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!!

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.

The Fear of Success

When I was 20, I went to Culinary school in NYC. I loved it. The city was big, bustling, daunting, yet beautiful. I was on my own for the first time in my life, free to make my own choices, and free to succeed or fail. I’d made it through the entire program with flying colors and was now interning at two top vegan restaurants in the upper east side of the city. During my last week of internship the head chef asked me a question. How would I like to be their head pastry chef? The pay was fantastic and the opportunity unmatched. But all I could think about was the comfort and safety of my home in Pennsylvania.

Why are so many of us afraid of success?

I’ve been asking myself this a lot lately, especially as I get closer and closer to my publishing goals and I see my dreams within my grasp. This is when the doubts set in the most.

Psychology Today has this to say about this subject: “People who have experienced trauma may associate the excitement of success with the same physiological reactions as trauma. They avoid subjecting themselves to excitement-inducing circumstances, which causes them to be almost phobic about success. There is another layer to the fear of success. Many of us have been conditioned to believe that the road to success involves risks such as “getting one’s hopes up” — which threatens to lead to disappointment. And many of us — especially if we’ve been subject to verbal abuse — have been told we were losers our whole lives, in one way or another. We have internalized that feedback and feel that we don’t deserve success.”

I know no less than a dozen people that admit to suffering from this condition. Are you one of them?

I’ve often been at the mercy of the fear of failure, which is actually closely associated with the fear of success. Society has painted the idea that we can’t have one over the other. I’m afraid that all my hard work will be wasted. Afraid that people won’t understand me and thus reject my work (and me). Afraid that I’m not good enough. And yes, afraid that once I succeed, it won’t be as grand as I imagined.

But I’ve always wanted to succeed. I want to be a New York Times best selling author, a movie/theater star/writer/director, someone who makes a real difference, and a household name. Does that sound selfish? To be honest, many people have told me it is.

Interesting.

Am I conditioned to believe I’m a loser?

I think I have been. I’ve been told by strangers, the media, pastors (yup, you read that right), and even friends and family that I should prepare for failures because success might never come. Success is selfish. I’ve been told this so much that I didn’t even fathom the results this “conditioning” had brought me.

Have you heard of the book “The Prayer of Jabez?” It’s based on this Bible verse:

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Jabez called upon the God of Israel, saying, “Oh that you would bless me and enlarge my border, and that your hand might be with me, and that you would keep me from harm so that it might not bring me pain!” And God granted what he asked. ~ 1 Chronicles 4:10

Try replacing Jabez with your name in the verse above, and exchange the word boarder with your own career, dreams, family, etc.. That means that whatever you pray for, God just granted your request.

Picture it. Whatever your dream is, it just came true to it’s fullest extent: you’re the top of your field, the best of the best, and EVERYONE knows who you are.

Do you feel anxiety creeping over you? Do you feel completely undeserving of this reward? Are you worried about how this sudden success will affect those around you, yourself, and your future? Are you wondering what’s the catch because this sounds too good to be true?

If you said yes, or even maybe, you might be conditioned too.

Let me see if I can change our loser mindsets, or at least try to steer us in the right direction.

Beloved, I pray that in all respects you may prosper and be in good health, just as your soul prospers. ~ 3 John 1:2

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. ~ Jeremiah 29:11

Yes, God is more than ready to overwhelm you with every form of grace, so that you will have more than enough of everything—every moment and in every way. He will make you overflow with abundance in every good thing you do. ~ 2 Corinthians 9:8

Are you sensing a pattern here? I think God might be trying to tell us something. Here’s my favorite verse:

Delight yourself in the LORD; And He will give you the desires of your heart. ~ Psalms 37:4

I’m sensing that God WANTS us to succeed. As long as we include Him in the process.

I was a different person at 20. After saying no to that job in NYC, I went back to live with my parents, made pennies for the next several years, and regretted my decision of not taking that risk. But then again, I never included God in the decision to stay in NYC or not. I wasn’t a strong believer then, so I’ll never know if it was a risk He wanted me to take. All I know is that my fear caused two long years of failures before I FINALLY asked God what He wanted from me.

He showed me Psalms 37:4, and my life changed forever: I met Andrew two months later.

I tried for years to make culinary work for me. It was safe after all. But I constantly felt like I wasn’t making a difference. In my heart I knew God had more for me. Then when I FINALLY gave that over to God, He showed me writing. Writing is far from safe. There’s an infinite chance of failure. In fact, you could argue that all of my past careers have failed, so why should this one be any different? Why should I hope to succeed? Why do I think I deserve to succeed? And if I succeed, won’t there be a catch? Won’t success ultimately bring failures with it?

My answer: But God.

What I mean is this:

Laura called upon the God of Israel, saying, “Oh that you would bless me and enlarge my writing career, expand my influence, and that your hand might be with me, and that you would keep me from harm so that it might not bring me pain!” And God granted what Laura asked.

What are your thoughts? I’d love to hear what you think on this subject of success, failure, and the path to our future dreams coming true.

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Following the Leader

Five years ago, God laid on our hearts that He wanted us to move. We didn’t know where or when, but we felt the pull south.

It feels like such a lifetime ago. We were so different, so young, so naive, and so full of dreams of possibilities. Yet, we somehow knew our future would hold something neither of us were currently expecting.

God first put the idea into Andrew’s mind during a trip to Tennessee, with the question “what if we moved?” I responded “maybe so.”

The idea would roller coaster over the next few years, get hidden under a mountain of work or try to be forgotten when having fun with friends and family. But God kept bringing it to the forefront of our minds when we’d least expect it. Usually during a snow storm, to be honest. Other times it happened when my work flourished, activities abounded, and we couldn’t be happier in our current lifestyle. But still God knocked on our hearts.

We first looked at Cleveland, Tennessee. Toured a few houses even, but knew it wasn’t right. The idea laid low for a few years, until almost forgotten. In 2016, we wanted to go to a new state on vacation. We almost went to Colorado, then Michigan, but ultimately we found Greenville, South Carolina in a Pinterest search. Yeah, I’m a Pinterest junkie. The more we researched this area, the more we got excited for our vacation. Then, about one month before we went, Andrew said “what if we moved there?” I laughed and said “maybe so.”

On Liberty Bridge in the heart of Greenville, South Carolina

We spent a glorious week in that city/area, fell in love with it, made a few friends, and dreamed of possibilities. Then we returned to PA to enjoy the friends and family at home, but didn’t forget our experiences in Greenville.

The next winter was hard, and we talked about leaving the snow. But South Carolina sounded too far away. Maybe we should look a bit closer? We considered Maryland for a long time, and thought of Delaware for a hot minute. But all the while, we compared everywhere we went, to Greenville, South Carolina.

During these months and years, we only saw these moves as dreams. There was even a job opportunity that arose fall of 2018, and I told Andrew to turn it down. There’s too much for us in Pennsylvania, I said. How could we even begin to think of leaving our amazing friends and family? Sure, we hated this northern weather, but it’s all we’ve ever known. Dreaming is one thing, acting on it is quite another.

This year is when it all changed. It started with the Nativity performance in December 2018. I played Mary, and greatly enjoyed this annual role. During the final performance on Sunday night I felt God’s presence flow through me. It became a worship song, and I talked to Him as I sang. I heard Him say to me, this would be the last time I’d play Mary and perform in this Nativity. I sat down to a hushed crowd. The man playing Joseph leaned over to me and said “That was your best performance yet, I could feel the Holy Spirit. No one clapped because they were just too stunned.” We laughed, but I felt the same way. And I wondered if this would be the year everything changed.

In February, it was Andrew’s turn to proclaim he no longer wanted to move. Life was too good up north. I agreed we had a lot to live for in Northeast Pennsylvania, but I mourned the loss of our fun dream. Because I had never truly stopped hoping for it “one day.” And I wondered why God told me that bit in December, if we weren’t going to move after all?

In April, Andrew had again had enough of our long winter and said maybe we could move one day. I laughed in agreement. And we searched online for grace-filled churches in South Carolina. It was done in curiosity, but we stumbled on one called “Real Life” that intrigued us. I listened to their Easter message as I painted the props for the school play I wrote/directed/designed. And immediately felt like I has hearing a missing piece to our puzzle. That’s the best I can describe the warm feeling settling into my heart.

In June, school was out for the summer, and two jobs in Charleston, South Carolina came to the surface. Both looked promising, but both fell through.

In July, I quit my job at Rock Solid Academy just weeks before it closed its doors. I suddenly had nothing but my writing to fill my work days.

August is when it all truly came together. We could no longer ignore the pushes from God. It was like we were being propelled into our future path. Our destiny. We had no control, we just knew the steps mere hours/days before they happened. To quote Pride and Prejudice “I was in the middle before I even knew that I had begun.”

We spent a week down in Greenville. We called it our “test week.” We were testing God to see if this was really where He wanted us. EVERYDAY held a miracle or a step forward, that entire week. Zero closed doors, only open ones with flashing lights and lit arrows lined our path. Andrew had only one job interview, but he only needed one. We made friends, connections, found our future neighborhood, found multiple places where we fit in like a missing puzzle piece, and were told my multiple people – strangers – they’ve “been praying for us,” etc. etc. etc.

Jones Gap State Park, an hour north of Greenville.

We drove back to Pennsylvania with heads swimming and hearts torn. How could we feel so connected to a place so quickly? How could we even begin to tell our family and friends? How could we explain to them that it had nothing to do with Pennsylvania, but EVERYTHING to do with Greenville? God had shown us a glimpse of our future, and we couldn’t say no. We didn’t WANT to say no.

We waited 2 long months for things to finalize with Andrew’s new job. Meanwhile, our prayer life grew stronger. We listed our home, and prayed that regardless of the slow real estate time of year, we’d have a bidding war and sell quickly. It sat for a week and a half. Our prayer life grew. We suddenly got a bidding war of 3 offers. Our house sold to a beautiful family from Texas who is moving to be a part of the Tim Tebow foundation. It must have been waiting for them.

We drove once again to Greenville to pick out our home. We say a dozen homes, but in the end only one was perfect. It was listed just above our price range. We put in our offer and prayed. God came through once again, and we got it at the perfect price.

Things seemed to finally be moving smoothly. We hurdled over a few inspections on both our current home & our future home. Family took it hard, but God still continued to move. The weeks blurred and we were suddenly only 3 weeks from our closing date. It was starting to feel surreal, this dream was finally going to happen….

That’s when my cancer scare happened. It was a difficult time. My surgery robbed me of energy and the ability to lift anything heavy during the weeks surrounding our cross-country moving process. But we didn’t let that bump in the road stop our God-given dreams from coming to fruition.

You see, dreams are never easy to accomplish. If they were, I believe more people would be living in overwhelming joy. But we had gotten tastes of this joy throughout the years. And it only made us hungry for more. When the obstacles came in the form of sickness, finances, disagreements, and questions. It only made us ask God what it all meant. And we heard His voice in our hearts saying “GO!”

So we left. 4 days before Christmas. In 16 degree weather. We drove 11 hours, shedding our coats, gloves, and scarves along the way. We exited in the mid 50s to our new home.

We’ve been here for a month now. We’re making new friends, growing in our new church, Riker is settling in to his amazing school, Andrew loves his new job, I’m relishing in all this inspiring writing time in my new favorite coffee shop, we feel like royalty in our beautiful house that we’re customizing to our desires, enjoying the endless warmth and sunshine, and I learned last week that I’m cancer free!!!!! Praise God!!

I honestly don’t know what the future holds. I do know that we are where we are meant to be, and that our dreams are happening before our eyes. I believe that I’m only days away from FINALLY getting published, getting back into drama/acting, picking up my flute once again, and whatever else God wants me to do with my talents. It feels so surreal. It’s like a lifetime has passed, yet I’m a newborn child. This is our new chapter, but in the same book. New beginning, with the same characters. We’ve awoken to a world of our dreams. And there’s nothing but joy when we follow our great Leader. He knows exactly where He’s taking us.

Desiring Weird

I’ve come to a revelation this month. It’s not a brand new idea for my mind. In fact, if you’re a friend of mine you’ve probably heard me say this before: I’m weird. i.e. unnatural, odd, bizarrre, freaky, unearthly, and not normal.

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I’m not a shy person – goodness, no! – so I’m not afraid to speak my mind. I’ve never been afraid to say how different I am.

I grew up vegan before it was cool = different.

I’m an extrovert writer = different.

I enjoy being a girly tomboy = different.

I love the city just as much as the country, and believe I can live in both at the same time = different.

I love cutthroat gory horror movies and books just as much as calm British romances = different (anyone who likes Pride and Prejudice and Zombies would get me! lol)

I’m a feminist/conservative/pro-life/love everyone person who HATES politics = kinda different.

I could continue, but I think you get the idea.

It sounds like I don’t care what people think, right? If you think that, then I must sadly correct you. I’m consumed with being a people pleaser, I always have been.

Surprised? You shouldn’t be. I’m tormented by this affliction! Believe it, or not, I’ve changed life events, sacrificed my desires, and manipulated my view-points to conform to what I believed people wanted from me.

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Because of this, I hit a life crisis at 30. I had no idea who I was or who I was meant to be! I’m sure I’m not the only one either.

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How often do you stop yourself from making a decision until you’ve talked about it with 1 – 20 people? The number of people you ask depends on how important the decision is. (i.e. What to wear on a date = 1 to 3 people. Should I change my hair style = 5 to 10 people. I’m thinking of becoming an actress, is this a good idea = 10 to 100 people) How often do you change said decision based on the responses you get? If it’s more than twice, then you just might be a people pleaser too.

It’s good to get advice. Especially if it’s from someone with experience on the subject. But we should weigh even these words with our own desires. Advice should challenge you to be better, not change the foundation of who you are to conform to what someone else thinks you should be.

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All this is to back up the importance of my revelation. The message God has been hammering into my head from the day I dressed and danced like Fred Astaire to a Carmen song, at the age of 7, while my sister played Ginger Rogers, in front of company we hardly knew, until this very moment: stop using “I’m weird” as an excuse if people don’t like you. Instead, DESIRE to be weird.

When you search the definition of weird in BING, the noun definition is “a person’s destiny.” It is our destiny to stand out, go against the flow, be different, be YOU!

God gave me an idea for a new novel back in late March of this year. The theme is this message. (It is better to be unique, then all the same) At first I was excited about it. The story is something unlike anything I’ve ever written or even heard about. But after I wrote the first 2 chapters, I became afraid of the backlash I might receive from the details coming out. What would people think? Is this too far left for my Christian friends? Is this too far right for my liberal friends? Would it be impossible to get published? Can this HUGE book even be coherently achieved??

I let these questions stop the ideas flowing, and left my book stale for months. Until last week. Until I realized my desire for the impossible.

No breakthrough in history happened from people playing it safe. We remember Picasso because he invent Cubism, not because he continued to paint realism like his art school taught him. We remember Thomas Edison because he invented the light bulb on the 2,001st try, not because he believed the society calling it impossible. All through school we desire to be “normal” and “fit in,” but do we remember anyone who was just normal, or do we instead recall the nerds, weirdos, and those who actually did something with themselves?

I don’t know if my novels will ever be read by the masses. I don’t know if this new novel will change the world as we know it. But, dang it, I’m going to be weird and try!!!

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Changes Bring New Life

When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves. – Viktor E. Frankl

Wow, that quote hits me square in the forehead. It pretty much sums up the last two months of my life.

My life situation has changed beyond my control. I’m incapable of stopping the catapults being thrown at me, the doors closing, and the never-ending waiting of opportunities to open. And this adventure has just begun.

The major door to close was my job. It literally closed. The school I worked for as an art teacher, theater director/writer/teacher, business manager, and substitute office manager (yeah, I had a lot of hats there), officially closed its doors this summer. Permanently.

My last day on the job was mid-July, but it hasn’t stopped weighing on my mind and heart. I was there for 3 years, and had grown accustomed to the hustle and bustle of a small private school. The opportunities, memories, friends, and life-changing experiences will stick with me for the rest of my life.

It’s because of Rock Solid Academy that my love of writing is rekindled. They needed a play, and I excitedly wrote one, stage designed, and directed it. Twice. The first time with loads of help, the second time with virtually no help until I was blessed beyond measure from multiple friends during the performance week. Writing these plays inspired me to pick my unfinished novel back up, and finish it. And begin to write more. And more.

It’s because of Rock Solid Academy that my intense love of art was rekindled. My good friend Lauren, the principal at the time, gave me a chance as the new art teacher. She knew I was an artist, but I had minimal teaching experience. I’d only drawn and painted for fun, except of the cake art in my previous culinary business. Through lesson planning and working with talented young artists, my love for all things art grew to new depths. Today I have a greater understanding of the craft, history, and a more polished skill to take my own pieces to the next level. And I’m suddenly not afraid to tackle a new art project. More on that in a minute.

Rock Solid’s closing brought a change that I had wanted for months, but sooner than I expected it: the ability to be a full-time writer/artist. WOW. I get to live a dream! I suddenly have the time to write, paint, edit, create, research, read, draw, brainstorm, etc. etc. I even have the time to edit my website (yay!), and start a YouTube channel (double yay!). I should be happy during this exciting time. Unfortunately, I’m not making a single dime. YET.

There’s also another change happening that I can’t really get into yet. The reason being is that we just don’t know what will happen there, and I don’t want to get ahead of myself. We’re in the waiting period. This change could possibly be a big one, affecting the rest of our lives. (no, it doesn’t relate to more kids, stop asking! lol) But the wait has been no less than agonizing. The unknown is a difficult place to stall in. We’re forced to live by faith, not by sight.

I had no power to change the situation of being jobless. No power to keep a school going that was not only a home for me, but also to my son, Riker. There will be a big change for him in a new school this year too. But in this change, I’ve been challenged to change myself.

When you’re stuck at home, alone with your thoughts and an over-energetic 6 year old, you’re forced to reevaluate yourself. I battled with a depression I thought was behind me, my self-esteem plummeted, but my prayer life grew. I hit rock-bottom two weeks ago where I just couldn’t stop crying out in frustration. This week has finally been a turning point where I came to a revelation.

I was reminded of another similar time in my life over 10 years ago. The winter of 2009. I’d just lost my Grandfather, I’d gotten into my first car accident, I was evaluating my job life, felt stuck at home because I made so little money, and I was crying out to God asking why I was still single. In that time, God brought me to Psalms 37:4 “Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.”

I realized that I wasn’t in control of my life, and if I tried to be in charge then I was always doomed to failure. I needed to give the reigns over to Christ, and just let His joy flow through me. I needed to rest – to delight – myself in Him completely. To trust He had my best interest in mind. Always. It was that very spring. March 2009. That I met and fell in love with Andrew. My business skyrocketed. But more importantly, my joy in my Savior plateaued to a new level.

This is the turning point I’ve been going through again. New trials that are challenging me to grow deeper in joy and rest in the One who has me in the palm of His mighty hand.

This summer has already brought new life in me, and I personally can’t wait to see the breakthroughs that are just a breath away!

As I wait for an agent to excitedly snag my debut novel, The Judas Killer, God has been giving me ideas for children’s picture books! Who would have guessed?! The one closest to being done is called Mona’s Masterpiece. And for the first time in my life, I’m not afraid to draw people. Wow. If I can draw people, then look out world; NOTHING can stop me now!

What changes are you going through in your life? Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments. I’d love to know I’m not the only one going through a life change! 🙂

Short Story: Two Rules

Stories are my life. Not a day goes by where I’m not considering a new book, revising a plot, digging deeper into a character’s backstory, imagining a distant world, or creating something totally different.

My usual creations are novels, plays, or poetry. It’s been years since I dabbled in the art of short stories. I dusted off this part of my brain when I decided to enter a short story contest with the prompt “I have two basic rules.” Although I didn’t win, I still got the privilege to read my writing. The image is of me reading this story to a captivated audience at the Rutgers Writing Conference.

It won’t surprise many of you that I’ve chosen to write on the dark side. I took inspiration from Stephen King’s rules on writing from his book On Writing. If you’ve never read it here’s a link to another blog stating the rules: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/blog/stephen-kings-top-20-rules-for-writers/ scroll down to rule #17, read it, then enjoy my creepy story…

My Two Rules

By Laura Gibson Kudey

The room smells of alcohol and ammonia. Two similar scents to the untrained nose; one pungent, the other a sweeter sensation. Both tantalize my nostrils with a burning thrill as a deep inhale transports me into a comforting trance.

“I suppose you are all wondering why I brought you here.” I fold my hands behind me and weave around the tables and chairs. The air conditioner whirrs to life, and the beads of condensation on Dr. Anderson’s forehead quiver. The slim middle-aged man scrunches his face and mumbles a prayer under his breath.

“I find myself with an impossible deadline; six weeks to write my sequel. I expect you all to be just as cooperative as the last bunch.” I raise my finger to the curvy woman to my right. “And don’t you worry, Matilda, I remember the promise I made.”

My heels clip along the concrete floor and echo across the plastered walls. Pearl-white paint peels along the ceiling tiles. A short man to my left tries to rise to a sitting position. I grasp his pale shoulder and press him back into place.

“The rules of my process remain the same.”

The man’s elbow thumps against the hard metal. “P-p-lease –”

My neck cracks as it twirls toward him. “Don’t interrupt me, Mr. Keen.”

He whimpers in submission. The vents quiet. The room stills.

“As I was saying, my two basic rules remain unchanged.” I open my laptop. The screensaver flashes a picture of Stephen King standing in front of Paul Cezanne’s “Still Life with Skull” painting before revealing a blank document.

“Rule number one: to start, all my characters, my precious darlings, must be alive in one room.”

“Wha-what about her, then?” Mr. Keen gestures to Matilda with a shivering hand. She lies silent and flat on her metal table.

“There are exceptions to every rule, Mr. Keen. She’s my returning character. Act your part well, and you too might be so lucky.”

The short man, Alexander, raises his head. “What did you promise her?”

All six figures cast their eyes on me. I take in the attention of the moment. They are all at the mercy of the master writer, waiting with bated breath for me to write their story.

“I promised I’d grant her last request and give you the courtesy of revealing my second rule before we begin. She swore knowledge would make the process smoother.”

I can see the book unfolding before my eyes. A cast of characters finds themselves trapped in a morgue. The antagonist gives them one mission; to discover the identity of the protagonist. The winner returns for the sequel. At least in body.

The family of six wrestles with the shackles on their wrists and ankles. Three brothers, two wives, and their old man, all looking from the corpse of their mother and wife to the creator of her story.

“Rule number two: in the end, kill all my darlings.”

The Theater, The Theater

The stage has followed me since the age of seven. I was selected to star in a Christmas church play, in a production called “It’s the Truth Ruth” as the character of Ruth. I can still sing my catchy solo in my head when I hear that title. Those were the days; when people didn’t care that you were horribly off-key because you were only seven. Or at least they were nice enough not to tell you.

I wish I had pictures of that performance. You’d laugh at the sight of the fourteen-year-old who was three times my size yet cast to play my husband. He had to squat or bend down the entire length of the musical. Even Mary and Joseph towered over me. I looked like a midget, but I didn’t freak’n care because I found my first love; the stage!

I’d spend the next nine years saying I wanted to be an actress. There weren’t many opportunities for a homeschooler to act, but I took every opportunity that came to me. The best option came in the form of “human video”. This is a popular skit hybrid in the Assembly of God church, where performers act to a song instead of using their own voices.

Human Video
I’m the girl in the center pretending to be Mary 🙂

I’d also take an improve and acting course at the Bloomsburg theater school during my senior year of high school. But, I’d ultimately choose to go to culinary school in NYC instead of pursuing acting as a career.

I’d find opportunities to perform at our church, and I’d have fun with it, but it was never enough to quench my thirst for the stage.

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Playing Mary at BMHA’s “The Gift”

playing mary with patty
Two years in a row

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Playing an interrogating detective in a good Friday play

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Playing Mary at Clarks Green Assembly for the past 2 years … I think this role is following me 😉

 

Then I got a job at Rock Solid Academy as an art and theater teacher. I loved it (still do)!

The principal at the time had a desire to have the school put on a performance of The Sound of Music and asked if I could undertake it. I excitedly agreed, but after researching the cost of the rights we quickly realized a private school could not afford such an astronomical number.

Then an idea crept into me head; I could write a play. In fact, I could use The Sound of Music story as a rough template. Why not? The writing bug had already bitten me a couple of years prior when I’d began The Judas Killer (it was only half complete at this time and existed as a totally different story). The only written work I had completed before this date had been poems and blog posts, but I still somehow knew it was what I was meant to do.

So, I dove in head first. And you know what? It actually came easy to me. I adored writing. I used The Sound of Music as inspiration and I twisted in my own experiences, family history, quips of humor, the story of Esther, and a salvation message. Once it was done, it was onto casting, stage designing, helping direct with our director (and fellow teacher) Tara DiMarco, and completing all the other intricacies which go into producing a musical.

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I hand painted the backdrops. I simply had to add a touch of Van Gogh! 😉

I called it “The Sound of Praise”. It had a cast of over 20 kids from grades 3 – 12, with seven songs, two acts, an intermission, and a full-house standing ovation for all three performances.

I was blown away by The Sound of Praise’s success!

sound of praise cast

cake for performance

Fast forward two years and I’m at it again! I just finished the auditions for my new original play: The Novel Life of Tessa Gloom. It’s a drama about a high school book-worm who believes she is entitled to be completely and utterly miserable because her horrible life demands it. Then, she magically enters into the world of her books. She comes face to face with Alice in Wonderland, the little mermaid, the Count of Monte Cristo, Ebenezer Scrooge, the Mad Hatter, etc. while guided my Marmee March (Little Women). There’s a twist of a secret villain and a message which will hit close to home for both young and old.

I’m so excited about this play, and I can’t believe practices start in one week!! The performances are scheduled for May 10th & 11th at Rock Solid Academy. We have plans to make this into a dinner theater! Stay tuned for more details to follow. 😊

script

I also have the privilege of heading the human video group at Clark’s Green Assembly. I’m proud of this team & we’ve made it to the final round in the national Fine Arts competition the past 2 years in a row. Hoping this year will be our third!

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So, my life’s script continues. My seven-year-old self would have laughed at the idea of writing and directing plays instead of performing in them. I never thought working behind the scenes would bring just as much joy and fulfillment as acting.

I still get to see and hear the audience’s reactions. I still get to work alongside talented performers and crew. I don’t get to memorize lines, instead I get to create them! It’s the best of both worlds and I can’t wait to see what the next act holds.

Get ready…the curtain is about to rise! And I don’t have to worry about singing off-key.

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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.

Image may contain: cat Day 4:

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. 🤔

Image may contain: 2 people Day 6:

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!

screenshot_2018-09-26-laura-gibson-kudey-laurakudey-twitter.png  Day 7:
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.

Image may contain: 1 person  Day 8:

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!

 

Image may contain: one or more people, ocean, sky, water, outdoor and nature   Day 9:

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! 😎

 

Image may contain: 1 person, indoor  Day 10:

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. 😉

Kitchen Remodel: Challenge Accepted

It’s that time of year again. School is out. The sun stays high in the sky until after Riker’s bed time, and casts light on the flaws in our old house. My limbs start itching to be put to work. That’s right; it’s renovation time!

ASSIGNMENT: KITCHEN

BUDGET: As low as possible, without compromising the quality.

STATUS: ACCEPTED

Honestly, this kitchen has been a project three years in the making. These first few pics are from when we first bought our fixer upper house in October of 2015.

Riker was only 2 years old!

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My little helper as I stripped the ugly wallpaper off the wall.

When we moved in there was no room in our tight budget to fix up our kitchen. We busied ourselves with other projects we agreed were more pressing and less expensive (new front door, paint everywhere, updated the bathroom, basement, and sunroom etc.). In hindsight we probably could have afforded this renovation much sooner if we had known we could be so cost effective. We know for our next house now. lol

For two years I lived with the dropped ceiling florescent lights that blinked like the pilot episode of The Walking Dead. Thankfully, I’m not claustrophobic.

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I chose to ignore the cheap back-splash that looked like laminate until you actually touched it. The worst part was the countertop that sunk so low it rivaled the Titanic.

I swore though that I would at least stain the cabinets and fix the hardware! There is only so much this artsy girl can live with. 😉 So I stained them a cherry color and spray painted the handles with silver nickle. (I never took good pictures of this step, so you will just see that result in the before pictures down below.) This was the only update we achieved in this room as we utilized the time in other rooms and outside landscaping.

Now let’s fast forward two years. Last summer I said “Enough already!” and tore down that awful nightmare of a dropped ceiling.

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This is what lurked beneath the dangerous plastic panels. BTW, I still have nightmares of the dead bugs that rained down on me this day. *shutter*

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Notice the lovely hole that was uncovered. The sheer number of holes we have found in this house continue to astound me. I’m surprised we weren’t more overrun by mice! *shutter* Praise God we are cat people!

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I then took down the florescent lights, put up some track lighting, and installed a vent for the air conditioning. The hole for the vent was massive so I had to think up making a wooden frame so I could install the vent properly. I, unfortunately, installed that bloody thing crooked. Serves me right for putting the wood up when I was exhausted from the day. *facepalm* At least it’s solid and without holes.

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For the gigantic hole I hammered up a piece of drywall and covered it heavily with spackle.

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After a few more coats of spackle and two coats of paint, you couldn’t tell any holes existed!

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Walla! Our kitchen was well on it’s way to stardom!

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That brings us up to date to this year! Here are the not as hideous, but still sad, before pictures. 🙂

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Petra had to get into the shot.

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Notice how the cherry stain did NOT age very well in just 2 1/2 years. I knew I absolutely didn’t want to go that route again. But first, I had my sights on that tile. Its time had now come…

Surprise, surprise there were more holes uncovered! The plaster behind the tile also disintegrated due to age.

Once the tile was gone, it was time to patch up the holes! I used a netting I got at Lowes. Its especially made for holes larger than 1″. I stuffed the cavities with insulation, applied spray adhesive heavily, placed the netting, then applied spackle.

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I used the green bucket first because it is a heavy quality spackle, then I finished off with the blue bucket since it’s easier to sand.

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What holes?!

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Smooth as glass.

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I also found a surprise underneath a section of the ugly tile. Now, if these turquoise gems had been on these walls instead, I would have been inclined to keep them! Oh well. On to the beautifying…

It was time to prepare the cabinets for painting! First, I washed them with soap and water. It was important to sand them down with the green scrubber to take the shine off to  allow the primer to stick.

I used a bonding primer that is specially made for cabinets. The room then already started to brighten up!

The large paint brush was perfect for speed, but one of my art brushes was needed to get in those tight spots.

It took three coats of gray “cabinet paint” to make it look brand new! Sorry, I failed to take a picture of the paint bucket before I threw it out. *facepalm* I got it at Lowes though and it was specifically for cabinets. LOVED IT!!

I also took the handles off to give them three coats of textured black metallic spray paint.

Now it was time to call in the professionals to complete one task that I simply couldn’t do myself; granite countertops. Oh my! For the first time in my life I’m able to get granite & I didn’t have to sell a kidney to make it happen.

*happy sigh* Aren’t they gorgeous?! We got an incredible deal on this stone beauty; $3200 for the whole project. Pinch me please.

There had to be a hiccup; our old cabinets were blamed for being crooked. Oh dear. Now there was a gigantic eye sore of a gap. I wasn’t happy. Praise God that we chose a wonderful company (Penn Granite) to install our countertops who hired out a contractor to fix this pesky problem!

We bought the wood, and he installed it. He also installed a brand new faucet for us too! (pictured further down) We only had to pay him for his added time. $100 was well worth the results.

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Now that the counter tops had been installed, I could touch up any scratches to the paint and finish off with two coats of water-based polyurethane! Here’s a little tip that I learned from experience: NEVER use the oil-base polyurethane unless you love your projects to yellow with age. Ugh. Plus, the water-based one smells 1000% better.

Now for the drum roll please as I unveil the results from my hard work, blood, sweat, and tears of joy…

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I now live in paradise! The question is; do we love it or list it? lol I’m going to love it as long as I can!

BTW, this project cost less than $4000 from start until finish! $3200 of that was on the countertops. Not bad for a girl 😉

Have any questions? Hit me up in the comments!

Silence Falls into Spring

The silence has lasted for too long.

It’s like the deafening quiet during a slow snow fall where the air is still and crisp and a white wonderland blankets the landscape like in an asylum’s solitary confinement.

Winter was so bloody long this year that I seriously felt like I was in solitary confinement at a psych ward.

I could blame my silence on this excruciatingly painful winter, but honestly I haven’t been blogging because any ounce of free time I get I’ve been either editing my book or querying agents! Even these moments have been too infrequent for my taste, but it’s been a roller coaster of a ride to say the least!!

First, I want to catch you all up on what I’ve been up to…

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Fine Arts took up the largest portion of these cold months. I helped 13 kids (2 separate groups) make it from the first round (sectionals) to the second round (districts).

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One of the two groups then made it on to the final round: Nationals!! This is a huge and highly sought after achievement. Sadly, due to the high cost of a week long trip to Houston Texas, they won’t be able to go on further. Next year the competition ends in Florida, so here’s praying funding will be more achievable for these deserving teens!

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We definitely had a ton of fun during our Fine Arts adventures! Especially during districts down in Hershey PA! 🙂

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We hosted Easter again this year!

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Our annual Easter egg hunt had to be conducted indoors for the first time. Ugh, have I mentioned how long this winter has been??

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(Taken on April 5th)

In late April Andrew took me to see my favorite band from my teenage years; the Newsboys! And these weren’t just the Newsboys of today…my favorite guys Peter Fuller & Phil Joel came back for this tour!!!!! Ahhhh, I was geeking out so hard!!

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The following weekend we visited Andrew’s best friend and his family down in Maryland. It is absolutely GORGEOUS down there and just the little family vacation we needed after our cold hibernation! Riker had a fun filled time with their 3 kids too which are all around his age. 🙂

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Riker has also been having a blast this year at Preschool. He’s growing up so fast that I’m getting whiplash!

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At Rock Solid Academy, I was a chaperone and a decorator at this year’s Prom! Our theme was “Enchanted Forest” and I’d say the kids had a blast, ALMOST as much as the chaperones! 😉

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Oh yes, and I made the cupcakes: Chocolate Espresso with Peanut Butter Frosting & Lemon w/ Raspberry Preserve Filling and Raspberry Frosting.

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Then, last weekend I held our annual Art Show!! HUGE success, especially since this year it was held at the same time as Rock Solid’s craft fair & talent show. Fantastic time and turnout despite the rainy weather. 🙂

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(And yes, that is my Doctor Who bag in the upper right corner.)

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I think Riker had fun too, lol…

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Also through Rock Solid Academy, a friend of mine who also happens to be the kindergarten & first grade teacher, asked if I could illustrate a book that her students were writing. I jumped at the opportunity and now I’m considered a published illustrator!

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Markers aren’t my usual medium, but I still had fun with it. 🙂

 

Although the winter has been long and cold it has been truly blessed. There’s a lot going on behind the scenes that a select few know about. Hopefully I’ll be able to indulge into these deeper subjects in the next few months. In the meantime, I am grateful that spring is FINALLY here and that I was FINALLY able to share a few tidbits of my life with you all again!

I would love to hear from you as well, so don’t be shy in giving me a comment or shout out. Your messages fill me with joy every time!

I’m off now to pick up Riker from pre-school. This afternoon will be full of more editing of my novel and synopsis. I feel like I’m right around the corner from finally getting published. So look out for more updates on here and especially on my author’s page! Until next time; may you all be blessed!

 

P. S. I’ve also been hard at work on a full kitchen remodel. Look for my next post all on this project coming your way in a week or two! 🙂

 

 

 

2017, The Year of New Beginnings

Another year has come and gone by in a flash. It’s the end of the second week of January already, and I can scarcely believe it! My life is flying by faster than a speeding bullet, and I just want to breathe for a single moment.

I sit hear listening to the sounds of construction as our busted pipe is repaired. The hot water pipe in our kitchen faucet froze during the single and negative temperatures on New years eve. Yes, we had our faucet dripping. Not enough though, clearly. After 10 days of frozen solitude, it thawed and instantly burst spewing water all over our new basement carpet.

As life would have it, I had a bad head cold during this flood. So a HUGE shout out goes to my amazing hubby for almost single-handedly cleaning the water mess. Thanks to our heavenly Father for giving me the thought of looking in our basement a mere half an hour after the break, and Andrew for his fast work, and our trusted local construction friends, the damage was minimal! Also, we just learned that the pipe broke right above our electrical box. :-0 So God protected us from a HUGE disaster!

I’ll always remember how 2017 ended and 2018 began; with a frozen flood.

Our lives in 2017 were far from frozen though (with the exception of the 3 feet of snow in March). It was one event overlapping the next, with twists and turns, and lots of brilliant highs speckled with only minor lows. God is so good!!

The year started like most years in the past (10 years to be exact); a fun night of partying at our friends’, The Seelye’s, house.

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(Left to Right) Brittany, myself, Lauren, Hannah, Michelle.

We’ve made amazing memories and had such wonderful times with these girls and their families over the past 10 years! It was a perfect way to end 2016 and start 2017!

March brought my big 30th birthday and it is currently my favorite to date! March 4th landed on a Saturday this year and Andrew took me to my second home; NYC!!

We spent the beautiful day at an art show, touring art studios, catching a Broadway show, eating Thai at our favorite restaurant, and just enjoying the break from Pennsylvania for the day.

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FINALLY got to see Wicked! EXCELLENT!!!!

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Drunken Noodle is the best dish on earth…

And then, of course there was the 3 foot blizzard that nearly had us moving south…

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At least Riker had a little fun.

All through the winter and spring of 2017 I plunged myself deep into work at Rock Solid Academy. This was my first school year with them and I worked around the clock to do as much for them and the students as I possibly could. I even helped chaperone their very first prom!

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The kids stole my heart completely!

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I not only taught Art, Culinary, Theater, and worked as one of the two secretaries, I also wrote, stage designed and helped direct an original play. God had told me two years prior that he wanted me to write a play. Thanks to Rock Solid, a magnificent cast of kids, an amazing partner, friend and director (Tara DiMarco), and months of long after-school hours, my dream became a reality!

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I painted all of the stage backdrops too! Loved every minute 🙂 .

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“The Sounds of Praise” will always be one of the most memorable events of 2017 that I never ever want to forget!!

Another event that took place in the spring was Fine Arts. In case you haven’t heard of it before: Fine Arts is a national scholarship competition through the Assembly of God church where teenagers compete in categories pertaining to the arts (music, painting, drama, speech, etc.). My specialty is in the category “Human Video”, which is a drama performance set to song where the actors don’t speak or sing, but convey a message with movement.

There are three levels, sectional (a few counties), districts (one or two states, ours is PA & DE), and Nationals (I think that one is self explanatory lol). 2017 was my first time judging at the district level, and I got to share this experience with my Drewbear!

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I also helped coach two teams last year (one in our old church, and one in our new one), and got to see both perform with high honors! One made nationals, and one just barely missed the third round. All of these teens are brilliant and I can’t wait to see what God has in store for them!!

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Once June hit, Andrew and I knew that we needed a break from the craziness! It was time for a vacation for just the two of us. So we explore Greenville, South Carolina, and fell deeply in love with this area! It was our best vacation to date!

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Lake Chatawissa

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Shakespeare in the park

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Literally the BEST Bed and Breakfast we’ve ever stayed at!

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I could give you a dozen more pics, but there’s a taste for you. 😉 We then finished our vacation at the Outer Banks with a few of our friends…

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There’s nothing quite like the beach to refresh the soul!

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The summer brought some much need renovations to our house (you can read more about them here), a trip to Pittsburgh to visit my sister, lots of fun with our growing boy, and joyful times with new friends, but a major thing happened that could change my life for forever; my love for writing returned. I credit the need to write “The Sound of Praise” to ignite that fire within me again. But I also praise God for bringing a new friend into my life: Alison Treat. She is a fellow writer (a published writer I might add), whom I met at the end of 2016. Our friendship grew as 2017 continued on.

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In one of our early conversations I told Alison how I had a novel I was writing, but hadn’t picked it up for over a year at that time. I actually hadn’t thought about this novel for a while because of, well, life really. Jobs, parenting, and changes in church venues had pushed my passion for writing to the side. But no longer!!! Alison told me about this writer’s conference that would be taking place at the end of June. So I decided to take out my dusty document and fine tune those first six chapters to present to any publishers or agents I could meet with.

I could only attend two out to the four days of the Montrose Writers’ Conference, but it changed my life for forever!! I got to meet dozens of fellow writers, hear inspiring stories, learn priceless tricks of the trade, further my knowledge on writing styles, and meet a publisher and agent that both asked for my completed manuscript & proposal!! (A HUGE deal, since that meant they loved my work!!!)

It was just the boost of confidence I needed to complete my first draft and my first round of editing by the year’s end! I’m now deep into the second round of editing, and hope to be done very shortly. God is so good!

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There were other adventures in the last half of the year (most of them I’ve already blogged about, so I will briefly touch upon those…)

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First family camping trip! We went with a lot of our new church family 🙂

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Riker caught his first fish!

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Our kid turned 4!

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Riker started preschool. He’s getting so big!!

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Enjoyed the fall foliage while hiking a mountain with our Treat friends!

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Riker got a girlfriend 🙂 (Eva Treat)

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We grew our family with Mr. Darcy and Alixia

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We won Trunk or Treat with my DIY Gotham city.

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I Co-Directed the children’s Christmas play at our church!

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Last, but certainly not least, I got to play the role of Mary in our church’s live Nativity!! Had an incredible time with this fun cast!! 🙂

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Sure, there were some not so great stuff that happened in the past year as well… I went through a third life crisis where I came to the realization I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life (praise God he is answering that long prayer!), my grandmother Gibson pasted away, we got some miserable snow storms (including that three foot nightmare), and I gained 9 pounds (but I’m determined to loose that and 5 more in the next few months, while still consuming my chocolate and pizza lol. Plus I already lost 2pounds from this cold-silver lining!).

But I believe it’s these little trials and challenges that help us appreciate, and even see those blessings and new beginnings we might have missed otherwise. For instance, the end of 2016 was full of questions plaguing Andrew and I. We could feel a change coming, but we didn’t know how or to what extent. We could feel relationships suffering and uneasiness stirring to the point where we just had to stop and ask God for wisdom for the next step.

Enter 2017. God laid on our hearts to leave our church of 10 years, and embark on a new adventure. Thus began our year of new beginnings! It was beyond hard and difficult to leave our friends, comfort, and all that we knew, behind us. But when God closes a door, you better believe another one is waiting, and it’s not just a crumby window either!

This year was full of life, love, memories, excitement, newness, renewal, and rewards. From my plays, to my near finished book, to dozens of new friends that are already as close as family! I can’t imagine what this year would have been full of if we hadn’t stepped out in faith and made that first scary step into the unknown.

2017 ended at a brand new friend’s home to ring in the new year. It was the first change of venue in 10 years! We were sad to not be spending it with our old friends (whom sadly were all sick 😦 ), but it ended up being the best new years to date! Not because the others were bad, by NO means; they were fantastic!! This is because every year should be better than the last. When you know you are where God has you, then your best is definitely yet to come!

What will 2018 bring? God has been bringing to mind that this will be a year of growth. We shall see soon enough what that entails. 🙂 Happy New Year!!!Image may contain: 3 people, people smiling, sunglasses

 

 

 

 

A Snapshot of Me

Thanksgiving is done and Christmas time is officially here. I’m swamped with directing Christmas plays, performing in one, writing my novel proposal, editing, cleaning the house for family coming, and all of my other normal activities. But I’m loving every busy minute of it! Except for the cold weather. Truthfully, I would work a lot father if I was warm!

So as I sit here shivering, in my thick wool socks and under a heavy blanket with the heat cranked up to max, I smile thinking of all of my bustling blessings. I’m so beyond blessed to have so much to keep me busy and satisfied. I love everything I do – especially all of the “work” that lets me write and create.

As I reflect on these benefits, I came across this questionnaire for writers. I thought it’d be fun for you all to get to know me a little more, my motivations, and what I’m working on.Well, at least one thing I’m working on. After the Christmas bustle I hope to share more of what has been keeping me away from my regular blog posts.

Stay tuned! In the meantime, this is a snapshot of me…

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  1. Age you started writing:  I wrote my first make-shift book when I was 8 I believe. I made a yellow cardboard cover tied with yarn, and had lots of pictures. I don’t remember much of the story excepted that at one point I had the main character walking and walking and walking…somewhere. LOL I fell in love with writing poetry during my depressed teen years, but never thought I was any good at it. It wasn’t until I was a stay at home mom at age 26 did God ignited the writer within me and I began my novel, wrote playwrights, more poetry, and started another novel that’s now on the back burner.
  2. Story that inspired you to write: I’ve always loved books! Ask my parents and they’ll tell you how I always had a book in my hand growing up. Whether it was the Boxcar Children, Mandy Mysteries, Nancy Drew, The Chronicles of Narnia, Laura Ingalls Wilder, The Cooper Kids Series by Frank Peretti, Grimm’s Fairy Tales, classics of all kinds, etc. I just couldn’t get enough of them! I don’t know of a specific story that inspired me to write though. I’d say each book had it’s own part to play!
  3. First WIP (work in progress) title: “The Judas Killer”
  4. First, Second or Third person: Definitely prefer first person. I believe it makes the story more personal to be told through the character’s point of view.
  5. Favorite time of day to write: The afternoon is my preferred time. It tends to be when Riker naps. The house is peaceful and quiet. And (hopefully) the house is clean by then since I had all morning to work…hopefully.
  6. Favorite place to write: Anywhere that’s warm and comfy! My office/art room is the popular spot since it has our desktop computer, but sometimes I’ll snuggle on the couch with my laptop. I enjoy going outside on our porch in the summertime, but I tend to get distracted by the beauty out there. 😛
  7. Most overused word: I’m CONSTANTLY having to catch myself and edit out the word “though” from my work. It’s definitely a clutch of mine (though).
  8. Most overused punctuation: Possibly the comma, but lately the semi-colon has been a favorite.
  9. Long or short sentences? Gotta love short. I chop up the sentence if it runs too long. Hate run-on sentences.
  10. Your first MC (Main Character): Loralie Amelia Campdon, 27, auburn hair, starving club singer, coffeeaholic, thinks the worst of herself but the best in others.
  11. Worst writing habit: Snacking WAY too much while I work…or to help me stall instead of work.
  12. Weird personal writing quirk: I write better if I have my Steeler’s blanket wrapper tightly around my shoulders.
  13. Notebook or computer: Computer!!! Spell check is a close personal friend of mine. I have written many notes for myself in little notebooks though. Gotta have both to further your writing skills.
  14. Favorite setting to write in: Hot tea or coffee by my side and complete quiet. Can’t even have the sound of classical music, let alone Andrew playing a video game in the background. It’s not impossible to write, but it truly makes it ten times more challenging for me.
  15. One word that would describe your WIP: “Hypocrisy”. It’s the name of the game in The Judas Killer. “Hidden” is another good word. Things are not what they appear to be…
  16. Describe the setting for your WIP:  My setting is Scranton, Pennsylvania in early Autumn. It’s a small city full of history, secretive people, and dark alleys.
  17. Are you a planner or a “pantser”?  I’m definitely a planner, but that flies out the window when I get new ideas for chapters 10, 3 & 17 all in one day. Oh dear.
  18. Pick three characters that describe you:  1. Elizabeth Bennet: Pride and Prejudice (Like her I’ve tended to judge people too harshly. I’m observant, but bold, and am a hopeless romantic.)  2. Jo March: Little Women (I have always found myself relating to Jo. She was an avid reader, tom-boyish, put her foot in her mouth, and loved adventure) 3. A mix of Lorelai & Rory Gilmore: Gilmore Girls (If you know Gilmore Girls, and you know me, I don’t even need to explain why… 😉 )
  19. Biggest Writing Fear: That it might take me months or years to get my first novel published.
  20. Biggest Writing Hope: That I’ll see my works at Barnes & Noble on their best seller shelves. *Happy sigh*

 

I leave you with a couple actual snapshots:

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Thanksgiving was held at our house again this year, and what a fantastic feast it was!! I’m still kinda full… oh, another slice of pie!

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After the meal my husband, Andrew, fell asleep with his kitten, Alixia, joining him. I would have never forgiven myself if I failed to get this picture.

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With the addition of our two little kittens, we knew an actual Christmas tree this year would be an accident waiting to happen. So I created a book tree for our living room! What do you think? 🙂

 

Hope you enjoyed this post. Blessings until next time!

 

P.S. My featured pic is the newest picture of myself taken on picture day at the school I work part-time at, Rock Solid Academy. I’m thinking of using this as my author photo, or at least the pic I send to the publisher. Do you guys think it looks professional enough? I love hearing from all of you! 🙂 Merry Christmas!