27 May 2015


Sometimes when life takes unexpected turns, you can look back and see that God had been dropping itty bitty hints to prepare your heart ahead of time. Of course during the hint-dropping, it never would have occurred to you; but later...it all makes sense. Kinda like when you read a book.

Apparently we had some hints in the past six months that shifted our hearts in tiny, subtle ways and ultimately prepared us for a huge change.

In February, our family went to Clearwater, FL to visit the famous dolphin, Winter, and her friend, Hope. Our four kids had the best vacation ever. Sweet, simple, and full of something that mattered to them. As we drove away from four days at the beach, surrounded by the amazingness of God's creation, we made light jokes about how fun it would be to live at the beach. I confess, I only began to enjoy the ocean about five years ago (I'm a mountain girl a heart). But a twinge pinged my heart as we headed home. Just a longing for more vacation, I thought.

A month or so later, a doctor we've relied on for several years told us she was moving. I took it in stride, and was heard to say to another person, "I get it. When God says move, you just move." I was referring to general experiences. That's all. Or so I thought.

Around the same time, my son had a friend who thought her family would be moving to Virginia this summer. Rumors of it rippled through their small homeschool academy then died down. That opportunity didn't pan out and they'd be staying.

So when, three weeks ago today, my husband told me a friend of his had been considered for a job in Virginia Beach but really didn't want to move, it was like an ocean breeze wafted through me. That's all it was. For then.

Two days later, I asked him if that job was something he was qualified for. I was hardly aware of my words, and yet they were right and from that moment on everything just fell into place. There was an amazing rush of peace for both of us. He checked with a couple people and everything snowballed. Or may avalanched is a better choice.

It turns out, our hearts were ripe for the picking, and moving to a beach town was exactly what we wanted to do. God was in it.

(I love how God writes our story. I could learn from this and be a better human writer...subtly hint-dropping along the way.)

27 February 2015

mama's migraine mix

I've been digging deep into essential oils lately. And the more I dig, the deeper I want to go. I love them...like I really LOVE LOVE them. So, you're going to find me talking about this more and more. Please ask me questions--I love to talk oils.

First of all, my migraines are much easier to manage--I can't manage the weather or hormaones that trigger them, or the funky lights that make them worse (I miss real, incandenscent lightbulbs...*sniff sniff*), but I can manage the pain better than every before in my life.

Here's a fun "recipe card" for my own blend of migraine oils. I have created this blend myself with trial and error. It's been amazing. Rather than chugging a Dr. Pepper and half dozen Motrin (yes, a half dozen) every time a migraines slammed me, I now roll this bit of magic over my pain. It takes repeat rolling, true, but every time it eases up. Sometimes I still need three Motrin, I won't lie. But not even half my migraines require it. My stomach thanks me. (And my doctors are relieved. So is my ER nurse brother who panicked when I told him what I normally had to take!)

One of my worst migraines recently had me shutting of lights begging for silence (Ha! I have four kids, remember??) and wishing the nausea didn't make it so much worse. I oiled and oiled and oiled. Then I turned a heating pad on low and snuggled up into my bed.

And kept wishing for silence.

It took a little while, I won't lie. But I got up and made dinner without issue.
And the migraine did NOT make an encore performance.
Nor did the Motrin come to visit.

(There is a premade Tension Blend to help with headaches as well.)

Do you suffer from migraines? I'd love to chat and tell you more.

I'll be back soo to talk oils some more!
Have a lovely weekend.

06 November 2014

of fact and fiction

Once upon a time, somewhere along the third or fourth grade, there were signs of my overactive imagination that should have warned me I’d one day be a writer. And today, many (many) years later, it almost bit me in the butt. Well, if it had teeth, it could have….

It started when I heard a story from who-knows-where about a snake in a toilet (and yes, as much as I tell myself it's impossible, I know I'm lying, and I loathe lying). See, my father has a severe phobia of snakes, and fear is contagious. The sheer terror that there was even a remote chance a snake could be in my toilet, and have the freedom to bite me...well, my mind warped all of that into a twisted, fictional possibility: think warlock rather than a snake. I did know fiction from fact. I’m positive. But the imagination is a powerful tool.

I found myself in a flush and rush—when leaving the bathroom, I would wash, then I had to flush and slam the lid and rush out of the bathroom before a warlock could rise up from its depths. 

You can take a moment to reread that.
Let it soak in.
Laugh into your hankie, spew out your coffee…

Okay, ready to move on?

So, that lasted months, probably the better part of a school year. (Go ahead, you can snicker a little more.) Let's face it, a warlock coudln't rush the use of the potty as a snake scare would have...just prevent lingering in the room afterward. My fiction was logical, friends.

I eventually managed to talk myself out of it, remind myself that fiction and fantasy were not reality. Warlocks really would not come out of the commode if I slowed my pace a little. 

This morning, however, my toilet had a visitor. 
May I introduce *Slimy, otherwise known as a warlock-in-hiding?

And so fact and fiction have begun to blur once more...

*the frog was named Slimy by my animal loving child who very bravely and kindly removed the war-- uh, frog from the toilet while I stood out of hop's reach

PS --do not look closely at the state of the toilet...and if you already have, I blame the warlock.

16 July 2014

of hiding

This past week I found myself feeling betrayed. Angry. Hurt. Stressed. Anxious.

My stomach ached with tension, my body wanted to flee the house and pound the earth with a high speed walk (my knees don't like it when I run, so I walk super fast instead). But you may recall I've been in a cast. And now a walking boot. I've only begun consistently walking without crutches in the past few days--and at the end of a long day, I still use one for support. Driving is still forbidden. Going anywhere, even down the street, was out of the question.

At least the house was quiet, the kids finally asleep (see, I couldn't even catch a ride someplace--though riding with five other people wouldn't have helped me any right then). So I tucked my bleeding heart into the dark dining room. Injured leg on a chair.

And I talked to my God. I'd done that already as the day wore on, but then life was too busy to lick my wounds in private. I told Him how much I wanted to be alone for a while. To run and hide.

So He invited me to hide in His arms.
It was so much better than hiding alone.
I found comfort and healing. I found peace.

To be fair, I still wanted to escape the confines of my house for a while. Outings are far from solo these days. But He met me where I was, and filled me up.

It was enough. Because He is enough.

04 July 2014

independence day

Happy 4th of July!!

Celebrating the birth of our country,
the wonders of our freedom,
those who have sacrificed for it,
the God who graciously put us here.
I pray I never take it for granted.

May he keep us in the palm of his hand whatever the future holds.

02 July 2014

who i am

Last week I watched a seminar by Michael Hauge on DVD. One of the (many) great things he said was that when writing we must force our characters to fill in the blank to this statement:

"I will do whatever it takes to accomplish my goal, just don't ask me to ___________, because that's just not me."

It kinda tugged at me in a personal way, but I was bent on what I could learn to improve my craft and glossed over that part. Then, at the very end of his talk, he said something that tattooed the challenge to my forehead. Everything he'd been talking about also applies to real life. And to succeed in what we want to do, we must fill in that above blank for ourselves. It only took me a moment or two to know what my answer would be.

Until now, I've believed that I'll do anything for my writing.
And yet...there is actually something I have not been willing to do.

See, I'm adamant about being real. I tell life like it is. I don't know how to keep a facade going, or how to play mind games, or be coy (my husband says he's always liked that about me, at least!).

On the other hand, I've created a persona to write under. No regrets there; I love my pen name, and have every intention of keeping it. I decided to use a pen name twenty years ago when I was still scribbling poetry and just dreaming of prose. But it was to keep my writing life private. A secret. Because, well, I just...had to. I wasn't ready to share. And what if I don't succeed? Then what? For one, I'd have to explain that it wasn't amounting to anything. And if someone didn't like what I wrote...well, how awful. Right? (Wrong. Not everyone can be my audience and that is okay.)

I dislike being the center of attention. A LOT. But I've watched myself grow bolder by the month as I open up about to strangers and friends alike. I found recently I was no longer attaching the "...but it's a secret...be sure you don't tell anyone..." disclaimer to my confession of being a writer.

It helps that I've found so much support. Friends, family, general population. Excited, interested peers. I have so many amazing cheerleaders on the side lines. A fabulous writing group and critique partners that believe in me.

It's time to stop hiding. And I'm okay with that. It's personal growth, which is rewarding.

"I will do whatever it takes to accomplish my goal. Whether I publish someday or just keep writing for the sheer love of it, I can and will tell others what I do. Because it's who I am. A writer."

23 June 2014

Blog Hop - My Writing Life

I've been asked to participate in a blog hop. The assignment is to answer four questions about my writing, then select three other authors to answer the same questions on their blogs within the next couple of weeks. Be sure to see the links to their blogs at the end of this post and find out more about these wonderful writers. A special thanks to Tanara McCauley for inviting me to join in. You can find Tanara's answers to these same questions at her blog, Fiction for Real Life Living.

What are you working on?
At the moment, I confess I'm still finalizing revisions on my first story, Finding Grace. Oh, how far it's come. How much I've grown and learned since the inception of that story. It began with a Post Secret I saw many years ago: someone admitted to having survived 9/11, and nobody knew they were alive. I wondered what would make someone do that. So when I was ready to start my writing life, that's the story that came out first. There is a sequel tucked in my heart for this one, and quite possibly more--but for now, those stories need to wait.

However, I am a chunk of the way into two unrelated stories. They take turns being the focus of what I want to work on. One of them recently finaled in the COTT Olympia contest, so I'm fairly certain that will be my writing choice this summer. It's about an online dating service throwing together two people who already know each other--and cannot stand to be together.

How does your work differ from others in its genre?
Well. Um. Hmm...
That's a good question. First, I just let words fall from my fingers onto the page. My voice is truly my own. Beyond that, I dig into the stories from a slightly different perspective than some may. For instance, most stories about 9/11 tell the story about the impact that event had on the character's life. In my story, 9/11 was simply a springboard for changes my character decided to make in her life. It's very real, and very tragic to her. And it definitely impacts her. But that's not the focus of the story.

How does your writing process work?
Man, a sucker-punch question, isn't it? I have to admit that my life as a homeschool mom of four is absolutely crazy. And often my days are unpredictable. So my writing process evolves as necessary. When the story is ready to be written, I can be found with my laptop in a thousand different places (waiting rooms, restaurants, desks, bed, karate) at any hour. Recently, though, I find I like my bedtime the older I get (ahem...not that old...yet). I'd rather wake early and work while I have my coffee and the sun comes up. Especially when editing my work. (Of course, caffeine late in the day reverses that effect.) I'm also good at plugging in some earbuds and either popping in a movie for the kids or making the most of their hard-earned computer time in the afternoon. Funny how I can really get in a groove right about the time I need to make dinner...

Then there are the past six months. Oh. My. I've done large chunks of work, no doubt. But real life has interfered a few times (I really do like my fictional worlds). So, my imaginary friends took a back seat for several weeks at a time, leaving me forlorn. I've been so happy to pick them back up and soak into their lives again. As usual, I can't wait to see where they take me next!

Why do you write what you do?
It's funny, really. I always thought I'd be a light-hearted chick-lit kinda writer. I love an easy read to escape the stresses of my life. 

But I also enjoy a book that makes me think, just not too hard--deep is good, but I don't want to be exhausted at the end. That's where my writing life seems to have landed. I believe it's because I learn from real life, then turned around and put it on paper.

Tag, You’re It!
Here are some great writers who agreed to follow me on this blog hop. Stop by their sites in the next couple weeks to see what they write and how they go about it...

Connie Cossette
Connilyn lives near Dallas, Texas, but grew up in the Pacific Northwest. She and her husband of seventeen years have two precious kids, and a cross-eyed cat who thinks she's an Egyptian Goddess. Connilyn is a homeschooling mama and piano teacher by day and a Biblical Fiction writer by night. She has a passion for drawing readers into a deep, personal encounter with the rich ancient world of the Bible through fiction. She is an active member of the ACFW and My Book Therapy. She also blogs at joycomesinthemorning.net and mybooktherapy.com
~2013 My Book Therapy Frasier Award Winner
~2013 American Christian Fiction Writers Genesis Historical Semi-Finalist
~Represented by Tamela Hancock Murray of the Steve Laube Agency. Be sure to read her answers to the blog hop questions at her website, Connilyncossette.com.

Brandy Heineman
Brandy Heineman is a Christian novelist infusing her stories with family history and faith. She's a graduate of Wesleyan College in Macon, Georgia with a degree in Business Administration and Communication. She is also a first-generation Southerner who occasionally gets caught saying things like, "Y'all want some pop?"
Brandy is a member of ACFW and a Finalist in the 2014 Genesis contest. She's represented by Jim Hart of Hartline Literary Agency, and her first novel is contracted with Elk Lake Publishing. You can find her on Twitter as @brandyhei or like her on Facebook. You'll find her answers to the blog hop at http://brandyheineman.com/.

Sarah Varland
Sarah Varland is a Christian, author, musician, kayaker, reader, and artist. Yoga is her favorite way to exercise. She’s also a pastor’s wife and mom. Sarah’s first novel, Treasure Point Secrets, was released in May. 
One of her favorite places to think, to relax, and to dream is outside, preferably underneath a tree so she can look up through the branches at the sky and let her imagination go. You can visit her “online thinking tree” at http://espressoinalatteworld.blogspot.com/, her place to think through her thoughts on life, books, and what she’s learning. (That's also where you'll find her blog hop responses.)

Thanks ladies for your willingness to participate in the blog hop! Can't wait to see what you post.