Spring out of Winter

Spring is such a happy time of year, don’t you think? The pastel colors. Pops of red. And endless growing lime green.

But there’s one major thing that makes spring wonderful. Without it, spring wouldn’t even exist. That cold, bitter season many of us wish would discontinue.

Winter. Seriously, winter.

Now, South Carolina doesn’t have as long or brutal winters as my past homes in Northern Pennsylvania, New York, or New Jersey. Brrrrrr. Winter lasted from October to April. On my first anniversary – October 30th – we had a foot of snow. There were more than a few blizzards in mid-April too. But when May came to Pennsylvania…..oh, it was beautiful. Those first crocuses peak through the brown mud, and frost-covered tan grass. Sunny daffodils wave hello in the crisp winds. I appreciate spring. I NOTICE spring. The colors make me pause because they didn’t exist a few days ago.

Some tropical places don’t even get a spring. Sure, the calendar still holds the spring equinox. They celebrate the first day in late March, but spring can’t have physical evidence in nature. Without the cold, the trees don’t need to lose their leaves. Without the frost, the grass doesn’t disappear. Without a freeze, even the bugs don’t take a break.

Winter can be a season of rest. A season with no harvest. A season where we hold onto trust, hope, and faith. The trees appear dead, but we trust they’ll grow back in the spring. Those daffodils, hostas, irises, daylilies, etc. lay hidden in the ground, out of sight, and we have faith they’ll return with warmer temperatures.

Like those long winters in the north, sometimes life’s “winters” feel extra long. Maybe you’re waiting for an answer to your prayers. Maybe you feel like no one hears you, or listens to your cries. Maybe you feel like you’re in an endless loop of work, mundane responsibilities, or thankless jobs. You’re stuck in a cycle of laundry, dishes, errands, school, taking care of others, etc. Or, maybe, you don’t feel like you’re accomplishing anything because you see no evidence of making a difference.

I’ve lost count of how many “winters” I’ve endured. Sometimes I feel like I’ve been part of one endless winter with mere glimpses of sunlight through the thick clouds – that’s depression and I won’t dwell there, but I will say this: no matter how you feel; no matter how depressed or hopeless you feel… God never desires for you to stay in that place. NEVER. While wait periods, peace, rest times, and mourning seasons are normal, wallowing in pity, guilt, and anxiety aren’t meant for us. Depression and rest are two VERY DIFFERENT things.

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. – Matthew 11:28

You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. – Isaiah 26:3

That all being said, winter can definitely hold a lot of sorrow, trials, and turmoil we wouldn’t wish on our worst enemy. But, even those things can be used by God.

I bet the blind man in John chapter 9 felt like he was in an endless dark winter. He wasn’t resting, just waiting. Waiting for a spring he didn’t know was coming. Even the disciples thought he must deserve his predicament. Perhaps he was depressed. I know I would be if I had to sit stuck in the dirt on the side of the road. He was alone. No friends. No comforts. Then Jesus walks up and says He’s “the light of the world.”

Do you know what thing makes us notice light more?

I bet a blind person would know the answer.

I like to nickname my hubby “Andrew the bat.” I’ll usually call him this as I laugh at his squished face when I brighten our bathroom in the morning. He’ll be standing there at the sink, washing his face in pitch darkness. I’m sorry, but I need light to see where I’m going. Light illuminates the area, showing what we can’t see at night. And in that dark bathroom, the sudden flick of light calls attention to the brightness. The burst of colors momentarily blind us in their brilliance, and we acknowledge the light’s existence.

The bible doesn’t describe the moment the blind man found his sight. It simply says “he came home seeing.” I like to imagine he ran home with a spring in his steps, jumping for joy. He wasn’t shy in proclaiming the miracle to his neighbors, so we know he was excited. He appreciated the light because he knew what it was like to live in darkness. Like Jesus said in verse 3 “this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.”

Knowing this story helps me look back at the “winters” and dark moments in my life in a new light, if you will. The sicknesses, depression, lost careers, deaths, disappointments, and valleys weren’t brought on because of sin or as a punishment… they were present so God’s work could be displayed in my life. Here, let me break it down in a simple list format:

Cancer caused me to thank God for health, and trust that “by His stripes, I am healed.”

The lack of having more kids naturally caused me to appreciate the one I do have. It also gave us the desire and opportunity to become foster parents and prospect adoption.

Depression caused me to appreciate joy. Joy everlasting. To seek out Psalms and the words of David when he also went through depression. I declared myself a woman after God’s own heart.

My failed careers each brought me to the place I am now. To quote Chariots of Fire: I feel God’s pleasure when I write. I know I’m where I’m supposed to be, and can’t wait to see the next steps He has in store.

Each waiting period forces me into God’s word. Some people might need far less to get them to see, but I know I need a kick in the pants too many times. I need a winter to notice when an answer to prayer sprouts life. I need a dark valley to notice the bright morning joy.

When you look up the definition of spring, two examples say “originate or arise from” and “a sudden jump upward or forward.”

It’s time to arise, my friends. Rest when you need to, endure the trial if you’re currently in it, but don’t neglect your call to jump out of it. Don’t stay in winter. Sprout into spring. Grow from the difficulties. Arise from the ashes. It’s time to thrive and spread the joy everlasting!

A Psalm of David. I waited patiently for the Lord; he inclined to me and heard my cry. He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the Lord. – Psalm 40:1-3

35 Reflections

Birthdays are a perfect time to reflect. Mine is next week.

35.

35 probably sounds young to most of you. – maybe older to a select few of you. It IS young. I FEEL young. I’m used to being the youngest in my groups of friends. I got married young. Gave my life to Jesus young. Became a mom young. And started my own business when only a teenager.

On the other hand, I also feel I’ve lived several lives. I’ve worked through multiple careers and lived in multiple states and homes. Each one feels like a separate lifetime. I was a vegan pastry chef, owning my own catering business for 11 years. I was a teacher of art, theater, and culinary for 3 incredible years. A business manager. An office manager. Now, I’m an artist and writer. I’ve lived in New Jersey. New York City. 6 different homes in Pennsylvania. And now beautiful South Carolina.

I’ve been through Christian schools, homeschooling, cyber schools, culinary school, business courses, and numerous writing classes. I’ve had rare cancer. Been healed from said cancer. Seen miracles. Been penniless, yet never hungry. Been married for twelve amazing years. Had a child whose first breath came at the name of Jesus, after being born with the cord wrapped around his precious neck. And been told I should never get pregnant again.

I’ve seen a LOT in my 35 years of life.

As long as I can remember, I have never seen a godly man abandoned, or his children forced to search for food.” Psalm 37:25

I’m remembering a time ten years ago. It sounds so silly now, but 25-year-old me felt old. I was tired and drained in my catering business. All I wanted to do was act! I’d wanted to be an actress since staring in a play when I was 7. A year younger than my son is now. 2 weeks before I left for Culinary School, I remember crying to my mom about wishing I could just be an actress. I didn’t though. I went to NYC and became a chef. And at 25-years-old I regretted my decisions. I searched out auditions, casting calls, watched YouTube videos on how to get into the field, and bought stacks of books on the subject. I did all of this until I discovered a trend – an age trend. Directors wanted actors ages 18 – 25. Any older, and actors were considered the “older” category. I let myself get discouraged before I even began. I gave up; defeated before I went to one single audition.

Ugh. I feel so silly the more I think about 25-year-old me. I thought, “I missed my chance, so why start now?” If I’d plunged into that passion, I’d probably be in Hollywood or Broadway right now. I seriously believe that. Did you know Steve Carrell from the show “The Office” didn’t start acting until he was in his 30s? There are many similar stories of “late bloomers.” 25-year-old me neglected that bit of info.

When I was 27, I finally quit baking. I stopped lying to myself that I enjoyed that work: I hated it. I don’t regret quitting my business. Not ever. That same year, I started writing my first novel. I almost didn’t finish that either. I wrote 13 chapters and gave up. Praise God, He brought incredible friends in my life who encouraged me to get back into writing (shout out to Alison & Lauren! 🙂 ). At 29, I finished my first book and spent 2 years editing it. I then wrote 2 plays, 3 picture books, and started this blog. At 34, I finished my 2nd novel. And while I’m super proud of this latest book, I fear it’ll be forgotten like every career, job, house, and friend I’ve lost throughout the years. Let’s be real here: my life isn’t exactly a success story. At least, not by the world’s standards of success.

But as I sit here, thinking about the events of my 35 years, I can’t help but feel thankful for the lives I’ve lived. The failures and mistakes I’ve made.

Missed opportunities force me to sharpen my eyesight so I don’t miss the next one. Failure shows me what not to do again. And times of want always cause me to trust God all the more. It also helps to keep moving. Keep pursuing. There’s an old saying about it being easier to turn the wheels of a moving car than a stationary car. It’s very true. It’s also a lot harder to find your dream when you’re bundled up in self-pity on your couch.

In all my years, I’ve never lacked for dreams. If one dream died, three more would take its place. I’ve dreamt of having a huge family in a house on the ocean…this turned into a desire for a home in the suburbs of Greenville, South Carolina with a blend of biological and adopted children. I dreamt of being a famous actress where I could use my talent to show the passion God gave me… then having my own bakery where I can encourage my customers through healthy comfort food… then my dream became to be a New York Times best-selling author of multiple books, changing lives with the words God gives me.

They’re different dreams. But, if you look closely, they’re the same dream: be loved, and show love. Through people, and through the talents God’s given me.

It’s not too late for those dreams. The first part is already happening. (All glory to God!) I’m still young. But even if I was turning 85, I’d still believe God has more to do through me.

Just like God has so so much more to do through YOU!

If you’ve made it this far while I’ve been talking all about myself, thank you. I know I can be long-winded when I’m trying to make a point. Words haven’t always been my thing. I still SERIOUSLY struggle to articulate my words verbally, so I appreciate you reading my thoughts in this format. I love to write. I really, really do. I know it’s what God made me for. I know this because I’ve been in places I wasn’t meant to stay in. It’s not about it being hard or easy either. – Writing is far from easy most of the time! – It’s a feeling that’s difficult to describe without living it first. It’s peace, joy, passion, commitment, satisfaction, and excitement all rolled into one. It’s a feeling in your soul – the pit of your gut – that you’re doing what you were created to do. A peace that passes all understanding. Can you think of moments in your life that brought these feelings? What desires has God placed in you?

I lay pieces of myself here in order to encourage you to stop making excuses about not pursuing those dreams God gave you. Never let age stop you. Never let life’s circumstances stop you. And definitely never let other people dictate who you should be. Friends encourage you while a competitor will do anything to keep you beneath them. I’ve had to overcome a few of those too.

I look back at my life and I see blessing after blessing. In times of depression, and in times of joy. In times when we didn’t have enough money to go grocery shopping, and in the times we were able to bless others with a hot meal. In times when I’ve cried to God for answers, and in times I felt His voice. In the time I was told I had cancer, and in the time God told me I was healed before the doctor did. In the mountains of rejection letters, and in the future day I’ll find out I made the best-seller lists. In lonely nights, and in parties full of genuine laughter. In times of failure or success, God has been faithful.

I can’t wait to see what the next 35+ years will bring!

In honor of my 35 years, here’s a list of 35 things I’ve discovered in life so far. I hope it brings some joy to your life and sparks the courage to go after your desires!

  1. Killing a plant doesn’t make you a murderer, just remember to water your kids and pets more often.
  2. If you have enough time to check your phone, you have enough time to talk to God.
  3. Try listening more than talking.
  4. On that note…if he’s playing a video game, he’s not listening. I don’t care if he answers, he’s honestly NOT listening.
  5. Pray with your spouse. It’ll bring the two of you closer to each other as well as to Christ, and to a whole other level in your relationship.
  6. Laugh. Smile. Giggle. Snort. It’s healing to your soul and mood.
  7. EVERYONE is going through something or dealing with something. No one is perfect. Treat them with care.
  8. We’re all more alike than you think.
  9. Cats are better than dogs.
  10. But… not everyone likes cats, so that’s why God created dogs. I respect that.
  11. Life’s too short to not have chocolate.
  12. You can’t please everyone. Actually – you can’t 100% please ANYONE. Even yourself. So stop losing sleep over it.
  13. You’ll learn a LOT from having friends that are all different ages, races, and backgrounds.
  14. Watch where you step in the ocean…(long story)
  15. Sunsets are beautiful, but there’s something extra special about getting up for a sunrise.
  16. You don’t have to listen to every piece of advice given to you.
  17. But make sure you consider each piece of advice given to you.
  18. Your career isn’t the thing that defines you.
  19. Don’t walk through your kid’s room barefoot.
  20. Doctor Who is the best tv show of all time, but not everyone has the time to accept this fact.
  21. This time next year you’ll be thankful you started that project NOW instead of procrastinating it.
  22. You’ll never remember that thing you’re telling yourself in bed. WRITE IT DOWN!
  23. You don’t have to follow the recipe. Live a little.
  24. No matter how many times you read the Bible, you’ll always find something new.
  25. Lists are amazing. Satisfying to write, and even better when crossed off.
  26. Forgiveness is more for your sanity than their’s. Just like bittereness effects you more than them.
  27. ALL of God’s promises are Yes and Amen.
  28. There might be no place like home, but real change happens when we leave our comfort zone.
  29. You can never have too many books. No, really! Tell my hubby this one!
  30. It’s OKAY to rest.
  31. Kids are sometimes the best source of wisdom.
  32. You can get used to almost anything if you’re around it long enough. That’s not always a good thing…
  33. Men just think differently. It’s weird, but he doesn’t accociate the silence as a sign I’m mad with how he acted last Tuesday.
  34. Drink more water. Don’t be like your plants.
  35. You’re never done learning new tricks.

Hope you enjoyed those! Have a blessed day!

Oh, and be on the lookout for my new newsletter! Woohoo!! Sign-ups will be posted on March 1st. All who sign-up will get a FREE recipe booklet with original recipes inspired by the dishes in my upcoming book, Neutral Extinction. Stay tuned!

Darling, There’s a Better Future For You!

“Kill your darlings, kill your darlings, even when it breaks your egocentric little scribbler’s heart, kill your darlings.”

Some of you might recognize this famous quote from Stephen King. Writers often reference “killing your darlings” during the editing process. The message might sound cruel, but it means to delete the characters/plots/dialog/writing we THINK we love, but it drags our story down. He’s saying to cut the things that’ll make our story better once they’re gone.

If only we could do that in our own lives…

But how do we know which pieces to cut to make our lives better? We don’t want to cut something useful, after all. We don’t want to commit a Freddie Krueger slasher work to our dreams and future.

In 1 Samuel chapter 16, God tells Samuel to stop being depressed over Saul and anoint the next king of Israel. God simply says “I have selected one of Jesse’s sons to be king.” Complication alert: Jesse had 8 sons. Samuel needed to “kill” some of those darlings to find the true king.

When he got to Jesse’s house, he met 7 handsome, strong, and perfect darling sons. They were everything Samuel THOUGHT he wanted.

If I had a dime every time I THOUGHT I knew what I wanted…

When I was single, I made a list of the characteristics I desired in a husband. Some were important: integrity, faith, strong values, kindness, compassion, etc. A few were darlings that weren’t exactly important to a happy marriage. Blue eyes being the most superficial. Once I met a man, I took all the things on my list into account and decided which weren’t as important as I originally thought. In the same token, the important things on the list helped me weed out guys who weren’t perfect fits either.

Samuel had a list in his own head. Tall: check. Nice face: check. Dreamy blue eyes: check. Looks like a king: check. But God told Samuel “Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God does not see as man sees, since man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

God’s list was different than Samuel’s. And on the surface, some might have said the “ruddy-faced boy” God chose was a few steps down from the first 7 sons. David wasn’t even invited to be a part of his family gathering. His dad left him to do chores while they feasted with the prophet. Samuel didn’t know Jesse had an 8th son until he asked!

This is something I believe we constantly miss in our lives. We choose a husband/wife, career, job, friend, or decision of any kind simply because we THINK it’s our best option. We fear nothing else will come around because this is all we see. So, we say it’s “good enough” or “I deserve this anyway” when deep down we know we’re meant for more.

I’m not talking about being discontent with what God has given you. I’m talking about settling for less than God intends for your life. Filling your life with events, people, and obstacles God wants you to subtract in order to accept what He desires for you.

Having 1 of David’s brothers on the throne could’ve proven disastrous. I bet Samuel was thankful he abided by God’s list instead of his own when he saw how fantastic of a king David would become. He could’ve made a history-changing mistake if he hadn’t listened to God. If he’d settled for something on his own superficial list.

I know. I know. You’re probably saying “But Samuel was a prophet who verbally heard God’s voice. How am I supposed to know what God wants me to do?!”

Don’t worry: God already told you!

Have you ever heard or said the phrase “God’s working on me concerning ____” or “God’s dealing with me about ____”? It usually pertains to something difficult, life-altering, or a path we don’t want to go down.

For instance, God has been dealing with me about my view of success. My idea of a successful life is changing the lives of multiple people, influencing thousands or millions with my books, and making profits to show these numbers. I see the avenue to this outcome to be by a popular literary agent, having a top 4 publisher, and a six-figure advance paycheck. I’ve committed to this list by e-mailing agents for years. Years. And tailoring my books to what I THINK these people want. Ugh. I fell victim to creating a superficial list of darlings that only matter to the world, not to what God might have in mind. I know this now because God has been “dealing with me” about what’s truly important. How do I know? Because He has been opening doors to other avenues. These avenues might be different than what my list included, but they align with God’s word:

“For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.” Galatians 5:17

“Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” Ephesians 5:17

“You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” Psalm 16:11

I want to be clear that what God has “been dealing with me” about isn’t actually different than my true desires. They are simply guiding me via the path God wants me to go down to achieve them. My true desire is to have my words mean something, and have my books published. The how isn’t up to me, it’s up to God! God’s joy and peace fill us when we are on the right path. Our deepest desires are God-given, and only He knows the best way to achieve them.

In order to see what plans and pathways God has for us, we need to cut the parts we don’t need. The only way to do this is to know what parts we do need: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” In order to trust God, we need to have faith. Faith comes from hearing, and hearing from the word of Christ. (Romans 10:17)

Honestly, I believe that the real reason most people aren’t living to their full potential is because we don’t trust that God has something better in mind. We see missionaries living in poverty, Christians who never make millions, or faith-filled people who lack so much, and fear we’ll have the same “fate”. But are we looking at these people through God’s standards or the world’s view of success? When we look closer, we can see how faith-filled believers live BETTER lives when they surrender to what God intends. When they “kill their darlings” of the world and tailor a new list with God’s worldview.

Love. Joy. Peace. Faithfulness. Patience. Kindness. Gentleness. Meekness. Self-control…. a list that trumps wealth, power, and superficial beauty. It’s a list that means something to our future, and doesn’t fade with age and politics.

David was “a youth with beautiful eyes, and good looking.” He wasn’t ugly by any means. Just different than what Samuel had in mind.

Samuel’s desire was to have a good king, and God showed him the path to get there. What path is God wanting to lead you through?

When we surrender to what God wants, instead of what we THINK we want, we’ll find God has something much MUCH better in mind. Kill your darlings, friends, and see the beautiful story underneath.

You Are Blessed!

I AM BLESSED. It’s taken me many years to truly believe this statement. To live those words. To not be afraid of those words.

“Afraid?” you ask. Yes, afraid, and guilty. Riddled with guilt. Second-guessing the reality of my blessings. And doubting I even want to be blessed.

Maybe you’re nodding your head, or maybe you’re thinking this writer is crazier than a two-headed stray cat on distilled catnip. Everyone wants blessings. Right? Count your blessings. Right?

Well, for starters… In a world FULL of blessings, we seem to be defined by our latest asset, gift, or favor.

Notice Riker’s grumpy face setting in?

A few weeks ago, we took our son on an exciting day trip. On a crisp September morning, we traveled to the mountains in North Carolina to go apple picking, eat apple cider donuts, and enjoy an apple festival. Riker – currently our only child – got our full attention as he ate sweets, ran, conquered the playground, and jumped on the farm’s mega trampoline. He even made a new friend whom he played with and saw throughout the course of our adventurous day. We laughed and played together through the rows of apple trees. We went out to eat with new friends and Riker got his pick of the menu. Outside the restaurant, a parade graced the town’s Main Street. Riker jumped up and down in joy as each new float brought something he loved: sports cars, thrown candy, comic book characters, sports themes, and little gifts thrown his way.

After the parade, we waved goodbye to our new friends, and journeyed down the street to our parked car. We passed closing pop-up craft, food, and toy stands. Riker asked for a toy. He wanted to “get something.” Andrew and I told him “No, it’s time to go home.”

He halted in his tracks and whined. “This is the worst day ever!”

Needless to say, we did NOT let that last statement slide. After we laughed.

But, don’t we do the same thing in our own lives? We could spend hours counting each of our possessions, people we love, events we treasure, and things in our lives we’re thankful for. Then something happens: an accident, a sickness, a death, a disappointment, etc. We raise our head to the sky and scream “God, why me!?” Or worse, we expect these discomforts and disappoints so much that we let it eclipse everything good in our lives. They make us doubt we even have blessings. We forget our beautiful lives because of our current darkness.

This doubt isn’t where our worst danger lies. This isn’t the fear I referred to earlier. Disappointments eclipsing our lives is all too commonplace. The comfort we find in these dark places is the dangerous part.

Life in any career isn’t easy. I’m going to refer to my life experience as an artist because that’s what I know: it’s downright INSANE! I’ve been a chef, teacher, play director, writer, painter, and creator of many things, but each path in my career is plagued by harsh opinions, low income, rejection, and doubting my worth in our society. As a creator/artist my work defines me because it’s a literal part of me. As a result, the rejections and opinions of others define me too.

I’ve touched on these facts before, but let me venture into deeper territory… I have many friends that consider themselves artists, and they too live lives full of rejections and opinions. It actually has become a bonding experience for us all:

“I got five rejection emails last week from publishers.”

“I’m so sorry, my friend. I got six rejections as well. Want to look at each other’s work and see what we’re doing wrong?”

We make excuses for each other, try to give reasons for our failures, while also encouraging one another to “continue pressing on.” But what happens when one of us finally succeeds? What happens when we receive a blessing? What happens when we no longer relate to those still getting rejections?

Guilt sets in. We don’t wish to boast, so we downplay our victory. Or, maybe we believe this victory to be a fluke; we fear our blessing will wash away in a sea of disappointment. Misery loves company, right?

I’ve had too many “friends” over the years who got more excited in my failures than my successes. I am also blessed to have friends who cry and scream in excitement more than me when a victory happens. And let me just say, those two types of friends are both extremely blessed, but one type tends to live happier.

What those first “friends” need to realize is that just because one person has a victory doesn’t mean they can’t too. One’s God-given blessings NEVER subtracts from the blessings available to all of us.

When we don’t share our blessings with others, a new narrative takes its place. Without the knowledge of blessings, it appears like they no longer exist. In a society run by a news media who always reports bad news, a social media full of conspiracy theories and prayer requests, and gatherings masking possible smiles, it’s all too easy to get discouraged. We forget good news still exists. We forget our mountain of blessings because all we see is the last tragic event. We see our neighbor suffering so we think we need to be too, and our subconsciousness doesn’t even realize it’s happening.

This guilt is actually tied to our self worth. We believe ourselves unworthy of our blessings. If our friend/neighbor doesn’t have this, then why should we?

The answer is so simple that too many of us choose to ignore the obvious: all of this confusion grows because our worth doesn’t come from the amount or lack of blessings. Our worth comes through Jesus, and Jesus alone. If we realize this simple fact, the darkness engulfing our blessings fades. Because every blessing comes from Him.

Let’s go even further into this blessed knowledge: If our blessings come from Jesus, why are we feeling guilty about receiving a God-given gift? In fact, we should be EXPECTING these gifts. Says so right here:

His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through the knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. – 2 Peter 1:3

In my parents’ old house, they had an old picture hanging in the bathroom. It showed a series of hills with a few cows grazing on lush, green grass. A scripture blanketed the sky: “My God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19

I used to stare at that picture and mull over its significant. If God supplies my every need according to His riches, then my needs are tied to His wealth. God also says He owns the cattle on a thousand hills. He created all things. His wealth is truly endless. That means the supplies to my needs are endless. I’m rich!!

But I forget this fact. I’ve let rejection, death, a bout of cancer, scars, lost friendships, and any number of other dark things dictate how I feel. I forgot Romans 8:32…

He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?

As I learn to embrace the statement “I am blessed,” I hope to also show you all how you don’t have to feel guilty, afraid, worthless, doubtful, or confused over whether or not you are blessed. Nor should you be afraid or guilty to share your blessings with others. Because we’re not boasting in ourselves; we’re boasting in what Jesus has done for us.

Jesus gave me these words. Jesus gave me a loving husband. Jesus gave me a fantastic son. Jesus gave us the ability to adopt another child who we’ll hopefully meet soon. Jesus gave me a home. Friends. Health. Jesus blessed me with EVERY good and perfect thing because it all comes from above.

I didn’t come by these blessings because of anything I did. I was nobody. And yet, when I asked Jesus into my heart I became His. Jesus is my blessed hope, and I am His treasure:

But you are God’s chosen treasure—priests who are kings, a spiritual “nation” set apart as God’s devoted ones. He called you out of darkness to experience his marvelous light, and now he claims you as his very own. He did this so that you would broadcast his glorious wonders throughout the world. – 1 Peter 2:9

YOU are blessed. Yes, YOU. Declare it. Remember it. Share it.

Love you all. Be blessed, and never stop being a blessings to others. YOU ARE BLESSED.

Click on the above picture to be taken to my new online store where you can purchase my artwork on prints, mugs, cards, t-shirts, phone cases, pillows, blankets, and more!
Click the above picture to be taken to our GoFundMe adoption page. Thank you!!

Proactive Thankfulness

If you follow me on social media, then you might have seen our big family news. It’s the event we’ve long waited for, and the event I referenced in my blog last month.

No, I’m not pregnant. – Too many people, including several family members, guessed that one – But this is just as exciting, if not more so… We’re adopting!

We couldn’t be more ecstatic, delighted, and crying happy tears. We don’t know who we’ll be adopting YET, but we’re searching for a little girl around Riker’s age. We’ll begin the matching process the end of September after we complete the home study. It’s a private adoption through foster care. The extreme number of waiting children who need homes was our motivator to choose this particular path. There are over 424,000 U.S. foster kids, with the median age being a fragile 6 years old. That’s heartbreaking. Too many of these kids bounce back and forth from one foster family to the next until they age out of the system altogether. Never knowing a loving family to call their own.

Andrew and I have been going through the rigorous training to be certified as foster and adoptive parents. The process includes several books, articles, classes, forms, tests, back ground checks, fingerprinting, etc. We’ve also taken it upon ourselves to go beyond the checklist to watch and read countless adoption and foster stories wherever we can find them. I’ll tell you what, the stories of these children bring our own lives into perspective.

Sometimes we don’t realize the blessings, gifts, and privileges we have until we see what true want and neglect looks like. But it’s not about boasting in what we have. It’s not about saying “I’m blessed because I have a house while others don’t,” or “thank you, God, for giving me two loving parents unlike all of those children over there.” You probably thought I was going to say something like that, didn’t you? If I had a dime for every time I heard a speaker, a book, or a movie actor say “be thankful for what you have, because there are so many less fortunate than you…” I’d be a rich woman. We all would be. But maybe our lives should be more than just “being thankful.” Maybe we need to do more than just feeling privileged.

Perhaps I’m not making myself clear. God’s word will say it better…

1 Chronicles 16:8 STARTS with being thankful, but it doesn’t stop there… “Oh give thanks to the Lord, call upon His name; make known His deeds among the people.” Another translation says “Thank God! Call out His Name! Tell the whole world who He is and what He’s done.”

How about Philippians 2:4 ~ “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests to others.”

Or Proverbs 3:27 ~ “Do not pass by a man in need, for you might be the hand of God to him.”

Whenever God tells us to give thanks, it’s often sandwiched between something proactive, whether it’s praying, rejoicing, working out our faith, or helping others. God wants us to have thankful hearts, but it should never stop there.

This is sounding like a Thanksgiving message I’m realizing! But I can’t help the timing of what God places on my heart. I want to actively do James 1:22… “But prove yourselves doers of the word [actively and continually obeying God’s precepts], and not merely listeners [who hear the word but fail to internalize its meaning], deluding yourselves [by unsound reasoning contrary to the truth].”

God doesn’t say all these things to make us feel guilty, but to show us the right path and motivate us to do His perfect will. It’s easy to wallow in our lack just as easy as it is to simply say how thankful we are for our blessings. Words are powerful, but they can also come cheap. There’s a big difference between praying because we’re looking for wisdom to do something, and praying because we’re stalling since we don’t want to do something.

I hope my words are making sense as the waterfall flows from my fingers… what I’m trying to say is that we should be motivated to ACT when we hear about other’s circumstances. God instructs us many times to give to the poor, but He’s not just referring to money. When you hear or see someone “less fortunate” than you, what blessings come to mind? Money, house, family, freedom, love, joy, peace, or other life circumstance? Maybe even our faith? Good, now definitely thank God for these blessings.

BUT DON’T STOP THERE!!

How can you then share these blessings? What gifts has God given you? Don’t bury them; share them. Can you open your home? Can you send money? Can you offer kind words of encouragement through a letter, message, etc.? Can you give a physical gift to this person to brighten their day? Can you share your faith in Christ if they don’t have this? Can you share a meal? What has God blessed you with that you can share with ANYONE around you?

I’m talking to myself here too. It’s easy to be complaisant. It’s easy to just watch videos, tv, news, etc. and cry about someone’s circumstance, say a prayer, and move on with your day. Not all of us need to drop what we’re doing, sell all we have to the poor, and become missionaries overseas. But some of us need to stop pointing our fingers at what other rich people should do for the world and do it ourselves.

Adoption isn’t for everyone, but it’s something God laid on Andrew and mine’s hearts of how we can give and bless one small person. Maybe God has burdened you for the homeless, or a neighbor on your street who just lost their job. Maybe you’re watching the crying mothers in Afghanistan and God has pressed on your heart an idea of how to help one or more of them. Maybe God blessed you with the talent of knowing laws and politics and you could be a catalyst to change our government or simply your community. If you’re looking for a sign for where and when to stop sitting and start acting, may this be what you’re praying for.

James 2:14-17 … “What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.”

Acting out our faith by perusing this adoption isn’t easy, and we don’t even have our future daughter yet. But it’s also a blessing already. I pray for her everyday, wherever she is. I love her already, wherever she is. I pray God keeps her safe until she’s in our arms. Prayer is powerful, but if all I did was pray and not complete the paperwork, read the books, pay the bills, or make her room ready, we would miss the opportunity to welcome her into our home. Our good intentions aren’t enough. “Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.” ~ 1 John 3:18

Private adoption isn’t cheap, and if you feel led to give toward our journey you can visit our Go Fund Me or purchase one of my adoption-inspired art pieces that I created and am now selling on Fine Art America as a fundraiser. But don’t feel obligated to give. I encourage you to give somewhere else or pursue any cause God lays on your heart! I’d just be reminisced if I didn’t post these links in case you also have a heart for adoption.

God gave us each a different gift, a different passion, and different burdens in our hearts. Just as we all have unique personalities and pasts, we also all have unique futures. We’re blessed. And I hope you are now encouraged to share your blessings. Thank God for what you have, then use these gifts to help the world. All it takes is one act of faith to start a movement.

Love you all!!

Purpose…Now what?

So, you’ve figured out what God wants you to do. He told you directly, in a dream, through someone else, or by some other means. Maybe it’s thanks to reading my blog post last month: Living On Purpose. You just KNOW what you’re meant to do. Your purpose could involve a career choice, a growing family, a move, a new friendship/relationship, or something else life altering. You know your desires, but… now what?!

Now…you wait.

I feel like I’m an expert of the waiting game. The in-between times. The “what if” times. The transitions. The period of space where we know we’re meant to be somewhere or do something, but we don’t know how or when. And we start to doubt we have any purpose at all.

It’s the years after God told David he’d become king. He had to watch the reigning King Saul go absolutely crazy, try to murder him, and chase him through the wilderness. And he waited…and waited…and waited. He wrote half of Psalms during his in-between times of waiting on God’s promise over his life to come to fulfillment. It was literal years before he became king.

It’s the 120 years between Noah picking up a hammer to build the ark and the first rain drop fell in the flood. I bet his family and “friends” badgered him with questions and doubts the entire time.

It’s the years Joseph endured between his prophetic dreams and the day Pharaoh rescued him from prison to make him second in command. I imagine lots of long lonely nights in the pit and jail cell.

It’s the decades Abraham waited on God’s promise to be fulfilled in giving him a son. Scripture doesn’t beat around the bush in retelling Abraham’s MANY doubts on God’s promises of purpose.

The waiting game happens to all of us. But it doesn’t have to be a “game.” It’s doesn’t HAVE to be torturous, mind-numbing, depressing, and crippling. Lamentations 3:25 says “The Lord is good to those who wait for Him.” That’s a comforting promise.

But what do we do when it seems like all we do is wait on our next assignment, adventure, mission, and purpose? We know God will be good to us and has the best in store, but what are we SUPPOSED TO DO?!

I remember my first date with Andrew. Shopping, movies, and Starbucks. The perfect trio. The perfect night. I knew I met THE ONE. I literally knew it. I was the crazy sap who cried on the drive home, thanking God for bring me my husband. Thank God I had the decency of mind to not tell Andrew this until AFTER we got married. He would’ve run for the hills, and with good reason. lol

So, in that moment on May 10th, 2009, I knew my purpose. God showed me a glimpse of what was to come, and I rested in that reassurance. Since I knew my purpose, I could’ve twiddled my thumbs, coasted on these thoughts, and waited patiently for my wedding day. I could’ve, but I’m so glad I didn’t!

Instead, I acted on my purpose by taking steps to fulfill it: getting to know Andrew more, growing our relationship, testing to see if we were equally yoked in everything that matters, planning our life together, and learning to live with the fact he would never like Lord of the Rings or A Knight’s Tale as much as I do. Because of doing these things, I was ready to say yes when Andrew popped the anticipated question. Well, as ready as I humanly could be. There were still many surprises after the wedding, but I shudder to think how insane things could’ve been had we not used our dating time to get to know one another more.

David didn’t twirl his thumbs either. Like I said earlier, he wrote a LOT during his decade on the run. He also got married, had kids, and he gathered an army of followers who would help him become king once Saul died.

Abraham, on the other hand, made a few missteps. He chose to force God’s purpose by sleeping with another woman to have a son. This son, named Ishmael, would plague Abraham’s future son, Isaac, until God sent them away to start a new nation. This nation would later become Israel’s oldest enemy. But even in his mistakes, God fulfilled his purpose in His time. Abraham just made it more complicated than it needed to be.

I’m so guilty of this too: making times harder and more complicated than they need to be.

When God first gave me the mission to write novels, I wrote with joy and passion. But then I got consumed with self-doubt as I looked to what others were doing, and why I wasn’t good enough. I let other’s opinions dictate my work and how I edited. I let my own fears stop me from praising God and listening. I look back at my journey and reprimand myself for losing sight of the gift God gave me. Now my first book is a mess, and I’m praying for God’s guidance on how to fix it. I’m waiting for an answer. But I’m writing, learning, and growing as I wait.

It can be unnerving to not know how long God wants us to wait on our purpose coming to fruition. We don’t have those answers. He never promises ultimate knowledge in timing. But He does give many scriptures to encourage, uplift, and instruct us along the way.

If we knew how long to wait, then we wouldn’t hold so passionately to our faith. Our prayer life wouldn’t grow. Our praise wouldn’t increase.

It’s difficult, but not impossible. God promises to never give us more than we can handle. That includes the valleys of solitude and mourning. And the chasms where we don’t know if it’s possible to continue in the dark.

I’m currently waiting on multiple things in my life. My readers are probably tired of me mentioning my purpose of being published. But I really am still waiting on this exciting purpose in my life to be fulfilled: five years and counting. Over seven years if you consider the day I wrote my first sentence in my first novel as day one. There are hundreds of writers who’ve waited even longer. Much longer in fact. I found out that Laura Ingalls Wilder (who wrote The Little House on the Prairie books, and my name sake) didn’t publish her first book until she was 65. Yow! I certainly pray it won’t take me THAT long.

I’m also waiting on something huge that’s twelve years in the making. I believe I’m reaching the finish line soon for that purpose, so you’ll be hearing about it in the months to come.

My point is: while we’re waiting on God’s purpose for our lives, work toward that purpose by trusting in Jesus.

What can you do today that would bring glory to Jesus?

While Joseph waited in prison, he used his God-given talent of interpreting dreams to comfort a fellow prisoner. He didn’t wallow in self pity when this same man forgot about him. Instead, he impressed the jail warden by his actions and he never stopped giving glory to God.

Are you praising God even when you don’t know which step to take?

Jesus Himself waited 30 years to begin His ministry. After His cousin, John, baptized Him and God said “This is my beloved son, in whom I am well pleased,” He had to wait ANOTHER 40 days before He could begin selecting disciples. Those 40 days must have been excruciating… desert. Hot. No food. No water. And plagued by the persistent devil who never ceased badgering Him. But Jesus praised God continually. And Jesus shows us what He wants us to do through His perfect example.

When the enemy tempts us to give up: retort with scripture.

When other people try to get us to doubt what God told us: retort with scripture.

When we ourselves doubt our strength, talents, and purpose: retort with scripture.

God’s word trumps all. Stay strong, my friends. Because God promises it’s worth the wait. I can’t wait to see what’s next, but I’ll wait as long as it takes. Because I want an Isaac, not an Ishmael.

Why are you in despair, O my soul?
And why have you become restless and disturbed within me?
Hope in God and wait expectantly for Him, for I shall again praise Him
For the help of His presence. – Psalms 42:5

Living On Purpose

It’s been a hot minute, y’all! I missed blogging in May, but my blogging week was consumed at an amazing writers conference. It gave me a break from my normal schedule, a chance to connect with kindred spirits, intense classes to challenge my career, and a boost in confidence.

Over the last several months, I’ve been struggling with mass rejections and exhausted faith; a week rediscovering my purpose was EXACTLY the recharge and refocus I needed. I love how God knows what we need when we need it. He sees our needs. He knows our desire. And God knows our purpose.

Purpose. We all want one. We all NEED one.

The best-seller lists are lined with books promising to give people purpose. The Purpose-Driven Life, The Pursuit of Purpose, What on Earth Am I Here For, and The Purpose Effect are just a few. And no, I haven’t read any of them.

There are many quotes on the subject. Here are a select few. And I’m going to say a disclaimer right now: I don’t agree with any of these quotes…

“The artist’s job is not to succumb to despair but to find an antidote for the emptiness of existence.” ― Woody Allen

“I believe purpose is something for which one is responsible; it’s not just divinely assigned.” ―Michael J. Fox

“Our purpose in life is to be happy. From the very core of our being, we simply desire contentment.” ―Dalai Lama XIV

Why do I disagree with these quotes? Well, first off, Woody Allen’s outlook is that life is empty. It’s up to us to at least make it fun. Art = fun, right? Art = color, imagination, character, beauty, or fun. So, he’s saying if you take art away, then you take purpose away. I will be the first to say art is mandatory to live fully. To create is definitely a type of purpose. I wrote an entire book proving how we lose our humanity when we strip away art. But can there be purpose without this artist’s existence? Is there a way without us searching for this alleged antidote?

Short answer: yes.

Long answer: I’ll write it below.

Similarly to Woody Allen, Michael J. Fox puts a TON of pressure on our shoulders. We’re responsible for finding it, doing it, and achieving it according to his humble standards. There’s no God in his world. Talk about depressing and exhausting! He does have the word “just” thrown in, which leads me to assume he believes a divine deity might have something to do with assigning our purpose. I would hope so. If we left finding a purpose up to humanity alone, we’d have eternal chaos.

The quote from the Dalai Lama is possibly the worst of all. Do you see it? Let’s see if I can explain the flaw with this one…

We live in a current world of a LOT of depressed people. I’ve struggled with depression for the past twenty years. What I have isn’t a situational depression; it’s not brought on by a bad day, a misspoken word, or horrible accident. It’s a struggle of low self-worth, motivation, uncertainties, and life’s pressures. I actually don’t struggle with happiness. I’m a positive person. I’m what’s called “A happy person with depression” or “smiling depression” (this is an actual thing, ugh). By Mr. Lama’s standards, I’ve achieved my purpose. And also by his standards I’ll NEVER achieve 100% purpose because I’m never truly content. No one who’s depressed lives in honest contentment because we’re never always happy. Happiness is fleeting.

As wrong as these quotes are, I do want to point out what they get right:

Woody Allen’s artistic antidote could indeed be our purpose. Our purpose should NEVER be to succumb to despair, thus we do need to find the opposite of despair. And without Jesus there is indeed an emptiness of existence. Jesus would be the artist’s antidote for despair.

To Michael J. Fox’s credit, it is our responsibility to accept Jesus. We don’t need to find Him though, because He’s always there waiting for us, but we do have a responsibility to accept His gift of salvation.

Perhaps the Dalai Lama suffered from a simple case of a writer using the wrong word. If we replace happy with “joy” the quote takes on a deeper meaning. David – who’s arguably the most depressed individual in the Bible – said in Psalms 118:24 “You have put joy in my heart” in reference to God. Paul says in Thessalonians 2:20 “For you are our glory and joy.”

I know. I know. I can hear you saying “get on with it, Laura. Enough of this back and forth interpreting quotes. What’s our purpose?!”

I’m so glad you asked.

Because when we know our purpose, we know where we’re going. When we know our purpose, joy consumes us – not the fleeting happy moments, but a joy deep in our soul even when we’re unmotivated in bed. When we know our purpose, the mountains of rejections become unimportant. Rejections become answers to whether that person was a right fit for me: no, God has something better in store. When we know our purpose, our life has meaning.

[For my determined purpose is] that I may know Him [that I may progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him, perceiving and recognizing and understanding the wonders of His Person more strongly and more clearly], and that I may in that same way come to know the power out flowing from His resurrection [which it exerts over believers], and that I may so share His sufferings as to be continually transformed [in spirit into His likeness even] to His death, [in the hope]. – Philippians 3:10

It’s that simple. Our purpose is knowing Jesus, and becoming like Him.

I’m done, right? Case closed. End of blog post. But it doesn’t feel quite that simple in our every day life, does it?

How can we be like Jesus when we do our jobs? i.e. writing, selling, speaking, helping, healing, manufacturing, creating….. wait… Didn’t Jesus do all of these things? Don’t each of our jobs involve at least a few of these activities? Jesus wrote through His disciples (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John). He was, in essence, a salesman of salvation (He described it and offered it at the one price of accepting Him). He spoke powerful life-altering words wherever He went. He helped every person He came in contact with. He healed better than any doctor or nurse. He manufactured items when He was a carpenter. He created the world, didn’t He?! As well as every food and material all jobs work with.

How can we be like Jesus when we do our housework, raising kids, loving our spouse, relationship troubles, sleeping, eating, etc. etc.? The Bible talks about each and every one of these life events, challenges, and responsibilities. It’s an amazing read. I highly recommend it. I have a horrible memory though, so I need to continually reread it.

I’ll be the first to admit it’s exhausting to try to be like Jesus.

I grew up with the WWJD bracelets and the fire brimstone preaching what will happen if we sin instead of being Christ-like. Both of these methods didn’t work with a majority of my generation. We don’t need reminders of our failures or proddings to be perfect. I believe this is why, first and foremost, Paul tells us to KNOW JESUS more deeply, intimately, so we can recognize and understand the wonder of who He truly is.

I think we as Christians can get so lost in what to do, that we forget the why. We forget who we’re doing it for. We forget the purpose of it all.

When we concentrate on all the things we must do, we risk exhaustion to the point of giving up. We need to realize WE can never be perfect. It’s impossible. We can study the word of God all we want. Wear all the cool Christian jewelry and garb. Spurt out “thees” and “thous.” Make carpentry our profession, and take up fishing. But none of these things will bring us our purpose. Because Jesus isn’t any of this. Jesus, well, He’s all of this and more…

“Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Heb. 12:2

“Then Jesus declared, ‘I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.’” John 6:35

“Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die.” John 11:25

“These will wage war against the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them, because He is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those who are with Him are the called and chosen and faithful.” Rev. 17:14

Those are highlights of what the Bible says Jesus is. When we know Jesus, we see our purpose because Jesus = our purpose. Jesus sets us free, and gives us the faith we need to live: “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.”

“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”

You know what’s also interesting? In studying the scriptures of who Jesus is, I see my own purpose written… Life. Giver of living bread/food (chef). Faithful. Author. Joy-filled.

I always find my purpose when I look to Jesus. Because Jesus IS my purpose.

What’s your purpose? I dare to say you’ll find it in Jesus.

You Wouldn’t Understand

Sometimes I feel the need to take a break from the novel writing and fiction work to express my thoughts through verse. That’s when a poem usually takes center-stage. And I blog on a day I wouldn’t usually be on here.

This is a hard time for even the most positive among us, and that includes me. I’m struggling today. And that’s never an easy thing for me to admit. But our worst days are sometimes better than someone’s best days. It’s hard to comprehend what another person is thinking, feeling, and experiencing. We live in a divided country. A divided world. And often times, divided families. I wonder what would happen if we realize our differences can bring us closer? We’re all hurting in one way or other. We don’t need to experience this alone. We don’t need to be divided as we cower in our homes or trample city streets. If we just communicate, love, and embrace, maybe we can become understood. Please enjoy the poem I wrote today on this topic, and let me know your own thoughts on this subject.

You Wouldn’t Understand by Laura Gibson Kudey

One look at me, and people flee

Not physically, but mentally

I see it in their posture

A disgust all their own

But you wouldn’t understand

Childless and barren

I’ve been told to procreate

You say motherhood completes me

While I cuddle in the darkness

But you wouldn’t understand

My children are wailing

Tearing and pulling my arms

I’m too tired to explain

Yet you gawk at me all the same

But you wouldn’t understand.

The rooms are all vacant

My nest is abandoned

No one calls or writes

I’m ashamed of my own fate

But you wouldn’t understand

I’m lavished in green

Hung by lipstick and Prada

A shell of the hollow man

Called red instead of blue

But you wouldn’t understand

I’ve lived and breathed war

Nightmares and camouflage

Protests and blue zones

A savior to the rest

But you wouldn’t understand

Black, white, red, and blue,

Rich, poor, and in-between

Lonely, crowded, found, and forgotten

Each bleeding the same

But you wouldn’t understand

Consumed in your bubbles

Your life so different, not better

No one comprehends

Which life, which color, must matter

But you wouldn’t understand.

Finishing The Long Game

I achieved something enormous this month: I finished the first draft of my novel! It’s a huge achievement to finish something. Anything. Most of us get a brilliant release of endorphins when we finish an event or great conquest. I know I do. When I complete a project it’s like rising out of the smog and entering cloud 9. Then I crash on the couch because, let’s face it, finishing is a lot of work. That last mile of the race is the hardest point of all. Heck, I think the last several miles are the hardest.

In writing a story there’s an event called the “muddy middle.” Otherwise know as the murky middle, the sagging middle, and the nebulous place. It’s not a fun place to be in, but it’s necessary.

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In the beginning of our lives, events, jobs, friendships, and challenges, everything has that fresh new smell. There’s excitement, adventure, maybe a bit of fear, and a whole lot of unknown. Our bodies are refreshed, motivated, and ready to take on the challenge. We’re excited about the prospects of what could be. When I came up with the idea for my newest novel, Neutral Abyss, on March 27th 2019, I plunged in with energetic gusto. No force could stop my beginning progress as I brimmed with ideas.

Then the middle hits. It’s the time we sputter. A mid-life crisis where we try to reinvent ourselves. We doubt our worth. It’s the middle of a pandemic or race-war where we don’t know which side is right or how to proceed. All roads lead to an event, but which should we take?

In case you didn’t read my opening sentence thoroughly, I’ll say it again: I finished my first draft. The story might be done, but I’m still in the beginning stages. I have a long road ahead of me. Stephen King, and other accomplished authors, recommend to let your manuscript lay dormant for at least 6 weeks before you tackle edits. Why 6 weeks? Well, the goal is to forget the details of your work so you can freely see any flaws. When we breathe, rest, and occupy our mind in other work, we can return to our projects and see their needs/wants/desires. When we immerse ourselves in the media, news stories, propaganda, and fleeting emotions, we can lose sight of how to change the situations we’re in.

Once time has passed, the editing begins. If I’ve done my beginning job well (and I think I have), this time won’t take too long. Maybe a few weeks. Then I give my manuscript to a few chosen trusted readers. I wait for their verdict. When they’re done, I’ll analyze their thoughts, and decide what changes are worth making. I can then choose to give my manuscript to more readers and make more edits, or rest assure my book is perfect. But I’m not done yet.

Life is full of choices. Some think the beginning is the hardest obstacle: deciding which story to tell. They would be right for certain cases. Too few are brave enough to take those initial steps. Even fewer make it out of the murky middle.

When a book is polished and ready to be published, there’s an enormous decision to make. Self publish or traditionally publish? Most writers dream about the latter. It’s a tough, long, yet rewarding road. But few make it to that finish line. Some opt for self publish from the start, others self publish as a cop-out.

Self publishing is not cheap. It’s hard and easy at the same time. Easy because the books are guaranteed to be published within a year’s time. Hard because writers spend thousands on book design, editing, printing, marketing, etc., while these books rarely (if ever) make it onto a bookstore shelf, but instead stay only online. It can be very rewarding for a tiny percentage of authors, but often times these books get lost in the crowd.

Traditionally published is a long, but often times rewarding road. Writers enter what’s called a literary agent’s “slush pile.” They craft an email (called a query) with info on their book, themselves, a few pages of their manuscript, and send this to as many literary agents as they desire. Then we wait. For months. Sometimes there’s rejection letters. Sometimes there’s no response. But If you’re work is good you’ll get requests for a full manuscript which could lead to a signed contract. Once a contract is signed, then the agent contacts publishers. If a publisher loves the book, a deal is agreed upon. The book goes through a series of edits, creative decisions, marketing strategies, etc. before FINALLY hitting the shelves and websites 1 – 2 years after the deal has been struck.

Only 1% of authors make it that far.

There are numerous avenues to give up along the way. You can tire at the first draft, editing stage, but most often times the query stage. This isn’t a career for the faint of heart. But neither are most stages of our lives.

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Crashing on the couch with my kitty.

We live in a world of uncertainty. Maneuvering through the slush-pile of media, news, fears, and multiple road choices. Quarantine/lock-down life appeared to be done, but now the rising covid cases are forcing restrictions once again. Riots continue on. And this year is only half over.

The odds might be stacked against us. The average number of rejections an author gets from literary agents range from 50 – 200. C.S. Lewis received 800 rejections!! It’s tempting to just give up, hide on the couch and eat cartons of chocolate ice cream. Escape to a tropical island and forget this falling world. Or waste our lives by venting on social media.

There’s an underlying theme in Neutral Abyss about not being bogged down by our past and present, but instead learning from them to change our future. It’s easy to get trapped in our hopeless present state. It’s just as easy to be overcome by how this country seems to be set on destroying our history. But how will dwelling in depression or anger on either circumstance bring us to a winning future?

Our country and society are stuck in a muddy middle. We hate rejection and opposition, so we’re consumed in a circle of fighting. The media says we’re living in “unprecedented times,” but all the events in 2020 have happened before: Civil War, Spanish Flu, Great Depression, Civil Rights Movement, Watergate, etc. to name a few extreme events. All of these circumstances in history came before changing tides. Stories that needed to come to completion before new ones could begin.

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 25Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. – 1 Corinthians 9:24-25

Don’t give up before you see the finish line.

My son, Riker, also accomplished something significant this month. His nearly 7-years of life has been an up and down battle with water. He was birthed in water. Took his first breath while laying on my chest, immersed in a warm water tub. He hated baths from the start. We took him to the beach as a toddler and he screamed the entire time. At 3 he loved playing in the sink, and finally enjoyed his baths. We took him to the beach again, and this time he played in the shallow waves. Ever cautious to not venture where the water touched his knees. He loved pools as he got older – as long as mama and dada were ever near to hang onto. We’d encourage him to swim, but he insisted on clinging to the side of the pool or our embrace. He’d venture to be brave, but took steps back when friends would splash or be too rough.

This year, I enrolled him in our community’s swim team. He was afraid. Cried on the first day. We encouraged him to try. To take the plunge. The coaches guided him every step of the way. He clung to them with death-grips.

And he paddled through the muddy middle. He didn’t give up. When we went to the pool for fun, I started to notice a change. Instead of playing on the edges or steps, he ventured toward the middle. He said he “was practicing.”

Then, one day I heard him tell a coach “I want to swim by myself.” I watched with pride as he kicked and glided past the middle and to the edge. We erupted in applause.

This weekend was the swim team’s first swim meet. Kids swam in various challenges to win ribbons and show off their skills. Riker swam. He SWAM. And he finished each event. He even took a first and second place win!

To me, finishing means to be successfully published. Traditionally published. To walk into a bookstore and see my novels on the bestseller shelves. To go on book tours, signing events, and continue writing multiple stories. That is my finish line, and I refuse to stop in this muddy middle.

What would have happened if we let Riker give up a few weeks ago when he complained about being in the water? He would never learn how to swim.

What would happen if I had stopped writing in the middle? My story would never be finished.

What would happen if I stop querying due to rejections? My books will never be published.

What would happen if we all finish what we set out to do? We’ll never know the end result until we FINISH.

Words of Hope

Kind words are like honey – sweet to the soul and healthy for the body. – Proverbs 16:24

My sweet little energetic boy is growing so fast. He’s loosing teeth, riding a bike, and most of the way through first grade. In the last few months he’s learned to add, subtract, create, read, write, and do more things on his own. I’ve watched him go from only being able to write his name to writing a whole story. Yes, just this week he concurred a new mile stone: writing his first whole story. It’s 4 pages long, has a beginning, middle, and end with a conflict and problem solution. I’m so proud!

This little toddler who used to sleep surrounded by stuffed animals, is now sleeping with several piles of his favorite books. And arranging his plush animals in reading positions too. Reminds me of my own childhood. I don’t remember a day when I wasn’t reading!

Books and words are my life. Now more than ever these days. When I chose to be a writer, I didn’t realize the hold it would have over me. My brain is constantly swimming with stories, scenarios, names, and words of all shapes and varieties.

With such a jumbled mess floating around, it’s sometimes difficult to choose which words are the most important to say or write. With billions of different combinations at our disposal, what is the right word for the right moment? Which phrases do I give the power to speak?

During this time of isolation, words have become one of the few things we have control over. And the avenues we say these words have grown tenfold, even from our homes: social media, phone conversations, live streams, videos, emails, messages, texts, blogs, etc. etc.

When we are face to face, we can let our body language do half the talking. Now – during this techno era and especially during quarantine – our social life has been stripped away. Words and pictures are all we have to communicate.

And our world is definitely trying to communicate! Breaking news is constantly interrupting our daily lives with depressing details, strangers on the internet are telling us how to live our lives, and everyone has an opinion on how to properly homeschool your kids and maintain a sane household.

With a world of billions and billions of words and phrases, there really are only two types of idioms: positive and negative. The optimist and the pessimist. The healing and the diseased.

10 Bible Verses On The Power Of Our Words

I’m not talking about fact or fiction. I’m talking about how the phrasing of a sentence, or collection of sentences, is received in your soul. You can give the same information and have a totally different outcome on how it affects you. Here’s an example:

School will be out for at least one month, probably the entire rest of of the school year. Get ready to have zero time to yourself, get nothing personal done, and go crazy with your loud and interrupting kids. Your spouse will still have work to do, so be prepared to do everything on your own.

Gosh, I became depressed just writing that. But I didn’t say anything false about our current situation, did I? School is out until April, at least, and I have zero time without Riker, while Andrew still goes to work and has very little energy to help when he’s at home. Why are these statements wrong to say? Well, let me put all those facts in a different way:

Summer vacation starts early this year. But don’t worry, your kid’s teacher is there to supply you with lots of activities to do with your kid for the first few months of vacation. Now you get to be hands-on in watching your child read, write, and do activities you would normally miss because they did it within a school building. You will suddenly have time to teach your kid to ride a bike, tie his shoes, and make sure he doesn’t eat the wrong things at lunch time. You no longer have to feel guilty about putting him in front of the tv so you can get some writing done, because he just spent the whole morning active with you! You will now have time to clean, to do some DIY projects, etc. And why not train your child to help with all of these activities? Yes, you might not get alone time, but maybe there’s a way to reschedule your day to make some of this time happen? Maybe there’s an art project you can put your kid on that will just give you 5 minutes at a time. Let’s be thankful for those 5 minutes instead of groaning about the hour(s) we lost! Be thankful your spouse still has a job to go to during this time. And if he/she gets laid off, let’s be thankful for the extra time we get to spend together, to get to know each other even more. This quarantine will NOT last forever. Say it with me: it WILL NOT LAST FOREVER. This is a vacation from busy life, so let’s make the most out of this extended time with our kids and spouse.

I could go on, but I hope you get where I’m coming from. It comes down to a choice: What words will we give power to?

The words we choose to listen to dictate how our days will end up. Will we sulk on the couch overcome with depression, anxiety, and lamenting over what we lost? Or will we see the time we gained, the opportunities around us, and the growth this could bring to our family?

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God uses words to create wellness. “For the word of God is living and active…” (Hebrews 4:12) Every miracle, every healing, every act of salvation has a common denominator: words. Put God’s words into action. These words take action and invoke power when we believe. There can be no deliverance and healing unless we act on God’s words.

The easiest thing right now is to be hard on ourselves and to be consumed in what little we can do. Start small: change someone’s life by offering a positive word. Just one. Give them hope. And tomorrow, that hope can become faith, and faith brings a reality of joy.

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See the source image

Hello. Blink. Good-bye.

2018 for me can be summed up in three words:

Hello.

Blink.

Good-bye.

I feel like it was just New Year’s Day. Andrew and I were talking fondly of 2017, and our many dreams for 2018. I thought my book would be signed this year for one. My novel, The Judas Killer, went through quite a journey in 2018, that’s for sure; fifteen rounds of edits, reached 79,000 words, eleven rejection letters, four interested agents who didn’t work out, but nowhere close to getting signed. Yet.

I’m ready to be done with The Judas Killer, honestly. I’m going to do one more read-through before it goes into the hands of an AMAZING professional editor, Kathy Ide, on February 10th. She’s going to line edit my work and hopefully provide several publishing connections with advice on moving forward.Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling, people standing

That is one of the best things to happen this year; meeting Kathy. I met her at the writer’s conference in Montrose, PA in late July. Her wisdom, talent, warm personality, and her willingness to spend hours talking with me was like a hug to my writing soul. I’m looking forward to placing my baby in her editing hands to see where it ends up. While she’s working on The Judas Killer, I’m finally going to start my sequel: Dark Rain!

Meanwhile, I’m halfway done writing a playwright entitled “Perfect Misery”. It will be performed by Rock Solid Academy students in May 2019!

That was really the only change in 2018; I have added job titles to my resume at Rock Solid Academy. Besides the Art Teacher, Theater Teacher, and part-time Office Manager, I added Business Manager to the list in July. It’s a lot of responsibility and stressful, but working with numbers come easy to me at least. Riker has started kindergarten there this year, so my extra duties provide more time to be in the same building as him. Kindergarten. How did that happen so fast?!?

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Here are some snapshots of my year:

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I created a possible book cover for my debut novel.

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And I created an author page on Facebook.

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I instructed two human video groups in the first half of the year, with the help of Julia Taylor!

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One of the teams made it to the final level, although they sadly couldn’t make it to Texas to compete. I’m confident they would have made the top ten in the country if they could have competed!

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We had a winter which refused to end (this pic was taken on April 5th).

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I co-chaperoned a senior trip to NYC.

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We remodeled our Kitchen. Hallelujah!

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I won a book pitch contest at the Montrose Writer’s Conference. Read about it here.

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Got to experience the Wyoming County fair for the first time with my best friend, Alison Treat, and our families.

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We vacationed in Ocean City, Maryland for the first time. Loved it!!

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I created another book tree. Isn’t she pretty? 🙂

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And we got to enjoy Christmas with my mom’s side of the family for the first time in a few years.

All in all, it was a good year. It wasn’t extremely eventful, but it was a blessed one. I’m thankful for the times shared with friends and family. For the relationships built and some new ones created. If you are reading this, you were most likely a part of my year, and I thank you for being a blessed part of my life.

God is good. Always. No matter what.

I can sense something on the horizon though. Can you feel it? I’ve felt it for a few weeks now; change is coming. We are currently praying for a few things that could alter our situation for the better drastically. I have a feeling big things are in store this year. I’ll keep you all informed once these events transpire.

In the meantime, may you all have a blessed and happy new year! May 2019 be the best year yet!! God Bless!

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Poem ~ Pearls

I’ve had quite the day today with a roller coaster of emotions.

Honestly, I’ve had an unusually heavy last few months. Whenever I’m feeling overwhelmed, my vent is in writing. More specifically: writing poetry. I penned (or typed) this poem just a couple of minutes ago. If it speaks to you, please let me know! If not, well at least I feel better from venting ;).

 

Pearls

Can’t breathe under countless glares

Lying empty from giving

All of me, but none of me

My true self lost to judging.

 

Pressure bares down on my soul

Will none understand my pain?

My pleasure lies in serving

Yet none accept my true gain

 

All they see are order rules

How dare I give my lifeline

My talents must match their own

Throwing my pearls before swine.

 

Hopeless to please human kind

My soul finds freedom above

There’s one who holds my pearls close

My gifts are His righteous love.

 

10 Things To Tell You

Life’s been just shy of mayhem at the Kudey cottage the past two months. You can tell how busy I am by the stack of unread books on my table collecting dust and the hours building up of unwatched TV shows in my DVR. Hopefully, I can catch a moment to watch last night’s This Is Us episode at least…

Riker turned 5, started kindergarten at Rock Solid Academy, and has been making us beam with pride.

Andrew has been busy writing and creating promotional videos for the Hope Center (a free medical/dental/chiropractic clinic he volunteers at twice a week).

I finished the 13th edit to my novel, reached 76,000 words (wow), and I got promoted to business manager (and remained the art teacher) at Rock Solid Academy. 🙂

Andrew and I also started going to a marriage Bible study at our friend’s home each week. This new event brings us together through the fog. It’s so important to just take time to breathe together in all the craziness. We need time to reflect, talk, be still, or just sit.

That’s one reason I chose to have a bit of fun by joining an event that took place on Instagram last week. There was a hashtag event called #10thingstotell you. I found out about it through my best friend, Alison, who posted this pic on her story:

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For those who don’t have Instagram, or don’t follow me (@laurakudey), I thought it’d be fun to show you my answers to these questions! I enjoyed answering them, I hope you’ll enjoy reading them. 🙂

Image may contain: one or more people and people sitting  Day 1.

I grew up… wanting to escape my life and just live in the pages of one of my books. I was ALWAYS reading.
(Picture is from 11 years ago now. Reading The Road by Cormac McCarthy. I was 20. Wow.)
I entered the worlds of Jane Austen, Dickens, Tolkien, Lewis, Dekker, Carroll, McCarthy, Wells, Twain, Hemmingway, etc. and never wanted to let them go!

Now that I’m a wife, mom, writer, artist, teacher, and business manager, I sadly find too little time to escape into my lovely books. But, maybe it’s because my life is so much better now that I don’t feel the need to “escape”? Let’s go with that 😉. I’m still forever a book geek!!

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Day 2 in #10thingstotellyou
Someone who has influenced me more than anyone else is my husband. Wow, God knew what He was doing when He brought the two of us together.
We are opposites, yet we come together on all the things that matter the most.
It was through Andrew’s influence, I finally shed the old feelings, jobs, and condemnation that didn’t belong in my life anymore.
During my bouts of depression, Andrew has encouraged, strengthened, and caused me to grow. His undying spiritual strength is continually inspiring me to strengthen my own walk with Christ.
He might have a hard time understanding my crazy writer mind, but he tries every day to pull that creativity out of me. He’s my cheerleader, knight, advocate, guide, and comforter. He always wants the best for me & this causes me to try to do my best!

20170904_133600 Day 3.

A thing that changed my worldview was the week I lost my grandfather… He died on December 1st, 2008. I was so broken up by his death, I didn’t even want to go to his funeral. I chose to stay home in PA, while the rest of my family left for Nashville, TN.
The next day, I left for church and chose to drive WAY past the speed limit on our back roads. I was late, careless, and not in my right mind. I hit black ice going around a curve, and fishtailed into a tree. My car was totaled.
Once my car was driven to a repair shop, I had no way to leave my house while my family was in Nashville for 3 days.

In those 3 days I mourned, hit rock bottom, and read my Bible. I cried out to God like I never had before. In the next two months, I went through a complete mind change. That week made me realize life is fragile; I didn’t know what the future holds, so I needed to live to my fullest. God was preparing me for the following March, when I met Andrew.

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I am strangely good at…
Some pretty “strange” things, because, well, I don’t like being normal…
Distracting myself by my cats, when I should be writing or doing housework.
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Strategizing and winning difficult board games. This torments my board game aholic husband to no end. 😅
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Recognizing a celebrity in a TV show or movie IMMEDIATELY, even if they are 20 years younger/old, 50 lbs fatter/skinnier, or have a different hairdo from the show/movie I know them from. YET, I can’t recognize people in real life most of the time 😓
And on that note…
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I’m strangely good at getting someone’s name wrong!
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Getting lost in researching something for hours.
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Problem solving. I refuse to have any open issues! If I do, I drive myself crazy trying to figure out a solution because I believe everything has an answer.
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Saying yes to too many things.
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Last, but not least… bruising my legs by tripping over the most random things.

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, standing and outdoor Day 5:

I have mixed feelings about… living in Pennsylvania.
On the one hand, most of our friends & family live here. On the other hand, there’s too much snow, bad roads, and no beach. 🤔

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A defining moment in my life was when our son, Riker Gabriel was born.
When I was 5 years old I said “When I grow up, I want to be a mommy and a Christian.” I can proudly say that I am both 😉.
Now, Riker is 5 and he wants to grow up to be spiderman. 😂😂😅

In the months of trying to get pregnant, God showed me His unfathomable grace. It wasn’t until I stopped relying on myself, did Riker enter our lives.

When I was only 2 days pregnant (yup, a test would confirm this event 2 weeks later), my pastor told me I was pregnant & there was joy growing inside me. Boy, was he right!

God has great plans for our little leader. Can’t wait to see his journey unfold!

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A recent discovery I can’t stop talking about… the wonderful “Writer’s Twitter World”!
There is an amazing world on Twitter & it is run by the writing community!!
I joined in October & I still seem to bring it up all the time. I found all of my critique partners, a beta reader, editor, countless writing friends, and loads of writing advice & support in this community.

Regular Twitter = kinda boring.

Writing World Twitter = priceless.

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Something I’m struggling with right now is… trying to do everything I want/need to do without going crazy.
I’m a wife, mother, writer, art teacher, business manager to a private school, fine arts human video (acting to music) instructor and evaluator, I volunteer for various functions at my church, and I’m trying to get back into playing flute after a 1 year break. All of these activities could be a full time job in itself.
I enjoy being busy, however, life is suffocating me lately. I really want to have the stamina & time to give each job its proper amount of passion (especially being a wife & mother) & I want to be able to do other things like blogging, start a youtube channel or podcast, write more, read more, etc. Praying for God’s guidance to balance my always full schedule!

 

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My magical reset button is…
A trip to the beach! Any beach. As long as it has sand, sun, water, and preferably waves, I’m magically refreshed!
I’m currently enjoying Ocean City, Maryland, and I feel like I can conquer the world when I get home! 😎

 

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In three months, will you ask me…
If I had any success in December #pitchmad with finding an agent for my book. And if I’m ready for Christmas. Hopefully, I’ll ecstatically say yes to both questions! 🤩😅

 

And now we come to the end. Hope you enjoyed this edition of “10 things to tell you”. Until next time… hope you all take a chance to breathe, enjoy life, and have a blessed day in the sun! 🙂

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Pinch Me, Please!

There are days I could just pinch myself. Last week held four of those days right in a row.

The intoxicating aroma of books, and being in the company of writers of said books had me souring to new levels. The adrenaline high caused from being around so many amazing people fed my social-hungry soul. My mind is still in a fog from the wealth of information swimming in it, although my energy level crashed and burned already.

These four days were spent at the Montrose Christian Writer’s Conference, where seventy other writers, authors and aspiring authors gathered with one common goal: to learn and get their works published! Boy, did I achieve the first half with flying colors!! WOW! After last week, I know how to market better, research more effectively, write cleaner, start my novel with more of a punch, appeal to more agents, and make a perfect pitch!

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The three amigo carpoolers! This week became extra fun with these driving buddies!

If you follow me on any social media, then you’ve already heard a little bit about this said pitch. We were tasked to create an “elevator pitch” to present to a panel of three judges (two agents & one acquisitions editor). They judged us on presentation, hitting all the needed points, holding their attention, etc.

What is an elevator pitch? Well, it’s a proposal delivered in about one minute. It must be concise, have a compelling hook, and identify a target audience. It’s quite the challenge to create! My friends and I obsessed over ours up until the last second.

Twelve of us presented our works, and the competition was fierce! There were fantasy writers, non-fiction, children’s books, historical fiction, and someone even presented theirs in the form of an original song!

I presented second to last. I knew that this was a make-it, or break-it, moment. Here was my result:

A serial killer is on the loose, terrorizing an old Pennsylvania town, when an aspiring pub singer finds herself entangled in the killer’s sights and a filthy past threatens to destroy everything she thought was true.
She discovers the hanged body of her brother, the victim of this killer who targets those with dark secrets and strings them up like Judas.
My adult psychological novel, The Judas Killer, reveals Loralie’s search for trust and truth in a world consumed in deception. Is she fated to become the very evil she is running from?

My tone came out creepy and powerful. It wasn’t presented in the most colorful way, but I gave it every ounce of drama background in my soul. I sat down with confidence in my work, and thought there might be a slim chance I could make third place. One could dream.

They started calling the winners. My best friend, Alison, placed in third. We cheered for joy!

Second place went to the talented girl who wrote the song. I thought there had to be a mistake because I thought she would win. Who could possibly place first now? Perhaps the children’s book writer with the catchy phrases, or the writers who dressed as their characters, or the teen writer who had my wanting her book, or…

“The winner is Laura Kudey!”

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My jaw dropped to the floor. This moment was real no matter how many times I pinched myself.

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Earlier in the week I had met with a highly esteemed Christian agent named Bob Hostetler. He was one of several one-on-one critiques I took advantage of during my conference week. During my fifteen-minutes with Bob I got the sense he just didn’t get me or my work. He gave me amazing advice about upping my word count, simplifying my genre, and fine-tuning my writing, but he didn’t seem interested in representing me. At the time, I walked away defeated because I had high hopes of working with him.

However, after this pitch night (where he was one of the judges) I had a chance to ask him if my pitch made him want to represent me. He enthusiastically answered yes, most definitely! He then proceeded to give me valuable advice in writing my proposal, and marketing myself. He encouraged me to try selling my book to the general market, but if I decide to sell to the christian fiction market he’ll be my first choice. Another pinch-able moment.

My favorite person though of the week is an exceptional editor named Kathy Ide. Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling, people standing

She and I had an instant bond and chemistry! She understands my voice, is absolutely intrigued with the opening lines of my book, and with her help will provide a pathway for my book getting published! You’re going to hear a lot more about her in the future because I’m hiring her to make “The Judas Killer” shine! She’s also trying to get me to come out to California to attend one of the writer’s conferences she directs out there. With God’s guidance, it might just happen… Pinch me please!

The week crammed in multiple classes with an over-whelming amount of advice and information. Some of my favorite classes were taught by the lovely Cindy Sproles:

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She also wants my book for the publishing company she works for!! Unfortunately, this company might not meet my needs, but I’m still overjoyed and flattered. 🙂

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The panel of speakers advised us the prose and cons of Indie vs Traditional Publishing

 

The best take-away from this incredible week though are the multiple writer friends I made and the relationships that became even stronger. Love these girls!!

 

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As great as this week was, I also learned how much more work I need to do before my book is ready. I still have a long, hard road ahead which includes adding another 15,000+ words (yow!), and going through two editors. Unfortunately, my second editor (Kathy Ide) is booked six months out. This means I can’t even search for my agent until spring. I have my work cut out for me, but my future is growing brighter! This journey might take longer than I original imagined, but my next pinch-able moment will be here before I know it. 😉