Hurricane Michael

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Once again life gets in the way of my blogging. This time, by Hurricane Michael. I live in Panama City, FL. Our town now looks like a war zone. Trees down everywhere. Most buildings have varying degrees of damage from minor to total destruction. Power lines down everywhere. Many areas were flooded. We have no power, water, or phone service. My area of town is not expected to get power until at least Oct 24. No telling when we’ll get phone service.

BUT

God is good!

My house is still standing with only moderate damage. My husband and I will have a lot of clean up to do but we are not homeless.

People are coming from EVERYWHERE to help out – from clearing roads and restoring power lines to providing food and water and even housing. Neighbors are being more neighborly. And life goes on even without hospitals and vets and fast food.

Our town may be devastated, but we will survive and rebuild!

In the meantime, I will be returning to Panama City tomorrow morning and will be once again without communication. If you don’t hear from me, don’t worry. I’m fine. And I will be back! Again!

 

I’m Still Here

I know I haven’t written anything in a while. And I miss that. Little AJ started teething (yes, already!) which required lots of time and imagination to find ways to provide her relief since she’s too little for most teething aids.

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

And then I moved back home.

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Photo by Nextvoyage on Pexels.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, as soon as I get my work space set up again, and find my thumb drive with my saved writing, I’ll be back!

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Photo by Gratisography on Pexels.com

 

When Life Gets in the Way

img_20180731_010139614.jpgHave you missed me?

I’ve missed you!

I had finally found a way to carve out some writing time every few days… and life with my new granddaughter changed again. From thrush and 2 month shots to growth spurts and dietary changes, it’s been a bit tough around here. That means more stress and less sleep. Which definitely interferes with my ability to be creative.

Hopefully things are settling down again now and I should be able to get back to some writing. Bella is about to get some answers in my ongoing Bella series. And I have a few analogies bouncing around in my head with pictures I have been taking – of storms and power lines and swimming pools. I’m even thinking about taking one day a week to post portions of the full length novel I had started writing before AJ was born.

With limited time right now, I’ll have to create a priority list though. I would love to know – what would you like me to put at the top of this priority list?

100 Followers!

IMG_20180721_175143029 I started this blog as a way of practicing my writing and hoping someone might be inspired or encouraged along the way. I didn’t know if anyone would actually want to follow me and am so excited to reach 100 followers!

I am very grateful to all of you who find my blogs worthy of your time!

They’ll Be Back

woman in grey shirt holding brown cardboard box
Photo by bruce mars on Pexels.com

For those who miss my normal posts… especially the creative nonfiction and Bella posts… they will be back as soon as my life gets back into a routine. I’m transitioning between my home and my daughter’s home. Just give me a few days, or maybe a week, to settle in. Bella is not giving up until she gets her answers! And there are more creative nonfiction stories hiding in my journals.

Plans:  Do I Believe… or Not?

I had planned to be there when my daughter had her first baby. Both my mother and my mother-in-law had been there when my babies were born. And I wanted to do the same for my daughter.

But I was 500 miles away when I got the call. “Mom, don’t panic, but they want to take the baby now…”

I knew my daughter had struggled with high blood pressure throughout her pregnancy, and that they were planning for an early birth. But that was a month away! Surely the doctor could wait twelve hours before inducing, giving me time to drive over there.

But before I finished  packing, a picture of my newborn granddaughter popped up on Facebook. Proud daddy and adorable AJ. An awesome shot of the two of them together moments after the birth.

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I knew I should be happy. I knew I should be thankful for both mom and baby doing well.

But all I could feel was disappointment. Which quickly turned to bitterness as I added this event to so many others in which I didn’t get my way. Why couldn’t I be there with them at this incredible time? Just one more example of the bad luck that followed me my whole life? Another dream that was not allowed to come true?

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But was it luck? Did God really have control over every detail of my life? If He was in control, then it wasn’t luck, it was His plan.

Grieving over my broken dream, I wailed out at Him: “Why didn’t you want me there?” He let me cry, but He didn’t answer me as I struggled with questions that rose up from deep within. Why was I denied what so many other grandparents got to have? Didn’t God love me as much as He loved them? Was I inferior to other people, as life had convinced me I was since I was little? Always second class, never first? Never worth enough for God to bother with fulfilling my dreams? Always dealing with second best answers?

I knew God loved me regardless of what I felt at this moment. I tried to choose to believe His word over my feelings. “God, I don’t understand this. But I know You are good and that You love me.”

I wish I could say that peace flooded me or that light filled me or some other wonderful result of my prayer. But nothing changed. I still hurt. I was still 500 miles away. And I still had questions.

An hour of packing turned into three, and an eight hour drive turned into twelve. I couldn’t figure out how getting to my daughter took an extra six hours. There had been no incidents that would account for that much delay. Where had the time gone? Was it more bad luck – or God’s plan?

I didn’t want to get into that again, so I ignored the pain, put on a happy face, and went up to the third floor of the hospital. At least I would be able to spend time watching my grandbaby through the nursery window.

But that was not to be either. Baby AJ, being six weeks premature, was in a special ward where visitation was very limited. I wouldn’t be allowed in there without my daughter or son-in-law, and then only for a very short time.

Eventually, I did make it to my daughter’s room, And meet my new granddaughter. And watch with pride the strength of my daughter and son-in-law as they dealt with the curve ball God had also thrown at them. They hadn’t planned on such an early birth either. In fact, their curve ball was much larger than mine. My daughter could hear the other full term healthy babies as they passed in the hall on their way to visit their moms while she was denied her own baby due to medical concerns. Her husband also had to deal with the stress of closing on their new house, which should have happened months ago but kept getting delayed, and packing/moving/unpacking pretty much by himself. Were they questioning God’s love for them also? Were they also feeling inferior to others who’s plans always seem to work out?

“Count your blessings.” “Focus on the good, not the bad.” I can hear people saying as they read my words. I know it’s good advice. So many years I have walked with Him, learning of His love and faithfulness. Time after time I have seen Him intervene in my life in one form or another. Yet evidently this whole experience has revealed that I still have deep issues that need healing.

I know that God is in this. My husband and I were both able to leave at a moment’s notice and drive through the night without an accident despite how sleepy we became. And I am able to stay here with my daughter indefinitely, helping with the move, and later with the baby. Hearing my daughter’s story, it’s amazing how many things “just happened” to happen at just the right moment from the time her body went into crisis and continuing even as I type this.

The bottom line? None of us got what we wanted. God had a different plan. Now we have to decide whether or not we truly believe God has full control over our lives like we profess, and whether His plans were made with our best interest in mind. Are we going to believe our circumstances – or – are we going to believe God’s Word?

The struggle is real.

A Conversation With Myself (or Can We Get Some Feedback?)

Me: We have a problem.

Myself: What kind of problem? Are we out of keyboard strokes?

Me: What? Never mind. We’re going to need to change our blog posts. Do you think our readers are aware that our stories are based on real life events from the journals we kept in our earlier life?

Myself: Maybe. But I bet few would know that genre is called creative nonfiction. I had never heard of that before we began writing in it! I wonder how many other genres are out there that we’ve never heard of.

Me: Focus, man! We’re not talking about genres. We talking about our blogs! We need some information.

Myself: You mean, like what our readers like to read?

Me: Yes. If you haven’t noticed, we’re pretty much done with the journals from the 1970’s.  We need to move on to the 80’s.

Myself: So?

Me: So there’s a problem with that. Our life changed more than a few times during the 80’s. And so our journal entries changed also.

Myself: How? The handwriting?

Me: No, you fool. They went from event based to thinking based. More about what we thought about things than actual events.

Myself: So? I still don’t see the problem.

Me: Really? How can we write about events when there aren’t many to choose from?

Myself: Oh, I get it. So what do we do?

Me: There’s several directions we can go, but I just can’t decide.

Myself: Well, maybe if we figured out why we’re writing in the first place, it might help us figure out which direction to go.

Me: OK. At first we wrote to practice our writing skills. But that changed over time after we began getting feedback. So we need new goals.

Myself: I have one! How about to brighten our reader’s day with a little entertainment?

Me: That’s good. We definitely want to do that. But that seems so trivial. We need to think deeper. Like maybe to inspire our readers to keep on keeping on with their own walks with God.

Myself: Ooo, I like it! But I have one even deeper than that! To glorify God by acknowledging, and in a way thanking, Him for all the ways He has been faithful to us!

Me: Perfect!  So we have three new goals. Now how do we reach them?

Myself: Get readers to read them of course!

Me: Duh! And how do we do that when we don’t know what they like?

Myself: Now who’s being dumb. Ask them!

Me: Their time is precious with so many daily demands on their lives. And there’s so many great blogs they could be reading. I always feel honored when they choose to spend some of that time reading what we write.  I don’t want to ask even more of their time. I want them to be glad each time they visit us.

Myself: Well, it won’t hurt to ask them. Maybe a few of them would be kind enough to answer.

Me: Wow! If they would, I think I would jump with joy!

Myself: That I would love to see!  I don’t think I’ve ever seen you jump, except for when you see a roach. lol

Me: Very funny. Let’s write a letter to our readers with our questions.

Myself: Good idea. Here’ s what I think it should say:

“Dear Readers,

We love you! Thank you so much for spending some of your valuable time with us! Could we please ask you a few questions? It would help us out tremendously as we contemplate the direction we want our blog to take.”

Me: Tremendously? Contemplate?

Myself: Shhh… big words might make them think we’re smarter than we are.

Me: sigh

“Here are some questions, but any comments or suggestions would also be greatly appreciated!

Which of our stories had the greatest impact on you?

What kinds of stories would you like to see more of? Humorous, thought provoking, emotional, chapters (where one long story is divided into several blogs), etc.?

Are there any type stories you don’t like?

Would you be interested in other kinds of writing such as our commentary as we studied different scriptures? Or pictures we drew that told a story all on their own (with maybe just a caption when necessary)?

Do you prefer daily short stories or fewer longer stories (like 2-3 per week)?

What else can we do to make our blogs more inspiring, entertaining, and/or worthwhile of your time?

Very gratefully yours,

Me and Myself”

Me: Sounds good. Let’s post it!

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I hope this blog brought you a smile or two! The dialogue was meant to be humorous but the questions are serious. I really would like feedback. When I was still teaching, I used to ask parents as well as my students for feedback from time to time in order to evaluate my performance and make changes when necessary in order to become the most effective teacher I could be. I would like to use that same strategy to help me become the most effective, inspiring, impactful blogger I can be. I would truly be honored for any time you spend providing this feedback to me! And I truly do love you!

Linda

A Request for Help From My Readers

This is off topic – not a short story at all.  It’s actually a request. If I were to enter one of IMG_20180412_055520329my stories in a contest, which one should I choose? Which one would you chose? Which one do you think meets this criteria the best?

The judges will evaluate each one based on the following criteria: style, content, clarity, pacing, inspiration, and originality

  1. Is the submission well-written and readable?
  2. Does the submission engage the reader?
  3. Is the subject matter consistent with the contest’s theme?
  4. Does the author effectively use mood to convey the overall theme?
  5. Is the author’s personal style distinctive?

 

The theme is just Christian. It says, “Perhaps it is a story of answered prayer, of God coming through for you when you least expected it. Or maybe your story is humorous, illustrating God’s work at play.”

This would be the first writing contest I enter. As a new writer, I need your help to make the best, most objective choice. The deadline is April 16, 2018 and must be under 800 words. So my longer stories are not options.

Thank you so much for helping me!

Linda