Monday, November 23, 2009

Counting Blessings

This week I'd like to share some of the things I am thankful for in honor of Thanksgiving. This was an article I wrote that appeared in the family column that I write for our community newspaper. The explosion I refer to is the one I posted about.

Counting Blessings

In light of all the recent events in our community, as well as those that fill the news each night, I’m feeling very blessed and thankful this holiday season. I know there is plenty out there I could focus on and not feel much gratitude towards, but I’m determined to count my blessings instead. I’m determined not just for myself, but for the sake of my children.

My kids have seen the terrible damage the explosion did to our community. They go to bed at night and question me about what happened and why. They see snippets of the news and realize a man wearing a uniform has killed his comrades, and all in a place where they should be safe. They wake up some mornings complaining of restless nights and bad dreams. They know of young people who are struggling with life-threatening diseases and worry what will happen to them. For as hard as I might try I can not protect them from the happenings of this world. So instead I tell them to count blessings.

The explosion was terrible yes, but what blessings came from it? We can start listing them. The community came together to help one another, brave men and women rushed in to save lives and homes, our family realized how lucky we were to have a roof over our heads, and the list goes on and on. With each situation we concentrate on the good things that happened or came out of it. We count our blessings and we are thankful for all we have been given, the good and even some of the bad.

This Thanksgiving as we sit down to our meal and join hands with our loved ones we will each take a turn to share some of the things we are most thankful for this year. We will call to mind the little things as well as some very big things that have altered our life. We will count our blessings, and set aside our worries, frustrations, and complaints. We will bow our heads and thank God for his many blessings.

Happy Blessed Thanksgiving from my family to yours!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Finding Your Voices

Well, on Monday I wrote about losing our voices and honestly I did not think of the tie in to today's post until I received an e-mail about a conference I am attending in February. I thought about playing if off as a planned weekly post, but those of you who know me know I'm very rarely that organized. So I figured I'd just confess straight out!
One of the places where I first found my writing voice was at a Women's StoryCircle workshop. I was surrounded by these amazing women, all with stories to tell. I was young, not sure of myself as a writer, and had no direction in my writing career. At this conference my voice was a squeaky whisper, but it was out.
Over the years I've attended the conference that is given every two years in Austin. I haven't been able to attend them all due to pregnancies, kids, travel limitations etc, but the ones I have attended have been fantastic. This year I am sitting on a panel titled "Finding Your Voices Online".
I'm so excited about this panel because when I started blogging I had no idea what I was going to write about. Okay, some days I still don't know what I'm going to write about. But through this blogging process I have not only started to find my inner voice, but I have gotten to know so many amazing people. It's truly been a growing experience. Now to think I might inspire some women out there to do the same thing, wow!
I'd like to introduce you to my fellow panelists over the next few weeks. They are a group of women I can't wait to meet after getting to know them on their blogs. First up is our panel moderator, Linda. Go check out her blog, My Own Velvet Room, where she talks about family, writing, and life's overall journey.
What prompted you to start your blog?

Monday, November 16, 2009

Losing Your Voice

The other day in church I once again noticed something that has been bothering me for a few months. Silence standing next to me during all the hymns and songs of praise. My lone voice was cracking loudly without the beautiful voice that normally helps to drown out my off key singing. Glancing down at my 9 year old daughter I watched her, lips held together tightly while staring straight ahead. It wasn't long ago that her little voice sang solos at church and at school. Her voice strong and sweet, causing people to come over to her after mass to tell us how much they enjoyed her singing.

I finally asked her this last Sunday why she doesn't sing anymore. Her reply, "I just don't like to sing this kind of music anymore." My heart sank, but I nodded and didn't press her. Instead I remembered all the times I've lost my voice or let it waver.

As a writer everyone is always telling you that one of the most important things about writing is to find your voice. Authors will make comments like "I like your voice" or "You have a strong voice". I struggled with finding my voice and still sometimes wonder about it. People told me category romances were in, so I tried to tailor my writing to that. Then they'd say you need steamer love scenes, so I'd try to write that. I could write it, but I squirmed the entire time and then would die a thousand deaths thinking people I knew might read it! Then I'd be writing one way and people would say "I really think you are a more inspirational type of writer". Uggh, I felt like I was teetering and tottering back and forth trying to please everyone.

Somewhere along the line I just wrote what was in my heart and amazingly my writing took on a voice of it's own. Sometimes I doubt I'll ever be published because I'm not sure how much I'm willing to alter that voice. But at the same time writing is a process and I know that I had to filter through lots of different voices to find my true voice. And I am very open to suggestions and ideas on how to improve my writing, no matter what the voice. So maybe there is hope.

So, I'm praying that my daughter will eventually find her "true voice" again and realize it's okay to like singing in church. It's also okay to like singing Taylor Swift songs too, but she doesn't have to give up one for the other either. It's all about letting your "true voice" ring out!

Was it easy for you to find your "voice" or more of a trial and error process?

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Explosive Moments

You may have noticed I have been absent for a few weeks. I've been dodging some explosive moments and putting out a few fires. Excuse me for not being around, I've missed being here. But if there is one thing I have learned, as both a mother and a wife , is when duty calls your family comes first. When God beckons, I better suit up and rush out the door, ready to face whatever fires He is asking me to extinguish.

We thought that on the heels of WB's Great-Grandmother passing away, our own little swine flu epidemic, praying for good health to return so we could travel to the funeral, then back home for the burial, lots of family, many, many little ones underfoot and frayed nerves that we could manage to avoid any other explosive moments. That, however, was not to be the case.

When it seemed the dust was settling, Little One was again tested for the flu and still positive. The doctor also heard a few extra heartbeats. An EKG later we were told that the extra heartbeats did not show up on the EKG, good news. They would send it off the the cardiologist though to be read. We received reassurances that only once did she ever have to refer a patient to the cardiologist and all would be fine. But a week later they called to tell us the pediatric cardiologist did indeed see something on her EKG and we were being referred. Only problem was we'd have to wait until Dec. 10th to see the doctor. With a mother who spent most of her life as a cardiac care nurse and a father with heart problems that started during childhood, I really did not want to wait so long to see the doctor. Everyone offered reassurances that it "will probably be fine to wait" and that it is "most likely not a big deal". Regardless, it felt like someone spraying water on an oil fire. It wasn't helping.

So I pray, asking God if it is patience He is seeking or just a little bit of faith. I lay in bed at night thinking of all the things I'm neglecting. I write stories in my head, because typing them out just isn't going to happen anytime soon. I feel like the fires are lapping at my heels and I'm slowly melting.
Then one night I close my eyes, say my prayers and fall sound asleep. I am awakened by my husband sitting straight up in bed asking me "What was that sound?' I hear nothing. He jumps up telling me it shook the house. I become alarmed as he jumps out of bed and runs downstairs. I still hear nothing. Out our window I see him look to the horizon and quickly turn towards me and motions me outside. As I walk outside I can hear the loud swooshing sound, like a jet engine roaring. I follow the direction of my husbands stare and there on the horizon is a ball of fire.

All I can say is in those moments, when you have no idea what is happening or what is to come, you have nothing but your faith to rely on. Suddenly, everything comes into sharp focus. My thoughts turn towards my three sleeping children and I realize that there are things that are out of my control. The only thing I can do is have faith. Have faith and listen closely for the rumblings of explosive moments. And when they happen turn to God and let Him take control.

"My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing." James1:2-4

*The explosion was an underground gas pipe exploding 5 miles from our home. God was watching over our little community because the explosion was in a neighborhood and yet no one died. One house is completely gone, 2 more damaged, and three people sent to the hospital. Our normal high winds were non-existent and we had an unusually high dew point that evening to keep the fires from spreading across the plains.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009