Monday, April 25, 2016

Currently: earth by april

Current Books: I'm halfway through The Queen of Kentucky by Alecia Whitaker and about to start Counting Thyme by Melanie Conklin. For my morning read, I just finished The Furious Longing of God by Brennan Manning and started Spiritual Sobriety by Elizabeth Esther. For small group, I am reading Blueprint for Discipleship by Kevin Watson.

Current Playlist: I have been hitting shuffle on iTunes.

Current Shame-Inducing Guilty Pleasure: Apple sodas

Current Color: Red

Current Food: Tonight, I did a taco bar for our leadership meeting at my house.

Current Drink: Mostly water with an apple soda from time to time and coffee to start my day

Current Favorite Favorite: The community that is forming around The Well

Current Wishlist: Books. A lot of books. So many books.

Current Needs: A few things for my trip to Honduras, the last $55 to make my financial goal for Honduras, to update my Tetanus shot

Current Triumph: I had a poem accepted for publication at "Mothers Always Write."

Current Bane-of-my-Existence: The postal service. They failed to forward a package containing something I cannot replace that did not even belong to me. *cries* It appears to have been stolen from the porch of our old address.

Current Indulgence: Writing this despite the five billion items on my to-do list

Current Mood: Pretty good, especially considering the amount of extraverting I have had to do over the last week

Current Outfit: Last year's VBS t-shirt, jeans, sparkly Toms

Current #1 Blessing: My husband... he just is.

Current Quote: “There is a beautiful transparency to honest disciples who never wear a false face and do not pretend to be anything but who they are.” ― Brennan Manning

Current Photo:

All sorts of animals in our backyard

Title taken from:

all by all and deep by deep
and more by more they dream their sleep
noone and anyone earth by april
wish by spirit and if by yes.

e. e. cummings

Friday, April 15, 2016

Encouragement on Middle Places

I caught a pretty nasty cold in February. It made the rounds of our whole family, landing on me last. I’d hoped it would lose steam before it got to me, but no such luck.
I had to pause my revisions for the manuscript I was working on. I turned down substitute teacher jobs for three days. My brain was fuzzy from cold medicines, and my eyes watered when I looked at the computer screen too long. Mostly, I curled up on the sofa, let the fireplace burn, and watched “Jane the Virgin” on Netflix.
By the time Sunday rolled around, I wasn’t feeling any better. I skipped morning services and stayed in bed. My husband preaches evening worship, and I run the media, so I had to get myself up and dressed. No one else is trained to do my job. Also, it was Super Bowl Sunday, not a good day to find a last minute fill-in.
Just before I left for church, I got an email. It was from a literary journal I’d submitted a short story. I started submitting short stories at the end of 2015, and mostly received rejections, so I opened the email half-heartedly, already resigned to another, “We’re sorry to inform you.”
Instead, the journal wanted to publish my story.
I squealed with delight. Suddenly, I felt better.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Semi-Prepared on Middle Places

I arrived at a local high school, signed in, received my substitute teacher badge, and made my way to the classroom. The day sprawled before me, filled with bells and teenagers and packets of work left by their teacher, my friend Sam.
I was semi-prepared.
The day before, we moved to a new house. The movers finished at around five o’clock, and then we ate the food a friend dropped off and started unpacking. I fell into bed exhausted and woke still tired from the non-stop activity of moving day.
Luckily, I keep my sub bag stocked with a binder and a spiral notebook. I have forms with my rules and regulations. I have phone numbers in case of an emergency. I have paper to leave the teacher notes at the end of the day. Also in that bag is a pack of crackers, pens and a bottle of pain reliever. Headaches are pretty common for substitute teachers. That day, I’d even remembered to toss in my current manuscript, so I could work on revisions when the class was working on their assignment. I can get away with that only when covering a high school class.
In the chaos of the move, I forgot to grab anything for lunch, and I forgot to refill my water bottle and stick it in my bag. I realized all of that only after the first class filed in and I was sitting at my desk, thirsty, while examining the lunch schedule.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Why Honduras?

A friend asked, "Why did you choose Honduras?"

At the risk of sounding corny and cliché, I didn't choose Honduras. Honduras chose me.

I went to Mexico when I was 16, and I always thought I would go back. I never did.

I met my best friend around ten years ago. Much of her family lives in Haiti. I raised money to send there after the earthquake. I wanted to go to Haiti.

We began sponsoring a child through Compassion International three years ago. Nathali is in Nicaragua, and when my husband mentioned planning an international mission trip for the youth ministry, I had hopes it would be to Nicaragua. I wanted to meet Nathali.

My husband chose Honduras because he had a solid contact in our then-town that could help him make the trip happen. I wanted to go, but so did a lot of other people. Since our church had just paid for Corey and I to visit the Holy Land, I decided to opt out and let someone else have that free trip (in any youth ministry my husband leads, chaperones go on trips for free).

I didn't realize how badly I really wanted to go on the trip until I went to see them off. Standing among suitcases and teenagers, my heart broke over being left behind.

Still, when it was time to return the next summer, I chose not to sign up for the trip. Instead, I focused on raising money to build a house in memory of my friend. I knew I couldn't afford to both go to Honduras and build the house. I chose the house.

Then, someone had to back out of the trip and I was given an opportunity to go for free. Luckily, I already had a passport, due to the Holy Land trip a year before. One of my kids was gone to his grandparents' house for the summer and the other would be at camp for part of the trip. A friend stepped in and offered to pick David up from camp and keep him the last few days before we returned from Honduras.

Now let me back up and tell you about my friend, Emily. I met Emily when we lived in Brandon, MS, around ten years ago. She loved Honduras and went there multiple times. She was especially passionate about a ministry called Mi Esperanza, and I have a bag and a skirt from Mi Esperanza, thanks to Emily.

When Corey called me from Honduras on his first trip, I was floored to find out he had actually visited Mi Esperanza. It turns out, he was there with the same group that Emily loved so much, working with many of the same people.

When we landed in Honduras last summer, and our first stop was Mi Esperanza, it was like stepping into a dream, a world I had heard about suddenly became real.

I knew. I just knew that I needed to be there. I wanted to be there for more than a week.

How is it possible to feel like you have returned to a place you never visited before? I don't know, but it has happened to me twice, once in Jerusalem and once in Honduras.

Usually, a few months after a mission trip, the experience begins to feel distant. I expected that to happen with Honduras, but it hasn't. If anything, as time passes, I feel more drawn to Honduras than ever. My heart aches for it.

Jesus and me have been going back and forth about my dreams, about just what it is He has called me to do with my life, and more and more I am sure... Honduras plays a huge role in my future. So I am going to chase after it. I am going to follow my heart as far as I can go.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

A Challenge on Middle Places

When people find out I am a writer, they almost always ask about my book. What is it called? Where can they buy it?
One day, I will be very glad for this, because I will be able to give them the title and tell them where to buy it.
I’m not there yet. I’m still here.
The craftsmen of Solomon and Hiram and workers from Byblos cut and prepared the timber and stone for the building of the temple.” 1 Kings 5:18 (NIV)
It took a long time to build the temple, and before they ever laid a brick, they had to prepare the wood and stone and gold and silver.
The journey to publishing is long, and few outside of the industry have any clue how it works. I can’t blame them for that. My brother-in-law is a chemical engineer and I sure don’t know how to ask him about the ins and outs of his job. The best I could do is ask what project he’s working on. Probably, it’s something I won’t understand. Or else it’s something I couldunderstand if I listened to him explain it in detail. I’m sure there are aspects of his job I would never imagine in a million years.
Right now, I am preparing to go on sub again. To “go on sub” is to have my agent actively submitting my manuscript to editors. How I prepare for this is by revising said manuscript. I need it shipshape for him to send out. This is one of many steps in the very long process of getting a book published. This particular manuscript is one I drafted two years ago. I have drafted other manuscripts since, but I have also returned to this one.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

You Prepared on Middle Places

2016 has been all about preparing.
As I write, I am in the middle of preparing for a move. I am in the middle of preparing for next week’s worship experience. Preparations are in full swing for spending the summer in another country.
The problem with all of this preparing? Sometimes, my thoughts are so set on getting things ready for the future, I don’t stop to enjoy the present.
I prepared for today, for moving to Olive Branch, for helping my husband plant a church, for revising my manuscript, for working as a substitute teacher, etc. All of my yesterdays were spent preparing for today, and all of my todays are spent preparing for tomorrow.
Will I ever be finished making preparations?

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Currently: March Madness

Current Books: I'm about halfway through Jesus Feminist by Sarah Bessey and I just started Summer of the Mariposas by Guadalupe Garcia McCall. I'm listening to the audio of Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein at my father's suggestion and started reading a Kindle book Daddy sent me, also, Dear and Glorious Physician by Taylor Caldwell.

Current Playlist: "Océanos (Donde Mis Pies Pueden Fallar)" by Hillsong United and "Por Siempre" by Generición 12

Current Shame-Inducing Guilty Pleasure: I want to say not taking a sub job today and staying home to catch up on writing and blogging work, but I did TRY to take a sub job today.

Current Color: Our new house has grey walls. The bedrooms are a pale grey, almost white, and the rest of the house is darker grey. I adore grey and white for walls and trim, so this is perfect. I am now working on choosing a certain pop of color for each room. In my bathroom, I've chosen shades of teal and am collecting candle stands to go around the white marble tub. I will probably add teal bathmats and towels eventually.

Current Food: I spent spring break in South Carolina, and Mama made her meatloaf. It is one of my favorite meals ever. I may have to try my hand at it soon. I have made it before but it never turns out as good as hers.

Current Drink: I finally bought a cheap coffee grinder, so now I can enjoy my coffee from Honduras each morning.

Current Favorite Favorite: We took the boys to Senoia, Georgia on our way to South Carolina. It was about an hour out of the way, but worth it. They had so much fun (and so did we) snapping pics of Walking Dead sites. It took me years to give into the Walking Dead fandom and my sons are only just old enough that we let them start watching. I love sharing that with them. I bought a travel mug that says, "If Daryl Dies We Riot."

Current Wishlist: Some routine. I thrive with a loose routine to guide my days and I haven't had that in months. Substitute teaching does not lend itself to a routine schedule. Church planting is anything but routine. I haven't been writing like I want to be, because I am out of the habit.

Current Needs: I need to make eye appointments for me and both kids. I'm nervous I need new glasses already and I don't want to go to Honduras and start getting sick. When my vision changes, I deal with nausea and headaches like you would not believe.

Current Triumph: Last time I subbed for my favorite school, the teachers on the hall made me feel so appreciated. I wasn't sure I could handle subbing for elementary school, so knowing I had done a good job was a big deal for me.

Current Bane-of-my-Existence: Finally getting a few minutes or hours that I could use to write or clean the house or do just about anything productive and being too exhausted to do any of it.

Current Indulgence: I'm going to Target in a little while. In theory, I am just going to pick up a gift card. Yeah... right.

Current Mood: I feel pretty good lately. Confident, even when I am tired.

Current Outfit: A new pair of jeans Mama gave me and my 1984 sweatshirt from Out Of Print, plus tennis shoes. It's cold here again.

Current #1 Blessing: My husband. He drove us to SC for Spring Break and spent most of the time corralling our kids so I could enjoy time with my family. Plus, all of the people who have donated to my Honduras trip. I am almost to goal, and I will do a post about the trip soon.

Current Quote: “We do not grow absolutely, chronologically. We grow sometimes in one dimension, and not in another; unevenly. We grow partially. We are relative. We are mature in one realm, childish in another. The past, present, and future mingle and pull us backward, forward, or fix us in the present. We are made up of layers, cells, constellations.” ― Anaïs Nin

Current Photo:

Quarantine cell from the prison, on loan from AMC

Title: Because duh. My basketball bracket is broken. Of course. I always pick Kentucky. I can't NOT pick Kentucky. But my book bracket... that still has a chance.

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