Friday, April 28, 2006

Happy Birthday, Hannah!

My cousin’s birthday was this week.

Happy Birthday, Hannah!!

Hannah is less than a year younger than I am, and we’ve always been quite close. My uncle was in the military and then they settled in Texas, so we’ve never been able to see each other more than every four to one years. But we send letters back and forth and make the most of every minute we do have together.

Oh, the fun we have! I remember once when we were quite young and she and her family were staying at our house. She and I were sleeping on pads on the floor in the living room. One morning we wrapped the sheets around our shoulders and ran around the house, pretending we were squirrels (you know, I don’t remember what sheets have to do with squirrels…?). We would get our moms to do our hair in just the same way--two brown pigtails.

Hannah was born on my dad’s birthday, and a few years ago she flew out so she could be here for their birthdays. That was so much fun! We spent hours at the ice skating rink, and Hannah took to it like ice was in her blood. Her sister came to visit a few months later and also loved skating. It must be the Wiley blood, hehe.

Hannah, thank you for being a friend. I love you!

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Ten Simple Pleasures

"Name ten of life's simple pleasures that you like most, then pick ten people to do the same. Try to be original and creative and not to use things that someone else has already used."

In no particular order…
1. A delighted smile
2. A hug and murmured “I love you” from a niece
3. A marvelous idea
4. The idea turning out even better than imagined
5. Giggling
6. Making new friends
7. Spending time with old friends
8. Exchanging knowing glances
9. Hearing my grandma’s enthusiasm of my writing
10. Singing
(Did you honestly think I could stop at ten? Let’s make it an even dozen…)
11. Getting a clear idea across in a foreign language that I love (i.e. ASL)
12. Foothills

I don't think I know ten bloggers that haven't already done this, but...
Purple Kangaroo

Monday, April 24, 2006

Monday Memories: How I got my name sign

In Deaf culture, a name sign is a gift given by an older member of the Deaf community. Some hearing people have to wait years to get a name sign, or may never get one, especially if they have a short name that can easily be fingerspelled.

Name signs are generally made with the hand in the shape of the first letter of their name. The position or movement of the sign signifies a physical or temperamental aspect of the person. For instance my friend Elaina is Hispanic and has beautiful, full, kinky hair. Her name sign is an E waving down from her head to her shoulder. Katie is a pianist and her sign is a K bounced in front as though one was playing keys on the piano. Jena’s sign is the sign for “happy” or “excited”, but done with a J handshape.

When I was first learning signs, I knew very little of Deaf culture and gave myself a name sign. Amy means “beloved”, so I chose an A over my heart. Years later, when I learned of my faux pas, I made the decision to drop the name sign.

It was only a day or two later when a Deaf lady asked for my name sign. I shrugged. So Trina gave me a name sign--an A near my chin, because I was beautiful, she explained.

I have never thought of myself as beautiful. If it weren’t for my bad acne and rosacea I would call myself averagely pretty. But I’ve been thinking about what tit means for me to be “Beautiful A”. While it is true that the acne and rasacea may be because we live in a fallen world, I know that my body was created special by God. I strive to be beautiful on the inside. And I know that I am beautiful inside and out to those who love me.

I will wear this name with honor. It will be a reminder to me of two things. One, that I wish to strive to be worthy of this name, by being as beautiful on the inside as I can be with God’s help. Two, that I am loved.

Other Bloggers' Monday Memories:

Collecting My Thoughts

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Happy Birthday, Dad!

I like to do a post in honor of my loved ones on their birthday. Well, today is the birthday of three of my loved ones. LOL So I will spread them out throughout the week. First, my dad. Today when we go out to lunch he can officially get the senior discount, hehe.

Happy Birthday, Daddy!!!!

Oh, where do I start in telling about Dad? He is such a great combination of fun and hard work, of prayer and teasing.

Over thirty years ago he started his own business. In a world of dishonest construction workers, he determined that he would run a successful business--and do it honestly. No shortcuts, no cheapy materials, and no dishonesty. Today he is well-known and well respected for building quality homes and being wonderful to work with. Last month a couple looking for a new home walked into one of his. “We have been in hundreds of houses lately,” they said. “But this home…this home is different. I can see it. I can feel it.” God has blessed this business, and in return, my parents have been generous and hospitable to those around them.

All through my childhood I can remember coming downstairs in the morning and finding Dad quietly meditating, his Bible spread out before him. He is an ordained minister, but it is not a title…it is a way of life. He isn’t currently in church leadership, but I can still remember some of his sermons. He often had the most unique and memorable illustrations.

I think ya’ll know by now that I’m very wacky. I got some of that from Dad. It was he who taught me the poems “Fuzzy Wuzzy was a bear…” “One dark night when it was very bright…” and “Ladies and Jellyfish, Hobos and tramps!” It was he who told “Three ways to get peanut butter off the roof of your mouth.” (or more precisely “Whee ways tu get peanu bu’ur off de woof uf you’ mouf.”) It’s Dad who says Donald’s Mac and cream ice, and he who regaled us with hours of childhood South American escapades as a missionary child.

I’m proud of you, Dad. I love you!

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

I will wear purple….and say “boo!”

I regularly come up with wonderful (wacky!) ideas. Most of my life I have been unable to convince others of the greatness of the idea and was left to bring it to marvelous fruition in daydreams only. But since finding the FaithWriters’ message board I have not only found willing participants, but as one friend told me, a group that is eagerly waiting to see what fun I will come up with next.

So my ideas of group sci-fi chat books….of a mysterious username who changes identities at an alarming speed…chat parties… They are all a smashing success. [Oh, and speaking of which…check out this cool blog I started--Scribes of Mysteria.]

Yesterday I was listening to a radio advertisement about a retirement community and had a sudden flash forward. Me as an eighty-year-old. I’m sure you can imagine what sorts of things I came up with when I was six. Just think what it’ll be like when I’m eighty!

“Agnes, quick! Grab your walker and come hide behind this tree with me. Let’s jump out at Bert’s great-grandson!”

“Hey, I know! Let’s have a costume party and invite all the grandkids.”

“Let’s make a wheelchair maze!”

“I don’t like strained peas. Let’s revolt!”

Oh yes…I can imagine it. What fun we will have!!!

Monday, April 17, 2006

Monday Memories: My Grandpa

Monday Memories: Did I ever tell you about MY GRANDPA ?

My paternal grandfather passed away from cancer when I was about ten. Grandpa was a special man, and I’ve always regretted that I was unable to get to know him better. He lived on the mission field and then in another state until the last year when he was sick.

The few memories I have of the time I spent with him are, of course, precious to me. Every four years or so, we would have a large family reunion at the beach. Grandpa and Grandma had six children and twenty grandchildren, plus all the cousins, etc, so the reunions were massive affairs at a retreat center on the Oregon coast.

I can only imagine how tiring it would be to entertain and play with twenty grandchildren, but Grandpa loved it! I distinctly remember sitting on one of his feet, my arms wrapped around his legs, while he gamely dragged me and another cousin all around the building.

One furlough when Grandma and Grandpa stayed with us, I had just learned to read (which, as those who know my story know, was quite an accomplishment). I remember sitting between them, proudly reading aloud. I think it was that same visit that Grandpa caught me crunching an ice cube and teased that I sounded like a pig eating coal (I didn’t know pigs ate coal!).

But it isn’t the things I did with Grandpa that I remember so much, but he himself. I can still picture his enormously bushy eyebrows, and the perpetually twinkling blue eyes below them. And Grandpa’s hands--hands that had helped so many people over the years… hands that had crafted everything from watches, to missions, to little girls’ hair bows. His hands were worn, and wrinkled with age. The loose skin on the back was peculiar in the fact that if you pinched it gently, it would stay in a little ridge even when you took your fingers away. Patient man that he was, he would let us sit in his lap for hours, playing with his hands.

I had the great privilege of being by Grandpa’s side on the late summer night when he went to be with his Lord. We stood in a circle around his bed, holding hands and singing his favorite hymns as he slipped from this world to the next.

Links to other Monday Memories
(If you participate, leave your link in the comments and I'll post it below)

Click here for the Monday Memories code

Click here for Shelli's blog

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Sunday, April 16, 2006

Life is Given

The earth groans
The sun is dark
The Creator rejects


Three hours

It is over

Death is spit out
Life is given

Separation ceases

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Thirty Seconds of Fame

The phone rang today, as it does some million times each day. But this time the voice on the other end said, “Hi Amy, this is Kat from The Fish.” Now that doesn’t happen a million times a day. The Fish is 104.1 KFIS, a family music radio station.

It seems I was a winner for their contest Workday Three Play. She recorded a clip of me introducing one of three of my favorite songs and it was played on the air. How fun! The three songs I chose were Remember Me, Testify the Love, and I Can Only Imagine. Of course I stumbled when introducing the song (after all, is it Ginny Owens or Jenny Owens??), but oh well. Hearing my voice always sounds so….weird. LOL

Not only did I have my thirty seconds of fame, but I also got the prize of a spa treatment for me and four friends. Party time!

Monday, April 10, 2006

Monday Memories: Snake Girl

Monday Memories: Did I ever tell you about My snake friends ?

Where I live in the Pacific Northwest we have no poisonous snakes. Which, I’m sure, contributes greatly to the fact that I am not at all scared of snakes. Pretty much the only snake we have here is the garter snake--a black snake with two bright pinstripes running down his length. They are, at the longest, only the length of my forearm, and only as fat as a big pen.

My dad used to say, “Some boys scare girls with snakes. My girls scare boys with snakes.”

The only bad thing about garter snakes is their stink gland. The smell is nasty and nearly impossible to wash off. As we were not allowed to come to the dinner table reeking of garter snake, we discovered many creative ways to get if off, such as lemon juice.

Well, one day a family with three boys, fairly close in age to us three girls, came visiting. The six of us managed to gather, oh, probably a good fifteen or twenty garter snakes. My oldest sister, AJ, discovered that if you put them in ice water they will get sluggish. So we chilled the whole lot of them and laid them out all over the porch and walkway, sticking them back in the ice water if they began to get too lively.

I’m sure you can imagine the looks on our moms’ faces when it came time to leave and they opened the front door.

Links to other Monday Memories
(If you participate, leave your link in the comments and I'll post it below)

Ask me for the correct Monday Memories code

Click here for Shelli's blog
Purple Kangaroo (memory of flowers and mommy)
MommyHAM (cute memories of kid's mispronunciations of words)
Jen (an intense memory of a car accident)

Trackbacks, pings, and comment links are accepted and encouraged!

Saturday, April 08, 2006

4 MeMe

I got tagged with this meme by both Lauren and Jez.

4 Jobs I’ve Had:
1. Filing/receptionist/accountant/plan changing/staking out land/cleaning new houses
2. Babysitting
3. On call temporary help for the Building Industry Association (mostly phone calling)
4. Assistant figure skating teacher

4 Movies/Shows I’ve Been Addicted To:
1. Little House on the Prairie (way back when)
2. Sue Thomas F.B.Eye
3. Doc
4. Pixar movies

4 Places I’ve Lived:
Since I’ve only lived in one area (the Pacific Northwest), I’ll tell about some houses. My family moved around so much that all our houses have “names” to help us remember what happened when. ;-)

1. “The Tri-Level” I don’t remember this house, but this picture was taken at it. I’m told I once jumped off this windowseat and bit all the way through my tongue. Mom was downstairs and couldn’t hear my screaming, so I was led through the house as my sisters looked for her…dripping blood all the way.

2. “The Little Green House” I have just a few memories of this one. It was a tiny, tiny house painted green, as you might imagine from the name.

3. Now this house is most commonly referred to as “the old house”, but its name is “Fern Springs”. Let me tell you, this was an awesome place to grow up! I’m planning to tell all about it on this blog sometime soon for Monday Memories, so stay tuned.

4. “Whispering Oaks” Our current house. We live in the country, and yet not too far from the city. We have eight acres and are surrounded by cattle and horses. I miss having a neighborhood and more trees, but I love being able to watch the weather and sunsets and we have quite a bit of wildlife here. I’ve become quite attached to “my foothills”, which can be seen on the horizon on three sides of us. They are so beautiful, catching the mood of the day in rich greens, dusty blue, or pure white.

4 Countries I’d Like To Visit
I could make it easier and just say “the world!” but I guess I’ll pick four…

1. Australia (I have a number of good FW friends there)
2. Israel
3. The UK (land of my heritage)
4. Czechoslovakia (more heritage land)

4 Popular False Assumptions About Me:
1. I am conservative because my parents forced me to be.
2. I am very proper (I’m guessing this from the reaction I got on the message board when I mentioned practical jokes and playing with snakes)
3. I am high school age.
4. I have blond or red hair (I had white-blond until I was about seven and now it is medium brown)

4 People I Look Like:
1. Dad (people who knew him when he was little say I look exactly like him)
2. Mom (people who knew her when she was little say I look exactly like her)
(note: Mom and Dad look enough alike that when they went to pick out her wedding ring, the jewelry lady commented on how sweet it was that his sister was helping him pick out the ring. But someone who knew both of them when they were young says I look like Mom, hehe)
3. My sisters
4. A sign language teacher’s sister-in-law (or so he and his wife say)

4 Things I Hope To Do Before I Die
1. Publish a number of books
2. Become a sign language interpreter
3. Personally lead at least one person to Christ
4. Get married and have a large family

OK, Purple Kangaroo and Debboggy, you’re tagged!

Welcome, Debboggy!

My friend and writing partner, Debboggy, just started her own blog, Debboggy's Bloggy. Welcome to the Bloggisphere, Debbie!!!

Friday, April 07, 2006

Great Critique on Threads of Pain

I’ve mentioned a few times that I entered my first two chapters of my novel in a challenge a respected FaithWriter issued. We got the results of the challenge back yesterday and my friends Lauren and Jules were the winners! Congratulations!!!! Yay!

I got exactly what I was hoping for out of the challenge--a little encouragement and a lot of advice. I got a lot of encouragement and a lot of advice. Maxx sent back a line-by-line critique to each of us eight who entered.

Maxx told me: “Amy, going in I knew you were a strong writer... and your piece didn't disappoint. You are able to masterfully play on the emotions, touching all the right chords, etc. This will be something that can be published when it's polished up.”

Thank you Maxx!

Rocky Road

Well, I’ve finished my first week of this semester’s classes. I must say, it was a rather rocky road getting here. Last semester I finished ASL (American Sign Language) 201, so this semester I signed up for ASL 202. A week later I got a phone call saying that 202 had been cancelled because not enough people signed up.

My only other option if I wanted to enter the interpreter’s program next fall was to take ASL 250--an accelerated class that is 201 and half of 202. I do not want to take an accelerated program, I do not want to repeat 202, and I do not want to have classes twice a week, on nights that are bad for me.

Then I found out that ASL 250 was full. Suddenly all those problems weren’t nearly as bad! ;-) If I didn’t get into one of those classes then I would be set back nearly a whole year. Well, the school agreed to let those of us who were signed up for 202 into the full class. The teacher wasn’t happy. We weren’t terribly happy.

We showed up at the very overfull class. The teacher asked us if we would like to be in ASL 251 instead--the next class up. “Yes!” Six of us went tromping exuberantly over to another classroom and the poor teacher about had a heart attack when she looked up some fifteen minutes after class had started and found six of us standing in the back. LOL But when she heard the story she was happy to take us. We were happy, too! So instead of repeating a whole class, we are skipping half a class.

Surprisingly, though, so far I haven’t noticed anything that those of us who skipped up don’t know, but that the rest of the class has learned. In fact, it’s been the other way around. Of course, we are only two classes in, but so far so good.

AND because this is accelerated, I will not have to take any ASL classes this summer! I was planning on taking Deaf Culture this summer, but I quickly signed up for it and added it this time so my summer will be completely free. But now I’m taking eight credits and attending classes three nights a week. So I’ll be quite busy!

Thank You, Lord, for working this all out.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Threads of Pain

The sound of an alarm cut through the night. Emily jerked awake. Bethany must have rolled on one of her dialysis tubes again. One would think a body would get used to the alarm after hearing it nearly every night for three months.

Emily tiptoed past her five-year-old sister’s bed. Karlie, at least, had been blessed with the ability to sleep through the noise.

Moonlight drifted through the hall skylight, faintly lighting Bethany’s room across the hall. Emily paused in the doorway, watching her mom. She was worrying again. Emily could tell from the way she watched Bethany, from the way her hands fluttered as she checked the dialysis tubes. The sound stopped.

Sugar water drained slowly from the bag on the machine, emptying into Bethany’s abdominal cavity through a tube. Her blood had learned to dispose of its impurities into the solution, since her kidneys were no longer cleaning it.

Bethany had already fallen back asleep, and the rasp of her troubled breathing was the only sound. Mom worried most of the time now, though Emily knew her little sister was trying hard to act normal.

But Bethany couldn’t hide the fact that she was rapidly weakening, and normal was only a wishful thought. After all, it wasn’t normal to sleep with dialysis tubes sticking out. It wasn’t normal to have skin turn yellow from toxins, or a face bloated from medications. Emily pushed a strand of sweaty hair from her face. Normal certainly wasn’t having a little sister who was dying. Her other friends had grandparents die, or sometimes even an aunt or uncle. No one’s little sister dies.

I have two and a half chapters of my novel, Threads of Pain, finished, plus the outline. Thanks all for your prayers--it did start flowing more smoothly. I’m still getting stuck some of the time, though. But I’m going to press on and finish this book! I would cherish your prayers.

I think this book will serve to show a bit of what life is like for those on dialysis, as well as spreading awareness of organ donation.

I have teamed up with a friend from FW, Debboggy, as a writing partner. We are encouraging, idea bouncing, and editing each other’s novels. It’s been great!! I feel like I have someone to send my chapters to, without feeling like I’m taking advantage of someone’s friendship, because I’m able to help her in return. She caught so many little things in my first chapters, too, like when I referenced something in the first chapter that I didn’t explain until the second chapter. :-p

Someone asked me if the book is based on a true story. It is not, though of course I am drawing from the experiences I have had with Mom’s dialysis and transplant, and I am even having the main character, Emily, have OCD. However, she has it for a totally different reason, and I’m also having her struggle with her faith. So I hope people don’t decide that she is a mirror of me. ;-)

I was talking about that with Mom and I said, “I guess if I’m going to be a writer I need to get used to people assuming wrong things like that, huh?” She nodded, then sighed heavily, “And I guess your family needs to get used to people assuming things about us, also.” :-p