Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Christmas 2013

I'm blogging because if I have to watch one more movie I might scream. Christmas break has been fabulous so far. I love it when my kids are home, especially when there is nothing on the schedule and stress is super low. I get to just enjoy them in their youthful splendor, and relish in the moments they want me to read to them or sing them to sleep with a Christmas carol, or do a puzzle or play a game. Unfortunately, all three of my girls are now sick so I've given the green light for them to just watch as much TV as they want. I've found it keeps their mind off of their illness without making them fatigued or causing them to overexert themselves, therefore ensuring a speedy recovery. Yes, I believe in some cases, TV saves lives. The problem? I can only cuddle for so long in front of the tube. It's chipmunk time on the screen and I needed a break, so here I am.

For Christmas this year, I thought I'd post about the good gifts of Christmas. More than ever, I've been thinking about what to give my children instead of a lot of . . . stuff. Although, they all got something from Santa and plenty between their parents and grandparents. Here were my attempts this year:

1. The gift of service.

This little angel kept us serving each other over the last week. A little note on the back instructed us to serve someone and then leave the angel behind to keep it going. I find it difficult sometimes to teach my children to serve each other rather than fight with each other, but we're trying.



2. The gift of myself.

Inside their stocking, each of our girls got a few coupons to use for activities or dates with mom & dad. I think the best gift I can give my children is my time.

3. The gift of family.

They got to play with their cousins. Lots. Which means we had lots of "SHOCKING!" times. (This is something I've taught my toddler nephews to say whenever they do something naughty, silly, or just plain appalling. Ridiculous, I know, but it is hilarious when they say it.) The kids were troopers considering they were all sick at some point over the holidays.


4. The gift of love.

We read, we snuggled, we watched way too many movies in our sickly state, we made cookies, we played games, we sang songs (or some of us mouthed the words . . . Emery), we laughed, we fought in only the way that sisters can, and then of course made up because that's what I force everyone to do.

Happy Holidays Everyone!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Table for One

It felt like a good day to go to lunch by myself, and I've been craving pizza for a couple of days now. So after finishing Christmas shopping, running some mommy errands, and hiding said Christmas presents, I went to pizza hut. It felt a little strange waiting to be seated at a pizza place. Alone. But I decided I wasn't going to let myself feel awkward. I'm grateful for the little notebook that I carry in my purse. Because sitting there by myself with nothing to do would have been awkward no matter how hard I tried to forget about it. I've been thinking about my blog today. Trying to decide what I want the focus to be. Sometimes I read articles written by stupid people (Did I say that? Okay, I meant ignorant) and I get all heated and in a debating mood. I'm not going to do that here. A scripture came to mind, after I'd prayed for strength and help to overcome my anger. It was this one. Romans 12:19 "...avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord." Did you know? Vengeance is a hard word to spell? So I won't be ranting. I'll just be sharing moments like this, when I reach up for help, and there it is.

I decided to change things up a bit as far as the look of the blog goes as well. I modeled it after a blog I started last year that I never really did anything with. I loved the design so I brought it over here. I hope you like it too. All the yellow, orange and blue make me happy. Speaking of happy, do you know what else makes me happy? The fact that I am wearing flip flops on December 20th. Loving this warm spell Maryland is having. I hope you are warm wherever you are.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Dabbling in Poetry

It's something I've done forever. For some reason, it allows me to express my feelings like nothing else can. And so once in a while, a poem is born in the pages of my journal or on an unsuspecting napkin from the glove compartment. Here are a couple from this year.

Summer

Roses are violet
Bluebells are singing
Sunshine is raining
And poppies are singing



The Door

A house.
A door.
Sealed,
And locked
Besides.

Nobody
Can get in.

Rain falls
Drops touch the door,
Plink off.

Until
A drop
Here and There
Sinks in,
Penetrating
In small and
     simple
Ways.

Rain beats hard,
Turns to pellets
Of Hell,
Pelting on the lock
Until
     at last
It is loosed.

Who is there?
One I call
Friend

The door opens.
One final, flooding
Drop,
A tear,
From inside its own Dwelling Place
Seeps
Out

Once hard
As hardened steel,
Now soft,
Porous.

The door
Does not
Creak.

The lock,
Gone.
Some say taken
By a peddler.

The sun
Thumps
Rhythmically
Down
Shooting
Bursts
Of yellow
Light

And all who enter
Feel
The beauty there.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Angels

Do you ever find yourself reading the scriptures and it's like they're brand new again? That happened to me yesterday as I read these verses from the book of Moroni, chapter 7. I don't know exactly why these words stuck out to me so much. Maybe it's because of all the talk about ANGELS and CHRIST and now is the season we focus on those things more than ever. Perhaps it is because I LOVE the idea of angels being all around us, of them even showing themselves to us if we have enough faith. I wonder if I've ever seen one. I think if I saw an angel, he or she would be smiling, like the woman I passed walking down the sidewalk this week. It could be because of the amazing promise that if I ASK in faith, I will receive. But whatever the reason, I found myself pondering these words, reading them over and over, grateful for the Savior and all the good He brings to the world, believing with all my heart that angels do surround us, that they help us, that they inspire us to be a little better, to lend a helping hand, to hold on in hard times, to serve those in need, to love and cherish one another. It reminds me of my children, how close to Heaven they still are. They are my most constant angels. I think of how bleak the world would be this time of year without these reminders, how long the winter would drag on, and I am grateful. Here are the words that touched me so deeply.

"For behold, God knowing all things, being from everlasting to everlasting, behold, he sent angels to minister unto the children of men, to make manifest concerning the coming of Christ; and in Christ there should come every good thing.

 And God also declared unto prophets, by his own mouth, that Christ should come.

 And behold, there were divers ways that he did manifest things unto the children of men, which were good; and all things which are good cometh of Christ; otherwise men were fallen, and there could no good thing come unto them.

 Wherefore, by the ministering of angels, and by every word which proceeded forth out of the mouth of God, men began to exercise faith in Christ; and thus by faith, they did lay hold upon every good thing; and thus it was until the coming of Christ.

 And after that he came men also were saved by faith in his name; and by faith, they become the sons of God. And as surely as Christ liveth he spake these words unto our fathers, saying: Whatsoever thing ye shall ask the Father in my name, which is good, in faith believing that ye shall receive, behold, it shall be done unto you.

 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, have miracles ceased because Christ hath ascended into heaven, and hath sat down on the right hand of God, to claim of the Father his rights of mercy which he hath upon the children of men?

 For he hath answered the ends of the law, and he claimeth all those who have faith in him; and they who have faith in him will cleave unto every good thing; wherefore he advocateth the cause of the children of men; and he dwelleth eternally in the heavens.

 And because he hath done this, my beloved brethren, have miracles ceased? Behold I say unto you, Nay; neither have angels ceased to minister unto the children of men.


 For behold, they are subject unto him, to minister according to the word of his command, showing themselves unto them of strong faith and a firm mind in every form of godliness."

I hope we all experience the blessings of Christ, His angels, and miracles this Christmas season.


Photo from http://vintagecottagehome.blogspot.com/.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

My Life is a Circus, But I am not the Clown




I've been dreaming about clowns, probably because I've seen a lot of red noses strapped to the front of cars lately. I've only been to the circus a few times--like I could count it on two fingers--but something about the phenomenon of circus performers fascinates me. As I watched young girls hula hoop with seemingly hundreds of hula hoops I wondered: how on earth did they come to be in the circus? Did they run away from home? Were they born into a circus family? Who would want to travel to a new city every few weeks to endlessly swirl their hips? I guess the circus life just isn't for me, and I'm not a big fan of the circus because it's so . . . odd.

And then there are the clowns, who dress in bright colors, paint their faces, smile profusely, trip on purpose, and wear cherry red noses. And the juggling! Who could forget the juggling? To me, the juggling is the important part, at least for the purpose of this post.

For a long time, I felt like a clown, like someone who was constantly juggling a plethora of objects (some of them sharp), and could not stop because if I did, something would fall and someone might get hurt. I remember days where I had literally double or even triple booked myself because I couldn't say no to people. It's like I let people throw things at me and I'd say, "Okay, I got this. I can handle one more bowling pin, or one more knife, or one more flaming stick. I'm good. Look at me juggle!" But inside, what I felt was, "Why are you throwing things at me? That's not nice!"

One day, I walked out into the soft spotlight, the rest of the arena dark so the lion tamer could prepare for his act, and something happened. I realized I had left all of my juggling equipment in the dressing room. Anticipating faces stared back at me from the audience. My husband was there, and each of my daughters. What should I do? Pretend to trip? Smile? For this clown, it became a moment of self discovery. It's a big circus. I don't have to be a clown. I never did like these big shoes anyway. I ran back to the dressing room, changed into a t-shirt and jeans, and scrubbed all that greasy makeup off my face.

Timidly, ever so timidly, I came back into the arena while the other clowns continued to entertain, but instead of walking into the spotlight, I stayed to the dark edges, creeping along until I reached a ladder. I began to climb, higher and higher, never even tempted to look down, but always in awe at how high I had to climb to get there. The platform fit only my two bare feet, but the rope looked bigger from close up, and sturdy. The first steps were slow, and so careful, but after learning I could keep moving without falling, I gained confidence, and soon found myself on the other side.

After a few lengths, I learned that I could even carry a thing or two in my hands as I scurried across, or do a jump or bend. If I dropped something, it was caught in the net below. And if I fell, I could use the ladder to get back up. "Take me!" one of my children shouted when they finally noticed me.

"I can do better than that," I said. "I will teach you how to do it yourself."

I find that my life lately is much of a balancing act. I'm constantly weighing the importance of things and trying to choose the things that are best for me and the ones I love, always considering God's will and hoping for the strength to follow it. It is taking practice, and I fall sometimes, but then I get back up and try again. I love trying again.

Being a clown is for the birds. I'd rather be a tightrope walker.


Photo courtesy of http://www.flippothejugglinclown.com/parties.html. Used without permission. But hey, I'm advertising for you so cut me some slack.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Resurrection Day / OR / The Day My Blog Came Out of a Coma

It's been a long time. So long that every time I try to post something, I end up distracted on the internet, scrolling through the posts of my facebook friends or searching for a job on craigslist because--let's face it people--authors are underpaid.

But here I am, ready to bleed on this page, not sure if it will be more like a drip, drip, or a constant steady flow.

It has been a rough couple of years. Let me first say that I am not posting this because I want sympathy, because I absolutely don't. I'm not sending this out to whine; I've done plenty of that. This post is simply an act of putting the pulse back into my blog and explaining why it died in the first place, which is complicated and may take a while. Not that I feel the need to explain, but it sort of represents the direction I want this blog to go. If I am going to blog, it has to be my way.

First, let me tell you what I think of the word "professional," because I've been told this is important to an author who blogs, and it is something I see when I take a trip through cyberspace checking out what this writer or that writer said on their blog today.

The online Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines professional as "of, relating to, or characteristic of a profession." Or perhaps these are the definitions I want: "(1) :  characterized by or conforming to the technical or ethical standards of a profession (2) :  exhibiting a courteous, conscientious, and generally businesslike manner in the workplace."

Well, by those definitions, if I am to keep my blog as an author "professional," I am to only post about writing, and probably shouldn't say anything offensive or share opinions, and should act in a "business like manner in the workplace" which is funny considering I sometimes write in my pajamas with bedhead or just after I've worked out and have sweat dripping from my skin, or often try to type a few more words as a child sits on my lap. This has been a conundrum for me from the beginning, and trying to follow this rule ultimately caused me to believe I had nothing left to say on the subject, or if I did, it was so far down on my list of important things to think about and address, that I refused to do it and waste the time that is so precious to me. And then I wonder, if we could go back 100 or 200 years, and read the blogs of Charles Dickens or Jane Austen and all we got to read about was their next appearance, or their current work in progress, or how they deal with the publishing world, would we still love them? Or would their writings become obsolete? They are authors. We listen to what they have to say because of their ideas, and the way they make us think about the world around us, not because they can put up several posts a week that revolve around their career. Trying to do this left me feeling so run down and empty that I just . . stopped.

That wasn't the only reason I stopped blogging. There are the other things, which I've obviously left for the end because they are deeper, more personal.

The last two years have been rocky, to say the least. With Cinder and Ella due to come out in a month or so, the opportunity to face some issues from my past presented itself, and I grabbed hold. This created a crazy environment in my life, which was made even more crazy by the decision to write Snow Whyte so quickly. A few months before Snow Whyte was to be released, I experienced another life-altering blow. I considered a lot of things during this time, the most extreme of which probably would have been ending my marriage. So while these last few years have been filled with exciting things like publication offers and book releases, they have also been filled with other things like therapy, support groups, depression, anxiety, spiritual growth, and an inexplicable desire to eat nothing but m & ms. Oh, and did I mention I moved across the country?

I believe the overall outcome of the last few years is great. I feel happier, more positive about the future, and in greater touch with myself than I can remember. And for those reasons alone, I cannot be restricted about blog topics. I've learned the importance of being true to myself, and of sharing what I know with others. I've learned what my priorities are, and interestingly enough, writing is somewhere toward the bottom of things I want to be working on and devoting my time to. It is still on the list, though, just at the bottom.

So, what will I be blogging about? Everything! Mothering; marriage; writing; the random philosophical thoughts that I often find lurking in my brain; my opinions; my beliefs about God and the universe; all the things I love; society; my love of the word of God; things I've learned and continue to learn in therapy and support groups. Have you gasped yet? I can only safely promise that I will not be blogging about politics. Why? Because I don't love politics and I don't know the subject well enough to talk about it. Everything else, as far as I'm concerned, is a possibility.

Another thing I am going to change is this: no comments. Why? Because I said so. It's my blog, which has now turned into a sort of life history or journal. If you like something you read here, please share it on facebook or twitter or over lunch with your best friend. If you don't like it, don't read it. If a certain brand of lemonade was too sour, or too sweet for you, would you keep drinking it? Or would you find another brand of lemonade? It's up to you. If I say something that you find so offensive or wrong or distasteful and you get angry, so angry that you think you might blow up if you can't comment, go to therapy. It helps. It really helps. If you don't agree with what I think and post here, you are free to start your own blog and post your own thoughts and beliefs.

Here is to a brand new blogging adventure.