Tuesday, October 30, 2012



I don’t even know what is happening right now with my book. I believe it has just gone through a round of developmental editing. After I spoke with my book project manager at the beginning of the month he took the notes from our conversation and brought them to the editors to make sure that we were all on the same page. I love that they make it a priority to get the okay from me first before doing anything. Because right now it seems so out of my hands…I don’t even dare open up the final word document I submitted to them in May. I just know I will want to change things, and right now, I can’t. It is completely out of my hands. When Tyler and I spoke (that’s my manager) he wanted to know who my target audience was and what I wanted to tell them with my book. So, I thought I would give ya’ll some of the information I gave Tyler…and then at the end I’ll let you read the teaser I sent them last week!

·         My target audience is young adults, but I hope this story touches more than that. It is written from a young adult’s prospective (Molly) and by a young adult (that’s me!), so it makes sense that young adults would connect to this story the easiest. And yet I focus on issues that every age group struggles with, so if you’re a young mom or if you’re an old woman I hope you can still connect to this story. I know men will be reading this too, and that audience will be tougher for me to reach. They are somewhat foreign to me, so I apologize. J But because my message is so distinctly Christian I like to believe that God will reach every heart he wants to, regardless of age or gender.
·         I want people to see God in a new way when they read this. If they are non-Christians, I hope the message gets them thinking about God. I hope it gets them questioning, and I hope that questioning will lead them to seek answers from people who want to provide them. I hope people email me and ask me about Jesus…that would make my heart so happy. For Christians, I want them to struggle with Molly, who is herself a Christian and falls away. Bad things happen to Molly, and she tries to run away from them…she gets angry and questions God. I want my readers to connect with her, to remember times when they felt the same way and to realize that God is bigger than those bad things, and that it is okay to cry out to him and ask why. In the end, I just want all my readers to see what an awesome, wonderful, mighty, and extremely loving and forgiving God we serve.
·         A sub-goal of mine is to educate people about sexual abuse in dating relationships. Oftentimes when people think about rape, a scary man jumping out behind some pushes and attacking a poor, helpless woman comes to mind. We tend to think that rape is carried out by strangers, when in fact many more rapes are carried out by people the victim knows. Sneaky of me to try and educate people with a story, right? But it’s effective. I hope to entertain and educate. I will be talking to my editors later about possibly including more information about date rape in the back of the book, because young people need to be aware that this happens, and that it happens frequently. (Social worker coming out in me…always striving for prevention)

Earlier when I talked to Tyler he asked me how attached I was to my title, because they might need to change it. While I said I would be okay with it, I’m really not. But because they loved my teaser and I used the name Another Ending in it, I am hoping they leave the title alone. It ties into a line in the book, and it just fits so well with what happens to Molly. I’ll let you read it and decide:

In one moment Molly Taylor’s world is flipped upside down, and life loses all meaning. When it becomes more than she can take, she runs—from her dark situation, from her family and friends, and from God himself. Fully convinced that God no longer cares for her, she searches for peace away from him, only to run into endings time after time. Another Ending is a story of hope and forgiveness; for while Molly searches for answers away from God, she realizes that only through him can we face darkness. Only through his grace do our endings turn into new beginnings.

Yup. Took me an HOUR to write that short little teaser. It had to be 100 words or less, and that is beyond hard! Summing up an entire book in 100 words, and not giving away any major plot events, is incredibly hard. But I did it. Let me know what you think, and when I get more information on what the next steps will be I will post again.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Fighting for Joy

The first six weeks of school were a breeze for me. None of my teachers were piling on assignments, and I was adjusting pretty well to working during the school year. But lately it seems like everyone got together and decided to throw everything at me all at once. I have major projects and tests in every single one of my classes due in less than two weeks, and my work schedule has gotten more hectic as well. Instead of scheduling me for longer shifts on weekends or easy days, lately I have been working shorter shifts almost every single weeknight. So, my days basically consist of classes, studying and working on projects, going to work, studying and working on projects some more, and sleeping. If I’m lucky I will stop by Ben’s place for a while, but recently the only days we have guaranteed together is Sunday. This is frustrating for both of us, because this is the time when we are supposed to be planning our wedding and preparing for marriage. Unfortunately, that often gets pushed to the back burner while both of us try to juggle working and school. It’s a good thing we got so much wedding stuff done in September and early October, because it doesn’t seem to be slowing down here anytime soon. Midterms are just around the corner, and before we know it, it will be finals. Stress. Full. (It’s also Holiday Season at Wal-Mart…which I am NOT looking forward to!)

I have been letting all of this pile up on me and get me down. I get frustrated that my nights are occupied with working, but I know it’s where I need to be right now to make sure school is paid for. I get frustrated that certain teachers pile on project after project and expect that their class be the center of my entire life. And I get frustrated that some nights I am just too tired to drive across town to spend the evening with my fiancĂ©. (Are you getting the sense that I’m frustrated??) Usually when I am feeling this way it quickly leaves. But right now, it’s not. I can tell because I don’t feel like myself. Most days I wake up and immediately think about all I need to get done. I overwhelm myself before the day even starts! And when I finally get done all I needed to, I sit and think about all I didn’t get to do because I was so busy doing everything else. Are there other things I really want to be doing right now? You bet. But I will always, always push those things aside to get done what needs to get done. It’s in my blood. But that doesn’t mean I’m happy about it! And people are noticing. It makes me sad that when I call my mom on the phone she always thinks I’m upset about something. Even when my day is going pretty well, she can still pick up that sense of frustration. And unfortunately for Ben, I take out aggression on him. I absolutely hate that. And yet, when I say snappy things to him or spend an entire evening unloading my frustrations onto him, I can always count on an “I love you more than anything in the world” text from him before I go to bed. I know I don’t deserve that.

I also know I don’t deserve how God consistently takes care of every single detail in my life. After I’ve stressed myself out and ruined an entire week before it even really gets started, God steps in. Yay God! This week I was scheduled to take four tests: Statistics, British Literature, Human Behavior in the Social Environment, and Domestic Violence. Yuck. I already took my statistics test, but the other tests have been hanging over my head for the past week. Working makes studying harder to squeeze in, and we’re also throwing in a trip to Yankton on Thursday to begin marriage counseling and to take engagement pictures if the weather cooperates. (Which looks highly unlikely!) I had no idea when I was going to make time for all this. Well, that’s where God stepped in. My British Literature mid-term got postponed! It’s a small blessing that completely changes my entire week, because now I can focus on the one test that needs the most attention and worry about the British Literature midterm later. Funny how one small thing changes everything. I am much more confident in my ability to get everything done that needs to get done. And to top it all off, I was asked to transfer to the jewelry department in Wal-Mart, which seems like a dream come true after getting hardcore chewed out by a customer last week. Being at the checkouts is very hard because people take out their anger on me a lot. Being away from all the craziness would be wonderful, and I know my stress level would go down quite a bit if I actually do transfer.

But even though God blessed me in these small ways and changed my attitude about this week, I know the coming weeks and months will bring more of the same frustration. I am glad I can recognize my bad attitude now so that I can work on it and stop dragging myself around. I don’t like living like that! I don’t want to do it anymore. So, I want to make the conscience effort to fight for joy. Sounds kind of contradictory, right? We shouldn’t have to fight for joy…should we? I think so.

You can’t always experience that spontaneous joy that we love so much. Some days you just wake up feeling sad. You can maybe throw yourself out of bed, but we all know that you can’t always force yourself to be joyful. Some people seem to have been born with a joyful attitude, and we look at them and cringe a little. (Anyone else get a teensy bit bothered by those perpetually happy people? How in the world are they happy every single day???) We start to think that something is wrong with us. If they experience joy every single day, why aren’t we? I want joy every day. So I will fight for it. Here’s an excerpt from John Piper’s book “When I don’t Desire God- How to Fight for Joy.” This book has put fighting for joy in perspective for me—
            “We are like farmers. They plow the field and plant the seed and cut away weeds and scare away crows, but they do not make the crops grow. God does. He sends the rain and sunshine and brings to maturity the hidden life of the seed. We have our part. But it is not coercive or controlling. And there will be times when the crops fail. Even then God has his ways of feeding the farmer and bringing him through a lean season…In obedience to God’s word we should fight to walk in the paths where he promised his blessings. But when and how they come is God’s to decide, not ours. If they delay, we trust the wisdom of our Father’s timing, and we wait. In this way joy remains a gift, while we wait patiently in the field of obedience and fight against the weeds and the crows and the rodents. Here is where joy will come. Here is where Christ will reveal himself (John 14:21). But that revelation and that joy will come when and how Christ chooses. It will be a gift.”

I don’t feel joyful every day. Certainly not this week. But I love when God steps in like he just did for me to remind me that even in times of difficulty, he is there. God’s timing is perfect, so I will continue walking by his side and fighting those weeds and crows and rodents every day, because in the end I know that gift will be worth it. When school and a wedding are all taken care of and paid for, I can take a step back, wipe the sweat from my brow, and thank the Lord above that he never left me and that he blessed me more than I know what to do with. I am so thankful I have a God who works for me when I fail in so many ways. For even when I work my hardest, I can accomplish nothing. God accomplishes it all, and that, my friends, is a huge reason to be joyful.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

The Sweet Significance of Smarties

Some moments are so significant in our lives that they will never disappear from our brains no matter how much time passes. Sometimes we don’t know that certain moments will change our lives forever, but when we look back and realize just how important those moments were to shaping the rest of our lives, we cherish them and hold them closely to our hearts. I am now realizing just how important one night was to my life, and I thought you all might want to hear about it. One night changed my entire life forever, and here’s the story:

October 12th, 2008 was a cloudy, cool Sunday. It was the type of day I just adore; the clouds hung low in the sky and it was raining on and off.  I was fifteen at the time and in love with a boy that I wasn’t sure even liked me as more than just a friend. (Ben, in case any of you were confused!) Our relationship confused me; we were like best friends, and everyone asked if we were dating. Of course, I wished we were, but someone seemed to be oblivious to the fact that I thought the world of him. (Ben again, in case any of you can’t follow me.) Everyone else on the planet knew I wished we were more than friends, except for the one person I wanted to know. (You guessed it…Ben again!) But, I was and still am old fashioned. I wanted him to pursue me. Way back when MSN was the popular form of online chatting, I would anxiously log on at night just to see if he was online, and if he was I suppressed my extreme desire to strike up a conversation with him. Didn’t want to come off super eager, folks. He still didn’t know I liked him and I wanted to keep it that way, at least until he told me he liked me first. He needed to make the first move, and if he wouldn’t have done that I wouldn’t have even considered dating him. Luckily for me, that all changed on October 12th.

Even though it was rainy and chilly that day, I made plans to spend time with Ben’s little sister Samantha. Samantha and I have always been close and at this time I was helping her sort through some issues. Mainly I just listened to her talk, which is what we all need at times. So on that chilly day we were sitting out at Gavins Point beach in Yankton, just hanging out and removing ourselves from the stresses back at home. I don’t remember how long we sat out at the beach, but when we were getting ready to go she mentioned that she had something for me from Ben. I remember my heart doing a weird little lurch inside me as she gave me an envelope with my name on it. I think I opened it up right then and there and let her read it to. And guess what people! I still have that letter. It is ripped, fragile, and falling apart, but it is an important piece of our history and I plan to keep it for as long as I can. All it says is that he wanted to meet with me after he got off work at 8:00 that night to “talk to you about something.” Of course when I read that to my parents and sisters that night they all raised their eyebrows and guessed that he was going to ask me out, which of course caused me to blush( I blush super easily!) and disagree. I was positive that he still only thought of me as a friend and told them he probably just wanted to talk about something that was bugging him, since we were best friends and talked about everything.

To my pleasant surprise, this visit was more than just a friendly chat. The funniest thing about this whole ordeal is that I had to have my mom drop me off at HyVee, which is where the conversation took place. I was only fifteen the night my entire life would change! Too young to even drive myself to the conversation that would change everything. That was one of the weirdest drives of my entire life. But when I walked into HyVee and saw Ben in his cute little work uniform-khaki pants, white button up shirt, and a bright red tie- I got really excited. Because I immediately knew this was more than just a talk from how he was sitting. He was praying-leaning forward, eyes closed, probably nervous out of his mind. Sitting on the table was two bottles of Mello Yellow and a bunch of Smarties candies. (HyVee hands them out to kids, but Ben stole so many of those when he worked there!) I awkwardly sit down and he looks up and smiles, but I can tell he is super nervous. We make small talk for a while, but he had just spent his entire six hour shift rehearsing what he wanted to say to me so we didn’t waste too much time just chatting. I am so mad that I can’t recall the exact conversation, (you’d think as a writer I would remember something so important!) but it went something like this:
            *awkward silence after awkward small talk ends*
Ben: So um, I have something to tell you. (nervously playing with Smarties wrappers)
            Sara: Okay. (gets super excited)
Ben: Well. I think I might like you…as more than a friend…and I was wondering…if you felt the same way too? (extreme crackling of Smarties wrappers)
Sara: Yeah. I do.
Ben: Oh. Okay. Well…cool.

I am literally laughing out loud as I recall this, because no one will ever understand how incredibly awkward this night was for both of us. We were already so close, but we avoided the fact that our relationship had quickly turned into more than just friendship. We ignored it, but continued getting closer and closer. We even talked on the phone a few times! Still, that night was weird. It was the first time anyone had told me he liked me, and it was the first time Ben had told anyone that. We were newbies and didn’t know what to do with this new information. All I know is that after he told me he finally relaxed, and we sat there chatting for quite a bit before I knew I had to get home and report to everyone that they were right. Although I would argue with them that he hadn’t really asked me out; he’d just told me he liked me. He knew I wasn’t allowed to date until I was sixteen, and at the time I still had six more months until I was sixteen. But Ben is detail oriented, and he calculated how many days between October 12 and April 24, my birthday, and told me he would wait. That is what I will always remember about that night. He wanted to wait for me. Isn’t that every girl’s dream?

Along with that, I will always remember the walk back to his rusty little Toyota pickup so he could take me home. He was so happy that he started running and jumping and making these absurd little shouts of joy. Then he turned around, now running backwards, and grinned that silly grin that still makes me laugh even now, four years later.

And my life has never been the same. I wouldn’t know it until years later, because even though we were best friends, I knew high school relationships didn’t often last. But as a year passed, I think we both knew it would. Two more came and went, and a beautiful engagement ring sealed the deal. So as we approach the anniversary of the night he told me he liked me, I view it differently now. It wasn’t just the first time a boy told me he liked me. It was the beginning of my marriage, of the rest of my entire life. That is pretty significant, folks. And you can bet we will be celebrating by cracking open some Mello Yellows, enjoying some Smarties, and laughing at the awkward, sweet, and life changing conversation that started us on this crazy adventure.

I just love October, don’t you?