Did you know tomorrow is my blog-0-versary? December 31, 2006 I took the plunge, telling God no matter what, I’d always write for Him. It started with this blog, and it remains my baby. I enjoy looking back and this year was busy. I thought I’d take today to reflect.
I changed servers and switched the site up, creating a premium one through WordPress. This gave me the ability to add pages and really get my work out there. It was a great move. One post alone had 15,000+ hits. I’m so grateful for the transition and look forward to what God has in store here for 2012.
The biggest change, and transition was a key word for me and those around me this year, was ACFW. American Christian Fiction Writers is THE place for, well, American Christian Fiction Writers. Although I didn’t have the pleasure to attend the conference, my membership paid for itself in two weeks, if that. There is introductions and help for everything. I joined many of the loops to keep updated on the latest in news, contemporary romance, and critique groups. By summer I was in two crit groups through ACFW and they are an amazing help. I don’t know what 2012 holds for my writing life, but I know ACFW will be a major part of it.
2011 was a great writing year. There was the above, and I said goodbye to writing regularly for the Internet Cafe Marriage Counter. I said hello to blogging twice a month over at Christians Read, and I’m loving the experience. I won the JournEzine Christmas Story Contest. Still pinching myself over that one. I entered the FaithWriters challenge once and made the top ten with Jimmy Takes a Shower. Tires and Windchimes is slated to be a part of Splickety’s debut issue. I’m working on my contemporary romance centered in the Adirondack Mountains, Spectacular Falls.
We enjoyed a wedding and a baby this year, but not in our house. My step-daughter married on 9/10/11 and we traveled to Wisconsin to be a part of that amazing day. It’s the highlight of my year, hands down. In November my sister had a baby and I’m soaking up nephew time all this week. Remember I talked about transition? Well we have a teenager now. Our 8 yo continues to entertain and amaze, including writing a customized story with me over the summer.
I could write a novel just on this topic. 2011 wasn’t an easy year. I struggled with trusting God with a lot of things, and the aggravating part for me (and probably Him) was that they were things I’ve dealt with before. Why wouldn’t I trust Him? I wrote a post about it that really helped me. I hope it does you, too.
I learned a bit more about grace, I don’t think that is something I’ll ever finish learning. They were heartbreaking lessons and more than once with more than one circumstance, I had every right to speak up. But I chose to love, and I continue to. One situation plays out in a fairly public way and I know it would be easy to engage, but the person coming at me is wounded, and I make an easy target. If you had a tough year, have hope. The theme I feel for 2012 is this—justice.
What does 2012 hold? Here’s what’s on my mind.
Who will be in the Presidential race come November? Who will win?
We celebrate our 15th anniversary (belated) with a cruise.
What new things will my nephew discover in his first year?
What new things will we discover as a family?
What if I don’t want to keep up with the Kardashians?
What with the weather be like? It seems to be changing world wide.
What writing projects will move forward? Stall?
Will I conquer the trusting God thing when it comes to finances and medical issues?
What will I read?
What will I surrender? What should I surrender?
I’d love to hear about your 2011 and your thoughts for 2012.
I’m extra thankful this year. We are healthy. Earlier this year we traveled to Thanksgiving to participate in my husband’s oldest daughter’s wedding to a great man. The trip was full of favor, provision and peace that passed all understanding.
Our son turned into an official teenager. Guess what? He’s as outstanding now as always, maybe more so. His voice deeper, a little mustache in tow, he remains solid in Christ and in all honors classes. He has great friends and is trying new things outside his comfort zone.
Our daughter is blossoming into a crafty second-grader with a writing imagination that surprises all of us. Her health continues to be well and she’s even lost 8lbs this year.
I joined ACFW and have instant resources at my tips. I’m in two critique groups that challenge and grow me in ways that I didn’t think were possible for this 41 year old. I watched many friends find agents, publishers, launch books, and win contests.
My husband and I celebrated 15 years together. Not too long from now we’re going on a cruise, a dream we’ve shared since our engagement.
On November 23, this little guy entered my sister’s world. He’s got my heart, even 300 miles away.
Thankful? In my best Sarah Palin voice I say, “You betcha!”
How about you?
By the way, the month long guest blogger thankful series is wrapping up. Check the archives if you missed any. They were amazing reads.
It’s Word-Full Wednesday! It’s that “Battery re-charge” for your week where God’s word is glorified. Go ahead, join us. Take an image and a verse from the Bible, post on your blog, and link your post URL to the Internet Cafe.
Not only is it WFW…it’s our 15th anniversary.
August 31, 1996
What makes this anniversary and this picture so special is that the lovely lady to my right in this picture is going to be a bride herself. There are so many things I want her to know. As beautiful as the wedding might be, it is the marriage that matters. Every hour, every day. It is work. It is the best and can feel like the worst. It is a choice between oneness and isolation every single day. It isn’t about changing them, it’s about asking God to change you.
If you are married, you know I could go on and on.
But I have every day as a blogger to share those things. Let’s bring the best marriage instruction book of them all to this post.
1 Corinthians 13:13, The Message
13But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love.
Our 15 years featured these seasons: infertility, high-risk pregnancy, real estate transactions, birth, depression, surgeries, parent sickness, parent death, sibling life changes, miscarriage, job changes, major move, near death of child, church changes, financial struggles, financial blessings, friendship transitions, ministry additions/subtractions, travel for work, fun, and family.
On a computer screen they don’t seem too hard. In reality, they threatened, at times, to crush our spirits and destroy our marriage.
What gets us through?
Trust steadily in God
At this moment our marriage is still on a solid rock. We’re closer than ever. But… we are shells of who we were 15 years ago. We have been not around the fire, we have been through it (and will again). We are better for all these things. But the Bible knows what it is talking about.
Cling to His word today.
And love extravagantly.
The first Monday of each month is time to participate in e-Mom’s monthly meme called Marriage Monday. I committed to reviewing Lysa TerKeurst’s Made to Crave book and DVD for Monday so I’m a day early.
I love the topic e-Mom posted for Marriage Monday. She went deeper than regular Valentine’s fare and asked bloggers to share their ultimate love story: their salvation story. There isn’t a greater love than the one Jesus Christ has for us and there wasn’t a harder nut to crack than yours truly.
I’m happy to share my ultimate surrender…also known as my journey to a relationship with Christ.
I tell people I was born on Good Friday with tornado warnings and I was also that girl with the curl in the middle of her forehead. The poem went something like when she was good she was very good, but when she was rotten, she was terrible. That speaks volumes about my life before Christ.
It wasn’t so much that I was smart, I just loved books and had a photographic memory. I also had what I call justice issues. If I saw something that I felt was unfair I was going to let you know and I wasn’t going to forget. Decades later I also understand I could discern things faster than others. I saw something was a bit off in our family, these days a family would love to have our issues from then but I felt isolated and angry that I saw a situation spiraling out of control and no adult seemed to be doing anything about it.
I became one angry little girl.
Who became an angry tween.
The ironic part about being angry with adults for not seeing what I could see was that they listened to me over the bigger stuff I wouldn’t have. I remember being instrumental about having issues with our religion. My Sunday School class had parties and let us listen to the soundtrack for Grease. My justice radar couldn’t handle that and I complained loudly. I wasn’t mentored in prayer or that Jesus was not a bunch of laws, but a real Friend who could be closer than a brother. We quit going to church after I suggested it.
My first week in high school everything at home hit the fan and our family was no longer active in alcoholism. We were now a family in transition to wellness. I was told to get on board and attend functions that united us. Thing was, I was still angry. Through my high school years I was so mad that issues weren’t addressed or that in my mind I got the short end of the stick knowing things before others that I would test my parents to see what they would do. I got away with profanity I would never allow my kids to try to utter let alone spew my way. I slammed plates every night. When people would visit our home and ask my post high school plans I’d sneer at them I’d do whatever it was that took me furthest away from my life right then. Oh, was I a joy.
Then I went to a community college and socially I blossomed. I have no idea why but I was pretty popular. My favorite professor was an atheist and spoke regularly on the topic. I was ready to board that train. I realize now he was a very wounded man hurt by his former religion. I don’t think he was a true atheist, but I liked his talk at the time.
Add transferring to a state college away from home where I could be smart and popular…I let loose. I stayed away from my hometown as much as possible. I drank heavily, my tolerance very high. I believe I drank not just to be popular but to medicate the pain. The anger was always right there, and I’m sure perceived rejection from those years were there too.
My best friend since kindergarten let me know during this time she was serious about a man she started dating when we were in community college. More than that, she let me know she proclaimed the faith this man was sharing with her. I let her know in know uncertain terms that was not for me. I was so focused on being the party girl with no ties to home I missed her wedding and cut off communication with her.
At the same time I was being stalked on campus. It started with me telling a kid that was absolutely mocked by a professor not to worry. That was all I said. I wasn’t the only one he stalked, I think at the time there were four of us. He had no fear. I remember entire fraternities coming up to him and threatening him and he was undaunted. He’d just show up and just stare, letting me know he was around. I resented the protective detail of friends that had to take me everywhere. One night I went out on a cheap beer night, but it wasn’t my drink of choice. I let my floor mate know I was leaving and I left. Alone.
I heard my name and thought it was a guy from my class.
It was my stalker.
That experience gave me my first serious prayer with God. I asked Him to help me know what to do. I walked with this guy through the most lit path I could think of, a path security drove by every few minutes. In fact, the police car waved. They had no idea the danger right before them. I kept him talking and in a quick turn his friendly chat turned sinister. He made it clear he could do whatever he wanted and no one would know or care. He also let me know he was walking me to my dorm. My dorm was the last on the path before rural cornfields, acres and acres. I knew if I didn’t reach that dorm, it was over.
We passed his dorm and he grabbed my elbow, letting me know he was taking me to my dorm. When we were within two steps of my dorm he pulled on my arm. He was directing me towards the corn field but before he could get the leverage, a guy came out of the dorm and said hello, locking eyes with both of us. My stalker let go and fled.
That alone should have brought me to my knees but it still wasn’t time. Not long after that a floormate tried to commit suicide. It was a cry for help more than a real attempt but it left our entire floor confused and scared. I remember thinking there had to be more to life than this.
Then my best friend called me.
We spent three hours on the phone and she confessed calling me was something she felt prompted by God to do, and she was scared. After all our sharing she invited me to her baptism, and I attended. I kept attending as I was in town. I graduated and started planning the big corporate life far from home. No job offers came. That summer I received a challenge to write an article as the organization was torn between me and someone else. I learned they published my article but didn’t want me for the job.
I realized at that moment I never had control over my life or anything in it. I never would. I got on my knees in my bedroom and asked Jesus to help me. I let Him know I was tired of keeping Him at arm’s length, I needed a true love and help to guide me and believed He was the answer. I confessed my sins and hangups and how I knew He was none of those things.
I call that day my ultimate surrender.
I felt a peace right away but it took years for Him to walk me through the anger to a place of healing. I love how He makes dates special. The day I prayed for Jesus to come into my life was July 22, 1992. Our son was born on July 22, 1998. That best friend I rejected gave me my first Bible. The date she gave it to me was August 31, 1992. I got married August 31, 1996 and that best friend was at my wedding as a Scripture reader, something I found so precious.
As an aside, many ask about the stalker. At the time the school turned a blind eye because they didn’t want a PR event. I warned them he would strike again, and he did. A year after I graduated he stabbed someone in the same bar parking lot he accosted me. He was kicked out of school and I’ve not heard a thing since. I believe the injury was minor but still, it is obvious that man was troubled and I was certain one day I’d be on Oprah telling this story.
I hope this post encouraged you today. If you have anger issues please know there is a better way to live. I literally could feel toxins rolling around my body from all the anger I was spewing. My life as a Christian has not been easy, I will never promise that. But I have a peace and an assurance that nothing, not one thing in the world could give me. Please, if you have any questions don’t hesitate to contact me. You. Are. Worth. It.