Monday, December 31, 2012

Goodbye 2012 >>>>Hello 2013

Had to know change was coming in 2011, huh?

2012 was a year of defining moments. Some  were good, others scary, and some are still evolving. It was a year in which I knew God was saying, “Shhh! Study to show yourself approved.”

I took him seriously about that admonition. The evidence is in how many fewer times I blogged in 2012 compared to 2011. I hope my decision will reap good things in 2013.

In April, my brother sent me to Washington, DC for the Titus 2:1 Conference. I can tell you a secret because I told my now very dear friend, the conference director – Cheryl, what I’m about to tell you. When I arrived, I was mortified. The conference had a small feel to it. Too small, I thought.
image credit

I wondered how I’d tell my brother I had wasted his money by agreeing to go. I felt out of place and ill at ease, but there’s nothing new about that, is there?

The next morning I thought about hiding out in my room for an impromptu three day vacation. I made myself go down to the meetings out of respect to my brother. I wasn’t about to waste his money. In that moment, I changed my life. Or rather, the 2:1 experience and all the friends I made changed my life.

Those friends and mentors continue to enrich my life, career, and soul almost by the hour. Because of them, I am in the process of creating a newer, better blog and will be moving to my own “.com” within just few days. The Lord willing and the creek don’t rise!

I am about to embrace an even scarier endeavor. I will tell you more in the coming weeks. Suffice it to say, you better buy smelling salts now if the news of my own website didn’t leave you woozy! That same community of friends has catapulted me into this endeavor as well.

Ridgecrest Conference Center/BRMCWC - 2012 
In May, I returned to the weeklong Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference. (Again, thanks to my big brudder.) I was privileged to take classes with both Eva Marie Everson and Ramona Richards even though I was woefully, embarrassingly unprepared for both. I was able to nourish old friendships and make some very meaningful new ones.  

In October, my brother sponsored my trip to the Allume Social Media conference. With Anne Voskamp, Mary Demuth, Darren Rouse, Sarah Mae, Jessica Heights, and Logan Wolfram among others pouring into my life, I discovered my own personal super power.

When I tell you, you may wanna scream, “DUH!” because some of you told me so already. Fraidy cats have a hard time believing.

My superpower is: encouragement. I don’t wear a cape. I wear a wristband and necklace. In fact, I’ve worn them daily since I returned from the conference.

I don't need no stinkin' cape.  :-)
As lame as that sounds, those mementos have kept me going in this mean season of life. I went shattered emotionally and spiritually. I came home knowing that God sees me even though I'm buried in this rubble I call a life. He sees me and because of him, I am a superwoman with a superpower. I look at the band and necklace every time my soul grows faint.

This year, I discovered a truth in my heart of hearts: I am a blogger. This is my first love. Gone are my book contract dreams and great American novel dreams. Those have been replaced by my love of blogging and my devotion to you – the fraidy cats that have come in from the cold to walk with me. I rejoice in letting go of the former dreams and in knowing that God is doing a new thing in my life. 

Courtesy Mad Penguin Creative
Thanks for all you have meant to me since May 21st 2011. Thanks for bearing with me when I don’t post and when my posts are lame. Thanks for all the times you’ve hit the ‘share’ button on Facebook, Google plused me, pinned me, or tweeted something about my journey.

I can’t wait to get the 2013 party started. Say some prayers for me as I get this new website launched. Yea. . . me. The  anti-Geek who is a techno-phobe. I told you that 2:1 Conference changed my life!

Happy New Year! See you soon?

Isaiah 43:19 (NIV)
See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.

P. S. Just in case you wondered, my top 5 posts of all time are linked below!

Courtesy B. Creasy - 2010
Psst . . . Hey, Homeschooler:  click here

What if the Proverbs Woman Had a Pinterest Board  click here

I Am That Woman  click here

When Parents Make Mistakes  click here

In the Company of Brokenness  click here 

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Everyday Heroes Hidden in Plain Sight – Pt. 2

Courtesy A. Squires

I entered the plane breathless for the moment I could deplane. As my new friend's story unfolded, I found myself dreading the moment we'd land as much as I dreaded Hurricane Sandy's turbulence. 

The plane lurched and bounced. We each grabbed at the other's hands, drew back a bit, and let out nervous half giggles-half sighs when the plane evened out. For a few minutes, I had forgotten I was afraid.

An expectant mom weaved to the back of the plane trying to beat the waves of morning sickness chasing her to the lavatory beside us. We groaned kindred groans silently praying the plane would fly smoothly for her sake as well as our own.

"May I ask what you do for our country?" 

"I've just gotten back from Iraq.”  Her calm tone implied it was about the same as a trip to the grocery. She spoke of warm relationships with Iraqi people. She alluded to successes and failures experienced while there.

Courtesy D. Scott
Confidence oozed out of her pores. The fraidy cat in me blushed over my tendency to develop the vapors with the least provocation.

A spring deployment to Afghanistan overshadowed anticipated Christmas celebrations with her family. The light in her eyes dimmed a bit. She admitted to some apprehension about the future and explained how her family would care for her children and foster tot. She winced when she spoke about the hardships of being away so often and so long.

I waxed bold and asked specific questions about women coping with the rigors of life in the field. She laughed, “You'd be amazed at what you can do with eight ounces of water and baby wipes!”

I told her about my inner fraidy cat. My idea of roughing it involved trendy lugged soled hiking boots and a walk over to the glassed in elevators at an Embassy Suites hotel. She rewarded me with quick, easy laughter that captivated my motherly heart.

The plane gave another jolt. Again, I had forgotten all about hurricanes, turbulence, and plane crashes. We agreed our present circumstances were claustrophobic at best. 
Courtesy T. Parker

She chuckled and told me about her favorite way to fly. In a helicopter. The kind with no doors – for easy out and easy in. She talked about the freeing sensation of flying low and fast with the wind against her skin. Her words made me dizzy.

To everyone else on the plane, she was just another weary traveler thankful to be headed home before the storm shut the airport down. To me, she was an everyday hero hidden in plain sight. One who commiserated with my flying phobia even though she liked flying on door-less helicopters.

Courtesy Mad Penguin Creative
I did what was, for me, a heroic thing. I told her I was a person of faith and asked if I could say a prayer for her right then and there. Tears flickered and threatened to dampen her lashes as she nodded o.k.

I wrapped her in a motherly embrace and thanked the good Lord above for honoring me with the cramped, claustrophobic seat in the back of the plane. How else would I have met the hero hidden in plain sight? I thanked him for my friend in passing and begged him to follow her with peace and protection now and through all the days of her long life.

I asked him to bless her family and their time together. Lastly, I prayed Godspeed over her and her soldiers while asking God to bring peace to troubled lands through the work they do.
Courtesy Mad Penguin Creative
As the minutes ticked down, we talked about the longing for comforts of home. I asked about care packages and gathered advice about items to include and ones to leave out. I promised our chance meeting would make a difference even if I didn't know how just then.

The gentle touchdown came all too quickly. I knew life would carry us on to where we were headed. I would soon be a faint memory in the rear view mirror of her life. She, however, would be indelibly inked on the memories of my heart.
Courtesy B. Creasy - 2010
I am combining an effort to honor this soldier with the Twitter campaign honoring the memories of the Sandy Hook, NJ shooting victims. My friends at Home Educating Family's blog offered the chance to share my vision with you on their site.  

Join me in #26acts of kindness for men and women in uniform. Fraidy cats can accomplish some awesome things when we work together!

To visit me at Home Educating Family's blog for more information, click their link below:
Home Educating Family

Everyday Heroes Hidden in Plain Sight ・Pt. 1

Courtesy Mad Penguin Creative
I stumbled down the plane aisle trying not to betray my infrequent flier status. Did my eyes shifting back and forth while checking aisle and seat numbers betray my lack of nonchalance?

Confusion raised a nervous sweat on my forehead when I realized my seat was in the last row vs the middle of the plane. To make matters worse, I inconvenienced the young lady in the aisle seat to get to my window seat.

Hurricane Sandy bore down on us sending my flying nerves into pandemonium. I felt like a great white whale stuffed into a tuna can about to be dropped into the eye-wall of a hurricane.

The flying public is not overly chatty these days. So, I tried to figure out how to retrieve my book from below the forward seat given the one square inch of wiggle room afforded me.

Recognizing futility when I saw it, I sighed surrender and settled back to begin my prayers for arrival without aid of an airsickness bag. I gave a nervous glance at my seatmate expecting banal indifference. Trying to hide my startled reaction when her eyes met mine, I allowed a quick, "Nervous  and infrequent flier . . . ."

To my surprise, she gave a sigh of appreciation and said, "Oh, I know! Me too!"
Courtesy Mad Penguin Creative

Rather than offering a begrudging acknowledgment of my plight and settling back with her own distractions, she drew me into an easy conversation. Had I any idea of the truth about her flying experience, I would have suspected her camaraderie was for my benefit only. Little did I know she was an everyday hero hidden in plain sight.

We asked the polite questions strangers on planes ask. We commiserated with relief knowing each understood the other's anxiety. The flight promised to replicate an old wooden roller coaster if the weatherman could be trusted.

We talked about the book she was reading and how it resonated given her life experience. It was only natural for our conversation to turn to her family. When she spoke of her children, her face took on a glow  any company selling beauty products would die to reproduce.

In her early thirties, she held a newly minted MBA. Pride in her recent  achievement paled when she spoke of being mom to a tween and teen boy and girl. On top of an already busy life, she was a new foster mom. The pitter patter of tenderness punctuated her excited giggles as she told me the story of how the toddler came to be in her care.

Courtesy Mad Penguin Creative
When our talk turned to specifics of her vocation, the truth began to slip out bit by bit. She too was traveling for business. A shy smile appeared when she explained. Rather than traveling for her primary employer, she was traveling as part of her military service.

During each leg of my trip, I was privileged to give up my place in line to a uniformed member of the armed services. Each time, the service person replied, "Are you sure?"

My adamant reply erupted, "If I could, I would do more!"

I shook my head in wonder to find  this amazing woman, young enough to be my daughter, was one of the ones I  been watchful for as I traveled. Dressed in street clothes, she would have vanished in the crowd but for our sharing cramped seats at the back of a plane.  Sometimes God pulls some sneaky ones, doesn't he?

"National  Guard?" I asked.  Her smile glowed again as she nodded an affirmation. The writer in me sat up like a dog begging for treats. You know me. I always need to know more.

Courtesy Mad Penguin Creative
What about you fraidy cat? Have you ever met someone and known the meeting would change your life? I can't wait to tell you the rest of this story. When I'm done, I hope you'll join me in random acts of kindness.

See you tomorrow, and we'll get this party started, o.k.?

Hebrews 13:2 (NLT) 
Don't forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it! 

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas 2012


Thursday, December 20, 2012

Finding Peace in an Age of Apocalypse

Courtesy Mad Penguin Creative

Silence comes hard for writers even when stories are too young to tell. I have been in a hurry for my words to catch up with my journey. God, however, is not bothered by my impatience.

In the midst of these puzzling, wordless days, I am keenly aware of his presence. Yes, the same God with whom I have so painfully wrestled here on the pages of this blog. That God. He inhabits this silence.

Some days I panic and fret over blog stats and goals. I wonder if I have destroyed my online presence because I don't worship at the altar of the social media gods often enough.

My heart begins to beat heavy until it throbs in my ears. “You cannot grow your brand in silence,” the Type-A me tells the wordless me. “You'll never be one of 'those' savvy bloggers because you just aren't prolific enough. Why you don't even have a free printable, and at this rate, you never will! You'll never catch up.”

I breathe in the God-filled silence long and slow trying to drown out the panic. I hear rhythms of life I have not heard in eons. (Yes. I am that old.)

Courtesy Mad Penguin Creataive
When a gas-powered leaf blower three yards over stalls, silence deafens me. Slowly, I can hear again. The scritch-scratch of my rake becomes hypnotic allowing other sounds, long ago sounds, to seep in.

The sounds of a heel tapping to keep a swing in motion melt into the eeee-awww sounds of the swing groaning and complaining as it responds. The breeze lifts my bangs. A wet towel snaps in the wind and a clothespin squeaks as it closes over the towel. Sounds of the past wash me away.

I realize I have been so caught up in the race of life, I have lost the
rhythm of living. The unfamiliar quiet is as eerie as it is comforting. I breathe in the God-filled silence and know he is there in the absence of words. I know it is o.k. to wait because I am waiting on him. 

Courtesy Mad Penguin Creative
 I feel words begin to emerge again. Then, news explodes with the awful reality of a hopeless world. Twenty little faces taken from twenty homes even as  we sing about the most magical time of the year.
Silence seems the only appropriate reaction because there are times words just fail.
These days of mourning require a singular silence of the soul.

One does not have to embrace the
end of the Mayan calendar to know: we live in an age of apocalypse. Suffering, violence, disease, and mayhem abound even as society is the most advanced, educated, and interconnected the world has ever known.

Media offers a litany of answers from gun control to doomsday prepper survival bunkers. Politicians pontificate and jockey for airtime. Big business promises a shopping rush to distract us while big pharma offers a pill to calm us. Psychologists warn that the fragile among us may do exactly what the troubled young man in Connecticut did as December 21
st approaches – react in desperation.
Courtesy Mad Penguin Creative
There is but one answer for a fallen world calling out for solutions to save us from ourselves. Long ago a child was born to die. In his death, he would bring meaning and purpose to a sinful world. As he faced a certain death, he knew we would face questions that had no sane answers. 

He left a message of hope that will survive beyond the end of the Mayan calendar:

Courtesy Mad Penguin Creative

John 16:33 (The Message)I’ve told you all this so that trusting me, you will be unshakable and assured, deeply at peace. In this godless world you will continue to experience difficulties. But take heart! I’ve conquered the world. 

Romans 8:38-39 (Amplified Bible)
For I am persuaded beyond doubt (am sure) that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities, nor things impending and threatening nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Friday, December 7, 2012

It's been that kinda week. Hope you are finding easy solutions for the untidy messes at your house!  Lots going on here in FraidyCatlandia. Hope you miss me as much as I miss you. Planning on moving this blog from Blogger to Wordpress over the coming weeks. Stay tuned for updates and new blogposts. soon as I finish painting 'that room' and get the soda cleaned up from the nooks and crannies in the freezer -that I never knew were there till now.

Blessed Advent and Merry Christmas countdown. 
CA - your resident fraidy cat. 
Where I pretend I am when I hear the pop in the freezer.
Courtesy B. Creasy - 2010