BOLD

Hi friends!

I lied. I didn't post twice yesterday. Sorry.

I needed another day to think about this post and muddle through everything that has changed in my heart and spirit in recent weeks. It's dense and new and a little bit frightening, and I want to do it justice. As I mentioned yesterday, it has nothing to do with books or publishing. Ready? Okay. Let start at the beginning...

My husband and I started attending Buckhead Church over the summer. As a result, we soon joined a small group with other married-without-children couples in Atlanta. We meet with them once a week for dinner and a study of the Bible and biblical principles. Most recently, we were reading CrazyLove by Francis Chan, a book that has really rocked me and made me extremely uncomfortable.

Two weeks ago we studied a chapter that deals with the lukewarm Christianity of our neighbors and peers (and most definitely ourselves), and the nonchalant attitude that we, as Americans, have towards the plight of our fellow man. The above statement is a very short, very breezy summary of that chapter. I say this because it was tough to read; it pointed out my flaws, my weaknesses, my fears and made me confront them in the light of what is true about the Word of God and my relationship with Christ. I saw that I was lukewarm, and it broke me.

Andy Stanley, our pastor, just so happened (yeah, right...) to start a new series called Big Church, where he has been teaching his congregation about the 1st-century Christians, their desire to witness about the miracle of Jesus' resurrection, and their struggle to do so at the risk of being imprisoned, flogged (which, if you've ever seen The Passion of the Christ, you might understand is not just being beaten or whipped, but having pieces of your flesh torn away from your body), or even murdered. He's been taking us through the Book of Acts and, very conveniently (there's that "coincidence" again), Mr. Chan was, too. Let me show you two things, from two different men, that were revealed to me during this time, and then I'll write about what they did to me:

CrazyLove, Chapter Six, paraphrased (I don't have the book in front of me, so I apologize if this is not the right chapter, but I am almost certain it is): None of what we own belongs to us. It was all given to us by God, so why are we so self-indulgent when we are called to give everything we have over to the Lord? We fall asleep at night, murmuring last-minute prayers as we close our eyes. We toss a few crumpled dollar bills into the offering plate, feeling good about giving "something". Fetch, God!

(That last line is a direct quote from the book.)

Andy Stanley, Buckhead Church, January 23, 2011: "Why are we such cowards? Our obsession with safety and comfort as American Christians has eroded our ability to be BOLD. You're probably around Christians all the time, but you don't even know it. They're 'secret Christians'! If we were doing this right, we would be seen as the most loving, compassionate, moral, upright, consistent, awesome people you'd ever met. It's not your fault...it's our fault. And we're working on it...Peter and the apostles were brought to the temple by the priests and told to shut up and never preach again about what they knew. They were flogged and beaten. And they left the temple 'rejoicing at the honor of being dishonored for the Name.'"

I'm sorry...what???

These mean were literally bleeding and bruised and maybe even bedridden and, yet, they rejoiced?

I look at these two passages (both of which reference the Book of Acts in some way) and I am ashamed. I am ashamed not because I believe that I am a terrible person or because I don't love God, but because I have no idea what true joy looks like. I'm in the middle of an ongoing Love Story with the King, and it barely registers with me on most days. I am an American Christian. I am self-serving, self-indulgent, eager to promote my own agenda, and less than eager to give it all away.

If we compare ourselves to the first-century Christians...well...there is no comparison. We are, as David Platt wrote in his book Radical, "giving in to the dangerous temptation to take the Jesus of the Bible and twist Him into a version of Jesus we are more comfortable with...a nice, middle class, American Jesus."

Um, ouch.

If you are not a Christian, you probably knew this already. If you are a Christian, I hope this stings you like it did me. It should...because it's the truth.

What I am getting at, my friends, is that I have seen the cost of discipleship in others- people like my friend, Jill, from college. I have witnessed their desire to pursue God above all else, even when it means risking friendships, jobs, security, comfort, family, and money. And I have seen how beautifully they suffer for the Name, and how fufilled they are by Him because of it.

When I read that verse in Acts about the apostles rejoicing over their suffering for Jesus, I had to put my Bible down and allow my mind to process the seemingly contradictory truth that was before me. I prayed over it for a long time, and I asked God to make me bold. I asked Him to give me courage because I was beginning to understand something that I had heard before, but never acknowledged. And that something was this:

I am no longer comfortable with just being comfortable.

I don't know what this means for my life, but I do know that God is directing my path to something far bigger than what I think I want or need, and I am praying that He will prepare me to obey when I finally know what to do. I pray that I will not walk away from it because I'll risk missing a friend's birthday, or disappointing my mother, or giving away my car, or quitting my job, or even doing a job I don't like, or talking to someone who thinks I'm foolish, or allowing myself to go hungry. What are these things in light of Jesus? What are these things in light of a journey- no, an adventure- with my Creator and Savior? He gave me those blessings- my friends, my car, my home, my husband, my family, my job, my health- because He loves me. But are they truly mine? No. They are His, so why would I not give them up for Him?

Now that I know this truth, I can't pretend I don't anymore. It filters through my every thought, my every hope, my every fear. It reaches into my heart and tugs, so much so that I lose my concentration and am drawn to the Word, hoping to find what it is that God has in store for me.

I don't believe that everyone has the same gifts, or is called to be the same thing. God uses our talents in many different ways. We are all a part of the same Body of Christ, and we are used in a variety of ways to acheive His will. All I can say is what I know of myself and that is this: I have a talent for writing, I love conversation, I long to travel and have been itching to go everywhere since I was about five years old, I'm healthy, and I love Jesus. So, with these things in mind, I submitted my application to the Buckhead Church/410 Bridge trip to Kenya last night. I wanted to sign up last year, but I think I wanted to do it for selfish reasons: going somewhere I've never been, meeting new people, with just a little bit of service thrown in there for good measure. Now, I am convinced that the Lord has prepared my heart to do a good work there, something that has nothing to do with what I want. Who knows what will come of it? I certainly don't. But I keep going back to it; I keep looking at these people's faces, people I've never met, and I love them. I want to talk to them and tell them how adored they are. I want to work with them and dig ditches and sing songs. I want to give them what Christ has given me: everything He has.

I can't do this alone. Not just the trip, but my life. I can't give it all up by myself. I am not equipped to do so because I have limited emotional, physical, mental, and financial resources. But I trust, and I am learning to trust, that the Lord is sufficient for my needs. Please pray for me as I go into this season, as I wait to hear back about my application, and as I go forward into a life that is radical and bold and new.

XOXO,
Wendi

Life After Yes: A Review

Hi friends!

Guess what? Today I'll be posting twice! Yup. Be excited.


Photo credt: http://www.ivyleagueinsecurities.com/

My first post is, as you can see, a review of the novel Life After Yes by Aidan Donnelly Rowley. The second will be something competely and totally unrelated to books...so here we go:

Life After Yes: My 100 Word Summary

Prudence Quinn O'Malley is a young attorney in the bustling world of Manhattan, a fairly disenchanted woman who lost her father on September 11, 2001, and is preparing, however anxiously, to get married. The novel opens with a dream sequence, in which Quinn (you'll find out why she doesn't go by Prudence) is bombarded by a series of images, such as multiple grooms, a jury of her "peers" (Britney and Nietzsche, among others), and a nightmare dressed in black. This dream plays an integral role throughout the rest of the novel and we see its relevance in the choices that Quinn makes.

Life After Yes: What I Think

I found myself immediately drawn to Rowley's quick, choppy language, and how she has the ability to relate something that is seemingly innocuous to a memory or a moment with significant consequences (i.e. blackberry pie to Berry Baby). It was increasingly difficult, towards the middle of the book, to not hate Quinn or the rest of her friends and family (even Sage, the fiance, who was, in my opinion, of the rare and patient kind), even while I loved the story. I like to find a connection with characters, but Quinn made me so angry at times that I would cry out to the pages, demanding an answer for her selfish, and reckless, behavior. But I recognize that my strong reactions were the result of a well-written, fantastically moving novel, and that my outbursts were nothing less than genuine concern for the fictional people and outcomes I had become so invested in. Life After Yes pushed me to take a step back and examine Quinn, Sage, and the others, because I found myself wondering how I would respond if I were in their shoes. I'm glad that Rowley could make me care.

I would recommend this debut novel to any young woman who has ever loved more than one man, and to women who have lost a parent and find themselves filtering everything in their life through that loss. While Life After Yes certainly fits a particular "chick lit" mold (woman in her twenties, New York, purpose of life...so on and so forth), Rowley is too smart for me. I wouldn't dare box her up with a pretty little bow and move on to the next one. Unless that "next" just happens to be Rowley's second novel.

XOXO,
Wendi

Book 1, Book 2, book thing, book you?

Photo credit: www.fanpop.com
Hello friends!

After receiving a $20 gift card to Borders from my regional manager as a belated Christmas gift, I decided I would go shopping for a new book to kick-start the Chick Lit Plus Reading Challenge. I know, I know...we've already had this discussion once...or twice...but it's because our local B&N didn't have my first choice and I just couldn't pass up an autographed novel! So I went to Borders and bought my original selection: Life After Yes by Aiden Donelly Rowley. And here's my opinion, thus far:

Wickedly smart. Funny in a way that appeals to my sarcastic nature. Sexy, but subtle.

I find myself re-reading phrases that catch my attention (and this is easy given Rowley's penchant for short, pointed sentences...some people call them "fragments"; I call them "powerful").

I should have the full-review posted within the next week. Surprisingly, now that I am working normal, human hours (i.e. 9 a.m.-6 p.m., rather than the 1 p.m.-10 p.m. I had been working for almost three years), I actually have less quiet time at work. It seems the students are quite excited about the fact that my office (which is the career center, open lab, and library all in one) is open early. My new part-time lab monitor is a wonderful help, and a hard worker, and it has been nothing but busy busy busy since the beginning of the Winter quarter.

I guess it's time for me to make a schedule and stick with it: Up at 7 a.m., Bible study, breakfast/coffee, shower, work from 9-6, work out, dinner and time with hubby, write/edit/read, bedtime!

Whew.

Back to the books...

I'm also still reading A Soft Place to Land, Spoken from the Heart by Laura Bush, and I just purchased Julie Klassen's newest: The Girl in the Gatehouse. I am a SUCKER for anything historical, romantic, or reminiscent of Jane Austen. Plus, Klassen shows us her faith in a way that is authentic and real, not campy or forced. So, it seems, I have a good deal of reading to get done...oh, darn...

On that note...back to the books I go!

XOXO,
Wendi

My Stylish Blogger Award!

Hi friends!

I signed on today to write a post about my reading challenge but, lo and behold, discovered that I was being presented (via online) with The Stylish Blogger Award! I feel utterly bewildered and insanely honored, so a BIG thanks to my readers and kstar over at Books Etc., who felt that ABC was worthy of this award =). Now it's my turn to pass it on to others!



The rules of receiving such an honor as are follows:
1. Thank and link back to the person who awarded you this award.

2. Share 7 things about yourself.

3. Award 15 recently discovered great bloggers.

4. Contact those bloggers and tell them about the award!

Now that the first step is complete, allow me to move on and tell y'all a few random things about myself (I bet you can guess one of them...):

1. I was born and raised in Georgia and, as a result, I love sweet tea with a passion that borders on obsession.

2. I am 5'10" and I love to wear heels. Thank God my husband is 6'2".
3. I am Scottish, Irish, Dutch, German, English, African American, and Cherokee Indian (The European and African American go back to my great-great-great-grandparents in the late 1800s...not sure how far back the Cherokee Indian is, but my grandmother has beautiful skin and chesnut hair, so probably not too far).
4. I like to talk, as you can see.
5. I can pop my hip out of place, something I didn't realize was abnormal until I was standing in the lunch line
in high school, popping and locking, and my best friend said "Ew! How did you just do that?"
6. If I could go back and re-live college, I totally would.
7. I would like to serve on missions in Kenya.

You see how I did that? I got away with some extra tidbits in there simply by adding extraneous detail. My college professor, Peter Christopher (R.I.P.), would tell me I need to use my "laser vision", and leave out the unnecessary parts...but I can't help but feel that you need to know a little background information!

Anywho...here are the 15 blogs I've chosen to pass The Stylish Blogger Award onto:


Am I a failure for breaking the rules? It's only been in the last few months that I've ventured out beyond my few favorite blogs and started to read others, so I'm a little lacking here. Quite a few of the blogs I would have chosen have already been awarded the honor of The Stylish Blogger, and I do not want to repeat and/or take away from the person who first chose said blog(s). Forgive me?

Let me say again how wonderful it is to be chosen for this award and thank you all for your loyal readership =).

Tomorrow I'll get back to writing about books, but, for now, I'm going to enjoy this.

XOXO,
Wendi

Do the Dirty Bird

This post has one purpose, and one purpose only:

GO FALCONS! Let's take it to the Super Bowl, boys!

This is for all those folks who think that, somehow, a regular season record of 13-2 is a blip on the radar.

PUH-leeze.

XOXO,
Wendi

Movie/Food/Book Junkies

Hi friends!

No work for the second day in a row (not counting the weekend). Atlanta (and the surrounding metro areas) are piled "high" with snow, so much so that the roads turn to slush and the re-freeze overnight. There hasn't been much a reprieve from the cold weather, not counting the great fun we had sledding in Freedom Park today! I slid down the hill with Pierce and then, when I got brave and decided to go head first, face-planted in the snow. Our adventure became more fun when we let Bella off her leash so she could play and run a bit, but then she thought we were playing when we called her back. She kept hunkering down with her booty in the air and, when we'd get close enough to clasp her leash, she'd take off running and bounding down the hill. Hardy har har, Bella! It was only cute for the first five seconds. After a few minutes she finally understood that Pierce's serious voice was, in fact, serious, and we got her back on the leash. Success!

Since Friday evening we've watched bunches of movies, and I've been reading a bit of A Soft Place to Land. Here's what we've watched so far:

Ramona and Beezus
Eclipse (once by myself...I fell asleep...and then hubby and I watched it together)
Knight and Day
It's Complicated
The Shawshank Redemption
Spiderman...

...along with many SNL Digital Shorts, such as "Lazy Sunday" (which fits perfectly not only with our cabin fever, but also with our love of The Chronic(what?!)cles of Narnia), "I Just Had Sex", and the always-good-for-a-laugh "I'm On a Boat"....ah, snow days...

In just a little while we're going to watch Easy A ( which I saw in theaters, but couldn't hear half of it because of a lovely, sweet group of girls who paid ten dollars to TALK ALL THE WAY THROUGH IT! I'm trying to use Jesus words here). I think Pierce is only watching it with me because Emma Stone is hot. I'm not arguing...

We've also managed to consume inordinate amounts of chocolate, soda, pasta, and (surprisingly) water. I have an excuse to get to the gym! But playing outside has been good for the cardio, no lie, so I'm not too worried about it. We did get out of the house for a bit to go to Deckard's and eat the best onion rings I've ever hard...that was another adventure, which I do not wish to repeat (the driving, not the eating) until the roads are completely clear.

I heard that 49 of the 50 states are currently experiencing snow in some way...darn you, Hawaii.

I have much more important things to discuss at a later date concerning our small group, our worship, our church, and our growing relationship with Christ, but I want to write about that when I will not be interrupted. For now let me say that I am in awe of what He is doing in this season of our lives.

XOXO,
Wendi

Snow Day (times two)!

Hi friends!

Last night it snowed. Again.

This has happened twice within two weeks, one of those days being Christmas (and I live in Georgia...where when/IF it snows, it usually doesn't stick).

I can't even begin to describe my happiness.

PLUS...(oh yes, it gets better!), not only did I have the day off from work today, but I also have tomorrow off...and so does my hubby! This has been a red letter day, people.

Pierce and I got up around eleven and played outside with our Siberian husky, Bella, and took lots of pictures. Then we napped and watched a movie. And after that we cleaned and I made homemade chicken parmesan with angel hair pasta. OH! I almost forgot...P found my New Moon soundtrack under the bed while we were cleaning, so this day has pretty much been THE. BESTEST. EVER. I'm currently enjoying the sounds of Thom Yorke's "Hearing Damage".

Tomorrow we plan on sledding down the ice on our street using our Rubbermaid storage container lids.

But for the rest of the night, we're going to enjoy being snowed in together and having no worries about a curfew :).

Now, on to the Chick Lit Plus Challenge!

I have officially started reading my first choice for the challenge: Susan Rebecca White's A Soft Place to Land. I've given myself a little bit of room with this one because it strikes me as more women's fiction than chick lit (I find that I tend to lean more towards family drama and the "serious" side of "girly" books, with the exception of a few favorites like Emily Giffin, Lauren Weisberger, etc.). I have seen other blogs recommend White as a terrific storyteller, some of them chick lit fans, and so I'm gonna stick with my choice. Plus, Barnes and Noble didn't have Giffin's Heart of the Matter or Donnelly's Life After Yes, and, when I opened the front cover of White's novel, I found that it was an autographed copy! Apparently, B&N had some left over after a signing and just shelved them...good news for me!

I like to be pulled into a story from the first sentence, which did not happen with A Soft Place to Land, but I am not worried. Not only do I know from experience that, sometimes, the best books start slow (Yann Martel's Life of Pi), White's novel was recommended by Kathryn Stockett, author of the the UH-MAY-ZING The Help (and I'm going to brag a little here and tell you guys that I met her in Buckhead last year at a luncheon and she signed my copy...hooray for autographed books!), so I trust that I will not be disappointed.

Be on the lookout for my review of A Soft Place to Land here on ABC!

For now, it's back to my snow day with the hubby.

XOXO,

Wendi

Let's talk about...

Photo credit: The Inklings
(oxfordinklings.blogspot.com)
Hi friends!

The last few days have been spent thinking a good deal about how to listen to God, how to know what He is saying, and how to act through the Spirit, rather than the flesh. I struggle with it often, mostly because I am afraid of messing up, and it's in those moments when the Lord presents Himself to me in a way that, too often, I miss entirely.

He is Love. He is not fear. He is Grace. He is not condemnation.

How many of you have seen The Chronicles of Narnia (any version)? Have you read them all? Do you know about C.S. Lewis?

If you answered no to the questions above (gasp!), let me enlighten you a little (oh, you didn't know you were going to get a history lesson today?). C.S. Lewis, commonly known to his friends as "Jack", was an Irish author most famous for his work The Chronicles of Narnia, seven tales of adventure in the land of (you guessed it) Narnia. In chronological order, the first book, The Magician's Nephew, depicts the "founding" of Narnia, which is basically a magical land that exists simultaneously in another dimension entirely separate from the "real" world. I won't go into plot, characters, and storylines here (simply because you should just go read them =), but Lewis' work (as well as the work of his friend, J.R.R. Tolkien...author of Lord of the Rings) is basically Christian allegory. Aslan the Lion is none other than Jesus Christ. The stone table upon which he sacrifices Himself is a depiction of the cross and the blood that was shed for us to be saved. Peter, Susan, Edmond, and Lucy are all of mankind: chosen ones who allow themselves, despite their doubt, fear, or uncertainty, to be used by Aslan to reveal His unparalleled glory and goodness.

In the most recent film, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, there is a scene towards the end of the movie when Lucy, growing up into a lovely young woman, is about to leave Narnia for the last time. She's talking to Aslan, working up the courage to go forward alone, wondering if it is the last time she will ever see Him again. Here's an excerpt:

Lucy: "Aslan, will we ever meet with you in our world?"



Aslan: "You shall."


Lucy: "How?"


Aslan: "Because there I have another name. You must learn to know me by that name. This was the very reason why you were brought to Narnia, that knowing me here for a little, you may know me better there."

I was moved to tears during this scene, and let me tell you why.

First, it reveals the truth that God is always with us, wherever we go. If we can't see Him, it's not because He isn't there. We are often blinded because we are limited in this body, limited by what our minds cannot comprehend. Aslan tells Lucy that He is known by another name in our world, and we know that that name is Abba. Father. Christ the Lord.

Second, I am overwhelmed by the beauty of Lewis' work. Even if you are not a believer, I urge you to take the time to read his stories. They are exquisite and old-fashioned, which I love. Lewis' wrote them in the 1940s, an era I wish I could visit just once. Modern fairy tales and fantasy novels seem to lack a certain substance (with the exception of Harry Potter...Rowling is right up there with Lewis as far as I'm concerned), as though they're trying to take the ingredients from an original recipe and mix them up to create something new. Instead of a fresh and updated twist on a traditional dish, many times what I am presented with is mush. And I so want to get caught up in the story and love it! I want to get whisked away and forget where I am! I do! I do! But it takes a special person to write like that, and the market is being flooded with vampires and fairies and elves and every other fantastical creature. How much of it has that "je ne sais quoi"? The few authors who do have mastered it and, I hate to say this, but other good writers are trying to do what has already been done simply because it's popular. Where's the heart? Why aren't they writing what they absolutely have to write? Why aren't they writing what they can't go to sleep at night without thinking about? C.S. Lewis wrote about Christ because he couldn't help himself (take a look at his autbiography and you'll see what I mean).

 Here's the thing about fantasy (and I'm no expert...this is just my opinion): if you're going to write it, it has to be original. It's not chick lit, it's not women's fiction, it's not crime, it's not historical drama...it's fantasy. It's a work completely and totally of your own imagination. Other genres can use similar elements and come out looking brand spanking new, but fantasy, in my experience, is a whole other world entirely (no pun intended). Think Star Wars. Had you ever heard of anything like it beforehand? No. Will there ever be anything like it again? No. Why? Because it was truly an original piece of art.

C.S. Lewis did the same thing with his Chronicles. Of course, in Lewis' case, his writing was based not on fantasy, but on the Truth of God's Word. But he presented it in a way that would appeal to others beyond the rules of religion and, by doing so, created a new way for the world to share in God's grace. So did J.R.R. Tolkien. And then J.K. Rowling came along and used our own human struggles to help us connect with the life of a young boy named Harry Potter (Is anyone else seeing a pattern here? Maybe we should initial our names and then we'll be great fantasy writers too!). When I sit down to read these books, I am transported. I am nameless. I am there and nowhere else. Trains can go by and I won't hear them. Mosquitos can buzz around me and I won't swat at them. I know that when I crack open a book and don't hear the "bling" of a text message notification, it's gotta be a great read.

Let me clarify this before I finish: I think any writer who sits down and finishes a book is an amazing and talented individual, no matter what they are writing about. It takes patience and devotion to do something like that. It takes passion. I do not wish to bash any writer, published or unpublished...please understand that. I am just like you. My purpose in writing this post today is to encourage others to write about what moves them. Don't be afraid to step outside of your boundaries and push yourself farther than you have before. If I have learned anything from my teachers it is this; if it doesn't move you, it certainly won't connect with anyone else. If fantasy is what grinds your gears, go for it with all the gumption you can muster! I would love to write it myself, but I am hesitant for the very reasons I listed above. If crime novels wet (whet) your whistle, then make it work! But write about it because you love it first, and for no other reason. I beg of you. I want to read books that were written with blood and sweat and tears...okay, okay, I'm getting a little dramatic here, but you know what I'm saying...

I've said this before and I'll say it one last time: God has blessed us with passion and a desire to do great things. He has equipped us to succeed. Go after what you love because you cannot help yourself. God's will is for you to bring glory to Him by using the talents He has given you. If you allow Him to work in your life, I promise that you will not be disappointed.

XOXO,
Wendi


Oh happy day!

Hello dear friends!

Within four days, ABC has jumped from 7 followers to 12! Thanks so much for your support! =)

I have a good deal to catch up on. Work has been swamped since Monday, so forgive my absence. I'm caught in the middle of finishing Winter Garden, editing my novel, visiting with friends, working, budgeting, and I'm going to Borders this afternoon to pick up Life After Yes. I can't wait to get started on the Chick Lit Plus Reading Challenge!

In addition, one of my followers, Christy, who is an old GSU pal, suggested that I take a peek at her grandfather's blog yesterday. He has been a ghostwriter for years and, apparently, has tons of his own published work as well. I just love love love finding out about interesting people and he is certainly one of them. Plus, I have this belief that the elderly have much to teach us about life, so we should pay attention when they speak up...or blog! Frankly, I find it quite cute that grandmothers and grandfathers are Facebooking, Tweeting, blogging, and so on. And I don't say that to be condescending...it just makes my day when I sign on to Facebook and I have a new comment from my Nannie that reads "Hey darling! I love you a whole backyard full!" See what I mean?

I don't have much more to say except for that, besides being insanely/crazy busy, these last few days have been filled with love and laughter and joy and I praise God for His continued blessings.

Now I'm going to go enjoy my sweet tea.

XOXO,

Wendi

Spotlights

Hello friends!

Yesterday I got a new comment on my post! Hooray! It was, admittedly, from my husband, but since I've been hoping/heavily hinting/pushing how important it is to me that he read my work (yes, I think of this as work...fun work, but work nonetheless...) I am so thankful that he stepped up and took notice! Hubby points for Pierce, who puts up with so much of my never-ending chatter at home that I'm amazed he would take the time to read more. Thank you my love! =) You completely made my day.

Today I thought I would touch on the subject of writing a book as it pertains to our aspirations, not just our passion for writing and telling stories. What is that you want to achieve with your writing? Is it simply cathartic, or do you long to see your novel on the shelves? Is it both? For me, I would have to answer "yes" to the latter.

Since I was very young, as far back as I can remember, I have longed for the spotlight. In fact, I used to have these gorgeous window boxes in the bedroom I shared with my sister and I would use them to prop up my Daddy's flashlight from work, thereby creating a tiny spotlight for myself in the darkness of my bedroom. I would sing songs and act out scenes from my favorite movies and, yes, even pretend to accept my Grammy award. I read a book I wrote (a grand total of eight pages) to my second grade class (thanks Mrs. Hurston!) during story time. Later on, when I was 12, I tried modeling. I also tried singing professionally when I was 19. I had terrible stage fright and, as any singer knows, a shaky voice and/or dry throat does not a good sound make. I can do public speaking with no butterflies whatsoever...but if  try to sing...the one thing I love to do almost as much as write...I flip out. Small audiences are no big deal, but big audiences have always been a problem for me. Anywho...my point here is that I love to perform, and I love to create. I have known, as far back as one can possibly "know" anything, that God's purpose for me is to bring glory to Him through creating something wonderful for the world to enjoy. I know now that that "something wonderful" is writing.

Of course I want to be published. Do I write only because I want to make a name for myself as an author? No. But is that one part of my motivation? Yes, and I admit that without shame. I believe that when writers say they do it only for the sake of putting pen to paper, they are fooling themselves. That should be the largest part of why they write...it is the largest part of why I write. I started a journal fourteen years ago because I was dealing with my parent's divorce, my own pre-teen angst, and the confusion I felt over the behaviors of some of the people closest to me. It became my saving grace...it became my outlet for speaking to God...my ability to process what I couldn't deal with on my own. In many ways, that's still what it is for me today.

But....

I want to be a published, well-known author. On the one hand, I receive a great deal of support and care from the Holy Spirit, from people I love, from my mentors (including popular agent and author blogs who teach me more than they will ever know!), and from novels themselves. Through such encouragement, I feel compelled to create more and to write every day. On the other hand, I want to make a career as an author, which means I want to make money by writing novels. I want to be able to make a home for my husband and I while still being able to work, and that is becoming more and more challenging the more I sit at an office desk, beneath flourescent lights, until ten o'clock in the evening.

I believe that the Lord has blessed us with gifts. I believe that our heart's desires are simply extensions or, rather, shadows, of the much greater, wilder, incredible journeys that He wants to take us on. And I believe that when we strive, wholeheartedly, to achieve those desires while listening to the urging of His Spirit, then those desires can, and will, become reality. What we imagine for our own lives pales in comparison to what He wants to give us. It is this thought, more than any other, that drives me forward to pursue the things I believe I want. In that pursuit I hope to find Him. And I hope to open someone else's eyes to His love for His children.

Today I read Rachelle Gardner's blog. She is a literary agent and, if you get chance, you should check her out. She's an excellent source on all the things that new authors need to know. I came across a recent post and, to be honest, it filled me with hope that I can become the author I would like to be, and that my writing will someday mean something for someone other than myself. Here is an excerpt of Rachelle's post:

 I just wanted you to know that I see you. I know you're there. I hear what you're saying, I feel your fears, I love your passion, I understand a lot about what drives you and what terrifies you.



And I admire you. I am so incredibly awed by your bravery. I know it takes courage to do what you're doing. I'm impressed with your persistence, your enthusiasm, your dedication.


I know it takes sacrifice. I know you give up a lot... I know it's a significant chunk of change to go to a conference; it's a significant commitment of time to write books and build platforms (and read blogs).


I just want to thank you for what you're doing. I'm so glad you get up every morning and do what you do. I'm so happy you're up for the challenge. It's because of you that I've been a reader my whole life. It's because of you that I love books. It's because of you that I've had the good fortune to work for the last fourteen years in a career I absolutely love.


You are incredible. Keep up the good work. Keep writing... so I can keep reading. And thank you.

XOXO,
Wendi

Welcome 2011!

Hi friends!

Happy New Year!

Wow, what a day!

I have to say, before I ramble, which I most certainly will, that today has been SLAMMED and it's just one other reason why I can't wait to get my book published and move forward with my writing career. I've barely sat down the entire day and, when I have, it's been to rush through something or hurry with this email or that request. But now it's on to the important things...

I spent the holiday weekend with lots of loved ones and I just found out some wonderful news about a dear friend of mine (though I can't say what or whom for fear of giving something away to anyone who reads this...delayed gratification!). My two friends, Amanda and Lauren, both have a child, one girl and one boy, and my other friend Lauren and I spent New Year's Eve with them. It's amazing to see my college friends with husbands and homes and careers and chidren. It makes me feel old, though, I must say. Old and blessed to see their lives change in so many incredible ways. I'm proud of them for pursuing their dreams and happy to be a part of their lives.

Now that it's back to the daily grind, I'm working towards pursuing my own dreams, both for myself and for my marriage. With recent financial struggles, my husband and I have learned to trust that the Lord is our Caretaker, rather than our income, and to trust that we have His wisdom about doing what is right for our financial future. It's so hard to be diligent! But when I see the fruits of honoring Him with our money and time, it allows me to see just how crucial He is to our success as a couple.

As far as work goes, I'm looking forward to having a part-time person so that, for the first time in nearly 3 years, I will have normal work hours. I am such a homebody and I can't wait to entertain friends, cook dinner for Pierce, organize my house, and enjoy the little things. Not being able to be at home at night has been a constant adjustment for us. I miss dinner with Pierce...I don't get to work out with him, or even watch a movie with him when I get home. But now I'll be able to put my focus on those things and I pray that God will show me how to honor Him with that time, instead of me allowing myself to fall into a pattern of putting things off until a later date (i.e. cleaning, organizing, eating right, editing my book, etc.). My biggest resolution this year is to take everything in my life one step at a time, and to funnel my efforts, fully and completely, on the task at hand, rather than trying to do twelve things at once.

And speaking of twelve things...

The Chick Lit PLus Reading Challenge is up and running! I am in the middle of Kristin Hannah's Winter Garden (loving it thus far!), but it's not my first book pick for the challenge. Hannah is more family drama/women's fiction, rather than "chick lit", but I'm looking forward to getting started with my first book. I've chosen to start with Emily Giffin's Heart of the Matter, which I'll probably purchase within the next two weeks. Be on the lookout for my review!

Lady, at just over 6 weeks old.
I might have completed 1 page of editing my novel this past weekend. Every moment that wasn't spent with friends or family was spent trying to get my cat, Lady, (nine months old and...well...wishing she had a Mr. Cat around the apartment) to SHUT UP. She's been whining and meowing and rolling around the floor and rubbing up against anything that moves. Honestly, it's a bloody nightmare! I didn't realize she would have to go through this "change" so quickly, but I can't take it happening again. As soon as we can we're getting her fixed because I'm about two seconds away from throwing her off the balcony (don't call PETA on me, k? I'm only joking).

Hope you're all having a wonderful first Monday of 2011!

XOXO,

Wendi