Sunday, February 24, 2008

teenage trauma

It's been over a week since I've written anything. The winter blues have set in - they always seem to get me in February. Life becomes dull and uninteresting and I spend too much time watching TV because it's hard to get motivated to do anything else. Fortunately this year we get an early spring break - March 1-8 in Hilton Head, South Carolina, at my parent's timeshare. February can't end soon enough.

The past week has been kind of blue for my stepdaughter, too. She is starting to miss home. Her best friend back home informed her that she thinks they should find "other best friends" in the meantime - that really hurt her. She comes to me and pours out all her frustrations. "How come you're so happy all the time?" she asks me. Come again? Me, happy all the time? Hello, I'm blue all over (my husband can certainly tell!)

I explain to her that I struggle with depression and frustration over lots of things but I try to take them all to God and when I do He gives me peace. This started an incredible conversation with her on how you know you're a Christian... I asked her what she thought about sin. She said she thinks everyone is a sinner, she said she herself sins everyday, but that's what Jesus is for, that we can go to Him and ask forgiveness for our sins. I just about wanted to leap up for joy! She gets it! Yes, she really does understand.

Then she asked, but is it bad that I don't read the Bible much, and when I do, I don't really understand it? Sometimes you can't just read it, I told her, you actually have to study it, and ask God to help you understand it. Studying the Bible helps us grow as a Christian, but not reading it doesn't mean you're not a Christian. It's what you believe that makes you a Christian.
Then she asked, what about those people who say they are Christians but they say nasty things about other people or do bad things? Well, we are all hypocrites sometimes, I said, but it's also possible that they think they are Christians, but they really aren't. After all, Jesus said that at the last day many will come to Him and say, "Lord! Lord! I did all these things in Your name!" But Jesus will tell them, "I never knew you."

I could tell she didn't get it. So I asked her, who is a famous person you know? She named a famous model. So, you know her... but does she know you? Oh! I could see the lights coming on for her. It's a two-way relationship. And she started smiling. I know God knows me, she said. I pray to Him, and He answers me... and she gave several examples of answered prayers.

Since that talk, I haven't felt blue at all. I hate how Satan can trick you into thinking life is pointless... and I love the different ways God reminds us how awesome life is. Getting to see my stepdaughter's face light up with understanding lit up my heart at the same time.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

the Time Traveler's Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger

Writer's group tonight - S.D. is back! I've known her for at least two years now, and we only discovered tonight that we are both from Buffalo, NY - and both agree that Laramie winters are much better than Buffalo winters.

Switching tracks... I have a friend (H.L.) who has the best book recommendations... we clicked when we discovered that we both loved "Blue Like Jazz" (Donald Miller).
Since then she's lent me some amazing books like:
the Island (Victoria Hislop)
Girl Meets God (Lauren Winner)
Walking in Circles Before Lying Down (Merrill Markoe)
Peace Like A River (Leif Enger )
the Arena (Karen Hancock)

...and the latest, the Time Traveler's Wife (Audrey Niffenegger).

It's basically a love story, and of course the hero is a time traveler, but not in the sense you usually think of, with a time machine; it's not a science fiction story at all. Instead, Henry is afflicted with a "chrono-displacement disorder" - for some reason (which I haven't read far enough yet to know why, yet) that sends him randomly either back into his past or ahead into his future - without any warning when he travels or where/when he arrives. And the other aspect of the story is how his wife deals with these sudden absences, and appearances, in his life and her own (for instance, he pops into her life when she's still a child, but he's an adult, already technically married to her).

This is one of those great books I'm raving about already without having even finished it!
It's also a great book because it's getting my own creative juices running for some of my own novels-in-progress... must put down the book long enough to jot my ideas down...

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

A Mother's Heart, by Jean Fleming

Mostly my blog is about writing (and my writing progress, by the way, is still going strong; have another couple thousand words this past week to add to my tally).
However the title of my blog also refers to "while attempting to raise four children, stay happily married, and stay focused on God." So this blog entry is devoted to the "while attempting" part.

My women's Bible study has just finished reading "A Mother's Heart" (by Jean Fleming), a great book for inspiring moms who might feel a little overwhelmed or burned out. Now that we've spent 7 months studying motherhood, we've voted to read "Love & Respect" (by Emerson Eggerichs) next, and focus on marriage. This morning we spent our time praying about the things we've learned in the past months about being a mom before moving on to the subject of marriage.

There is so much good stuff in "A Mother's Heart", and yet I don't feel like I've really applied any of it. It doesn't do much good just to read something about doing something, unless you actually DO something. Fortunately, praying is doing something.

One of the suggestions in the book is to pray over your childrens' strengths (and how to encourage them in their strengths), and their weaknessness (and how to help them overcome them). But I found myself praying mostly over my own weaknesses.... My main weakness as a Mom is selfishness. I like having my own time to read and to write. And for once it would be nice to get to watch a movie from start to end without a million interruptions or having to show subtitles for "the hearing impaired" because all the noise my kids make means I qualify for "hearing impaired."

And with so many things needing to get done, it's hard to focus time on my kids when I have so little time just for myself. But this book certainly inspires me to keep trying. It's worth it.

So this coming week when Blaze bugs me to listen to one of her "stories", I will stop and listen to her... for at least 15 minutes. Lately she's been wanting me to help her "write" her stories, too. I'm tickled - she wants to be a writer, like me! Now if only I could get her to want to be devoted to the Lord, like me. Whoops, am I really all that devoted to the Lord? In theory, yes. In reality... questionable if you see where I spend most of my time - doing "me" things. I'm going to hold my babies more, and tickle Dreamer more. And somehow find some time to spend with my husband too.

I've already skimmed over that "Love & Respect" book and, in honor of Valentine's Day, I have something special planned for my hubby. I'm definitely better at showing him love, than I am showing him respect. So I need to pray more about the respect part. Respect doesn't not come naturally to me. But like love, respect shouldn't have to be earned. It should be freely given... but it takes a humble person to give someone respect when they don't appear to deserve it. I truly want to be not just a more loving person, but also a more humble person.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

if only all birthdays were like this one!

So far this is starting up to be an awesome birthday. Yesterday I got a present in the mail from K.A. - somehow she managed to get me a SIGNED copy of "Diapers, Pacifers and Other Holy Things" (this is the BEST book for any mom with toddlers and preschoolers!) - not only was it a signed book, but the author actually signed it personally for me with my name. (only other signed book I've ever got was from an Elizabeth Berg novel that MAC got for me).

Then first thing this morning when I slouched down to the kitchen in dire need of caffeine, I find a birthday card my stepdaughter left for me (poor thing, she has to leave for her bus before the rest of us are up!) She had made it herself out of her scrapbooking pages and called it "A trip down memory lane," with a special memory from each year she has known me, all the way back to four years old.

Later when daughter 1 and daughter 2 got up they each had cards for me, too (big Sis had helped them make them). And Blaze had made me a "book" - a bunch of pictures she drew for me, pictures of our house, all of us sitting at a table with a birthday cake, etc. I'm going to get it scanned and add it to my screen savers/wallpaper. Daughter 3 and daughter 4 didn't have anything special for me when they woke up, except lots of smiles, and no smelly diapers, FOR ONCE.

Then on the way to work today KLOVE played five great songs right in row. Heard Todd Agnew's "My Jesus" for the frist time this morning - it gives me shivers! Then Made To Love (Toby Mac), God With Us (MercyMe), You Carried Me (Building 429), Nothing Compares (Third Day)... I wanted to hang out in my car a moment longer to see if they'd play Amazing Grace My Chains Are Gone (Chris Tomlin) that would have made it the ultimate set- but as it was, my heart was singing praises to our AWESOME GOD!

Then when I checked my email this morning, MAC had left me a virtual sparkly birthday cake on MySpace. Love you, MAC!

Friday, February 1, 2008

thing 1 and thing 2

Twin update! (very little about writing will be mentioned in this blog)
So their hair isn't quite as long (or blue) as Thing 1 and Thing 2, but in many other respects Anne & Grace are remarkably similar to Dr. Suess's house-wreckers. Their hair is getting long enough now that I have to watch my husband very carefully to make sure he doesn't do what he did to the first child: cut her bangs 3 mm from her scalp (and crooked, too). To try to prevent such a cruelty from occuring, I pull up all their hair away from their faces into a little "fountain", Bam-Bam style. A friend's comment at this punk-preschool style was, "they look like Thing 1 and Thing 2" from Cat in the Hat. So now that is their new nickname. Anne is definately Thing 1, the leader. And Grace is the faithful follower into all sorts of mischief, including playing in the dog's water bowl, dragging toilet paper all around the upstairs hall, pulling books off the shelves, chewing DVDs, tearing pages out of books, trying to press keys on my computer when I'm not looking... well, at least they are not into flying kites in the house yet.

And they really are much, much cuter than the Dr. Suess version. I love having twins! (a year ago I would have never dreamed I'd be saying this).

Okay, back to writing. Several more word wars and one very late night reminiscent of NANOWRIMO have resulted in several thousands words this week, plus lots of editing because I keep getting these cool ideas that I have to go back and fit into the stuff already written.
Writer's group critiqued chapters 15-19 last night and other than pointing out a few confusing sentences, they were all very pleased and keen to read more. I love my fellow writers. We got to talking about our favorite Far Side cartoons, our favorite writing spoofs ("avoid cliches like the plague" "If I were an evil warlord, I would never..."), April fool's pranks (got some good ideas for this year: drop bears, hoop snakes, and locking computers with annoying screen savers), and all sorts of other amusing things such as a sign at a massage parlor: "Acupuncture: $60. Not so accurate puncture: $2".