Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Hello and Goodbye

I don't think I've mentioned the pet changes we've had around our house lately. First off, we now have a dog. Sonny is a five-year-old shepherd/retriever mix. He's a great dog and well trained, but his owners were both with FEMA. They were constantly traveling, and they finally decided they'd rather give him to a good home instead of having to board him all the time. A friend of a friend found out about him and told us. Matt's wanted a dog for a long time and so that very same day he and Terry went and picked up Sonny. He's great as a guard dog--barks his head off if someone is anywhere near our yard, or if someone comes to the door. He scares the pizza guy to death. The boys love playing with him. It's great because he's young enough to want to play, but he's old enough to have lost that frantic puppy energy. Plus, he was already house trained.

On the goodbye side, we've lost one of our cats. Snickers and Skittles were gray tabbies that we've had for over six years now. They were from the same litter and they looked a lot alike except that Skittles had short hair and Snickers had long hair. And both were very big. Skittles is the more outgoing one. She would show up when we had company, and she usually sleeps in the boys' room. Snickers was the shy one, and she was more my cat. She spent most of her time either under or on our bed. The day after I got home from Denver, I noticed that she was lying in the floor in front of our bathroom door--not her usual place. I thought it was odd, but I figured it must be a warm spot that she had found. Later on the boys commented that she was still there and they thought she was sick. When I walked up to her, she flicked her tail back and forth and purred a little, but didn't move from her spot. I brought her food and water, but she wouldn't touch them. Her breathing got more and more labored and then eventually she was gone. I cried some as I said goodbye, but I'm glad she didn't go while I was out of town. She was a good cat, and I miss her.

Poor Skittles walked around for a day or two, meowing. I think she misses her sister. I'd like to get a kitten sometime, but I'm not sure how Skittles or Sonny would react to that, so I'm biding my time. There's something very therapeutic about petting a cat. Once in a while I'll find myself glancing around for Snickers before I remember she's gone. Thanks, Snickers. You were a great cat.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Getting It Right

I have heard very few people brag about being a good mother. In fact, most of the time it seems that we women spend our time mourning about our failures as a mother.

I hate to break it to you, but there is no such thing as a perfect mother. Never has been and never will be. One of the things that encourages me is the thought that God gave my children to me. So I'm the best mother for them. I think sometimes Satan wants to defeat us so he sits on our shoulders and tells us how lousy we are. He points out how much we fail.

SO DON'T LISTEN!!! Sometimes you need to just stop and focus on something you're doing right. Remind yourself that you're not so bad after all. Sometimes you can even turn a failure into the opportunity to be Mother of the Year! For instance--once when my kids were little, I didn't have any milk to put on their cereal at breakfast. I felt horrible. I hadn't had time to go grocery shopping. But when you have a bunch of little kids, who runs out of milk? That's the one thing you should always have. I scrounged around for something remotely healthy to give them, but there were no options. So instead of berating myself on what a loser I was, I decided to do something different instead.

I gave my kids ice cream for breakfast.

They were thrilled. I turned a dismal situation into a party. For years they reminded each other of the time they had ice cream for breakfast. For one morning, I was the coolest mother on earth.

A word of warning: ice cream for breakfast once--cool mother. Doing it on a regular basis--you may qualify to run for worst mother of the year. it's amazing how thin a line there is between being really creative and just plain bad. : )

So how about you? Leave a comment and brag about something you do with your kids that makes you a great mother. Feel free to leave comments about how your kids' friends always beg to come to your house because you do such cool things. List the wonderfully involved crafts you design and execute yourself for your children's entertainment. If you are a great mother, my hat's off to you! Brag about it here!

if you're more like me and creativity runs toward deciding how best to kill off characters in your book, well--dish up some ice cream tomorrow morning. In a pinch, cookies or chocolate work just as well. And then tell us all about it.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Everything You Wanted to Know About Me And Are Sorry You Asked

Thanks to all of you who gave your opinion on Friday's post! I'm still working on re-tooling the paragraphs until I get them right. And apparently almost everyone has trouble writing one and two-line trailers. Glad to know I'm in good company!

While I'm working on this, I thought I'd use today's post to answer this quiz that I got from momstheword. Feel free to copy it and answer these questions on your blog, too. Or answer one or two in the comments.

The phone rings. Who will it be?
If it's the Indiana Jones theme song ringtone, it's my husband. Otherwise it will probably be one of my boys, calling to ask me what's for supper.

When shopping at the grocery store, do you return your cart?
If I have one of my kids with me, they return the cart. Otherwise ...

In a social setting, are you more of a talker or a listener?
I try to remember to be a good listener. That way people walk away saying what a great conversation they had because everyone likes to talk. But sometimes if I'm telling a great story, I can deceive myself into thinking it's all about me. Typically I try to save that attitude for my blog. (Aren't you lucky!)

Do you take compliments well?
Give me one and let's see.

Do you play Sudoku?
How can you even ask that? Hello! It's numbers! Just saying the word "Sudoku" gives me a headache. Now I'm going to have to go lie down before I can finish this post!

If abandoned alone in the wilderness, would you survive?
Nope. I would shrivel up and die immediately.

Did you ever go to camp as a kid?
Didn't do that either. My sisters went once, and after hearing about their initiation week, I decided that I was too civilized for that kind of harassment and humiliation.

What was your favorite game as a kid?
I always liked playing football until my mother told me I was too old to be out tackling boys anymore.

Could you date someone with different religious beliefs than you?
Not possibly. My beliefs are core to who I am. And dating someone would also be against those beliefs because I'm already married.

Do you like to pursue or be pursued?
Well if you're talking about the romantic sense--I think that would be a little creepy because I'm already married. And my husband would definitely have something to say about it whether I was pursuing or being pursued.

Use three words to describe yourself?
Funny. Late. Tired. (feel free to answer this one for me in the comments.)

Do any songs make you cry?
I can't think of any song that makes me cry every time. And why on earth would I listen to it if it did?

Are you continuing your education?
Life is an education, baby.

Have you ever taken pictures in a photo booth?
Terry and I did when we were dating. I think it's a required thing.

How often do you read books?
All the time.

Do you think more about the past, present or future?
I typically think about the past in conjuncture with the future while I'm living in the present.

What is your favorite children’s book?
I loved the original Nancy Drew series when I was growing up. I checked them out of the library by the armful and devoured eight to ten books a day during the summer. I also liked Rosamund du Jardin's books.

What color are your eyes?
They're green.

Where is your dream house located?
I have a dream house? Where is it and whose been paying the taxes on it? And does it come with a maid?

If your house was on fire, what would be the first thing you grabbed?
I am assuming hubby has already rescued the kids and the pets. I would grab the flashdrive with my books on it.

When was the last time you were at Olive Garden?
Friday night. Did you see me there?

Where was the furthest place you traveled today?
It's six o'clock in the morning. I traveled from my bed to the office across the hall.

Do you like mustard?
I really don't, but I put a squirt of it on my hamburger or hotdog because it doesn't look right otherwise.

Do you prefer to sleep or eat?
I prefer to eat while sleeping.

Do you look like your mom or dad?
Probably my mom.

How long does it take you in the shower?
I like long showers, and I refuse to be hurried. I just don't feel completely clean when I rush.

Can you do the splits?
No, but I fell to the floor in a fit of laughing spasms when I read the question.

What movie do you want to see right now?
None actually. I need to hurry up and finish this blog so I can get ready for work.

What did you do for New Year’s?
That was ten months ago and I'm drawing a complete blank. I got nothing.

Do you think The Grudge was scary?
Is that a book or a movie or a person or what?

Do you own a camera phone?
Yes, but I don't use it because I don't think the pictures are really good quality. Plus, I don't exactly know how to use it.

What’s the last letter of your middle name?
"E". That narrows down the possibilities, doesn't it!

How many hours of sleep do you get a night?
I always aim for eight, but I usually end up with five.

Do you like Care Bears?
No. They're too sugary sweet and cutesy.

What do you buy at the movies?
I don't go to the movies. And I usually do most of my buying at the store.

Do you know how to play poker?
No, but I'm pretty good at Rook.

Do you wear your seat belt?
I usually put it on at some point while I'm driving. But only because my kids complain about the constant chiming the vehicle does until I put it on.

How many meals do you eat a day?
Three, but I also have to have a protein snack mid-morning and mid-afternoon to keep my blood sugar levels from crashing.

Do you like funny or serious people better?
I like people who have a sense of humor, but I also want people to be able to settle down and get serious when the situation calls for it.

Ever been to L.A.?
No, but I think my luggage has.

Did you eat a cookie today?
It's six o'clock in the morning! I don't usually mess up my diet until at least eight.

Do you hate chocolate?
Only non-humans hate chocolate. If you know someone who hates chocolate, chances are they were not born on this planet.

Are you a gullible person?
No, and even when I am gullible, I try to hide it.

Are you easy to get along with?
You tell me.

Hope you have a great Monday!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Help Me Out!

So in my free time this week (mostly between two and four a.m.) I've been working on the proposal I need to send in to the editor and the agent I met at the conference last week. I've got a few ideas, and I want to post them here. I need some feedback, and I could also use some more ideas.

First off, for the editor I have to write 50-75 words that would be considered "back cover copy". You know, the paragraph or two you would read on the back of the book that makes you want to plunk down your money and see what's between the covers. Here's the two I've come up with:

1. When Jennifer Hamilton’s husband is killed, she and her three children are stranded on the mission field. All Jennifer wants is to protect her children and get them back to the States. But with rebels attacking the town, the secrets her husband had, and the terrorists who think she has incriminating information, can she get them back to the States in time? And how will she protect them from the unknown danger lurking close to home?

2. Jennifer Hamilton’s husband never told her about his secret life. Or his business partner. Or the real reason they were living in Uganda. So when he’s killed in a car wreck, it’s up to his partner to rescue Jennifer and her children from the attacking rebels, and find out if her late husband shared more with her than she realized. He may have shared a secret that could cost her life.

I like things about both of them, but neither of them strike me as exactly what I want. I could use some comments. Saying things like "I like them both" can stroke my ego, but they don't really help me. Let me know what you like or don't like. Do either of these paragraphs make you want to read the book? Is there something that turns your attention off by either of these paragraphs? For instance, Matt said one started off good, but kind of lost his interest halfway through. Or maybe there's another idea you think I should incorporate, based on the three chapters I posted a while back. Go here to start reading the first few chapters.

Secondly, I need to come up with a one or two line hook. Just a sentence or two that would really catch someone's attention. Think movie trailer. Here's what I have for this: (I warn you, what I have stinks. I could really use help with this!)

1. There’s a time to be afraid. That time is now.

2. Missionary Mom meets Jason Bourne. Is the winning combination 007?
This second one is sorta tongue-in-cheek. I would never actually use it because it's not the feel or impression I'm going for, but I'm just throwing out ideas. You can give me a whole slogan yourself, or just tell me what concept you think stands out in my book. What would make you want to read it?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Plane Truth

I am not a big fan of flying. In fact, I've been known to drive twelve hours in order to avoid having to fly. But of course, if you think about my life, driving twelve hours makes sense. Twelve hours in a vehicle by myself, with peace and quiet. Stop when and where I want to stop, listen to things I want to listen to ... turn off my cell phone, and it's definitely got its merits.

But even though I prefer driving, sometimes even I can't justify the distance. And the almost 2000 mile trip to Denver last week was one of those times. So I swallowed my nerves and booked a flight on Southwest. I discovered a few things about flying last week and I thought I'd share them with you.

1. Southwest doesn't assign seating. You just pick a seat when you board the plane. (Obviously you are supposed to pick an empty one.) So how do they decide who gets to pick first? You're supposed to call within twenty-four hours of your flight, and they assign you a boarding number. If you were assigned "A-43", then you line up when they call everyone A31-60. They take your tickets one-by-one and shuffle you onto the plane to choose a seat. My problem was I forgot to call. So I got assigned a boarding pass once I checked in at the gate. Consequently I was one of the last ones to board the plane and the picking was very limited by that time. The good news? I got an aisle seat, which I prefer because I'm claustrophobic. The bad news? It was in the last row of the plane. Right in front of the lavatory.

2. Murphy's Law always applies to me. The plane that boarded before mine had almost half the seats empty. Everyone got to stretch out a little bit. My plane was completely full.

3. Apparently flying upsets a lot of people's stomachs. As I mentioned, I was sitting directly in front of the bathroom. As soon as the "fasten seatbelts" sign clicked off, people started heading past me. As each one exited the lavatory to head back to their seat, the odor got a little bit worse. With no hope of cracking a window, I was relieved when the flight attendants finally used a little air freshener back there. If I'd had a can of Lysol, I would have been shooting a squirt over my shoulder every five minutes or so.

4. The only thing worse than sitting near the bathroom is sitting with the bathroom behind you and a child with a flatulence problem in front of you. The kid gleefully announced every time he expressed himself, but there was no need. We could all tell where it was coming from. I was tempted to ask the flight attendants to spray a little air freshener in his row as well. Either that or order the kid a ginger ale and a package of Rolaids.

5. As if all that wasn't bad enough, in spite of the announcement that there was to be no congregating outside the bathrooms, people did it anyway. They stood two and three deep, crowded into the little doorway that separated the main cabin from the galley/lavatory area. (Just the thought of those two areas being so close to each other made me turn down the snack offerings on the flight.) Being seated next to this standing group of people pretty much placed my head at hip level. Now there's a view you always want of a total stranger! At one point I woke up from dozing and found myself face-to-posterior with a woman I'd never met. I'm considering therapy as I'm sure the nightmares will continue for years.

All this fun and I hadn't even landed in Denver yet! And then there was the flight home ...

Monday, September 21, 2009

Home at last!

I got back into town yesterday afternoon from the writer's conference in Denver, and I drove straight to the church for our evening service. I hauled my suitcase in and changed in the bathroom, and then spent a few minutes catching up with my husband before people started coming in for the service. When my boys got there, I nearly got tackled as they ran up to hug me, but I loved it. After church we ate pizza and then I slept in my own bed. AHHHHHH!

And now it's Monday. I don't have to go back to work until tomorrow, which is good. Not only do I have to wash all my laundry from my trip, but I need to catch up on a few things around here as well. The boys told me they mostly ate eggs and rice while I was gone. I guess soy sauce makes everything taste better. The main rooms were cleaned up and in fairly good order when I got home. The rest of the house was a little more lived in. It's funny--I hadn't even been home yet, but on the way home from church the boys asked me "What's for supper?" I am so home!

So I need to get cracking on some of the things around here, plus I need to do the grocery shopping. I think I'll feed them Italian meatloaf tonight--meatloaf stuffed with pepperoni and mozzarella cheese and topped with pizza sauce and more cheese. I'll round it out with smashed potatoes, corn and some garlic-cheddar biscuits.

Tomorrow I'll blog about some of the fun things I experienced while I was gone. But, I'll give you this for today. (I saved the most exciting news!) Both an editor and an agent asked to see some of my work!!!! So in addition to catching up around here, I have a couple of proposals to put together!!!! I'm so excited! So I'm off to do the mommy/writer thing. Catch up with you tomorrow!

Friday, September 18, 2009

A Quick Check-In

So far my trip has been great! Nice room, wonderful classes and the view of the mountains! My first sight of them in over twenty years literally stopped me in my tracks. I just can't get enough of the view.

I have an appointment in the morning to pitch my book to an editor, and I have another appointment Saturday afternoon with the agent I was hoping to meet. Pray for me! I don't want to get tongue-tied.

I'll try to update more later, but my body says it's almost one in the morning. Nite!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

And Away We Go!

The rest of this week I'm going to be off in Denver, Colorado at the American Christian Fiction Writers' Conference. This is something I look forward to every year. I head out tomorrow, so if you don't mind, I'd appreciate your prayers for safety in traveling, and God's will and wisdom as I try to find an agent. I'll try to post and tweet from the conference, so stay tuned!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Trust God and Do the Next Thing

The title says it all, doesn't it? I believe that quote can be credited to Oswald Chambers. And it definitely applies. When you don't know what's happening, or as I covered yesterday, you don't have it in your heart, you can still trust God and do the next thing. I still don't know how these circumstances could possibly work together for good in any way, shape or form. But in my head, I know that has to be the case because God's Word is true. So while my heart is still struggling, in my head I decided to trust God and do the next thing.

The next thing happened to be the first night of our ladies' Bible study after taking off for the summer. This year we're doing an in depth study on prayer. This was not something that was easy for me to study about or speak about right now, but this was the next thing. And as I went over my notes I got excited. When I got up to speak, I was excited. It's amazing how God's Word can just lift your spirits in ways you would never expect.

My problem is the same. But once again I'm going to trust God and do the next thing. The next thing would be to get ready for my trip to Denver for the American Christian Fiction Writers Conference. I'm excited about the classes I'll take and the appointments I'll have. I'm targeting a specific agent this year, so I'm hoping and praying to get an appointment with her, and I'm praying for specific results. (If I'm gonna teach about prayer, I'd better be prepared to put it into practice, right?)

And each day, no matter how long it takes, I'll trust God and do the next thing. And someday I'll see how this will work together for good.

He said it, so I can believe it.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Didn't I Learn That Last Week?

Last week I wrote a post about believing Romans 8:28 when things don't go your way. I was so thrilled to be able to apply God's Word, take Him at His Word and rest in that comfort. Lesson learned, right? Whew! Glad that's over. Let's apply it and move on.

Apparently not.

You know, I've never doubted that verse. I've always believed it with all my heart. It's just not a lesson that I thought I was lacking.

But God has other ideas.

Last night ... well, suffice it to say that I was bowled over. Circumstances were filling me with so much pain I could hardly breathe. As I cried, I told God I couldn't handle this one. This was too much. I couldn't take this anymore.

And then I came across last week's post.

My words sounded so smug with the knowledge that here was one lesson I didn't have a problem with. I was spiritually mature in this area. No worries here.

How wrong I am.

If my smugness offended you, I apologize. I stand before you today, realizing just how far I have to go before I've learned anything as I should. Truly I don't see how any of these circumstances can work together for good. I can't see it. It's not there.

And yet it is. If it was true last week, doesn't it have to be true this week? My head says yes, but my heart says no.

If you actually believe that verse I need to hear from you. I think my believe button is broken.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Random Dozen #2

Here I am with another random dozen. Feel free to leave your own answers in the comments, answer some or answer or all, or just point us to your blog and answer them there. Have a great weekend!

1. What is something that you have changed your mind about either recently or over a number of years?

I said Twittering was stupid and I would never do it. I still think it's stupid, but I do it anyway. (Long story.)

2. Choose either subject, but does your a) church b) job feel more like a dental chair experience or an easy chair (recliner) experience?

Church is definitely NOT a dental chair experience, but neither is it an easy chair. The job? Depends on the day. Or the workload. Or my mood. Or ...

3. Kisses or hugs? I actually typed "huts," which might have been a more interesting question.

Kisses from close family members that I live with. Hugs from everyone else. Well, not everyone else, but you get the picture.

4. What do you think is the biggest threat to families today?

The lack of the family as a unit. Everyone comes and goes as they please and they are just bodies sharing a house. Parents need to consciously make an effort to be a part of their children's lives. In addition, I think kids have way too much play time. Even when they're very young they should be able to have some chores and duties in order to give them a sense of responsibility and make them a contributing member of the household. This builds character. Thirdly, I think parents bail their kids out of everything too much. If children never have to work through anything on their own, they're going to be awfully surprised when they face the real world as an adult.

5. A day after you grocery shop, you open a perishable item that is horribly spoiled. Do you take your receipt back to the store to be reimbursed or just throw it away and forget about it?

I would intend to take it back, but would probably never get around to it.

6. What personality trait (feel free to address good or bad or both) do you notice yourself adopting from your parents?

I know I have some. I just can't think of any.

7. How many slices of bread do you leave in the bottom of the bag when you throw it away? Two? Three? Just the heel? None? (I really want to know if you eat the heel.)

I just leave the heel unless I really wanted a peanut butter sandwich or a piece of toast and all I have left is the heel. Then I'll eat the heel.

8. What mispronunciation or usage error really irritates you?

I used to teach English. All of them bug me.

9. In honor of the uniqueness of today's date, what does the numeral 9 mean to you? (Any special life moments attached to the 9th? Are you the 9th kid in your family? Can you count by 9s really fast? etc.)

Nine really doesn't mean much to me except that it's easy to multiply. (Go by 10 and subtract one. Doesn't that sound easy?) And yes, that is math advice from someone who truly believes that x always equals 5.

10. Does the general color palette in your closet match the colors you chose to decorate your home with?

Ummm, yes I guess so. Except now I feel like I'm comparing myself to to the living room couch. I like my couch, but I don't want to look like it.

11. When you're hanging out with friends in the kitchen, do you automatically ask to help, or do you sit there and chat until the host asks if you'd like to help? I'm not implying that the 2nd choice stems from rudeness or laziness, just not a first-response like it is for some people.

It depends on who it is. If I don't know them very well, I'll ask to help. If I'm with a friend, I'll sit and visit. Especially if we're at my house and in my kitchen. I firmly believe in letting guests make themselves at home.

12. Let's end on a pleasant note: What do you enjoy about September the most?

I kind of like the new beginnings of another school year. I like that fall is approaching and if we lived in a four-season climate the leaves would be changing and the temperatures dropping.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

A Baby In The House

We've had a missionary couple staying with us this week, and they have an absolutely adorable three month old baby girl. Ashley is a chubby cheeked bundle of squirming energy that has wrapped everyone in the household around her finger. I had to laugh at my houseful of boys as they melted at first sight of this little charmer. (I took a lot of pictures, but I cannot find the cable to upload them from my camera to the computer.) The first night she was here, the four younger boys sat in a semi-circle on the floor and stared up in fascination at this new little creature. In no time at all they were taking turns making faces at her and talking to her. She rewarded their efforts with giggles, chortles and coos that only egged them on the more.

Since then they've taken turns holding her. Amusing her. Entertaining her. Watching her. I'll walk into the family room and find one or another of them sitting with the baby curled up in the crook of their arm as if she grew there. I'd sure like to know her secret because I've never seen a female captivate a household of males so completely. I'll bet she could even get them to do the dishes. Luke actually volunteered to vacuum because he wanted the floor clean for the baby.

I've found this so incredibly amusing. I ached to hold the baby myself, but I've been struggling with such a horrible virus that it would have been criminal to hold the baby and possibly share it with her. I finally got a chance yesterday, and she's just as adorable up close as she is from across the room. There's just one problem.

In watching all this entertaining action, I let my guard down. I never even knew it until the words came out of my mouth. One night as Terry and I readied for bed, we talked about the baby and the boys' reaction to her. And that's when I said it. "It almost makes me want another one."

Terry laughed. "Are you serious?"

I hesitated. "I said 'almost'." After all, my youngest will be ten in December. We've not dealt with diapers and getting up during the night for over seven years. Why would I want to start all that again? Still, that child is adorable. You just can't get enough of her.

The following morning her parents did not put in an appearance until later that morning. When they did, they told us that about the time everyone went to bed the night before, the baby started crying. She cried for two hours. Then she was up every couple of hours fussing some more. They were absolutely exhausted.

And I'm cured.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Do You Believe?

Circumstances yesterday made me refocus a few things in my life. Something happened that was totally unexpected and not at all welcome. And as I stewed and fretted, the thought suddenly hit me: so do I really believe Romans 8:28? And if I do, then why am I struggling against these circumstances when they really are working together for my good? I mean, they are if the verse really means what it says. And if I don't actually believe that verse, then how can I believe anything in the Bible? As an authority, the Word of God has to be taken in its entirety. It's not a smorgasbord for you to pick and choose what you want to believe.

In case you don't know that particular verse, it says this: And we know that all things work together for good to them that love god to them who are the called according tho his purpose.

I've been working part time in an auditor's office for a little over a year now. This past spring the work had gotten to be so much that I was staying an hour or two later almost every day, just to keep up. After talking it over with my husband, I approached my boss and asked if I could work full time for the summer. The extra money was needed for several projects we were working on. My boss agreed. At the end of summer, we had some decisions to make. My bosses had both commented that they would love to have me full time all the time. I knew that, with the workload as it was, if I went back to part time, I'd probably still end up spending extra time at work in order to get everything done. That extra time is comp time, and I don't need anymore. I've got more than I know what to do with. But the money--well, who couldn't use more of that?

So I talked to my boss again. He agreed to keep me on full time at least through the end of the year. In addition, he very graciously agreed to let me bring my homeschooling boys to the office several days every week so I could supervise their schooling while I worked. This month was the first month of the new arrangement, and yesterday was the first day of taking the boys in to do homeschooling. Yesterday I also got a call from my boss, who is out of town. Circumstances have changed and it is no longer going to work for him to pay me full time. That quickly I'm back to a part time worker. With part time pay.

I was so disappointed. I had plans for that money. Why did this have to happen?

That's when Romans 8:28 hit me in the face. Obviously we thought it was a good idea for me to work full time or we wouldn't have set it up. But for now anyway, God has other plans. Whatever His reasons, I know He has the best in mind for me. I know I love Him. Therefore, I know that even this is working together for good.

So what about you? Do you believe? Has something happened in your life recently to make you focus on God's will? Even if you don't understand it, it's still for your good if you love Him.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

And So It Begins

I'm posting this link Tuesday morning, but I actually wrote it Monday night, so when I say "today" I'm referring to Monday. Just thought I needed to give a frame of reference.

The start of our school year has dawned once again. I marked the day after Labor Day as the start of school when we finished last June. I just didn't think it would get here so quickly. I had to wrap up a little bit of paperwork that slipped away from me at the end of the last school year, and then I started putting things together for this year. I cleaned out supplies and gave the boys new pencils and erasers. I double checked binders and folders and replaced ones that were wearing out. I organized their subjects and filed tests and went over our supply of literature books. Four hours later I finished the last of my work and packed things away. Who knew it would take that long to get ready for the school year?

Every year of homeschooling seems to be a little different in one way or another. Last year we tried four day school weeks. That's why we finished in June instead of May. This year we're trying something else. I started working full time in July. the idea was to work full time only through August and then go back to part time work. But plans changed and I'm now working full time through the end of the year, at least. And so I'm taking the boys with me to work three days a week. Mostly the office is empty except for a couple of secretaries, so the boss said he didn't mind if I brought my homeschooling boys along. There's a big conference area that's never used that will be a perfect classroom for the boys. And it's visible from my office so I can keep an eye on my diligent students. Theoretically I can keep the homeschooling going efficiently while working at the same time. Hmm. We'll see, I guess.

So I get the boys Tuesdays through Thursdays. They still have to do school on Mondays and Fridays, but they won't have to do as much those days. That way their dad has three days out of the week to make visits, study or take care of other pastoral duties. And if they occasionally want to go snorkeling at Blue Springs Park--well, hopefully they'll be ahead enough that it won't matter if they take an occasional day off.

So that's the plan. I'm not sure if it's brilliant or if it's incredibly stupid. I guess we've got until the end of the year to find out.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Organization 102

Here's the second installment on my quest for organization. This week I'm focusing on the kitchen area. How do you organize your kitchen, especially if you don't have a lot of space. Do you tuck your small appliances away (crockpot, blender, etc.) or do they sit on the countertops? Do you store your lids with your pots? How about that always chaotic storage bowl cabinet? How do you keep from scrounging for a bowl with a lid that fits?
What about your pantry or food cabinet? Do you alphabetize your fruits and keep your canned vegetables all in one place? Or is it a scavenger hunt every time you open the doors?
Do you have some kind of schedule for cleaning out your refrigerator, or do you tackle the job only when you can't shove another item in and still get the door closed?

As for me, the small appliances that I use all the time are on the countertop, but I try to have them all in matching colors so they are part of the decor. I store my lids with my pots, I avoid my storage bowl cabinet whenever possible (mostly because everything falls out when you open the doors) and my pantry has some organization, but I don't alphabetize because that seems a little obsessive to me. As for my refrigerator--well, how does it get that bad that fast?

So what tricks work for you? Share with me and possibly help some others in their quest for organization as well.

If you'd like to read my first post on organization, you can click here.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Random Dozen

Here's a fun meme that I found. I haven't blogged much this week because I'm so sick I can hardly see straight. But I think I can handle this without too much brain exercise.

1. When you go to Wowmart, what one thing do you get every single time, besides a funky-wheeled squeaking cart full of frustration?

Always gotta get milk.

2. What is something that people are currently "into" that you just don't get or appreciate?

I don't get twitter. I'm on it, but I don't get it.

3. What is something that really hoists your sail that other people might feel "ho-hum" about?

I like watching tennis. My family thinks I'm weird.

4. Favorite song to sing in the shower or car?

I don't sing.

5. A really great salad must have this ingredient:

Black olives, of course.

6. Advice in a nutshell to new bloggers (one or two sentences):

Do it every day if you want to build a following.

7. What was the alternate name that your parents almost named you? Do you wish they had chosen it instead of the one they gave you?

I don't think they had any alternates. When I was a kid I wished my name was Jackie. I even wrote that on my lunch sack for a while, but no one would call me that. I'm still Jill.

8. What in your life are you waiting for?

I'm waiting to be published.

9. You get a package in the mail. What is it, and who is it from?

It would probably be the newest book I ordered on writing.

10. Today--what song represents you?

No song. I'm too sick and it makes my head hurt.

11. What is one thing that blogging has taught you about yourself?

I have even less discipline than I thought I did.

12. How are you going to (or how did you) choose the clothes you're wearing today? What do they say about you in general or specifically how you're feeling today?

I'm still in my pajamas because I'm sick. Don't you get that yet?

If you want to take part in this meme, head over the 2nd Cup of Coffee. This was fun, but I'm going back to bed.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The Sacred Cipher

Thought it was time I recommended another book that I've enjoyed. This one is a contemporary suspense, and it's absolutely wonderful! Terry Brennan takes history and makes it come alive as he ties it in with this present day story that could be taken right from today's newspapers.
Not only is the story a great read, but there's a realism to his writing that puts you right in the setting with the characters. I felt like I could see Jerusalem and New York City and the other places where his characters find themselves. Terry Brennan is a masterful story teller!

Over the past 35 years, Terry Brennan has accumulated a broad range of experience in both the profit and non-profit business sectors.

His 22-year, award winning journalism career included:

* Seven years as a sportswriter and editor with The Philadelphia Bulletin, at the time the largest-circulation afternoon newspaper in the nation;

* Leading The Mercury of Pottstown (PA), as its editor, to a Pulitzer Prize in Editorial Writing;

* Serving as Executive Editor of a multi-national newspaper firm - Ingersoll Publications - with papers in the USA, England and Ireland.

In 1996 Brennan transferred his successful management career to the non-profit sector and served for 12 years as Vice President of Operations for the Christian Herald Association, Inc., the parent organization of four New York City ministries, including The Bowery Mission.

Now Vice President of the National Organization on Disability in Manhattan, Brennan also won the Valley Forge Award for editorial writing from the Freedoms Foundation.

His two adult sons and their families live in Pennsylvania. Terry, his wife Andrea and their two adult children live in New York City. His first novel, The Sacred Cipher, was published by Kregel Publications and released in July of 2009.

You can find a copy of The Sacred Cipher on I can't wait for Terry's next novel!
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