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Tuesday, July 31, 2007

The real and the fake...

Tonight I was at Words for the Journey and Heather spoke about blogs and blogging as writers. Huh. I be a writer. I blog. One of the points she made that made me think (oh no, not that!) is that our blogs are promotional tools for our writing. More importantly, our blogs should be related to our writing and geared at the same audience.

On one hand, thinking about that scared me, because anyone who's read this blog for a long time knows that I blog about anything and everything. I'm all over the place. And I thought, maybe I'm blogging all wrong. *gasp* the horror! I've had a blog for over three years now and one would hope I was getting it right.

After the meeting, a bunch of us sat in the coffee shop where a lovely Starbucks barista gave us a coffee tasting demonstration. And then, we did the usual writer thing and talked until they kicked us out for closing. (I really meant to write, really I did, but is it MY fault they had to close?) We talked about a lot of things, but the thing I keep coming back to is that the common theme through each piece of the discussion is that we were all trying to live out our lives as Christians in an authentic way.

And so, as I drove home, I realized that is exactly why my mishmash blog relates to my writing. I'm transparent in my blog (and hopefully, my life) because I want my authentic journey to be a witness to others. Not just in the sense that God did some incredible miracle in my life (and He's done a lot), but that I am a wretched, imperfect being who loves Jesus. And while I do (and say!) a lot of dumb things, God loves me. But see, it isn't just about me. It's about you. It's about the love God has for you, no matter what dumb things you've done.

See, I've been there. And some days, I'm still there, sitting in my hole of doom, wondering how God could love a total screw up like me. That after a day like today, where I literally had so much anger and frustration over all the stress I'm under compounded with a three year old who spends every waking moment pushing all of my buttons that I had to leave for a while, God still thinks I'm the perfect mommy for my beautiful children. He knew I was going to have a mental meltdown before He ever gave me these two little (sometimes) angels.

I write about these things in my books. Real people, who could be you, me, or the girl next door. One of my favorite movies is 13 going on 30. I love the whole redevelopment concept she has for the magazine, reading about real women, not the fake airbrushed crap. If you want to know the kind of stories I write, those are the kind I love. Ironic, since my new story is about a celebutante, but even that is about drawing the realness out of people we see only as icons. That underneath the tabloid stories, they are people with hopes, dreams, and even feelings. I write about human beings, because in this world, we've forgotten what it means to be human. While others may write about aliens or werewolves or vampires, I want to write about real people. Maybe it's not "hot" right now, but it's real. Frankly, there is so much fake in our world right now, that I truly believe we need a little something real to ground us and let us know that it's okay to be imperfect.

Case in point: last night, for the first time in a couple weeks, I was able to take a bath. Which, as many know, is my way of regaining sanity. And, as always, I took a book in with me. Now this book had come highly recommended and I'd gotten it as a freebie at RWA. Gag, Gack, and Vomit. Were it not for my highly refined anal retentive side that demands I finish reading every book I start because I must know the ending and how they got there, I wouldn't have finished it. A lot of things bothered me about this book, not the least of which was the fact that had I marked out all of the steamy parts, I'd have ended up with barely enough material for a novella. The worst thing, though, was the constant attempted rape that increased heroine's arousal.

Now, I know from research that yes, some people do experience an involuntary arousal at being raped. However, WHY would an ordinary human being WANT to experience this repeatedly? So WHY are people writing books about this being a GOOD thing?

Interestingly enough, out of the five women that were having coffee tonight, 4 had experienced some sort of sexual abuse. 4 out of 5. The other had dealt with sexual issues as well as emotional abuse. Is reading about someone enjoying being raped something these women really want to do? Of course not.

And yet, these books and books like it are selling like hotcakes. Authors of this sort of book will tell you that it's all based on fantasy. It's fake, so it doesn't matter.

On behalf of the other women out there who've experienced abuse, let me just say, it does matter. It is not okay to abuse another human being. I have a very satisfying relationship with my husband that I treasure. It is satisfying because he touches me in love, respect, desire, trust, and other decent and honorable emotions. And when I write, I want my stories to reflect those values. We do not have to settle for a man who mistreats us or accept a reflex action of our bodies as satisfying. We are beautiful, holy princesses, belonging to God Himself. That is something real. Anything else is a complete and utter fake, and I'm not really interested in it.

So, when you read my blog, my books, or have the chance to meet me in person, you're going to find it's probably a mishmash of a lot of things. But the thing tying it all together is my genuine desire to present the very real grace God has given all of us, no matter where we are in life.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Things to do instead of writing...

1. Monthly updates. We are almost at the first of the month and I do have content to change on the boards.
2. Reports, emails, and other miscellaneous tasks for work. Gotta get done, you know.
3. Pulling pork off of leftovers from last night for pulled pork sandwiches. We do have to eat.
4. Update my contact list in Outlook. Again, must be done. How else will I get my emails sent out?
5. Research homeopathic remedies for insomnia. I'm tired of not sleeping.
6. Research to see if my friend's ex's sleazebag realtor has their house listed online (they don't).
7. Drool over my new house pictures again.
8. Search online for bedding for the baby. I'm still not allowed to drive.
9. Search online for furniture.
10. Search online for bookcases, having realized that I will no longer have my built in 10x15 bookcase.
11. Research decorating ideas.
12. Cut my fingernails. They're getting too long and are getting stuck in they keys.
13. Talk to The Dog.
14. Make That Man's lunch for tomorrow.
15. Do laundry.
16. Pull weeds.
17. Catch up on emails from friends.
18. Make a spreadsheet of all the scenes in my book. Gotta get organized, you know.
19. Make a spreadsheet of the information for the online event we're planning for October. It's going to be way fun, you should come.
20. Visit travel sites to research the possibility of kidnapping That Man for a romantic getaway.

So that's what I did today. And actually, the work portion mentioned above did take a while. The boss lady had a brilliant idea for an event in October. Which is fine, but as soon as I said it was a good idea, she said, "okay, plan it." So, while the rest of the family went to the lake (I couldn't go since I still have stitches), I ended up working.

I don't know why I'm procrastinating, except that I'm killing off a nice character, and that's hard. Actually, I'm killing off the sainted Gracie. The fun thing about killing a saint is that as she lays dying, I'm revealing her not-so pretty side. Even saints have their secrets. ;) Oh yeah, I haven't mentioned Gracie yet. This is the new book. I promise, I will get back to editing soon. I'm just having loads of fun writing something new, and with all the stress in my life at the moment, I need some fun. I am taking an online course on editing, so once I'm done with all the mess, it's back to the editing table. But first, Gracie must die.

Ode to my beloved IKEA

Yes, the time stamp is correct. Yet again, I can't sleep. Ugh. So, as usual, I decided to take my sleepless time and turn it into productive time. On tonight's agenda- decorating and furnishing the baby's room.

She really wants a Dora room. However, I went that route in giving big sister a Pooh room, and now she hates it. So B is getting a cowgirl room in the new house. But the baby... I have no clue. I thought I'd do something floral and cute, then stick a few Dora things on the wall, that way, when she gets sick of Dora, I can just peel them off and she'll have a normal kid room.


Can I find anything I like? No.

Then it hit me... I should check my beloved IKEA. So I went to their online site, and of course, found a few things I liked. No bedroom sets, but a lot of fun decor I know the girls will love. HOWEVER, none of it is available online. I have to get it at a store. Given that the nearest store is over 400 miles from my house, I'm slightly irritated. Why, oh why, did my beloved Staci introduce me to the place when we were in Atlanta?

What I really don't get is how they can put one in Draper, Utah, and not one in Denver. Obviously, they've been smoking a little too much of something. Denver is better than Draper. And so here I am, unable to sleep, and unable to soothe myself by buying some things I need for the new house because IKEA taunted me by showing them online and then said they couldn't ship them to me.

So this is not a loving ode, even though I completely heart IKEA. No, this is an ode of great depths of depression. Oh IKEA, why? Come to Denver soon, my beloved.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

On being a slug

I hate slugs. They are slimy little nasty creatures. Recently, we had to deal with a slug invasion and the kiddos decided to make pets of them. ICK!

However, today I decided that I am one.

It seems to me that slugs generally go after easy pickings and then they go away. Which is what I've done today.

A little over a year ago, I made a promise to myself that I wouldn't start a new story until I'd mastered rewriting. So far, I've been very good with it, aside from some minor infractions involving a few quick outlines so I wouldn't forget the idea. But tonight, I critted a piece for a friend that reminded me of one I have waiting to be rewritten, and I realized that I have no sense of objectivity when it comes to my own writing. Her book has the EXACT problems this one had. I finally permanently shelved mine because I couldn't figure out how to fix them.

And there I was, sitting at my computer with two hours of writing time left on the clock for the evening, and I chose to be a slug. I wrote the easy thing. Yes, my friends, I started a new book. A sort of "fly in the face of what Krista said sells, but not really" book. Or at least I hope that's what it is. Actually, what Krista said is that our readers want small town heroines they can relate to. Well, I'm doing the small town setting thing, but my heroine... well, I don't want to say who I'm basing her off of, because I don't want to get sued, but think of celebutantes in the news, and there ya go. My heart just breaks for these women, making incredibly poor choices, and I want so badly for them to be redeemed and see the truth. So, since I can't walk up to them and smack them, I figured I'd make a story up that redeems them. :) So a semi-unrelatable heroine, since none of us will ever experience Hollywood, and yet, relatable, because I'm bringing her to a small town and putting her smack-dab in the middle of humanity.

And I am having a TON of fun! It's 1 a.m. and I don't want to stop writing! So I won't. Because if I go to bed, I'll just lay awake thinking about the story, and at some point, That Man will get irritated with me and tell me to go to my computer. :)

However, I'm still a slug. It's so much easier to write something new than to figure out how to fix what I already have. Maybe once I'm settled in the new house. I think I can handle it then. Unless, of course, I'm too engrossed in this new story.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Thursday Thirteen # 13: Danica's tips for a happy marriage

ThirteenTips for a happy marriage- Danica style!

1. The wife is always right.
2. Every morning is a gift of life to the husband, as the wife may kill him at any time.
3. The husband makes the money, the wife spends the money.
4. When the husband is angry with the wife, he should recall with gratitude that he woke up to a new day.
5. If the wife ain't happy, ain't no one happy.
6. Major discussions should always occur in the kitchen, where the wife has easy access to her butcher knives and sharpening thingy.
7. The proper way of addressing the wife is: Imperial Queen Highness.
8. Fear is a beautiful thing. Nothing keeps a man by a woman's side better than knowing that if he moves, he's dead.
9. Humor is an important glue to keep things together, especially when the gun backfires.
10. Life insurance is a beautiful thing.
11. Gas runs cars, but ruins marriages.
12. The husband should plan his funeral well in advance, as it may be sooner than he thinks.
13. When the wife gets that wild-eyed crazy look, RUN!

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007


Yesterday, I blogged about the worry plaguing me. Today, my friend Diane called to catch up, and oddly enough, she's dealing with the same things. Huh. Funny how that works. One of the great points we ended up at was the importance of communication.

I made a point yesterday that God isn't the one ending the conversation. Even though I'm being a big fat silly head, God is still there, letting me know that He loves me anyway. While it's wrong that I continue to worry and butt heads, the thing I do right, and the thing He wants us to do, is that I'm still talking to Him.

Diane is going through a period of extreme testing. She's been in a valley for about as long as I have. And while it's not exactly the same valley, we both seem to be able to relate to where the other is. We both feel like we're right at the edge of finally getting somewhere. However, even though we're so close we can feel and taste victory, it seems that our struggles are even more difficult. We are bombarded with worry. We are bombarded with challenges.

Yet we are victorious.

It sounds odd, but we're getting what we want, even though it seems like we have had to struggle even harder. We both asked a lot of God. When I began the house quest nearly four years ago, I knew it would take a miracle. I asked for a miracle house. Where, in that request, did any of the print read that it would be easy? Miracles are not easy. So here I am, dealing with something hard, and I'm mad that it's not easier.

In our conversation, Diane and I realized that the whole point of these struggles is that God wants us to lift our faces to Him and see Him. "Look to Me," He's calling out. But because we're big dorks, we keep looking inward and whining about our situation. "Look to Me," He tells us again, and we say, "But God, you don't know how hard it is." "Look to Me," He says even louder, "Because I DO know what you're dealing with, and if you'll only trust me, I promise, it'll be okay."

The conversation with God doesn't end there. See, He wants to do great things in our lives. He wants us to have good things. But mostly, He wants to be glorified through our lives. When you pray prayers like Diane and I dare pray, prayers something along the lines of: "God, I want to glorify you through my life," He does just that. Unfortunately for the person behind the prayer, it means you've opened your life up to harder testing and deeper valleys that magnify His work.

After all, it would be a pretty boring story if I said, "I want a new house," I bought a house, and everything worked out perfectly. However, I can honestly say that when this is all over, and we're settled into our new house, that only by the grace of God did it happen. And I think, for those who've been around us the past few years, they will truly see how God worked in our lives.

The conversations are important. Both the ones I have with God, and the ones I have with others along the journey. It's how we grow, see growth, and lay the groundwork for even more in the future.

But I'd still really really like for Him to tell me how. :)

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Weird obedience lessons

Yes, friends, this is another installment in stupid conversations Danica has with God. I figure if Todd can have an awesome album called "Better Questions," then perhaps people will benefit from my um, yeah. At the very least, we can call my journey "If Dummy can get into heaven, so can you." Seriously. Life as a Christ follower does not require being a rocket scientist. It does, however, require a willingness to have some of the harder discussions with God that may ultimately lead you to saying, "D'oh!"

Allow me to present my recent dialogue with God.

"I can't sleep again because I'm worried about the house and the money and all the stuff we have to get done."
"It's going to be okay."
"Yeah, but how? Have you seen my list of things to do? The list of things I'm worried about? How on earth is all of this going to be accomplished?"
"I'm not on earth."
Long sigh. "I know. But..."
"I told you it's going to be okay."
"I know. But..."
"Have we not gotten past the but thing?"
Apparently not. It seems that when it all boils down to the essence of Danica, I'm just one big but.
"Okay, God. Can you just tell me how?"
"Trust me."

And so, I have spent the past several weeks averaging a couple hours of sleep a night. I've given up on sleeping pills, as well as the pain pills that usually make me sleep but now only make me loopy. Fortunately, I'm no longer in pain. My stitches really itch though. Anyway, nothing works. I lie awake and worry. And worry. Somewhere between That Man getting up for work and my children getting up for the day, I fall asleep. Which is a slight problem given that my children are known terrorists and I have to have my house ready to show at any minute. Welcome to my hell.

But God, because He's good about teaching me lessons, has started to play a little game with me.

"You're not sleeping again."
"I know. I'm worried."
"Go balance your checkbook."
"Okay." So I balance my checkbook. Which leads to me worrying even more because we have more money going out right now than in. I HATE July. It's an expensive month to begin with because a lot of yearly bills are due now, so add in all the house expense, plus the added expenses from my health issues, PLUS the fact that my invoice was lost in cyberspace so I didn't get paid this month.
"Now go to sleep."
"I can't. Did you see the balance? Did you see the stack of bills? What I am going to do?"
"Trust me."
"I know. You've taken care of everything so far, and we've been in worse spots that you've saved us from. But I just don't know how it's going to work out. Can you just tell me how?"
"No. You have to trust me."
"I do. I just want to know how. And I want to know what I need to do next."
"Fine. Go work on your article. Then go to bed."
"Okay." And I do.

I am seriously a lunatic. I cannot get my brain to shut up and stop worrying. I do believe that God will take care of us. But because I don't know how, I am going insane. And the really crazy part is that when He asks me to trust Him, I do, but I can't. (Todd, by the way, has a wonderful song on the new album called "Funny" that speaks to this very issue. You have bought it, right?)

Oddly enough, when God has given me a specific task, like, balancing my checkbook, I jump right up and do it. But the big things, like letting go and really trusting Him without knowing how, I just... can't.

I think, though, what I am grateful for, is that God loves me in spite of the fact that I'm being such a pain. Even though I'm frustrated with myself because I want to be obedient and just can't figure it out, He's still here. The conversation doesn't end, He doesn't go stomping off mad because I just don't get it... AGAIN. He just wraps me in His arms and says, "It's okay. I'm still going to take care of you."

Somewhere down the line, I will figure this lesson out. But, just as I get a handle on this one, God will have something else to show me. That's the thing. I'll never be quite done until I've left the earth. Wow. The Martyr's song just started playing (and even though you should still buy Better Questions, the version with the Dekker book is better). I think God can't wait to show me all the answers to the questions that I bug Him with. But mostly, I think He's going to say, "See! I told you to trust me. You never had a thing to worry about."

So please tell me why I'm still worrying!!!

You know it's a good day when...

You FINALLY get a chance to watch the DVD that comes with the special edition of Todd Agnew's Better Questions CD.

Please tell me you have the CD now.

It's been out almost a week.

If not, buy it already.

I pre-ordered, so I've been able to listen to it online for a few weeks now. And WOW!!! If he didn't already have the status of being my beloved twin brother, he'd totally have it now. What amazes me is how well he captures so many of my own thoughts and translates it into this melody that turns "dumb Danica questions" into incredible worship.

So go on already. Buy it. Click the link and just do it. You won't regret it. And if, for some sick reason, you hate the CD, let me know and I'll buy it from you. Then I'll stick you on my enemy prayer list and we'll pray you recover from your brain sickness.

Other things that made my day good:

1. I did not kill my children
2. I did not kill my neighbor's child
3. I did not kill my husband
4. I did not kill my dog
5. I did not kill the people who made my class extremely difficult this evening
6. I wrote a check for a really lot of money to put with an offer for a house
7. I sent off a submission
8. I worked on a requested article submission
9. I did not vomit
10. I got to visit my favorite website, dictionary.com
11. I got to visit my second favorite website, bible.org
12. I gave up my dream house in favor of That Man's dream house (even though it made me want to cry, vomit, and break out in hives)
13. I wrote an outline and my computer did not combust
14. I spent a lot of time in prayer
15. I committed to chasing my dreams rather than waiting for them to come bite me in the behind.

So how was your day?

Now go out and buy the CD if you haven't already.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Oh where, oh where has the Dream-y gone?

I seriously need a vacation from my life. The only trouble is, it'll be waiting for me when I get back. Trust me, I know.

Last week, I was off at RWA in Dallas having a fabulorific time. I came home, and the universe exploded. Okay, so I knew it was going to, as some of it was scheduled. The rest, well, I kinda sorta prayed for, but it was one of those, "be careful what you pray for," prayers.

Monday, we received an offer on our house. Now, before you get excited, and the reason why I am not shouting from the rooftops yet, is that it's contingent on a couple of things that shouldn't be too big of a deal, but I'm being conservative. The house is still technically listed, so if you want a tres faboo house in Colorado, do let me know. And trust me, after everything we've looked at today, I can say with great confidence that you will have a hard time finding a nicer house than mine.

However, we could not enjoy the moment, because Tuesday was spent negotiating the deal, and Wednesday, I went in for surgery. For those not in the loop, which trust me, is purely unintentional, since I don't really have a loop, I finally caved to the pressure of doctors thinking I was nuts for resisting, and the increasing pain and discomfort with eating anything that tasted good, and had my gall bladder removed. Wahoo me.

I did take my doctor's advice and spent the night in the hospital, which, believe it or not, was quite lovely. Although I didn't get as much of a chance to read as I would have liked. I did read one book, so all was not lost. The nurse looked at me funny when I let her know I had five books with me and was worried I'd be bored.

I am progressing nicely, everyone says that I look and get around much better than they'd thought. I also had a wonderful happy moment, because the doctors would not let me go home unless I could say I had someone to stay with me and help with the kids. Yes, they met my children. I had a friend lined up, but at the last minute, she asked to cancel because this ministry thing she's been working on needed her that day. So I called around, and two wonderful people stepped up to help me.

The first is a girl I actually don't know all that well. Her family joined our bible study group, but had to drop out due to scheduling, so we only met 2 or 3 times. But since I've been ill, she's been volunteering left and right to help, so I called her. What an amazing woman. She arrived at my house bearing items to bake cookies with my kiddos to keep them occupied while I rested. She is my new second best friend. Seriously. Plus, the conversation was great, and I think she is a very dear woman.

The reason she is only my second best friend is that my best friend, I mean, my bestest best friend in the whole world, totally pulled through, and reminded me why she is truly my bestest best friend. I left her a message, basically thinking that it was an off chance, but maybe she'd by some miracle be off work that day and be able to come stay with me for a while. She called back, and Wow! She took the day off. For me. Because I needed her. I am so humbled and awed. It's hard for her to take work off, but she did. I'm still semi speechless, because I don't have many people in my life like that. Most of them are willing to do things for me when it's convenient, or if it's not, they make sure I understand what a sacrifice it is for them. And yet, the person who could least afford it insisted on doing it because she wanted to be there for me. She said it was not open for discussion, because she knew I'd do it for her, and that's the kind of friends we are. Period.

I have literally been thanking God every couple of hours for her. Not because anything huge happened. Actually, it was quite uneventful. The kiddos were good, I sat around, feeling like a dork for not doing anything, and we just chatted about things. BUT No matter where I am in life, even if we've been so busy that it's been months since we've connected, she is always there. And it just felt really good to sit and have a cup of tea with someone who loves and understands me in such a profound way that we can just drink our tea and not have to say anything else. Of course, we did say a lot of things, but there were so many that we didn't need to say.

So before I go on with the description of my whirlwind life, take a moment to stop and be thankful for your friends. Especially the ones you know will always be there, willing to drop something important and have it be their absolute pleasure to do so. And then, because I'm being extremely sentimental, and have probably had a few too many pain pills over the past few days (for you worrywarts, that translates to less than half the dose I'm supposed to be taking), I want you to take another moment and think about something else.

As special as Sara is to me, and as much as I am so blessed to have her in my life, I have a greater friend. At the risk of sounding cheesy, I just have to point out that God's love is far greater than anything I could possibly imagine. He has given up far more than anything anyone has ever given me, and He has done it with a joyful heart. See, I have this thing about being given things. If it's not done cheerfully and with a whole heart, I don't want it. It's why That Man and I fight in odd ways. I get mad at him when I win, because I never want what I've won to be about that. I want him to give me what I want because he wants to give it to me with all of his heart. The cool thing about God is that He always gives like that. And I love these moments when the humans in my life give me the slightest glimpse into God's heart and remind me that as perfect as the moment is, God is like that eternally and in a far greater way.

And so here I am, at the end of this insane week, and because much of my time since the offer has been taken up with hospitaling, recuperating, and pondering the greatness of God, I've got three weeks until the anticipated sale of my house, and I have no idea where we're going to live!

Today, we had to be out of the house most of the afternoon because we had showings. Then, we went and looked at new houses. We saw ten houses. I was very disappointed. Still am. When I think about all the work we've done, fights we've had, ways I've almost maimed or ended That Man's life, I feel pretty sick to know that most people selling their homes don't put as much care into the process as we did. We've been praying for our buyers (and our new house!) for months now. My house is as close to show-home condition as an older house with kiddos and dog can get. Yet everything out there in our price range is crap. And honestly, even though I said I was willing to do a fixer upper, I have no energy for it. I will be leaving a nice house to move into... crap. I've sorta gotten used to nice after having crap for so long.

So tomorrow, we're back out, looking at houses for sale, hoping that we finally find "The One." We seriously need to put an offer out soon. And even though I am yet again sleepless and discouraged, I am also strangely at peace. None of my grand plans appear to be working out, and I am finally at the point of accepting that I have to let go of some of the things I really want. Which is okay. Because I think back to my earlier thoughts on God. He is faithful.

I've been praying for our new house for years now. Literally years. Honestly, it has been heartbreaking at times. A few months ago, God asked me to set aside my preconceived ideas and accept the house He had for me. So I said okay. I stopped thinking about my new house and focused all of my energies into creating a dream house for someone else. This hasn't been my house for a really long time. I'm really ready for a home. My home. I felt discouraged, looking at ten homes that were clearly crap. I wondered if yet again, I would be forced to settle. But as I think, and pray, and write, I realize more that He is merely doing what I asked. Answering my prayers for a miracle house that will be a home to glorify Him. When you think about it, that's not really an easy thing. It would have been anticlimactic to walk into the first house (and yes, the exact one I've been praying He'd let us have) and for it to shout out, "welcome home!"

Let go of preconceived ideas.

Isn't it funny, how when we pray for something, we always have the answer we want in mind? And yet, how many times does God have something even better, if we just let Him give it to us. We may not even know, because we've never taken the time to find out.

Okay, I'm totally discombobulated now. I started out thinking one thing, and went off on my usual tangents, and then started doing the deep spiritual thing, and now I don't remember where I was going. Or why. Or how. Or any of that stuff. Now you know why I take as little of the pain medication a possible. I honestly don't know how people get addicted to it. I can't function well on it, and I hate that feeling. I'm disconnected and fuzzy enough as it is without adding pills that increase it. I'm sorta tired, and I'd like to go to bed, but it's super hot in here right now, and I'm all sweaty and the sweat gets into my incisions and feels yucky. Even though I'm supposed to be letting go of what *I* want, would it be okay if I prayed for God to give me a house with air conditioning?

Friday, July 20, 2007

ACFW Conference- Are you in?

First, my apologies to those who came here yesterday expecting a blog about the conference and found I hadn't updated. I got back from the hospital later last night than I'd originally planned, so I didn't get a chance to get online.

Sooo, anyway... the ACFW conference!

The American Christian Fiction Writers is holding their annual conference September 20-23 in Dallas. It'll be my first ACFW conference. For whatever reason, that weekend in September is one of those cosmically bad weekends. I usually have 4 or 5 separate events in different parts of the country so I always have to choose. This year, I decided that the conference had to be a priority. I keep missing out on seeing great friends. Plus, even though I attend a lot of writing conferences, there is something different about attending one specifically geared toward Christians. I found that out at the Colorado Christian Writers Conference.

So here I am, making a commitment to attending ACFW this year.

And, because we know I don't do anything halfway, I'm also signed up to teach a course on taxes for writers. Those who read my blog regularly know that during the tax season, I'm an insane tax preparing machine. One of the things I've noticed every year is how little the average American understands about taxes. More importantly, I've found that the average self-employed business person (aka WRITERS) are doing their taxes wrong because they heard from their brother in law's second cousin's neighbor's best friend that they could do some weird thing on their taxes. When I mentioned this to a few friends at ACFW, they said, "Hey, you should teach that at conference." Well, alrighty then.

Actually, it was a good fit. I'm going into year two of teaching tax classes, so adding in a class especially for writers isn't a stretch for me. And hopefully, I'll be able to help educate a few more folks about doing their taxes right. Staying within the law AND getting the best deduction possible.

I'll be teaching on the following:

Tax time can be a frightening and dreaded experience for a lot of people, particularly to creative writer-types. In this workshop, writers will learn some practical tips for making the most of tax time, including:

1. Tax Basics
2. Keeping tax records organized
3. Is it a hobby, or is it a business?
4. Important deductions and expenses for writers
5. The Home Office-to deduct or not to deduct
6. Travel Expenses
7. Making the estimated tax nightmare manageable

If you haven't signed up yet, now is the time to do so! You never know what you'll learn!

See you in Dallas!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Quickie and then I'm outtie...

We won't discuss what an insane day it's been. Really. No, really.

The good news is that God has been revealing Himself to me in pretty cool ways lately. Mostly in the sense that I have so many big things on my mind lately. I literally have been unable to get a decent sleep because all I can think about is that looming list of everything I have to do. It's scary when Miss Unorganized Woman of the Century has taken to making Excel Spreadsheets of all the things going on. I made two tonight. I think That Man may actually kill me if I hand him another list or ask him to help make me another list. That'd be weird, having HIM issue the death threats for a change.

But in the midst of this craziness, God is giving me a weird peace in terms of making sure everything is taken care of. I've been especially anxious over some silly little things. Even though I'm sure God wishes I'd be a little less neurotic about it, He has been so amazingly good in saying, "here ya go," and making the thing I'm worried about all better.

Case in point: We are in the whole house selling/buying nightmare. One big worry I've had is the earnest money. We dumped our savings into fixing up this house. Well... That Man has a special vacation fund through work and I figure we've got just about enough in it. So that was a nice God thing. But here's the best part. Since we're moving faster than I'd thought, and That Man is moving slower than I'd thought, we don't have the money. You have to put in a written request and then they send you a check. Today, after everything I had to do, I raced to the place with the form, and they were closed. I had driven clear across town, through traffic, and was going to have to head home through rush hour. I was so disappointed. In addition, I wasn't going to be able to bring the paperwork down again for another week. I kinda got mad for a second, because I just feel like all the little things that I'm trying so hard to juggle keep falling apart.

But I kicked myself in the behind, and I prayed. I prayed and I prayed. And I sat in front of that office and waited. Then, someone noticed me, and even though it was past closing time, she came out, took my form and put it in for processing.

On the drive home, traffic wasn't as bad as I'd thought it would be. It was just enough for God to have a few words with me. Oddly enough, I've never had a hard time trusting Him with the big stuff. But the little things get me all freaked out. That was the lesson I learned today. He's not just the God of "big stuff", but of "little stuff" too.

Okay, so maybe it wasn't so quick. But it sure was a good story about God.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Shelter from the Insanity of Mommydom

HA! I wish!

I returned home late last night, excited to see my little demons, er, cherubs, after a long absence. I guess I was sort of hoping I'd get the "I missed you so much, Mommy!" before I got the, "What'd you bring you me?" But no, they wanted to make sure I returned laden with gifts BEFORE they let me know how much they missed me. *sigh* Ah well, at least I'm raising good little capitalist pigs. LOL

Actually, they did miss me, and they are now firmly attached to my side. The baby has asked if she could live in my belly again so that way, next time I leave, she can come with me. Although that could have been inspired by the revolving restaurant I ate in that she now wants to visit.

I struggled with the amount of gifts to bring back. On one hand, I did want to give them nice things. On the other hand, I never want them to think that the gift is the most important part of my homecoming, since I do tend to travel a lot. I often wonder if God ever has these same debates with Himself. He wants to give us good things, but He doesn't want our focus to be so much on what we're receiving that we lose sight of the Giver.

I'm especially thoughtful on this topic right now because my friend Mary DeMuth has a new book out, Authentic Parenting in a Postmodern Culture and I'm supposed to be blogging about it. I'm ashamed to say, I have not read it yet, though I'm hoping to by the end of the week. I've always loved Mary and her perspective on parenting, because she's not one of those "perfect" moms who get it all right, all the time. However, she is intentional about being the best mom she can and improving all the time. Which is the kind of mom I'd like to think I am. I'm passionate about parenting- there are too many children being raised in a world with people whose only hope is to get them to age 18 alive. Okay, so that's my hope too. But I also hope that my children get there as good people, and more importantly, people who know and love God.

You can visit Mary here and if you want to buy it and get an autographed copy, you can get it here.

Later this week, I'll post the cover and more information about the book. For now, you can check out other folks on the tour and what they have to say:
For a complete listing of the blogs participating in the six week tour, visit here.
5 Minutes for Mom
Be a Barnabas
Cheaper by the Half Dozen
Christian Preschool Printables
Christian Work at Home Moms
Dawn Morton Nelson
Getting Real
Good Word Editing
Illuminating the Word Through Fiction
Radiant Lit
Simplifying Motherhood
Spoiled for the Ordinary
The Journey of Writer Danica Favorite

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Glittering and Fluttering (without being overstated)

Last night was the big finish. The Rita awards ceremony. We dressed up, got pretty, and sat through the awards ceremony. I made the mistake of eating a huge lunch, not being hungry at dinnertime, and not having dinner. Midway through the ceremony, my stomach let me know that was a bad idea. I sat on pins and needles, not because my friends were up for awards, but because I was counting the minutes until I could eat.

Afterward, I had to wait forever in the food line. Sadly, it was all stuff I'm not supposed to eat, but I ate it anyway. :) I had a point to that, but I forget. I'm a little tired. Okay, a lot.

We ended up at the coffee shop, chatting with more friends, and we saw Virginia Kantra, who paid me the loveliest compliment. She said that I "glitter and flutter without being overstated." She gushed a little bit over how nice I looked, and I felt like a princess. Then I got my picture with a real princess, Jacquie D'Alessandro. I'd post a picture but I packed my camera download-y thing, and I'm not entirely sure where it is. In the next week or so, I'll put up all my pics so folks can see them.

Most people who know me know that I'm not a girly girl. I'm a jeans and t-shirt sort of person, so I don't dress up all that much. I'm usually just pleased my clothes are clean and match. But I have to say, that being a princess for a night is a lot of fun. Hmmm... now that I think about it, I was a princess for two nights. We got dressed up and rode a limo to the Harlequin party. I love my boss. If a limo's an option, she's all over it. LOL. Okay, there were so many of us that a limo was actually cheaper, but let me dream here.

The limo ride was one of the more interesting rides I've had in a long time. The driver was INSANE. The music was super loud, and it shook the whole limo. We couldn't turn it down. We'd scream around corners, and I think I ended up in just about everyone's lap at one point or another. There's got to be a story in this somewhere.

I don't know what else to say about the Harlequin party... for the first time in six years, we left early. A bunch of us weren't feeling well, so we went back to the hotel and went to bed. ICK. I don't think we missed too much, though. I've decided, that despite the deejay asking for requests, they use the exact same playlist year after year. Which is fine by me. The music is good for dancing. I have to remember to post the picture of Wayne, our pimp daddy. Er, I mean, my fellow host. They were playing "it's raining men," and here's Wayne, in the middle of the dance floor, surrounded by cheering women. Lucky guy.

I'm being random, I know. I was supposed to blog about glittering and fluttering, and last night, as I fell asleep, I had something brilliant in mind. But I forget what it was. Okay, Cheryl aka my roomie is finally packed, so now we're supposed to spend the rest of the afternoon working.

I think I'd rather take a nap.

Friday, July 13, 2007

What do writers do at conferences, anyway?

1. We eat. (Note the pretzels on the bed, chocolate on the nightstand and other assorted goodies throughout the room)
2. We go to workshops. Really. I did attend one. Krista even mentioned me on the tape.
3. We eat. I'm still full from the luncheon we had for our authors.
4. We socialize. Er, network. It just so happens that my best friends are also good business connections.
5. We eat. Room service is on the way.
6. We party. Last night was the PJ party, tonight the Harlequin party, and tomorrow, the Rita party.
7. We eat. There's some yummy goodies at the parties. Chocolate fountain, anyone?
8. We get free books. I'm up to 2 boxes and change. Research, you know.
9. We eat. I'll be hungry after tonight's party. All that dancing.
10. We are inspired.

Writing is a weird, solitary job. But at conferences, we're allowed to re-connect, and find a little more of that spark to keep us going for the next year or so. However, when that's not working so well, we play!

And just so you really get the picture of how insane we are... here's exhibit A: an innocent bed. My innocent bed. Quite pretty, really. Except we didn't know what that big round pillow was for.

Baseball, anyone?

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Nothing profound to report


God and I have been talking about homeless people, and it's been interesting. But mostly, out of the conversations, I came across something else.

I spent the afternoon exploring downtown Dallas. I didn't exactly mean to, but I had a few errands to run, and I needed to eat something that wasn't overpriced and undercooked. I ended up at this place called Thanksgiving Square . I meandered through the garden, reflected on the Scriptures, and all I could think of was how God had put me right where I needed to be. I can't explain many of the events of the past few months. Even though I have to say that they have been among the most difficult of my life, I am so thankful for where God has brought me.

I returned to the hotel and ran into some of my very dear friends. I have to say that I hate living so far from the people I love the most. I seriously love these people. I can't wait to see more of them.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Dallas or Bust... on a flying Sea Otter?

Yep, Sherman the Sea Otter was my transport to Dallas. A very interesting flight, not the least of which was all the smoke that came pouring out as we arrived at the gate. A lot of very relieved, "Thank God it didn't happen while we were in the air," echoes could be heard throughout the plane. There's a bumper sticker that says "as long as there as still tests, there will still be prayer in school." Maybe we should amend it to include air travel.

At the airport, I ran into an author I know and respect, and we ended up taking a shuttle together. Then, we stopped to pick up more folks, and one of the women was another dear author friend. We arrived at the hotel, and I have to say, I was both humbled and floored by the amount of people who knew me on sight, called me by name, and hugged me with so much warmth and love. Wow. When folks see me at conference, they tend to think I'm an extrovert. I think this is my once a year dose. A much needed dose. And I will still need to go hide in my room once and a while, but it'll be okay. Tomorrow, my roomie has an event to go to, and I have nothing pressing until the evening, so I'm going to sit on my big fat bottom and read a book by the pool. Maybe two. Or three. Or four. Or five. I have seven at the moment, guaranteed to grow by the time I leave.

And... because I have had so much encouragement and am already feeling ready to conquer the world, I may even get that proposal finished. And submitted.

Or I might take a nap.

Once my roomie arrived and we got settled, we met up with some friends and went to dinner. Here's a pic for you:

From left to right, we have: Cheryl Wyatt aka my roomie, Debra Clopton , Me , Julia Justiss, and Lenora Worth .

See ya tomorrow with updates! Or not. Depends on if I nap or not.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Missing my Mistress

Over the past few weeks, my Mistress has been having power issues. That Man took her apart to fix them. He needs a part and has to get it tomorrow. My poor precious laptop is sitting in pieces on my counter. I am so sad and depressed. I can't survive without my Mistress.

I'm watching a movie right now. I actually have to watch the whole thing and not just the parts that interest me. Worse, during commercial breaks, I have to get up off my butt and go down the hall to type this on That Man's computer.

Gross! I have man germs.

Pray for my Mistress's speedy recovery. Please!

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Thursday Thirteen #12: The Fourth, of course!

Thirteen Things about the Fourth, of course!

1. I spent a good portion of the evening afraid the cops would show up.
2. I spent the rest of the evening grateful we weren't at my house and that I didn't buy the fireworks.
3. The modern day celebration has nothing to do with our liberty and everything to do with a bunch of drunk guys who think they're cool playing with matches.
4. It is impossible to set off $1000 worth of fireworks in five hours, even with three men and several children lighting them.
5. After four hours of setting off fireworks, guys get bored.
6. One firework is not enough for guys. They must tape several together, add lighter fluid, and if they set the yard on fire, they get out the hose and start again.
7. Every member of the family was injured: That Man and I both fell down the stairs, the baby fell off a swing, and the cowgirl cracked her head open.
8. My head still hurts from being hit with firework shrapnel.
9. I got to teach That Man a new shortcut (world record! He's the one with all the shortcuts)
10. We painted the deck.
11. The adults spent an awful lot of time acting like kids, and the kids acting like adults.
12. That Man and I had an interesting parenting discussion about the hypocrisy of setting off illegal fireworks and trying to instill the value of obeying the law in our children- and HE (firework man himself) started it.
13. Even though I was forced to spend the whole evening with a couple dozen strangers, I actually had a good time.

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!


Monday, July 02, 2007

Back to my beloved apostrophe

As some of you know, I have a great love for the apostrophe. If not, you can read up here. I think the apostrophe is one of the most viciously abused parts of written English. I don't mention it often, even though I find evidence of the abuse daily. However, today, my beloved Chip mentioned the misuse of its/it's and your/you're as being one of the writing errors that drive him crazy. I found my apostrophe passion flare up again, knowing that someone I respect shares my love.

Okay, so he's probably not sitting up late at night writing odes to the apostrophe. But hey, let me enjoy my moment. :)

I just do not understand how a company can pay hundreds, thousands, even millions, of dollars for an ad and NOT have someone smart enough on staff to catch an incorrectly used apostrophe.

What are people learning in school these days? Maybe I shouldn't be surprised. My daughter came home a month before school ended with a note saying she'd have no more homework and all of our at-home enrichment activities could be stopped for the year. She had a month left! What are they doing? Well, I'll tell you what they were doing. They had Clifford Day, Firefighter Day, Play in the water Day, Pick their noses Day, Scooby Doo Day, Run around like Idiots Day... okay, so I made some of those up. But I'm not off by much.

I understand some of the values the schools are trying to teach. However, let's be clear here. I am the mom. I teach my kids values. They can get Clifford, Scooby Doo, Play in the water, Nose picking, running around like idiots, and yes, even firefighters (my BIL is one), at home. The school is responsible for teaching my kids things like math, science, and GRAMMAR. My high schooler does not need six credit hours of "free to be me." She needs more grammar. I don't think I've seen anyone her age ever use an apostrophe where one was clearly needed. I'd say the same for the college kid, however, instead of "free to be me," he's getting "how to kill terrorists." I'm fine with that. Military school rocks. If you can't use an apostrophe, go fight al-Qaida. You don't need apostrophes for that.


If you are writing copy for ads or anything else intended for public consumption, do NOT irritate me with apostrophes unused or misplaced. They are a treasured part of the writing fabric of our language, and I cannot bear to watch them be abused. So please. PLEASE! PLEASE!!! (At the risk of irritating my beloved Chip, although to my knowledge, he does not read this blog. However, if you do read this, please accept my apologies. I know of no other way to express my deeply held passion) Where was I? Oh yes, pleading with the masses. There's an old adage that says, "If you can't say anything nice, don't say it at all." (And, because I haven't promoted it yet, on Todd Agnew's new album, he's got a wonderful song called Don't say a word). So, if you don't know how to use an apostrophe, DON'T write at all. Or at least avoid words that may need an apostrophe, but you're not sure. For example, I just wrote you're. If you were writing that and didn't know whether or not to use an apostrophe, you could have just written, you are not sure. Slightly awkward, but at least it's correct. Better yet, go read a grammar book. Or two. Or three. Or, if you're really lazy, GOOGLE IT!

The Perfect Blend: Seriously Fabulous

Tonight I was actually going to blog about something completely inappropriate, yet completely hillarious. Instead, I'm blogging about a book. Now, I usually don't blog about too many books. Mostly because the whole book thing is my job, and I feel like if I say, "I loved this book, read it," you guys will think it's just me doing my job. So I almost never recommend books. I will occasionally help a friend out by promoting a book on my blog, but other than that, I don't talk about too many books. And honestly, I don't want to talk about a lot of books, because I don't want folks to skim over my blog thinking, "great, she's telling me to read another book."


I MUST blog about this book:

I met Allie as part of my job. She's a great lady. People like Allie are one of the reasons I like my job. Last summer, I ran into her at a big convention and she started talking about this book she was writing where the heroine was a coffee drinker and the hero was a tea drinker and how their worlds collided over coffee. She had me at tea drinker. Even though I was immensely jealous of her tea research and inclined towards sour grapes, I read the book. Tonight. In the bath. (Bunny trail here... I've decided that this bathtime book ritual is something I MUST get back to doing again more regularly. I'm finding my soul again.)

This book is seriously fabulous.

Here's why I love Allie's writing. It seems very lighthearted and funny. And then, hidden in the middle of a paragraph, an incredibly deep spiritual insight jumps out. As in, WOW!

I'm going to give away the spiritual lesson here, so bear with me and don't yell at me for giving away the book. One of the "perfect blends" in the book is how God works. In the midst of all the doubt I've been having about my house miracle, I have continued to prepare. Even though there are days when I look at the circumstance and think, "no way," I continue to prepare. As I read this book, I noticed something really incredible (and okay, because we know God has to wear His "I'm with stupid" t-shirt when He's with me, Allie did overtly point it out). Maggie (the heroine) did not have her dream handed to her on a silver platter. She still had to work her butt off to get it. In the midst of all her doubts, she clung to faith. No matter how bad it looked, she continued to cling. More importantly, she continued to prepare.

I'm going to ruin the ending somewhat here, and once again, I apologize, but read the book anyway. Maggie didn't get her dream on her timing. It didn't happen the way she thought it would. However, it did happen. And when it happened, it was because of all the preparation she'd done in anticipation of the dream. Even though she was frustrated at having to do the preparatory steps, especially given that she was pretty much forced into doing it, had she not taken those steps, she'd have never reached her dream. Maggie didn't think she needed to do all the preparation. God had given her the dream, so He would provide the rest. He didn't. So she did what she had to do. When the opportunity presented itself, she was able to take it BECAUSE she'd done the work beforehand.

How many times have we had a dream set before us, something we clearly thought was from God? It's so easy to think He's just going to hand it to us on a platter. But for most of us, it doesn't happen. A lot of people end up disillusioned with God because they see the failure of their dream to be a failure of God. I have to wonder, though. Did they do the work? Did they do everything humanly possible to make the dream come true? Or did they, as I blogged about the other day, wait and wait and wait and wait for it to rain?