resolution defined

So I was thinking about my resolution for this year, and I couldn't help but want to define it. We throw that word around a lot every January 1st, hoping that somehow it will grow wings and take us off to the places we really want to go. But it usually just falls flat on its face.

I looked up the definition and this is what I found:


1) A firm decision to do or not to do something
2) A formal expression of opinion or intention agreed on by a legislative body, committee, or other formal meeting

synonym: decision, determination, resolve, solution

I don't think I'll be meeting on any resolutions with a legislative body this year, so I'm going to go with the first definition.

A resolution is a firm decision. It's strong. It's determined. It's not changing. 

And, yet, we make all these changes at the beginning of each year, changes that never last.

I want mine to last. I don't want to just choose to make a resolution. I want to live resolved.

I want to live each day with joy. With peace. With the knowledge that I am doing something, no matter how small, in each moment that contributes to the well-being of my marriage, my home, my spirit, and my world. Something that takes me further down the path God has paved for me. Not something that takes me on a detour.

I know it won't be easy to do this, but I am resolved in my effort to try. I am resolved in my belief that making each day count for something will make a difference. 

You see, I'm a dreamer. I have a lot of ideas and a lot of things I'd like to do. And somewhere, in some dimension, I'm also a Type A person masquerading as a free spirit. As much as I like to dream, I also like to make lists and check them off.

The trouble is that I sometimes have difficulty putting into action, well...action. And I am resolved to make a change.

I have big plans for 2013. We all do, don't we? We start off excited about the new year. And then we fall back into old habits. 

Some of my old habits need to die a hard death. 

I don't want to go into another year still struggling with the same issues. This is not who we were designed to be. God created us for newness and freedom. And we can have it if we resolve to stop trusting only in ourselves. We can have it if trust in Him.

This is my resolution for 2013.

What is yours?

Conversations with Bella

My dog, Bella, is a chatterbox. She always has lots to say.

(please forgive my ridiculous baby voice)

Also, I've got some exciting new plans for the blog in 2013 and I can't wait to share them with you all! Thank you for your readership this year and for your encouragement and love.

Happy Friday!

you can write

With all the hustle and bustle of the holidays, I never got around to telling you guys my news.

I heard back from the agent who requested my book at the Atlanta Writer's Conference. She decided not to offer me representation at the moment, but she did have some lovely, encouraging words for me:

You have a wonderful, fresh voice and true writing chops. Your characters are authentic and believable teens, and the humor is fantastic. Your writing is a joy to read! I'm so sorry not to have better news for you, but please rest assured that I think you have a fantastic career ahead of you. I am truly sorry not to be able to offer you representation at this time, Wendi, but I wish you the very best of publishing luck as you move forward and I do hope you'll keep in touch. My door is always open to you. In fact, I would love it if you'd consider me for future work! I think you're a great talent.

 I wrote to some friends of mine and told them about her email. And while it wasn't the news I was hoping to hear, I certainly couldn't feel badly about it. 

I keep reading her email over and over, relishing the idea that she finds me talented. I feel a little blush in my cheeks when I read that she believes I'm a "great talent...[with] true writing chops." It's pretty magnificent, to say the least.

Of course, the moment I read her email I burst into tears. I wasn't exactly thrilled about it then. But I wasn't upset for the reasons many might think. I wasn't angry or hurt. I understood her decision. I was simply disappointed. One of her comments was that my story arc wasn't as unique as it needed to be to compete in this market. After thinking on this for days, I realized that, yes, I'm a great writer. My voice is strong and compelling. My characters are like real people who make you feel and think and love.

But I'm not a good storyteller. 

I think of authors like Stephenie Meyer who conjure up whole words in their imagination but are, unfortunately, not-so-great writers (just my opinion). I'm the opposite. I have a terribly difficult time with the details of a story because I only have an ending in mind. Or a scene upon which to build. It's challenging for me to create a long, high arc that will keep the attention of my readers for long periods of time. They might love the characters. They might feel connected to them. But if the story in which the characters live is not unique, or compelling, enough to make them want to keep reading, it won't matter.

I'm not having a pity party. This agent simply opened my eyes to the struggle I've been having for years. There has always been something sort of off about my work. It has never felt fully complete, even when I edit and re-edit (and maybe edit some more). 

Perhaps I should go the way of short stories. They're the best of both worlds. But no. I think I can do this. It's just going to take more time.

I've spent the last few days feeling pretty blue. Some of it has do with the cold weather and the passing of Christmas, my favorite holiday (which, as I wrote on my last post, is always a little sad for me), but most of it has to do with the many changes happening in my life right now. We've been in our house less than two months and I just lost my job. I'm still wrestling with feeling confident about God's plan for our lives, for us to become parents when, and if, He decides to bless us with children. I think about that all the time. It's part of an underlying struggle I face each day. And so when I got the news about my book, it just felt like another obstacle to face.

And it is. But that doesn't mean it's insurmountable. I just don't know where to start.

Yesterday, as I stood in front of the fridge and wondered if I should eat because I was actually hungry or because I was just bored (isn't that the place we always find ourselves when we don't know what else to do?), I started to play around with the magnetic letters we got from some friends when we bought this house.  I thought about how I'm going to change my book. What I should change. If I can really even do this. And I spelled out the words "Can I write?" because that's all I could really come up with. More questions.

Today, when I went into the kitchen to make lunch, I looked up at the fridge and saw this:

A little love letter from my husband, who saw my question and gave me the answer I needed. He never said anything to me about it. He just wrote what he knew to be true.

So that's my answer. Write what I know to be true. 

Don't think about writing to please an agent, Wendi. Don't write something because I think it will sell or because it sounds good. Write because it's what I know to be true about the characters I've created. Write because it's a story that needs to be told, and only I can tell it.

I can do this. I can tell stories.

I can write.

5 Things I Love About Christmas: Part V

Well, it's about time for my favorite day of the year to become my least favorite day of the year. I thoroughly dislike December 26th. I can't help but feel a little blue whenever it rolls around. But before I start wallowing in my post-Christmas depression (I'm such a drama queen), I want to celebrate the beauty of this incredible season just once more. 

Like many of you, we spent most of our time with family this week. We visited my Dad's family on Saturday. Then my mother and little sister visited our home yesterday afternoon. And today we spent our time with Pierce's family. We're so blessed to have our loved ones living near enough to Atlanta that the longest drive we have to make is an hour and a half up to Talking Rock.

We're also very blessed to be close to our families, so the holidays are always something to look forward to. I'm grateful for their laughter and love, for their generosity and affection, and these last few days have been some of the best of the year.

Again, merry Christmas to you all! I hope yours was lovely.

good tidings of great joy

My prayer for you this Christmas is that you'll enjoy all the sights and smells and sounds of the holiday. And that, in spite of the craziness that surrounds us each day, you'll remember one very important thing:

 You are loved.

You are loved so much that a King, who is worthy of all our praise and worship, humbled Himself to be born in the quiet of a dirty stable to a mother and father who were flawed, just like us. A King who could have come with trumpets and banners but, instead, chose to experience the joy and pain of life the way we do so we would trust in Him and follow His example. A King who became a servant and, by doing so, revealed His glory. And His grace.

Emmanuel. God with us.

Merry Christmas to you and yours. 

5 Things I Love About Christmas: Part IV

Last night was wonderful.

I hosted our first annual small group Christmas party with some really incredible women. I've talked about them before (here and here) and I wish you could know them. They are simply fantastic friends and beautiful women who love the Lord.

Instead of Secret Santa or White Elephant, we decided on Make It or Bake It, where we each brought a gift that was either made or baked. Then we numbered each gift and drew numbers from a bowl. I have to tell you, I was super impressed by everyone's creativity and skill. We had homemade fudge, ornaments, cookies, chalkboards, and DIY frames. Bree even made everyone candles. In teacups, y'all. Teacups she found at Goodwill. I mean, c'mon! We all swooned over those.

We also played a game that was a strange cross between 21 Questions and Charades. It was pretty much hilarious.

God has blessed me thoroughly. I hope you're enjoying your Christmas holiday as much as I am.

Book Excerpt from Marie Astor's On the Rim of Love, Plus a Giveaway!

Hi friends,

Marie Astor is back again with another fabulous release for us to sink our teeth into! Today, I'm excited to share an excerpt from her novel, On the Rim of Love. Before you go, be sure to enter her giveaway! Details below. It would make the perfect last-minute Christmas gift (I know I'm not the only one who needs to finish).

And now, without further ado, a sneak peek at Marie Astor's On the Rim of Love:

It was two o’clock, and Taylor Denton was about to embark on his last descent of the day. He had been shredding the slopes since the early morning, and he was beginning to feel the burn in his legs. But the grueling training regime was well worth it – provided that nature cooperated and the snow conditions would be right, he was going to face the Needle Eye in a little over two weeks, and he needed to be in top shape. 
Taylor was about to drop into the forgiving incline underneath the tram line - it was all he could manage with his fatigued quads - when he noticed Maggie Robin. She was standing with her back to him, a little to the side of the mountain. She was holding her camera in her hands, completely oblivious to everything around her. 

That girl thinks she can do whatever she wants, thought Taylor, noticing the absence of a guide with her. What Maggie chose to do on plain ground was none of his business, but when it came to the off-piste terrain, he felt responsible. 

“Hello there, Maggie.”

Looking stunned, she turned around. “Taylor, what are you doing here?” 

“Keeping an eye out for any skiers who wandered off without a guide.” 

“Well, I hope you’re enjoying yourself,” Maggie answered curtly, clearly not liking his attempt at a joke. “Good luck with your search.”

“Maggie, I think you know what I mean.” Taylor did not want to get all preachy, but it was obvious that his message was not going to get across otherwise. “You can’t just venture out like this on your own – you should have a guide with you.”

“Why? Do you think that no one is good enough to ski out here but you?” She glared at him. 

This is getting crazier by the minute, Taylor thought, whatever got her so worked up? “People have been known to lose their way or get seriously injured. There’s no ski patrol out here – if something goes wrong, there’s no one to call for help.”

“And what makes you think that something would go wrong? I know what I’m doing and I don’t need anyone to tell me what to do.”

If it were not for the circumstances, Taylor would have turned around and walked away. As it were, they were stuck mid-way down the mountain together, and he was determined to see Maggie get back safely – after that, she could do whatever she pleased. “Look, I don’t know what your problem is and frankly I don’t care, but because I ran into you, it’s now my responsibility to make sure that you get back safe. Then, you can do as you please.”

To get your own copy of On the Rim of Love, click here. And to get to know more about Marie and her other novels, be sure to stop by her website here, or say hello on Twitter and Facebook!

**Anyone who purchases their copy of On the Rim of Love before December 24 and sends their receipt to Samantha (at) ChickLitPlus (dot) com, will be entered in the giveaway! Five individual winners will receive a piece of jewelry shown to the right, and one bonus winner will receive a $10 Amazon gift card! Please note this is open to US residents only.** 

Home Tour: Our Office

On my 3rd Day of Unemployment, I thought I'd share with you our new office.

Now that I'm pursuing freelance writing as a career (I've had two potential projects open up today! Hooray!) I thought it would be fitting to share photos of our home office with you.

Now, I've always been a sit-on-the-couch-with-my-laptop-on-top-of-a-pillow kind of writer. But I really love our little desk and all our shelves full of books. Sitting here in the mornings, with some tea or coffee, checking emails and applying for jobs, has actually been quite lovely. It helps to keep my mind on the positive side of things. Plus, living in a house with a yard gives us a really happy, sunshiny view of our neighborhood. And you just can't beat that.

Underneath that adorable photo of me and my cousin Brittany at Six Flags with our personalized umbrellas (why did four year-olds want umbrellas?) is my very first copy of The Diary of Anne Frank. My parents bought it for me as a Christmas gift in 1996. As you can see, it's been read many, many times. It's one of my most prized possessions.

These are some of my favorite books in the whole world. Harry Potter. The Chronicles of Narnia. Walk Two Moons. The Giving Tree. A Day No Pigs Would Die. Gosh. I think I have the literary inclination of a middle schooler sometimes, but, hey. They're fantastic at any age!

Obviously, I love books. And I was lucky enough to marry a man who is made even sexier by the fact that he loves books, too. We differ drastically in taste, but I really can't complain.

Pierce's shelf reveals mostly biographies of coaches, presidents, businessmen, and pretty much any other person he admires, along with some pretty awesome reads by David Platt and Andy Stanley. There might also be some Atlanta Falcons bobbleheads, too. 

Yes, that is a signed John Smoltz jersey. He's still my favorite, even if he did leave us.

That letter is the one I received from Lara Perkins at the Atlanta Writer's Conference. Every time I start to think I can't write for a living, or that I should just give up, I look at it and remember "Yes, I am actually good at this. Keep going."

The screensaver is from the series Andy did at our church called "Recovery Road". It's pretty awesome. You can check it out here if you're interested.

Some of my favorite college memories: Cheesing it up at graduation and again freshman year with my best friend, Jillian, just before we went on the field to play the GSU Scramble. Big band nerds, we were. 

The end. Hope you enjoyed this little tour. More to come later!

an award

Hi friends,

So, on my first day of unemployment I cleaned my whole house, read lots of Gone Girl, applied for five jobs and, best of all, received the Liebster Award from my sweet blogging friend, Teressa, over at Newborn Mama!

Not too shabby, huh?

The Liebster Award is given to up-and-coming bloggers who have less than 200 followers. Then the award is passed on to other bloggers in the same category to encourage one another and help spread the word! Thanks, Teressa, for thinking of me. I'm honored!

So here are the rules:

1) Each blogger nominated must post 11 things about themselves.
2) Second, each nominated blogger must answer the 11 questions the tagger has asked.
3) The nominated blogger must then create 11 unique questions to ask bloggers they choose to nominate.
4) The nominated blogger must then nominate 11 other bloggers with less than 200 followers and link over to their blogs.
5) Bloggers must be notified of their awards!
6) No tag backs.

Ready for this? Here are 11 random things about me:

1) Christmas is my favorite holiday. In fact, if it were truly called a season I would say it's my favorite of all those, too.
2) I have one older sister, one older brother, and one younger sister. I also have a step-brother and step-sister, three brothers-in-law, and three sisters-in-law. Among all these siblings, I have a total of six nephews and eleven nieces. Sheesh!
3) I know lots of random trivia. I kill my opponents in Trivial Pursuit (and my husband is pretty bitter about it, too).
4) I have a tattoo on the back of my neck that reads "Faith" in Hebrew. Underneath, there is a light blue treble clef and cross design.
5) On that note, I played clarinet for twelve years. When I hear our Georgia Southern fight song, I still run through the fingerings in my head.
6) I've written four books. One has been published, one is with an agent right now, and two are gathering dust on my shelf.
7) My parents divorced when I was 13. Somehow, they still managed to unite together to raise us and remain friends. I hope to be just like them when I have children (save the divorce part, of course).
8) I can cry on command. 
9) I love Disney movies and still watch them even if no one is around to watch them with me.
10) The place I'd like most to visit is the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam. I read her diary when I was 11 and it was the reason I started writing.
11) I actually like to clean. And organize. I'm a free spirit with a Type A alter ego.

Here are Teressa's questions for me:

1) Where did you meet your husband?
At Georgia Southern. We met when he was on a date with someone else. And he found out I liked him by reading my Xanga blog. See how useful these things are? (Here's a post I wrote about this very story, if you're interested.)

2) Where did you meet Jesus?
I don't have an interesting conversion story. I was raised a believer. It's who I've always been. I wrote to God every day during my parents' divorce, and it was the only thing that kept me sane. Before I went to college, I realized I wanted to "do good" not just because I was supposed to, but because I loved Christ. It took me a long time to learn what grace really looked like (for myself and for others) but marriage has helped me understand Christ more than anything else. I think every step of life is meeting Jesus in a new way.

3) What/Who was your first blog to follow?
I think the first blog I followed was Bethany Dillon's, the singer/songwriter. You should check her out. She's fantastic (although she doesn't blog anymore).

4) Why did you start blogging?
Because I'm a compulsive confessor. And also kind of an exhibitionist. Isn't that why we love social media?!

5) What is your go-to Starbucks order?
Oh, pumpkin spice latte, all the way! Or a skinny decaf soy vanilla latte.

6) Do you have any tattoos? If so, where?
Oops. I answered this one already.

7) Where did you honeymoon?
We took a cruise to Puerto Rico, St. Thomas, and St. Martin.

8) Are you currently reading any books?
If you follow me on Instagram, you know I'm reading Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. So good! I'm also reading The Memory Keeper's Daughter and I just finished The Fault in Our Stars. I recommend them all. 

9) What goal do you have for yourself before the year ends?
Just to enjoy the holidays and indulge in this time of joy and peace. It's too easy to rush through Christmas and New Year's and then we're sad when it's all over. I refuse to rush. I want to cherish every second.

10) Do you prefer Mac or PC?
I've never been able to afford a Mac, so I've always had a PC. I love Macs, but I could really care less either way. As long as I can blog!

11) What is your favorite Scripture?
Oh, John 16:33: "In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! For I have overcome the world." Such good news.

Here are my nominees:

Marianne- Love Me Bright
Chelsi- Truly Yours
Mark Paul- Mark D. Paul

(Two of these blogs have just over 200 followers. But they're so good! Forgive me.)

My questions for you lovely nominees:

1) If you could have been born in any other time period, what would it have been?
2) Pinterest or Instagram?
3) Do you speak another language?
4) What is your favorite Christmas/Hanukkah/holiday memory?
5) What did you want to be when you grew up?
6) What is your favorite board game?
7) Have you ever traveled outside the country? If so, where?
8) Boy Meets World or Full House?
9) Have you ever played any sports?
10) College football or the NFL?
11) Best concert you've ever been to?

Thanks, again, Teressa for nominating me! I can't wait to see what you guys have to say. 

Happy Tuesday!

5 Things I Love About Christmas: Part III

This was a bittersweet weekend.

I don't need to talk about the weight of what happened in Connecticut. We all feel it. We carry it with us. But none more so than the families of all those sweet little ones who lost their lives. And the families of those wonderful, selfless educators who gave the last of what they could to save others. Let's pray for them. And, in this season and the next, let's show our love wherever we can.

Now, in light of this tragedy, my own loss seems (and is) very small in comparison. I was laid off on Friday, along with a dear friend of mine, and it was quite the shock. But God works on our behalf, and I believe this was from Him. In fact, I'd just spent the night before talking to my husband about wanting to pursue freelance and contract work, as well as build this blog. It's frightening to "be without" but I know I'm not. I have everything I need and more. And now I have the freedom to pursue what brings me the greatest peace and joy.

As my Christmas gift this year, Pierce bought tickets for The Nutcracker at The Fabulous Fox Theater here in Atlanta. It's such a beautiful, historical place. There's no other theater like it in the world. If you ever get the chance, you should stop by and see a show.

 Thank you, Hubby, for the best Christmas present ever. And for sitting through all two hours of it with me. I love you.