Monday, June 29, 2009

Bible Camp Reflections

I'm still pondering on this one, but I noticed something about last week during Bible Camp. I had more peace running through the building making sure my department was operating smoothly than I usually do during a week at home. Hmmm, I thought. How can that be? Camp is such an intense week of ministry, with volunteers hither and yon that I'm responsible for. How can that be less stressful? I surely wasn't expecting that going in; that's for sure. In fact, how could a camp with so much going on be perfectly peaceful? 

I think there are a couple of reasons. The first is that I know this is what I'm supposed to do. Ministering to children is where I belong in the church, and I'm certain of it. It's not glamorous, and there are probably more than a few people who don't consider working with children as serious ministry, but it is a whole lot of fun and a ton easier than trying to get through to tough-hided adults. We get to change the future of these children before it begins. 

The second is that my family is so kind as to allow me to put the rest of life entirely on standby while I serve this one week at church. It's our family's ministry priority in the summer, and for a solid week I don't feel pulled in ten different directions. 

The third is that I don't do Bible Camp in my own ability. If I did, I'd probably pull my hair out and run screaming from the building. I'm not the sharpest knife in the drawer, and there are probably lots of people who could do the job better than me. But it's better to be the person who does what he does because he trusts God in order to do it rather than the person who does what he does because he thinks he can do it alone. (I'd hate to diagram that sentence.) 

So all in all, I had a very peaceful week, and I'm sad that Bible Camp is over. It's one of the most restful weeks I have all year long! 

Friday, June 19, 2009

Do you ever feel like life it running in circles around you like a small child, and you're trying to keep an eye on it? I felt a little like that this week. My portion of painting our little townhouse is almost done. It took me awhile, but it looks nice. Bible Camp will be on us next week, and all the materials are almost ready. Chemistry is all that remains of school of the year, and we're working hard to finish it out. But I'm looking forward to a little rest coming up soon.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Book of the Week Pick: Snow Treasure (Great Summer Reading)

It may seem as though all of my book picks are in the genre of historical fiction, but I'm really more diverse in my reading that it appears. However, for this week's book of the week pick, I'm still choosing Snow Treasure, by Marie McSwigan, since it has long been a favorite of our entire family.

Set during World War II, Snow Treasure is the story of several Norwegian children whose lives are shaken by the Nazi invasion. As the Nazis invade, the small group of children from Riswyk find it necessary to risk their own lives in a daring plan to keep the gold of Norway out of enemy hands by sledding it down the mountain under the very noses of the invaders. Will the snow hold long enough for them to accomplish the task? Will the children be found out? Who is the Nazi soldier who has been seen poking around the village so often? You'll have to read to find out, and once you start, you won't be able to put it down.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Don't Fence Me In

Do you ever wonder how to answer those questionnaires that ask for your occupation? Have you noticed that they only allow you to check one box in a long list? What kind of person does just one thing? And since when is a person defined by what he or she does, anyway? 

I find questionnaires troubling because I never know how to answer them. If I say I'm a homemaker, then what about writing? If I say I'm a writer, then what about home schooling? And do they even count home schoolers as teachers? And what about the really important things that aren't listed, like being a wife and a mom? Who makes up these goofy questionnaires, anyway? How do they answer the questions? I've never seen questionnaire maker as a choice on those lists even once.

This has been bothering me for some time. Any comments?

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Book of the week review and on the writing trail

MY BOOK PICK OF THE WEEK REVIEW: Carry On, Mr. Bowditch by Jean Lee Latham

Carry On, Mr. Bowditch was the winner of the Newberry medal in 1956. It is a tremendous book telling the true life story of mathematical genius and self-taught man Nathaniel Bowditch, who saved many lives by creating The American Practical Navigator. What true character is revealed as Nathaniel, indentured as a boy because his father could not afford to keep him, much less send him to Harvard to take advantage of his mathematical ability, sails by "ash-breeze" through many difficulties in life to eventually write a book which saves the lives of many sailors by teaching every simple man to find his location on the sea. I was impressed by the strength of his character and the self-sacrifice which enabled him to teach sailors and even cabin boys the skills which would save their lives time and again. Also a tale of adventure on the high seas, our children were on the edge of their seats as we read this book with them. A must for every family's library of best-loved books.

On a personal note:

Okay. Down to brass tacks. This has a been a discouraging writing week, but I did send out Melba Sue and the Cactus Kid to two publishers. One as a query, so I should hear back more quickly from that one. The other as a full manuscript, which is more normal for picture books. But I'm also researching the magazine market, because picture books have word lengths which make them possibles there too, although the rhythm tends to be a little different. I feel good about getting something OUT the door. 

I'm going to contact the editor who has Diabolical Chickens and Hogwash in about a month to see what's up with those. (That's only because I know the editor, folks. I've worked with her in a typesetting capacity, and she said it was okay to send her two manuscripts. But since I didn't get her through the directories, I don't know their time frame for response on manuscripts. That's why I'll drop her a line to find out the status.)

And it's very demoralizing to have someone publish a picture book with the same name you have for your book (i.e. Hogwash) after you've labored over the thing for months. And I can't change the name. That's the problem. I can't call it Baloney, or anything like that. Believe me, it wouldn't be the same, although it is not about washing hogs. I may have to take that one to the magazine market, also.

But what I'm learning is that it's the journey that is really going to produce the results I want. It's a little like faith. The point of faith isn't to see the result. The point of faith is to believe no matter what you see. Also, the point of writing isn't necessarily to see it in print, although that's nice. The point of writing is to write. As you write, you grow and develop as long as you don't quit. So keep writing!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Whew. Busy, busy, busy. School is almost done, but we're still working on a few tail-ends (Chemistry). For those of you who are interested in our progress on the little townhouse we bought to fix up and resell, it's coming along fine. The granite countertops are beautiful. I look at my own 50's laminate with metal edge and sigh. But the kitchen is almost done, so I'm glad. I feel like I've been mom at a distance for the past few weeks. I'll be finishing the painting upstairs and then my personal portion will be about finished. (Hurray!!!)

Honestly, I don't have a lot to share today. We said good bye to our good friends, the Bochs, since tomorrow they set out for the East. I mowed lawn (a good time for thinking), and burned brush (more thinking), and roasted hot dogs (because it seemed like a good use for the burning brush). I chased chickens because they seem to think my hastas are gourmet salad which magically pops out of the ground. The magic is almost over, thanks to them. I am very relieved that they do not care for iris or peonies.

Although I've had to lay aside writing just long enough to get that townhouse done, several manuscripts are currently out: Diabolical Chickens, Cluck Lays an Egg, and Hogwash. One is ready to go: Melba Sue and the Cactus Kid. A few are in the works, particularly Mule Hollow and Q (about quantum physics). The quantum one is a slow go, unless anyone out there knows a quantum physicist I can talk to a little.

Anyway, I'm off to paint. Have a great evening!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Hope for Stubborn People!

This morning I was talking to my kids about Proverbs 12:27. 
"A slothful man does not roast his prey, But the precious possession of a man is diligence."
Of course, I want my kids to be diligent, so I thought it was important to go over this as we finish up our year. It's usually when I talk with my kids about something that I see more than I did before.

Success is not about ability

The slothful man actually had some prey. He had something to work with, but it didn't matter.
He was either too lazy to do anything about it, or he didn't recognize the potential of what he had in his hands. I began to wonder how many times I had missed out because I didn't see the potential under my nose. 

Diligence is a precious possession

Being able to stick to something and not give up is a precious possession. It's more valuable than ability, connections, looks, personality, or intelligence. How many times have we heard of the tortoise and the hare? The tortoise represents diligence. The hare represents ability. There are limitations to ability, but diligence doesn't have limitations unless you quit.


Groan. It's nice when things come easy. But people who experience easy success usually don't achieve the success they have the potential for because they don't cultivate the diligence necessary to keep going when it's not fun or easy. So when you're stubborn in the right way, it's a good thing. Be stubborn about being diligent!

So what did I learn today?

1. Be diligent, even when you don't feel like it. Just the act of being diligent is precious beyond anything you can gain by it.

2. Teach your kids to be diligent, or you'll spend your life running around picking up after them, and they'll be hampered forever by their own laziness. 

3. If the baby is spitting up, hand it to someone else. (This doesn't have anything to do with diligence, but is good advice anyway unless you like to be gooey.)

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Naming a writing group is going to be harder than I thought

Gee, who knew that blogs could be so much fun. They're nothing like going to the dentist, or anything like that. No wonder so many people blog. 

Our writers' critique group got together this week after a couple of weeks off, and we're trying to think of a good name for ourselves, now that we've been meeting for over a year. We didn't agree on anything yet, but we're open to suggestions. (What we did agree on was that it should be clever, so that means our work is cut out for us.)

Wishful Inking
Forty Inks
Positive Inking

Definitely Nots:
The Ink of Disaster
I Ink Not
Just Write It
Write, Right?
Mrs Always Write
Dead to Writes
A Word in the Hand...

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

I'm beginning to wonder how many times I'm going to write something and erase it again on this thing. It probably happens to other bloggers too. There's suddenly this tremendous pressure of self-publishing your thoughts on the internet that seems to dictate you must have something tremendous to say.

But I really don't. So if you're looking for something earth-shattering, this is probably not the blog for you. But if you're looking for a normal person who does goofy things once in awhile, you're in the right place.

This is what I learned today:

1. Raccoons are very noisy when they fight in the back yard, and they don't care who knows it. (We heard them screaming at each other when I came home from my writers' group meeting, and they were very loud. Whatever they said in raccoon should probably not be repeated in polite company.)

2. It is always best to make sure you put your wallet back in your purse before driving to a new location so you have it when you get there. This is particularly so if you want to buy anything at the second location.

3. There is a big difference between having a child who thinks he might throw up and a child who actually does.  The first kind is not nearly as messy.

Have a great night.