Thursday, September 30, 2010

Lessons from a Beetle

Today I was in our tiny guest bathroom when a rustling noise and bit of movement startled me. I was relieved to see it was only a little black beetle, minding his own business as he rushed along the floor, blindly hugging the baseboard to ensure he didn’t loose his way. He wasn’t daunted by any debris he passed, clambering quickly over it and continuing on his way.

But then he reached the corner. Hesitation was evident in every bit of his bony little body as he looked this way and that, trying to figure out what he was suppose to do now that his straight way had turned so sharply. Finally he took the plunge and turned the corner, continuing his mad dash along the front wall. But when he reached the second turn, he stopped short. Desperately he searched around, even trying to squeeze under the baseboard in an attempt to get around this block. Eventually he gave up and went back the way he’d come, sure he’d missed a door or passage somewhere along the way.

All he found was the old corner, the twist he’d already overcome. Nothing was left to do but once again backtrack. Again he reached the second corner and searched for a way around it, not knowing that only a few steps beyond it was the doorframe, where he could easily pass under the door to freedom.

Finally he made the choice, and turned the corner into the unknown. Within seconds he’d found the door and, with only a slight hesitation, ran out to the open world.

I had to wonder as I watched this beetle’s journey, how often we look like that to God. He sets us on a path, and as long as things go pretty much straight and as we expect, then we can take the little obstacles that come along. But as soon as the road twists, then we become unsure, wondering if we’ve lost our way or are being led astray. We look for easier ways, and sometimes we even turn around, and backtrack along the lessons He’s already taught us, falling back into the same habits we’ve overcome.

Can we trust that around that next corner, or maybe the one after that, He has a whole world of opportunities just waiting for us?

*beetle picture by Derrick Ditchburn

Monday, September 20, 2010

A Writing Meme

OK…here’s how this works.

1. Copy and paste the following to the comments and replace my answers with your own.

2. If you have a blog, copy and paste these questions and your answers to your blog.

Here are your questions (and my answers)

What’s your favorite genre of writing? Fiction, especially that which is based on true stories, like Biblical fiction or “ripped from the headlines” fiction.
How often do you get writer’s block? I have an illness that causes a lot of brain fog and fatigue, so I often struggle to write because of that. I never lack for story ideas, though.

How do you fix it? Well, since most of my issues aren’t from regular “writer’s block,” it’s not so easy to fix. Keeping my schedule not too hectic helps. As for traditional writer’s block, I find entering the FaithWriters’ challenge helps get my creative juices flowing so I can work on some of my other projects.

Do you type or write by hand? Type! I only hand write short notes to myself when I’m not at the computer or am doing research.

Do you save everything you write? Yup. I sometimes save some of the various versions of stuff as I’m in the process of shortening or lengthening or revising it, too.

Do you ever go back to an old idea long after you abandoned it? Yes, often. I fact, in November I’ll be doing NaNoWriMo with a storyline a friend and I thought up about four years ago and then never did anything with.

Do you have a constructive critic? Yes, several of them. Joanne Sher, Hanne Moon, and Laury Hubrich are some of them. When I can, I also attend a local critique group led by Randy Ingermanson.

Did you ever write a novel? I have about fifteen novel ideas in my head, but haven’t managed to stick to any of them long enough to finish. When I was a young teen I wrote about a third of a historical fiction book. I’m going to try NaNoWriMo this year and try to actually finish one of these novels. Hold me to it!

What genre would you love to write but haven’t? I’d like to try a true mystery sometime. I actually got first place in the “mystery genre” week of the FW challenge, but it wasn’t a traditional story with a mystery to solve.

What’s one genre you have never written, and probably never will? A mushy romance novel. I do include a little romance in some of my stories, but never mushy and I can’t picture myself doing a book that was solely a romance.

How many writing projects are you working on right now? Actively only working on one—a historical fiction novella for the Heirloom Chronicles project. But mentally I’m working on three others, as well: the next group Peculiar People project, my NaNoWriMo novel, and an anthology of my historical fiction short stories. Of course, I throw in a random blog post or challenge story occasionally, too.

Do you write for a living? Do you want to? I do make a little money sometimes on my writing and especially freelance editing. Eventually I’d like all the income I earn to come from writing and interpreting.

Have you ever written something for a magazine or newspaper? Yes, I’ve been published in a number of magazines, including HopeKeepers magazine for Christians with chronic illnesses and At the Center, a magazine for crisis pregnancy center workers.

Have you ever won an award for your writing? I’ve gotten the Editor’s Choice award in the FaithWriters’ challenge many times, and an anthology I have three stories in won an award from the Military Writers Society of America.

Do you ever write based on your dreams? As in the dreams I have while I’m sleeping? I know I’ve filed away story ideas from at least one dream. I can’t recall any stories I’ve written so far that were directly from a dream. I have weird dreams!

Do you favor happy endings, sad endings, or cliff-hangers? I favor realistic endings. That means they are sometimes sad, but I always include some hope in my endings.

And now it's YOUR turn! Respond below, put your answers on your blog, or both. Enjoy.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Behind the Name: Sparrow

My friend Mari redesigned my blog for me. Isn’t it lovely?! I thought I’d take the opportunity to explain the meaning behind my nickname Sparrow. There are several Biblical passages that explain that God notices even things like a sparrow, and if He cares about a bird, so much more does He notice and care about the lives of His own children who were created in His image.

So the name Sparrow signifies to me the special love and care God has for every detail of my life. This is comforting, because I know that if something matters to me, even just for a second, then it matters to God. He understands and cares about each minute of my life. That knowledge is also a responsibility, because it means God doesn’t just care about the big picture of my life, but that it’s important that each action, each word, and each thought I have is one that glorifies Him. Of course, I fall short in that goal, but there again is the comfort of knowing that I am holy in God’s eyes because He sees me through the lens of Jesus’ cleansing blood.

Because of that assurance I have in God, I know He will give me the strength to not only go on each day, but to soar. I may have pain, I may have fatigue and frustrations, but ultimately I know that this world is temporary and while I’m here God will use my life for His glory. Sometimes He even shows me glimpses of how He’s doing that, such as when I’m able to encourage someone else with their illness, or when one of my stories touches someone’s life.

Speaking of stories, it looks like the interpreting field is going to be quiet this term (sadly…and that’s a bit of a prayer need, too), so I’m hoping to be able to do a lot of writing. I’m working with a small team of writers on a historical fiction book, Peculiar People’s Heirloom Chronicles project. We’re hoping to get the rough draft done by the end of September. I’m really excited to see what God does with that book. My section is about a young girl in a German concentration camp during WWII. It’s a tough story to write, but one that I think many will be able to identify with. Though we don’t have the same level of torture and depravation as my character, most of us experience times (or lifetimes) of physical or emotional pain and have to grapple with the “why”s.

Then I’m hoping to try NaNoWriMo for the first time. For those who aren’t familiar with it, National Novel Writing Month is a sort of online support group pushing authors to just let go and be creative as they attempt to write a rough draft of a novel in the month of November—that’s right, a novel in one month! I’m not sure if I can write that way, especially with my physical limitations, but I want to at least try. I haven’t managed to stick with a novel long enough to finish it so far, so maybe this will be what I need.

I’ll keep you posted on my progress with both books. I’m planning to actually post on my blog a little more often now that I’m pretty much done with school. So, see you around!

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Moving Mountains

Wow, I didn’t realize it had been quite this long since I’ve written a post. Hope I still have some readers out there! Life is amazing. I graduated from the interpreting program this June, against all odds (only about 15% of students graduate). My friend in the picture, Holly, is one of my Christian classmates and dear friends who has been so supportive. The internship our last term was a great experience and I was blessed with good mentors. I did have some struggles because I ended up with a bit too busy of a schedule (seems pretty much everything is too much for my poor body) but stretched one term of internship hours over two terms and made it through most days. Now I am finishing up a few general education classes for my AAS degree.

Over the summer there isn’t much paid work available, but I’ve been volunteer interpreting regularly at a church. That’s been a blessing for me to be able to minister in that way and to keep getting interpreting practice and experience over the summer. I’m hoping to begin paid interpreting at a community college in a couple of weeks. I really like the supportive atmosphere at that college and I’ll be able to do just a few regular hours of work a week. I’ve also been accepted at a freelance agency and will be able to accept additional work through them during the times I’m feeling better.

My writing career is taking off as well. It can be challenging sometimes because writing takes so much mental creativity and the Fibromyalgia zaps so much of my energy, but as my school schedule is getting quieter I’m able to do a little more writing. My international collaborative fiction group published Delivered the beginning of this year. It’s a beautiful book and well worth getting, if I do say so myself. ;-) It’s available as a paperback or as an eBook on the Peculiar People website, or if you live in my area ask me to buy an autographed copy. PeP is hard at work on the next collaborative book, the Heirloom Chronicles project, and even have an agent who may be interested in seeing the finished manuscript.

I also had the privilege of being asked to speak at the international FaithWriters’ writing conference in Michigan last month. I taught a workshop on self publishing and it was a lot of fun. Despite my fatigue, I was able to speak clearly, and the whole conference had a lot of great info and even better, a lot of wonderful Christian fellowship and support.

My health issues continue to make life a challenge, but God continues to give me the strength to succeed in ways that sometimes seem impossible. One of my friends was just telling me how exciting all the things I’ve accomplished are, and even more exciting because it’s so blatantly clear that it’s not ME who is accomplishing them, but God through me, because there’s no way I could do any of it myself.

Thanks for all the encouragement and support you, my friends and family, have given me. I will do my best to actually keep this blog updated now that I’ve dusted it off again.

Overcome the odds
You don't have a chance
(That’s what faith can do)
When the world says you can’t
It’ll tell you that you can!

I’ve seen dreams that move the mountains,
Hope that doesn’t ever end
Even when the sky is falling.
And I’ve seen miracles just happen,
Silent prayers get answered,
Broken hearts become brand new.
That’s what faith can do!
That's what faith can do!
Even if you fall sometimes
You will have the strength to rise.

Kutless—“What Faith Can Do”