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Home at Last Deborah Raney

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September 29, 2006

Here’s a quick update from my whining session yesterday. First of all, my son’s flag football team WON the championship game!! I couldn’t go, but three grandparents and my husband saw them win — so YEA for me sending emails to everybody. I’m not such a bad mom after all.

As far as our “Wednesday virus” woes, my three-year-old popped up out of bed at 9:40, eager as a beaver, telling me he wasn’t sick anymore and he wanted to eat breakfast. So, it was truly a one-day bug. The baby napped off and on all day, giving me an excuse to hold her, rock her, and do nothing productive except read — and she’s fine this morning as well. Whew!

Now, here’s my reminder to you — if you’re even the tiniest bit interested in writing a novel someday, now’s your chance. Starting October 1, you can sign up for NaNoWriMo. National Novel Writing Month will take place throughout the month of November. Get out that dusty manuscript you wrote in college and you occasionally pine over, and tap it into your computer during November. When you reach 50,000 words, you’re done, and you get to put a really cool 2006 NaNoWriMo button on your blog or website (or refrigerator) to let the world know you’re an aspiring novelist.

I don’t have time to write a novel — but who does? Even professional novelists barely have time to write — they’ve got fan mail to answer, book tours to give, movie producers to meet with, all that stuff that takes time away from the hard work of pounding the keys.

My idea is to get up super early and spend an hour a day — typing 2,000 words of something — and try to do it. I think it would be fun to write something for my kids that I could give them as a Christmas gift. I’ve been reviewing kids’ books lately, and every book I read, I think, “I could write like that, maybe even funnier than that.” So why not? Nobody has to read it but me and my kids. I may even use their actual names and pets throughout the story — but make it one of those funny, hair-raising mysteries or adventures where they figure something out.

If I can do it, you can too. OK? Congratulations to one of you who wrote to tell me she sent off two Chicken Soup stories this week — for the Beach Lover’s Soul and Chocolate Lover’s Soul. Whoo-hooo! One day, I’ll be at the beach eating chocolate reading Chicken Soup books and I’ll see her story — that will be too fun!

I can’t wait to tell you about these horse books I’ve been reading — they would make great Christmas gifts if you have daughters who love horses. But I gotta run get ready for the weekend. I’ll tell you about them next week!

By: Heather Ivester in: Writing | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (5)



September 28, 2006

I don’t have anything important to attempt to say today. I just wanna talk to somebody … when it’s convenient for you to check out my blog.

Here’s what’s up … and why I’m feeling down.

This morning, right now at this very minute, a few miles from my house, I could be sitting in a clean, air-conditioned room with about 15 other women, watching Beth Moore teach on a giant video screen. As I’m typing now, at 9:40 am, our group is probably finishing up the discussion of our third week’s topic, Love. We’re studying Living Beyond Yourself, and WAAAHHH! I want to be there!!

Here’s why I’m not there. I’m holding my 18-month-old who has thrown up on me twice already this morning. She’s hot as fire, burning up with fever. I didn’t know she was sick until last night, while I was chatting with some moms at the church playground, enjoying myself for a few minutes until … BLAHK … she threw up all over me. This is why I do not even pretend that I have my act together.

My three-year-old is still upstairs in his bed asleep. I’ve checked on him nine times already. He was also feverish last night. I’m letting him sleep as long as he wants. Maybe he’ll wake up and have this thing kicked. It’s our first fall virus, one of the joys we get from being sociable and active in church this year. We’ve even dubbed these nasty things the “Wednesday viruses” because the symptoms always show up on Wednesdays after we go to church on Sundays.

So I’m not at Bible Study, interacting with my wonderful adult women friends. I’m also not at the gym with my friend Mary who asked me again to work out with her. She keeps reminding me she wants to teach me the circuit machines, and the last time she saw me she said, “I’ve got to show you how to use the Butt-Blaster. You won’t believe the results once you use it for about three weeks.” I’m sorry, that’s not a word I use or even type, but I couldn’t help it. There’s no better name for a machine that does THAT, is there?

I’m also not going to be able to watch my son’s flag football team in the championship game today. They’re playing an hour away, and the best I’ve done is send the grandparents an email with directions to the game, hoping one of them might be able to go. Another reason I feel like a terrible failure of a mom today.

And let’s also toss in my worries about tomorrow. We’ve invited two of my son’s friends to spend the night — our plans are to build a bonfire and roast hot dogs or s’mores. But what if my little ones don’t get better today? Ethically, I’ll have to cancel these plans.

Tomorrow, I’m also supposed to cook a chicken casserole to deliver to a friend in my women’s club who has a newborn baby and is recovering from a horrendous delivery in which she had to have emergency surgery and a blood transfusion. Furthermore, she had to have another painful procedure done yesterday, which may affect her ability to nurse. I’m really looking forward to visiting her tomorrow and taking her a little gift, along with my part of the meal (another friend is helping me.) But I can’t do this if I’m a traveling virus.

So! I told my husband this morning at breakfast — this is why so many stay-home moms find connection through blogging. I know this is a season of life that doesn’t last forever — and someday my kids will be older and won’t get sick as often. My elementary-aged kids hardly ever get sick — and unless they have a fever, I send them on to school.

My husband reminded me — well, at least I don’t have to be stressed about finding a sitter because I have to get to work. Yes, that’s true. But we were also talking last night about how useful it might be if I could teach English in a private Christian school someday — so we could get reduced tuition and use my salary to pay the rest of the tuition and expenses. That would be nice indeed and would give me something creative to do with this love I have of writing and encouraging other people to write.

Someday … but not today. My greatest ambition today is to blog about my desperate life in the hopes that one of you out there who may also be having a discouraging day may feel a little better. Or just in case you think I might have my act together because my blog appears clean on your screen and there are no crushed cheerios or globs of peanut butter on it, you’ll see that appearances can be deceiving.

I’m hoping I’ll be able to take a shower today, and maybe finish up organizing the last upstairs closet from our autumn fling. I’ll be making chicken broth soup and jello, and reminding my husband to pick up Pedialyte on his way home (can’t live without that stuff in the winter when you’ve got preschoolers or babies.)

Thanks for listening … I feel better already. Can’t beat the price of blogging!




September 27, 2006

I’ve been so busy this week cleaning out closets in preparation for fall weather, I’ve hardly had a minute to sit down and write. All these posts are swirling through my head, yet I’m having to wait … forcing myself to get my housework done first.

I wish our kids’ closets were big enough to hold summer and fall clothes in one place, but my girls share a room and share a closet — so there’s no room for gingham sundresses to hang once I pull out the corduroy and velvet. The good thing is that now they won’t even be tempted to wear their pretty summer dresses, since they’ll be packed away — forgotten about until next spring.

FlyLady would be proud of me — maybe I’ll even write her someday. It’s like she’s been standing over my shoulder telling me to keep going, keep going. I’ve filled up eight bags of outgrown clothes, and I’m blessing the Salvation Army shoppers who will be out looking for children’s clothing. I’ve been saving clothes for years to pass along to future cousins, but one day I realized, when my sister has her first baby, she’ll have showers galore and get all new stuff — and who wants all my hand-me-downs that have been worn to shreds?

I’ve decided to pack away a few special smocked baby outfits that were worn in pictures to pass along to our future grandchildren. Then I’m keeping a few more things for the girls to play with. They were thrilled when I gave each of them an old diaper bag filled with baby clothes that fit their baby dolls. They’ve had such fun dressing their babies — and did you know that tiny newborn dresses look great on Kit, the American Girl doll? They look like tea party dresses, and Kit has been quite happy with her new wardrobe.

There are two friends at my church whose sons are the perfect size for my boys’ hand-me-downs, but as every mom of boys knows, most of their play clothes get completely worn out. So I’m only passing along the cute little overalls and collared shirts that weren’t worn as frequently!

I’ve got so much I want to write about — stacks of books full of wonderful ideas to tell you about — authors I want to interview … But the FlyLady won’t let me go until I get this chore done. So, until we meet again, Ta-Ta-For-Now.

By: Heather Ivester in: Motherhood | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (3)



September 25, 2006

One of you wrote to me recently to tell me you saw my mother/daughter book for sale at your local Christian bookstore in Niverville, Manitoba! So, hello to everyone up there!

I read here that you’re located 55 kilometers south of Winnipeg, the capital of Manitoba. OK, my knowledge of Canadian geography is not all that impressive, but since I know several of you now from Manitoba, I’m so intrigued. This site says your population is 1600 people.

My kids rarely get to see snow down here in Georgia. I’m sure you have beautiful winters up there. We were watching Anne of Green Gables the other day, and my oldest daughter asked me several times why we can’t live somewhere where we can ride in a horse and buggy through the snow, like Anne and Diana did, on their way to the Christmas dance.

Maybe we’ll be able to hop on a plane or train someday and come for a visit. I still dream of one day renting or buying a used RV and traveling around the country — and it would of course be thrilling to venture into Canada.

I hope we can stay connected until then!




September 22, 2006

Today, I want to say thanks to two ladies who continually encourage me in my quest to drop these last, irritating, going-nowhere postpartum pounds. I’ve wanted to give up so many times in the last few weeks.

It’s so tempting to raise the white flag on being thin and having energy like I did in my early 20s before having kids. I worked hard this summer and lost 15 pounds, but then I got slack — and stressed — and started eating cookies, chips, crackers, etc. and I gained 3 pounds back. Most of all, my energy level sunk, as I let sugar creep back into my diet.

My husband noticed last weekend. He said, “Something’s different about you lately. Is everything OK?”

“I’ve given up on exercise,” I said. “I just don’t have time. I can’t fit it into my schedule.”

Then he told me if I worked out now, I’d be glad in ten years, when I feel and look good in my late 40s. These will be the years when I actually have time and money (hopefully) to go shoe shopping and maybe even get a decent haircut more often than every 6 months.

I needed some inspiration, and I got it from my two favorite healthy lady bloggers: Alyice Edrich of DM Writes and Melodee of The Amazing Shrinking Mom. Alyice keeps me motivated with her workout ideas, and she still has time to run a profitable writing business. It makes me feel like exercising when I read what she’s done to stay on track!

Melodee of The Amazing Shrinking Mom is a Clubmom blogger who has lost — are you ready — 43 pounds since she started blogging about her weight. Way to go! Here’s her eating plan on her blog:

On April 17, 2006, I quit eating sugar, white flour, white rice, potatoes, high-fat dairy and high-fat meats. I read The GI (Glycemic Index) Diet by Rick Gallop and incorporated most of his ideas, though once a week or so, I indulge in movie-theater popcorn and a soft taco. I eat a piece of dark chocolate every day. I plan to eat this way the rest of my life because, seriously, no cookie is worth being fat forever.

At first, Melodee started losing weight through only changing her diet habits. But lately, she’s on an exercise streak. She works out at her local YMCA. So, she’s motivated me to get back to the gym as well. It’s easy to make excuses when you don’t see results — but I know I’ve got to keep going.

Well, those are the bloggers who’ve blessed me this week. When I wanted to give up, they kept me going. I went back to the grocery store and bought myself some more mixed salads (which will replace pasta, potatoes and rice for me), almonds, and mozarella string cheese for my “diet.” I’m going to pray every time I feel that urge to eat “just one cookie” and think what Melodee said: “No cookie is worth being fat forever.” I want to be 50 and fabulous someday — not 50 and frumpy!

Too bad I can’t burn calories while blogging. I’m off now …




September 21, 2006

I was skimming my current issue of Home-Based Working Moms, and I ran across this fantastic article by Carrie Lauth, called Secrets of Happy Moms.

She begins her article with these questions:

Have you ever noticed how some Moms seem to be very contented and confident in their role as Mothers, and others seem chronically stressed and approaching burnout? Why are some Moms unflappable and able to keep their sense of humor, while others overreact to the slightest stressors in their day?

Wow! These secrets were really encouraging to read. What kind of mom are you? Are you happy? Do you feel overwhelmed and stressed out a lot?

I know one mom who has five children and always seems to be relaxed and having a good time. I asked her once, “Why is it that you always seem so happy?” And she laughed and said, “I’ve learned not to let things bother me. I’m too busy to worry about things. I just pray about it, let God take care of it, and move on.”

Great advice.

My #9 on this list is what keeps me sane, as I love the people I’ve come in contact with since I’ve ventured into writing and blogging. Well, I’m about to explode with excitement about the moms I’ve been interviewing lately — you’ll have to read about one special mom in next month’s Christian Women Online. And I’m shaking in my shoes (yes, I am, Darlene) about the next interview for the November issue!




September 20, 2006

Yesterday afternoon, my daughters and I watched Anne of Green Gables for the first time together. I had checked out a stack of movies from the library because I’m trying to make more of an effort to tear myself away from books and watch movies with my family.

It was so exciting to watch their faces as they were introduced to Anne Shirley (with an “e” of course). We have the book, and I tried reading it out loud a few years ago, but I remember one of the babies kept crawling all over me and being noisy, so we gave it up. This movie complements the book so well.

Anne of Green Gables

It was fun telling the girls later that their Daddy and I have actually BEEN to Green Gables. It’s a real place, in the city of Cavendish, Prince Edward Island. My husband and I traveled there together, in those long ago days BC (Before Children.) We visited during the month of August, and the beaches were gorgeous.

The night before we visited Green Gables, we camped out in Cavendish. I remember I was so excited I couldn’t sleep a wink. The next day, I felt like I’d stepped right into the storybook when we drove up to the house. This was the former home of some relatives of author Lucy Maud Montgomery, where she spent many happy years of her childhood. She loved it so much that she was inspired to write a novel about it, Anne of Green Gables.

I remember going to the post office there to send myself a postcard so that it would have the postmark of Green Gables. It was truly a magical place, the whole island was. We even had dinner one night at a restaurant at the base of a lighthouse.

I hope to take our children there someday — we may need to buy a bigger tent between now and then if we hope to camp there together! If you’ve never ventured to Prince Edward Island, I highly recommend it.

According to the PEI official tourism website:

Prince Edward Island is Canada’s smallest and greenest province. Cradled on the waves of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, the Island is known for the vivid colours of its gently rolling landscape.

Prince Edward Island is surrounded by miles of sandy beaches and red sandstone cliffs and is sized just right for touring. Visitors to the Island return home not only relaxed and refreshed – they often claim to have been transformed, which leads us to wonder “What if the World Had Been to Prince Edward Island?”

My parents visited PEI in the winter one year, and the waves in the ocean were frozen! OK, I can’t write about this anymore because I want to jump on a plane and go back — RIGHT NOW.

By: Heather Ivester in: Movies,Travel | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (8)



September 19, 2006


I received a sweet note yesterday from a woman in her 70s who writes short stories for the local magazine I write for. Her daughter is my editor. I’d written this kind-hearted woman to tell her how much I enjoy reading her stories, which are about her early mothering years and what she learned. I told her she’s one of my mentors through her writing. I think I can learn a thing or two from someone who is a great-grandmother and lived to tell about it!

Now her daughter (my editor) wants to know if I have any information on how her mom can publish these stories in other places. Oh, if I had the time, I’d love to teach a workshop on the topic of “Turning Your Memories into Memoirs.” When my kids are grown, this is my dream! I would hold my “writing retreat” at a resort in the mountains, where everyone could go off to little cabins to write, or sit by a lake or a mountain and write. Then we’d all take nature hikes together … well, you get the picture. *sigh*

I think everyone, especially people over age 50, should be writing a memoir. EVERYONE! After reading as many as I’ve read lately, I know there are certain formulas and techniques that can turn an average person’s life story into something worthy of being on a library or bookstore shelf. You don’t have to be famous to have a life story that can impact the next generation.

Just think — if you grew up in the 1940s or 1950s, kids today are studying these eras in school. When they need a book for research on what people ate, wore, listened to, watched on TV, and thought about — you’re the expert. And if you’re a Christian, your worldview can be tied into everything you write. Don’t you think that’s pretty important? Especially if you’ve managed to raise a family who hasn’t gone bonkers — and you’ve been married 30 years or more. You have a mission to get your stories out there!

OK, can you tell I’m passionate about this topic?

Well, how do you start writing a memoir? You definitely don’t want to start with “My name is Helen, and I was born in 1934, and my parents’ names are ….blah blah blah.” YAWN. You want to make your memoir a collection of short stories that center around a focal theme — such as coming of age in the 40s, or how your faith developed as a girl raised in a non-Christian home, or how certain people influenced the course of your life, etc.

Christian Writers' Market Guide 2007: The Essential Reference Tool for the Christian Writer (Christian Writers' Market Guide)

One way to motivate yourself to write short stories is to first look for markets that are seeking short stories. There are several ways to do that! First, get a copy of Sally Stuart’s Christian Writers’ Market — your story could be published in any number of inspirational magazines or devotional materials. Yet you won’t even know about these markets without a market guide.

Novel & Short Story Writer's Market 2007 (Novel and Short Story Writer's Market)

Another place is the Novel & Short Story Writers’ Market. There are plenty of anthology editors and other places that are actively seeking TRUE non-fiction short stories. Or you may want to turn your life story into a novel or some fictional short stories. A lot of people do this, but it’s MUCH harder to sell fiction than non-fiction because people think writing fiction is easier. But it’s definitely NOT, and there are fewer markets buying fiction.

One good place to start is to submit some stories to the Chicken Soup for the Soul series. The editors are always seeking short stories — there are tons of deadlines coming up in the next few months, as well as the next several years. The great thing about these books is that they only buy non-exclusive rights, which means you still own the rights to your stuff, and it can be published elsewhere. So if you’ve written a great story on your blog, Chicken Soup may buy it from you, even though it’s technically already been published online.

And you get paid! The going rate for most Chicken Soup stories is $200 right now. Not bad for a blog post, huh? And if you happen to have a super-fantastic story, or you happen to be a SOMEbody, you can be paid even more. A well-known writer recently told me she received “in the five figures” for one of her short stories to be included in a Chicken Soup book. Five figures. That means over $10 grand. For one story. (I think that could possibly get one of our kids through one year of college!)

In the future, if anyone emails me to ask, “How can I get my short stories published?” I’m going to send you a link to this post! Chicken Soup wants you! The editors and publishers in the Writers’ Market want you! But how hard are you willing to work? How badly do you want it? If you really want to see your stories in print, you can’t just send out your unedited diary entries or blog posts. You may want to take a writing class or join a critique group and get feedback from people.

I have a master’s degree in English education, but I don’t teach a class right now outside of helping my own kids with their homework! And I don’t critique people’s work either. So please don’t send me a file of your short story or novel chapter to look at. I just can’t do it right now. But I hope to someday! It’s a dream I’ll hold onto as my kids grow up.

Here are the upcoming Chicken Soup for the Soul topics — you can submit directly from the website, which contains descriptions of all these books, as well as writing guidelines.

One tip: you don’t have to write your own story — you can “ghostwrite” for someone else. And you don’t have to use your own name; you can write under a pen name. But the story must be true!

African American Teen’s Soul
Alzheimer’s Soul
Beach Lover’s Soul
Cat Lover’s Soul II
Catholic Soul
Children with Special Needs
Chocolate Lover’s Soul
Christmas Treasury Collection
Co-Dependent’s Soul
Coach’s Soul
Coffee Lover’s Soul
College Graduate’s Soul

Cooking with Kids
Cowboy’s Soul
Crafter’s, Knitter’s and Quilter’s Soul
Dating Soul
Democrat’s Soul
Dog Lover’s Soul II
Empty Nester’s Soul
Entrepreneur’s Soul 2
Entrepreneur’s Soul for Women
Extraordinary Teen’s Soul
Football Lover’s Soul
Girl’s Soul II
Healthy Living – Anxiety
Healthy Living – Depression
Healthy Living – Pain Management
Healthy Living – Sleeplessness
Healthy Living – Smoking
Healthy Living Recipes
High School Graduate’s Soul
Kid’s Soul Illustrated Series
Life Lessons for Raising Great Kids!
Life Lessons on Relationships/Couples
Menopausal Soul
Motorcyclist’s Soul
No Specific Title
Nurse’s Soul II
Red Hat Society
Republican’s Soul
Runner’s Soul
Sisters’ and Brothers’ Soul
Soul in Love
Soulful Guide to Alaska/Hawaii
Soulful Guide to California
Soulful Guide to Florida
Soulful Guide to New England
Soulful Guide to New York
Soulful Guide to Texas
Soulful Guide to the Great Lakes
Soulful Guide to the Great Plains
Soulful Guide to the Mid-Atlantic
Soulful Guide to the Northwest
Soulful Guide to the South
Soulful Guide to the Southwest
Stay At Home Mom’s Soul
Stepfamily’s Soul
Tea Lover’s Soul
Teenage Soul – The Real Deal on Self Esteem
Teenage Soul Daily Inspirations
Twenty-Something Soul
Weight Loss/Diet
Wine Lover’s Soul
Working Mom’s Soul

Click here, then click on “Story Guidelines” to read more details about what they’re looking for and how to submit. Happy Writing!!!

P.S. Congratulations to the person who wrote to tell me her mother/daughter story was accepted to be published in a book! I’m humbled that God used me to send that tip your way — because now thousands of people will read your awesome story!!

By: Heather Ivester in: Writing | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (4)



September 16, 2006

Author and fellow blogger Mary DeMuth is celebrating the September 15th release of her second novel, Wishing on Dandelions, and she’s embarking on a round-the-world blog tour. I’m thrilled to be hosting her second stop here at Mom 2 Mom Connection.

Mary is the mother of three, and she and her family live in France, where they’re part of a mission organization establishing a church. She visited us back in February here and here, sharing pictures of her family and home.

Mary, thanks for coming back to Mom 2 Mom Connection. You visited us a few months ago to tell us what it’s like to be a mom and writer in France. What’s new in your life now?

Our church is starting to come together here in France. We’re hoping to start weekly gatherings soon. And we’re looking forward to a huge service project in June, where we and volunteers from the States blitz Nice and the surrounding area with acts of service—social service kind of stuff. We’re excited about the possibility.

Wishing on Dandelions

I was so moved by your first novel, Watching the Tree Limbs, as were many readers. Can you tell us briefly what that novel was about? How does Wishing on Dandelions continue Mara’s story? Can a reader pick up this novel if she hasn’t read your first one?

That novel was about an abandoned girl named Mara who was being sexually abused. Though the abuse is a small part of the novel, how she deals with it and how far God goes to reach her represents the bulk of the story. Mara is 17 in the second novel, so a little over 7 years have passed. Yes, you can pick up Wishing on Dandelions if you haven’t read the first book.

What made you choose East Texas as the setting for both novels?

The South fascinates me. I grew up in the Northwest. When my last child was born, my husband was transferred to East Texas to start a department in a hospital. Because I was a stay-at-home mom and home schooling, I didn’t have much else to do there except to observe small town southern culture. Because I didn’t grow up in that culture, my senses were heightened and I eventually began to really appreciate the differences.

In both of these novels, you tackle difficult issues that stem from your personal life. Is it hard writing about something that is so painfully close to you?

Initially, no. It’s easy. Because I’ve had similar issues, I can breathe emotion into characters who encountered some of the things I’ve encountered. But, after the final draft was done, it felt very, very hard. Like I was naked, sending my nakedness out into the world for all to see.

So, are you Maranatha?

In some ways yes, some no. Like Maranatha, I felt like God had transformed my life in such a radical way (like her name change from Mara—bitter—to Maranatha—Come Lord Jesus). Like Maranatha, I endured sexual abuse, but I was much younger when it happened. Like Maranatha, I wondered if I had been marked, that every sexual predator could “tell” I was a ready victim. I wrestled through relationships in my teens with Maranatha’s twin feelings of revulsion and attraction. But, she is not me in many other ways. She is more independent. She has no parents. She lives in an entirely different culture. She is less ambitious. She has the privilege of many wiser people to mentor her through life.

What do you hope readers will gain from Wishing on Dandelions?

An understanding that no matter what you’ve been through in life, God is all about redemption and healing and pulling you through.

Do you recommend any resources for parents who are also dealing with grief, regret, healing from abuse, or broken relationships in their families?

Well…there is my book Building the Christian Family You Never Had (WaterBrook Press) that deals with all these issues. Others: Changes that Heal by Cloud and Townsend. Inside Out by Larry Crabb. The Wounded Heart by Dan Allender. There are more resources listed at my Pioneer Parenting blog.

Can you tell us about your personal blog? What’s up over there these days? What other blogs and websites are you active in?

Besides Pioneer Parenting, my main blog is Relevant Blog. There I post things about life in France, what God is teaching me, and pieces about the art and craft of writing. I post on The Master’s Artist blog on Tuesdays and the CAN (Christian Authors Network ) marketing blog on Fridays.

Who are your literary heroes?

I love Harper Lee. I only wish she’d written more. Leif Enger, who wrote Peace Like a River, greatly inspired me to write visually and artistically. I love Sue Monk Kid’s Secret Life of Bees, how you could almost taste her characters. I’m fascinated and intimidated by J.R.R. Tolkein—how he managed to create an entire world with several languages is way beyond my literary prowess.

What do you want your reader to take away from Wishing on Dandelions?

That redemption of a broken life takes time. We’re all on a journey of healing. Sometimes it’s slow going, but if we can endure through the dark times, God will bring us to new places of growth. I want the images and characters to stay with a reader for a long time.

What one piece of advice would you offer women who long to heal from a broken past?

That being healed takes guts. I find most people are unwilling to walk through the excruciating process of healing, so they content themselves with living half-lived lives. They limp, though they don’t need to. Many of us become so accustomed to our pain that we nurture it. It becomes comfortable to us. Dare to break away from that and let Jesus shed light on the dark places of your past. Let Him bring His light. Let Him heal you.

Thanks for stopping by, Mary. Au revoir!

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You can learn more about Mary and Patrick’s mission work in France on their new website, Crossroads International Christian Church, Cote d’Azur. It looks like a great place to worship!




September 15, 2006

I want to highlight Shannon Woodward, who blogs at Wind Scraps, as someone who has blessed me beyond words this week. I just finished reading her book, Inconceivable, and after reading her personal story I feel like I know her as a friend now.

Here’s how the back cover describes Shannon’s book:

Inconceivable is the remarkable true-life story of Shannon Woodward, a woman who stopped waiting her life away. Woodward revisits eighteen years of personal frustration, pain, and anger. She speaks from her own experience to show how women can have peace in their disappointment by surrendering their hopes and hearts, their dreams and losses, to the One who heals all things broken.

Inconceivable: Finding Peace in the Midst of Infertility

Shannon’s story begins in January 1988, when she and her husband are meeting with the doctor who tells her the dreaded news — that she will not be able to conceive. She said his words became like “a constant, haunting hum in my head, like a song you can’t shake — a song with the power to drive you insane. His voice was inescapable.”

From this point on, she and her husband begin a journey together that makes me weep, even as I type these words. Shannon explores her pain and subsequent healing in intimate detail for readers. She takes us back to her childhood, where she first looks out at the stars and wonders if God even exists, and she shares with us how her faith began to grow.

Her book is not filled with generalizations; instead, she takes us with her to every scene, filling each memory with description and dialogue which reads like the best of storytelling. We reach the point with her when she and her husband decide to adopt — and we agonize with her frustration when birth mother after birth mother changes her mind.

One of the most poignant scenes in the book is when she and her husband are bringing home their first adopted son, Zachary, whose name means, “The Lord has remembered.” As their new little son is bundled in soft blankets in the car seat, she and her husband look up and see an oversized, lighted marquis hovering above a used car lot. In bold black letters, the sign reads, “Congratulations, Dave and Shannon. It’s a boy.” They never learned who wrote that message.

The book takes us up to the present, where we see how Shannon’s journey has helped her become a mother to many. She has an active ministry in mentoring and encouraging hundreds of women through her speaking and writing. As a pastor’s wife, she’s able to come in contact with women seeking hope and guidance every day. What a blessing that she moved her ministry beyond the walls of her church and now can reach the world through her writing.

There are some books I read once, then set aside, without feeling a change. Shannon Woodward’s book is one I’ll read again and again, always remembering how the blessing of motherhood is a gift not to be taken lightly. Shannon’s pain and joys have now become a part of me.

I remember how I felt when I had an ultrasound with a pregnancy I miscarried, and the ultrasound technician said to me, “I’m sorry. There’s no heartbeat.” Then she picked up the phone to call my midwife and said, “Can I send Heather back in? She’s got an incomplete.”

My pain at that loss at 12 weeks was miniscule compared to what Shannon’s book describes. But it was still a death for me and involved a grieving process.

I’m so thankful to have this book to recommend as a helpful resource for women who are exploring this journey they never intended to begin. The back of the book contains a reader’s guide which includes discussion questions for each chapter. At the beginning of the reader’s guide, Shannon writes:

I pray you find peace — and that your life becomes a testimony to all you meet about the patient wooing and healing power of your God. May he fill your life with joy, purpose, and satisfaction.

May God bless many lives through this book!