Friday, February 26, 2010
It's really messing with my writing mojo. I can't get back into the rhythm of things with all these days off. My productivity is waaaay down for the month of February. I know, poor me. But here's the thing - if I'm not getting much done with all these days off, what about the kids? Well, they aren't getting as much done either. How do I know? My third grader came home last night bringing homework to do over the long weekend. And it's not the first time. The teacher openly admits that there is not enough time in these shortened weeks to get it all done. So she's had to resort to sending work home in order to keep pace with the district's expectations.
Here's the funny thing: just this morning I was surmising that I'd found the reason for all the homeschoolers getting ahead of our public school kids in their class work. They have the opportunity to spend more time on their schoolwork than my kids do. And my guess was confirmed. Some homeschool friends just arrived, so I asked them, did they do school today? And their answer? Yes, they've been particularly working on the days the public school is off, because they're planning to head south for a couple of weeks and need to get nine days ahead of public school (I should clarify that they're doing a bit of hybrid schooling where some subjects they do at the public school, but most at home). Aha! I was right!
If the excess of days off frustrates me, I can't imagine how working parents must feel. What do they do when the kids aren't in school on work days? Aye yi yi!
Here we are. Another three day weekend. My kids are playing. I'm not getting much done. How about you?
Thursday, February 18, 2010
When I realized my mistake, I quickly emailed the teachers and parents to apologize. Who knows what reaction I'll get from the parents. Most, I think will understand or at least accept my apologies. And any that might be annoyed by my mistake will get over it pretty quick. Already I've heard back from one of the moms indicating that she completely understands. No problem. Mistake forgiven on that count.
There's just one person that I know is definitely having a hard time being forgiving about this. She does it every time. Every little mistake I make she gets annoyed at - as if I'm not human and shouldn't ever make a mistake. She's angry. She's disappointed with me. She wants to exact payment of some sort for those poor kids. She's embarrassed. And she's not at all forgiving.
Who could be so hard-hearted toward a simple mistake? Me. I can't stand it when I make a mistake or a bad choice or lose my cool or do anything other than be perfect. Uh, yeah. Picture that. How often do you think I have to deal with the results of one of the above? Daily, sometimes hourly. And honestly I'm tired of this voice of perfection that can't handle even the slightest misstep. So I'm telling my perfectionist self one thing this afternoon: get. over. it. Everybody else will. And if my voice of perfection can't do that much, then well...it's not perfect either!
How about you? Do you hold yourself to an impossible standard, one that you'd never expect of anyone else? If not, how do you give yourself room to fail? I'm working on this one and would love to hear what you think.
Friday, February 12, 2010
- Stein on Writing - by Sol Stein. This editor and author has had a part in the works of some incredible writers. I am thoroughly enjoying this book, both for the practical advice and for the great examples he provides. I've been pulling it out to refer to during my writing time recently. Thankfully it's a copy I own so I can keep going back to it once I've finished reading it. I'm marking it up a lot too.
- Say Goodbye to Whining, Complaining & Bad Attitudes...In You And Your Kids - by Scott Turansky & Joanne Miller. An excellent book with a horrible title. Instead it should be titled something like Parenting On The Honor System. It introduces the concept of honor as being central to changing the way your family relates to each other. And I can testify: it works. Since introducing the framework of honor to my family, I've seen my kids doing some really neat things for me and for each other (that could be a whole blog post of it's own). Plus I've be able to pinpoint some parenting tactics I've been using in error. If you're a parent and you haven't read this book - check it out now! It will be worth every minute of your time.
- The Spiritually Intimate Marriage - by Donald Harvey. Pulled this one off my bookshelf to give a more thorough reading. I've only gotten through one chapter, which tells me I need to put this closer to the top of my pile now. I like the topic it tackles, since it's one that's important but rarely addressed: how do you create a spiritual life together as a couple? I can't give a review yet and but maybe I'll do so later, although it's no longer in print.
- The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society - by Mary Anne Shaffer and Annie Barrows. I was very disappointed that I had to return this novel to the library before I could finish it. Guernsey Literary is about a British author (Juliet Ashton) who is looking for a new book idea during the post-war years. A letter from a farmer in on the island of Guernsey regarding a used book that once belonged to her, leads Juliet to begin correspondence with all the members of the literary society of the book's title. I won't give away any more. The delivery of the story through a series of letters might sound like a tricky concept. But the authors' voices are so unique and charming, that they absolutely pull you in. Actually, the voice, the time period and the setting all contribute to making this book an enchanting read. If you haven't read this book, I suggest you check it out. It makes for some very delightful reading - a great evening's companion.
I could use some new ideas myself. So tell me this: what have you been reading lately? Or if you have reading goals of your own, feel free to share those too. I'd love to know.
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
The Daily Texas Series by Lisa Wingate:
, without ever leaving home!
The Blue Sky Hills Series by Lisa Wingate:
A Month of Summer
Road Trip Snacks (Straight from , of course!)
Wrap it all up with a fuzzy, fleecy Texas throw blanket for those cold nights on the road (or curled up with your books!)
Monday, February 08, 2010
Today I'm glad to share with you about a new book by Mary DeMuth, called Thin Places. I've had the opportunity to meet Mary at a writer's conference and have benefited from her wisdom on writing and navigating the publishing industry through her blog, So You Want To Be Published. She's both an excellent writer and a delightful, authentic woman.
Mary has worked hard to earn her right to be heard, with more than a half-dozen books already to her credit. With this book she reveals some of the most difficult experiences in her life. She does so with taste and and huge amount of grace. The context in which she explores her past in this spiritual memoir lends a redemptive tone to both painful and ordinary experiences in her life. It's well worth a read.
Now that I've shared my brief thoughts on this book, let's hear from Mary about her journey to the publication of Thin Places:
What trials did you face as a child?
Childhood sexual abuse at five
Parents with addictions
Feelings of being unwanted
An unsafe home
Death of a parent
It’s hard to write all that out and not feel bad for little me. But even in the recounting, I’ve been able to see the thin places in my life, those snatches of moments where God came near. That’s the message and hope of Thin Places, being able to see the nearness of God amidst heartache.
What compelled you to write Thin Places?
I felt sufficiently healed from my past, which had been a long, long journey. And in that healing, I knew I had the perspective I needed to be able to communicate my story with hope. In the past, I’d vomit my story of sexual abuse and neglect on any poor soul who’d listen, not with the intention to help her grow through her story, but to gain empathy.
But now I marvel at the path God’s brought me on, how gently He’s led me to this place of wholeness. From that abundance, I share my story. Why? Because I believe sharing the truth about our stories helps others see their own stories.
While I recorded the audio book for Thin Places, the producer asked me why I’d splay my life out this way.
“Because I don’t want folks to feel alone,” I told him.
“You’ve given a gift,” he said.
I sure hope so.
In this memoir you give readers a candid glimpse into your upbringing. Was it hard to share particular parts of your story?
In some ways, it was easy. I’ve shared my story over a decade now. What was hard was giving myself permission to say it all, to not hold back, to explore the emotions I experienced during the rapes, the drug parties, the feelings of loneliness.
Oddly, though, it was harder for me to share what I’m dealing with now as a result of my upbringing than the actual initial trauma. It’s hard to admit that I’m still so needy, so insecure. After reading the book aloud, I saw I still had areas of growth, particularly in being so hard on myself.
What do you hope readers gain from reading your memoir?
I hope they see hope.
I hope they realize how profound and surprising and radical God’s redemption is.
I hope they’ll see the irresistibility of Jesus.
Some folks wait until grandparents and parents are deceased until they write a memoir, but you wrote yours with some still alive. Was that difficult?
Extremely. In many ways, agonizing. You can be assured that I prayed through every word. I’m thankful for my critique group who walked me through the writing and my stellar editor who helped shape the manuscript into a redemptive story. My goal was not to impugn or point the finger at what went wrong way back when, but to shout about God’s ability to transform a needy, incomplete girl.
It’s never easy to tell the truth, and I know my words may hurt some. But, thankfully, I’ve sought God’s heart in this and I can rest peacefully in knowing that.
Anne Lamott says, “Risk being unliked. Tell the truth as you understand it. If you’re a writer, you have a moral obligation to do this. And it is a revolutionary act—truth is always subversive.”
Thin Places is my answer to her quote.
But why go there? Why examine the past? Hasn’t the old passed away?
Yes, of course we must move forward. We must move beyond our pasts. But in order to do that, we must mourn the reality of what happened, not bury it under a rug. I love what Sam says in The Two Towers movie about the importance of telling our stories, no matter how dark: “It’s like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger they were. And sometimes you didn’t want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad has happened? But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you.”
It’s my sincere hope that my story will stay with readers, not because of its sordidness, but because the Light of Jesus has shined so brightly upon it.
What encouragement or cautions do you have for those wanting to write their story?
First, prayerfully consider if this is something you need to do for therapy rather than publication. It’s very exposing to write a memoir. And sometimes we mistake the compelling feeling we have with publication. God sometimes calls us to write unpublished words, to get everything out on the page for the sake of our own personal healing.
Many of you have read memoirs that are self-indulgent or a poor-me fest. You need to evaluate whether you’re at a good place of healing before you embark on writing your story for everyone to read.
Do you worry that writing a memoir makes you out to be narcissistic?
Of course. Because I’m the main character! As I’ve edited, read and re-read the book, I’ve agonized over that. Now that the book’s released, I am resting. What’s done is done. And I honestly believe that the story isn’t about me. It’s about a rejuvenating God who stooped to rescue a needy, frail girl.
What fears have you battled as this book released?
Because this is such a personal book, I’ve worried about negative reviews. In some ways that’s good because it will force me to find my security and love from the One who made me, rather than the opinions of others. I’ve received some great endorsements, but also some harsh reviews. And those are the ones that knife me! Because the book’s about me!
I worry that I’ll be misunderstood. Or that telling the truth will hurt others. I’ve made a point to disguise nearly everyone and everything in the book, but of course the potential for hurt feelings is high.
I fear opposition by the father of lies. Since this is a truth-filled book, displaying authentic struggle, I have a feeling he won’t like it. I’m thankful for a specific, targeted prayer team around me to pray for protection regarding the release of this book. It’s humbling, actually, to see how God brought those pray-ers together.
Author and speaker Mary DeMuth helps people turn their trials to triumph. Her books include Ordinary Mom, Extraordinary God; Building the Christian Family You Never Had; Watching the Tree Limbs; Wishing on Dandelions; Authentic Parenting in a Postmodern Culture and the first two books in the Defiance, Texas Trilogy: Daisy Chain and A Slow Burn.
National media regularly seek Mary’s candid ability to connect with their listeners. Her radio appearances include FamilyLife Today, Moody Midday Connection, Point of View and U.S.A. Radio Network and is frequently featured on Chuck Colson’s BreakPoint. She has published articles in In Touch, HomeLife, Writer’s Digest and The Writer.
Mary lives with her husband Patrick and their three children in Texas.
To read more posts about Thin Places, check out the Thin Places Blog Tour.
Sunday, February 07, 2010
So check back in the coming days. In the meantime, what have you been reading lately? Any good books to recommend?
Saturday, February 06, 2010
Take the whole "becoming a fan" thing. Just the other day one of my Facebook friends joined a group called "I Hate ___". Except what they were hating is actually something I genuinely appreciate and respect. Then today that same friend loudly proclaimed a political leaning that I'm strongly against. I'm beginning to question whether I want to continue to be friends with them on Facebook and deal with the ongoing passive attacks on my beliefs.
Without Facebook, my chances of being in contact with this person were incredibly slim. And I'd forgotten her outspokeness and political leanings. I actually had fond memories of this friend. Now with all of the silly opportunities to proclaim you're likes and dislikes on Facebook, I've lost a lot of respect for this friend. And I've started getting angry reading about her FB activities. It's made me consider searching for groups to join that proclaim my stance in opposition to her. But it's not worth it and I'd rather not be reactionary.
So for now, I think I might just "hide" her. And I'll definitely think twice before "becoming a fan" of something - not because I'm afraid of offending my friends, but just because maybe my FB friends don't need me to parade my beliefs in front of them.
Oh, and if you're someone who hates Louisiana Hot Sauce? Sorry, bout that, but I became a "fan" today. Supposedly it will get me a free bottle if New Orleans wins in the Super Bowl tomorrow.