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Yes.

No.

Wait.

When we go to God with a prayer request, we love to hear the first one, frown to hear the second one, but I think the most frustrating answer we receive sometimes is “Wait.”

Why, Lord?

For how long?

Pretty please, can’t I have [insert request here] now?

 

In the spring of 2015, Hubby and I found a track of land for sale in a gorgeous area of Jefferson County, about 20 minutes from Helena, MT. After prayerfully considering the risks, the pros and cons of purchasing the land, and the requirements that would go into creating our vision for the property*, we felt the Lord said, “Yes, purchase the land.” Yay! And yet…because of circumstances outside of our control, we didn’t close on the land until the very end of December. More than two months later than we were hoping to close.

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180 degree panoramic of our little slice of Montana.

 

“It’s okay,” Hubby kept reassuring me. “God’s got this. It’s all in His timing.”

Right. It was all good. We were still on target to building a new house on the land in the spring 2016, and getting the girls into a better, smaller school by the beginning of the 2016-17 school year.

Cut to April 2016, and still nothing had progressed. Well, baby steps, but nothing visible. Between work responsibilities and tax season, Hubby didn’t start making headway on our land project until May. We still held out hope we could start building a house in August and move into it halfway through the school year, so I was still going forward with the idea our girls would be switching schools. Thus, I wanted to find a rental property closer to the new school than where we were at the time, which meant the house needed to be put up for sale.

Then summer vacation came along, with an already-planned trip to MA in June to visit family. I was in no position to move before leaving for MA, and Hubby wasn’t about to move while the girls and I were in MA, so thoughts of putting the house on the market got bumped to late July.

Then August.

The first week in August for sure.

The goal came…and went. Still, I continued packing up the house, because I was determined to make the deadline of getting into a rental property before the start of the school year. For the sake of the girls’ education, right?

On August 10th, I called the realtor so we could sign papers and put the house on the market. We made an appointment to meet on Saturday, August 13th…but as Saturday drew closer, the more panicked Hubby and I became.

And then Hubby dropped the bomb Friday night: the builder had called earlier that day to say he couldn’t start on our house until March 2017.

Before you shake your head at our builder, bear in mind we hadn’t signed any papers, and building houses is his livelihood. We do not fault him for picking up other work. In fact, it reaffirmed what Hubby and I had begun to think ourselves—maybe we should wait until the spring to start building, since the land project was taking waaaay longer to finalize than we ever could have dreamed.

Of course, then my analytical side kicked in. Our original thinking in getting a rental had been to keep our girls from having to switch schools halfway through the year. But if we couldn’t start building a new house until March 2017, that was no longer a concern, since there was no way we’d be moving in until maybe late August next year. So…why were we working so hard to get out of our current house?

Huh.

Crap. Now what?

Pray.

So I called the realtor and postponed our meeting until the following weekend, leaving Hubby and I a week to come together in prayer each day and ask the Lord in which direction He wanted us to go. (Not that we weren’t praying on our own, but there’s something more potent about praying together.)

There were risks and fears either way we decided, but Hubby and I don’t like making decisions based off of fears, especially fears of the unknown, so in the end, based on what was before us, what was tangible, and knowing God was in our corner so we didn’t have to fear the unknown, we decided to…stay.

Sigh. Grumble grumble.

“Wait.”

That’s what we heard.

Wait on building the house.

Wait to put the girls in a different school.

Sit tight, focus on the other tasks at hand, and take this time to better prepare for the spring.

“Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” Proverbs 19:21

During our week of prayer, my father-in-law had advised us not to move until we had complete peace about it. He echoed what I had been thinking. All the other times we’ve had to make big decisions, we’ve always had peace despite not knowing the end product or how insane our decision looked to others. Even when we bought the land, we had peace about the purchase. God had said, “Yes” to the land.

But apparently He’s saying, “Wait” before building our house on it.

The housing market is really good right now. Will it be better next year in the spring or summer…or worse? What will the economy look like next year after the November elections? What will the mortgage rates be? These are just a few of the things that were enticing us to sell now. Move now.

But God says wait. And He’s bigger than the economy or housing markets or mortgage rates. So despite any concerns for the future, despite any economist’s (or politician’s) projection on what 2017 will bring, our hope is in the Lord. He is our Rock. Our Sustainer. Our Comforter. It doesn’t necessarily mean circumstances will look better next year for selling our house, but we can rest in the knowledge we are currently staying on His path for our lives. And in the end, shouldn’t that be our goal?

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*More on our vision for the property in a future post.

Bio for Pitch Wars 2016

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I’ll keep this short and sweet, since I’ve restarted this post umpteen times trying to sound witty and intriguing, and it ain’t happenin’ this morning. I’m a simple, low-maintenance girl whose Twitter blurb says it best: Jesus comes first, family second, passions third. I love writing, knitting, and recently discovered the joy in creating dioramas for my Tonner fashion dolls, Ellowyne Wilde. They have more fun on this blog than I do.🙂

I also love Christmas, hence the manuscript I’m submitting to Pitch Wars this year, which incorporates my love for the fantasy side of Christmas, as well as a bit of my love for the German language. My elves wear dirndls and lederhosen, they live in northern Canada and adore ice hockey. The reindeer stables hold several secrets, Santa’s grandson suffers from an engorged ego, and my MC, Tinsel, stands two feet too tall among her fellow elves. With a trail of mishaps in her wake, she has a tough time fitting in. I wrote the first draft of this story a few years ago in an attempt to revive my joy for writing, so it has a light-hearted, whimsical feel to it, yet thanks to several revisions, it’s not without depth.

I’m a member of ACFW and submitted this manuscript through their rigorous critique loop over the last year. While I’ve polished it to a near shine (I hope), I know there’s always more to learn about the writing craft, so though my story might be good, I’d love some outside help to make it great. If the idea of hanging with a clumsy, determined elf, a team of spunky reindeer, and a Kringle in need of humility makes you smile, I hope you’ll consider mentoring me for Pitch Wars 2016. I can even promise there’ll be some kisses along the way–er, between my MCs, not me.😉

Epiphanies in Household Chores

I had an imaginary, future discussion with my daughter the other day.

As a writer, I’m more skilled at hypothetical conversations than real ones, and considering I was alone in the kitchen washing dishes—really, what else was there to do?

This conversation with my future 15/16 year-old (she’s 12 ½ now, so it’ll be here in a couple of blinks) had to do with modesty and her incapability as a hormone-induced teenager to understand why it’s so important that she wear appropriate clothing in public—even at the beach. Despite the fact most of her friends would be flaunting their bodies in the hopes to gain desired attention. Despite the fact she might want such attention (because Christians are humans, too, and when hormones run amok, wisdom and reason usually get shoved against the back wall).

In this conversation, I lovingly (it’s always done more calmly in my head than in reality) encouraged her to trust me, trust in an adult’s perspective from the other side of that hormone-induced state. I told her I wasn’t keeping her from wearing promiscuous clothing to be mean and take away her fun, but rather to protect her (…and for the sake of her Christian guy friends, because those poor teenage boys—who are more visual than we women will ever comprehend—barely stand a chance in this sex-driven society run rampant with girls wearing barely-there clothing).

The point is, as an almost 40-year-old, I understand that children and teenagers cannot look at the world or their decisions through adult eyes. It’s mentally impossible because the comprehension is not there. And I think we’d all agree that 60-somethings know more than an almost-40-year-old, and that anyone over 80 has earned the right to their stubborn ways and opinions (not that those ways and opinions are necessarily correct, but they’ve earned the right to have them).😉

But as I was carrying on this non-existent conversation, it hit me—again, yet on a different level this time: Why is it so difficult for me to accept that it works the same way with God?

God is eternal. He’s been here since before the dawn of time and He has no end. He’s all-knowing. Like a weaver at a loom, He knows the threads of the past, how each one has been woven together to create the present, and how they’ll continue intertwining to flesh out the future. His ways are higher than our ways (Isaiah 55:9), and the things He does sometimes will make you shake your head. (Um, the King of kings was born in a nondescript manger, with only animals and a couple of shepherds to welcome him—shepherds being the lowest on the social ladder, BTW, at that time and in that culture. Camp out there for a bit until the significance of what He sacrificed sinks in.)

But, God is also all-loving. So if He keeps something from me that I want, or doesn’t answer my prayers the way I’d like, maybe instead of automatically thinking He’s doing it to be mean or to take away the fun, I should think of it as a mother to her teenage daughter and realize He’s doing it for my protection. Because He loves me, and He knows how things will work out better than I can from where I stand at the present moment, with my limited understanding.

Will I always like His answers? Nope. Will I always accept them without first stomping off to my room and slamming the door? Probably not. But just like a perceptive teenager submits to and accepts his/her parents’ greater wisdom, so I hope to be a perceptive child who inevitably submits to and accepts the unmatched, faultless, loving wisdom of my heavenly Father.

Hmm, looks like I have laundry to do. Wonder what God will teach me while folding clothes.😀

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Silver Lining

I don’t own a ton of clothes. Whatever half of the year I’m in (warm or cold), the corresponding clothes are the ones either dangling in my closet or stuffed in a bureau drawer. The outfits I don’t need suffocate in a plastic bin on the top shelf in my closet. The point is, no matter the season, every article of clothing I own is somewhere in the master bedroom.

So imagine my confusion the other day when I went to find a shirt I hadn’t worn in a long time–and it was no where. Not hanging. Not stuffed. Not suffocating. Wait–maybe it was hiding in my garment bag? I pulled out the bag, laid it on my bed… Nope, not there, either. Grrr… So I prayed. “Lord, you know exactly where that shirt is. Please help me find it.” (Because sometimes He’s the only one who has a clue about these things.)

Then I threw on a different outfit and went about my day.

A few hours later, I returned to hang the garment bag back in my closet, but I was standing at a funny angle (way too much stuff on the closet floor), and a couple of the hangers fell off my fingers and slipped inside the bag as I struggled to get them onto the rod. Frustration mounted inside me. Maybe more frustration than the situation called for, but really–could I not complete a simple task without it morphing into something complicated? So I unzipped the bag and reached down for the hanger and vest that had fallen. Hmm. Did I get everything that fell? What if more than one hanger dropped but I didn’t know?

Hey–what if that shirt I’d been looking for had fallen?

I reached down further, patting, searching–ah ha! Triumphant, I pulled out the very shirt I’d wanted to wear that morning. Of course, I immediately thanked the Lord–always nice to receive a quick answer to prayer–and then I paused. He had answered my prayer, had even used this frustrating situation in which to do it–because if it hadn’t been for the other clothes falling down inside the bag, I never would have thought to search for more.

This brough to mind some of those childhood memory verses. You know, the ones that stay with you for life?

“Consider it joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.” James 1:2-3.

“And we know that in all things, God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28.

Oh, I know what happened to me that morning is a teensy, minor inconvenience on the grand scale of troubling circumstances, but it’s those minor ones that snarl me up the most. I think the point is God wanted to remind me that if there’s a silver lining on some minor inconvenience, shouldn’t I know by now to look for the silver lining on a major inconvenience? ‘Cuz He’s always got my back. Why do I keep forgetting that?

So the question is…the next time I’m frustrated, how long will I stay frustrated before searching for–and recognizing–God’s silver lining? How long will you?😉

Words: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

You know you’re a writer when you neglect your blog for weeks on end because you’ve neglected your knitting and dolls, thus you have no projects to share, because you’ve spent all your time working on edits to a manuscript that might never see publication, because the pulse of the very real characters in your imaginary world compels you to keep at it just a little longer, because someday, one of these manuscripts will be the one.

(How’s that for a run-on sentence?)

Hello, my name is Laurie Germaine and I’m a write-a-holic.

 

I am a great writer and God blesses me with great ideas.

That’s my new mantra. I just realized it goes along with one of my two words for 2016, optimism. Now, before you think I’m all egotistical, I barely believe those words—which is why I have to speak them to myself every day. (Optimism, see?) I’ve come a long way in putting the kibosh on my negative thoughts—for the most part—but I haven’t replaced them with too many positives. Not intentionally, at any rate. Which means there’s a void left behind, and heaven forbid the untruths return to set up shop once again.

To prevent that, I have recently decided to start filling the void with positive stuff. Positive words. Because words have power, and when you say something long enough, you inevitably begin to believe it, and then it inevitably seeks a way to prove itself true. So I’ve heard. So I’ve read.

The Bible has a plethora of things to say on the subject of words and what comes out of our mouths. Here are just a few, taken from the New Living Translation, and how they apply to me (and you):

Proverbs 10:32 says, “The lips of the godly speak helpful words, but the mouth of the wicked speaks perverse words.”

Because I’m a Christian, I fall into the first category. Thus, I shouldn’t speak ill of myself, my talents, my worth, my purpose, etc., etc.

Proverbs 17:3 says, “Kind words are like honey—sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.”

’Nuff said, right? Flip it around and it means hateful words are caustic and poisonous. Shudder.

Ephesians 4:29 tells us, “Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.”

Fitting for others’ ears…as well as my own.

In Philippians 4:8, Paul urges the church to “fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.”

Words like “I can’t…” or “I’m not creative enough to…” or “I’ll never…” or cussing at myself in the mirror do not fall into the above categories.

Lastly, in 1 Peter 3:10, Peter tells the church, “For the Scriptures say, ‘If you want to enjoy life and see many happy days, keep your tongue from speaking evil, and your lips from telling lies.’”

This applies to both people I do life with as well as myself.

So why is it that when I’m dealing with myself there’s a disconnect? We’re not talking about boasting, here. We’re talking about uplifting, encouraging speech. Words that edify and build up. I would never speak to my children, my husband, or my friends the way I sometimes speak to myself—so why do I do it? Why am I sheepish and feel the need to ask for forgiveness when I speak my mantra aloud? It does me no good to believe the opposite. It probably pains God for me to believe the opposite. To say I’m a bad writer and have crummy ideas cripples me and keeps me from being everything God wants me to be. I know this—yet it’s still so hard for me to accept that I’m capable of having great ideas. That I’m capable of publication.

Why?

When I figure it out, I’ll let you know.

In the meantime, I’ll continue to claim it in the hopes I’ll see it bear fruition in the months and years to come. Because God’s given me a gift and I want to use it for His glory. And only He knows what that outcome will look like.

Although I’m pretty sure it won’t look like a Debbie Macomber.

(Wait. Would that be considered a negative thought?)

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Sew Cool

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Sweater and hoodie patterns by Becky Colvin

Since my mom introduced me to the imaginative world of Ellowyne Wilde seven years ago, it’s fitting that she also introduced me to the world of tiny knitting needles a few years later (sizes 2 and below, though the tiniest I’ve gone is 000). The former created in me a surprising obsession (within financial reason, of course), and the latter put my knitting skills to use and fed my obsession at the same time.

The patterns are designed by Becky Colvin of sew-coolseparates.com, a talented seamstress and knitter who has, over the years, created dozens of patterns for several different makes of posable dolls. Interested in a sweater (or pair of pants) for your doll, but not interested in making it yourself? Visit her Etsy shop, SewCoolSeparates.

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Santa phone case

 

 

 

Though I have knitted a couple of things over the last several months, my needles have gone untouched since mid-November when I finished my Santa phone case. So imagine my delight when I received an email from Becky informing her followers she needed testers to knit some American Girl Doll patterns, as she’s looking to sell patterns via pixiefaire.com. I jumped at the opportunity and ransacked my arsenal of tiny knitting needles.

 

 

 

Here is the result for the sweater I knit-tested:

It took me three weeks to complete, because I only allowed myself to knit at night after my girls had gone to bed. (Right now, I spend much of my time involved in the online writer’s critique group and preparing for a couple of upcoming writing contests.) I couldn’t tell you exactly how many hours I spent making the sweater, but I can tell you it went fast. And it’s knit from the top down, so for those who don’t like to sew seams after the knitting is done, this is right up your alley with only two small underarm seams to sew.

I hope to test-knit another AG sweater for Becky, but Ellowyne has informed me she’s feeling neglected. I suppose I should make her something, huh?

How about you? Do you know of another skilled artist who offers fun, intricate knitting patterns for dolls? I would love to hear about him/her–I’m always on the lookout for new patterns to try!

I’ve Got Two Words For You

Apparently in certain circles, the hip thing to do at the start of a New Year is pick one word to sum up your resolution(s). My mother, two sisters, and I were texting about it the other week, and my older sister chose “Thrive” as her word. My mother quickly texted back with “Health” as hers. Don’t know what my younger sister chose, but as for me, I needed a few days to think about it. I mean, if it’s going to frame how I look at things for 365 days, I want to make sure it’s the right word…right?😉

I don’t have a word. I have two. Sorry—broke the rules. But if you read my last post about all the writing rules, then you know I do that sort of thing. (Hey, I was a very good kid growing up. I didn’t break those rules.)

So what are my words?

OPTIMISM

and

PERSEVERANCE

If you’ve been with me for any length of time, you’ll know I’ve struggled with depression and negativity over the years, and while I believe God’s brought me to the other side of those murky waters, I still dip my toe in every now and then. (Yeah, I don’t get the appeal, either, but it happens.)

Between my writing life and a parcel of land Hubby and I finally closed on last week, 2016 will present opportunities to go full-on deep sea diving in the ocean of negativity. Here’s why: 1) I plan to query my Christmas story hard this year and 2) I’ll be joining Hubby in building a house.

Now you see my problem.

I thought the least I could do is help keep my head above the water level by repeating OPTIMISM to myself on a weekly…excuse me, hourly basis. And if I manage to sit on the shoreline for most of the year, rather than going for a swim, that would be fantastic!

So what’s with the perseverance? Uhhh, I plan to query my Christmas story hard this year. ‘Nuff said.

I anticipate rejection. It’s part of the job of an author-wannabe. But my hope is to continue pressing forward despite the refusals and silence from agents, maintaining the same love and enthusiasm I have for my characters right now. That’s where I want to persevere. What a feat if I could arrive at December 2016 still believing in my work and my MCs*, even if I have nothing but an email box full of rejection letters. I don’t want to quit pushing this story until I’m positive God has shut the door and I’d only make my fists bleed by continuing to pound on it.

Why do I want to push so hard? What’s the difference between this story and the one I tried to query last year? Simply put, I’ve been with these MCs for almost three years now…and they still make me laugh. With the other manuscript, I was so over my whiny characters and their problems. When I thought about them, I’d roll my eyes. Not that my current characters don’t have problems. Heck, my protagonist, Tinsel, is a too-tall elf whose chemistry final went awry. It blew up part of the school and destroyed a portion of Christmas presents along with it. And that’s just the start of her problems. Insert Santa’s grandson, Niklas, and she’s got a slew more. But even though I wrote “The End” on this manuscript last February and have been editing it ever since, I still chuckle when I think about Tinsel and Niklas, their escapades, and all the misunderstanding between them. I owe it to them to push their story, so I’m going to PERSEVERE. It’s what Tinsel would do.😉

There you have it. I kind of like this one-word idea. Makes it easier to remember a resolution when you don’t have a lot to remember. So what’s your word? It’s not to late to chose one…

Or two.

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*Main Character