Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Three-Word Wednesday: Keep Moving Forward

 I got to know Beth in an (in)courager group for military wives, and it's been a joy to see her journey as a writer take off.

In my own quest as a writer (instead of just teaching it one night a week), I am participating in Beth’s Three-Word Wednesday link-up.



I am borrowing today’s phrase from the movie Meet the Robinsons, which I just watched in German last week while subbing for the high school German teacher (and yes, it was in German—the animators had changed all the signs and writing in the movie to the German language. Pretty neat.).

KEEP MOVING FORWARD

When I am under a lot of stress and situations are tenuous, I am not at my best. I get snappish with my husband and crabby toward my girls. I try to remember to stay focused on God and His Word and stay positive, but more often than not I allow my circumstances to dictate my mood and my demeanor.

I am not proud of this.

The past five-plus months have been increasingly stressful as we have waited and waited (and waited some more) to hear news that would determine not only the course of our next year, but our next several years. 

It’s often said that the unofficial military motto is “Hurry up and wait!” My military spouse motto has been “Semper Gumby: Always Flexible.” But to be honest, I didn’t want to be flexible. I hate waiting this long for something that someone somewhere knew the answer, but no one would tell us.

In three other words, I hate waiting.

I was a very crabby Pattie indeed.

Enter Meet the Robinsons, the idea that mistakes are okay because we learn from them, and the phrase that continues to stick with me:

Keep moving forward.

The closing line of the film shows that it’s a part of something Walt Disney said about creativity:

Photo credit: www.livingstoncoc.wordpress.com

Of course, like many things, it’s about life too. We have to keep moving forward (or as Uma Thurman quipped, we’ll move backward and smack into something hard). Priscilla Shirer said once that she told her sons that she had to look out the front window to drive safely, not the rearview mirror at whatever they were doing. We have to look forward to move forward. Not that looking back is a bad thing—on the contrary, sometimes personal reflection is needed for growth. Much like studying history, we can give credence to our past experiences and how far we’ve come, learn from our mistakes, and strive to do better next time.

This week we were inundated with a lot of happy, happy news. We know the course of our next year, and we have at least as much job security as anyone in the military is allowed to have at any given time. Also, my daughters were both honored at school for several different things, and that makes my mama heart very happy.

So while today crabby Pattie is a not-so-distant memory, I will continue to be conscious of my reactions to things, work on keeping my outlook positive, be on the lookout for opportunities to serve, and always, always keep moving forward. 

Friday, March 21, 2014

Five Minute Friday: JOY

Today's topic for Five Minute Friday: JOY. You can read others' posts at Lisa-Jo's linkup here.

_____

There are few things that bring me more joy as a mom more than watching my girls do what they love.

I put my oldest daughter in a dance class in our small town when she was three years old. Just a few weeks from her 4th birthday, she was so proud to have her little black leotard and her blue wrap skirt and her tiny, tiny little pink leather ballet shoes. She took to dance like the proverbial duck to water, and her teacher said she was a natural. Usually a serious little girl, she wore a look of concentration and adhered to each position as carefully as any serious ballerina.

Just a few years later, her little sister also proudly wore her own tiny little pink leather shoes and shiny black tap shoes, dancing into everyone's hearts with her dimpled smile.

Every place we've moved since we lived in that small town, we've been mindful of finding a good dance studio, not competition-based (although of course we've done *some* competition in intervening years), with nurturing teachers and a cheerful yet studious atmosphere. Schools attached to nonprofit companies have been our best educational opportunities.

Today, my serious little girl has a smile as wide as the ocean and makes her debut onstage in a community theatre production of "Pippin." She dreams of landing on the Great White Way. Her sister with the dimples now tap-dances in sock feet every day in the kitchen, and wants to study and tap dance professionally someday.

My heart is bursting at their joy, which has become my own.
_____ 
Thank you for stopping by! Wishing you a wonderful weekend.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Sometimes the answer is no...

When I was growing up in church, I remember our youth pastor telling us that God generally answers prayer in one of three ways: Yes, No, or Wait.

Fast forward about 30-ish years.

I applied for a job a couple of months ago. Yes, I already have two paying jobs, but both are part-time and with a child headed off to college in a year and uncertainties facing the military, I thought applying for two office positions that happen to be in the same office, in a location with which I'm familiar, might not be a bad idea. Keep my options open, as it were, since it seemed like God was being awfully quiet about our future.

I had an interview that I thought went very well. Then two weeks later, as promised, I got news. A very brief email told me that the position was filled.

I got a "no."

The rest of the answer for us seems to be a very big "wait." Wait for the Lord, wait on the Lord, just plain wait.

Waiting is hard. To quote Inigo Montoya from the classic The Princess Bride:


And so, I wait. 

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Dating, Dining, Desperation, and Melody Carlson

My review follows the CFBA info.


This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Dating, Dining, and Desperation
B&H Books (March 1, 2014)
by
Melody Carlson


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Over the years, Melody Carlson has worn many hats, from pre-school teacher to youth counselor to political activist to senior editor. But most of all, she loves to write! Currently she freelances from her home. In the past eight years, she has published over ninety books for children, teens, and adults--with sales totaling more than two million and many titles appearing on the ECPA Bestsellers List. Several of her books have been finalists for, and winners of, various writing awards.

She has two grown sons and lives in Central Oregon with her husband and chocolate lab retriever. They enjoy skiing, hiking, gardening, camping and biking in the beautiful Cascade Mountains.


ABOUT THE BOOK

Daphne Ballinger has learned to accept her deceased, eccentric aunt’s strange request that she marry in order to inherit her estate, along with taking over her aunt’s hometown paper’s advice column. But knowing and accepting that God’s will be done becomes harder when a new neighbor, a divorced socialite, learns of Daphne’s predicament and takes on the task of finding her the perfect man, even if it includes speed dating. When God does open Daphne’s heart, it is instead to take in a young girl left parentless and in the care of her dying grandmother. It may be a temporary arrangement until the girl’s uncle returns from the Marines, but God uses Daphne to speak His heavenly love and protection into the life of the child -- whom Daphne soon discovers has a very handsome and single uncle.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Dating, Dining, and Desperation, go HERE.


Pattie's Review:

I read the first book in this series, Lock, Stock, and Over a Barrel, for CFBA last spring. I enjoyed it for the most part. This second book has some great story elements in it that make it a feel-good story, not so much a romance as the first book was, but a continuation of the original conflict of Daphne vs. The Will.


According to a note by the author at the end, the third and fourth book releases will be ebooks, so I look forward to seeing how the story plays out and how Daphne ends up solving the problems presented in books 1 and 2.

Overall, I enjoyed the story and I like Daphne. However, one detail: the misspelling of "y'all" (spelled "ya'll" throughout the book) really irritated me. With a Southern character who says it often, you can see why it set my teeth on edge.

I received a copy of this book for review from the publisher as a participant in this blog tour.

Monday, February 10, 2014

CFBA: Once Upon a Winter's Heart

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Once Upon a Winter's Heart
Center Street (January 7, 2014)
by
Melody Carlson


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:




Over the years, Melody Carlson has worn many hats, from pre-school teacher to youth counselor to political activist to senior editor. But most of all, she loves to write! Currently she freelances from her home. In the past eight years, she has published over ninety books for children, teens, and adults--with sales totaling more than two million and many titles appearing on the ECPA Bestsellers List. Several of her books have been finalists for, and winners of, various writing awards.

She has two grown sons and lives in Central Oregon with her husband and chocolate lab retriever. They enjoy skiing, hiking, gardening, camping and biking in the beautiful Cascade Mountains.


ABOUT THE BOOK

Emma Burcelli has suffered over a decade of dating disasters. But she concludes that love is officially dead when her grandfather Poppi suddenly passes, leaving her grandmother Nona devastated. To help out, Emma works in the family bookstore, which Nona insists must be decked out in sweetheart d├ęcor as Poppi would have done for Valentine's Day. Although she feels like a V-Day Scrooge, Emma quickly learns to enjoy the task with the help of a handsome family friend, Lane Forester, who shows her that hanging hearts is much more fun when done to the tune of Dean Martin. As Emma and Lane share time and memories of Poppi, she reconsiders the notion that romance is alive.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Once Upon a Winter's Heart, go HERE.

Pattie's Review:

This might be the first Melody Carlson book that I didn't absolutely love. I usually enjoy her quirky point of view and unique characters. While this book had likeable and believable characters, it was just a bit too predictable for me as a novel. Very cute read for someone who is looking for a cozy Christian romance. I hold out hope for her next release which I will also be reviewing, Dating, Dining, and Desperation.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher through Christian Fiction Blog Alliance in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, February 06, 2014

Five Minute Friday: WRITE

5 minute freewrite on the topic of the week
Five Minute Friday

Today's word: WRITE

On my new year's resolution mug I painted with glaze the following quotation by E. B. White: "Writing is an act of faith..."


To be honest, I haven't done a whole lot of writing the past few weeks. I've done more reading than writing, and copying others' words in my composition book instead of composing my own words, carving them from my mind, my heart, my soul.

The word I received for 2014 is "creative," and pursuing other avenues of creativity has gotten me into the pottery-painting store, trying to sketch with colored pencils, knitting scarves in chunky yarns on different sized needles, and reading books I would not normally choose.

But since I teach others how to write, and encourage others who write, and edit and publish for others, I should write more myself. 

I just haven't been writing.

I saw this quotation online by Lisa-Jo Baker, and it struck a chord with me: 

"Scared is the new brave. Write anyway."

So here I write, on this blank blog screen, putting letters and words and phrases into some kind of coherency, not really writing for anyone else but myself. 

I wish it were easier. More fluid. Not as painstaking.

If the easy things in life aren't as meaningful, then writing for me is the most meaningful work there is.

Write on.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Creative

It hardly seems possible that I've been doing this for six years, but the telltale links are at the bottom of this post.

I don't really feel up to writing a whole lot today, which belies the word creative, I suppose. I've been in recovery mode from ear surgery #3 inside of 24 months. I took the winter term off from teaching. I have only subbed one half-day. I've been mourning the loss of the possibility of restored hearing, and getting tired of explaining the anatomy of the ear for those who look confused, and yes, pouting just a little bit. I took a break from writing, from blogging, from blog editing and blog team leading at Wives of Faith, and was lazy if you want to know the truth. I read a lot, wrote very little, and tried to spend more time with my family.

This business of life is hard, sometimes. 

 

I was not really looking very hard for a word to express my theme for 2014. In fact, I was really okay with taking a year off. However, as is the usual mode of themes, it chose me. (Or rather, God hit me over the head with it over and over for the past several weeks.)

I have a small stack of books about art and creativity to read this year. I want to take some time and space to learn to be creative--in whichever medium that takes. Yarn. Paper. Photos. Words on the screen.

The possibilities truly are endless.

Thanks to Melanie at Only a Breath
for the adorable "1 word" template
I was able to edit at PicMonkey.

"In the beginning, God created..." (Genesis 1:1a)

Past themes:
Brave (2009)
Focus (2010)
Grace (2011)
Listen (2012)
Dream (2013)


Review with Giveaway: Whispers of Hope by Beth Moore

Whispers of Hope is the latest from Bible teacher, author, and speaker Beth Moore.

Publisher's Summary:

Best-selling author Beth Moore addresses how to pray without ceasing and pray effectively in Whispers of Hope, by walking readers through an easy to remember and apply method of prayer, coupled with seventy daily devotionals, and followed by prompts to put this prayer method into practice. In turn, readers will better understand how devotional reading and prayer are central to a stronger relationship with God.

Review:

I received a copy of this book to review recently, and I was surprised at how pretty it is. It's got such a beautiful cover design (photos are mine via my non-smart cell phone!), and the edges of the pages are really uneven and soft.

This book invites writing.

I took another photo of the inside. Each day of the ten weeks of wonderful devotionals has a prayer guide for you to use. To write in. To dig deep and learn much about God and praying to Him. The devotionals are solid and Biblical, with the ultimate goal of putting into practice what God's Word teaches us about prayer.

I recently finished going through Beth Moore's Bible Study Stepping Up, and one of the stories she told was about hungry people eating the seed in their hunger, instead of planting it and waiting for it to grow and multiply into more food. This book, friends, is planting seeds, not for eating them now and not letting them grow in our hearts.

Icon Media Group, who coordinated my review copy and my review (thank you!!!), is graciously offering to donate a copy of this book as a giveaway through B&H Publishing. To enter this "sweepstakes," please leave a comment with a valid email address to be eligible for the drawing.
**Deadline to enter is Monday, January 6, 2013, at noon Eastern time.**

**WINNER chosen using Random.org and it's Grace! Thank you!**

To read my friend Teri's review of this book, click here.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book for review. Photos and commentary is my own, and no other compensation was ever intended or implied.

Sunday, December 01, 2013

CFBA Presents Merry Humbug Christmas

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Merry Humbug Christmas
B&H Books (October 15, 2013)
by
Sandra D. Bricker


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

For more than a decade, Sandra D. Bricker lived in Los Angeles. While honing her chosen craft of screenwriting in every spare moment, she worked as a personal assistant and publicist to some of daytime television's hottest stars. When her mother became ill in Florida, she walked away from that segment of her life and moved across the country to take on a new role: Caregiver.

The author says that it was her 8th novel that opened the door to finding her way as a writer. "I'm a Christian woman, first and foremost," she says. "So it was a bit of a dream-come-true when Summerside Press chose me as one of two authors to launch the Love Finds You line."

Sandie's real-life role as cancer survivor has parlayed into her steadfast commitment to raising awareness and funds for ovarian cancer research. Spearheading a series of devotionals for Summerside Press (such as the popular His Grace is Sufficient...Decaf is Not), the author has stipulated that a portion of each contributor's proceeds will go to the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund.


"Being allowed to combine my faith and my humor with raising funds for my pet projects ... and still pursue my writing dream," says Bricker, "well, that's the best of all worlds, as far as I'm concerned!"

And one of the author's pet projects is animal rescue, evidenced by the special bond she has created with one particular formerly-abandoned puppy -- a red-haired collie with "killer brown eyes and the heart of the class clown."

ABOUT THE BOOK

A Merry Humbug Christmas features two holiday romance novellas from hilarious and heartwarming author Sandra D. Bricker. -- the perfect gift to yourself or someone else at this most wonderfully stressful time of year.

 In "Once Upon a Jingle Bell," A Bah! Humbug cruise to the Mexican Riviera is Joss Snow’s answer to this year’s quest to avoid the holidays completely; at least until she’s rebooked on a different kind of cruise altogether. Candy canes, holly wreaths, reindeer and ornaments seem to be stalking her on the 12 Days of Christmas holiday cruise extravaganza. An escape back to land is her only goal . . . until she meets a kindred spirit in rugged Irishman Patrick Brenneman, and then the game is on! Avoid Christmas festivities at all costs . . . except maybe for that one stop under the mistletoe.

In "It Came Upon a Midnight Deer," Reese’s guilt over abandoning best friend Joss on their holiday tradition of avoiding all things Christmas is trumped by the joy of her recent engagement. Meeting Damian’s family for the first time on idyllic Sugarloaf Mountain is about as far from that Bah! Humbug cruise as she can get, and Reese can hardly wait to get there. But from the moment they hit that deer in the road just two miles from the cabin, everything seems to go wrong. There are no drummers drumming or pipers piping this particular year! And once she sets her future in-laws’ family cabin ablaze, she’s pretty sure there won’t be even ONE golden ring in her future.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Merry Humbug Christmas, go HERE.

Pattie's Review:

Two novellas, two friends, both have their traditional holiday plans completely upended with trademark Sandra Bricker humor--and both stories are humorous and very fun. I really enjoyed this light, heartwarming duo of friends in their pair of novellas!

In fact, I'll be giving this collection to my friend with whom I have celebrated many Christmases, who knows me as well as I know myself, and who would be the supportive Joss to my Reese anytime I needed her--even thousands of miles away. (Here's hoping she meets her own Irishman--or shoot, any nationality will do....)

I'm grateful for family and friends with whom to celebrate the holidays--and with whom to share good books.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Where ya been?

This probably seems like a crazy title for someone who purports to be somewhat of an expert in American English language usage. Indeed.

But sometimes, friends, we gotta tell it like it IS.

I've been offline a lot the past couple of weeks (well, I've been on Facebook playing games and stalking friends' holiday photos, but who hasn't?). I have not, as you might wonder, been writing a novel for National Novel Writing Month. I started, but then, well, I got bored. I'm not sure why.

So I quit.

Then I had surgery. Again. On my right ear. Again. It's the third ear surgery I have had in the past 24 months.

This time around, I gave myself permission to take time off, to recover. Thankfully my husband was okay with me taking the winter term off from teaching, so other than possibly substituting after my next check-up with the ear surgeon, I am off till January.

I'm also taking a break from most of my volunteering with Wives of Faith. I love the ministry, but it was time for me to step back and take more than a one- or two-week break for moving or surgery. I think having the holidays off will be good for me.

I have been reading and watching movies, spending more purposeful time with my family, and resting. Not just sleeping more, but really trying to rest. (Then again, the other day doing laundry and taking a shower nearly did me in--so that's the extent of my energy levels these days!)

I think this break will rejuvenate the writing part of my brain, hopefully rejuvenate my teaching brain, and certainly give me some time to evaluate what I want to do with my time and energy.

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

CFBA: Paige Rewritten Book 2 in Paige Alder Series

My review is at the end of this post.


This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Paige Rewritten
NavPress (October 8, 2013)
by
Erynn Mangum


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



A few things about her:

So, if we were having this conversation in person, we would probably be hanging out at Starbucks or one of the cute coffeehouses in town. I’m nuts about all things coffee, I’m crazy about all things pink and girly, and I love, love, love the Food Network! I’m married to my best friend and the most amazing guy ever, Jon. He is amiable toward coffee, does not like anything pink or girly and tolerates the Food Network. So, we make a good match! In July 2010, we became parents to one of the funniest, cutest, sweetest little guys in the whole world (and nope, we aren’t biased at all!), our Nater-Tot, who is legally known as Nathan. Most days, I’m cleaning up messes, making goofy faces, trying to fit some writing in, and just LOVING the life that God has given me!

ABOUT THE BOOK

Paige Alder is in a really good place. She’s dating nice guy Tyler. Her boss has offered her a raise. Her walk with God is strong. Life is great—and that’s when things start to change.

First, the youth pastor at church keeps asking Paige to work with him full-time. Then her sister shows up newly engaged and wanting to reconnect, even though they haven’t spoken in years. And now former boyfriend Luke has come back into her life. How is Paige supposed to know what the right decisions are?

This warm and humorous second book in the Paige Alder series will help young girls work through important issues, such as forgiving others and obeying God.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Paige Rewritten, go HERE

Pattie's Review:
What I like about Erynn's writing is that it's easy to read, spiritual, without hitting me over the head with preachiness. Paige is as likeable a heroine as Lauren Holbrook or Maya Davis. She's a good Christian who struggles with grace. And as someone who grew from a "good kid" to a "nice lady" I can totally relate to Paige's struggles with forgiveness--not only with those who wronged her, but with herself.

Being book two in a series is a tough place to be. I did not read book one, but with the cliffhanger closing this book, I'm definitely looking into book three when it comes out in the spring.