2014 in a Nutshell

For the past two years (2012 & 2013) I’ve written a recap of my year. 
This post took me probably between eight and twelve hours and several days to complete. It’s been crazy looking back through 2014 and seeing all that’s happened in my life! 
I’ve had a lot of good times, a lot of confusing moments, a lot of oh-my-goodness-is-this-really-my-life experiences, a lot of pain, a lot of joy and a lot of changes. 
This year has been a full-out learning to trust God and rest in Him year (more about that in another post), so it’s not been all lolly-pops and ice cream sundaes, if you know what I mean. 
I’ve decided to share the good, the bad and the fantastic with y’all. 
I hope you enjoy getting to see a glimpse of my life! 
I’ve linked about 95 of the over 320 posts from last year into this post, 
so I hope you enjoy going back and reading about a few of my highlights again. 🙂 


January: 

2014 was ushered in with lots of fun, festivities, Settlers of Catan, and hanging out with family. Our cousins spent about two weeks with us – weeks filled with jolliness, games, and craziness. I would have never guessed at that time that they’d be living here before the year was out!
I also began writing When Life Hands You Lymes and posting a segment each Friday. 
On the 3rd I headed to my adopted parent’s house to work on writing a kids bookCool Critters of the IceAge, with them. I start having ‘no internet, no computer Sundays’. During the first ten days of January I also work on hyper-speed to write the first draft of the first book in my Action Kids series. (I co-authored one book and wrote the first draft of another book during the first 10 days of the year. Short books, but still… Busy times!) I took many long, freezing cold, snowy walks to brainstorm. 
All in all, in January I write the first draft of the Action Kids book, go through it a second time, send it to my beta readers, go through it a third and forth time and then send it to my editor.
We were on a time crunch. 
I enter a short writing contest, but don’t even place in the top 10. I spend part of January working at the house we’re building. Thinking we’ll be moving within a couple of months, I give y’all a tour of my ‘old’ office. Getting my braces off is an exciting time for me and I celebrate by eating sugar for the first time in over a year. On the 24th I head to Florida with my family (cue fun car trip with sisters). 
All throughout January I’m praying about possibly taking a trip to Asia for a month with my brother, but I  can’t find an opportunity to ask my dad about it, so I don’t know if it will work out or not. At the end of the month I finally ask Dad and he’s all for it. I’m going to surprise my best friend (who lives there), so I keep the trip quiet. 
My review of January leaves me feeling happy. 
Nights Gone in January: 12
Books Read in January: 8
February: 
Walking was so nice in the beautiful Florida sunshine that I walked 22 miles one week, a far cry from my previous year in bed with Lyme disease. 
Getting to watch the Ken Ham/Bill Nye debate on the 4th was exciting. 
Hanging out with extended family, getting the first illustrations for my Action Kids book and getting ready for a huge work conference made the first week of February fly by. 
I worked a lot on scheduling posts for the A to Z Challenge I wanted to take part in during April, because I’d be in Asia over that time. 
On the 9th I get to spend the day with my adopted parents, fossil hunting and hanging out with Dr. and Mrs. Parker. It was so very cool! 
Going to GatorLand on the 10th and getting to sit on a gator was also pretty fun. 
A fellow blogger contacted me and asked me to write a guest post for her blog. She requested a subject I’d never blogged about before, but I happily accepted the challenge.
After our conference we spend Valentines day canoeing in the Everglades.
We arrived back home on the 17th, a few days later I introduce Action Kids to Noveltea. 
I then celebrate my upcoming two year blog-anniversery with a giveaway
And of course I review February. 
Nights Gone in February: 15
Books Read in February: 5

March: 

I start out the month with gearing up for the trip to Europe that our family was planning to take in April. I wished I had more time to read books set in the countries we were going to be visiting. My two year blog-anniversery takes place on the 6th while I’m in Nashville with my adopted parents. While in Nashville we got to go to the Hermitage which is where Andrew Jackson used to live. It was a crazy experience. Going to the Grand Ole Oprey was a something I’ve wanted to do for a long time. I’m so glad I got to go and see my adopted parent’s old stomping grounds. 
I get home from Nashville on the 9th to find my first royalty check! *cue happy dance* My wonderful sister, Helena, gave me a stuffed animal to celebrate. (Stuffed animals are the best, by the way.)
My brother and I leave for Asia on the 15th and after over 50 hours of traveling we arrive at our destination. I blog about successfully surprising my friend, Sarah, and settle into life on a warm, tropical, bustling island. Walking in the rain, riding the motor bikes, climbing up mountains, shopping at the market, eating exotic fruit and tons of rice, hiking to gorgeous waterfalls and playing countless games of Rook made for a wonderful interlude in my life.
I also spent many hours sitting on the couch, editing my Action Kids book.
My review of March.

Nights Gone in March: 22
Books Read in March: 8

April: 

The A to Z Challenge starts in April and I kick off with the word Attitude. Getting to be in the background taking pictures when my wonderful friend, Sarah, gets proposed to was well-worth the trip to Asia and a highlight of my year (of course!). Finding out a few days later that she wanted me to be in her wedding party was incredible.
 A few days later we hike up the same mountain we tackled in March, this time in the middle of the night. Our plans to arrive at the top of the mountain in time to watch the sunrise were messed up by dense fog hiding the view, but it was still a wonderful experience, ending with two more of my friends getting engaged.
My brother and I arrive home on the 16th after over 55 hours of traveling. With all the time changes, April 15th lasted for over 30 hours for me which was really weird. My phone stopped working about half-way through our stay in Asia, so getting it fixed when we arrived home was wonderful. After a busy 8 days home, my family and I head to Europe for a month.
We spend a week in Vienna, Austria at a business convention.
I don’t take the time to review April. Life is just too crazy.

Nights Gone in April: 22
Books Read in April: 6

May: 

Getting to explore so many countries was spectacular. After Vienna, Austria, (where we got go to into catacombs!) we go to a more rural part of the country and get to see where part of The Sound of Music was filmed. We head to Germany next but take a very long detour to Switzerland and spend the day taking in the beautiful view. I’ve wanted to go to Switzerland since I was just a little girl and I throughly caved each moment of sitting in a wide, flower-strewn field under the breath-taking heights of the Swiss Alps into my memory bank.
In Germany we get to experience the culture for a few days while staying in an apartment where we try our hand at cooking German-ish food. Exploring castles in Germany was a absolutely amazing. Especially going to Heidelberg.
Holland was our next stop and a dream come true for me. I’ve wanted to go to Holland and see the Beje (where Corrie ten Boom lived) since I was about eight. Reading part of The Hiding Place while in the actual hiding place was something I’ll always treasure. Seeing the Beje and the place where Anne Frank lived on the same day was crazy. Hanging out with our friends in Holland made the trip so much better and our day trip to Belgium with them on the 9th was a whirlwind.
On the 12th we head to Paris and I’m amazed at it. After a few very interesting days in Paris (including going to the top of the Eiffel Tower) we take the Euro Star across the countryside and through the Chunnel to London. London was a beautiful, friendly and filled with places I’ve read about. London was one of my favorite cities in Europe. After too-short of a stay in London we meet up with some of our friends who have lived in England for 45 or so years. They treated us like royalty when we were at their house, including delicious meals in the garden. It was dream-like.
While in England we visited Oxford and I got to go into the Eagle and Child, which is where C.S. Lewis used to hang out with his writing friends. On the 22nd we pack up and head home. A couple of days after we get home we have some friends come and visit. Our time together is lovely.

Nights Gone in May: 21
Books Read in May: 10

June: 

Having almost the whole month of June home was a much-needed breather. I spent a lot of the month working with my family on moving to our new house that we’d been building and also discussing plans for Sarah’s upcoming wedding. Midway through the month I celebrate my book’s first birthday. On Father’s Day I surprise my adopted dad by staying with my adopted family and having a totally fantastic time.
I also take time to work on another round of editing. During this time I begin to have discouraging feelings about being a writer that I’ve never had before. I have to make the choice to trust God instead of continuing to freak out. A conversation with a wise friend really helped me during this time.
 We move into our new house on June 24th. Deciding an office is way more useful for me than a bedroom, I ditch the whole bedroom idea and create the perfect office for myself. I just pull a sleeping bag out of the closet each night and sleep on my office floor. My office is everything I dreamed of and more. I can’t stop being amazed at how wonderful it is.

Nights Gone in June: 1
Books Read in June: 5

July: 

July starts out with exciting news: One of my adopted dad’s songs hit number 11 in the national charts! Helping out with the VBS at church was one of my highlights of the month.
Getting to work with kids is so rewarding!
The second week of July I head out of town with a few family members to visit my sister and her family. I also spend a large amount of time planning a bridal shower for Sarah. July is a month brimming with so many responsibilities and emotions I can hardly keep track. There are some really big things in my life that are changing and I’m not sure how to deal with everything. Being thrown out of routine is hard for me and I struggle with finding peace and joy with being where I’m supposed to be. An encouraging note from a special friend came just at the perfect time and warmed my heart. Five months later I still carry the note around in my computer bag.
Spending several days with extended family is a highlight and we have a really wonderful time. Sadly I’m not feeling the best which puts a damper on the time for me, but I still enjoy it. One of the cousins is getting married so we spend a good amount of time talking about that, including phone calls on speakerphone to his fiancée. Good times.
A few days after our family get-together I head to PA to spend a few days with Sarah and work with a wonderful friend to get my dress made for Sarah’s wedding. My day is brightened by the news that I have a brand new, beautiful niece. I end out the month with finishing setting up my new office, I celebrate by taking some pictures. It was a good ending to a hard, crazy, wonderful month.

Nights Gone in July: 10
Books Read in July: 9

August: 

The first week of August rolls around along with Sarah’s bridal shower. The bridal shower didn’t exactly happen without any snags, but I did learn a lot that I’ll put into practice if I ever host another similar event. Overall everyone agreed it was a success. The next week I head out of state for a wedding and I’m shocked to meet a girl who reads my blog while in the food line at the reception.
On the 18th I hit my goal of read 22 non-ficiton books before I turn 22 and I celebrate by sharing a list of the books with Noveltea. Getting the contract signed for the Cool Critters of the Ice Age book that I wrote with my adopted parents back in January was great.
I drop my iPhone and it breaks into three pieces and is only held together by a little thread. I tape it and keep using it, discovering a mixture of tricks to do what I need to even when it begins malfunctioning.
Sarah’s wedding was on the 23rd and I’m blessed beyond belief to have been her maid-of-honor.
The days before and after her wedding are crammed full of tons of out of state guests who came in for the wedding, including some of my most amazing friends ever. At the beginning of the time I prayed that each day would seem like a week so I could store and treasure all the memories I wanted to have. I’m very happy to say it was one of the longest weeks of my life.
(And, one of the shortest, if we’re going according to how many hours of sleep I got.)
So much happiness, emotions, changes, sunset-watching, caring, tears, dreams come true, long hugs and good talks took place. 
I end August by going on an overnight caving adventure with my adopted parents. Fun times!

Nights Gone in August: 5
Books Read in August: 10

September: 

I arrive home from caving to the delighted welcome of a bunch of little cousins who have moved in next door but spend most of there time over at our house. (Yes, the same amazing ones who I mentioned at the beginning of the year.) When the founder of one of my favorite blogs asks me to guest post, I’m ecstatic. We also have some great friends spend several days with us, a life-changing visit.
Getting to spend a week at the Creation Museum (where I get to meet the Duggar family) with my adopted parents is wonderful and my excitement is overflowing when they buy me a rat for my birthday. The fact that they also give me a genuine whip (I’ve been wanting one for several years now) adds greatly to my delight. Being sick with a horrible cold during my stay with them is a bummer, but I still enjoy my time. I arrive home three days before my 22nd birthday, and then wake up on my birthday with pinkeye. Not fun at all. Thankfully we’re able to get medicine and no one else in the family gets sick. My birthday is brightened considerably by the exciting news that I have another niece or nephew on the way. The perfect birthday present.
All throughout September I’m dealing with a lot of changes going on in my life and I’m having a hard time being ok with some of them. I spend many nights praying, reading and snuggling in my sleeping bag trying to comprehend life and growing up and difficulties and changes. It actually takes me about two months and lots of late-night talks with God and heart-to-heart discussions with my sweet sister and a couple of great conversations with good friends before I finally find peace and accept that life is going to be full of changes and that doesn’t have to be a bad thing.

Nights Gone in September: 7
Books Read in September: 7

October: 

October starts out with a crazy writing-related list for me to work on. The plan is for me to dedicate the whole month to work on my up coming Action Kid book release. Going to a concert with some of my sisters and cousins was fun break, but not exactly what I was imagining.
When my good friend and neighbor, “Grandpa” Eddie dies, it’s harder on me than I expected it to be, but I’m so thankful for the years I knew him. In the middle of my extremely busy month getting ready for the book release, I head off on an last minute trip to my sister’s house for a week (with pretty much zero internet) to help her out cause she hadn’t been feeling the best. While there I’m amazed time and time again at all the work mothers do. I also get a call from Helena (another sister) asking me if I want to go on a road trip to Nebraska with her in some friends in November, then we’ll fly home. (Our friends live in Nebraska.) Of course I happily accept since 1) Road trips are awesome. 2) Sibling time is amazing. 3) Some of my best friends live out in Nebraska. It was a win-win situation. The last day I spend with my sister I get to see a bunch of hot air balloons which was crazy-cool.
 October also marks the start of my “23 Before 23 Challenge”.
On October 27th I begin the two week countdown until the release of my Action Kids book. My furious paced work on the book release details continue. I self-published the book and we ran into a few snags with the formatting that gave me several days of craziness. My brother, Logan, is a huge, huge help to me during this time. I couldn’t have pulled it off without him. He’s an amazing example of being a servant. I read an extra few books during the late nights when I can’t sleep because I’m mildly freaking out about Action Kids. 
October in review.

Nights Gone in October: 6
Books Read in October: 13

November:

My stressed out, jumbled emotions are totally unexpected and only heighten as November comes into focus. It took me two or so weeks to remember that I felt the same way leading up to the release day of my first book. I have everything (other than runaway-emontions) under control with the book release now, so I can focus on some big events going on at my non-writing job. When I’m not working I’m pretty much curled up in my room, freaking out or reading books late into the night cause I can’t sleep or listening to the Bible on audio to escape the stress. (I read ten books in the nine days leading up to the release.) Mom endures several sessions of me freaking out and asking what is wrong before I finally calm down a bit.
The day of my book release and the launch of my blog tour finally take place and leave me feeling rather let down. I spend several days musing over being an author, wondering if it’s worth every thing I’d been going through. (I’d been working on the Action Kids concept for over four years by this time.) It will take me several more weeks and some really good talks with wise artist friends before I can accept how I felt I failed and move on and have joy in being an author again.
My phone gives up the ghost for good and I miss having my iPhone kindle and music a lot.
Meanwhile, we have some friends visiting and also family coming in for an early Thanksgiving. Our family Thanksgiving takes place on the 15th and the news that I have yet another niece or nephew on the way is the highlight of the week.
On the 21st some of us head to Nebraska, and after about nineteen hours we arrive at our destination. Those nine days were life-changing for me. I was able to let go of the stress of being an author and just enjoy living life as a person, not a writer. I was almost constantly surrounded by sweet children and wonderful friends who were loving and made me feel so special. I had a very healing talk with Helena that helped me overcome some things I’d been going through all year long and change my mindset about some big things happening in my life.
I also had some epic writing related conversations with friends out there that helped me see life/writing in the right perspective again. Right before we head back home, Helena and I receive the news that our long anticipated trip to Africa that had been post-poned is back in motion!
I arrive back home the last day in November.
November in review.

Nights Gone in November: 9
Books read in November: 15

December:

Soon after getting home I read my 100th book for the year. My goal was 50, so I’m pretty excited. December if filled with extra-long hours at my non-writing job, good family time, preparation for my upcoming trip to Africa (leaving Jan. 10th, 2015, Lord willing), lots of editing and reading. I also get to go to the Creation Museum twice: Once with my family for the day, and then the next weekend with some friends and I end up staying with my adopted parents for several days. It was wonderful.
A quick trip out of state with some extend family turns into a great memory-making couple of days and when we arrive home late on Christmas Eve, I’m ready for Christmas.
Christmas and the days surrounding it are filled to brimming with family, board games and fun. The day after Christmas I start on a five day juice cleanse. It’s a good (exhausting) experience and I hope to do it again some day when I can continue for longer.
The last several days of December are spent reviewing the year, working on goals for the next year, deep-cleaning my office, getting work done and getting a yellow fever shot before Africa. We also have tons of family and friends over for multiple game nights and hanging out times.
I have a delightful time finally eating again on December 31st.
December in review.

Nights Gone in December: 3
Books read in December: 24

* * * *

Nights gone in 2014: 133
Books read in 2014: 121

I am so ready for a totally wonderfully God-blessed 2015!

When Life Hands You Lymes – Christmas Break

Hello everyone! 
Between Christmas and New Years Eve is my goal-free week! That means all my daily and weekly goals that I’ve been keeping up with (other than writing every day) are null and void! Such fun! Such freedom! It’s a wonderful way to celebrate a year well lived. 
That means that today I’m taking a break from posting a segment of my fictional story When Life Hands You Lymes. My first week of the year without a segment! 
I hope y’all are having a fantastic time!

Reading Goal Exceeded

Time to celebrate! 
On December 2nd I hit the 100th book for the year mark.
Celebration!!! 
My goal was to read 50 books this year, so I feel like I can safely check off that goal. 
And, since I’m all into lists and statistics, here some are for y’all: 
Fiction = 74
Non Fiction =26
Re-reads = 33
First time reads = 67
Reviewed = 13

Books read each month: 
January – 8
February – 5
March – 8
April – 6
May – 10
June – 5
July – 9
August – 10
September – 7
October – 14
November – 15
December – Still Counting 

“I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book.” Groucho Marx 

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” – Dr. Seuss 

“A great book should leave you with many experiences, and slightly exhausted at the end. You live several lives while reading.” William Styron 

“If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.” Stephen King

* * *

What about you? Do you like reading? Do you keep track of the books you read? This is the first year I have and I’m really enjoying being able to look back and have the list at my finger tips! 

My Identity

Yesterday I sat down with my computer determined to write. 
Writing has not come easily recently. It’s more like I have to fight the words to get them on paper. Even blogging hasn’t been as natural as it used to be. Right now I have a strong urge to go and take a walk then come back and finish this post. Or maybe I should start my load of laundry. Or read some more of that book. Or clean my office. Or go work in the kitchen. Excuses are easy to come by and the more I don’t feel like doing something, the more easily justified my excuses seem to be. 
It’s not the writing itself that has me tripping, it’s more what comes after the writing. Or what doesn’t come after the writing, to be more specific. 
I know it probably sounds silly, but I sort of have this happy expectation that when someone publishes a book, they sell copies of it. Or that when someone hosts a giveaway, they’ll get lots of entries for it. Or that when someone pours their life into a project for four years that people will actually show interest in it. 
I don’t know why. I guess I’m a natural born optimist. 
Then reality crashes down. 
I publish a book. I sell a few copies, mostly to family and friends. 
I host giveaways worth a couple hundred dollars and some of them only had three people enter them. (By the way, if you’re the winner to one of my giveaways, I’ve emailed you to let you know.)
I work and work and work on a project and then hardly anyone seems to care. 
It’s a good reminder that my life is little. Minuscule. A tiny drop that in the grand coronation of life doesn’t make much of a difference. 
A family friend visited last year and she told me she wanted to write a book one day and asked for advice on how to get started. I happily gave her some advice and a lot of encouragement. It’s hard, but you can do it! It’s hard, but just keep going, it will be worth it in the end!

This year she came back and brought the subject up again. I pasted a smile on my face as I nodded, feeling like a hypocrite. It’s hard, was all I said, no advice attached. What I wanted to say was It’s not worth it. Run the other way. Forget it. You’ll spill your heart onto paper and no one will take any notice.

I’ve discovered a very important truth: Being an author is not easy. It’s not all rainbows and glitter and strawberry cheesecake. 
It’s not the hard work that gets to me. It’s not the edits. It’s not the hours spent alone each day perfecting my craft. It’s nothing to do with the actual writing. 
It’s the balance between needing to have something to look forward to and knowing how to handle disappointments. 
Being a writer means you have to be self-motivated. I don’t have anyone standing behind my shoulder cheering me on as I eke out another difficult scene. I don’t have anyone tell me Just one more thousand words and you’ll be done. I set my own limits. I give myself rewards. I’m the one pushing myself to reach the next level. 
To motivate myself, I look into the distance, imagining what it will be like to have a completed book. To sign a copy for a random stranger. To have kids love it. To be a real, live, breathing author on a book tour. 
Then my day dreams don’t pan out. My expectations aren’t met. My grand plans seem like a dud.
And I’m back to the basics. Back to trying to figure out how I’m going to make this thing work. Back to the reality that I’m a struggling-along-in-obscurity-hard-working-author who’s pretty much clueless. 
In October I went and stayed with my oldest sister for a week to help her out with her six kids because she wasn’t feeling well. One of the days when I was there she prayed something like Please bless my sister for spending a week doing the most unglamorous job possible. My eyes popped open. My sister is a very thankful person and all I could think of was that my sister had thanked me more in one week for helping her than I’d been thanked in my entire writing career for being a writer. 
Helping out with dishes, housework and laundry had seemed so much more rewarding than being an author because I got to see the fruits of my labor right away. I knew that what I was doing was being appreciated. That I was making a difference in someone’s life. I was making their world better at that moment. 
Being an author is more about faith. Faith that some day you’ll reach a point where you’re making a difference. Where the hours, the years, you’ve slaved over a manuscript will actually end up bearing fruit. That one day your writing will touch someone’s life and make it better. 
But when you reach a point where you think you should begin to see the reality of the daydreams that helped keep you going and instead all you see is the road continuing to stretch in front of you with no end in sight, then what do you do? 

You stumble. You fall. And you want to stay down. Getting up seems like too much work. Too hard. Not worth the pain it will cause.

I recently asked an artist friend how he did it. How could he continue going year after year? I can’t keep going without giving myself something to look forward to, yet if everything I look forward to falls flat, then how am I going to be able to continue motivating myself?

By finding your worth, your safe place, in God. That’s what my friend told me. Yes, it’s ok to look forward to something, to dream about it, to imagine it, but ultimately my encouragement needs to come from God.

At some time or another, everything is going to fail me. My daydreams will fall through. I’ll make mistakes. People will let me down. Even when I’m a bestselling author my life will have twists and curves I wasn’t expecting.

Safe places aren’t really that safe after all,

Unless they’re in Jesus.

When we take our eyes off the ultimate goal, off the real prize, that’s when discouragement wash over us like a tsunami wave.

My goal in life isn’t to be the most acclaimed author. My goal in life isn’t to have hordes of people stampeding into bookstores, rushing to get a new copy of my latest book. My goal in life isn’t to be a larger-than-life author who can do no wrong.

My goal in life is to be the person who God created me to be. To give God glory in the good, the bad, and the oh-my-goodness-is-this-really-happening moments. My goal in life is to share God’s love and truth with the world. My goal in life is become more like Him and to help others become more like Him, too.

Writing is a means to that end. Writing is the gift God has given to me to help share Him with others. Writing is how I can multiply my life and make it far more effective than I could ever be on my own.

Writing is my chance to extend my influence beyond the little flame of life I’m living that will all-too-soon be snuffed out by the reality of time.

Writing is a gift, not an identity.

Being a writer is part of who I am, but being a writer doesn’t need to define me.

Being God’s child, that IS who I am.

That IS what defines me.

On my own? I create nothing that’s worth lasting throughout all eternity.

In Him? I’m priceless. I’m remarkable. I’m a ransomed princess.

How in the world could I even dare define myself by the meager worth of the world’s acknowledgement of my literary achievements when I’ve been bought by the blood of the Creator of the universe?

Having a spectacular turn-out for a book signing would be nice, but it doesn’t compare to the realization that the King of Kings has endowed me with the gift of being able to spin words into sentences, paragraphs, stories.

Somehow I end up confusing priorities. I look at people and seek their validation. I try and morph my writing style into what I think they want so they’ll praise me. I’ll assume an act of happy success, even when I’m screaming inside that I can’t keep going. I hide my true feelings, seeking the approval of numbed strangers.

I forget that I’ve been given my words by the Creator of Languages.

The words I use to express my thoughts and feelings are a gift, yet I try to hide them. I corner them, beating out the truth from their expressive descriptions, then throw them together in some semblance of order where they reflect thoughts, but not my own. Emotions, but not the true ones.

I hide behind my ability to make sense and then justify it, telling myself that people don’t really care.

And maybe they don’t care. But I do.

So many people out there are hurting and alone. Alone. Not because other people can’t understand what they’re going through, but because each of us hides behind a facade of having it altogether and so we’re afraid to be honest and let the crack of our imperfection show through.

We each struggle to find our identity in what we do, in who we’re seen as. We forget that our identity has nothing to do with us. It’s all about Him.

Book sales, friends, achievements and skills don’t define who I am. Those are gifts. Not Identity.

My identity,

my safe place,

is found

solely

in God. 

Being Balanced

Ask anyone in my family and they’ll tell you: I’m goal oriented and driven. And that’s a good thing. Sometimes. It certainly helps me accomplish a lot. Especially with my writing. I have lots of writing goals. It can also get in the way of more important things, though. 
At the beginning of the year I talked with my parents and asked them about areas they thought I could work on improving in and both of them basically said I needed to become more balanced. Instead of running headlong into a project and focusing solely on it, sometimes it’s good to take a step back and let some things go. I was at the point where I would let my other responsibilities slide just to make sure the goals I had set for myself were met. And that’s not cool. 
So, I began making more realistic goals. (And, I’m talking about daily, weekly and monthly goals here. Not necessarily year-long goals because I’m not the best at figuring those out yet although I am working on them.) And I told myself that it was ok if I missed a goal every once in a while, but I didn’t. I kept zooming ahead and somehow fitting my goals in although I have become more balanced. 
Sometimes it can be hard to focus on the big picture when all you see is what’s right in front of you.

Then last week we had tons of company, my best friends were getting married, and I spent the first half of the week being all emotional and the second half of the week being extremely busy and visiting.

It was late Thursday night when I realized I still had 20 minutes left of stuff I had to do to finish my six goals for the day. Now these are the daily goals that I set for myself at the beginning of 2013 and haven’t missed doing since then (except for the week I gave myself off at the end of December). I slowly began separating myself from the crowd so I could escape to my office and finish my goals. And a couple of the girls who I’d been trying to find a time to talk to followed me.

Standing in my office, listening to them talk, I took a deep breath and made the decision: I would let my daily goal slide. In the long run I wouldn’t have any negative effects by missing one of my daily goals in 20 months, and on the other hand, these girls were really important to me and our friendship would be greatly enriched by me spending time with them.

Then, later on that week I also made the choice to let one of my 11 weekly goals slide so I could focus on the people who had come for the wedding.

That might not seem like a big deal to y’all, but it was to me. It was me choosing to put other people and other things above my driven-goal-oriented attitude that I’ve adopted. It wasn’t as hard as I had thought it would be. But it was freeing. And also a little bit scary wondering if this is going to become the new me. It won’t, though, because I won’t let it.

And there you have it folks. Goals are important. Very important and I think everyone would benefit from them. Balance is also important, though, and therefore I’m working on becoming a balanced-goal-oriented person.

A false balance is abomination to the Lord: but a just weight is his delight.
Proverbs 11:1

What about you? Are you goal-oriented? Driven? Balanced? 

January – Month Review

I guest posted over here today, why don’t ya check it out? 

Review for the month of January, 2014

First off, I’ll start the updates for my 22 Before 22 Challenge:

1. Write and send 22 snail-mail letters – CHECK I’ve actually sent out more than 22  
2. Go for 22 days (not in a row) without Internet – I’ve gone four days so far – every Sunday
3. Go for 22 days (not in a row) without computer – I’ve gone four days so far – every Sunday
4. Read 22 non-fiction books – Read 2 and I’m reading three more right now
5. Read 22 fiction books – Read 6
6. Write 22 thousand words in my journal – CHECK 
7. Memorize 22 (Bible) verses – Memorized 6 verses (Proverbs 1:5-7 and Proverbs 10:19-21)
8. Move to our new house
9. Go to Florida – CHECK – Currently in Florida 
10. Go to Europe
11. Go for 22 days in a row without sugar – CHECK – From Jan. 1st. until Jan. 23rd.
12. Host a writing contest on Noveltea
13. Do a guest post or be interviewed on other blogs or host a guest poster or interview on my blog 22 times HERE and HERE, plus I have several guest posts waiting to be posted 
14. Track all the money I spend for 22 days
15. Do the 100/100 challenge with Limes – I’ve kept up with this
16. Write the continuing Limes story on Noveltea, at least 500 words a segment – Kept up with this
17. Get my drivers license
18. Do my idea with the jar and marbles/beads, etc…
19. Get WDG totally edited
20. Write the first draft for my AK’s book – CHECK – Completed on Jan. 10th, 2014
21. Get my second Creation Quest book totally ready for publication
22. Write ten book reports/reviews – Reviewed 5 (Here, here, here, here and here)

(5 out of 22 completed, 9 out of the remaining 17 started) 
“The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step” 
Now let’s move on to my daily, weekly and month-long goals: 

I have seven daily goals and eleven weekly goals that stay the same, I’ve kept up with each one of those. In addition, I also chose ten goals each week with a certain number of times I want to do each of those goals. I’ve kept up with those, too. Lastly, I have three weekly goals (that change each week) and three monthly goals (that change each month) and fifteen year-long goals. Here the Month and Weekly goals are: 

Monthly Goals:
1. Write AK book = YES
2. Memorize 6 verses and write 10,000 words in journal = YES
3.Read 5 books, write 1 review = YES

Week One Goals:
1. Get to at least 5,000 words on AK book = YES
2. Work on Cool Animals of the Ice Age book = YES
3. Begin “How to Win Friends” book & write report on first chapter = NO (I was given an extension I didn’t focus on it)

Week Two Goals:
1. Big project at work = YES
2. Read and review chapters for work = YES
3. Read 2 books worth (can be four half books) = YES (I think…)

Week Three Goals:
1. Get ready and leave for Florida = YES
2. Catch up on typing for Dad = YES (mostly at least, there are a few things I have to ask about still…)
3. Try and get AK book ready to send to editor YES (and I got it sent!)

Week Four Goals: 
1. Read 1 non-fiction book = Still working on this one 
2. Memorize 3 verses = YES
3. Spend time with grandparents and family in Florida = YES

Year-long Goals:
(2 out of 15 completed, 8 out of the remaining 13 started)
Completed Goals: 
*In 2014, if the Lord wills and I live, I have someone to do illustrations for the Action Kids Club
*In 2014, if the Lord wills and I live, I make Mommy a blanket 

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How about you? Did you accomplish your goals for the month? If so, I’d be delighted to hear about it! (And, even if you didn’t, it would still be great to hear what you did during January! 😉 

Life Recently :)

And the party continues at my house, with our cousins still hanging out. Yes, with over a week of fun and festivities, I think this is the longest time so many of us have hung out together at once. Don’t worry though, we’ve also been getting stuff accomplished. Most days I’ve spent at least several hours up in my office working and planning. Still. Double the kids, double the fun. Most of the time. 😉

My dad and I love to hang out together and play a card game he made up. Since he’s super good with cards, I have a hard time beating him. Let me rephrase that: The times I’ve beaten him at this game can probably be counted with one hand. On one finger of that hand. Yeah, it’s that bad. Winning isn’t the point of this game for me (it couldn’t be, because I would be doomed if it were!), but I still try and win. Like, trying really hard. Anyways. I have tons of fun getting the time with Dad. My dad is totally amazing about finding time to do special things with each of his kids. It’s often during these games that I talk over ideas I have for my books and that kind of stuff.

The other day though! The other day… I actually WON! Now, we won’t mention the fact that dad was sick and that he unknowingly gave me some advice that scored me the winning move. We’ll just focus on the fact that I was the winner! 🙂

Points are bad in this game. 
Abbie (cousin) took a great liking to my dog, Novel. She’s been asking about her, following her around, and playing with her. It’s so darling to watch and I’m thrilled Novel’s such a good dog with children. The other day Abbie was like, “Look, she has brown eyes, and I have brown eyes!” Then a little while later she declared, Novel is my BFF.” It made me smile. 🙂
This picture is totally unposed. 

Of course we’ve been playing Settlers of Caton until half of the kids declare they’ll never play it again… only to be drafted into another game of it the next day. As you can see, the board has expanded somewhat since we got it on Christmas Eve….

I’m red and was in third place with 11 points. 

Among other things that have been going on:
Yelling and cheering right after the New Year is ushered in (while Face Timing with some of our friends who were still stuck in 2013. We assured them 2014 was pretty great).
Writing down goals and plans about how to accomplish them.
Planning and starting new books.
Reading The One Minute Manager Meets the Monkey which I had to do for my job, but it was pretty great cause it also counts toward my goal of 50 books this year.
Memorizing Proverbs 1:5-7.
Taking beautiful, brainstorming walks down our amazing country roads.

What have you been up to? 

Until Next Year….

Twenty-Fourteen. It’s right around the bend. I feel so blessed with all God did for me, worked through me, and showed me in twenty-thirteen. I’m excited and thrilled and amazed when thinking through what He might accomplish in 2014. There’s so much that needs to be done and we (His children) are His hands and feet. 

There are a lot of goals I’ve set for this year, and while I’m not going to be posting them now, I did want to share a few with y’all that will effect Noveltea
1. Until at least April, I’ll be going without Internet one day a week. My target day is Sunday. 
2. I’m going to be reading a lot of success and self-development books this year and I plan on being able to share some of the info I glean with y’all. I’m looking forward to those posts! 
3. I’m planning on starting up a continuing story on Noveltea. I’ve been thinking about this story for a couple years now, so I’m pretty excited (and kinda nervous!). My target posting day for this is Friday, although I might change it later on, after seeing what fits my schedule better. Here’s my working 25-or-less-word pitch for the story (which is very apt to change):

“When life hands you lemons” takes on new meaning as Madalyn wrestles against a mysterious illness that threatens her dreams of music…And life. 
What are you going to do with 2014?

What about you? What are some of the things you’ve prayed about or hope to accomplish in 2014? 

Goal Results From 2013

Hey, y’all! I thought I’d post my goals from 2013 for you to see. I didn’t include all the goals (there were some I didn’t want to share publicly) but other then that, here they are; complete with whether or not I accomplished them. I’m pretty excited about what I got done this year. Sure, I didn’t work on Star Glow and The Coming Dawn, but really, I’m not sure how far those will go and getting a book traditionally published and then turning it into an audio book was well worth the switch in plans, I think! 

The path to your goals isn’t always easy, but it’s worth it! 


Every Day Goals:

In 2013, if the Lord wills and I live, every day I have at least a 20 minute devotions time – YES

In 2013, if the Lord wills and I live, every day I do something toward the goal of selling millions of books – YES

In 2013, if the Lord wills and I live, every day I journal what I did to move toward my goal (sometimes I do two days at once) –YES

In 2013, if the Lord wills and I live, I write for my “100/100 Challenge” every day, at least for the first quarter of the year –YES (I might have been a couple of minutes late with one day, I’m not sure)

In 2013, if the Lord wills and I live, I take vitamins every day, because they help me with everything else that I do –YES

In 2013, if the Lord wills and I live, I make it a habit of thanking God for 10 things when I wake up, and if I forget, then when I remember, I think of 20 things I am thankful for. –YES

Brushing my teeth twice a day. –YES

Every Week Goals:

In 2013, if the Lord wills and I live, I have my bedroom cleaned at least once a week. –YES

In 2013, if the Lord wills and I live, I write at least two blog posts a week, whenever Internet is available -YES

In 2013, if the Lord wills and I live, I read, listen to or watch at least five hours of educational stuff each week (and I work at getting it more spaced out throughout the week, meaning not all bunched into Saturday) –YES

In 2013, if the Lord wills and I live, I have at least five hours of devotions/time spent with God each week –YES

In 2013, if the Lord wills and I live, I write in my prayer journal at least two days a week, which will help me reach 100,000 words in one year -Writing two days a week, YES not the word-count though (I think there were one or two weeks where I only did it one day)
In 2013, if the Lord wills and I live, I eat sugar only one day a week, with 12 extra days throughout the year (I have to do this until May first, then will re-evaluate) –YES!!! Not only did I do that, but I went the whole year without sugar.

In 2013, if the Lord wills and I live, I go on a walk at least three times a week – this walk must be at least as long as to the office and back – YES

In 2013, if the Lord wills and I live, I will write at least 3,000 words every week – No (Decided this wasn’t a good goal because I was focusing on editing, so I dropped it)

Year Long Goals: 

In 2013, if the Lord wills and I live, I am getting Where Dandelions Grow published –No (I decided this wasn’t important when the chance came to get a book traditionally published)

In 2013, if the Lord wills and I live, I am getting Star Glow published –No  (I decided this wasn’t important when the chance came to get a book traditionally published)

In 2013, if the Lord wills and I live, I am getting at least one of the Creation Books published –YES (Traditionally, too!)

In 2013, if the Lord wills and I live, I am re-writing Star Glow and The Coming Dawn –No (I decided this wasn’t important when the chance came to get a book traditionally published)

In 2013, if the Lord wills and I live, I will focus on editing what I have already written –Yes

In 2013, if the Lord wills and I live, I will work on keeping up with all my platforms on the Internet, but will not become consumed by them –YES (Not the .com as much)


Big things to focus on in 2013:

*Working on getting rid of my health issues –YES

*Getting the Creation books out there –YES 


NOTE: All of these goals are valid through 1/1/2013 Through 12/23/2013. Then I get from 12/24/2013 through 12/31/12 as free time except I still have to do something toward my books and journal it every day

So, what about you, folks? What were some of your goals for 2013? How did you do on them? And stick around ’cause I’m planning on posting my goal for 2014 soon! 

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!!!
Hello blogging friends of mine! Here’s a great, big, huge Merry Christmas for y’all! I know today is a busy day for all of us, but I wanted to pop in and tell you that I thoroughly enjoy getting to share my writing journey and world with you. Thank you all for reading my words and coming back time and again. 
Enjoy Christmas and don’t forget the real meaning of Christmas:

And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.  

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. Luke 2:6-14

*   *   *   *
Here are the gifts I told y’all I made: 
Lace thingy I made for Mom, it goes around a candle. 
Three pairs of boot sock thingys for Helena. =)

Hang on tight y’all for some end of the year posts about my goals. I’ve been having so much fun thinking/praying/planning goals for next year! Also, I’m so excited about doing my year-end post really soon! Seriously, I’ve been looking forward to it since early November! 

Don’t forget to vote on the polls! And… Merry Christmas!!!