Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The Beginning of the End

If you surf through my Facebook's News Feed today, you'll see the following kinds of posts:

"It's the last first day of school!"
"Last first day of college!"
"Can you believe this is the last first day of school?"

I'm thinking a lot of people are excited about it being the last first day of school, what do you think? As for me, it's the first day of student teaching. Now, I'm not in the classroom today, I just have meetings at North Greenville but I'm excited all the same. I really want to be a teacher. I really want to have my own classroom and, to do that, I have to learn and student teach for a whole semester. So, while some people might be all like "boring meetings, ugh," I'm like "yay, meetings, woo-hoo!" I can't wait to see what I'm going to learn even in these policy and procedure meetings.

Therefore, I think my Facbook status (if I hadn't already done one today) would say something like:

"First day of student teaching! Can't wait to get started!"

For some people, it's the beginning of the end. For me - it's the beginning of the rest of my life.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Leave it all on the Mat

It's that time of year. Well, that time of every 4 years. Yes, it's Olympics time. This time, we've gone to London, England for the XXX Olympiad, as I am reminded every night when I turn on NBC. And there are a lot of success stories to enjoy.

Michael Phelps, standing at 19 medals as of tonight, Aug 1, the most decorated Olympian in history. Ryan Lochte making his mark in the pool. Missy Franklin. The women's gymnastics team becoming the second USA team to ever take gold in the team finals. Danell Leyva pulling out an amazing finish and taking the bronze in the men's all-around gymnastics.

But there's one story that makes me think. I'm a huge gymnastics fan; that's my favorite Olympics sport hands-down. And I love the men's gymnastics (except for the pommel horse). So imagine my heartbreak when team's finals day came. Mistake after mistake after mistake. Sam Mikulak took a huge step on his floor routine. John Orozco botched his pommel horse routine and sat down a bazillion times. Danell Leyva fell off the pommel horse. John Orozco again sat his landing on the vault. It seemed like Jake Dalton and Jon Horton were the only ones not failing their team. Pretty soon, all the footage was of the Brits, the Japanese, and the Chinese, with a little Ukraine thrown in there. The Americans didn't even get shown on P-Bars or Still Rings. It seems like once you're out of the running for a medal, even if you're the news station's country team, you're no longer given any screen time.

Then there was the high bar routines for the Americans. John, Danell, and Jon took to the air and flung themselves off the bar in some seriously styling high bar releases. They landed every routine and finished with pride. In the end, they left everything on the mat. They didn't hold anything back. Yes, the team didn't place, and didn't finish with the result they would have liked but they gave it their all.

There's a lot to be learned from them. We can't succeed all the time, especially as Christians. There will be moments when we're far from perfect, when we don't do the best we can. But we just have to keep going and we have to leave it all on the mat, in the ring, on the court, wherever you want to leave it. God doesn't ask us to be perfect.

He just asks us to give Him everything.

I think this picture sums it up pretty well:

Friday, July 20, 2012

I Watch the Groom

In the movie, 27 Dresses, there's a bit of banter back and forth between the two main characters (Jane and Kevin) about their favorite wedding moment. Both agree that they, instead of watching the bride make her big entrance, they watch the groom. So I took a cue from them at a wedding I went to this past weekend.

My college roommate of two years was getting married. The day had been long in coming, but it was finally here and the music was playing. Bridesmaids glided down the aisles, including my current roommate. Groomsmen looked very dapper in gray suits. The maid of honor escorted (herded) the cutest 2-year-old ringbearer ever to the front. And then the music swelled. Everyone stood and turned to look at the rear of the church.

Not me. I kept my eyes trained on the groom. I watched as he teared up. I watched as he took a tissue from his mom and dabbed his eyes. I watched the smile light up his face when he caught his first glimpse of his bride. It was an expression of love that cannot be described with mere words. And by the time the bride reached the front, her smile matched his, watt for watt.

The rest of the wedding went by in a blur but I'll never forget the face of the groom (at least not until my eyes are trained on my own groom). And so I got to thinking. I know, scary thought, right? Anyway, here are my meager words of wisdom for today.

The Bible states over and over that we, as the church, are the Bride of Christ. So what would it look like if we were in a wedding with Christ? He would be the One at the front, waiting for us to get our acts together and walk the aisle. He would wait for us no matter how long it took to get to the front. He would get teary-eyed (metaphorically speaking) as our journey to Him neared completion. And He would love us, no matter what we looked like, no matter how many mistakes we'd made, no matter how far we strayed from the aisle.

Just imagine. Christ, at the front. Me (or you), taking one step at a time, sometimes a step back or a step sideways, but the destination is always the same. The altar.

Something to think about, anyway. What do you think? Sound off in the comments below!!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Practicing What You Preach

My book is all about contentment. Finding Christ and letting Him be enough for you even if you are destined to stay single for the rest of your life. Contentment ain't easy. Trust me, I've been there. I've been discontent and convinced that the only way to be "cool" and to achieve complete happiness was to have a boyfriend, someone that you would share all your deepest secrets with and hold hands with and *gasp* even kiss sometimes.

So I threw all my hopes on different boys who would come along. There was the guy I was in love with (read: obsessed with) from sixth grade all the way to my freshman year of college. Yeah. I know. L-o-n-g time. And when I realized it really wasn't going to happen, I was devastated. I was devastated each time he moved to a new girlfriend. I was horribly and sadly depressed when he gradually became less of a friend in order to spend more time with his girlfriend. I. Was. A. Loser. And I was trying to do things all by myself.

Then I threw my hopes on yet another boy in my sophomore year of college and decided that he and I were going to date and be happy forever and, if that didn't happen, well, being happy was just not in my future. And guess what? We didn't date. And I was sad. I decided I was meant to be single and that lasted...about a year.

That's when I joined an online dating website and fell hopelessly in love/like with Mike. Now, don't get me wrong; I wouldn't trade my experiences on this site for anything. After all, it gave me the idea for my book that actually might have a chance at getting published. But, once again, I poured all my energy and dreams into Mike. I waited anxiously for emails. I emailed him when he didn't email back after a while. Yes, I know that's lame. I was learning.

Ultimately, that became the basis of my book, Oh Boyfriend, Where Art Thou? Kinsey Walden is a girl who throws herself into every relationship and cries buckets of tears when they don't work out. But, eventually, she discovers the truth: God HAS to be enough for you and you have to be content with whatever His plan might be. You have to trust that what He has planned for you is way better than anything you could come up with. And then (and only then) will that soulmate come along - if that is indeed part of the Plan.

I wrote this book. Filled it with all this advice. Had Kinsey see the light. And, slowly, I began to take my own advice. No longer did I get all upset when my roommate would talk about holding hands with a boy. No longer was I jealous of the girl who is now dating the guy I was in love with sophomore year. And I'm looking at couples I know and, instead of wanting to have a boyfriend, I'm thinking how great my life is. I. Am. Content.

And then, the other day, I met this guy. Now, I'm not saying he's "The One." I'm not saying he's not. All I'm saying is that when he walked in the door and I laid eyes on him for the first time, I had butterflies performing Olympic gymnastic trials in my stomach. Best of all? I still have that peace where I know that if he's the one, great. If he's not, that's okay, too. I am finally content to let Christ be enough for me. Of course, I won't say no to a boyfriend if God's really bringing me this guy or some other guy.

But guess what? I'm finally practicing what I preach in my book and what I want to use to disciple young women. Be content. Live for Jesus and none other. Don't worry about finding that someone. And...he might just walk into your apartment one night and send your heart flip-flopping.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Blowing Things Up

It's majorly easy to blow things out of proportion. One glance from a super cute guy becomes "oh my gosh, he likes me, he really likes me!" A promotion at work quickly becomes the 500K salary and 17 weeks vacation time. And a nice comment on your book easily turns into an (imaginary) book deal, movie deal, and Chris Hemsworth playing the lead character and then falling in love with you and marrying you and you become rich and happy (and of course you lead him to Jesus first). Not that I've thought about that or anything. Haha.

Anyway, lately I've been blowing things out of proportion. I've told my roommate several times over the past few days that I'm going to die. Reason one was that I have an ulcer in my mouth (yeah I'm sure you wanted to know) cause I can't keep my chompers from chomping on my cheek. Try saying that five times fast. So as it has persisted for days, I finally told my roomie I was gonna die. She didn't believe me. Then, after I washed dishes for 45 minutes, the skin on my finger peeled off (sure you wanted to know that too). Again, I proclaimed that I was gonna die. Again, no sympathy. And then, when I pointed to my 3 week old, still hurting bug bite, and said I was either gonna pass away or turn into Spider-Man, not only did I get no sympathy, but she starts showing me HER bug bites and saying I'm making too much out of this.

So I got to thinking. I'm very bad at making things seem way worse (or way better) than they actually are. Seriously, if I get one nice feedback comment on my novel at a conference or at writer's group or wherever, I'm automatically imagining what life will be like once I get published. Even though there's no concrete proof that's what's going to happen, that's what happens in my mind.

Anyway, as I'm thinking, I'm wondering how this applies to life. In general. I realized, God equips us with what we need to do the tasks He's set before us. He has given us the talent. If His plan is for me to sign a multi-book contract and eventually marry Chris Hemsworth, He will make that happen. (Oh, please, make it happen! Haha) I don't need to imagine things as I wish they would be because, in the end, no doubt my ideas will pale in comparison to His plan.

Unless I die from mouth ulcers or zombie fingers or radioactive bug bites, I'm gonna sit back and stop making my own plans. There's no doubt God's are WAY better than mine could ever be.

Friday, June 22, 2012

The Watched Email Never Comes...

You know the saying, a watched pot never boils? Well, a watched email never comes, either. I have the patience of, like, a goldfish. Seriously. Once I know that I'm waiting on something, I just want it to come. I want to hear the 'ding, you have mail' sound that my email doesn't actually make and see the icon pop up that indicates I have a new message.

Take recently, for example. I finally got my proposals sent out to the agents and editor from Blue Ridge who asked for them. Yay! Only about 4 weeks late but, hey, I'm a busy girl. Then, I get a request for a full the same day I send out the proposal. Yikes! So I consolidate all my random chapters into one document, get my mom to read it and critique it and sent it.

And now I wait. And wait. And wait. And for some reason, I have it in my head that I'm gonna get a quick reply back (probably with a negative response) so I keep checking my email. All the time. On my phone. On my laptop. On the checkout screen at Wal-Mart...well, maybe not that last one.

It's not like I haven't done this before. I've ridden this bull, been in this rodeo, however you want to spin it. You'd think by now my patience would be crazy high and long. But it's not. It's nonexistent. I can give all the sage advice I want - but it's not going to help.

I'm going to keep checking my email. And checking it and checking it and checking it for an email that will probably crush my hopes and dreams. Haha.

But you never know, right? This could be it for me. This could be the dream. Come on, email, come on!

...and you thought this blog post would be inspiring...

Monday, May 21, 2012

Divine Appointments and Holy Introductions

First off, let me preface this by saying that I am not writing this blog post simply because I just went to a class at Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writer's Conference and heard all about how important it is to blog regularly. I'm not. And I'm not lying either. I'm simply sitting in my room, listening to the thunder and wanting to blog about how I'm already putting what I've learned into action.

Last night, we had a keynote on how to make the most of your time and network. Perhaps you came here to meet such-and-such but all their appointment times were filled up before you could get your name down. It happens. We don't like it when it does but it happens. Well, the keynote speaker said that you should be open to wherever God wants to lead you and whomever he wants you to meet or have appointments with.

So, yes, last night I made a mad dash to the appointment sheets to score an appointment with Sue Brower, the editor at Zondervan, and David Van Diest, an agent with D.C. Jacobson. These were my top two and I did manage to get the appointments with them that I wanted. Score one for me! This morning, I made another mad dash after the morning general session to the appointment room to see if I could get some other appointments. I was lucky and managed to get the other two editors I wanted (one from Tyndale and one from Harvest House) and the second literary agent. I've already got an appointment with Chip MacGregor because I paid him for a critique. I was pumped and I was ready.

I'm not very good at pitching. I trip over my words, nod too much and usually just generally make a fool out of myself - at least in my opinion. But this time, I started with Mrs. Brower, whom I had met at dinner last night. And she made me feel right at home. The session went great, I have a bunch more ideas on how to make my book better and I was feelin' good.

Now, I know what you're thinking. When are you going to get to the Divine Appointments and Holy Introductions part? You're in luck; I'm there. At lunch, I didn't know who I was going to sit with (you can sit with the agents and editors and writers at lunch and dinner, which is nice) but I ended up going by myself to sit with Caleb Breakey, a writer who'd had a website for teen writers that I had been on before it closed down. I sat and waited and introduced myself when he sat down and told him that connection. It was really good to put his face and person with the name I knew from the website I had enjoyed so much and I was able to tell him my pitch and he liked it, which gave me a little morale boost. I also mentioned that I had a pitch appointment with David Van Diest, who is Caleb's agent, and he said to tell David that he [Caleb] sent me. So when I had my appointment, I said that and that Caleb had said he liked my pitch (which he did, I didn't embellish or put words in his mouth, I swear) and that seemed to really put me in a new light with David. There was a holy introduction with Caleb (sitting at his table) that gave me a leg-up with my pitch session.

I also had a good pitch session with Diana Flegal from Hartline Literary and received very positive feedback. I have a good bit of work to do on the novel now but things are definitely looking promising. It's been a great first day and, with 2 pitch appointments tomorrow and a critique Wednesday, it's not over yet. I can't wait to see what God has in store next.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Total Lack of Disrespect

That's what I told my friend I would not miss when I leave North Greenville's campus in May. The total lack of disrespect at concerts and cultural events. What I meant to say was that I would not miss the total lack of RESPECT.

How can you think it makes you cool to whisper with your friends while other people, who have worked hard all semester to learn this music, sing on stage? Does it make you funny to clap once after everyone else has finished clapping? Are you popular for twittering and giggling during a concert?

No. You are just being an imbecile. Yes, cultural events are required for students. Sometimes you don't want to be there. That does not give you the right to be a jerk. Until you're the one on the stage, you don't have the privilege of judging a wrong note or a style different then what you are used to.

The students who perform in these concerts and plays and such have spent untold hours learning their music, lines, etc. They have put all their effort into their work. How do you think it makes them feel when you can't keep your comments and laughter to yourself or your cell phone off?

So please. Straighten up or get out of the auditorium.

Rant over.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Editing Nightmares

Wow. They really shouldn't tell me the last time I posted a post on here. 'Cause that makes me all depressed to see it was last year! Wow. Clearly, blog posting is not my forte. But today, I am here to make a point and I am going to slam it home HARD.

I cannot stand to edit. To go back through a manuscript and change sentences, add words, eliminate entire paragraphs. Do you know why? Well, I will tell you. It makes me feel like a terrible writer. I can't tell you the number of times I scratch my head (metaphorically) and say, "Gee. Why did I ever think that was a good idea? How could I have ever thought it'd be great to make her do that?"

And then there are the times my characters run away from me. I'm writing and editing and writing and editing and then all of a sudden, my main character is leaving work and she NEVER EVEN HAD A JOB!! And this is like chapter fifteen. So now I have to edit from the top again and make it clear she had a job all along and didn't just randomly pick one up one day because she felt like it. The whole time this is happening, I am sitting in my dorm room, staring at my computer, and yelling "Why would you do that? Stop doing that! Get back under my control!" That might be why people wonder if I'm nuts. To which I say - yes. I am nuts. I am a writer. How can I be anything but?

Back to editing. I've just now finished editing my YA chick lit novel, Oh Boyfriend, Where Art Thou? for maybe the third time. By editing, I mean going chapter-by-chapter, with Track Changes on, and skewering entire passages with the wrath of Michelle. It was intense. I just finished and the final (revised) product is about 15 pages longer than the original.

Editing stinks. It's hard work and hassle and can be really, truly irritating. Only now, when I look at this final product (that still needs some work to explain why the main character randomly begins doing things mid-book that she hadn't done before) do I realize that editing really has made my book much, much better.

Now I think I'll go edit a fourth time...oh, joy.