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Thank you

It took me over a year and a half of writing before I told anyone what I was doing. As I wrote the story that had been playing in my head for months, I did a little research to see what it would take to become published. IMPOSSIBLE. That’s what I realized. The writing world was too big, too far out there, way out of my comfort zone, and required social media. IMPOSSIBLE.  I knew no one else who wrote.

Then one day, after months of a growing conviction, I finally gave it all to God. My desire to write and mostly my fear. I remember telling Him that I would follow but He’d have to move my feet, one step at a time. It was a huge moment in my life.

And then an amazing thing happened. I found out Julane was writing. She’d been in my life since her son and I were good friends in jr. high! There was no one else I’d rather go on the writing journey with.

I took another huge step and joined an online critique group. The first story I critiqued was Cherie’s and as we emailed back and forth, we found an amazing friendship.

Through Julane, I started going to a writer’s group in a small town in the corner of Kansas. Her cousin lived there so we stayed with Kathy. That was the beginning of many over night trips, lots of laughs, good food, and time to share stories. Another dear friend.

After the first year I was ready to go to the national writing convention and Susie rode with us. I would never have guessed that such a sweet friendship would grow from that trip.

Social media was the last huge hang-up of mine but with these ladies it’s been pretty painless. I’ve enjoyed this blog more than I ever thought possible.

Somewhere along the way, I lost my shyness about telling others I write. I think the reason is because so many of you have read this blog and have been amazing. You’ve commented on blogs, offered kind words of encouragement, and shown so much interest in my writing journey.

I’ve known this whole time that I’m following the path God has for me. How do I know? Because I’ve gotten to walk beside each of you and that has made this journey beyond what I ever imagined.

I am so blessed. You are a blessing and I thank you. Thank you for taking the time read our blog, the comments you’ve made, and the encouragement you’ve shown. Without you, it would be a lonely journey.

After over two years of blogging, we are all ready for some time off. Life is busy and at times our stories don’t get the attention they need. I’ll miss this blog, but I’m also excited to see what’s next.

THANK YOU for coming along with us these past two years!

Sara

Senior year

Senior year. It’s full of new experiences for all of us. I’ve listened as other mothers (mostly of girls) have spoken of how sad they are that this is THE year. Honestly, I’ve felt  bad because it hasn’t bothered me at all.

Until last night.

Senior picture night.

My view from the back row

My view from the back row

I stood and watched as the wonderful photographer took pictures of my son. A man. There was no little boy left as she snapped pictures and showed him the results. He humored me as I fixed an awkward collar but for the most part, I just stood and watched.

And remembered.

The first picture in the hospital. The first month photo at the studio. His one year birthday announcement picture. The first days of school. Birthdays. Eighteen years of memories.

I know parenting is never done, but we’re moving into a new stage. It’s very exciting. It’s a little sad.

Last night I stood in the back and watched. He could have done this on his own.

And then I saw a glimpse of my little boy–he caught my eye and mouthed the sweet words, “Do I look okay?”

He still needed me. For a few more moments I’m needed.

photo 1 (2) Sara

It’s a Piece of Cake

We’re almost at the nine-week mark of this school year. Nine weeks into my second year of teaching FACS. I thought this year would be so much easier, and in a way it is, but I still get just as nervous whenever we start a new project. What if I can’t explain it right? What will I do if the girls just can do it? What if they don’t even like this project? Yes, those are the questions that keep me awake at night.

We started the year with sewing pillowcase dresses for orphans. This year the dresses will be going to Africa in the spring. Most of the class started with little or no sewing experience, but they learned quickly and soon had the required three dresses made. For the most part they enjoyed sewing, but the next project is making a bag and it isn’t easy. So, I thought we’d take a little break and learn to decorate cakes. Why was I losing sleep over this one? These girls were AMAZING. My favorite part is when they hold them up for a picture and I don’t even have to say smile. The pride in their face is so fun to see. It’s those moments when I know why I love my job!

Here are a few of the pictures:

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Amazing! Right? This is just a few. Look at that basket weave. I couldn’t believe she was tackling that!

Have a great weekend,

Sara

 

Seeing the story

There’s only one time during the day that I question why I went back to work. 6 AM. The rest of the day, I’m pretty convinced I’ve been given the best job. This week that feeling only grew stronger.

Every morning I get to help in a couple of the elementary classes. One of the teachers knows how much I enjoy writing so this week she gave me the job of teaching the students how to write a fiction story. She gave me one photo-shopped picture of a zebra riding a motorcycle being chased by a lion and a stack of blank story maps.

You can guess the story each of the five groups thought of–it didn’t end with a happily ever after for the zebra! As we talked about knowing our main characters, using the supporting characters like a chef uses spices, and developed a problem that grows until the end of the story, the student’s began to get excited. By the end of today, we had five groups with five completely different stories. AND, I was able to save that zebra from certain destruction!

As I sat and wrote down the ideas popping up around the table, it became obvious that some of the best story ideas came from the students who struggle academically. To see their excitement and watch as they planned and pieced their story together was such a blessing.

I’d ask the groups, “Do you see it? Is the story playing through your head?”

Some of them shook their heads no, but others gave me a dimpled smile and nodded.

They could see the movie! I can’t wait to see what stories we actually write next week.

What fun to be involved with the process.

How generous of their teacher to let me have a chance to share something I love with her students!

Happy Friday!

Sara

Living IN This Moment

There are those times when I’m with someone whose story causes me to look at my own self deeply. That story that leaves you wondering how the person is even standing upright, how they’ve managed to live joyfully in the midst of the pain.

We spent time with extended family over Labor Day weekend. Every other year we all get together so while I don’t know any of them deeply, they have touched my life and it’s always a joy to get back together.

For the last four years, we’ve watched a couple in their fifties go through a deep valley. This year only the wife was there. Her husband had to be put into a nursing home because a disease has left the front part of his brain paralyzed. He can’t even communicate with her in any way.

She talked. She smiled. She encouraged. She praised God.

And I left the weekend completely convicted. If I knew what the next moment held, would that change my life? If I knew I wasn’t going to have those golden years with my husband, would I throw myself into the now? Do I love my family in a manner that I’ll never question why I didn’t show them more?

People have stories that take my breath away. Stories that break my heart. Stories that make me question. Stories that scream at me that I am blessed and at this moment, I should take full advantage of those blessings.

I need to live my relationships IN this moment so there won’t be the would’ve, should’ve, could’ve.

Sara

What Happened to Summer?

I’m not sure where the months of June and July went, but August came way too soon. I have now been back to school for a week and I’m still trying to decide if I got enough done over the summer to satisfy until next May.

I always have big plans and long lists…doesn’t mean they all get done! Here are a few pictures of what I did get done.

After twelve years in this house it was time to paint the kitchen/dining room. The chairs also needed to be recovered in matching fabric.

After twelve years in this house it was time to paint the kitchen/dining room. The chairs also needed to be recovered in matching fabric.

New curtains above sink

New curtains above sink

New art work. With the encouragement of a dear friend, I painted my own field of poppies. I'm not Monet, but I'm pretty pleased with the results!

New art work. With the encouragement of a dear friend, I painted my own field of poppies. I’m not Monet, but I’m pretty pleased with the results!

The final item on my list was to work on my story. It’s been a struggle because there are so many other things filling my brain. I know, it’s an excuse and one that anyone who wants to write understands. Mark wanted to take the boys to Colorado to ride 4-wheelers before school started and I was unsure if I wanted to go. In four days at home alone, I can get a lot done! But Mark suggested I go with them and use the time to write. So for two days, this was my office.

Beautiful view!

Beautiful view!

Not a bad view and I did get a little writing done. Enough to return to school without feeling let down.

Enjoy your last few days of summer!

Sara

Changes and Traditions

This summer brought a huge change to my family. My brother and sister-in-law moved to Alaska. Two years ago, when David mentioned the idea to me, I asked him (okay, TOLD him) to never mention that awful idea again. My family isn’t one for big changes. We’ve always lived with a 45 minute radius from my parents. We don’t make major changes.

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I’m not sure how many times they packed and repacked this trailer. My SIL should get an award or better yet, a reward for this!

Since that conversation so many things happened and doors were thrown wide open. They walked through those doors and at the end of July, with pretty much everything they were taking packed into a trailer. I hated to see them go. Just the thought that they aren’t nearby brings tears.

Growing up, I’d have paid for the ticket to send my brother to Alaska! We fought hard most of the time. But with age and leaving home, we found a really great friendship. Over the years we discovered we had quite a bit in common. It was a treat for my boys when Uncle David came to go hunting with them and a treat for me when he’d come in after hunting and sit at the island to talk and eat whatever dessert I had made.

I still don’t like that they moved, but since the moment he told me they were going, I’ve been able to say that I’m so excited and proud of them for following their dream. Who amongst us doesn’t have a dream and wish we had the nerve to follow it? They can always come home, but to get into their sixties and wish they had taken the chance, just seems sad. So they left, they are now living in Alaska, and they are loving it.

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Dry curd cottage cheese wrapped in a bread dough pocket and deep fat fried.

Before they left we all got together for our most traditional meal. Verinika. I’m not even sure I got the spelling right! This is a German dish that we only had when my dad was traveling. Everyone makes theirs different. Some cooks boil and brown on a griddle and served with a ham gravy. Ours are deep fat fried with whole cream poured over the top. Delicious! Growing up the challenge was to see who could eat the most and still walk away from the table. We did not try that this time but we did make a pretty good dent in the dish.

All that's left

All that’s left

Even our plates were the same we used growing up.

Perfect plates because the cream runs to the center and is easier to scoop up.

Perfect plates because the cream runs to the center and is easier to scoop up.

So, we sent them off well. One last meal together, a hug, and a see ya later. And believe me, my boys are counting on the ‘see ya later’ part! They can’t wait until we can go visit Alaska.

Sara

The Sweetest Three Words

Last week Mark and the younger two boys went to church camp for the week, leaving Caleb and I at home together. I’ll be honest and admit I was a bit unsure how the week would go with just the two of us. I knew we even had to go school shopping during the week. School shopping with my 17-year-old son can be a close contest to a root canal. In the past the experience hasn’t been full of fun, kind words, and agreements. We went on Tuesday, just to get it over with early in the week and you know what? We had the best time! We found what he need and got a few things he wanted. We laughed and we talked. It was a great afternoon and the beginning to a great week.

My son has grown up. He’ll start his senior year in less than two weeks. There have been long moments where I’ve questioned my ability to parent. I’ve laid in bed at night and cried and prayed and cried some more. I’ve felt like a failure and wondered how badly I’ve ruined his life.

But this summer, I’ve seen a different young man and he’s turning out pretty good! I’m excited about who he’s becoming and what the future holds for him.

So those three sweetest words? Not what you think!

At the end of the week I told him something he’d done that he didn’t think I’d know about. It wasn’t anything big–something he ate. He tried to deny it then turned with a smile and said, “You know everything.” SWEET words to this mom’s ears and heart! Yes! We’ve come a long way from me not knowing anything. Sweet words. They’ve made me smile all week-long.

If you’re past these years, I bet you can identify. If you’re in the middle of the not-so-good years, know it’s going to get better. May every mom, at some point hear the sweetest words, “You know everything.”

Because you do know everything, right? I won’t tell anyone differently!!

Sara

What a Difference a Voice Can Make

I love to read.

I would rather read a book than do just about anything else.

Especially housework.

Since art camp ended last week, I figured I had about three weeks to get everything done that I need to before starting back to school. My list is long. Everything from getting the laundry caught up (like that ever happens in this family) to painting my kitchen and dining room. The problem is I’d rather read a book. Then I realized I could download an audiobook onto my phone and have a book read to me. Perfect solution, right? I know people who do this all they time. They love listening to books on tape. Win-win, I figured.

So I bought an iTunes card and my son put it on my account (because he remembers the password stuff). Then I started browsing through my favorite authors. I learned one thing real quickly. Christian fiction audiobooks cost a whole lot more than secular books. I kept looking and finally found one that wasn’t too costly. I’d already read the book so I knew it was a good story that I really enjoyed. As I started working I mentally listed all the chores I could get done while having a book read to me. Win-win, right?

I have now learned a good lesson as a writer AND as a human. Tone of voice can pretty much make or break any conversation. It took about five chapters before I realized the heroine of the story wasn’t the villain. The reader spit her lines out, made her whiney, and created a very non-likable heroine. I’d read the story before so I kept wondering WHERE my heroine was. I remember liking her, rooting for her, wanting her to get the guy. This time, I just wanted her to go home.

It’s Friday and I’m still not finished with this audiobook. I read the book myself in a few hours–probably stayed up half the night reading it. Now I’ve learned how nice it is to NOT have someone reading to me! Silence is bliss.

After reading this book myself, I’d have given it 4-5 stars. Today, I’d give it 2 at best. The reason it failed? The reader’s tone.

And that is where the lesson is for me. Silence is bliss when the tone of my voice isn’t very pleasant. When my words are only going to be sharp or whiney, everyone would probably enjoy my silence. It doesn’t matter how the story was written, it’s all about how someone perceives your tone. In talking and especially with all the technology out there.

Is it possible that tone of voice speaks louder than any words?

What a lesson for me to be reminded of!

Enjoy your weekend,

Sara

Art Camp 2014

Other than the week we go on vacation, my favorite part of summer is the week we spend doing Art in the Barn. This was the second year for my dear friend, Beth, and me to put this together. One perfect barn, thirty students, three helpers, four days, nine projects, one art show. We had a wonderful group of students who worked hard and created some great works of art.

Mary, our host of the week, always has cute signs around.

Mary, our host of the week, always has cute signs around.

We couldn't do art camp without these helpers! Tiana, Grace, and Annie do a great job wherever we need them.

We couldn’t do art camp without these helpers! Tiana, Grace, and Annie do a great job wherever we need them.

Who wouldn't love splattering paint in the manner of Jackson Pollock? The students loved this project!

Who wouldn’t love splattering paint in the manner of Jackson Pollock? The students loved this project!

Someday, I'd love to see some of Dale Chihuly's glass sculptures. For now, I'll be happy with these made from melted plastic.

Someday, I’d love to see some of Dale Chihuly’s glass sculptures. For now, I’ll be happy with these made from melted plastic.

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My favorite project of the week! Clay tiles in the style of Georgia O'Keefe. These were BEAUTIFUL!

My favorite project of the week! Clay tiles in the style of Georgia O’Keefe. These were BEAUTIFUL!

Amazed? Me too!

Amazed? Me too!

This one is Isaac's! He isn't a huge fan of every project, but he liked this one.

This one is Isaac’s! He isn’t a huge fan of every project, but he liked this one.

It never fails when I’m teaching that sometime within the first twenty minutes of teaching a new project, I get a huge feeling of defeat. I start questioning the level of the project and my own teaching abilities. And then, suddenly students start finishing and I am simply amazed!

Already we’re thinking of ideas for next summer. It’s a busy week but so worth it when we see the pride the kids take in their masterpiece!

Thanks for letting me share!

Sara