As school resumes preschool through college, I am anticipating getting into substitute teaching.
I’m also looking back on our road trip to Thief River Falls, Minnesota, for an all- school reunion. I have never been back for any of my class reunions and next year marks 40 years since I graduated. UGH!
This gathering afforded a great opportunity to drag my husband to my hometown to meet some old pals. I had plenty of friends in high school, but most of them graduated before me and I only hung out with two girlfriends in my grade.
I hoped to connect with others from my year and maybe begin as adults. I sat expectantly at my grade level table. I walked around and searched nametags, hoping to find more from my year. I found a neighbor I grew up with.
But as pictures were taken by decade and then singled out into years, our class had a dismal showing of only 11, compared to older classes with enough members to pack a grandstand. The older groups seemed to have stayed in touch, as they were hugging, laughing and having a great time.
The few from ’83 invited my BFF and me to the VFW to hang out and have dinner, but when we arrived, they were nowhere to be found, so we sat with our older friends.
When I got up, who should be sitting behind us in the darkened and noisy room but our classmates. My bubble of hope burst with disappointment. They were just inches away. Some things never change.
My BFF reminded me our class never had connections like the ones I was witnessing from the older graduates. Yes, we are adults, but sometimes as the parade of time marches on, there are still others sitting on the sidewalks, watching it pass them by.
If you could ask Jesus only one question, what would it be?
As an adult I can’t think of just one question I would ask. However, the little girl in my latest book knows exactly what she wants to ask Jesus.
How it began…
Whenever I tell the story of how this picture book came about, I feel the presence of God fill me. At a writing conference ten years ago, this story was an idea pitched to a Focus on the Family editor who said the words every writer loves to hear, “Send it in. I want it.”
It was published in Clubhouse Jr Magazine in 2013 with full-color illustrations.
The gift of a talented illustrator
In May of 2021 at a women’s conference, I read the story on talent show night and received a standing ovation. Afterwards, an artist, Kerstin Fletcher, approached me and said she wanted to illustrate my book.
Since publication in the magazine, I’d always dreamed of it becoming a picture book and in God’s perfect timing, here it is:
How were the illustrations done?
The illustrations are made with watercolor, one of my favorite art mediums, and then converted to digital files. Kerstin Fletcher painstakingly spent hours developing them.
To get the initial ideas, she gathered church attenders and they posed in costume by her direction. Can you imagine young children standing still for long periods of time so Kerstin could get the pose she is looking for?
I’m so grateful for her talent that makes this “book of my heart” come to life, beyond my greatest dreams.
My Question for Jesus is available on Amazon in hardcover, paperback, and Kindle versions.
I remember that feeling from the very first conference I attended back in 2008. I wanted to turn the car around and go home, despite the beauty of the mountains surrounding us.
Why did I feel this way? I’ve been attending conferences for more than 15 years. I am certainly not inexperienced. Maybe it was the three-year break due to COVID or maybe it was because I am in need of some serious change as a writer.
As things got started and the first general session’s speaker began, my exuberance bubbled out. I couldn’t help but shout a few “amens.” Afterwards a writer turned around and told me how she appreciated hearing them and she gave me a beautiful card and pen.
I met up with a friend from Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference.
To be truthful, it reminded me of my first conference: navigating a new campus, figuring out what workshops to take, and making appointments. But this time, the appointments were with old friends.
Needless to say, the nerves went away quickly. And thanks to my praying friends and time on my knees, the conference is now a priority for me, not only to attend, but to be involved in.
God gave me some divine appointments, including one with the director of the conference just as we were preparing to leave.
God is making all things new. Keep praying for me and the future of my writing. I will always keep you posted.
Recently I read a blog post on writing. I try to read things that are uplifting and encouraging, but after reading this one, I crashed into a deep, dark hole of writing woes.
The article said that if you don’t have anything to offer your readers, why write?
So, I asked myself, “Why do I write?”
It goes all the way back to second grade. I dreamed of writing all my life. Now that I am published, my purpose for writing is to keep telling stories.
But why do I write a blog?
Does anyone care about what I have to say?
After much evaluation, I have come to the conclusion that I write because I want to connect with people. I want my readers to know I am a real, imperfect person with all kinds of problems, pursuing her life’s dream of being an author.
The point is, people need each other. If I reach one person with my musings, that is why I write.
I also have stories roaming around in my head that demand I put them to the page. If I don’t get them out, the characters will drive me crazy!
Also, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt God has called me to write for Him.
Long before our move to Tennessee was even a thought, my favorite sister in the whole wide world (my only sister and sibling) bought eighth row, floor seat tickets to a MercyMe concert.
We’d been to one together in 2019 and declared it the best concert ever so I knew I wouldn’t want to miss it. As our move became imminent, I assured my sister I would return. A full day’s travel, early morning hours with little sleep and two airports later, I returned to California.
There is something special about the group MercyMe. I have been blessed by their music for years. The words always seem to heal my broken heart and minister to my soul with exactly what I need.
Every song on their latest album, inhale (exhale) spoke to my heart and kept me going through the long journey of ups and downs, barely breathing at times, in the process of moving to Tennessee and settling in.
MercyMe does a song called Happy Dance that encourages the audience to dance and be silly, then they shower us with confetti.
I took full advantage of the opportunity and found myself enjoying every moment of my own happy dance. Silliness relieves a great deal of stress.
Needless to say, the lyrics of that night’s concert keep me going as I inhale and exhale while missing friends, family and the network of self-care I had established after 27 years in Santa Rosa.
I am trying really hard and leaning on my faith, and thanks to the words of one of MercyMe’s tunes, I will prevail.
Moving is not fun. I’ve had to let go of things I love…
… The colored walls in my house are now painted a neutral white.
… The huge succulent plants that won’t survive in Tennessee have been sold or given away to neighbors and friends.
But most of all, I had to let go of the TARDIS lending library. The realtor insisted it go before we showed the house. I emptied it of five boxes of books ranging in age from baby to more experienced readers.
As the TARDIS fell, we considered taking it apart (GASP! – something Doctor Who would never allow) and packing it in the moving truck.
As we stood considering what to do with it, and as I was about to push the publish button on Facebook Marketplace for free pick up, a neighbor stopped.
“What are you doing with the TARDIS?” she asked.
Turns out she’s a huge Doctor Who fan and loves the color blue. So, the TARDIS came back to life and was transported three houses down the street to live another day. (Actually, it was a little elbow grease and our pickup truck, but where’s the fun in that?)
It has landed in the perfect spot on the corner for all to see. One day, it might return to being a lending library once again. Until then, it is the perfect lawn ornament for a Doctor Who lover and her dark blue-trimmed house.
Memories of New Year’s Eve celebrations from childhood do not bring pictures of noisy airhorns, blasting fireworks or couples kissing as the clock strikes twelve.
In fact, my family celebrated by going to church for what was called a “Watchnight” service. It involved a potluck dinner, worship and sermon, dessert and games. I never understood why it was called a “watchnight.” How does one watch a night anyway?
When it got close to midnight, everyone would get on their knees and pray the new year in.
Since then, I have celebrated New Year’s Eve in many fun ways. After graduating high school, I moved to Southern California where I enjoyed going to Knott’s Berry Farm, listening to Christian bands until midnight, and then watching the numbers of the new year light up on its tallest tower.
One time I spent all night on the streets of Pasadena in a sleeping bag so I could get a great spot on the curb to see the Rose Parade in person (something I had only seen on TV growing up).
I used to stay up until the clock ticked 12:01 and listen to the fireworks go off in our neighborhood as I made resolutions (which I usually broke in a few days).
Now I can barely keep my eyes open till ten. Resolutions are made year-round instead of on one night. When the fireworks go off, I hold my dog tight and comfort him instead.
A new year can mark new beginnings, and this year will bring many changes. But as new adventures begin, I hope I will take a lesson from my childhood memories of New Year’s Eve and begin it on my knees in prayer.
How about you?
Do you have any fun or unusual New Year’s Eve traditions? Please share in the comments!
There are only a few days until Christmas and I feel nostalgic. I’m especially so this year as I think back to my childhood memories. I loved it when Daddy would bring home a real Christmas tree and our tiny 900-foot square house on Tindolph Avenue would smell of pine needles in every room.
We’d decorate the tree with old-fashioned large lights and glass Christmas ornaments. The tree took up at least one quarter of the living room, but that didn’t matter to a kid. Things are always bigger when you’re young.
My Christmas pageant dress
Mom would sew me a new dress for the church Christmas pageant. One year it was orange, brown and red flowers, not your typical Christmas garb.
On Christmas Eve after Daddy read the Christmas story from the Bible, my sister and I would act out the story to entertain our parents. The dog was a sheep and I played Mary (that’s me on the floor). Our stuffies became the three wise men and my doll was the baby Jesus.
We always took turns opening our presents; that way the excitement lasted longer. I always seemed to get a Barbie-related toy and no one could go wrong giving me a panda bear.
I know my Daddy loved Christmas because after all the presents were opened, he would leave the room and come back with a present for my sister and I that he “forgot” to put under the tree.
One year we got a unique gift called the Flatsie doll. When I pull them out today, I remember the joy it brought my Daddy to see his girls thrilled by a surprise gift. We posed for pictures with our gifts surrounding us and Mom made sure we wrote thank you cards to everyone.
Celebrating… in Heaven
This year with my Daddy celebrating in Heaven, I think I’ll continue his tradition and bring out a gift after all are opened for my adult children. I hope they are as surprised as I was and cherish the memory.
I said hello to Andrew Edward Hoss May 7, 1995. He was 10 pounds, 4 ounces at birth and slept through the night. I had to wake him up for his feedings and the doctor told me to just let him sleep.
During one visit to the doctor when Andrew was only three months old, the nurse tried to feed him a pretzel. I couldn’t figure out why she would feed a baby without teeth a pretzel, until later. Andrew scored high on the Apgar scoring system and was always bigger than other babies his age.
As a young mom, I never thought about the day when my firstborn would flee the nest. I tried to savor every moment because everyone would say to me, “Enjoy it now, as time goes by so quickly.”
Did I blink?
Twenty-six years have passed. It’s hard to imagine Andrew ever being a baby. October 2021 was a big month for him. First, he got engaged to Meghan Bloom (YEAH!!! Squee!!! Great choice!).
On October 29, after packing for weeks, Andrew and Meghan left early in the morning, moving to a new life in Casper, Wyoming.
I knew my son would leave the proverbial nest, and he had been on his own, but to fly this far away was never a thought in my mind.
Time truly flies by quickly. I’m so glad I took hundreds of photos to look back on to remember my little fledgling as those days can blur together.
I’m happy for them and excited too because this momma bird is going to fly to Casper, Wyoming the minute I become a grandma… one day. But I’ll visit before that happens, of course.
I felt like a little girl on Christmas morning opening the biggest present, and finding exactly what she wanted!
When Sharon Watson, Kenwood School’s librarian, invited me to come do an author visit assembly, I was over-the-top thrilled. I taught at Kenwood for ten years and filled various creative roles. To me, it was the happiest place on earth to teach but I gave it up to pursue my writing dreams.
Facing the assembled children, I told the story of my journey since second grade. I didn’t bore them with lengthy tales of my history but encouraged them to keep hoping and dreaming and work hard at whatever their dream is, in order to make it come true.
Just for fun, I gave volunteers the opportunity to shoot rubber bands through holes on a game board, reminding them that shooting a rubber band is how Eddie got in trouble and they should only use rubber bands for their intended purpose or end up in the principal’s office.
The students had many great questions and I had to opportunity to speak to the fifth-grade class as they are doing a NANOWRIMO project.
It’s always a pleasure to watch the faces of the children as I sign books. But, just like a day ending at Disneyland, I didn’t want to leave the happiest place on earth. Alas, I must return to the hardest part of being an author – writing.