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Saturday, September 29, 2007

Ahhhhh... my happy place is back!!

Welcome to the first weekend of being home in my new house without traveling or being sick. Today, I got some extra sleep, took a leisurely shower, and got a bunch of unpacking done.

That wonderful man FINALLY got my desktop out of storage. I unpacked my office and I am sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo happy. Instead of being randomly strewn about the house in haphazard piles, my books are neatly stacked in a bookcase in ALPHA order. *insert blissful sigh*

In addition, That wonderful man started putting together the new bookshelves we bought for the living room. He thinks we have room for one more, so I get to buy another one. I'm thinking I might actually have enough room for all of my books. Er, until I go shopping again, anyway. However, I may finally be able to get rid of some. The good thing about organizing as I unpack is that I can quickly spot duplicates. I just might be able to stop buying the same book ten times because I can't remember if I already have it.

The other exciting thing is That Man did not hook up internet in my office. At first, I thought, "That Stinky Man!" But then I got a little excited because I think I might try writing in my office sans internet for a while. I don't get as much done at home on my laptop because I'm always checking on work stuff, so I end up going to Starbucks to write. I literally write about ten times as much in an hour at Starbucks as I do all day at home. Maybe now that I have an office again, I'll be more productive and get back to hammering out the pages.

And if not, I'll still have a happy place, and I'll spend a lot more time at Starbucks. Either way, it's a win-win situation, don't you think?

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Thursday Thirteen #18: Thirteen things you can do NOW to make a difference in someone else's life

Thirteen Things you can do NOW to make a difference in someone else's life

1. Pray for them.
2. Call them and let them know you care.
3. Take the time to listen.
4. Make them dinner.
5. Bring them a fun present.
6. Give away the couple bucks you were going to spend on a mocha.
7. Say please and thank you.
8. Send a card.
9. Refuse to accept excuses.
10. Encourage them to be their best.
11. Show them the love of God.
12. Love them where they're at.
13. Forgive.

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, September 26, 2007


I knew prior to ACFW that I needed to rewrite the book I was working on before submitting. Which is what I thought I was doing. I was pretty proud of myself. I was almost to page 50 and I knew that when I got to page 100, I could mostly edit and C&P to the end.

ACFW kicked me in the butt. No, Krista did. She did an awesome late-night chat called "You had me at hello" where she went through the openings of submissions to talk about what did and didn't work. Go buy the CD because even if you buy the whole conference CD at around $150, it's worth it.

I figured out pretty quickly I'd need to rewrite the beginning-AGAIN-and change a few things. One of the most important things Krista talked about was how your voice needs to be consistent. For whatever reason, I've taken to starting off books in a very cute and funny way. The problem is that by page 75, I get really deep and serious, and no one comes up for air until we get to the "and they all lived happily ever after" part. Just like I'm incapable of sustaining homicide through an entire book, I can't seem to maintain cute and funny for more than a couple of chapters. So despite the sheer brilliance of my cute and funny scenes, I ripped them out.

Camy's advice on the guest blog is so true. You may be in love with a particular scene or a particular line. But you have to ask yourself if it really fits into the larger picture. Another author once told me that if she's got something she thinks is absolutely brilliant, most likely, she'll be forced to cut it at some point. Maybe one day, we'll all put together a book of lines we loved but had to cut. Probably no one will get the joke.

Anyway, I've been struggling with this rewrite. Then today, the breakthrough came. Instead of writing at home with the distractions that come my way, I went to Denny's. I had to go to a finance class for my continuing education certification and we got out early. I'd brought my laptop for that very purpose. Bliss, I tell you, bliss. I always get twice as much done when I write someplace else. I went from ten usable pages to 28. I'm technically on 52, but I need to go through 28-52 to delete a few things relevant to the old version that no longer make any sense. Which brings me closer to the magical 100 and then my job gets so much easier.

Okay, maybe not. I'm not one to lie on my own blog so I might as well tell the truth. I hate editing my own stuff. I alternate between thinking I'm the most brilliant writer on the planet to thinking I'm the most idiotic. I bought a couple more writing books at the conference and ordered a few more off of Amazon, hoping for the holy grail of editing tips. Anyone out there have recommendations?

Guest blogger: Camy Tang

Today, I have a very special guest on my blog, Camy Tang, author of Sushi for One, which is a fantastic book. Camy is a dear friend I've known for what seems like forever, so I thought it would be fun to share with you some pieces of her journey.

First off, thanks to Dream for letting me guest blog today! She and I have been friends for almost as long as I’ve been writing, because one of the first writing communities I joined was the Steeple Hill online discussion board, where Dream is forum host.

Anyway, back on topic. Dream asked me to talk a little about the journey “here,” from financially-strapped unpublished writer to financially-strapped published writer.

I made a lot of mistakes on my writing journey. I like lists, so I’ll break it down into five things not to do as a writer:

1) Don’t ever forget God.

Don’t laugh, because you’ll be astounded at how easy it is to do.

I started off on my writing journey with a stinky attitude. I didn’t care about what God thought about my writing, until He asked me to lay it down. Luckily, He allowed me to take it up again, but the entire experience made me realize that when it comes to writing, I don’t want to be outside His will ever again.

If I don’t give my life entirely to God, then my writing (which is part of my life) isn’t His. It becomes mine. And I do all kinds of things to foul it up.

I have to keep remembering that this writing—my contracts, my stories—all need to be His.

2) Don’t slack off on learning writing craft. At all. Ever.

Brandilyn Collins first mentioned that a writer should be constantly striving to perfect his/her writing craft. I took that to heart.

I try to take at least 30 minutes a day to either read a few writing articles, or read a chapter from a writing book, or listen to half a workshop on MP3. I set this aside if I’m on deadline, but I try to make this a priority.

One of the reasons is because it’s amazing how much basic writing craft I forget if I haven’t read about it in a while. My brain is like a colander, because eventually it all just dribbles out. So, I have to keep refilling it.

3) Don’t neglect your critique partners.

Without my critique partners, I never get that healthy dose of humility, reminding me that my writing is not unadulterated genius (imagine that!). At one point, I wasn’t critiquing my crit partners’ writing because I was spending all my time on my own writing. Those crit partners didn’t stick around for long.

Critiquing is about giving and receiving, building friendships and relationships with people who care about you and help you achieve your writing goals.

So for goodness’ sake, don’t neglect them or chase them away. (Don’t ignore their comments, either, because that will chase them away for sure.)

4) Don’t be stubborn.

This is in relation to anything you won’t move forward on. Life is too short to spend too much time on any one thing.

Lay aside that manuscript, even if it’s finaled or won in X number of contests, and write something else.

Lay aside your thoughts about that nasty comment by a writer/judge/editor/agent and at least try to stop dwelling on it.

Lay aside your determination to keep that one scene in your story if several people have told you to cut it.

I am ashamed to say that I spent way too much time on my second manuscript, fondly dubbed “The Bad Book.” I cringe at the number of industry professionals who were subjected to its horrific writing, cardboard characters, and no-conflict plot. I have also let one bad comment paralyze my writing for weeks. I have clung feverishly to my favorite scene/line/character/plot device and refused to cut it when everyone and their dog told me it wasn’t working.

5) Don’t be a lemming.

Don’t write what’s already out there. Write what’s not out there, what you’d like to read.

I admit, I took a bit more of a risk that some other writers. I wrote Asian American characters even before multicultural stories had become popular. However, I’d had a direct word from God to do so, and I wasn’t as stressed about it because I wasn’t about to disobey God yet again.

However, too many writers don’t strive to be unique or original. They write things too similar to what’s already being published.

Sometimes, they write similar things because they don’t KNOW what’s already out there. That’s just stupid, in my opinion—know your market! If you’re targeting a specific genre, know what’s already been done before so you don’t copy it.

In sum:

Sorry, I was long-winded (so what else is new?). I hope this has helped some other writer avoid problems on this writing journey, because it’s wonderful and rewarding and just plain fun!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

I am very disturbed. I hope you are too. Please read and repost.

One of my favorite shows is Law and Order: SVU. Occasionally, they have episodes featuring human slavery. It always bothered me, and yet, I couldn't find anything to show it was really happening. Boy, was I wrong.

Tonight, we had David Batstone from the Not for Sale Campaign. Not only is human trafficking alive and well, it's much more serious than I'd ever imagined. I am heartbroken and speechless. So I'm sharing what I can in hopes that you'll all do the same. But since I truly am speechless, I'm just stealing from their site and sharing...

27 million people are enslaved today.

The slave trade is the third largest criminal activity in the world, just under drug trafficking and arms trade.

200,000 people are enslaved in the United States.

80% are female. 50% are children.

Each year, 800,000 to 900,000 people are sold across borders.

The slave trade is a $32 billion industry.

Here's David's story:

I read in a local paper that one of my favorite Indian restaurants in the Bay Area had been trafficking women from India to wash dishes, cook meals and other tasks. The story came out when a young woman, Chianti Pratipatta died of a gas leak in an unventilated apartment owned by the proprietor of the restaurant, who forced Chianti and others into slavery under threat of reporting their illegal presence to the authorities.

This was happening in my country at a restaurant I frequented. My shock turned into a consuming passion that took me around the world to learn more about how slavery flourishes in the shadows.

I also learned about the solutions. I met heroes. Modern-day abolitionists fighting trafficking and slavery on the front lines. And I knew I had to do something. The Not for Sale Campaign combines technology, intellectual capital, abolitionist groups and a growing network of individuals like yourself - joined together to end slavery in our lifetime.

Welcome to the movement.

- David Batstone

Things you can do NOW to help:

1. Go to Paste Magazine and join Our Stage. It's free, and they'll donate $2 to every person who signs up for our stage.

2. Sign the petition at World Vision www.worldvision.org/nochildsoldiers .

3. Educate yourself with the book Not for Sale by David Batstone.

4. Watch the movie Trade , which opens this weekend. Lionsgate is donating 5% of all box office receipts for the first week (maybe longer, I forget) to anti-slavery campaigns.

Thanks for taking the time to read and repost.

8 little known facts about me...

Jan tagged me, and because I like her, I'll play along. I'm so accomodating. :)

1. I'm actually very shy. No, really. Stop laughing. I fake it, because I'm embarrassed about being shy, but I really really really really am uncomfortable around people I don't know very well. I tend to do and say stupid things around those people because I'm so dang scared.

2. Even though I talk all the time about killing people, especially in books, I have never successfully accomplished it in my own stories.

3. I often fall asleep reading my Bible and praying. Ooops, there went all your thoughts on how "spiritual" I am.

4. I prefer British grammar and punctuation to American, even though I have never been to England, except to change planes. I did, however, spend most of my formative years reading books published in England.

5. I seldom initiate conversations, even with my friends. I'm fine once the conversation has been initiated, but I'll sit around awkwardly until someone gets the ball rolling.

6. I actually liked Scarlett O'Hara as a heroine.

7. I adore classical music, especially Beethoven and Bach, but can't identify any of the symphonies by name.

8. I have an irrational fear of most children's show characters. Most of them give a creepy vibe and I suspect them of being predators. Which is the real reason I don't allow my children to watch certain shows.

As always, feel free to play along. Let me know if you've played, so I can learn something new about you!

Monday, September 24, 2007

Disciples and Friends

Well, I wasn't going to post this, because it's so intensely personal in relation to some wounds that I'm not ready to deal with publicly, but I emailed it to a few friends, and they were so moved by it because it helped with one of their struggles, that I think I've changed my mind.

In my last post, I mentioned the importance of having friends. Even Jesus had his twelve. We need to have a support system around us as we learn and grow. However, a lot of folks have been telling me about friends who aren't so supportive. Jesus had the same problem. Judas betrayed him to his death. Peter denied knowing him. But here's the crazy thing. Jesus loved them anyway.

He knew what Judas would do. But Jesus brought him along and allowed him to serve alongside him. Jesus knew Peter would deny him. But he reached out and invited him to walk on water. Even the night before the big betrayal scenes, Jesus humbled himself and washed the feet of the men he KNEW were going to fail him when he needed them the most. Then, he forgave Peter and exhorted Peter to carry on his ministry. Judas didn't get so lucky, mostly because he had so little faith that he killed himself. But I bet Jesus would have forgiven him too.

Okay, so I am having a hard time writing the personal part. I can't help it. For a really long time, I've kept myself closed off from others because I've been hurt a lot in the past. This weekend, I experienced so much genuine love and grace from some very dear people. During one of our mega prayer sessions, one of them prayed for me and prayed that I wouldn't keep closing myself off, even though I have some really good reasons why I should.

When God started talking to me about friendships, He talked to me about my twelve. Which are really more than twelve, because I'm not Jesus, so I need a lot more help. Each of them have a different talent, and a different role in my life. Just like the disciples. Some have betrayed me. Maybe some will do it again. Or maybe it'll be different ones.

But like Jesus, I need to find the courage to love them anyway.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Too busy to post as it happened, so here's what happened...

Yep, I got so busy in Dallas that all of my online time was spent actually working. Imagine that! I logged in a couple of times a day, checked email, the boards, said hi to the folks who pinged me on IM, and found no time to blog. So here's the lowdown...

Wednesday, I finally got in, and I was soooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo happy to finally hug the girls. The best moment was when I was in the back, helping Camy do some setup, and someone called me Dream. Duh, that's the name most people know me by. All of a sudden, I hear this loud squeal. "Dreamy!" I'd been working with a friend I'd talked to online for years, but we'd never met. It had taken a couple of hours to realize that DUH, we know each other. We went to Chipotle for dinner, which was a treat, because while I eat there all the time, most of the folks hadn't been there before and they were excited to try it. We returned, finished our work, and then continued catching up on life. Can I just say that I know some of the best people in the world?

Thursday, we had the early bird session with Margie Lawson. I've talked about her before, but it bears to say again that her classes are fantastic. She's also a great friend, and I love her to pieces. I sat with friends, lunched with friends, and then things got underway for the conference. Fun, fun, fun. The editor/agent panel was interesting, and I got a couple of little tidbits. I might talk about that later. Afterwards, we went to a late night chat with our Steeple Hill editor, who gave some great insight into how her mind works. Even the multi-published authors felt like Krista's comments would improve their writing. Finally, we landed at the bar and finished out the night giggling like little girls.

Friday, um yeah, Friday... Friday was day of pressure for Danica. I taught my class, had my agent appointment, and had all of my volunteer stuff scheduled. I honestly didn't plan it that way, but that's how they scheduled me, so that's how I played it. I had two amazing meetings, and while I'm not ready to discuss it, let's just say I'm very pleased with the conversations that happened. Then, I got together with the girls and got to know a few others a little better. We ended up having an incredible prayer session. Basically, we prayed for four hours. Uh-huh. Four hours. We took a couple of breaks, but add it all up, and yeah, four hours that felt like four minutes. We honestly could have prayed all night, but when it got to be 3 a.m., we realized that we had a jam-packed day ahead of us and needed at least a couple of hours of sleep.

Saturday... I skipped breakfast so I could sleep in. I think I meant to go to the morning sessions, but I ended up at my happy place, this lovely little patio overlooking the pool, and got caught up with some of my author friends. Then, we had the luncheon, and did the booksigning, which was fun. I worked as a runner, helping the authors, and I got to meet some really great people. Plus hug more of my friends. :) Afterward, we were able to connect with some other authors. However, I was dealing with some stuff, and we ended up in the prayer room. Another power prayer session.

Saturday gets two paragraphs. Because, of course, Saturday night was the big awards banquet. Lots of winners, lots of fun. The girls and I all got ready together, and I really should have taken pictures, but I forgot. We were just too cute. Afterward, the real fun happened. A group of us went to Sambuca, which had an incredible jazz band. My beloved Chip MacGregor asked the question every woman dreams of being asked. No, it wasn't, "Will you be my client." He asked me if I knew how to swing. Oh yeah. We all ended up dancing, and let me tell you, that man can dance. Wow. Talk about a jog down memory lane. I used to be an excellent dancer, but I gave it up ten years ago due to a hubby with two left feet. Well, after last night, I think I'm going to try again at getting him to learn how, because I had way too much fun. I hadn't realized how much I missed it. How fortuitous that my former dance partner is now my neighbor. We closed down the joint and then went to hang out some more with folks at the hotel. I seriously had a hard time letting folks go to bed and going to bed myself. I was going to miss them! Only getting to be with your dearest friends once a year is very stinky. We did end up going to bed at about 3.

Sunday, my lovely roomie Pammer had made arrangements to have communion in our room. I sorta remember having a herd of women in our room and thinking, "oh yeah, I want communion too." And then I lost consciousness, finally coming to in time for worship. Missing communion was probably okay for me, because the grape juice ended up being fermented and yucky. Worship was great. God gave me answers about the intense prayer session from the day before. Sadly, I had to leave before I could decompress with the girls. We had lunch and then I had to rush off with my ride to the airport, who took me to visit her lovely home for a while. I ended up getting on an earlier flight, which was nice. I was missing my honey and my girlies.

I know, my conference reviews are always about me and my silly friends. But you know, that's what I love about going. Yes, I learn a lot and find ways to improve my craft. However, this is where the relationships get built. I have some amazing friends. At this conference, I realized just how badly those friends want me to succeed. I'm not in this alone, but with an incredible support group of cheerleaders who are going to do everything they can to help me along the path.

So how does this relate to you? I am convinced that anyone can accomplish anything they set out to do. But the key is that you can't do it alone. There's this guy, his name is God, and He's got to be there. You have to let Him in and listen to what He tells you. But you've also got to have some human support. Jesus traveled around with twelve of them. Who are your twelve?

Oh. Wow. My. Wow.

I think God just completely blew me away with that one. That's the beauty of a free form blog post. You all just got to watch God smack me. And show me the pieces of the answer to my prayers.

However, because I am a big fat meanie head, and frankly, it would take a book to explain it, you don't get to know the details. All I can say is WOW.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Back in Dallas...

I know, some of you batgirls already read this, but I'm too lazy to be creative in a new post, and I'm sure someone somewhere will get a kick out of this. Or maybe they'll feel sorry for me and send some extra prayers to make this trip turn out to be really good. :)

Well, I made it to Dallas. Here's the whole awful story.

This morning, I woke up- cold is worse. I get my stuff together and get ready to go to the airport. My friend arrives to take me and I am rummaging through my bad, realize I have no ID. My license is missing. I tore apart my bag, the house, the car, and remembered the last place I had it was Monday at the bank. I call the bank. Oops, they've had it all along and put it in the mailbox this morning.

I was mad at myself for leaving it there, but I'm also pretty angry they'd hang on to someone's ID for so long and not notify them. I'd have never known until I got it in the mail.

I called the airline to see what I should do. She gave me a list of options of alternate IDs, none of which I have. I don't know where anything is. So I decided I'd get a duplicate driver's license, since theoretically, they have my ID and picture on file. I asked her what to do about my flight. She said not to worry, I could show up at the airport and fly standby, no charge, and that the rest of the flights were totally open. I asked if she wanted my reservation info to let them know what was going on. She said no.

My friend took me to Starbucks for therapy :) and he remarked that he was shocked that I hadn't cried, because most woman would have at this point. So far, I'm upset, but not so bad. Then I find out the DMV won't give me a duplicate ID without my birth certificate or passport. Guess what I don't have.

I called the airline back and explained what was going on, and asked what else I could do. I literally have no ID. She said they sometimes will let you do it with other documents and to bring them to the airport and see, that it was the airport's discretion.

I showed up at the airport with my marriage certificate and social security card, the only documents I have. The lady at the counter says it should work, but there's a problem. I didn't show up for my flight, so they canceled my reservation. If I want to go to Dallas, I have to buy a new ticket. Double what I'd paid in the first place. I explained to her what I'd been told on the phone. She told me that I must've not told them everything, because there's no way I can fly standby if I missed the original flight.

At that point, I started bawling. I seriously broke down and totally lost control. I've been looking forward to this conference for months. I have a meeting with the agent I'm hoping will represent me. I'm teaching a class. I can't not be there.

I found enough composure to ask for a supervisor. Twenty minutes later, they came out. The supervisor, I have to say, went above and beyond. She asked who I talked to, and of course, I didn't know. So she called the number and talked to their supervisor to try to find out and resolve this. She explained the situation and their supervisor said my story was right, that's what they tell everyone in my position, that as long as they fly out the same day, they can fly standby at no charge even if they miss the first flight. The supervisor argued for a long time on the phone with the phone supervisor because basically, their policies don't match and the people at the desk have no way of doing what the phone people are telling customers.

At this point, I started to ask God, "is this what you want?" I'd been praying for the whole situation, but I just wondered, with all these roadblocks, maybe I wasn't meant to go. The cool thing is that God answered the prayer right then and there with a, "Go!"

Finally, the desk supervisor got a code from the phone supervisor to use to override the system and get me on standby on a flight to Dallas. I got through security just fine, I had to do some extra tests to make sure I had no explosives and everything was hand-searched in addition to the x-ray, but it went smoothly.

So I am, after a very rough morning/afternoon/whatever, here in Dallas. I have never been so happy to be in Dallas. Whatever is happening here, it's big, and I'm pretty overwhelmed. My cold is worse, and I'm praying I'll be able to teach on Friday.

Now you've got the inside scoop too. LOL Nothing exciting, just another example that even when you think everything is falling apart, God is still there, taking care of it. And if I hadn't gotten into Dallas, He'd have had something else planned.

Okay, I'm off to bed now. I've got a session first thing in the am, but I've already told folks I'll probably be late, so save me a seat. :)

Monday, September 17, 2007

Lots of whine, no cheese

At least I don't think so.

I'm exhausted. Had a long, fun trip. Have to pack tomorrow for the next one.

At the urging of some friends, I'm now on Facebook. If you are, too, come find me. :)

My body is so stiff and sore today. And I'm grouchy. And my house is a mess. Whine, whine, whine.

I have done a sum total of nothing today, and while that should trouble me greatly, I don't really care.

I think I'll go to bed now. Yep, a pointless post, except to let some of you know I am still alive. :)

Friday, September 14, 2007

I love God!

Okay, maybe that's a lame blog title, and it's going to be even an even more lame blog post, because I have absolutely nothing to say, except how happy and joyful I am.

Last night, I flew to AZ with Tess to meet up with Mo. I ended up getting to the airport early because That Man had some errands to run and I knew Tess was flying in to connect and would be there. As it turns out, our flight was delayed by an hour, so we had plenty of time to catch up and enjoy a nice dinner. It was yummy. I had a BLT and mashed potatoes. Weird, I know. It actually came with a salad, but I saw they had my favorite, garlic mashed potatoes, so I substituted. YUM!

Coming to Mo's has been a trip down memory lane. My grandparents, when they were alive, lived not too far from where she is, and we used to go to her town to grocery shop because theirs was too small to have a store. My heart is just full of happy memories, even though I miss them terribly. On a sadder note, on the way to the airport, my dad called and my grandma in PA isn't doing so well, so I'm sad about that. But, I talked to That Man and he said I could fly out to see her if I wanted. So I'm happy I'll at least get to see her.

I have to say, Mo's house is awesome. It's in the mountains, which I love. And it's totally cute and eclectic, which I also love. She also gave up her bed for us, and it is the world's most comfortable bed. I don't know how they're going to talk me into getting out of it. Yep, I'm still sitting in her bed.

The other cool thing and this is really why I'm super praising God right now is that Mo has cats. I am extremely allergic to cats. I forgot to warn her and actually forgot she had them until right before we were due to leave. She was so excited that I didn't want to burst her bubble, so I prayed hard. Please, God, don't let me have an attack. I took some allergy medicine on the plane, and I just prayed, because it doesn't totally help. Well, Mo didn't realize I was allergic to cats, but she doesn't allow them in her bedroom, so I got to sleep in a cat-free zone. Plus, she's got wood floors and keeps her house fairly neat, so even walking around elsewhere hasn't given me trouble. Usually, even if I'm in people's houses with wood floors, I end up getting sick after a couple of hours, but I feel great! I am so excited!!

Finally, I'm also super excited, because at tomorrow's show, I'm finally going to meet an online friend (and his wife) that I've always said I hoped I got to meet this side of heaven, because he's such an inspiration to me. OH! And we called one of our friends in Australia, who I've never spoken to, but has a very sweet voice and that was fun.

On the plane, Tess and I were talking about how God created us to be relational beings. I have a hard time because for whatever reason, God hasn't given me a lot of close friendships with folks close to where I live. So trips like these (and the one I'm taking next week to ACFW) are so wonderful for me, because this is where all of my best friends are. I feel so at home and in community here. God has placed some incredible people in my life, and I'm so excited to be able to spend time with them.

Oh, and I'm going to a Todd worship experience tonight and tomorrow night.

Life doesn't get much better than this, does it? I think this is kind of like what Heaven is going to be like, only more fun, and it won't be so expensive, so we can see more of each other.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Women are supposed to have CURVES!!

Tonight, I went shopping after church. I had a "I'm proud of me" moment, because I finally accepted the size I am, not the size I want to be. Usually, buying new clothes involves my picking up the size I've always been, the size I'd like to be, but sadly, a size smaller than I really am. Tonight, I picked up the larger size. Yes, I was disgusted at how huge it looked on the hanger. But it felt good to put something on that fit the first time. No looking in the mirror at pants that are way too tight and thinking I look even worse.

We spent Labor Day Weekend at the hot springs. One thing I noticed was the people in their bathing suits. I have to admit, I've been paranoid about the weight I've been gaining and how I look in a bathing suit. Several of my friends have said that they will no longer wear a bathing suit because of their weight gain. Out of the hundreds of people I saw in bathing suits over the weekend, not one of them looked like a swimsuit model. None of the men had a six pack, unless it was hidden somewhere in their cooler. Only about a handful of women didn't have a nicely rounded belly.

Part of my perspective came from one of the women I saw there. She was by far the largest woman I've ever seen. I have a lot of curvy friends, and they look like Angelina Jolie next to this woman. And there she was, playing in the pool, wearing a bathing suit, having a great time. Yet, she was so beautiful, exuding confidence, and very obviously not caring about what anyone would think she looked like in a bathing suit. I almost asked her if I could take her picture, because I seriously thought she was so beautiful. But then I thought it might embarrass her or she might think I was making fun of her, so I didn't. I just have to say, though, I have so much respect and admiration for this woman.

Contrast that with another woman I saw. She was about average size, with the usual curves that many women have post-baby. Her daughter asked her to join her in the pool, and she said, "no, I'm too fat to wear a bathing suit." The little girl said, "Mommy, you're beautiful. I want to be like you." And the mom argued about how fat she was. I watched the mom spend the entire day, sitting poolside, fully dressed, watching her daughter have all the fun. The mom seemed miserable. And who wouldn't be? Sitting by a pool on a beautiful day, refusing to join a little girl who wanted her mommy because she was too embarrassed to wear a bathing suit.

I wanted to point out the larger woman to this lady, and tell her, "Look! She's having a great time with her kid." But I figured the woman wouldn't understand. She'd probably just see the fat. After all, that's all she could see when she looked in the mirror.

The only people with perfect bathing suit bodies come from Hollywood, where everything is fake. I hate that the second a woman puts on a few pounds, baby rumors start. That little pooch? Most of us have it. It's NORMAL. The flat stomach? Not normal. It takes a lot of exercise, diet, and training to accomplish.

So even though I'd prefer to be a size smaller, I'm not going to kill myself to get there. I know I need to lose ten pounds. Not because Hollywood says so, but because my doctor says that is the healthiest weight FOR ME. He believes I can get there by continuing to eat a well-balanced and healthy diet (ie: not changing anything, because I do that well already) and exercising more. Not thrilled about the exercise thing, but that's okay. I'll work on it anyway. I have a lot of friends trying to lose weight, many of whom read my blog. I support them, not because I think they're too fat, but because they're choosing to become healthier. I value my friends and I value their health. Which is what any weight loss decision should be about.

Don't let the uber-skinny models and Hollywood freaks fool you. Their bodies are not natural. God didn't make us that way. Our curves are a part of who we are. They nourish our children. They entice our husbands. They are the soft shoulder and arms that wrap around a friend in need. No matter what size you are, I hope you'll find the confidence to be like the larger woman at the pool, focusing on having fun with her family rather than worrying so much about her appearance that both she and her child miss out on a wonderful time.

Sunday, September 09, 2007


This is a strange request, compared to what we're usually praying about. But I wanted to share this because it really hit home.

Lately, I've been in a cloud of depression and doubt over a lot of things in my life. Oddly enough, it's been a good thing, because God has been revealing a lot to me about some of the things in my life holding me back. He's also been showing me areas where my motivations are less than pure. There's a lot of ugliness brewing inside me, and I could never understand why. Why this negative follows me around. Why, despite everything, I'm still struggling on a lot of levels.

Today, I woke up early, which is unusual because I'm not a morning person, and I've also been so tired lately that sleep is all I want to do. I'd planned on making my family a nice breakfast, but God kept putting on my heart that I needed to do something else. I simplified, and went to sit down at my computer. I thought it was because I was supposed to write. I got another feeling at the back of my mind to turn on the TV. So I did. A friend of mine loves Charles Stanley. I haven't gotten into him so much, but for whatever reason, he came to mind. Oddly enough, for a Sunday, there were no church type programs on TV. It was all paid programming. And then, sandwiched between a couple of them, was a Charles Stanley program. So I started watching it half-heartedly. He was talking about unforgiveness.

As he spoke, I realized that a lot of the things he talked about were a lot of the things God has been talking to me about lately. There are so many negative things in my past. So many wrongs. When I see a positive thing in my future, I subconsciously begin to self-destruct. I find it impossible to believe that the good I'm seeking is for real. I'm still hanging on to the negative memories. I honestly struggle with believing the good others have to say about me. Last night, I was talking with a CP about my writing, and she said some amazingly wonderful things to me about what she thought of it. All I could think was, "she's just being nice." I have a wonderful opportunity to submit and all I can think about is the negatives about my writing.

When I look back at my attitude towards her, I have to laugh because she is the sweetest person on the planet, and she's not the sort to say I'm a good writer if she doesn't think I am. She's not the kind of person who'd lie to make someone else feel better. And yet, there's this huge block in my heart that refuses to possibly believe that I could be a good writer. I am so conditioned to believe the negative, which only feeds the unforgiving spirit that is growing inside me. When I read contest scores, all I see is the negative. I keep waiting in expectation that suddenly, all the masks are going to be ripped away and finally the world will see me for the terrible person that I am. The bad writer I am. The bad mother I am.

And then I listen to Charles Stanley's message today. I realized that I am in bondage. The spirit of unforgiveness has me so tightly bound that I can't see anything clearly about myself. I've spent a lifetime believing lies about myself. I haven't been able to forgive myself for a lot of things, most of which are pretty silly. Pretty much any time I fail to be perfect, I hold it against myself. I can recount all the times where I've failed to meet the standard and use it as evidence as why I'm so bad. I remember all the things others have done to wrong me. More evidence as to why I'm unworthy. I can't forgive them, and I can't forgive me.

As God's been revealing this to me, I know it's holding me back in every area of my life. Success eludes me because this horrible oppressive spirit has kept me from believing it possible. Interestingly enough, my mind is warped enough to think that if I finally achieve success, despite all the negative, I can finally thumb my nose at all the baddies and say, "see! I'm not the horrible creature you made me out to be." ICK. What messed up thinking. I don't need success to prove that. More importantly, I don't need anything to prove it. Jesus says so.

What struck me as most powerful from the message today is this rough quote: "When a person who is a believer is unforgiving, they are out of character." I've been trying so hard to be instep with Jesus and live life as a Christian, and yet, I've completely missed it. I am out of character. There is a huge chasm between me and God and I've been unable to see it until now. Of all the things that disturb me, this is the most important. Yes, I want great things for my life. Yes, I want success. Yes, I want to minister to others. Yes, I want to be published. But none of that means anything if I don't have Jesus.

So please pray for me, that this spirit of unforgiveness would be defeated. That I would be able to clearly see God's truth. And that God would continue to reveal the things separating me from Him and empower me to overcome them so I can walk alongside Him with confidence. I'd also like prayer for forgiveness. I don't even know where to begin or how to forgive, especially because so much of it is layered deep in my life. It's not just one person or one incident, but so many things, things I don't think I've even begun to identify.

As I wrote this, I debated a lot about who to share it with, and whether or not I wanted it to go to the loop. But God keeps putting on my heart that I need to be open about this, and that there are others I can minster to through my struggles. But also, I tend to try to do a lot more on my own than I should. One of the big lies I've been believing is that I'm alone and I know that's not true.

If you are interested in hearing Charles Stanley's message, you can download it for free on iTunes.

Thanks so much for your prayers.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Our work or God's work?

A friend and I have been talking about this a lot lately. When you're waiting on God, what are you supposed to do? We hear God saying, "this is what I want for you," or "I've got it handled," and then we wait. But do we sit and do nothing?

I'm starting to realize that the answer is no. Yes, God will make it happen. But just as God used David to slay Goliath, David had to be prepared. He took five stones to prepare to meet the giant. It only took one, but David still had to pick up five and put them in his pouch. David knew God would do the work, but David still had to prepare.

God's given me some incredible visions for the future. So I sit here in my jammies, all excited about what's to come. Except silly me, I kinda sorta forgot that there's things I have to do in order for God to make it all happen. He's not going to say, "poof! Here's a multi million dollar contract from the editorial fairy," unless I've had my sweet little behind in the seat writing my heart out.

And yet, I know a lot of people in this same position. "I need a job." But are they sending resumes or applying for one? Nope. They're waiting for God to send the job fairy. "I need a new car." Instead of looking for cars, they're looking for God to send the car fairy.

Do I think that God is capable of going, "poof," and sending these things our way? Absolutely. But in general, I don't think He works that way. We have to be willing to work alongside Him to bring about the miracles He's promised. God didn't come to earth to be a stuff fairy. He came to have a relationship with us. Which means partnering with Him to make things happen. It means taking steps of faith to say, "Lord, I know you're going to do this," and then doing everything possible to be prepared for it to happen.

There's an old anecdote about the guy in a flood, praying for God to save him. Some guys come by in a boat, but he says, "No thanks, I'm waiting for God." Another group comes to save him, and again, he says, "No thanks, I'm waiting for God." Finally a helicopter comes, and he tells them yet again, "Nope, waiting on God, thanks." The guy dies. He ends up in Heaven and he asks God, "why didn't you save me?" God points to all the people he sent and says, "what more did you want?"

Sometimes I think that's us... drowning in a flood, clinging for dear life while God is sending out all these rescue vehicles that we're ignoring. We're looking for the magic, earth shattering miracle, when God's asking us to trust in Him enough to step out on our own and prepare the way.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Thursday Thirteen #17: Thirteen things I'm going to do while the kiddos are in school

Thirteen Things I'm going to do while the kiddos are in school

Tomorrow marks the first day of preschool for the baby. I'm going to have 2 1/2 hours of bliss all to myself 3 days a week.

1. Dance around the house naked (just because I can!)
2. Go to Starbucks-ALONE
3. Take a nap
4. Sit on my porch, drinking tea and enjoying the silence.
5. Clean my house and watch it stay that way for a short period of time.
6. Exercise.
7. Write.
8. Take a bubble bath-ALONE
9. Eat something without little vultures picking off my plate.
10. Chat with friends uninterrupted.
11. Read.
12. Grocery shop-ALONE
13. So okay, let's get real here. Between my commitments to volunteering in the classes and all the running around I have to do, I'll probably have very little time to do anything other than go to the bathroom, grab a quick snack, and maybe take a deep breath. But it's nice to dream, isn't it?

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!

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Putting my money where my mouth is

I did a lot of magazine reading over the weekend. When I find my camera, I'll tell you all about what we did this weekend.

Anyway, two in particular are stuck in my craw, so I thought I'd share. One I'll name, the other you don't get to know because I'm about to bash it. As far as the one I'll name, let's just say if you read my blog and you like what I have to say, you need to be reading Relevant Magazine. A lot of great content there.

So, the real point I wanted to make is this: As I've matured as a Christian, I find myself seeking to live out life fully as a disciple of Christ. What does that mean? Um, I don't know. Really. I don't. As I often say, I don't have the answers. Mostly, each answer I find only brings more questions. One thing I do know is that we're called to care for "the least of these." We're supposed to reach out and care for those around us.

When I read The Irresistible Revolution by Shane Claiborne, it really rocked my world. God really used that book to show me how much more open and giving my life could (and should!) be. Friends like Lisa Samson continue to inspire and challenge me to do more to promote justice in the world I live in.

It's in this frame of mind that I picked up a magazine in a waiting room while on our weekend excursion. One of the "articles" featured things we can do to help make the world a better place. Part of the feature had celebrities highlighting the things they did. I almost vomited. One of them was a famous actress that everyone (except me, I've never liked her work) loves. Her solution: she only takes five minute showers, because she once read that every two minutes of shower time is enough water for a person in Africa for a day. Or something like that. I think it's great that this celebrity cares about the water crisis in Africa. And I think it's great that she's chosen to conserve water in her showers to help the effort. Every little bit helps. But...

I am completely unimpressed with a woman who makes more money per movie than the average African community will see in a lifetime, and her solution to the problem is to take shorter showers. Do I think we should all take shorter showers? Absolutely. I admit, I fall short of the bar on this one, as I'm still at about ten minutes. But how can the wealthiest people in the world pat themselves on the back for making a difference in the world when they are doing NOTHING compared to what they could do?

Interesting that Matthew, Mark, and Luke all say that "it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of Heaven." I think about this and other verses on wealth a lot. On one hand, I don't necessarily think that the rich have a higher obligation to the world than the poor. On the other hand, I'm angry that they could do so much more than they are doing, and yet they choose not to. But then I have to ask the tough question: Am I any better?

Last night I walked to the Chinese place to pick up dinner, and on the way back, a young man stopped me and asked me for change for the bus. I told him I didn't have any and walked away. I actually had plenty of money, having just gotten back from vacation. But my arms were full of the dinner I'd just purchased and getting to my wallet would have been difficult. I also got a creepy feeling from the guy that had me looking over my shoulder the rest of the way home. I was torn between guilt over denying someone money that I knew I had and the fear of being a woman alone in a back alley with a creepy guy.

Often when we critique the behavior of others, it's because there's a layer of that same bad behavior in ourselves. Maybe not to the extent of being a multimillionaire who says that her solution to the world's problems is only taking a five minute shower. But it's there. Staring us in the face and asking us if we're willing to take the next step.

What I love about reading Relevant Magazine is that each issue has articles or blurbs illustrating real steps we can all take to make a difference. Yes, a five minute shower is a good thing. But I love how Relevant takes it a step further.

One of the blurbs this month talked about Andy Warhol and that while we remember him as an artist, he was also a devoted Christian. He didn't need to stand on a big stage and say, "look at me, I'm such a great Christian," he just lived out his life in the manner he thought best befitting Jesus.

As I browsed through the Relevant site, I came across this article that nicely sums up where I'm hoping to go with the money thing in my own life. I pray that God will give me the strength to remember to put my money where my mouth is.

Monday, September 03, 2007

You know you're a bona fide writer when...

My friend Jan tagged me, so here it is. Since she plays loose tag games, I'll play it the same way. Tag, you're it, list yours if you want to play.

1. You find yourself listening to your friends talk about their lives and you're thinking of ways to incorporate it into a book.
2. You're in a store and start picking out things your characters would like.
3. You have real conversations with your characters.
4. Your non-writer friends hate watching movies or tv with you because you spend hours afterward griping about GMC.
5. Your husband regularly kicks you out of bed and sends you to your computer.
6. When your friends and family see you talking to yourself, they smile knowingly and say nothing about adjusting your meds.
7. You call your family and friends with the latest news about your character and they know exactly who you're talking about.
8. You ask people deep, probing questions so you can understand how other people, and therefore your characters, think.
9. You begin correcting everyone else's spelling and grammar.
10. You have nothing intelligent to say unless it somehow involves a book.