It seems like forever since I’ve had one of these, huh? But I am pleased to announce that my poem, ‘In the Whisper’ has been selected for publication in the July/August 2016 issue of devozine. This will be the third time I have been published in The Upper Room’s devotional magazine for youth, and I couldn’t feel more honored.
I’m actually pretty proud of how this year went. It might not have been a banner year for publishing or submitting (only one poem for an entire year, really?), it was a good year for personal growth and moving forward with my life. I was able to stick to my resolution of posting more, and I ended up losing forty pounds since the beginning of my weight loss journey. I didn’t beat my Goodreads goal this year- with more things going on in my life, I wasn’t even able to match the amount of poetry and religious books that I read last year. I am happy to note that I am under contract for a house, so I will end up getting my own place this next year (fingers crossed). A mixed bag of what resolutions I was able to keep, exceed and outright failed, but I think I came out with a net positive for the year.
So for this next year:
- Marry my best friend
- Submit at least one work per month for publishing
- Set aside a day each week for writing/editing poetry. No other writing work allowed.
- Keep doing good with blogging.
- Maintain my weight for the wedding.
How did you do with your resolutions in 2015? What are your new ones this year?
Today I’m going to a screening of the new Star Wars with the fiance, and then this week begins my week-long vacation from work for the holidays. I’m going to enjoy this little breath of fresh air, and I hope that you and yours are able to sit back and enjoy each other this holiday season as well. I’ll see you again in 2016, fresh with new New Year’s resolutions for myself. Merry Christmas!
How writing helps me be the Man of God I am meant to be
Through much of my working career in the private sector, I found myself more than dissatisfied with the typical nine to five job structure. I worked hard and tried to get along with my co-workers, but there was just something missing; at least that’s how it was for me. I typically enjoyed a job for the first month or two until I got used to it, then the luster would wear thin and I found myself bored. I always thought there was something wrong with me.
Fast forward to today, I write full-time as a Christian author. I pen stories that inspire and uplift fellow believers in Christ. The stories are written in a way that come across authenticate and realistic so that the people who read them can identify easily. While I work hard at publishing and writing, it never feels like work in the traditional sense. I always related the word work with something I didn’t want to do.
While I used to find myself confused with my dissatisfaction with a typical job, I now feel I understand my past better. The calling that was put on my life when I was a young teenager I believe didn’t allow me to settle for a typical job. If I could settle on a “normal job” I would have never became an author. And now that I’m working full-time as a Christian author, I feel deeply connected with my Creator and Savior as a result of making the switch.
I see God through the stories as they unfold into words on the screen and how the Lord’s plan for our lives is so much better than what we think is best. And it’s not only when I’m writing that I can see God in these new ways. It’s an email from a reader explaining how the free devotional changed their life or how a story helped them see things differently. Those little pieces of the puzzle come together to show just how BIG God is, and how He’s working in the lives of those in the world.
Early on in my writing career, I relied heavily on God to show me how my family and I were going to make it month-to-month. The first month I left my job was the hardest, my wife and I were terrified, but the Lord provided, like He always does. Every single thing that happens not only within the realm of writing and publishing, but also in my life points to God and His awesomeness time and time again.
You might or might not be asking yourself, where was God for me before writing? God was still there, but it was different. I didn’t have full-time work that was revolving around Him. I didn’t see emails come through my inbox that were work related about how God was changing their life; it was memos about birthday cake in the break room. I am blessed to do the work I do and I’m eternally thankful for the opportunity God has given me.
With full-time work centered on God, I find myself constantly praying and connecting with God. I feel I must consistently re-direct praise and glory and success to God in order to stay level headed. My relationship with God and my life as a whole has forever been changed.
So it might seem like I’ve been a little AWOL lately. Even this week, I’m posting on a seemingly arbitrary Tuesday instead of my customary Sunday. I am genuinely sorry that I have fallen short of my own expectations, especially so close to the end of the year as we are.
However, I do have a pretty awesome excuse: I’m now engaged! My significant other ended up surprising me on Halloween weekend with a carved pumpkin and a live band (we got engaged dressed as Fred and Daphne from Scooby Doo, of all things).
Of course, once the excitement settles, what is left is the realization that we suddenly have a ton of things to do: engagement photos (finishing up round two of those this weekend), house showings (fiance wants us to be able to give each other a home for Christmas), scheduling time to figure out when we can reserve my home parish for the ceremony, scheduling marriage prep and so on and so forth ad infinitem. It’s a lot of fun, it’s a lot of being equally stressed and equally thankful for even the opportunity to be so stressed about such wonderful things, but it is very time-consuming.
We are starting to get into a good rhythm, however, so I should be able to get back on track with most of my social media. I’ve been keeping up with my writing work well enough, at least, so never fear. I’ll keep myself as much on track with my social media as well.
Prayers and good thoughts are very welcome at this time!
This past weekend my significant other, dance partner, little sister and her friend went to the 2015 Denver Zombie Crawl. We put a lot of thought into our costumes this year (Nightmare Before Christmas) and headed downtown to walk around and play some games.
We ended up not getting to participate in almost any activities because people wanted pictures of our costumes. We almost lost our table for dinner because people kept wanting pictures. By the end of the day my whole face hurt from smiling, and my nerves were nearly shot from having so many people hug me or put their arm around me. Sounds like a wash of a day, right?
But it wasn’t, and for one simple reason: Joy. The joy on the face of the girl who threw her arms around my knees and told me how excited she was to see my character. On the faces of men and women my age revelling in a childhood favorite. A parents excitement in being able to bring their kid back a picture of characters from a favorite family movie.
I was surprised how popular our costumes were, and the Crawl may not have been what I expected, but I was grateful for the opportunity to bring joy to as many Crawl goers as I could. We talk a lot about charity of money, or charity of time in soup kitchens or church functions, but I think that this too was important: donating time to bring joy to others, regardless of background or means or age, in what little way I am capable of. It was a moment of great grace- I can’t wait to do it again.
What joy can you bring to others in a small way this week?
Yes, you can bet your sweet bottom that I’m one of those white girls who was putting Pumpkin Spice Creamer in her coffee as soon as September 1st hit. And I was so happy when the weather began to turn back down into the seventies that I was furious today that it was 85. I’m an autumn lover; lover of all things cinnamon and cold, crisp and cookie; I love wearing oversized sweaters and boots up to my knees and my collection of scarves and beanies is massive.
I’ve come to the realization that my mood tends to correspond with the way I feel about the weather. I know we’ve all heard about the winter blues and cabin fever, but I feel like I tend to have the opposite. When it’s summer I feel this immense pressure to be out doing something all the time. I get anxious if I sit down for too long (even if it’s to read or write), and I end up being really hard on myself if I don’t go out to enough social gatherings or don’t go on enough camping trips or experience enough new things. When it’s cold outside I feel like I can just be. I can type for hours with my tea in my hand, I can draft new manuscripts because it’s too cold to just go outside and hang out when all the shops have closed down. Fall and winter are my favorite seasons because I don’t feel so cramped, so sweaty and rushed. Something about the briskness in the air is just so energizing that I find myself in a better mood more often, and it’s easier for me to be productive.
Which just means that I need to get better with spacing myself out in the summer. I don’t think I’m at that point yet where I’ve shaken off the propensity to ‘prepare for fall’ the way that I had when I was still in school from kindergarten to college graduation. (By the time I do, I’ll probably be getting ready to do the same thing with my future children, so yay.) To a point, I think it’s alright that I go with this natural rhythm- to understand that I have this natural limitation in the summer that seems to run contradictory to what I think is going to be this time of boundless productivity. I need to work better with this limitation so that things don’t come to such a grinding halt (I get behind on my posts, I don’t submit manuscripts, I don’t produce new works, etc). It’s better for me to work at a slower pace for me not work at all, right?
So it might be too late this year, but next year I’ve got a plan: I’ll focus on working more efficiently during my summer time, instead of focusing to intently on working harder. The beginning to success if knowing where to start.
What’s your best weather, readers?
I’m now 23! Though, to be honest, I still feel fifteen (which is not at all helped by my current situation of living at my parents’ home…). Here’s to another great year of progress and growth!
Well, no, not me (yet). This past Saturday we helped my little brother move out and back up towards his college campus, where he will be starting his senior year. And this Thursday my little sister, the baby of my big family, will be starting her first year of college some several hours away. This week has been full of packing, cleaning, taking inventory, swapping clothes and furniture, doing last minute summer painting and moving rooms around in the house to prepare for winter. My little sister and I have been feverishly attempting to finish the Chinese historical drama that we had started together (‘Perfect Couple’, if you’re wondering) so that we don’t leave anything unfinished. My little brother left earlier than anticipated because his girlfriend, bless her heart, was coming in early and he is so, so excited to see her.
It’s been weird, all this change and preparation for change. Even as all of this is happening to ‘other people’, plans are in place for me and my significant other to purchase our own first home by Christmas, and put everyone through the process of moving out and moving on all over again. I guess this is the first time in my family that this kind of thing is happening to everyone, and not one-at-a-time. We knew it was going to happen at some point- besides me and my next-older brother, every kid in my family is only two years apart in age (while me and my next-older brother are four years apart). At some point our life-changes were all going to clash, and its going to happen again- with current plans, it’s likely that my little brother moving out of state to pursue med school will either come right before or right after me getting married.
It’s not the way you think about ‘growing up’ as a kid. There’s always this idea that growing up will happen to you, and only you. We forget that our sisters and brothers are growing too, that our parents are still growing and will have their own changes even while we are still trying to figure ours out. Barely do we have time to figure out our own moves than someone else needs our help with their moves, and before we have the time to process what those moves mean, someone else is making another one. I don’t really think it will hit me that my baby sister is going off to college for another couple of weeks, when things have settled down a bit more and she’s not here at the house for me to bug after work or to play with my puppy or to watch k-dramas with. It might not hit until the first time I have to Skype her instead of walking across the hallway. She’s the first in our family to go to school farther than an hour away- me and my little brother went to the same college, so this is going to be entirely different for everyone. I don’t really know how you prepare for that.
And that’s life. All I really can do is pray- pray for her safety, pray for the prudence to give her to the space to make her own choices, to grow in her own special way- and to be available and there for her when she needs me. The same will go for my brother, as he finishes his last year of school, and my significant other, as he makes his first real push to save for something financially towards the end of the year. All I can do is trust in the fruitfulness of prayer and the fruitfullness of strong relationships. (And take the extra time and space to write and submit more, God willing.)
What new changes have been happening in your life? How are you handling them?
Looking at my last couple of posts, I feel like all I’ve been talking about lately is being overwhelmed and overbooked. This is, on the surface, a post that’s not entirely different. Right now I’ve come to a point in my life that is woefully stagnant. I haven’t written any new poetry in over a month, and haven’t submitted anything new in about the same amount of time. Normally that would be because I’m focused more over on the fiction-writing side of things, but progress hasn’t budged on that end either. With only ten pounds left to lose I’ve seemingly plateaued, things at work are bubbling together as the kids prepare to go back to school and their mother back to job-hunting and my financial goals are coming together, albeit slowly.
But I’m not stressed out about it. I was about a week back- I wanted all these goals met now, I wanted my editing finished now, I wanted five different manuscripts out on submission now…. And then I met up with a friend of mine who has also been a bit stressed out about timing. In his case, it’s a lot about a specific relationship that he really wants to happen. The only advice I could really give him that would be healthy for everyone was to be patient, and to pray. I realized that I had been missing that myself lately. I’d been seeing my stagnation as an obstacle to my goals, to my creativity; to my life. Instead of taking the opportunity to breathe, I was holding my breath until I was purple in the face. I wanted things done on my time, not on God’s time, and in that I had twisted myself up in pretzel-like contortions. Instead of being able to work harder, go further, I have become my own biggest obstacle.
So I start today with a new resolution. When I feel too tired to write, or to network, I will pray. I will take the hint when my body needs rest. I will be patient so that when I do write, when I do edit, I do so with a clear mind and open heart (instead of out of sheer frustration and desire to get things over with). I will welcome stagnation as a normal part of the creative process, and of life in general. It’s not going to be easy, seeing how much I hate being productive, but it’s a lesson I’ll have to learn.
How do you deal with stagnant periods, readers?