Thursday, May 26, 2011

Invasion of the Wolf Spiders

Here in Missouri, we have an unfortunately high population of undesirable
eight legged creatures, namely spiders. What is one of my all time worst 
fears? Yep, spiders. One in particular that I despise is the wolf spider. It 
is big, hairy, fast, and yes, poisonous. How poisonous? I'm not really sure.
My husband looked them up on the internet and read to "seek medical advice/
help if bitten" by a wolf spider. Why am I writing about this? 

The other day, while my husband was at work, my three year old ran to the 
bathroom to go "potty," and not long after I heard deafening, horrified screams
from the direction of the bathroom. I rushed to see what had happened. Through
streams of tears, my daughter said "Spider, Mommy, spider!" 

I looked in the direction she was pointing and sure enough there was the eight
legged beast, quickly darting from here to there and back again. For a second 
I was frozen, unsure how to proceed, but my daughter's continued screams 
snapped me back to reality, and I raced to obtain a good instrument with which
to crush the intruder. My husbands heavy dress shoe was perfect - no groves in 
the sole where the hairy arachnid might escape it's fate. Upon my return, the 
spider had ducked inside the vent cover, which thankfully was closed. I picked up 
the vent and turned it upside down. As soon as the spider resurfaced, I utilized 
the shoe, making sure there were no signs of life. 

Afterwards, I cleaned up the floor and shoe sole with a disinfectant wipe, 
and then turned to my little cherub, who was still frozen on the toilet. 
"You were brave."

She looked at me with red, puffy eyes. "I was?"

"Yes," I assured her. "You were brave even though you were scared."

A big smile broke through the previously concerned look. "You were 
brave too, Mom." 

Thankfully, I had been, probably the maternal instincts kicking in. Later
that evening, it was a different story. I was working on a project, sitting on 
the couch, when in my peripheral vision, I noticed a dark blur lurking on 
the wall. Yes, it was another spider, identical to the one from earlier in the 
day. Again I went into action, leaving a smear on the wall. Enough of the 
thorax was left for my husband to identify the type of spider. It was then he 
informed me it was a wolf spider. I panicked. There had been two in one 
day and would probably be more. 

Jason noticed my look of horror. "They're not poisonous." 

"Oh yes, they are!" I countered. 

To validate his position, he google the wolf spider, but instead affirmed my 
statement to be true. My mind raced with fearful thoughts of poisonous creepy 
things crawling in my and the children's beds at night. Jason then did an online
search for scripture verses to counter one's fear. It was effective. It can be 
hard to release one's fear to the Lord, having to trust that He will protect you 
from even the tiniest sources of fear and anxiety. However once you do, 
you'll find a place of serenity and rest. 

So whether your concerned about eight legged creepy crawlers, revising 
your work in progress, putting together your book proposal, or all of the above, 
rest in the knowledge that God cares for you and desires victory for you in all 
areas of your life.  I was able to sleep that night, thanks mostly to the following

"For God did not give us a spirit of timidity (of cowardice, of craven and 
cringing and fawning fear), but [He has given us a spirit] of power and
of love and of calm and well-balanced mind and discipline and self-control."

2 Timothy 1:7, Amplified version  

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Stay True to You

As we travel through life we are constantly afforded opportunities to learn. Will we
ignore those opportunities, casting aside the chance to improve ourselves, or
will grab on to that chance with gratitude and humility, choosing to instead cast
aside our egos? It's almost a comforting thought - that we never really "arrive" in 
this lifetime to the best possible version of ourselves, whether intellectually, 
spiritually, emotionally. When will we "arrive?" From my humble perspective, we 
will "arrive" when we are in Heaven in the presence of our Maker. Until then, we
should live with the realization that we always have room for improvement. This
is a bit of a heavy way to lead into a lighter, but still vital topic concerning writing.

Stay true to yourself. Last post I mentioned that I had written a story for a certain
children's magazine last February, and I never heard back from them. What 
had gone wrong? I had studied the stories in a few of their issues to ascertain
what type and stories they published and had written a story for the "themed" 
issue for which they were accepting submissions. The reason didn't hit
me at first. Once I decided to write another short story for a different magazine,
I again studied the stories they published. However, this time, the finished 
product was a true reflection of my writing style. 

Over this last week, I've realized that the first short story I wrote was too 
similar to all the other stories that particular publisher must see. It was very 
nice and sweet, but it didn't stand out or have a unique voice. Lesson learned.
Stay true to yourself in your writing. Although it is important to tailor story 
themes and word counts to a certain publisher's specifications (at least in
writing for children), don't sacrifice your own unique writing voice or style.
I feel I should qualify that in this and the last post when referring to my "short
stories" for magazines, these are separate from the 3 manuscripts I have 
written for a children's book series. I pray that as I walk through this journey, 
in life and in writing, I remain teachable, continuing to learn from my experiences
and those around me. 

Monday, May 16, 2011

Exercises in Patience

One would think by now, I'd have being patient down pat. After all,I am a 
mother of a three year old and 18 month old. How could I be anything but
patient? Think again. It's something I've had to work on throughout the years. 
I don't like to wait, whether it's waiting for my three year old to finish her milk 
(after forty five minutes of playing and blowing bubbles), or discovering 
different ways to get my youngest to eat those things necessary for normal 
growth and development. He doesn't like meat or veggies. Dinner especially
can be a struggle. Even back in nursing school, waiting for test results was 
tortuous. Thankfully, some of our instructors allowed us to check our answers 
as soon as our tests were handed in. 

The same is true in writing. Once I have written a new story, my natural inclination 
is to wish I could see it in print tomorrow. This whole business of going through "a 
process" has been a challenge. It's over a year into that process, and I know I 
have a few things left to do. One short term goal of mine is to get some stories 
published in one or more children's magazines. It's definitely a requirement on
my writing "resume." I submitted a story for a certain magazine last February, but
never heard back from them. Although I was disappointed, last week I decided
to try again. Having done some research online, I chose a different children's 
magazine, and wrote a story tailored to their requirements. 

Upon completing the story, I could barely wait to mail it in. Thankfully, I did wait
long enough to catch a few typos and errors, and ended up mailing it last Friday. 
Now for the waiting... . Need I say more? Since it may be up to three months
before I hear anything, I should focus my attention on other things, but that is 
easier said than done. To quote Inigo Montoya from The Princess Bride, "I 
hate wait." That pretty much sums it up. However, I am thankful to have God's
help in any area I struggle in, including patience. So, while this "process" is
quite the exercise in patience for me, I take comfort in 2 Thessalonians 3:5
"May the Lord lead your hearts into a full understanding and expression of 
the love of God and the patient endurance that comes from Christ." 

Monday, May 9, 2011

Elephants as House Guests?

Times in life come when you have to make a decision. Will you make the right,
more difficult choice, or will you ignore the obvious elephant in the room, staring
you in the face? Sometimes we choose to see only what we want to, hoping the 
elephant will go away, but he doesn't. Some may try to hide the elephant under 
big blanket or arrange decor on either side of him so he'll blend into the room. 
But he's still there, eyes following your every movement, pleading for you to do 
the right thing. Will you acknowledge the elephant, facing your fears or anxiety?

All weekend, an elephant was my unwelcome guest. I didn't ask for him to visit,
but he came and waited patiently for me to work through my anxiety of confrontation, 
and not a negative confrontation, but a positive one. A confrontation that would lead
to a positive end. It was difficult, nonetheless. My heart was pounding as I dialed the
number and spoke to the person who could make a difference, the person who led
the elephant to my home in the first place. I had prayed furiously beforehand for God's
words to come from my mouth, for His peace to be upon me as I spoke, for His 
wisdom. God delivered. The other party was grateful for my call and for the guidance. 

Doing the more difficult, right thing, is just that - difficult but right. It takes courage
and fortitude. If you don't think you have what it takes, I have good news. Jesus 
Christ is our strength when we are weak, when we think we don't have what it
takes. It's important not only that we are obedient to God for ourselves and the one/s
that would benefit from our obedience, but also that we set the example for our 
children, passing on Godly morals and character to the next generation. I have 
also incorporated character education in my stories, making them fun and fanciful, 
but with a deeper truth woven within the fabric of the story. If you're encountering
a tough, moral decision, I pray you'll find the courage to do the right thing in God's 

"Let brotherly love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body... . So we can confidently say, 'The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?' " 
Hebrews 13:1-3, 6, ESV

Tuesday, May 3, 2011


It's 9 a.m., let the games begin. Life to an eighteen month old is one game after 
another. The only exception is milk and breakfast. My little guy is serious about 
both. The rest of the day, however, is all games. Need examples? I have plenty.
This morning, for instance, I was trying to clip his toenails, and the game was 
how to move in such a way as to make mom's face contort due to the effort being
put forth in keeping the foot and toes still enough to do the job. This was all 
with dad's help. He was holding both legs and the involved foot, while I was holding 
the involved foot as well, and holding each individual toe. Being nearly completely
immobilized and losing the game, my son decided to improvise on the rules and used
his shoe to repeatedly hit me on the head. Wow, yeah, that got a great reaction, I
should do this more. How funny, he must have been thinking. 

The next game was to see how many times he could run away from me, tearing into
places he knew he wasn't suppose to be in, such as my closet, the bathroom, the 
pantry... . Yes, the list goes on, and my little guy knows to end to the, "I know I'm 
suppose to do this, and I don't know why, but it's just so fun," way of thinking. I often 
wonder, what goes on in a toddler's brain? How does he make connections, a 
pathway of thought from one thing to another? How does a toddler see the world, 
experiences seemingly so limited to us (playtime, food time, bedtime over and over), 
but yet so expansive for him?

I love that children, young children especially, learn best through playing, through
the interaction back and forth with those around them. Allowing them to explore 
their environment (provided it's safe, the toilet bowl not being included in what's 
"safe"), is a great way to encourage their curiosity and feed the imagination. Life to
an eighteen month old is a game. What a fun world that must be. I hope that, through 
my writing, I am able to nurture the creativity of the children and allow their 
imaginations to be limitless as they consider the world around them. 

Just incase you're wondering why I don't want my children in my closet, I have a
basket in there that holds my dirty hospital scrubs, and I wash them separately from 
my other laundry. I'm not too super strict. I promise. :)