Friday, December 30, 2011

Listen


I blogged about my new 2012 theme on Wives of Faith this morning (a post that took me awhile to write, because I'm not home and I'm still on my operation vacation).

My theme for 2012 is Listen.

Now, I have not gone into detail much online, other than a whittled-down list of folks on my Facebook page who are my prayer warriors, close friends and family members. But I had major ear surgery last week at Fort Lewis, Washington. I had a growth that distorted my eardrum, destroyed much of my temporal bone all the way up to my brain, began to expose my facial nerve, damaged a taste nerve, and destroyed two of the three bones needed for hearing. I now have a new reconstructed eardrum, no disease, and my facial nerve, perilously close to being exposed and damaged, is getting some steroids for strength and protection. I still have hearing in my ear--it's all sensorineural, as those parts are still in working order. My hearing loss will be able to be fixed next year (should the disease not return) with the insertion of a titanium implant replacing the two destroyed hearing bones, connecting my new eardrum to the stapes bone.

I am alive, I have no facial nerve damage (seems I'm past the window of danger for that as well, although the steroid med course continues for another week), I have no brain damage, and no terrible side effects from the medications or the procedure.

God is so good.

On Christmas Sunday, four days after my surgery, we sat in the lovely sanctuary of Chapel One at McChord Field, listening and enjoying the worship service. My heart was full. I was not seeking my theme, I was just trying to enjoy the fact that I could hear the music and the Scripture being read (the same passage which, incidentally, I had posted to my Facebook status not an hour before).

And I heard that familiar, comforting, Still Small Voice say, "Listen. Be still and know that I am God."

"Lord. Really?"

"Yes. Listen."

I had to laugh a little inside. Really? Listen. With what I thought at the time was half my hearing, He wants me to listen? It's going to be HARD. I've been a very healthy girl most of my life. Sure, ear trouble as a kid, and intermittent hearing issues the past year, but not a full-fledged disability. A handicap, really. A medical condition requiring monitoring and being careful.

This year, listening will have to be a conscious effort. It will be work. It is going to make home life harder and work life a lot harder (how in the world am I going to do a VTC class starting in Feb. if I can't hear that well?).

But I'm here. I'm alive. I'm 9 days out from surgery and managing my pain and discomfort pretty well. It will only get better from here.


Past Themes: Brave, 2009
Focus, 2010
Grace, 2011

Listen

I blogged about my new 2012 theme on Wives of Faith this morning (a post that took me awhile to write, because I'm not home and I'm still on my operation vacation).

My theme for 2012 is Listen.

Now, I have not gone into detail much online, other than a whittled-down list of folks on my Facebook page who are my prayer warriors, close friends and family members. But I had major ear surgery last week at Fort Lewis, Washington. I had a growth that distorted my eardrum, destroyed much of my temporal bone all the way up to my brain, began to expose my facial nerve, damaged a taste nerve, and destroyed two of the three bones needed for hearing. I now have a new reconstructed eardrum, no disease, and my facial nerve, perilously close to being exposed and damaged, is getting some steroids for strength and protection. I still have hearing in my ear--it's all sensorineural, as those parts are still in working order. My hearing loss will be able to be fixed next year (should the disease not return) with the insertion of a titanium implant replacing the two destroyed hearing bones, connecting my new eardrum to the stapes bone.

I am alive, I have no facial nerve damage (seems I'm past the window of danger for that as well, although the steroid med course continues for another week), I have no brain damage, and no terrible side effects from the medications or the procedure.

God is so good.

On Christmas Sunday, four days after my surgery, we sat in the lovely sanctuary of Chapel One at McChord Field, listening and enjoying the worship service. My heart was full. I was not seeking my theme, I was just trying to enjoy the fact that I could hear the music and the Scripture being read (the same passage which, incidentally, I had posted to my Facebook status not an hour before).

And I heard that familiar, comforting, Still Small Voice say, "Listen. Be still and know that I am God."

"Lord. Really?"

"Yes. Listen."

I had to laugh a little inside. Really? Listen. With what I thought at the time was half my hearing, He wants me to listen? It's going to be HARD. I've been a very healthy girl most of my life. Sure, ear trouble as a kid, and intermittent hearing issues the past year, but not a full-fledged disability. A handicap, really. A medical condition requiring monitoring and being careful.

This year, listening will have to be a conscious effort. It will be work. It is going to make home life harder and work life a lot harder (how in the world am I going to do a VTC class starting in Feb. if I can't hear that well?).

But I'm here. I'm alive. I'm 9 days out from surgery and managing my pain and discomfort pretty well. It will only get better from here.


Past Themes: Brave, 2009
Focus, 2010
Grace, 2011

Saturday, December 17, 2011

2011 Reading Challenge

2011 Reading Challenge
Pattie has completed her goal of reading 110 books in 2011!
hide

Fall Into Reading Wrap-Up 2011


For participation info, click here.

I am proud of myself...I finished ALL the books on my list. Usually I end up not finishing one, but this time? Oh yes, my friends, this time I finished.

I have included the content of my original post, with hyperlinks to the reviews I have posted elsewhere on my blog.

Special thanks to Katrina of Callapidder Days for allowing me to send her the link to my wrap-up early; I'm headed out of town for ear surgery.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

My List:

Books I Also Read But Which Are Not On the List:

Addison Blakely: Confessions of a PK by Betsy St. Amant (NetGalley on Kindle)

  • The Shakespeare Manuscript by Stewart Buettner (Kindle)--did not really like all that much.
  • Sisterhood Everlasting by Ann Brashares (library find)
  • Best Staged Plans by Claire Cook (library find)
  • My Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie by Wendy McClure (This was my first library loan on my Kindle! What an awesome program!!!)
  • Murder by Mocha by Cleo Coyle (10th Coffeehouse Mystery book--original ones recommended to me by my Nattie, back in the day...)
  • All That is Bitter and Sweet by Ashley Judd (it was okay, difficult read)
  • Delivery by Diana Prusik (disliked the book until the very end....)
  • Give it All, Give it Now by Annie Dillard (short gift book)
  • Definitely Not Mr. Darcy by Karen Doornebos
  • Harsh Pink by Melody Carlson
  • The Pioneer Women, Black Heels to Tractor Wheels: A Love Story by Ree Drummond
  • One for the Money by Janet Evanovich
  • Lucky Baby

    Meredith Efken's novel Lucky Baby is quite different from her previous novels, which were more comedy. This novel is deeper, more multi-faceted, and much more of an emotional journey than I even anticipated.

    Synopsis:

    Meg Lindsay has everything a woman could want except happiness. Can an adopted Chinese child bring her what she lacks?
    All her life, Meg Lindsay’s mother told her what a disappointment she was. Try as she might, Meg never measured up, and the emotional bruises still hurt as an adult. In Meg’s opinion, no one could be a worse mother than the woman who gave birth to her—that is, until Meg has a child of her own to care for.

    Two young girls lived in an orphanage in China. Unwanted because of a deformity and the lack of family registry, Little Zhen An was destined to spend her childhood in the orphanage. Her only friend was a slightly older blind girl, Wen Ming.

    After Meg and her husband, Lewis, adopt one of the girls, Meg’s love for her new daughter grows daily, but the tension, fear, and uncertainty of motherhood drive Meg to the brink of despair. Fearing that she is becoming the kind of mother she hates, she fights circumstance, rebellion, a loving but at times tense marriage, setbacks, and the native selfishness that lives in all of us.

    Meg’s journey is a magical one as East meets West and as imagination aligns with reality. Lucky Baby spans the world, bridges the gap between heart and soul, and shows that the greatest power on Earth is forgiveness.

    I enjoyed the novel, but not in the same way I thought I might. It was a very emotional book for me, and I found myself setting the novel aside more than I usually do for novels. It touched my heart in a very deep place, the place where my mother-self resides. The place where my wounds are the deepest and the sweetest.

    Sunday, December 04, 2011

    Graphic Design by Becky Perry (www.beckyperry.us)

    Friday, December 02, 2011

    Christmas Blog Carnival 2011

    Graphic Design by Becky Perry (www.beckyperry.us)

    Saturday, November 26, 2011

    Remembering You

    Remembering You: a Contemporary Novel about World War II, Grandparents, Memories, and yes, Love.

    About the Novel:

    35-year-old Ava Andrews' dream job is interrupted by an unusual request--fulfill her 84-year-old grandfather's last wish by joining him on a battle site tour of Europe. Ava is sure her boss will refuse her request. But, instead, he gives her a directive of his own--to videotape the tour and send it back as mini-segments for the show she produces.

    As if juggling these two things isn't hard enough, Ava is soon surprised again ... twice. First, Ava and Grandpa Jack arrive in Europe, only to discover the tour is cancelled. Unwilling to let down her grandfather or her boss, Ava and Grandpa Jack head out on their own. Then, while they're on their way, the pair soon meet up with Paul, her grandpa's best friend, and his grandson Dennis. The same Dennis who just happens to be Ava's first love.

    Before she knows it, Ava and Dennis are swept down memory lane as they visit the sites that are discussed in the history books. And even though Ava's videotaping old soldiers, she can see their youth, their hopes and fears, and their pride in their eyes. Soon Ava learns the trip isn't just for them ... it's for her too--especially for her heart.
    Read an excerpt, watch a video and find out more here. http://www.triciagoyer.com/contemporaryfiction.html#RememberingYou

    Pattie's Review
    :

    What's not to like about a story like this? I enjoyed the story, Ava's journey not only with her grandfather as he takes his, but in her own heart.

    The only part of the story that I didn't like were the times Dennis judged Ava--particularly for one incident which was something she obviously didn't do. If it had been me, I think I would have written him completely off at that point. I was so upset at that man!

    But overall, the love story didn't really interfere with the real story: the story of the grandfathers and their comrades-in-arms as they journeyed across Europe to remember and honor the lives they helped save--and to be remembered for the liberation they brought. I think that is the best part of the whole story.

    Contest Info:

    @TriciaGoyer's Remembering You Giveaway & #FB Party. Win a Kindle Touch for YOU and a friend!

    Tricia Goyer is celebrating the release of her novel, Remembering You, with a KINDLE Touch Giveaway for you ... and for the friend of your choice. Then on 11/29 she'll be wrapping up the release of Remembering You with a Book Chat Party!

    During the first half of the party Tricia will be chatting, sharing a sneak peek of her next book, and giving away a ton of great stuff. Then she'll head over to her website for a Live Chat! Readers will be able to chat with Tricia via video or text.

    Don't miss your chance to win a Kindle Touch for yourself ... and to "remember" a friend this holiday with a Kindle Touch for them!

    Read what the reviewers are saying here.


    One grand prize winner will receive:
    • A Brand New Kindle Touch and a Kindle Touch for a Friend (winner's choice!)
    • A copy of Remembering You by Tricia Goyer for each
    Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends at noon on November 29th. Winner will be announced at Remembering You Facebook Party on 11/29. Tricia will be hosting an author chat (on Facebook and Live from her website) and giving away copies of her other WWII books and gift certificates to Starbucks and Amazon.com. So grab your copy of Remembering You and join Tricia on the evening of the 29th for an author chat, a trivia contest (How much do you know about WWII?) and lots of giveaways.
    Enter via E-mail Enter via FacebookEnter via Twitter

    Don't miss a moment of the fun. RSVP today and tell your friends viaFACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 29th!

    Tuesday, November 15, 2011

    Blog Tour: The Song of Unmaking

    Welcome to the blog tour for Dean Barkley Briggs' book The Song of Unmaking.

    This post tells a bit about the book and the contest Dean is hosting. I will be reviewing the book at a later date.

    Dean is having a major giveaway to help promote this series. The massive Grand Prize includes a compete library of fantasy novels (48 titles) and a Kindle Fire. It is one of the biggest giveaways I think I have ever seen an author give! You can learn more about it here:

    http://www.facebook.com/DBarkleyBriggs


    The Song of Unmaking
    About the Book
    The Song of UnmakingHe was once the greatest champion in the land. Then he disappeared. With Nemesia's defeat, the Barlows have helped turn the tide in the Hidden Lands. But the victory is short-lived. An even greater evil stirs in the north with a fierce new army bent on destruction. As the twins, Gabe and Garret, discover their own special powers, a thin thread of hope emerges: long ago, a fabled king was rescued from death on our world and hidden on Karac Tor. Who is he? Each brother has their part to play. Hadyn must travel north to warn the land rulers, which leaves Ewan with a bitter choice. Will he sacrifice what is most precious to discover whether Corus lives? Even more important, if Corus is alive, can he wake the Sleeping King of legend...before it's too late?

    Tuesday, November 08, 2011

    So far, so good

    The nifty word count widgets aren't up yet for National Novel Writing Month, but I thought I'd check in and tell you I have 11,669 written on my novel so far. I am, interestingly, exactly where I should be for today. I wanted to get ahead, but there were too many other things going on today in my head and in my world for me to work on noveling. However, I discovered a fun plot twist tonight that should really get me going for at least the next few thousand words!

    Saturday, November 05, 2011

    My Wilder Life

    4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting insights, November 5, 2011
    This review is from: The Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie (Hardcover)
    I have been a Laura Ingalls Wilder nut since I was about seven years old, and I have a collection of many books about Laura Ingalls Wilder and Rose Wilder Lane. So for me, most (maybe 90%) of the information and facts given here were not new. I have also visited the De Smet and Mansfield historical sites more than once over the years.

    That said, McClure's journey as depicted in the book was interesting. I enjoyed her interactions with the folks who run the historical sites, and I loved that she got her boyfriend to read the books too. I identified with her grown-up disillusionment after reading some of the literary analyses.

    The resources in the back were helpful as well, since there has been more Wilder/Lane scholarship in the past five years.

    Overall, I think many readers of the "Little House" series of books will enjoy the book. But true Wilder scholars probably will not.

    Thursday, November 03, 2011

    Blogging for Stuff

    I'm not usually one for blogging as a commercial, unless it's a book. But I got involved with She Speaks.com awhile ago, and they've moved from posting opinions on their site to a blogger program. I have been a fan of Torani syrups for awhile now, as I'm a fan of coffee...so when Torani sponsored a blog program, I signed up right away.

    I am drinking coffee with some salted caramel syrup in it, and it's really yummy.

    Please know I won't be doing sponsored posts or anything overly spammy. That's not me.


    I received two bottles of Torani syrup in exchange for my opinion about Torani flavored syrups. My opinions are my own.

    Wednesday, November 02, 2011

    Love on the Line

    Welcome to the Lit Fuse blog tour for Love on the Line.

    About the book:

    It's a Battle of Wills ... and Love Is on the Line!

    Rural switchboard operator Georgie Gail is proud of her independence in a man's world . . . which makes it twice as vexing when the telephone company sends a man to look over her shoulder.

    Dashing Luke Palmer is more than he appears though. He's a Texas Ranger working undercover to infiltrate a notorious gang of train robbers. Repairing telephones and tangling with this tempestuous woman is the last thing he wants to do. But when his stakeout puts Georgie in peril, he realizes more than his job is on the line.

    About Deeanne:

    Deeanne Gist--known to her family, friends, and fans as Dee--has rocketed up the bestseller lists and captured readers everywhere with her very original, very fun historical & contemporary romances. Add to this three RITA nominations, two consecutive Christy Awards, rave reviews, and a growing loyal fan base, and you've got one recipe for success.

    She has a very active online community on her website at IWantHerBook.com and at Facebook.com/DeesCircle.

    Pattie's Review:

    When a book begins with a train robbery, you know it's not going to be a quiet "tied to the switchboard" kind of story you imagined it might be, based on the cover and the synopsis...

    I enjoyed the story of Georgie and Luke. So much historical detail in the millinery plot, as well as a lot of great bird information and a few cultural details about the advent of the telephone industry in rural areas. And a nice love story as well. :)

    Overall, I recommend this for those who enjoy historical Christian romance.

    _____________________

    Deeanne is thrilled to introduce Georgie and Luke to the word in her latest novel, Love on the Line. To celebrate Deeanne's publisher, Bethany House, is hosting the Love on the Line iPad2 giveaway an Author Chat on Facebook! Enter today and follow the link below to RSVP for Deeanne's rip-roarin' Facebook Party!



    One fortunate winner will receive:

    • A Brand New iPad2
    • An Autographed Hardback Copy of Love on the Line by Deeanne Gist
    Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on November 7th. Winner will be announced at Deeanne's Author Chat Facebook Party. Deeanne will be wrapping up the Love on the Line celebration by chatting with friends new and old! So grab your copy of Love on the Line (it's okay if you don't have one yet- you might could win one!) and join Deeanne on the evening of November 8th for a rip roaring book chat, a little trivia and lots of giveaways (books, and Amazon, iTunes & Starbucks gift certificates)!


    Enter via E-mail Enter via FacebookEnter via Twitter


    Don't miss a moment of the fun. RSVP today and tell your friends. Hope to see you on the 8th!

    Thanks to Lit Fuse and Deeanne Gist and the publisher, Bethany House,
    for a review copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

    Tuesday, November 01, 2011

    November

    The Month of Writing a Novel.

    [insert word count widget here]

    Monday, October 31, 2011

    Day 31: What I've Learned

    What have I learned from writing every day? Let's see....
    • I like it.
    • Sometimes it's hard.
    • I CAN do it!
    • Some people actually like what I write!
    • (That's encouraging. I need encouragement.)
    • I need the discipline of daily writing, even if I don't publish it daily.
    • It's okay not to publish everything I write.
    • It's also okay to turn off the internal editor.
    • Which is hard!!!
    • Facebook is a huge distraction from actual writing.
    • Listening to God is harder with distractions.
    • Being open to inspiration is important. (I credit inspiration as divine, because really, I have nothing without God. And my writing is His.)
    • I am proud of myself for accomplishing this October 31 Days of Writing.
    • And I don't mean that in a prideful way, either.
    • I stuck with it and accomplished a goal. That's a big deal!
    Thanks to The Nester for hosting all the 31 Days blogs. To read all my blogs for the month of writing, click here.

    Sunday, October 30, 2011

    Day 30: A month of writing.

    I've written something every day this month.

    Wow.

    I am really happy I fulfilled this portion of my end-of-the-year push toward achieving some goals.

    On the minus side, listing 5 things I'm grateful for every day has been a bust. This past week kicked.my.butt. And I allowed the circumstances of this week to get in the way of my attitude of eucharisteo. So I failed at giving the hard thanks.

    Some part of me thinks this is the stuff that keeps me humble.

    (Some days it feels like it's the stuff that keeps me downtrodden.)

    Mostly, though, I know that the Lord keeps me in His hand. And the sun will come up tomorrow (maybe not out, but it will rise).

    I will keep writing. Because it's in my heart and my hands and my soul.

    Saturday, October 29, 2011

    Day 29: Paper

    I have a love/hate relationship with paper. It piles up. It's hard to get rid of. It's a comfort and the bane of my existence. It's heavy. It's portable. It's shreddable and scannable and pretty.

    And that's about all I have to say right now. This week I'll be re-organizing my filing cabinets and shredding things we no longer need.

    Day 28: Regular Blogging

    It's been interesting blogging regularly this month. For a few years, I regularly posted on this blog, both personal posts and book reviews, and it was a nice quiet blog with a small following. Then I went through a really rough patch with a friend about three years ago, and I felt it was no longer safe to blog because her other friends were "reporting" back to her what I wrote, and it was feeding into the drama.

    So, I got scared. And I got quiet.

    And then, God started giving me a yearly theme. (I've written about them here and here. Oh, and here too.) Those themes have kept me more focused on Him instead of growing a blog. With actual followers and stuff.

    Then I ended up accepting a position with Wives of Faith as the blog editor, and the bulk of my writing went toward that ministry. That's not necessarily bad, but neither is it as much of my own personal writing.

    So to write every day this month has been good for me. It proved to me again that yes, daily practice does make me a better writer. Having an audience for that practice is just a bonus.

    If you are on Facebook with me, you might notice I do not publish these entries on my Facebook wall. This is sort of lame, but my extended family doesn't know about this blog. It's just something that has been very quiet and personal in a weird and public way, as blogging tends to be.

    One thing that I'd love to do eventually is move a lot of this over to an author blog (and I have the blogspot address for my full name already saved!). But to do that, I need to actually BE an author. In my mind, that is someone who has finished a book. Mine are all pieces, saved on a flash drive here, an external hard drive there . . . certainly nothing concrete and definitely not anything worthy of sending out to an agent! Someday, maybe. Definitely something worth striving for.

    Pretty soon I won't be posting as much--my writing energies will be poured into writing a novel for National Novel Writing Month. I am determined to win this year! I think I can do it, even though I am starting to teach two classes in about a week and a half. However, if my recently discovered health issues get in the way, I will give myself grace to bow out . . . well, gracefully.

    Friday, October 28, 2011

    Day 27: Lost and Found

    I had a really rough night on Sunday night. I had a stack of student papers I thought I would start grading, and when I went to get them, I couldn't find them.

    Anywhere.

    I don't know about you, but I can't stand making mistakes. At all. Losing my students' papers was a big mistake.

    I also cannot abide when something is lost. Drives me nuts.

    I went through the office, the house, and found nothing.

    I went through my car, my tote bags, my filing cabinets. Nothing.

    I went to bed. I didn't sleep well at all.

    The next morning, I did the same thing as I'd done the night before: looked, looked again, and looked high and low. No papers.

    I emailed the dance studio. They looked. Nothing.

    I had a hearing test on Monday in town, and afterwards I turned on the GPS and found I was only 2 miles from the studio. I went by. I looked. No papers.

    Last night, the students were pretty much united in two things: the belief that the papers would turn up, and the deep and abiding desire to know their grade.

    Tonight as I sat in the dance studio watching the last few minutes of M2's class, the office lady gave them to me! She said they'd been shoved to the back of the "lost and found" standing crate!

    Praise the Lord!!!

    Thursday, October 27, 2011

    Dear Students (Day 26)

    To my first college class in Alaska:

    I was scared to death to fail, but I was even more scared not to try. So much you would never know was on the line: my self-esteem, my confidence in latent abilities I was afraid I'd lost forever (or at least for a while), my earning potential, my husband's view of me. In my mind, all were riding on how well I did as a teacher.

    How well would I teach you how to write about literature? Could I teach a classroom of military professionals and self-professed nonfiction readers how to appreciate poetry, short stories, and Shakespearean tragedy? I may not have succeeded with every one of you - a couple of you were really tough nuts - but I think I won over a few others of you - the ones who laughed at my jokes, who teased me a little bit, who liked that I cared.

    Thank you for sticking with me, for showing me that yes, I've still got it - the teaching part of me I gave up five years ago to follow my husband and where I was not able to find a teaching position. Where I thought I lost the teacher-me, traded in on the coach-me. Thank you for letting me make mistakes (way too many for my own standards), and for giving me a little grace as the new-to-Alaska girl. Thanks for the tips and the advice, for laughing with me about the butchered moose, and for being concerned about my hearing.

    I hope I gave you the useful tools, and I pray you are able to complete your next classes well and successfully.

    Sincerely,
    Mrs. R

    Tuesday, October 25, 2011

    Days 24 and 25

    Yesterday's writing was not for public consumption--it was for my class! I finished writing their final exam. Today's writing is here, and to be honest, I'm not yet ready to make today's information public. I found out that something in our lives that was a possibility is now a big certainty. And it's not a fun thing, either! I hate being vague, but I'm not ready to make it public on an open forum, so "vague-blogging" will be the order of the day.

    In other things...moving on...I have just had a cruddy week. I have a friend, a very dear friend, who is really big right now on choices. We have a choice in our attitude, in how we handle things. It's a hard thing, this choice. And sometimes, to borrow a toddler's expression, I don't wanna! I don't wanna be a grown up. I don't wanna deal with the hard things in life. I don't wanna choose the higher road, or the mature way. But there it is: Choice. Free will. The ability to choose how we react, not on the whims of our emotions, but on the certainty that God loves us and we do not have to allow someone else's emotions or whims or choices to affect us to the core.

    I'm still dealing with that.

    As Nattie would say, onward and upward. Tomorrow is a new day.

    Sunday, October 23, 2011

    Day 23: Sunday, Sunday

    So for Day 22, I wrote this book review as well as this one. So while I didn't write a post for "31 Days of Writing," I did write. :D

    Today is Sunday. It's a day I'd normally try to rest, but that was imposed upon me yesterday instead, having gotten sick. So today, back to work to finish the final exam for my class, as well as grade sheets for the students' essays, which also need graded by Wednesday night.

    I hope to get it all finished, and still have time for the family. It's a busy, busy week ahead, with medical appointments, parent-teacher conferences, and the wrapping up of the fall term.

    Baby, It's Cold Outside

    Welcome to the Lit Fuse blog tour for Susan May Warren's latest,
    Baby, It's Cold Outside!

    About the Novel:

    Hope finds the hopeless when a storm hits.

    It's Christmas weekend 1949, and despite the threat of a storm, the townspeople of Frost are determined to continue their holiday traditions, if only as a means to forget the war that they had all just suffered through. But the suffering hasn't ended for Dottie Morgan who lost her only son in the war. She's preparing to wallow in her isolation for the weekend, when Violet, nearly a spinster at age 29, dares to make a request that will force Dottie to publicly revive the memory of her dead son.

    When a storm traps the two women at home with a strange young man who has an unbelievable confession and a neighbor with more to do with Violet's past than she would like, no one can predict how this Christmas will give them all a second chance.

    Read an excerpt here and find out the story behind the novel.

    Pattie's Review:

    I know I'm inextricably wrapped up in the story of a novel when it's tough for me to go to bed without finishing the book. That's where I found myself the other night: up way too late, finishing the book!

    I completely sympathized with Dottie. And while she's far from an "old woman" at 44 (I'm almost there myself, and despite the silver peeking through my roots, I refuse to consider myself an old woman!), I can completely understand why she feels like her life is over.

    The characters were believable and perfectly flawed. The feel of the novel is still WWII, even though it takes place after the war is over. Definitely a new period, a rarely explored few years in-between WWII and the glory of the growth and expansion of the 1950s. Having gone through the Johnson Presidential Library in Austin this past spring, I can tell you it's consistent with the state of the country at that time.

    Overall, a wonderful cozy read, perfect for the holidays. And to all the WAACS, God bless you.

    The Contest:

    Enter 10/14-10/26!


    Thank you to LitFuse, Susan May Warren, and Summerside Press
    for a review copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

    Saturday, October 22, 2011

    Married Mom Solo Parent


    Welcome to the Lit Fuse blog tour for Carla Coroy's new book Married Mom, Solo Parent.

    About the book:

    For married women who feel like single parents.

    Bookstore shelves are full of parenting resources for moms who are newly divorced or widowed. But where do moms turn if they feel like a single parent--but they’re not? Whether he is away on business, deployed in the military, or obsessing over a computer game, Dad may not be available for a variety of reasons. Moms who parent in this situation still need help and don’t necessarily relate to the advice given in divorce recovery or single parenting resources.

    Married Mom, Solo Parent is a common-sense, down-to-earth look at the struggles wives and mothers face when their husband is not actively involved in family life. Writing from her own experience as a married single mom, Carla Anne Coroy will help wives and mothers sort through their questions, such as: Can I do this alone? How do I raise kids to honor their father? How do I give my children a healthy perspective of marriage if they never see one in action? With practical suggestions, anecdotes, and biblical teaching, this book will encourage moms to see their position as a high calling, to find healing for their worries and frustrations, and to tap into God’s strength for help in facing the daily challenge of being a married mom, solo parent.

    About Carla:

    Carla Anne Coroy runs the Married Single Mom blog at www.carlaannecoroy.blogspot.com. She speaks regularly and serves as a staff writer for an online Christian women’s magazine Mentoring Moments for Christian Women. Carla Anne lives in Canada with her husband and four homeschooled children. For more information, visit http://www.carlaanne.com/blog.

    Pattie's Review:

    As a military wife, I thought this might be a good resource to review. Turns out, I was right. It's written for any woman who feels like she solo parents because of her husband's job, whatever it is, that takes him away from the family for periods of time. So there are personal stories from other women included, which gives this book more of a universal appeal.

    While I haven't had time to finish reading the book, what I have read makes me want to read more. I've also recommended it already on Facebook to some women who are struggling with how to best honor their deployed husbands.

    Carla Anne pulls no punches. She is honest, very honest in a way that is not off-putting but definitely needed when dealing with difficult issues like emotional divorce and infidelity, honoring her husband, and parenting issues like discipline.

    I think this book is a much-needed resource for women who find themselves parenting mostly by themselves.

    Random fact: I realized that Carla Anne now lives near where I used to live--too bad we didn't know each other 2 yrs. ago or we could have met in real life! I emailed her and she graciously responded to me right away. (Hi Carla Anne!) I wish her all good things.

    Personal Reflection Journal for the book, available on the author's website.

    Small Group Study Guide for the book, available on the author's website.


    Don't miss Carla Coroy's MomChat Facebook Party on 10/25!

    Come to an encouraging MomChat party on Facebook…you could win a KindleTouch!

    To celebrate the release of her new book Carla has partnered with her publisher, Kregel, to host a live MomChat party on Facebook! http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=177346262342482

    The party will wrap up the blog tour (http://litfusegroup.com/blogtours/text/13420715) and Carla will be hosting an encouraging MomChat about all things mom and wife related. There will also be a fun contest and she’s giving away a KindleTouch and a ton of other fun stuff (books, gift certificates and more!).

    So RSVP today and then come back on 10/25 at 5pm Pacific, 8pm Eastern for the party.

    Don't miss the fun ... and tell your friends.

    Special thanks to LitFuse, Carla Anne Coroy, and Kregel Publications
    for a review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

    Friday, October 21, 2011

    Day 21: It's Friday!


    I'm so glad it's Friday.

    Even as a work-from-home Mom, Friday still feels like a fun day, like a day when I get out early from school, or take off early from work.

    I ordered a couple of books online that I think will help me come up with some more original material for my composition classes. (Let's hope, right?)

    Today as I made my own spreadsheet-thing (pictured to the right) to figure out which elements of fiction I really wanted to teach, I realized what I really needed to do was overhaul the whole dang syllabus (I borrowed heavily from the English professor at my college, because I had to get my syllabus turned in a few days after I learned I had been hired; consequently, it has a lot of Dr. W and not a whole lot of Pattie).

    So what started as a few minor tweaks has turned into a major project that remains unfinished. I sure hope the dean's administrative assistant doesn't dock my pay for not getting the final syllabus in on time!

    Thankfully, as I have to stop now and pick up my daughter from school, I think all I really need to "fix" is about 5 class sessions. The remaining 6 are fine (First and last sessions and midterm are set, as are the two sessions of Hamlet and the Life poetry set I'd already overhauled from the original syllabus).

    Update: I finished by 6 pm ADT! Yay!

    Thursday, October 20, 2011

    Day 20: Exercise Part Three

    In case you missed them: Part One and Part Two

    In the fall of 2009, we found out we were leaving North Dakota, which meant I was going to have to leave my job. I gave my notice in the spring and left at the end of April. I had been taking a class at the local community college, so I planned to leave my job the week before my final portfolio and paper was due. It worked out well. I continued my workouts until we moved, and said a reluctant goodbye to the friends I'd made there over the past 3 1/2 years.

    Curves headquarters is in Waco, Texas, and I had it in my head that the Texas clubs would be hard-core into sales. Because we were fairly certain we'd only be in Texas for a year, I didn't pursue employment. Instead, we used the gym on base (convenient because I drove the girls to school there each day), where I could take yoga classes. I bought a punch-card, which lasted me all year, and I took yoga at the base gym.

    Now there's been a lot of talk about yoga in the Christian community. To be honest, I have waffled about it for years--is it okay, is it not okay, for Christians to take yoga classes. I did not feel uncomfortable taking classes at the gym, because the instructor was strictly working on muscles. She rarely used the Sanskrit names for poses, and she talked all the time about the muscle groups we were working. It took me a few weeks, but I could gradually see improvement and felt more comfortable with the process of going through the classes. My flexibility improved quite a bit!

    We found out we were moving again, this time to Alaska. When I began exploring my exercise options, I was not comfortable with yoga. There are many yoga studios here in the area, but they all seem to be very focused on the religious aspects of yoga, rather than the exercise-centered classes I'd been attending (that's my perception alone, not based on anything but my gut feeling after overhearing at the dance studio and visiting websites). Curves costs quite a bit more here, as well.

    I found out about the Jazzercise studio from one of my new friends here who loves going. I found out about their special, and even the unlimited classes at the 12-month contract was a significant cost cut from Curves here in town--and less than driving to the base gym.

    So I stumble and make mistakes, and am feeling sore muscles from not being used in this way for a long time! But I'm slowly starting to get the hang of it, after only taking a class every summer or two with my sister (who has been Jazzercising for something like 13 years).

    So there it is: my exercise autobiography. :D My ultimate goals are: to keep from gaining weight, and improve my cholesterol levels, and improve my heart strength. I want to be healthier than I am without exercise. No sluggishness for me! Plus, with the darkness of winter upon us, I want to stay happy too.

    Day 19: I'm too sore to write!

    I'll finish the exercise post tomorrow. I'm tired tonight!I exercised today and my hips and arms are sore.

    I spent all the rest of the day preparing for class, and still feel like I did a mediocre job with the poetry. Ugh. I need to seriously overhaul my lessons for next term...which starts in 3 weeks! It is hard to plan for 2 classes next term while still teaching this term AND writing a final exam from scratch.

    So there is my little rant for tonight. I'm tired. It's been a very long day. I'm going to go to bed and work tomorrow. And write. I promise.

    PS: My students have noticed they've improved in their writing. So it's not just me :)

    Wednesday, October 19, 2011

    Wonderland Creek

    This week, the
    Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
    is introducing
    Wonderland Creek
    Bethany House (October 1, 2011)
    by
    Lynn Austin




    ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



    For many years, Lynn Austin nurtured a desire to write but frequent travels and the demands of her growing family postponed her career. When her husband's work took Lynn to Bogota, Colombia, for two years, she used the B.A. she'd earned at Southern Connecticut State University to become a teacher. After returning to the U.S., the Austins moved to Anderson, Indiana, Thunder Bay, Ontario, and later to Winnipeg, Manitoba.

    It was during the long Canadian winters at home with her children that Lynn made progress on her dream to write, carving out a few hours of writing time each day while her children napped. Lynn credits her early experience of learning to write amid the chaos of family life for her ability to be a productive writer while making sure her family remains her top priority.

    Extended family is also very important to Austin, and it was a lively discussion between Lynn, her mother, grandmother (age 98), and daughter concerning the change in women's roles through the generations that sparked the inspiration for her novel Eve's Daughters.

    Along with reading, two of Lynn's lifelong passions are history and archaeology. While researching her Biblical fiction series, Chronicles of the Kings, these two interests led her to pursue graduate studies in Biblical Backgrounds and Archaeology through Southwestern Theological Seminary. She and her son traveled to Israel during the summer of 1989 to take part in an archaeological dig at the ancient city of Timnah. This experience contributed to the inspiration for her novel Wings of Refuge.

    Lynn resigned from teaching to write full-time in 1992. Since then she has published twelve novels. Five of her historical novels have won Christy Awards in 2002, 2003, 2004, 2008, and 2009 for excellence in Christian Fiction. And two of her inspirational fiction books were chosen by Library Journal for their top picks in 2003, and 2005. One of Lynn's novels has been made into a movie for the Hallmark Channel, starring actress Shirley Jones. Ms Jones received a 2006 Emmy Award nomination for her portrayal of Aunt Batty in the film.

    ABOUT THE BOOK


    Alice Grace Ripley lives in a dream world, her nose stuck in a book. But happily-ever-after life she's planned on suddenly falls apart when her boyfriend, Gordon, breaks up with her, accusing her of living in a world of fiction instead of the real world. Then to top it off, Alice loses her beloved job at the library because of cutbacks due to the Great Depression.

    Fleeing small-town gossip, Alice heads to the mountains of eastern Kentucky to deliver five boxes of donated books to the library in the tiny coal-mining village of Acorn. Dropped off by her relatives, Alice volunteers to stay for two weeks to help the librarian, Leslie McDougal.

    But the librarian turns out to be far different than she anticipated--not to mention the four lady librarians who travel to the remote homes to deliver the much-desired books. While Alice is trapped in Acorn against her will, she soon finds that real-life adventure and myster--and especially romance--are far better than her humble dreams could have imagined.

    If you would like to read the first chapter of Wonderland Creek, go HERE.

    Pattie's Review:

    From the beginning, I found Allie to be a "kindred spirit" of books. I'm the girl who used to take a book to baseball games as a teen. I love reading. But I'm glad Allie realizes eventually that life is to be lived in person, not from behind a book.

    I thought the story was just plausible enough for enjoyment, while also fantastic enough to enjoy a great deal. I liked the mystery portion of the storyline as well; it reminded me a bit of Catherine Marshall's Julie.

    Overall, Wonderland Creek was a delightful book and an enjoyable story. And a good reminder, too, that we should pay attention to the life going on around us, and take a chance every so often.

    Tuesday, October 18, 2011

    Day 18: Exercise, Part Two

    So there I was, winter in North Dakota, and I was feeling fat and sluggish. I already deal with thyroid issues, so it was like adding insult to injury (without a literal injury).

    After taking my daughter to dance class one January evening (the studio was in the "older" mall in town, in part of what apparently used to be Sears), I noticed some sort of fair or something going on in the center of the mall. I wandered over to the people and the chatter, and I discovered it was the annual health fair. I walked around, gathering a few free pencils and picking up brochures from the Y and the health club next door to the gymnastics studio where my youngest was taking classes.

    Then, I saw the Curves table. I'd tried a free session at a Curves a few years ago, and while I thought it was nice, the hours weren't compatible with my teaching job at the time (for which I commuted 30 miles one way). Then when I left teaching, it wasn't compatible with our budget. My good friend Nattie worked at a Curves in Indiana, so I stopped and talked to the woman (who turned out to be the owner). She gave me their special, and I gave her my phone number.

    The next week, I was a member. Because joining was cheaper than me driving to the base to work out. And I knew I had to stay active or I'd turn into a depressed lump.

    I ended up really enjoying my workouts, and after my husband's deployment was over, I ended up going to work for the new owner, who is one of the most wonderful women I've known, and who mentored me (without knowing it) in dealing with people and handling a business and a family at the same time.

    By this time too, my friend Nattie was gone, and I knew in some odd and peaceful way, that my job was meant to be, to carry on her legacy in a way.

    What I liked about Curves was the encouraging atmosphere, and the fact that I could do cardio and strength training in 30 minutes. Oh, and I also loved working there for the same reasons. Plus my membership was included as an employee "perk."

    When we found out we were moving, I was so sad to leave.

    *Part Three tomorrow*


    Guest Post: Emotions of the Married Single Mom

    Please welcome guest blogger Carla Coroy to Fresh-Brewed Writer today!

    Emotions of the Married, Single Mom

    A recent survey done by TheBump.com and ForbesWoman.com reveals that between 25% and 65% of both working and stay-at-home moms sometimes feel like married single moms. Reading the responses to this report and comments on blogs, it is quite clear that emotions run high. The deeply felt emotions these women deal with may have been birthed in an unequal distribution of chores, however as time goes on these emotions reveal there is something more significant going on. It’s no longer just about the chores. The emotions reveal cracks in fabric of the relationship. These emotions – loneliness, anger, jealousy, grief, etc – can have a profound impact on a married single mom and her marriage.

    No girl grows up dreaming of a marriage where she feels abandoned by her man. Perhaps his job pulls him away from home for days, weeks or months at a time. Maybe he is gaming his time away, or drinking away the possibility of an intimate relationship. Regardless of why husbands are absent (or uninvolved), their wives experience a roller-coaster of emotions that can wreck havoc and disaster within their marriage.

    Loneliness is a painful wound many married single moms quietly carry every day. Companionship and conversation are critical components of a happy marriage. When this isn’t available, a wife feels lonely and separated from her husband.

    Disney Princesses trained us for ‘happily ever after’, but when Prince Charming doesn’t come home our hearts ache for our unmet expectations. Those unmet expectations become dashed dreams that may never be fulfilled and need to be grieved. There is a deep sense of loss and often questions and fears about what the future will hold.

    Fear also raises its ugly head in other ways. She wonders about his activities. She worries about his safety and health. Concern for her kids becomes paramount. She becomes insecure in her role as a wife and mother. Insecurity in her marriage, in her purpose, and in her belief system begins to erode her confidence. Married single moms wonder if they still have what it takes to attract their husband’s love and attention.

    It doesn’t take long for the twinges of insecurity to grow into soul-shaking jealousy. Husbands who are home every evening, who co-parent their children and date their wives become objects of comparison. Watching a husband and wife deep in intimate conversation can ignite a spark of jealousy. This envy can become a consuming fire tearing down whatever good might exist in her marriage.

    Then shame sets in. When others question her situation, it validates her pain and points out the failure she feels. She’s embarrassed about her husband’s choices, often feeling she must make excuses for him. Blog comments regarding married single moms contain some deeply wounding words that cast blame on her because she chose to marry and stay with him.

    For many, this growing burden of emotional pain becomes a cancer deep in the heart. All the emotional pain is fashioned into a sharpened sword called anger. They are angry with their husband’s choices. Angry about living married life alone. Angry about how Daddy’s absence affects the kids. Angry about everything.

    There is so much grief that fills the heart of a married single mom. She’s said good-bye to dreams for herself and her children. She’s sad about the hours, days, and special moments that will never happen. She needs to grieve the what-if’s and the dreams she had as a bride. This grief needs to be addressed. Grieving our dreams includes being honest about those dreams, realizing they may never be fulfilled, and asking God for new dreams firmly planted in reality and truth.
    Married single moms are not a new phenomenon. I have lived this life and many others have, too. We even find examples of married single moms throughout the Old and New Testaments. We can no longer avoid reality – married single moms are prevalent and their situations and burdens are real. But how have they survived and even thrived? Through the strength God provides. Through Christian community. Through the healing of wounded hearts. Through the hope provided by Jesus Christ.

    __________

    Carla Anne Coroy runs the Married Single Mom blog at www.carlaannecoroy.blogspot.com. She speaks regularly and serves as a staff writer for an online Christian women’s magazine Mentoring Moments for Christian Women. Carla Anne lives in Canada with her husband and four homeschooled children. For more information, visit www.carlaanne.com.

    Monday, October 17, 2011

    Day 17: Exercise Part One

    I have a love/hate relationship with exercise. By that I mean, hate/hate. Because I hate it. I hate everything about exercising--sweat, accelerated heart rate and breathing, sore muscles, sore feet . . . all of it.

    I've tried many, many things: walking, running (shin splints--ow!), a traditional gym, tae-bo, yoga, Zumba, Curves, and Jazzercise. Oh, and Wii Fit.

    As anyone will tell you, finding something you enjoy doing is the key to a successful fitness program.

    The sad fact is, however, I dislike it all.

    It wasn't until I lived in North Dakota in the winter that I needed to exercise for my mental as well as physical health. Nothing like hibernating and packing on pounds to wake a girl up!

    **part two tomorrow**

    Guest Post at Kathi Lipp's Book Club

    The other day, speaker and author Kathi Lipp graciously asked me to contribute to the countdown to her military book club for the Husband Project on her blog...here is that post.

    I have to tell you, God gave me that acronym and I'm so grateful He did! I pray it helps many women to pray for their military husbands, on the homefront or on the front lines.

    Sunday, October 16, 2011

    Day 16: Practice Makes Better

    This summer, I was able to reconnect with my former cubicle-mate and birthday-buddy, Liz. We taught together at CMSU one year, and we have remained friends ever since. It's been awesome to watch how God's worked in her life.

    We got together one day this summer, and we chatted about teaching college students. I was so glad she reminded me of daily writing (or in this case, weekly--I see my students only one night a week).

    The freewriting at the beginning of class has become a great warm-up and a good way to see how my students have each improved in their formal writing--especially heartening since the freewriting portion of class is most definitely not formal, nor do I grade the grammar, spelling, punctuation, syntax, or diction.

    I think the past two weeks of accountability in writing here at my blog, which had gone neglected other than book reviews for months, has helped me as a writer. In a way, it's proving my own theories that I've seen played out in others.

    What do you think?

    Saturday, October 15, 2011

    Day 15: Learning New Stuff

    As my friends and regular readers know, our family experienced two cross-country moves (one is actually cross-continent!) in 15 months. That's a whole lot of change right there. Add in some job changes and challenges, a couple of new computers, and new cell phones, and a new exercise program (Jazzercise, which is a huge challenge to someone as uncoordinated as I am) and my brain is just about full!


    My brain is full

    Is it any wonder that we feel stressed out in our 21st century culture? New technologies, new gadgets, new jobs, news in general.

    That's why some of my last 100 days goals had to do with taking moments to reflect (write 5 things I'm thankful for at the end of each day; journaling a page a day/this blog), moments to relax (reading what I enjoy and finishing books that taunt me with their bookmarks halfway through), and moments to spiritually recharge (still reading through the Bible, and still seem stuck in Ezekiel, quite probably one of the saddest books in the Scriptures).

    Today will be another busy day, but I hope to live in the grace of today and enjoy each moment--even when I get frustrated with all the new stuff I have to learn and do.

    Day 14: Push it, push it to the limit, limit

    I'm tired. And I don't want to write. I don't want to do anything, actually, but I did. I cleaned all the tile and laminate floors tonight.

    I finished a book tonight that was about friendship, and it was sad. And it made me melancholy. Put that together with being tired, and my hubby working late, and I'm ready for bed.

    So with that, I'll close and write more hopefully tomorrow.


    Friday, October 14, 2011

    Guest Post: Martyr Mom or Servant Model?

    Please welcome guest blogger Carla Coroy to Fresh-Brewed Writer today.

    Martyr Mom or Servant Model?

    Do you know a martyr mom? She does her teens’ laundry and makes their lunches. She cleans the house from top to bottom—all by herself. She stays up late, day in and day out, doing all of the unfinished work.

    She’s the mom who ‘sacrificially’ gives up a family outing—even though they were her kids' chores she stayed home to do. She recites her arm-length to-do list after telling you about how she agreed to help her kids with their various projects.

    You likely know a martyr mom. But have you ever wondered if you might be one?
    We started serving our families out of love. We loved them as we did their laundry. We served them as we packed lunches, cleaned bathrooms, drove carpools, and fixed bicycles . . . And then somewhere along the line, our serving morphed into martyrdom.

    Is doing everything for everyone really loving? How can we protect ourselves from becoming martyr moms?

    What would Jesus advise you to do? He taught his disciples to do what he was doing. He took them along wherever he went. He let them do some work. He sent them out to preach, heal, and cast out demons. Sometimes they did well, other times they came back wondering what went wrong. Jesus knew they needed plenty of room to try, and sometimes to fail. He didn’t hover to make sure they did things perfectly and neither did he rush to fix things when their attempts went awry.

    To be servant models, we need to imitate Jesus. We need to give our children the tools to work hard and develop responsibility. Let your children watch you work, then work with you, and eventually you can watch them work and succeed without you. Give them household chores and tasks so they can develop skills, recognize what they are capable of, and discover their contribution is valuable.

    We need to teach our children to set boundaries. Let your children see you turn down requests to serve sometimes. Do you really need to volunteer on every committee? Healthy boundaries encourage your kids to experience the joy of serving and to choose best over good.

    Serving our families requires us to teach our kids to do their best. If we expect their best and then accept what they do, we are setting them up to succeed and persevere. If your children do their best but it isn’t as good as you would do it, leave it alone. Don’t redo the job! If Jesus only accepted perfect work from his people, he wouldn’t have chosen the rag-tag team of men he did. He expects our best, and then accepts it, even when our efforts fall short.

    Love sometimes says no. When we are exhausted and we do for our kids what they could do for themselves, we are teaching them they don’t need to care about how they affect others. We are also saying that our poorest effort is better than their best. Occasionally saying no to our children also gives them permission to say no when a request butts up against their limits.
    Serving also means looking around to see how you might bless someone. It means bringing a meal to a sick family, or clothes to the family who needs some, or giving Daddy a backrub. Teach your children to ask, “How could I serve someone today?” Give them the joy of serving others at home, and by volunteering at church or in the community.

    Let’s leave the Martyr Mom complex behind and be like Jesus—Servant Models.

    ____________________
    Carla Anne Coroy runs the Married Single Mom blog at www.carlaannecoroy.blogspot.com. She speaks regularly and serves as a staff writer for an online Christian women’s magazine Mentoring Moments for Christian Women. Carla Anne lives in Canada with her husband and four homeschooled children. For more information, visit www.carlaanne.com.

    Thursday, October 13, 2011

    Day 13: Stuff

    • A hodgepodge of stuff completed today.
    • Random around the house.
    • Didn't even make a list.
    • Have to leave soon, too.
    • Hope you had a good day!
    • I'll have guest posts coming up.
    • And a link to a writing opportunity I had today, that won't be published till next week.
    • It's a very cool opportunity that I was given.
    • I hope you will like it!
    • I'm sure you will. Who am I kidding? Only a handful of my friends even come here, and each one of you is completely supportive of me.
    • Off to get ready to take the younger girl to dance!

    Day 12: A Dance Mom, but not like the show.

    Sometimes when there's a full moon, I get insomnia. That's sort of where I am right now: I taught class tonight, and now I'm kind of wound up.

    What also doesn't help is watching "Dance Moms" on Lifetime.

    I actually told two of my close friends that they have permission to slap me upside the head if I ever act all crazy like these moms do. Yes, this is "reality tv" and it's not in any way real; it's very staged and the editors are airing all the crazy moments.

    My girls are good dancers and they love dancing.

    But if I EVER push my girls that hard, or act that crazy in public, someone better come alongside me and give me an ever-lovin' reality check.

    Tuesday, October 11, 2011

    Day 11: At last, my moose has come along...

    Last night I was up late reading, as usual, and around 10 p.m. I started getting really sleepy. I placed my bookmark in my book, turned out the reading lamp, and put the reclining footrest back in its place. When I stood up, I noticed extra light outside the front window, so I moved closer toward the window to investigate. There was a car parked in the middle of the street with its lights on. Weird, I thought.

    So I opened the sheers and saw movement. In just a moment I knew what it was--a moose was crossing the street! I began to smile and yes, jump up and down a bit.

    The moose had ambled (yes, moose amble) over and was on the curb. The car with its lights on was waiting for any other moose that might be along for a 10 p.m. stroll, I suppose (the smart thing to do) before it finally slowly drove past our house. So the moose stood in the neighbor's yard for a while, a dark 3D outline against the white house, with its only illumination from the street lamp. Then the moose ambled off into the shadows, out of my vision.

    So it wasn't the best view because of the dark, but I saw a moose from my living room window. I had my happy moment right then! I woke my husband in my excitement, which he did not share (since he was in Alaska a full month before we arrived, he has already seen moose mamas, moose babies, and moose butts).

    And because it was so late I couldn't call anyone...

    Monday, October 10, 2011

    Day 10: Second Person

    I think I'll briefly pontificate upon something that drives me nuts: using the second person in essay writing.

    I don't like being lectured. Never have. And that's exactly how I feel when someone uses the second person "you" (or worse, you "understood").

    You know what I mean, right? When you're reading along and suddenly out of the blue, the writer says "When you read Hawthorne, you know he will use obvious symbols" or something like that. Then you can feel your hackles start to rise and you grab that pen of some other color than red, and you circle every occurrence of "you." You emphatically write in the margin, "Avoid using second person in formal writing."

    (See what I did? I used it. As an illustration only, mind you...)

    So imagine my surprise when I turn to the story I'm teaching this week (which is on the syllabus I borrowed in large part from our resident professor and have fallen behind in re-planning) and it's written in the imperative. The "you, understood" second person.

    Talk about feeling like nails grating on a chalkboard. EEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!

    Since I've gotten onto my students already for using that in their essays, I can't wait to hear what they have to say about this story.

    Sunday, October 09, 2011

    Day 9: Working

    One of the great debates of the 21st century among women is the debate of "at home" vs. "working outside the home." I do not really want to engage in that fight, because I've been on both sides. I've been an at-home mom and a full-time (and part-time) work-outside-the-home mom, and in my experience there are pros and cons to both places. My "sweet spot" is wherever I feel that God has led me, doing what I believe in my heart the work He has for me to do.

    I'm a firm believer in seasons in life. During the season I taught full-time outside our home, my husband worked either from church or from home (and at that church, his office was literally four steps across the yard) and was able to keep the baby with him. The next teaching job I had following that one was half-time. When our children needed care during the day, we were blessed with women within our churches who had in-home daycare, where the girls were cared for in love and by familiar faces. In the season I was at home, I strugged greatly with a loss of identity in my job, found some healing, but also weathered not a few storms.

    Now that the girls are older, and I am too, we aren't in need of daycare. I'm also happy to work part-time once again. This season of life brings many challenges, and the past 18 months have wrought so much change it sometimes feels like my head might literally start spinning if I think about it all.

    But when I consider my new job in our new location, I realize once again it's the "sweet spot" that God gave me, wherein I am able to build a career that will help us save money for the girls' college educations, as well as help make a dent in the dance and orthodontist expenses. More than that, I have the opportunity each week to minister to my students.

    I've spoken with many women over the years who struggle with this working issue. The important thing for us to remember, in my opinion, is that each woman must answer to God and her husband (or if she is not married, to God alone), not to each other. And when in doubt, extend grace rather than condemnation or judgment.

    Saturday, October 08, 2011

    Day 8: Musings on Reading

    Day 7 was a book review, even though I didn't label it as Day 7.

    For my 8th day of writing, I wasn't sure what to write about. I don't want to rehash the things about today that made it less than a good day. I am sore because I began a new exercise program that is not only working me hard, but is frustrating and sometimes difficult as all new exercise programs are for someone as uncoordinated as I tend to be--so that is not a great topic either.

    So, a positive topic: reading. I love reading. I love reading fiction because I can, for a while, get lost in a world or a place different from my own. In a way it's escapist, but more often than not it's just an enjoyable pastime. I enjoy nonfiction because I love voices--written voices. I am not as fond of instructional nonfiction as I am personal narrative, particularly creative essays. I took a look at my bookshelves a few minutes ago while looking for inspiration for today's blog entry--and while I do have quite a few reference books for teaching and for the girls' schooling, I also have a lot of writing books and anthologies of personal narratives.

    All my books make me happy.

    I guess it stems from the "extrovert" part of me--I enjoy listening to people and their stories. They fascinate me. But reading those stories feeds the "introvert" part of me.


    Friday, October 07, 2011

    2007 Fall Into Reading

    Fall Into Reading

    Get Ready, Get Set, Let's READ!!!

    Katrina at Callapidder Days has a Mr. Linky ready to go if you're interested in signing up for this reading challenge! Click on the adorable graphic to the left for "the rules," and clickhere to sign up.

    AND...there are going to be prizes! I will consider it a fall cleaning of sorts...cleaning out the TBR pile that threatens to take over my living room. Plus, finishing books helps clear the mind clutter. Enjoy the crisp fall weather, because especially here in North Dakota, it won't be long before fall turns into a snowy, below-freezing winter.

    The Friday Night Knitting Club - Kate Jacobs (been in the TBR pile for a while, and I think I'll save it for the plane ride going to Roma's wedding. Also, did you know Julia Roberts optioned the film rights for this book?)

    Knitting Under the Influence - Claire LeZebnik (finish - Reading at the same time as Roma)

    Get Out of That Pit - Beth Moore (finish)

    The Begotten and The Betrayed - Lisa Tawn Bergren (review; begun "The Begotten" and it's intense.)

    The Tenth Circle - Jodi Picoult (also a Reading the Author challenge book)

    Sacred Marriage - Gary Thomas (reading with a group of gals from W@H)