When Grace Flows Down

As is the case for many, many people, 2016when has been an extremely difficult year for us. Between taking in my niece through CPS back in January, a move, a car accident, several financial hardships, and enough family drama to rival a daytime soap opera, we walked into the Christmas season feeling completely defeated. My husband and I knew that we wouldn’t be able to provide a decent Christmas for our children without taking away from bills and other necessities, and so we decided to reach out for help.

Through the kindness of complete strangers, our children were able to have presents beneath the tree this year. Through the kindness of complete strangers, CPS was able to provide extra presents to my niece this year. Because of gift cards we received from friends and loved ones (and a certain “secret Santa”), my husband and I were able to purchase items needed to make some small repairs around the house.

And though it takes a lot for me to admit these things–prideful creature that I am–I want you to see first-hand what it looks like when grace flows down.

These people–friends and strangers, alike–took the time and effort from their own lives, from their own stresses and worries, to help us. They took the blessings that Christ has given to them and poured them out onto us. For all the blows we were dealt in 2016, it absolutely pales in comparison to the love we’ve been shown, and not just in the way of presents and monetary gifts, but for all the prayers offered on our behalf, for all the messages and phone calls asking if we need anything, or if we just need to talk for a bit.

While I understand that Christmas is not about the material things, it’s the charity and love behind what we’ve been blessed with that stands out the most. I see the selflessness of the gifts. I see the hands and feet of Christ at work. I see the kindness that the world feels is so lacking.

From the bottom of my heart I want to thank those who reached out to us, who helped give our children a good Christmas. From the bottom of my heart I want to thank everyone who has been praying for us. Thank you for taking the time and effort to sacrifice what you have for someone else. Thank you for being the examples of Christ that the world needs, especially now. ❤

 

 

“Guardian” Excerpt + A little writing motivation to myself

“Sometimes the monsters win, Charlie.”

Those were the last words he ever spoke to me. Head down, hands in his pockets, eyes concealing the horrible truth of what he was about to do to the both of us.

What was it that scared me more? The defeat in his voice? Seeing vulnerability in a man who was impervious even to death itself? Or was it the fact that I trusted him enough to take his hand as he held it out to me, knowing with every atom of my being that another step forward would seal both our fates?

I didn’t stop him as he leaned down to kiss me. Soft lips, warm hands, shoulders trembling as if he were braced against a crushing weight. He locked me in an embrace that said everything his lips couldn’t: goodbye. I love you. Don’t be afraid. This is the only way.

Go set the world ablaze, fire girl.

And then there was nothing but the heat exploding through every nerve, searing blood and bone and thought. The pain was total, infinite; everything and everywhere. There were no lungs for me to fill with breath, no tears for me to cry. I burned within and without until I was a living pyre, a star on the verge of a supernova—only, I wasn’t dying.

I was rising.

And it wasn’t until the pain subsided, and I opened my eyes, that I would know the cost of my rebirth.

This is the prologue to the story I’vego-set-the-world-ablaze-fire-girl been writing for over 5 years now.

Actually, this is probably about the 13th prologue I’ve written for the story I’ve been writing for 5 years now.

You see, that’s the thing about myself and a lot of other writers out there–we’re completely self-defeating. We write, re-read, grimace, and delete. We go on day-long writing binges because the words just won’t stop flowing and then we go back later and wipe it all away. We criticize and critique before there’s anything to really criticize or critique!

It’s like drawing up plans to build this beautiful house, the house of your dreams, and you’ve barely built the framework when you decide to light the whole thing on fire.

Many of us get bogged down by the fact that writing is work. Pure and simple. It’s something you have to do when you feel like it, and it’s something you have to continue to do even when the words aren’t shooting like a New York Time’s Best-Seller from your fingertips.

Sometimes writing is a love/hate relationship. But you still have to do it, because if you’re anything like me, then NOT doing it basically drives you insane.

You have to keep writing even if you don’t think it’ll ever make it to print, that it will ever become a “fandom”, or become a silver-screen hit featuring a cast hand-selected by you and a score composed by Hans Zimmer. You have to keep writing even if there are plot holes and underdeveloped characters.

You (I) have to keep writing even if you’re (I’m) on the 34th version of your (my) rough draft. You have to punch through the writer’s blocks, leap over the plot holes, and belly flop into shallow characters, because that’s what builds better writing. Writing and writing and reading and reading.

This isn’t a lecture, it’s more a motivational speech for myself to get off my figurative ass and finish this story–if for no other reason than to say that I did. It’s time for me to put away the excuses and write, even if it’s crap. All I have to do is put one word in front of the other approximately 90-thousand times until I’m done.

 

Our 4-Year-Old Is Obsessed with Makeup!

I used to love makeup as a little girl. Every our-4-year-old-is-obsessed-with-makeupchance I got I would ask my Aunt Tabitha to make me Cindy Crawford, complete with a little dot of brown lip-liner on the corner of my mouth and all.

I loved those roll-on lip glosses that smelled and tasted nothing like the advertised flavor, and the little butterfly-shaped eye shadow kits that didn’t come in complementary shades for your particular eye color.

Fast forward 20-or-so years and I now have a 4-year-old daughter who is obsessed with makeup the way most kids her age are obsessed with Thomas the Train or Barbie. Every chance she gets she is in my bathroom globbing ten coats of fingernail polish onto her fingernails (and my countertops), or fishing for my hidden stash of makeup so that she can “be pretty”.

And that right there is where I draw the line.

I never ever wanted my daughter to grow up with the mentality that she needs makeup to be beautiful. And I never ever want my sons to grow up thinking that women need it to be beautiful, either. I want them to value health over beauty. I want them to start with being more concerned about what goes into than onto their bodies.

Now before you go all that’s not what makeup is for! That’s not the only reason people wear makeup! And what’s so wrong with wearing it to help boost your confidence?!, let me say, I see makeup as a form of art. (Does that sound totally hippy-talk? Probably, but whatever. I’m slowly coming to terms with my inner hippy.) I see it as a channel for self-expression and creativity; something that takes time and effort (and money) to perfect.

To be honest, I’m a bit conflicted. On one hand, I see her love of makeup as something that can one day become a career. Which, if this is the case, why not support and nurture it? Why not help her learn how to do all kinds of makeup? Not just beauty makeup. There’s fashion makeup, theatre/stage makeup, COSPLAY MAKEUP!, film makeup… can you tell which one I’m most excited about?!

On the other hand, like I said, I don’t want it to become something negative. I don’t want her to think that, without makeup, she can’t be pretty. As if her beauty is dependent on her ability to properly contour and blend and shade with the right palettes. And I certainly don’t want her walking around looking like Mimi Bobeck, or as if she just stepped off an episode of Toddlers & Tiaras.

Who knows, maybe she’ll grow out of the makeup thing the way I grew out of Leonardo DiCaprio and wanting to be a famous poet who lived in a flat in Prague with my red-haired, bull-fighting husband. (Seriously, some of my phases as a kid were just weird.) Maybe I’m putting to much thought into something she won’t even care about tomorrow. Maybe she’ll wake up next week and decide she wants to be a storm chaser… which was also a phase I went through: me and Bill Paxton wandering Tornado Alley together 4 ever!

Either way, we’ll go with it. ❤