Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Why July Make Me Smile

I’ve been doing a lot of blathering about my book. But that’s only cause I’m super excited and I know a lot of you are too, and you’re honestly curious about the process. So in case you were wondering what’s been going on lately with the production process, I will tell you in one word. Nothing. Nothing will start happening until September, which to me seems like it’s taking forever and a day to get here but will really be here in the blink of an eye. Once September hits things will start rolling faster than I’m probably ready for, and rest assured that I will update more frequently when there is more to say.

This post is for all the hopeless romantics. Ben and I are just shy of hitting 10 months left in our countdown. It’s crazy to think that we started out with 549 days, and we’re already down to 319 days. It’s gone SO fast. This scares me a little bit, because I know in the coming months things will really start piling up on me…school, work, book stuff, and wedding stuff will quickly get overwhelming if I don’t make it a priority to deal with issues as they come. But I love lists and organizing things. Poor Ben doesn’t know what he’s getting himself into…

But in the midst of all the craziness, I stop and remember why I’m doing all this. I work because I want to pay for most of my school expenses on my own, and I’d like to pay for as much as the wedding as I can. I go to school because I have a passion for bringing healing to a hurting world. It doesn’t matter to me if only a handful of people receive healing because of my work. As long as I tried my best, that’s all that matters to me. And I’m getting married because I love Ben more than I ever thought was possible to love another human. And because we share the same heart.

I want to give you all a glimpse into what our world has been like for the past 4 years. It was right around this time of year in 2008 that things started changing for us. In fact I know it was the last week in July in 2008. I could dig out an old journal from that year to prove it, but who knows where in the world the box is that holds it. But I can tell you with complete certainty that most entries included Ben. We’d become good friends that summer as we hung out with kids from our youth group, but we never spent any time alone. But this last week of July changed…Ben asked me to go fishing with him. This story always cracks me up though, because I freaked out. I was convinced he liked me and I was certain that I didn’t like him. (I guess I liked lying to myself. I totally liked him) Anyway, after telling him no many times, his persistence paid off and I finally said yes. But I drug Matthew with me, and then Sammie ended up joining us as well. I thought this would be safer, but he seemed kinda upset about our siblings joining us, which caused me to freak out more because I wasn’t sure if he wanted it to be a date or not. But later that night it finally hit me. I liked him. Because hours earlier, before we went fishing, I changed three times before ending up in shorts and a t-shirt. I changed THREE times for a fishing date! I wouldn’t have done that if I didn’t like that boy, and that was the first night I knew my life would never be the same. Ben recently admitted to me that he never wanted that night to be a date. He honestly just wanted to go fishing with a friend. Yeah I know…romantic. He shoulda lied and told me he had a secret crush on me too. Would have made for much more interesting reading material. 

Four years later here we are, preparing for marriage. Crazy nuts. I still get comments from people, telling me I’m too young and that I should be enjoying my twenties doing who knows what. But I got to thinking the other day…I was never a normal child. Other kids spent their weekends at friends’ houses, I spent them reading. Other girls gushed to their girlfriends about everything from boys to clothes to makeup. I never had much interest in flipping through magazines or making giggly talk with girlfriends. My mind was just on other stuff, and I think even at that young God was preparing me for this crazy life I’m living right now. Other young people might look at my life and yawn because it seems boring, but they have no idea what they’re missing out on. Because I don’t live in one world…I live in two. One world I’m a young bride preparing for her wedding and studying a field I love. In another world I’m the characters I’ve created. I tell my stories from a first person point of view, so I really have to step into their shoes and feel what they must be feeling. Their pain becomes my pain, their trials are mine to endure. And it’s impossible for me to leave their world. I’m in for life. So it really is like I’m living in two worlds, because in any given hour I go from dreaming about my wedding to sympathizing with my characters. These two worlds are interwoven, yet they live in harmony. I can’t imagine why anyone would think the life I lead is boring when I get to dream in two worlds.

But I will be honest. The real world is far better, because the real world has Ben. I can say without a doubt that God had been preparing us for each other long before we ever considered the idea of dating or marriage. From the very beginning of our relationship, Ben and I have been able to connect on a very deep level, sharing the same passion to bring healing to this world. We both very much want to change things, and the awesome part is we hold the same dream. While on this earth we want to give selflessly knowing that in the end, we answer to God. We want to be able to stand before him and say we gave it our all. So if we ever did find ourselves having more money than expected, we want to use it in a way that blesses others, not ourselves. To me, this is the biggest blessing in my life. It would be very difficult if one of didn’t see the value to giving and blessing others with what we’ve been given. So I am beyond grateful that God brought us together, because together we are so much better than alone. We are a great team, and we can’t wait to get out into the world and follow wherever God leads us.

So I am smiling this week, unable to stop. This is the week four years ago that my life changed forever. I fell in love with the one my heart had been waiting for my entire life. These past four years have been wonderful, but I know the best is yet to come for us. This is just the beginning.   

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

More than a Book

I love hearing your guys’ opinions on the book! It is beyond encouraging to me when I hear all the excitement about my book’s release. So in this blog I’d like to spend a little bit of time talking about why I think the excitement level is buzzing right now.

I’ve had people tell me it’s just going to be fun reading something from someone they know. I’ll admit right now that it’s going to be weird for me when all you finally get to read it. Because no matter how many people tell me they like my work, I am my biggest critic. I’m going to be nervous…I’m going to wonder what you think. But my biggest concern is your hearts. This book was originally targeted for young adults, mostly non-Christian young adults. But while writing I decided to steer away from that path…not that young non-Christians can’t read it. They can!  And I sincerely hope they will! But my target audience, my “niche” audience, in publishing lingo, would simply be Christians…of ALL ages. I will say right now that the main character is a young adult. Her journey starts at age 18 and follows her through age 21. You’ll have to wait til book two for anything beyond that! J But the encouraging thing is that this book can reach all ages. I had a dear friend and mentor read the manuscript for me, and I was pleased to hear that she was able to relate to it as well, even though it’s been a few years since young adulthood! (I hope you get a chuckle when you read this…I will keep you nameless but you know who you are!) The reason why I think this is relatable for all age groups is because Molly, the main character, wrestles with emotions and asks the hard questions, just as well all have to do on our rocky journeys through life. Jesus never promised that life would be easy; we all travel the ups and downs. Now, most of you probably won’t be able to relate to all of what happens to Molly. She experiences some pretty serious, traumatic events. Still…her emotions, fears, and questions are most likely similar to ones you may have had yourself. Maybe not to the same degree, but God doesn’t deal all of us the same hands. We take what we’re dealt and have to figure out what to do with it, how to respond. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how easily you can relate to Molly. And if you DO find yourself relating after reading my book, please let me know! I am so looking forward to the feedback. I might have a private email with my website…not sure yet. I’ll let you know!

The biggest reason I think people are so excited for this book is because like me, many of you know that our world needs stories like this. We need to hear of people struggling and asking the tough questions. We need to see that it’s okay to ask God why, to cry out like Job did. It’s okay to be angry. It’s what we do after we’ve asked why and allowed ourselves to be angry that matters. Will we say, “Not my will, but Yours,” or will we say, “See ya later God, obviously you don’t care about me”? It’s a choice we all have to make at some point, like Molly must. This is more than a novel, more than just a book to curl up with and make you feel all warm and fuzzy. Be warned now: this book will not make you feel warm and fuzzy. It will make your stomach tighten in anxiety and your heart hurt. It will make you think about issues you may not want to think about. It’s dark. It’s scary. If it had a rating, it would be PG-13. So moms…maybe not the best book for your kids and preteens. Teenagers? Good to go, if you’re mature enough to handle some of the darkness. If you have questions, just shoot me a message and I’ll give you a brief synopsis. Not to scare anyone away or anything, because believe me, the ending is good. It’s full of hope and God’s loving grace. Again, it’s not a warm and fuzzy, unrealistic ending like other books. I wanted this book to be relatable…in real life, not every ending is a happily-ever after. We don’t always get our deepest desires. Sometimes God leads us down paths we wouldn’t normally choose for ourselves, like in Molly’s situation. But, we have to be able to deal with that and come to a place of peace…which is another reason I feel like this book is relatable. Peace is what we all crave; we want to be satisfied with where we’re at. I hope you sit back and ask yourself after reading this, “Where is my satisfaction coming from?” Are you chasing after things you desire but can never have…money, a house, a relationship? Where is your satisfaction coming from? I hope when you’ve closed the book you desire to be filled and satisfied with Christ, and Christ only.

I hope too that I can raise awareness for some social issues in my book, specifically sexual abuse. It happens more than all of you know, sadly enough. And it’s not always some creepy old man hiding behind a tree in the park at night. Oftentimes it’s someone the victim knows. Hopefully you can all become more aware of the sad truth of the world we live in and how to deal with it. You’ll get a taste of the emotions that victims must face, which was extremely tough to write about. I did my research though. Here’s a website if you want some of the sad details:

Please know that while all of you are praying for me, I’m praying for you. I’m praying that you’ll read this knowing it’s not just a novel. It is so much more than that. I’m praying that you’ll all have open hearts to this message; that’ll you take a look at some issues you may already have strong opinions about and realize that you may be spreading those opinions in a hateful way. As Christians we want people to know about healing and forgiveness, not about how wrong we think they are. Because…no sin is unforgiveable. No sin is worse than any other sin…all sin is wrong to God, and all sin makes us guilty and deserving of death. Only through Christ are we pardoned…and we can all be pardoned, no matter what we’ve done in our lives. My main message is that we can face tough, ugly stuff, and we can turn around and choose to heal from it. We can forgive ourselves and in turn welcome in God’s forgiveness. We can leave those mistakes in the past knowing that God has completely removed them and declared us pure and righteous. We can heal.

This is more than just a book. It is a message of hope and love, of a grace so good I get chills just thinking about it. I am so excited for you all to join me on this journey.

God bless!