Tag Archive | life struggles

The Wait is Over

So…it’s been a while since I’ve posted. From my experience as a mom of 15+ years, we mothers seem to go from one busy season to the next busier season as our children grow, and my blog has taken a backseat to other priorities. But I thought I’d take a quick moment to share with you the latest in the life of this author.

As most of you know, last year, I entered my debut novel, Tinsel in a Tangle, in five different contests, and the last of which finally announced its winners a couple of weeks ago. Overall, my book baby did very well, as it finaled in the Selah Awards 2018 for First Novel, and The Wishing Shelf Awards 2018 for Young Adult Novel; and it won in the Royal Dragonfly Awards 2018 for Best Holiday Novel, and in the Literary Classics Awards 2018 for Best Holiday Novel and Best First Book.

This past weekend, Literary Classics held an award banquet for their winners in Rapid City, South Dakota. As it was “just” a nine-hour drive from our home, Hubby and I figured we’d take our daughters on a road trip. Of course, we had to visit Mount Rushmore and drive through Bear Country. 😉

I met some wonderful fellow authors while there, and learned a lot about what it means to promote oneself, as opposed to promoting one’s book, as many of these authors have a magnetic way about themselves that draws people to them…and ultimately to their books. I envy (in a good way) their seeming inhibitions when it comes to the promotional & marketing aspect a writer must handle these days, and I pray I can take some of what I witnessed and apply it to my own writing career moving forward.

So what’s next for me as an author? At the end of this month, I’ll be teaching a class on creative writing to a group of grade school students here in Helena, focusing on infusing life into our characters–and how that, in turn, helps with description and “show, don’t tell” in the narrative. I’m also still plodding my way through my sequel’s second draft, a frustration for me as I’d hoped to be on to draft #3 by now. But God has gently reminded me that writing is not my only calling in life, and my roles as wife and mother require as much–if not more–purposeful (and cheerful) attention right now. 😀

On that note, I will leave you with a few more shameless pics and go switch out the laundry–haha! I hope all you creatives out there are rocking it in your individual crafts!

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Ah, the joys of motherhood. Not.

I frowned at my youngest daughter, sure I’d heard her wrong. “No? But you’re taking a shower later today. Your body’s going to be clean and—”

“No! I don’t want you to change my sheets. The more you wash them, the more pilly they get, and then it annoys me when I go to bed.”

“Okaaaay.” So the dirty sheets remained. But later that night, minutes before she had to slip into bed, out popped her question: “Did you wash my sheets?”

Seriously?

Up went my eyebrow. “You didn’t want me to.”

“Nooo!” Her face crumpled and her fists clenched. “I just took a shower. My sheets are dirty.”

“You told me you didn’t want your sheets washed—”

“I never said that!”

Seriously?

Days later, with twenty minutes to spare before heading to school, she was still in her pajamas. I pointed to her room. “What are you doing standing around? Go get dressed.”

“I don’t have anything to wear.”

“Your bureau is full of clothes. Pick something.”

“I can’t. They’re clean and I’m not.” Pause. “Do you have any of my clothes hanging in your closet?” (It’s where I hang the wet clothes to dry.)

I jammed my hands onto my hips. “Let me get this straight. You refuse to wear clean clothes out of your drawer because you’re dirty, yet you want to wear clean clothes that might be hanging in my closet?”

These are just two snapshots of dozens of scenarios I deal with every day from daughter #2, who insists on arguing over almost anything, whether tangible, intangible, or choice of words. Heaven forbid I don’t remember exactly how the conversation went when trying to defend my position (and if I don’t use the exact same phrasing, then “you never said that!”). This is a child who will insist the sky is green and the grass is blue just for the sake of argument.

I’m mentally exhausted.

If I didn’t know I was in my right mind, I’d think I were going insane.

(My apologies to her grandparents reading this post. Just love on her all the more, please.)

For some reason, God in His infinite wisdom chose to pair up this mother with that daughter. Not only does He believe I’m the best mom for her–and that mothering her will iron out some wrinkles in her character–but He knows that having her as my daughter is the only way to iron out some wrinkles in my character. Because if it weren’t for daughter #2, I wouldn’t have realized I have such a problem with impatience. And anger.

See, scenarios like the above typically go on too long and end in a power struggle. And on really bad days, you’ll want to retreat along with daughter #1 into another room. Though it may seem like I’m being glib about this behavior from both myself and daughter #2, I’m not. I’m not proud of my actions and reactions. A yelling, angry mom is not the motherhood I envisioned when I was a child, myself.

But I share it with you because I suspect I’m not alone in this. I’m guessing many parents share my inner conflict. We think we’re decent people—kind, considerate, easy-going, polite—until we have children. Until we come up against a strong-willed mini-me who doesn’t want to obey and instead demands to do things his/her own way. Then out come our fangs, our insides curl and boil with heat, and we start doling out punishments and consequences as our voices rise in volume until it’s not one child throwing a fit…it’s two!

Lately, it’s gotten worse in this household, since my and my hubby’s tolerance threshold for her behavior is at an all-time low, and daughter #2 does not like that. So she’s pushing back. And it. Is. So. Exhausting.

Yet even this has a positive side when examined in the calmer hours of the day. In the Bible, James writes, “Consider it pure joy…when you face trials of many kinds, because you know the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” Really? Count it as joy?

Yes, because trials—if we respond to them correctly—are supposed to draw us closer to God. It’s in our distress we cry out for His strength, His patience, His wisdom. We are reminded yet again we can’t go it alone; we need the Holy Spirit to intervene and pull us along when we can’t make our feet move on our own. My walk with the Lord will be stronger tomorrow for the strong-willed child He’s placed in my life today. And if I press into Him now, then years later my patience will be mightier because I will have had so many opportunities to practice it, and my anger will not run as hot.

If I press into Him.

Lord, may I continue to press into You.

I’ve often prayed that He would help me love my kids the way He loves them, but recently one of my girlfriends recommended a more specific twist: to pray that God would help me love those qualities about my children that drive me crazy. Because He has plans for these kiddos and their unique quirks that I know nothing about. Daughter #2’s first and middle names combined mean “defender of the faith,” and the same defiance that rears its head against my parental authority is probably just the thing she’s going to need to wield in the future against a society that’s becoming increasingly antagonistic toward Christians.

Now if I can just make her realize it’s not me she needs to defend against! 😉

Lest I leave you with an unbalanced view of this precious child of God, however, here’s an incomplete list of her awesomeness:

She’s hysterically funny.

She’s extremely intelligent.

When she’s determined, nothing can stop her.

She can be compassionate, loving, and considerate.

She loves little kids.

She loves the Lord.

She’s got a fertile imagination. It’s quite possible I got the writing talent just so I could pass those genes on to her.

She can draw amazing pictures with her tattoo pens.

She enjoys school (don’t think I could manage mornings if she hated to go).

She’s a loyal friend.

She’s overflowing with possibility.

When she’s in a happy mood, she’s an absolute joy to be around, and she loves to make people smile.

Thank you, Jesus, for my children. Give me wisdom and patience to parent them. Grow me, even as You grow them. Amen.

Yellow Light

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.

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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Letting Go Is Not The Same As Giving Up

Seeing as how we are officially halfway through the year, I thought I’d bring you up to date on my New Year’s resolution, which was to send out query letters to dozens of agents and/or publishers.

To be honest, I’m discouraged at how few agents and publishers I have been able to find that are willing to represent inspirational romance. I will be lucky if I can send out enough queries to warrant an impressive rejection pile on future projects. As of right now, however, I have stopped my efforts to find an agent for Her Knight in Rusted Armor after only six queries. Sounds kinda pathetic at first, doesn’t it? But I didn’t stop because my ego couldn’t take the rejections (I had psyched myself up for a couple dozen at least!). And I didn’t stop because I had already run out of options. I didn’t even stop because of the amount of time required to research each agent and tweak each query letter accordingly. I stopped because I realized I was wasting not only the agents’ time in reading my queries, but mine, as well, in working on them.

Writing can be such a conundrum!

Writing can be such a conundrum!

For how can I convince someone to invest in my work when I am no longer passionate about it, myself?

Oh, I’m still passionate about writing, but not about this particular story. I had hoped that in shelving Her Knight in Rusted Armor for a while (it sat untouched for over a year) I would be able to return to it with renewed fervor and a drive to see it published. Such was not the case.

And I’m okay with that.

Last year, I would not have been okay with that. This story represents hundreds of hours of work and tears and agony and joy. To just let it sit in my laptop and in my memory key seems like such a waste, for I will now have nothing to show for my years plugging away at this plot line and breathing life into these characters.

But over the past few months, God has slowly shown me not to look at the time as a waste, but rather to appreciate how much I have grown from this process. Grown as a writer, grown as a Christian, grown as a wife and mother, expanded my knowledge and experiences. I learned the nuts and bolts of fiction writing while plowing through the first version of Her Knight… fifteen years ago; I continued to gain knowledge and understanding about the writing craft through the several revisions of this story over the ensuing years; and I advanced in my writing abilities as I tried to apply that knowledge to the individual chapters, paragraphs, sentences, words.

Today, Her Knight in Rusted Armor and I have taken each other as far as we can go. For the story, this means it will not see the light of day on a bookstore shelf. For me, this means I get to draw on what I’ve learned from crafting Her Knight… and apply it (in the first draft rather than the tenth) to something new, fresh, and completely unrelated.

In some ways, when I focus on my writing career (or lack thereof) from the perspective of a driven American living in a society where success is defined by tangible results, setting aside a manuscript can be frustrating. There are writers out there younger than me–with kids!–publishing their second, third, tenth, twentieth book! Sometimes I find myself asking what’s wrong with me, that I’m turning away from the only story I have that is 100% complete. This means I’m now putting off my quest for publication for who-knows-how-much-longer!

But then the Holy Spirit steps in and gently turns my focus back to the Lord. He has me on my own path and I need to look to Him to guide my footsteps, not try to emulate other people’s paths to their successes. Oddly enough, I find that I’m not even sure what I hope my “success” will look like anymore. All the more reason, I suppose, to seek the Lord one day at a time, rather than chase after desires that have been known to change depending on the time of month or the pressures of outside circumstances. 😉

Anne Graham Lotz has said, “Let go and let God,” and I try to apply that to my writing endeavors. It’s not always easy. And I’m not always happy. But in the end, so long as I’ve pursued God in the midst of it all, I will find fulfillment in ways I never could have imagined.

Trust in God II