Day 153 – December 31, 2014

I had originally planned for this post to be an epic Year in Review-type thing, but then it occurred to me: as it relates to this blog, the year is far from over. Far, far from over. To be precise, it is 203 days from over. So…I don’t think the time is right for that just yet. Instead, I want to look ahead to 2015.

I don’t believe in “resolutions,” per se. If someone’s New Year’s resolution is to lose 50 pounds, but they spend the last month of 2014 eating all they can, because they know January 1st is right around the corner, how successful do you really think that resolution is going to be? Resolutions set us up to fail, in my opinion. But goals? Goals for which we make plans and prepare? Well, we might just achieve our goals.

That’s what I am telling myself. So while I don’t have resolutions for 2015, I do have goals.

#1 — I want to publish Middle Ground in 2015.

Now, hang on a minute! That sounds like a resolution, doomed to fail! You’re right, Imagined Thoughts of My Reader, that does sound like a resolution! After all, I have not been writing at all, and I haven’t even looked at Middle Ground in months. What makes me think 2015 will be any different? Well…I have slowly and cautiously been making preparations. The past couple days, I have been intensely working on cleaning my house. (No, I haven’t changed the subject. Stick with me here.) I usually work three days a week at the church, which should leave me more than enough time to focus on writing as well. And yet, I haven’t. I don’t. On my days off, when the boys are at school, I look around my house and think, “Golly, I would just feel guilty if I sat down in front of my computer to write for a couple of hours. There is so much to be done!” So instead, I do housework on my days off. (And still my house is a disaster, but that’s a story for another day.) “After all,” I tell myself, “the needs of my family need to come before my silly little hobby!” Hogwash! Well, no, actually…that’s true. But the hogwash part is that I am acting as if I can’t make time for both. So, despite my soreness from my pickle fall the other day, I am working like crazy to get my house in order. I’m not going for perfection, which is good because I am a horrible housekeeper, and I’m actually the best housekeeper in our family. But it needs to be well-maintained enough that I can look around on my days off and feel as if it’s okay to devote a little time to writing. Basically, I’m taking away the excuses.

And that’s pretty much it, actually. Oh, there are other things I would like to do, and I’m sure those will come up at some point, but when I think about 2015 and what I would like for it to hold which 2014 did not – things which aren’t normal, everyday life things – Middle Ground is it.

So here we go, 2015. Let’s do this.

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Day 152 – December 30, 2014

So yesterday I took a little spill. Nothing major. It was stupid, really. I was walking into the house carrying a bunch of groceries and, unfortunately, I didn’t make sure my foot was in the door before the door closed. You know…it’s the little things. Anyway, my foot was caught in the door and I fell in the house. At the time my only concern was my jar of pickles. Once I discovered the jar was in tact, I took a bit of inventory of the less important stuff – my sore elbow, my throbbing knee, and the bruise on my shin. (I’m not being self-deprecating saying these things were the less important things. I had splurged and purchased the good pickles!)

Anyway, I’m fine. But tonight, I’m sore. It really just hit me. So there. That’s my blog for today. I’m going to take some Tylenol and call it a night.

Day 151 – December 29, 2014

I’ve been listening to Broadway showtunes for much of the day today. I listen to showtunes quite often (perhaps more than I should publicly admit…) so this is not newsworthy, certainly. I especially love to listen to showtunes while I am cleaning the house, or working on dishes or laundry. They keep my mind occupied while I’m doing monotonous tasks. If I’m listening to a show I’ve seen, I’m usually picturing every moment as I listen. In some cases, I envision how I imagine the show to be, or how I would direct it. And then, of course, if I am home alone, I belt out every word. Nothing like a little “Now That I’ve Seen Her” from Miss Saigon while loading the dishwasher.

More than anything, showtunes ( good ones, anyway…) get my creative juices pumping. That doesn’t, however, mean I’m likely to actually produce anything creative as a result of listening. In fact, that probably wouldn’t go well at all. I think if I tried to write while listening to Broadway cast albums, I would just replicate whatever it was I was listening to – with my own individual spin, of course. (“Yes, my figure skating heroine is green, misunderstood, and can fly. What’s your point?”)

Listening to showtunes makes me want to be creative. Maybe that’s the best way to sum it up. While I’m listening, I want to create something. That doesn’t mean I will, but I want to.

Today, it’s been nice to feel that. It’s been a while since I’ve really wanted to be creative. Since I’ve felt the juices pumping. I love this feeling, and I really have missed it. It makes me remember what I enjoy most about writing. And today, finally, that feeling is at least something I want to feel more of. That doesn’t mean writing is my top priority right now, but I think it means I’m getting closer to maybe diving in again. That’s progress.

Day 150 – December 28, 2014

Okay…I’ve got to start writing again. I just have to. Middle Ground (my Christian romance) is so close to ready to go – still a fair amount of editing needed, but that’s it. I need to get to work on it, and then figure out what I”m going to do. And I think that’s at least a big part of the hold-up. What’s the point of finishing it? Then I just have to either send it out for more rejections from literary agents – and I’m not sure I want that in my life right now – or self-publish and take on all of that responsibility again.

I wish I could just be the type of person who could be content knowing I finished another novel, and then take the rest as it comes. But I just haven’t figured out how to do that. And all the advice and pep talks in the world can’t teach me. It’s a personality flaw, probably. Having said that, I know that this personality flaw has served me well at times, so I don’t begrudge the personality flaw. I just wish I could manage it better.

Regardless…I’ve got to start writing again. I just have to.

Day 149 – December 27, 2014

The only negative about this Christmas season has been the illness being passed around my home. Noah has been fighting it pretty dramatically for about two weeks, and is finally getting better, but it’s been rough. Tonight, Kelly started sneezing and feeling a bit washed up. NOOOOO!!!!!! It’s been more than a month! Since right before Thanksgiving, someone in my house has been sick, and I’m really tired of it.

I am, however, amazed at what a trooper my younger son is while sick. He has been coughing like crazy, and just exhausted, but that hasn’t stopped him from going to the effort to smile back at me when I smile at him. Yes, it’s often a forced and goofy smile, but he’s trying.

Today I had to run into the office for a little bit and get a few things done, and the family came with me. Noah was so wiped out he fell asleep, kneeling on the floor with his head on a chair. I took a photo just to show him, because I had a feeling he wouldn’t even know that he had been asleep, and I was right. He didn’t have a clue. And then it was one of those moments when I felt like a horrible mother. (I have a lot of those, it seems… And usually when I am laughing at my children.) I feel horrible that he is not feeling well, of course. And I would do anything I could to make him feel better. Nevertheless, it was so cute, and I couldn’t help but giggle.

He’s on the mend, and I know he’ll be fine. Probably just in time for the next person to get it.

NoahSleeping

Day 148 – December 26, 2014

The day after Christmas – or the weekend after if December 26th is impossible – is Turner Family Game Day. Since Ethan was about 5 years old, this has been our tradition. We put aside the technology – as much as possible – and the video games, and the normal everybody-doing-their-own-thing thing, and we play board games. Pretty much all day long.

Well, today is that day, and I’ve got to get back to it. After an epic round of world domination with Risk (the Doctor Who version…) and several laugh-filled rounds of Scattergories (Surprisingly, Noah, “nife with a ‘k’ at the beginning” will not work for kitchen utensils beginning with ‘k’…), it’s time to move on to whatever is next.

So I’m putting aside the technology. More tomorrow…

Day 147 – December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas! Today I’m asking you to follow Mary’s example, set so many years ago. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. Take just a moment – maybe before the kids get up, or later while they’re playing with their new toys. Somewhere in the hustle and bustle of this Christmas day, take a few brief seconds and read the Christmas story, as told to us by Luke. And don’t just rush through it, skimming it because you know it so well. Don’t just gloss over these words as nothing more than an awesome, powerful monologue delivered by Linus at a key moment in A Charlie Brown Christmas – as wonderful as that is. These words were written a couple of thousand years ago by a doctor/historian who is known to have prided himself on flawless detail and accuracy. The man who wrote these words wasn’t recounting his version of an oral history which had been passed through the generations, like a messianic game of telephone. This isn’t legend. This is truth. This is fact based on the accounts of people who were there, or who personally knew people who were there. This is research and detail and historical evidence all wrapped up in a glorious package of hope and salvation.

Take a moment. Treasure up all of these things and ponder them in your heart. And then have a merry Christmas. After all, there should be no other kind…

In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to their own town to register. So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them. And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.   Luke 2:1-20, NIV

Day 146 – December 24, 2014

As a child, didn’t it seem like Christmas would never get here? I remember how agonizingly slow the wait always seemed to be. My grandparents always gave us advent calendars, and I remember being so antsy to reveal the hidden delights under the days to come. As children, our only responsibilities regarding Christmas are, well…to wait for Christmas.

Don’t look in there until after Christmas!

Nope, not yet. Wait until Christmas.

If you don’t hurry up and go to sleep, Santa won’t come…

All we did was wait, so of course it seemed like Christmas would never arrive!

Now, there just doesn’t seem to be enough time to get everything done, and even for someone like me who loves Christmas, sometimes it just comes too soon. Through the days leading up to Thanksgiving, I always feel that childlike anticipation. Christmas will never get here!! I’m anxious to be able to play Christmas music all the time, and to put up the tree, and wrap presents (which my now frugal, adult self has been buying for months, in order to avoid spending too much at crunch time). And then, suddenly, it’s Christmas. Isn’t that how it feels? Where did the last four weeks go?

It saddens me a bit that the childhood joy of, “Tonight’s my Christmas concert at school! That means it’s almost Christmas!” has become, “Oh no, that’s right. I forgot that the concert is tonight. I don’t think he has any nice shirts clean, so I need to do some laundry today. But when am I going to find time to do that? It should be okay if I just spray some Febreze on it.” Where’s the Christmas joy in that?

But this year, I’m really trying to be filled with joy about all of it. God has blessed me so immensely this year – as He has so many years prior, but this one was perhaps the most special of all – and I want to honor those blessings by being filled with joy.

Joy to the world! The Lord is come. Let earth receive her King. Let every heart prepare Him room.

That’s what Christmas is about. Right there. It’s not about Santa or gifts or concerts or parties. As wonderful as all of those things can be, and as much as each of those things can reflect the true meaning, they aren’t what Christmas is about.

Take time to reflect on that today. As you run around town to finish up the last of your shopping, as you make cookies for Santa, welcome guests into your home, as you fight the crowd at Walmart. As your children drive you crazy, because for them it seems like tomorrow will never get here… Take time to thank God for the gift of Christmas. The gift of our King humbling himself into human form.

As you make endless preparations, take time to make sure you have made the very first Christmas preparation we were called to make.

Let every heart prepare Him room.

Day 144 – December 22, 2014

Today, Ethan told me he wants to be a pastor when he grows up. I was a bit surprised by this and asked, “You do?” His reply: “I always have.”

I asked him why he hadn’t told me, and without any hesitation he insisted that he had. I thought back. Could that be right? He’d wanted to be an astronaut — that I knew. But a pastor? Well, yeah…he had told me, actually. At one point he had told me he wanted to be the pastor on the International Space Station. I remember at the time telling him that I wasn’t sure they had one, but assuring him he could be the first. And then there was the time he had mentioned starting the first church on Mars. How’s that for a big goal? But, see, it was always connected to space stuff. I thought that the space stuff what what he wanted to do, and he just wanted to be sure to use every opportunity to share his faith in Christ. I didn’t realize until today that sharing his faith is what comes first in his mind.

He told me today that he no longer wants to be an astronaut. He wants to be a pastor. Period.

We went to a funeral today — for the son of some friends who are treasured and loved dearly by all four of us. They have not only been friends to Kelly and me, they have also been incredible teachers and mentors to Ethan and Noah. Seeing those you care about in pain is so difficult, of course. But when the family is certain that their loved one had accepted Jesus as their Savior, and they know without any doubt that they will see their family member again one day, there is certainly a different feel to that time of saying goodbye. What’s more, when the memorial service is used as an opportunity to spread the love and truth of God to everyone in attendance, it can actually be such an exciting experience.

Of course it is sad. Of course those left behind on Earth desperately want their loved one with them — now, not one day. But when there is that confidence of salvation, and the determination to use the loss — and the journey — to reach others, it is so powerful.

“This doesn’t really feel like a funeral anymore,” Ethan leaned over and whispered to me during the service. I turned to him, not sure what he meant, and he continued. “It feels like church. That’s cool.”

The words of a 12-year-old, who apparently dreams of being a pastor. At 12 years old, he recognized the power and the potential. In his own way, he was saying that he understood that the sadness and the loss were not pointless.