how old I am. That I'll die before accomplishing anything truly great.

And I'm gonna be honest...that scares me.

But today, on my 28th birthday, I want to think of it differently.

Why?

Because life is too short to spend it worrying.

And because several years ago, I was given a great example in embracing another year of life.

I had a great role model in my mom. Many of you know she passed away over 8 years ago. She was only 46 years old.

She'd battled cancer when I was young, and prayed and prayed that God would heal her so my brother and I would know her, that she would get to raise us, to teach us the truth about life.

And He granted that wish. She was in remission for several years and then considered "cured" until her cancer returned at the age of 42.

So when my mom turned 40, do you think she moped around, depressed? No way. She celebrated, because she didn't think she'd ever see 40 years.

What a perspective change, huh?

I love that my mom had that attitude and engrained it in me: life is precious. Every day we live it. Doesn't matter if we are 20 or 60. Doesn't matter if we've achieved everything we wanted to or not.

Today is what counts.

So today, when I could be depressed that another year has passed without such and such a thing happening to me--I want to bless the Lord for another year of wonderful, beautiful life.

Another year to serve Him.

To love others.

To work toward a dream.

Another year.

Thank you, Lord.

Your Turn: How do you celebrate your birthdays? I think Mike and I are going out to Grimaldi's Pizzeria tonight. Yum yum. And there had better be some ice cream involved afterward!

*If you missed my post on The Writers Alley last Friday, it's not too late to stop in and read all about the tips I learned at My Book Therapy's Storycrafters Retreat last month.

November 16, 2012

My Star Wars Wedding Reception

Sunday is my 6th wedding anniversary. I'm so blessed to be married to such a wonderful man. Mike is everything I wanted and continue to want in a life partner.

So, upon this momentous occasion, I think it's finally time to tell the story of my Star Wars wedding reception.

Now, lest you think I was one of those brides who dressed up like a character or something on her wedding day, I assure you, that was not the case. But, for those who know me, I do like to have a little fun now and then. Wink wink.

My husband is a HUGE Star Wars fan. Like, huge. Like, he and his friends used to get together to have "pretend" lightsaber battles. Yeah, he'll tell you that was like fifteen years ago and he hasn't done it in forever.

Don't believe him. The lawyer's got some lightsabering (totally a word) skills.

On to our wedding reception...I wanted to really do something special to show him how much I appreciated him putting up with all the pink, etc., in our wedding. So, I hatched a plan with his groomsmen.

It was well into our reception--so all the formalities had been done, and we were just dancing and having a blast. The DJ suddenly announces that we all needed to clear the dance floor, because we had a special guest. I held tight to Mike's hand, pretending like I was confused. *insert evil laughter here*

Everyone is off the dance floor but Mike and I, and out of nowhere, "Darth Vader" (aka, our friend Ryan) appears in cape and mask. The DJ hands him a mic and he does a nice heavy breathing routine, telling Mike he has to fight to get me back. At that point, several "Storm Troopers" (aka, groomsmen in masks) come and take me hostage. I do a nice screaming bit, telling Mike to save me, save me.

I tell you, it wasn't fun at all. Grin.

We had to figure out how to get Mike a lightsaber, so my brother jumps out from the crowd with one in hand, tells Darth Vader to let me go. Darth Vader wipes him off the map, and my brother throws the lightsaber at Mike, telling him to "avenge him." Very dramatically, of course.

Then comes the Star Wars battle music.

Mike and Darth Vader begin fighting. Mike's cracking up at this point, of course, but he knows exactly what to do because--yeah, he's done this before. Ha.

Eventually, he slays Vader, the Storm Troopers let me go and drag their leader off the stage and out the door, and I run to Mike, crying, "My hero, my hero." And the audience goes wild with applause.

Yeah. One of the coolest memories ever.

The only thing cooler was that just before all of this, Mike surprised me by singing a very romantic song for me. He's not really a singer but he knows how much I love his voice.

Romance at its finest.

Your Turn: Did you do anything special or unique at your own wedding? If you aren't married or can't think of an example from your own, ever been to a wedding with something fun or unique?

*Because of the Thanksgiving holiday, I'll be taking a blogging break next week. See you on Monday, November 26, which just happens to be my birthday. I'd love if you'd come celebrate with me.

November 14, 2012

The Most Important Thing I Did for My Writing Career: Guest Post by Gabrielle Meyer

Today I'm excited to introduce one of my good writing friends, Gabrielle Meyer. I had the privilege of rooming with her not once, but twice--first at the American Christian Fiction Writers Conference in September and then one month later at the My Book Therapy Storycrafters Retreat. She's the sweetest person ever and I can't wait to see how God is going to use her in the writing world to change lives! Thanks for being my guest today, Gabe!

I'm an extrovert by nature. I get energized when I'm with other people – and sometimes that's hard when you're a writer. Yes, I spend my writing time with a plethora of colorful characters, and sometimes I even talk to them, but writing a book is a very lonely pursuit, and for someone like me, who craves support from like-minded people, it means I need to find fellowship with others to keep my tank full.

For years I felt like a little island when it came to writing Christian Fiction. I only knew a handful of writers in my small community, but they didn’t write Christian Fiction and, for one reason or another, I never connected with them.

Because I flourish in a supportive environment, I didn't go after my writing dream for a long, long time.

In February of this year I stumbled across something that changed my life forever: the online Christian writing community. I discovered there were hundreds of other writers out there, many of them pursuing the same dream to write stellar Christian Fiction, but the most beautiful thing I discovered is that we all speak the same heart language.

There is nothing like finding a group of Christians who are like-minded, but when they also have a passion to share the Gospel of Christ through the art of storytelling, it’s priceless.

Finding the online Christian writing community has been the best thing for my pursuit to publication. Not only have I made incredible friendships and learned how to be a better writer, I’ve also benefited from their expertise and encouragement (not to mention their connections within the publishing industry!).

If anyone ever asks me for writing advice, the first thing I will tell them is to get involved with the writing community – and the best place to do that is start visiting blogs. Here are some that jump started me in February:

Jody Hedlund, Author: www.jodyhedlund.blogspot.com

Rachelle Gardner, Literary Agent: www.rachellegardner.com

Books & Such Literary Agency: www.booksandsuch.biz/blog/

Steve Laube Literary Agency: www.stevelaube.com/blog/

Chip MacGregor Literary Agency: www.chipmacgregor.com/

What I recommend is go to these sites, leave a comment, and then click on all the other people who comment, check out their blogs and leave comments there, too. That’s how I found Lindsay!

Lindsay and Gabe at the ACFW conference in September 2012.
You’d be surprised at what you can learn, and the friendships you can make, all at your fingertips.

What about you? What blogs would you recommend to someone who wants to meet other writers? Has the online writing community helped you on your pursuit to publication?
If you are not a writer, what was something that helped you in your career of choice?
~ ~ ~ ~
Gabrielle Meyer lives in Minnesota on the banks of the Mississippi River with her husband and four young children, including two year old twin boys. As an employee of the Minnesota Historical Society for ten years, and the Morrison County Historical Society for two years, she fell in love with the rich history of her state and enjoys writing fictional stories inspired by actual events. Since 2004, she’s written for Minnesota Moments Magazine and she does freelance writing for non-profit organizations. In her “free” time she enjoys volunteering for her church and community and is a big fan of MOPS and AWANA. You can connect with her on Facebook, Twitter or her blog.

November 12, 2012

Bless the Lord Reason #8: He Reminds Me of My Blessings

Pascal and Chloe after Pascal's RETURN HOME from the hospital!
I'm just gonna say it. The last few weeks have been horrible.

Both of my dogs, including my 16-week-old puppy Pascal, got parvo. If you aren't familiar with the disease, it's a gastrointestinal virus that essentially kills the stomach lining, meaning dogs vomit blood and often die from dehydration and sepsis.

Yeah. Like I said. Horrible.

Being older, Chloe recovered quickly. But last Sunday (November 4), my husband took Pascal into the emergency clinic. They said if he'd waited any longer, we'd have woken up to a dead dog.

Horrible, horrible time.

That Monday, I thought he was a goner. I had been posting his progress on Facebook, and I wrote that we were preparing to say goodbye to him on Monday. My heart was broken.

But even in the horrible times, God brings blessings.

I am still overwhelmed to think of the support we got from friends and family. All the affirmations of prayers. All the private Facebook messages and texts asking how I was doing. Friends who even brought us meals. I mean, I fully believe our pets are our families, but I never expected that kind of outpouring of support and prayers for a little puppy.

Then, I got it. A lightbulb went off in my head. Der.

All of those people, regardless of whether they were "dog people" or not...they loved ME. They cared about what I cared about. Some knew the pain of watching a beloved pet suffering. Some didn't, but knew what it meant to me.

The love that rose up around me...I'm still overwhelmed by it. I'm tearing up right now as I write this, because I felt those prayers. Every. Last. One.

It was a horrible, horrible time, but a blessed one.

Because first of all, my puppy survived. I'm so happy to be able to say that he fought his way back to health.

But secondly and almost more importantly, God reminded me how blessed I am.

Thanksgiving is next week, and I'm thankful for so many things: my freedom, my salvation, my home, my job, my education, my writing.

But right now, can I just say...I am so, so, so thankful for YOU, dear friend. The people in our lives (and God, of course) make it worth living.

And my life is soooooo worth living to the fullest, because there are so many AMAZING people in it.

Your Turn: Has there even been a time in your life--even if it was difficult--that God used to remind you of your blessings?

November 5, 2012

Blogging Break

Hi friends.

This last week has been very tough for me. My sweet dogs (Chloe, 16 mos., and Pascal, 14 weeks) have been suffering from parvo, a horrible virus that can be life-threatening.

Thankfully, Chloe has recovered. Pascal is still fighting.

In light of all of this and the little sleep I've been getting, I'm taking a blogging break this week. I will miss you all, and I covet your prayers that my little guy will recover.

Thanks for the love.

November 2, 2012

Disney Lyrics Applied to the Writing Life

I was reared on Disney movies.

I love, love, love them.

So it's no surprise that I can find messages about the writing life within Disney lyrics.

How I felt at my first big writer's conference:

All those days watching from the windows
All those years outside looking in
All that time never even knowing
Just how blind I've been
Now I'm here, blinking in the starlight
Now I'm here, suddenly I see
Standing here, it's all so clear
I'm where I'm meant to be

-"I See the Light" from Tangled








The pep talk you have to give yourself when you feel like quitting:

I'm like a shooting star
I've come so far
I can't go back
To where I used to be

-"A Whole New World" from Aladdin












The truth about using publication as your be all and end all and not enjoying the journey:

The seaweed is always greener
In somebody else's lake
You dream about going up there
But that is a big mistake
Just look at the world around you
Right here on the ocean floor
Such wonderful things surround you
What more is you lookin' for?

-"Under the Sea" from The Little Mermaid








Reassurance for your weary writer's heart. Say it to yourself!

I'll be there someday
I can go the distance
I will find my way
If I can be strong
I know every mile
Will be worth my while
When I got the distance
I'll be right where I belong

-"I Can Go the Distance" from Hercules








Your Turn: What's your favorite Disney movie? Did I leave any good examples out?

October 31, 2012

Bless the Lord Reason #7: He Made Life Fun

Whether you celebrate Halloween or not, you've gotta admit it...dressing up is fun stuff.

Okay, maybe not everyone loves to pretend to be someone else, but I do! Here are some recent examples:

Me as Kaye in The Taffetas, a 50s musical in the style of the Andrews Sisters
Mike and I at a hobo/redneck party. He's my baby daddy. And yes, I'm slightly embarrassed to post this.
Fierce as Rizzo in Grease. Should I go brunette? ;)
Us at a Wild West Poker Night for church. Don't worry, no one was harmed by my guns.
So today, I'm blessing the Lord for His sense of humor and the fact that He allows us to have fun in this life. Good, old-fashioned fun. The kind that makes your heart leap for joy and your belly ache from laughter.

Yeah, this life has troubles.

But there's also lots of fun to be had.

So have a fun October 31, whatever you do!

Your Turn: Do you like to dress up? What is your idea of "fun"?

October 29, 2012

But to God...You Are the World

The other day, I was driving around listening to the country station and I heard this song by Brad Paisley. I love the lyrics:

To the world, you may be just another girl
But to me, baby, you are the world

My romantic heart started pitter-pattering (yeah, it's a verb) as I thought of how my husband thinks I'm special. Isn't it what we all want? To stand out in someone's mind? To be the first thing they think of in the morning? To be cherished, loved for who we are, despite our flaws?

I'm so incredibly blessed to be loved by a man like that.

But then, as my pitter-pattering heart (yeah, it's an adjective too) slowed down, another thought struck.

God thinks I'm special too.

But why would He? Doesn't He know how much I've screwed up? Doesn't He see the sin in my life? Doesn't He know that, really, I'm nothing special at all?

No.

Yeah, we've screwed up and we sin. But like a loving parent or even a spouse, He sees beyond those things.

And to Him, we ARE special.

YOU are special.

I just love the verse in Psalms: "How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered! I can't even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand! And when I wake up, you are still with me." (Psalm 139:17-18)

He's still with us.

He's still with you.

So let's replace some of the lyrics to that song.

To the world, you may be just another _______(fill in profession, gender, whatever, here)
But to Me, ______ (name), you are the world.

So for me, it might be:

To the world, you may be just another writer
But to Me, Lindsay, you are the world.

Pitter-patter. Pitter-patter.

Your Turn: Does that strike you like it does me? Fill in the blanks for yourself! What is God saying to you?

October 26, 2012

Fun Friday: My First Anthology Publication!

I'm published in this book! Isn't the cover cute?
I'm pretty excited to announce the release of Falling in Love With You, a non-fiction anthology filled with real love stories and released by OakTara, a small Christian publisher.

I tell the story of how my friendship with my husband, Mike, led to a romance unlike anything I expected.

Here's a view of the Table of Contents. So cool!

God's given me lots of "firsts" on this journey, and this is definitely one of them. I'm excited to see what He does next.

Your Turn: What "first" are you celebrating or did you celebrate most recently? It can be in regards to anything, not just writing.

*If you are interested in buying the anthology, it's on sale at OakTara, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble, although Amazon is currently showing it as "out of stock."

*Today I'm guest posting over at Gabrielle Meyer's blog about my first-ever trip to Minnesota...and the misconceptions I took with me.

October 24, 2012

Bless the Lord Reason #6: He Gives Me the Means to Learn

Okay, I'll admit it. I was one of "those" kids.

You know. The ones who liked to learn. Who--dare I say it?--liked SCHOOL!

Some of you are shuddering, gasping, sticking out your tongue in disgust.

Others are nodding, poking their hands shyly (or proudly) in the air, whispering (or shouting), "Me too."

Well, even if you weren't a fan of school itself, learning is something that many enjoy. Why? Because it takes us outside of ourselves. It makes us better. It gives us wings to pursue dreams, to chase what never could be before. And it gives us the ability to change ourselves.

Because knowledge truly is power.

No, not power in the physical or even the dictator-type sense. Well, at least, that's not how I mean it.

I mean the kind of power that transforms.

I am so grateful to the Lord for providing so many ways for me to learn. First, I live in America, where education is freely available (I use the term "freely" loosely, LOL). I was so blessed to have a first-rate education and to be able to go to college.

But as I've pointed out, that is not the only kind of learning.

I've also been blessed to find a church where the truth is preached. I have a pastor who delves into Scripture and teachers who speak truth to me.

Because even when I'm not teachable--and I'm talking about will, not ability--God's planting truths in my path and my heart.

Even when I struggle to learn something, He still gives me the MEANS to learn it.

The biggest thing I've learned?

There is so much more knowledge to gain. So much more to know about God, about people, about life.

I'm blessing the Lord because He puts the lessons in front of me and doesn't just leave me to stumble over them, confused and lost.

No, because He loves me, He gives me the ability to learn.

And if I ask, He also gives me the humility I need for such wisdom.

Your Turn: What are you learning lately?

October 22, 2012

A Great Weekend and a Winner

Gabe, me, and Mel. My arms are like soooo long in this pic. Hehe.
This weekend, I traveled to Minnesota for the My Book Therapy Storycrafters Retreat.

It. Was. Amazing.

For those who don't know, My Book Therapy is a writing craft group led by multipublished author Susan May Warren, who I cannot speak more highly of. Seriously. This lady just helped me so much. She's an amazing example of God's love and light, and a really good author too.

Me and Susie. Best. Writing Coach. Ever.
I got to see my writing buddies Gabrielle Meyer and Melissa Tagg (Mel is my critique partner). Gabe drove an hour out of her way to come and get me at the airport. She rocks!

I just got to spend time with them both at the writers conference I attended last month, but I admit...knowing this retreat was coming allowed me to not go into COMPLETE withdrawal after the awesomeness that was ACFW.

Sweetest friend and double-time roomie, Gabe!
My awesome CP and me. Her hair kept blowing in my face. LOL.
I specifically got some really fabulous advice on scene writing and Susie worked with me a little to brainstorm the next book in the series I'm planning. We even wrote a scene the last night and read it aloud yesterday morning. Susie gave us feedback right then and there.

All in all, a great weekend.

And now, I might REALLY go into withdrawal.

So to cheer myself up, I'm going to announce the winner of the Susan Meissner giveaway...

Sarah Forgrave!

Congrats, Sarah! I'll send you an email asking for your address.

Your Turn: What did you do this weekend?

October 19, 2012

Fun Friday: Candle Scents

My pumpkin spice candle. It's on its last leg. Means I get to buy a new one this season!
One of my favorite parts of fall is digging in my cabinets.

Why, you ask?

So I can find my pumpkin spice candle.

There’s just something about the smell that signifies AUTUMN to me.

And it reminds me that the holidays aren’t far away.

Your Turn: What’s your favorite candle scent?

*Today I'm headed off to the My Book Therapy Storycrafters Retreat in Minnesota (yay, I'll get to see a few friends!), so I may not be able to reply right away, but know I'm wishing all of you a happy Friday! 

October 17, 2012

Traveling to Italy with Susan Meissner (and a Giveaway)

Last May, I attended a workshop for my local chapter of American Christian Fiction Writers. Author Susan Meissner was the speaker. I had read a few of her books and absolutely loved them, so I was excited to learn from her.

Not only did I learn about plotting a book in 30 episodes, but I also learned that Susan is a very gracious, lovely person.

I chatted with her after the workshop and she was so kind and encouraging. I received a critique from her on my first manuscript at the recent writers conference I attended. And yes, I asked to get a picture with her at the gala (what can I say...I was a bit starstruck).

All in all, I love her!

Susan Meissner is the multi-published author of The Girl in the Glass as well as The Shape of Mercy, named one of the 100 Best Books in 2008 by Publishers Weekly and the ECPA’s Fiction Book of the Year. She is also a speaker and writing workshop leader with a background in community journalism, and the leader of a local writer's group, a pastor’s wife and the mother of four young adults. When she's not writing, Susan directs the Small Groups and Connection Ministries program at The Church at Rancho Bernardo in San Diego.

Susan has a new book out--The Girl in the Glass--and I thought it would be fun to ask her a little about it and give away a copy so someone else can enjoy her fantastic work. So, without further ado...

In a nutshell, what's your story about?Meg Pomeroy is a disenchanted travel book editor unsure of her father's love, still smarting from a broken engagement, and whose normally cautious mother is suddenly dating a much younger man. Her perspective on everything that matters is skewed. She escapes to Florence, Italy, on a long-promised trip, believing her father will meet her there. True to form, he’s a no-show, but the trip allows her to connect with Lorenzo DiSantis, a writer she’s met only via Skype and e-mail, and Sofia Borelli, a tour guide and aspiring writer who claims she’s one of the last Medici, and that a sixteenth-century Medici granddaughter, Nora Orsini, speaks to her through Florence’s amazing statues and paintings. When Sophia, Meg, and Nora’s stories intersect, their lives are indelibly changed as they each answer the question: What if renaissance isn’t just a word? What if that’s what happens when you dare to believe that what is isn’t what it has to be?

Since my husband and I are considering a trip to Italy in the spring/summer, I'm hooked! In its review of The Girl in The Glass, Publishers Weekly said that this book is like taking a trip to Florence. What kind of research is involved in creating that kind of experience? Why do you think readers love to take those kinds of journeys in a novel? The best kind of research is that which lets me usher the reader right into the time and place I want to take them, without them feeling anything — no motion sickness, if you will. So I need to know everything, not just facts and figures but even the subtle nuances of a time period. It means a lot of reading and note-taking. I usually end up collecting more data than I can possibly use, but I don’t always know what I’ll need until I am into the story, and the characters start talking and reacting and deciding. I think readers like the thrill of being somewhere they couldn’t visit any other way than through the pages of a book. Novels let us experience the lives of other people without having to make any of their mistakes. And we can also share their joys. And their victories. And the lessons they learned in the crucible of life.

The Girl in the Glass refers to a painting that the heroine of your novel, Meg, loves. Describe the painting and what it stands for. Because this story is set in Florence, against the backdrop of the most stunning art that can be seen today, I wanted there to be a current day painting that connected my main character, Meg, with this amazing city. The painting Meg loves features a little Florentine girl mimicking a statue whose marbled hand is extended toward her. The painting hung in her maternal grandmother’s house, a place where Meg felt loved and safe. Meg hasn’t seen the painting since she was a little girl. When her grandmother died, everything in the house was sold or parceled out to other family members. Meg knows the statue in the much-loved painting is real, that it is somewhere in Florence, and that it is likewise beckoning her to come. Since she doesn’t know where the painting is, she is set on finding the statue instead. In a way, the lost painting represents Meg’s perceived loss of her family when her parents divorced and everything stable in Meg’s life turned upside down. The idea that quirky Sofia hears the paintings and statues speaking to her is at first a little unnerving to Meg, but she’s soon wishing she could hear them.

Thanks so much for being my guest today, Susan! Where can readers connect with you?You can find me at www.susanmeissner.com and on Facebook at my Author page, Susan Meissner, and on Twitter at @SusanMeissner. I blog at susanmeissner.blogspot.com. I also send out a newsletter via email four times a year. You can sign up for it on my website. I love connecting with readers! You are the reason I write.

Your Turn: Have you ever traveled to Italy, or would you want to? Where would you like to go and what would you want to see?


Giveaway Details: One random commenter will win an autographed copy of The Girl in the Glass. I'll draw a winner (U.S. residents only) and announce the winner on Monday!

**Today I'm guest blogging at my friend Jennifer Major's site about my greatest adventure: loving a lawyer. Come say hi!

October 15, 2012

Bless the Lord Reason #5: He Gives Me Examples to Live By

Do you ever just feel...overwhelmed by all the things you're supposed to be?

Kind.

Generous.

Selfless.

Disciplined.

Loyal.

And the list goes on and on...and on.

But you know the cool thing about God?

First, He understands that we aren't perfect. And He forgives us when we are mean, ungenerous, selfish, undisciplined, and disloyal.

And the next cool thing...He doesn't expect us to go it alone. Blind.

No, instead, He gives us examples to live by.

Jesus used parables to illustrate His points, to show what we should do in certain situations. To show the power of God to transform lives. To transform us.

And in our everyday lives, He gives us people who speak truth just by the very way they live.

I'm so incredibly blessed to have so many amazing people in my life who are examples of Jesus to me. Yeah, they aren't perfect either, but they've allowed the Lord to work in and through them--and that inspires me to no end.

I had a fabulous mother and have an awesome mother-in-law and stepmom, all who have loved their children with everything in them. They give and serve tirelessly. It's the kind of mom I hope to be someday.

I thank the Lord I know what a good mother looks like, because of them.

I have a mentor, an older woman in the faith who comes alongside me and encourages me specifically in my marriage. She reminds me over and over that my marriage should be a higher priority than my work and my writing--than anything but my relationship with God. And she not only encourages me, but she lives it out in her own marriage.

I thank the Lord I know what a good wife looks like, because of her.

I have a friend who is just so generous. Despite having little kids that keep her on her toes and constantly busy, she has brought me meals when I'm overwhelmed. She's prayed for me and called me out when I needed it and encouraged me in really tough times. She's always there if I need her.

I thank the Lord I know what a good friend looks like, because of her (and many others I'm blessed to know).

My life wouldn't be the same without these amazing examples in my life. I'm a visual learner, so when I see someone living out the Lord's love, day in and day out, constant, true--I'M blessed, because I know how I should be.

Your Turn: What kind of examples are you grateful for--do you bless the Lord for--in your own life?

October 12, 2012

Exploding Heads and Frankenstein: Guest Post by Jessica R. Patch

I am so incredibly excited to have one of my best writing buddies, Jessica R. Patch, guest post for me today! Not only is Jess hilarious (as you’ll soon see), but she was one of the first bloggers to make me feel truly welcome in this writing community. When Jess and I got to meet last month at ACFW…well, she gave me the biggest hug ever. And things got silly.

Tomorrow just happens to be Jess’s birthday, so we’re gonna do a little virtual celebration. Sit back, grab a slice of cake, and hang on for some hilarious entertainment, a la the birthday girl.

***

Well, it’s October. I’m observant, aren’t I? October is one of my favorite months. Maybe my most favorite. I love Fall. I love the colors, hayrides, soups, ciders, and the smell of cinnamon in the air. And I’m a fan of Halloween. It’s not my favorite holiday. Christmas is. But I love a little mischief and costumes. Maybe it’s the writer in me and the fact I write suspense mostly.

I’m a mischievous kind of girl. Always have been. So I thought I’d share one of my favorite stories that hasn’t landed me in suspension, on house confinement, or jail.

Everyone, I hope, has a kid best friend. Well mine lived down the road and we spent summers plotting and planning ways to make a quick buck for our club—members of two. With this club money, our big goal was to rent a room at the Ramada for a night of pizza and swimming. Not the tightest goal, but for ten year olds what do you expect?

We’ve done many things. We’ve drug my brother around town as a clown with makeup, forcing him to perform for neighbors. I think we might have raised a dollar on that one, but not so sure it was worth my mom and grandma’s falling out over “loaning” me all the left over Mary Kay makeup that wouldn’t come off his face. Nothing like a red-stained face and black smudgy eyes for church. Just sayin.

One day, my friend and I decided what would be better—in October! than opening a Haunted House for the community? People would come in droves. Droves, I say! So we biked down the street and stood on the sidewalk, leaning on and old Apple tree while contemplating how we would get into the abandoned house and turn it into a Haunted thrill for paying customers.

We stared at it awhile and then inched into the yard, hidden by waist high grass. “We need to bust that glass out.”

“That might be loud and draw attention.”

Now, let me just stop right there and answer your question: If you were scared of breaking into a house that didn’t belong to you, how in the world did you think it would be okay once you did, to earn money by opening it up to the public?

I have no answer.

I was a dumb kid.

My brother happened to ride by and see us. Of course he stopped. “What are you guys doing?”

“Go home.”

“No! What are you doing?”

We told him our idea and before we had the chance to conspire once more, he nailed the back door glass with a rock and shattered the glass, sending a shattering ring for miles. We ducked in the grass, our hearts beating like scared mice in front of a starved, pregnant cat. I hate cats, btw.

When no one came around, we entered the house with our markers, crayons, tape and some old hay from a field. Yeah, I know. But whatever. We did it.

The area we stepped into was a walled-in back porch. And on the wall nearest the back door, we spotted gold.

A wall mirror!

“Hey, I bet it’d be cool if when customers came in, they looked in this mirror and instead of seeing themselves, they saw a witch!”

My friend agreed. And we started working on creating the most terrifying witch ever. Black hat, green nose and all. We didn’t quite have time to figure out how to get our own reflections off the mirror…again, dumb kids. Nope, about that time my knuckle head brother, about 7 or 8, said, “I did it!”

We turned around, and on the wall he’d plastered a dwarf size drawing of Frankenstein. In purple marker. Purple. As if that would be believable. Had he learned nothing from our witch?

Now you’re an adult and you’ve had to have seen 1st and 2nd grade drawings, right? Yeah. That was on the foam green plaster walls. I mean I can see why he would choose Frankenstein. It was two fold: 1. It’s October and hello? it’s a Haunted House. and 2. The walls were green. But still? It wasn’t a looming Frankenstein, or even a great drawing. It was sad. Really, really sad.

It was at this point, my friend’s face turned the color of one of the tomatoes in my dad’s yard size garden, which I also hated. For a moment, I seriously thought her head was going to explode and for a second longer I thought, “Dude, a bloody haunted house. That’s rad.”

And then we heard it.

The sounded of a witch’s scream.

High pitched. Piercing our ears.

I backed against the wall. My brother dropped the purple Crayola and inched next to me. Shallow pants and shaking breaths filled the back porch.

Maybe it was nothing.

Our imagination.

We heard it again, calling our names, echoing off the walls.

“Where are you?” The word “you” shook as the witch held it out.

“Don’t tell!” My brother clutched my arm. As if I’d hand myself over to a witch. My brother? Well, that’s a different story. I was always willing to offer him up on the altar of self-preservation.

“What do we do?” my friend asked.

“Maybe she’ll go away.”

But she didn’t. She just kept hollering, as if she knew we had broken into that old house and was victimizing it with our freakishly bad artistic skills.

When it finally died down, we snatched our bikes and booked it home. My friend rounding the corner and leaving dust in her trail. No time to ride her half way.

Inside, we washed our hands. Did she know?

“Where were you when I called?” My mom asked.

*We never went back to that house and I don’t know if my mom knew what we’d been up to or not. Driving around town hollering for us wasn’t unusual. Embarrassing, yes. Unusual, no. Maybe I’ll ask her. But then, I’m still kind of scared of her witchy ways. J

Happy Fall, Ya’ll!
What is your favorite Fall treat? I love caramel apples!


Jessica R. Patch writes inspirational contemporary romance with plenty of mystery and suspense. A passion to draw women into intimacy with God keeps her motivated, along with heaping cups of caffeine in the form of coffee. When she’s not hunched over her laptop or teaching the new & growing believer's class at her church, you can find her sneaking off to movies with her husband, embarrassing her daughter in unique ways, beating her son at board games and contemplating how to get rid of her irksome dog (she hasn’t attempted any of them…yet). She is represented by Rachel Kent of Books & Such Literary Agency.

Connect with Jess:

Blog: http://www.jessicarpatch.com
Twitter: @JessicaRPatch
Facebook: Jessica R. Patch, Writer

October 10, 2012

Taking the Pressure Off

Ever feel like you’re going at breakneck speed?

Like you can’t stop, won’t stop, but gotta stop or something’s gotta give?

That’s how I felt a week ago.

After attending the most amazing writers conference ever, I was on a high. I had goals. Plans. And I had to kick it in high gear to make it happen.

I laid out my plan: to write 12,000 words a week (that translates to about twelve hours of writing for me) so that I could finish my next book’s first draft by Thanksgiving.

I laid out exactly when I would write. I got very specific. That’s what you’re supposed to do when you create goals, right?

And then, lights, camera, action.

Except, the action wasn’t so hot as I’d imagined.

One reason after another—all legitimate—impeded my forward motion.

Things like working forty hours a week and being tired. Like getting a new puppy and being tired. Like teaching an online course and being tired. Like living life: trying to fit in exercise (training for 5K), cook healthy meals so we didn’t eat out every day, spend time with my husband so our marriage didn’t suffer.

And suddenly…I found myself PANICKING.

Because I’m a go-getter. A rule follower. A deadline queen. If I say I’m gonna do something, well, I’m gonna do it.

And it’s not okay to back down from something you said you’re going to do, right?

Wouldn’t that be lazy of me?

In the words of my husband, NO.

Where does he come into play? Well, last week he took me out for ice cream (which, as we all know, heals nearly any wound…or at least puts you temporarily in heaven) and we had a good chat. I really think God used him to speak truth to me and help me realize some things.

He asked me how much it would help to cut my goal down by a third: to 8,000 a week.

I thought about it. It would help relieve a lot of the pressure. I could write in smaller chunks here and there and still reach my goal.

Then he asked how much it would put me behind my original goal to do that.

I calculated. Only three weeks.

Isn’t that amazing? I was freaking out trying to get this done, when easing up a bit would make a big difference and not put me behind really that much at all.

Now understand…I don’t have an established deadline with a publisher. If I did, this would be different. What I’m talking about is self-imposed deadlines.

And I think there’s a fine line between pushing ourselves to achieve what we need to and self-imposed MADNESS.

For me, my husband helped to show me that line. He reminded me that I have a lot on my plate. I really hadn’t factored in how having a new puppy would change my schedule in the mornings and evenings. It does. No getting around it.

And he reminded me that the holidays are coming. Fall is my favorite time of year. Do I really want to put myself in a frenzy—an unnecessary frenzy—when instead I could be enjoying the season?

No.

No, I don’t.

Your Turn: Do you ever struggle to know where that line is between pushing yourself toward your goals at a reasonable, respectable pace and pushing too hard? Any tips for telling the difference?

October 8, 2012

Bless the Lord Reason #4: He Gives Me Joy


On this blog, I try to post about the ways I’ve seen God work in my life.

Sometimes, the posts are difficult ones to write. I try to be honest. To give a real glimpse of what it’s like to live in this world and still have faith.

Even when times are hard.

Even when things don’t go my way.

Even when I can’t hear a word from God though I strain and strain my ear.

But sometimes, these posts are easy as pie to write.

This is one of those posts.

Because despite all of the ways God reveals His truth to my heart—whether it be through revelations that are hard for me to hear, because they mean I’m at fault, or through the realization that this world can be a really crappy place to live sometimes—He also gives me something that makes me want to leap in the air.

Joy.

Joy.

Joy.

Joy. Down in my heart.

Where? (Everyone got that song in their head now?)  

The Lord has given me sooooo many reasons to have that genuine, wanna-bust-out-dancing, I-can’t-believe-this-is-my-life kind of joy.

He gave me an amazing husband.

A wonderful set of parents who raised me to know the Lord and gave me an awesome example.

The means to an education.

A job that takes care of my needs.

Two puppies who make me laugh, even when they’re naughty. (Well, sometimes I yell first…)

Friends who I can belly laugh with. And spill my heart to.

Scripture that draws me to my knees in worship.

Music that moves me.

A life that, even when it’s hard, is worth living.

Because I have joy. Deep abiding joy that only hope in the Lord can bring.

Why, oh Lord, have you favored me with this life?

I don’t know. I don’t. But I’m so grateful for the joy You bring me. Bless Your name for that.

Your Turn: How has the Lord given you joy?

*Photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net