Monday, August 3, 2015

Crockpot Conference

After all that activity baking and prepping the past two weeks, when I attended the conference itself, it was almost anti-climatic. A slow simmer compared to the previous weeks sauteing, if you will.

My husband and daughter were stellar in readying the snacks for the faculty, and while she watched over the table to serve and restock, my husband was helping unload (and then reloading) supplies, picking up stranded conferees at the airport and train station, and kept himself available for anything anyone needed.

I was both faculty and a conferee, and had my hands full concerning classes and appointments, both with people I needed to pitch to and people who needed to pitch to me

I still can't get over that, by the way. People came to see me and ask me if their stuff was good enough for Ruby for Women Magazine. It was a confidence building, yet highly humbling experience. Some of the writers were awesome. There were even some poets that came to me specifically because that's one of my specialties. Giving good feedback without hurting someones feelings is hard, but God helped me a lot in that department. I don't think anyone left my table with a crushed soul, only solid ideas for improving their writing.

I was also blessed by being able to host my boss and head Editor of Ruby for Women, Nina Newton in my home! You'd think we'd have a ton of time to talk during her stay, but the schedule was so hectic, we barely got to see each other! I hope to visit her at her home next year, but we both still had a blast with each other- even if it was only during the rides up and back from the conference. 

This was a crockpot conference. No super hot or icy cold moments, but a nice even heat that I sorely needed to function. My manuscripts were enjoyed (if not accepted) and I made a lot of great new friends and contacts in the industry. I also took a lot of notes during some fantastic classes.

I have a lot of writing to do.

I also have a lot of praying to do. My heart was moved in many different ways this week, and I need to figure out where God wants me. Sitting still and listening is not my forte (not by a longshot), but that's exactly what I need to do- listen to Him.

When you think about it, I'm the one who needs to be the crockpot. I have to stop burning through everything or stopping cold, and instead let myself warm slowly and let God fill me with His word, His way, His desires.

And I really need to do this every single day.

Will I? I can hope, but I won't promise anything. Will I pray and listen each day? Absolutely! It just might not be me sitting on the couch in quiet repose for an hour because I still have two teens and three cats in the house who need my attention the second I sit down. But I can have quiet droplets of time throughout the day where I can say a quick prayer, and listen to his answers when there's a lull in the pandemonium. 

Remember the song  'I'm a Little Teapot'?

I'm a little crockpot, short and wide, 
You made me to hold Your blessings inside
When You fill me up Lord, fear subsides
By Your Holy Will I'll abide!

Monday, July 27, 2015

Hope Runs Amok!

Right now I'm hoping for a lot of things.

I hope to have all the snacks prepped in time for the conference. (feeding sixty people snacks seven times!)
I hope to finish the totes I hope to sell at the conference.

I hope the totes sell at the conference!

I hope everyone loves my home-baked goodies.

I hope I make good contacts that will bear fruit.

I hope to be a good editor and help writers become better writers.

I hope I survive this week with my brain in tact.

I hope to make new writing friends.

I hope I don't fall asleep in class.

I hope I can be God's Little Prayer Warrior.

I hope I can sneak in a nap sometime today.

I hope God blesses my family for helping me and being there for me for this conference.

I hope my writing makes people laugh while they learn.

I hope my cat Boo-boo stops scratching at the door and meowing to get my attention! (My writing space is a No-Cat Zone.)

Yes, I hope for a lot of things, and this list is just the tip of the mountaintop. My hope meter is off the charts right now. But my biggest reason to hope is God. God is going to get me through this week with a grin that's bigger than a Cheshire cat. He is the only one that can fulfill any of these hopes. He is the rock I stand on (and sometime thump my head against), and the Maker of Miracles. 

And if I get through this week without collapsing and with my brains in tact? That would be a miracle- trust me!

As I look for opportunities, learning, and new friends, I'll be seeing God also. He's like cat hair- He gets into everything once He's in your house! So i'll let my hopes run amok and have all the fun they want- because God is in charge here, and hope really does spring eternal when He's around!

Monday, July 20, 2015

The Irony in Chaos!

I. Am. Insane.

It's one week before the writer's conference. I'm providing snacks for the faculty. I'm also a faculty member, taking appointments during the conference for Ruby for Women Magazine, as I'm Assistant Editor. I'm also an attendee, and have scheduled classes and appointments for myself as well.

This week? I'm baking cookies, breads and cakes for the faculty. In ninety-five degree heat.

I'm sewing tote bags and making paper jewelry to display for sale at the conference.

My editor is staying with me (which is a great, wonderful, fantastic thing!) and my house looks like the dust bunnies won the war.

And our back-up fridge died yesterday. The one that held foods I wanted to chill for the conference and our church picnic, which is the week after the conference.

I'm also out of butter for the cookies I was supposed to be baking this morning.

But I think the most ironic thing about all of this is I'm grinning like an idiot because God is just so darned good, I know everything will work itself out. The only thing I'm worries about at this point is if the staff will like my baking!

And no, I'm not telling you what I'm making- because some of you are attending the conference. Nanny nanny boo-boo- be surprised when you get there. Heh.

Oh, the irony in chaos!

Who bakes in ninety-five degree heat? Who is also insane enough to bake, sew, craft, and still manage to write and study up on the editors, agents, and publishers I'll be meeting? Who can blog, shop, and still manage to clean the house while doing all that other stuff?

I don't want it to be me- but it is. I even did my Monday morning workout this morning- I'm a lunatic, I tell you!

I might not get everything done, but the important stuff will be completed before Conference Day. Because God has my back and will give me the strength I need...right God?

And since You're listening Lord, I could sure use another back-up fridge. And a nap.

Yes, this week is crazy, and so am I. But I'm calm. I feel at peace with the world, despite the chaos. And you know that's not my doing- it's all God.

I have to get back to baking/shopping/sewing/everything, but I wanted to let you know the God can load up your chaos with an ironic peace too- just ask Him for it!

Monday, July 13, 2015

The Jackhammer and the Chisel

Sometimes God wants a Chisel. Sometimes He wants a Jackhammer. And sometimes we Christians get the two mixed up. Not saying which Christian that might be, but she writes this blog.

Sometimes God wants a Chisel. He wants His children to tap away at an unbeliever bit by bit, until he is ready to hear His Word. Sometimes that could take days, weeks, months, or even years. Chisels are patient people, who have the ability to make enough cracks in someones armor so the Light shines through.

Sometimes God wants a Jackhammer. He wants His children to shatter walls and boundaries and let others know that God is here, He is listening, and they need to acknowledge Him now. Jackhammers aren't subtle folks; They're more like the swat-you-upside-the-head-and-pay-attention kinda people.

Put a Jackhammer on a Chiseler's job, and you can shatter someones spirit. Put a Chiseler on a Jackhammer's job, and the person you're trying to witness to will lose interest and shut you down faster than a New York subway. Ugh.

I'm mostly a Jackhammer. I've done a little Chiseling in my time, but mostly I'm the one who would be blunt, and tell you in no nonsense terms that you need God. Now. 
I admire the Chiselers of this world, because that have so much more patience than I do. 

Some people are good at both- they know when to be a Chiseler and when to be a Jackhammer. My husband is one of them. Maybe that's why he's a Deacon. He can get anyone to talk with him and has brought many people to God. He amazes me sometimes.

Now that I think about it, I'm more of a Chiseler concerning writing, and face-to-face I'm a Jackhammer. A friendly jackhammer, but a Jackhammer, nonetheless.

Sometimes I mess up and I'm the wrong tool at the wrong time. That's why it's good to have many Christians around you who are a good mix of both- so you can learn and refer people to them.

Are you a Jackhammer or a Chisel? Are you a bit of both? And the most important thing- are you helping others meet God?

I know it's hard. But no matter which tool you are, God loves you no matter what!

Monday, July 6, 2015

God, Cats and Obedience

I have three cats, otherwise known as the Cat Lady Starter Kit. Two are brothers from the same litter, and one is a little girl we adopted from a shelter this past December. It's be a wonderful chaos ever since.

Boo-boo and Scootch have been with me for over five years now, ever since they were about a year old. They know the rules, and though it took a long time, they know commands and comply 99% of the time. And when they don't comply, I give a gentle nudge on their rear, and they get the point.

Then along comes Tinkerbell. 

She doesn't know the rules, therefore has taken the liberty of snatching food, traipsing about the kitchen table like she was a supermodel, settling herself on the very corner to taunt our boys with her ability to get away with it. At least until I see her.

I nudge her bottom and say the code words "Shoo shoo" to let he know that table-sitting isn't allowed. Does she jump down in compliance? Nope. She braces herself instead, making me either shove her off via my hand on her butt, or I have to pick her up and toss her off the table. 

The look she gives me is priceless.

Yesterday I moved to 'shoo-shoo' her and she scurried off the table- but the long way, walking across the entire table length before getting off. If she could speak, she'd say, "I'll do what you want, but my way, not yours, Lady!"

But she listened- and that was the important thing.

Her actions got me I that way with God?

You bet your bippy, I am.

God wants me 'off the table', so He nudges me in the right direction. But since I'm still learning, I resist, bracing myself because I feel I need to be on the table- and who is this Person anyway to tell me what to do? Lucky for me He's patient and just keeps nudging until I get the point. Eventually I do.

It's a good thing too- I don't want God to pick me up and toss me off the table!

I find myself resisting a lot. Go here he says. Nope- I go there instead. Do this He says. Nuh uh- I do that instead. Yet each time He does this, I'm more inclined to listen because where He's taking me is awesome- I just don't know it yet!

And it's the not knowing that makes me resist. 

Tinkerbell and I are cut from the same cloth. I just don't have claws, fur and a tail. But God loves me anyway and is willing to spend a lot of time nudging me off of the table- because one day when I learn what He has to teach me, I'll get to lay against Him and cuddle- just like Boo-boo does with me.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Dreams Change

A few months ago, I entered a contest to win and Inn and Restaurant. Surprise, surprise- we didn't win. 

Or did we?

For years my husband and I dreamed of owning a B&B, complete with a little cafe on the side to give guests breakfast and to serve the locals some good food picked fresh from the local farms. Great dream. But when things started to become a reality, we had to give the idea some serious thought.

Did we really want 'company' over every night for at least six to nine months of the year? Then run and serve in a restaurant all year long on top of it? At first the idea had merit, but then as we came down to the wire of the contest, I started feeling more stressed than happy.

Maybe my dreams changed.

We'd been dreaming this since we were married eighteen years ago. Eighteen years ago we had more energy (and let's face it- more money) and no kids. Eighteen years ago this dream could have been a reality- but now?

I like being home by myself during the day. I like having my family sit and watch a movie marathon on the weekends. The cookouts. The impromptu invites because we had an open day. Laying on the couch for a nap because I can. None of this could happen if we had an Inn. Some of it couldn't happen if we had a restaurant either, but at least we'd have our house to ourselves when we went home after work.

Dreams do change.

I'm no spring chicken. Inns take more work than I'm willing to do. A restaurant, however, is right up out alley- as long as we aren't feeding the patrons of the Mall of America. A small cafe would be perfect for us. 

I'd still write and do all the other things I love- just not as often. And I can collapse on the couch at the end of the day with my kids and husband using me as a community pillow. I like that dream better. 

We didn't win, but yet we did. Cool, huh?

Have you had dreams that have changed? What was your dream and what is it now? Go over your dreams from years ago and see if they need tweaking- you might be surprised!

Monday, June 22, 2015

A Hot Mess

I'm a hot mess. 
I'm hot, and the house is a mess.

The only time menopause is a good thing is when it's winter and you can heat the house for free. But in the summer, it can be downright volcanic. This is not the time to fudge on housework, yet it's the perfect time to fudge on housework.

You know it's time to take a break when you're mopping the floor and realize most of what you're cleaning up is your own sweat. Cold showers and powerful ceiling fans are your friends. Thank You God for inventing condensation!

Yes, we are blessed with AC- but that doesn't mean the sweating stops- oh no. I could blink too fast and start sweating like a racehorse- I don't care what the temperature is outside.

As for me and my house, we're supposed to serve the Lord. Let's just say if He came today, I'd be going to Hell.

*knock knock knock*
Me: Who's there? Jesus? Um...are You sure You want to come in?
Jesus: *nods and smiles, and says nothing*
Me: *let's Him in* Um..Pardon the mess- this decade has been pretty rough..*doesn't mention the fact that I've only been here for two years*
Jesus: *climbing through the mess, pets the cats, then looks around, flabbergasted*
Me: I'm going to Hell, aren't I...
Jesus: *considers this for a moment* No, but you're definitely not going to be part of the cleaning crew in Heaven....

I can totally see this happening to me.

Mehtinks that mayhaps I better get my butt in gear and clean this place before the Second Coming. Or at least before we invite someone over for dinner.

Maybe if I filled the bathtub with cold water and just dunked myself in it fully clothed when a hot flash hits, it might not be so bad. But part of me wonders if Hell is so hot because there are menopausal women who never cleaned their houses down there, and the devil is making them do housework for eternity....

That's it- where's my mop?