Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Healing for Dummies... anyone?

For the past few months I've hinted about plunging into the pit of a serious illness. An illness that was at one point life-threatening enough to land me in the ER.

In a way I saw it coming, and despite my herculean efforts to stop it on my own, this disease surged over and through me like a cataclysmic tsunami.

I thought I was helpless during the great elbow debacle...

Sometime in November I was handed the diagnosis of Major Depression.

I scored the highest number possible on the assessment scale used by doctors to establish the severity of the illness. My primary care doc prescribed some meds and sent me home. Two weeks later, I found myself in the emergency room. Rather than improving, my depression raged out of control destroying every part of Darcie, it's debris ridden waves could reach. My thyroid was "alarmingly abnormal" to quote one of the ER docs, my hormones all a-whack, and as time went on and I saw multiple practitioners and specialists, it's been determined that my adrenal glands are toast (Some call it adrenal fatigue, the Mayo Clinic website denounces that term, calling the symptoms a combination of hypothyroid and major depression.... uh...)

My hidey-hole had been the most comfortable place over the past eight weeks. It takes a lot of prodding to pry me out. I'm swamped by the stagnant waters left over by the tsunami wave, but at least I'm protected from the full impact of the surges.

Until now.

I (stupidly??) allowed myself to be yanked from said hidey-hole (complete with a new leather reading chair - another post yet to come) to face one of the biggest fault lines on the floor of the Darcinian Sea.

Some of you regulars may remember the devastating blow I received last February when I was cut from our church worship team. I'd been singing for four years and was suddenly deemed lacking in skill.

A week and a half ago, I was invited to be a backup singer on a "super-team" for the Christmas service (Dec 23). My dear friends who also suffered the same fate a year ago begged me to join them. They argued we need each other's support. We've all been devastated and affected by this over the course of the past ten months.

Last night was the first rehearsal. We had to sing with the very people who stared us down during auditions and said "you don't measure up." It was hard. Emotions I thought I buried shot through the cracks in the fault line. It was all I could do to hold myself together.

My best friend, Stinky, told me to try to use this experience as an opportunity to heal. How? Can someone point me to Healing for Dummies? Oh. There isn't one.

People speak of healing all the time. Author Kristy Dykes has a rare, deadly form of cancer and has most of reading America praying for healing. Author Mary DeMuth is in the process of healing from a traumatic year on the mission field in France. Best-seller Brandilyn Collins WAS healed of Lyme disease. She was wheelchair bound, loosing function in her joints then God...

Depression is not new to me. Looking back, I think I've been affected by it from an early age. Most of my life, perhaps. But it was something I could manage on my own. Now it's grown to something bigger, more ominous. Something that threatens to steal my life.

I know God is bigger than depression, but HOW do I live that? How do I live the hope of healing when my body and mind refuse to respond to treatment or just plain don't work? How do I use situations such as this singing gig as a time to heal rather than time to rip off a scab?

I pray and I pray...

Yet...

Silence.

Thank God for my friends here in Denver, my family in PA, and my new found writing buddies of ACFW. Only through them and with them do I feel God still cares.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The Mom Song Sung to William Tell Overture with Lyrics

To go along with the post below about what you find yourself saying...

I got to see her live a few weeks ago in Parker and boy is she funny!!!

Obedience to God can yield heroic deeds

I'm referring you to Red Letter Believers to read about the woman who saved over a thousand lives by obeying God in a way shocking to most Americans.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Terrifying times

Last week a deranged teen opened fire in an Omaha mall murdering innocent shoppers out to make others happy.

Yesterday, a gunman entered the Youth With a Mission (YWAM) dormatory in Arvada, CO on the campus of Faith Bible Chapel. The YWAM folks were cleaning up after a Christmas party when some guy entered with a gun demanding to stay the night. They told him no, so he started shooting. Two people died.

My church is only 10 minutes south of FBC, our pastor knows lots of people up there, I know several families that attend FBC... Pastor Jim told us to pray for the families of the dead and wounded. And pray the gunman would be caught.

At 1PM yesterday, a gunman burst into t he lobby of New Life Church in Colorado Springs opening fire on the congregation. More people were shot, three died. The gunman was shot by an armed security guard. New Life has a WYAM center as well and brought in security as a precaution. Both FBC and NLC are mega churches with several thousand members. I know a lot of people in the Springs and am waiting and praying they are all okay.

There are over a dozen Houghton College alumni down there, Rocky Mountain Colorguard Association folk, and member's of ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writer's Association). I urge you to pray for both churches, YWAM and the families and friends of the people killed and wounded. Pray for the people - especially the children who had to witness this macabre slaughter. This is not something people just "get over".

The day after the mall shooting, the Southwest Plaza Mall was crawling with state troopers. I think I counted at least six. Teen boys lumbered around the mall making loud noises, saying crass things causing shoppers and UPS delivery men to jump. It was disconcerting. I bet those boys thought the Omaha shooting was cool.

Later that night as I told my husband about the police presence he said, "So, I guess it's no longer safe to go to a mall. If you can't go to a mall, where can you go?"

This mall is across the street from Columbine High School.

I looked him in the eye. Thoughts raced through my head. I have a baby, I'm a mom. How do I keep him safe?

I can't.

The church shootings remind us that we aren't safe ANYWHERE. Not schools, malls, restaurants (Chucky Cheese shooting on Santa Fe and Hampden in the 80s) or churches.

The temptation is to become agoraphobic and never leave our homes. Fearing the big, bad world outside. Just doesn't seem to jive with the abundant life Christ called us to live.

Here's my thought: God is sovereign. I can't die unless it's my time to go. I don't know when that is, maybe it will be the day a gunman storms Bear Valley Church or the Village Roaster, but I'm not gonna worry. I know where I'm going when I die. Jesus is my Lord and Savior. He promises eternity in Heaven with Him. Then again, maybe I'll live to be 100 because I have a heap of best-seller books to write!

This Christmas season, as we are riddled with horrifying tales of murder and gunmen on the loose, remember Who's in control. Embrace the Gift of Jesus and go shopping!

To follow along with the latest developments of the story, check out 9 News.

They are a local news affiliate that does a really good job. They've updated information twice as I was writing this. When they move stories, the links change, so I only linked their home site above.

Friday, December 07, 2007

You gotta see this to believe it!

Do ya think I can get Caleb to do this?

Nah.

His only talent is cleaning the litter box.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Modern-day Motherhood

Oh. My. Word.

The terrible two's are upon me and he's not even two!

This morning I had to go to the Kaiser Permanente clinic for a blood draw. Before I left the house, I called John to ask where he put the stroller. The answer?

In his car trunk.

In Downtown Denver.

Am I gonna drive all the way down there?

Nuh-uh!

Well, Kyle's walking pretty good. Those legs aren't painted on...

At the clinic we get out of the car and head across the parking lot. The little body hit's the asphalt with a thump. I grab a wrist. "Get up. You need to walk."

"No." Kyle says, punctuating his one-word sentence with a thumb plug.

I pull, he pulls back. Tries to lay down. I circle like a vulture over dead meat. We're in a parking lot. Cars drive along this path. I pick up the child. "Mommy's carrying you because you can't sit in a parking lot. It's not safe. When we're in the building, you will walk like a big boy."

The sliding glass door close behind me. I stand Kyle on his feet and take his tiny hand. "No!" he yells.

I notice we are near the waiting area for the pediatrician's office. "We're here for Mommy. Mommy is getting her blood drawn, not Kyle."

He pops the thumb in his mouth, looks up at me and grins.

Grins!

In a second, I'm behind him, lifting him up by both wrists. "Walk. Now." He thrashes, he cries out, "No!" The lab is the next waiting area down. Only about thirty feet away. I let go and walk to the check-in desk. Kyle sits on the floor, sucking his thumb and looking around. Old ladies in walkers shuffle by chatting it up. He blows kisses to them. I check in and sit down, pretending to read. Kyle stands and takes a step forward.

"Looks like he's gonna come, " another vampire victim comments.

Just as I start to think my ploy of ignoring him is working, he toddles to a table and rifles through the magazines. For a moment, he turns his head and shoots me a brilliant smile. My blood starts to bubble. I hope the phlebotomist doesn't get burned.

I'm called in. Kyle is toodleng around the pediatric waiting area. I'm forced to get him. As I approach, he raises his arms. "Up. Up."

A few onces lighter, he and I walk out to the car. He walks like a big boy. But...

I have one more stop to make. I have to go to Ulta and buy some conditioner and make-up. They don't have carts.

I head off the parking lot fight by carrying him into the store. I put him down and he follows me to the Bare Minerals aisle. Lots of eyeshadow choices along with little test containers line the shelves. Little test containers + little hands = disaster.

Kyle grabs three or four eyeshadow powder thingies and shakes them. Drops them on the floor. I grab his hands and squeeze. "Look, don't touch." The power of temptation is too much for the toddler mind. He rakes them off the shelf. I grab a kit of neutral colors and haul baby. Sometimes the best course of action is removal.

Baby doesn't want to be hauled. I still need conditioner. I drag him, kicking and screaming across the store. (I saw a mother doing this at Kaiser when her toddler son was called back to see the pediatrician. It worked. Sort of.)

His screams echoed off the bottles of hair dye. The conditioner was in sight. I let go of him, and scoot down the aisle. Kyle engages in thumb therapy and grins. He totally thinks he won!

Laiden with eyeshadow, hair conditioner and a bottle of glaze, I attempt to travel toward the check-out counter. Kyle wandered near me, running this hands through a box of Burt's Bee's lip glosses. I take his hand. It's full of lip-gloss tubes. "Put that back. Mommy doesn't need lip-gloss." He shakes his head. I set my unpurchased products on the floor. I have to peel Radiant Red and Buff out of his fingers. He sits. He screams. He even swats at me. People stare.

I run my fingers through my hair. What would my mom do? Smack my butt, that's what she did. I look at Kyle. A gray-haired woman stands near-by, hand poised over the cell phone attached to her purse strap. If I tried to discipline Kyle, she'd probably call the police. Social services would come. They'd take Kyle away, and we'd never be able to adopt another child.

Reasoning with a toddler is like asking Osama Bin Lauden to emcee the March of Dimes charity drive.

Getting out of the store and into the car was pretty much the same scenario as above.

I told Kyle I was disappointed in his behavior. I wasn't happy he disobeyed me. He's way too young for the "Wait 'till we get home!" tactic.

What's a mother to do today in a society where a tiny smack could make you do the jail house rock? Kyle knew my hands were tied. He doesn't behave this way at home. For now, I'm not going anywhere w/o the stroller. But I still need a strategy for defiance in public. Stripes make me look fat.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Denver's Finest - in miniature

Kyle had quite the morning! He went to the South Metro Fire Station 35 in Arapahoe County to see fire trucks.

The firefighters allowed Kyle and the other kids to climb in the trucks to see every nook and cranny. One fireman donned his gear to show the kids what firefighters need to protect themselves from fires.

In addition, we got a tour of the station and saw a fireman slide down the pole.


Kyle was a little overwhelmed with the other kids there, but was in total awe of being able to touch a fire truck. He kept whispering, "Truck. Truck," stroking the shiny red paint.

At the end, he got to take home a little fire hat.

The trip was arranged by the agency that provides his physical and occupational therapy services. How cool is that?

Sunday, November 25, 2007

'Tis the season to knit (and do other stuff)


In a way, being ill has been good, at least allowing me time to finish Christmas projects for those living outside the walls of my home.

Knitting is about all I've had energy for the past few weeks (it's still all I really have energy for while feeling sick), but it's productive. On the table you can see Mr. Snakey and The Slug I knitted for my nephew Daniel. I had to chase Kyle around the house to get the snake from him and hide it until I wrapped it. Kyle's snake is my next project. It'll be purple.

The taggie blanket is for my nephew, Daniel, who lives in Philly. Kyle has a taggie, and it's his ultimate obsession along with drums. He won't sleep without it, and demands his "blinkie" when he's tired or not feeling well. He chose the print fabric for Daniel's "blinkie" and hopes Cousin Daniel loves it as much as he does. (It's been Booger tested, Booger approved.
Blogger doesn't flip photos and I don't know how to mess with the html to turn it or even create legitimate captions... hey, I'm a writer, not a computer programmer...

The is the first bear I've ever made. The snake and slug are my first toys. The bear is for my niece, Emillie Hope. (She was the one who became a forever baby a few weeks ago!). Her mom and I have been the very bestest of friends for 13 years!!! Making the bear was quite a challenge. Yes, it was a simple pattern from the internet, but I've never really had to piece things together before and spent time looking up the definition of "oversew". I also got better at correcting mistakes and learned how to knit Continental style. I'm about as fast at is as English style, but with more practice, that will improve.

In the middle of it all, John is dragging out all the Christmas stuff and we are putting up trees and lights. Today I am feeling stronger, so I think I can help with the Christmas tree decorating and putting up some of the knick knacks around the house. Booger doesn't know what to think yet...

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Forever Day and Pig Pizza





Just a quick post. It's been a while and I'll go into that another day...

My "niece" Emily Hope, became a Forever Child yesterday - a little over a year after Kyle.
Check out the pictures.

Also, I've been getting hits on a post I wrote over a year ago about Victory Pig Pizza. People from all over the US who grew up in NEPA (North Eastern Pennsylvania for the clueless), are chiming in about their love of that gooey, cheesy rectangle of pure bliss. I have a feeling there'll be a campaign for shipping to transplants!

My dad, a friend of the Cecolli's (owners) is printing off the comments and taking them to Rich.

Now I'm hungry with a craving I can't satisfy... Ugh.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Rockies on the ROCK

Even those of us who aren't inclined to park in front of the flat screen to watch sports have been riveted to the dramatic rise of the Colorado Rockies.

I've been to a bunch of games, sung the national anthem at two (with a choir), and even own a few hats. Ignoring the excitement in our city isn't possible. It's been fun getting swept along in the tide and even watching (gasp!) the Rocks sweep the D-Backs.

Local news channels spend the bulk of air time on Rockies interviews and what's struck me is their humble attitude. They swept the Phillies (my old home team) and didn't take anything for granted. They never assumed a sweep with the Diamond Backs, even when they won 3 games and only needed one more win. I wondered...

Now I don't need to wonder anymore. Local papers have lambasted some Rockies players for mentioning faith. People wrote to the editor of the Post complaining about the mention of religion and baseball. Separation of church and mound?

Anyway, here's a link to a fantastic article about our Rockies. I'm so proud of how they ACT Jesus, rather than beat Jesus into people.

Christian Faith Guides Colorado Rockies, Individual Character Builds Team Chemistry

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

I'm not dead... yet

Sorry about breaking the three cardinal rules of blogging:

1) Post often.
2) Post often.
3) Post often.

I've been busy, mostly with the colorguard and marching band I help coach. Yesterday we were supposed to be in Grand Junction, Colorado competing in the state championships. Snow fell in Denver and on the mountains, making travel unsafe and impossible. The season's been extended another week, and the competition/conclusion to our season will occur next Monday.

Last week I had full days of band camp/Booger watching. Unable to find anyone to babysit while I worked, I was forced to take him with me. I have a greater appreciation for working mothers. Trying to do a job for 8 hours while keeping a toddler happy and warm in freezing cold weather was nearly impossible.

But-

God was gracious.

One of my student's fathers was laid off. He saw me trying to teach and clean flag routine while chasing Kyle across the parking lot. Not asking if I needed help, he saw it. He grabbed the Booger and took care of him for the entire day! As the wind howled at 60 mph, and the temperatures dropped into the 40's, he and Booger sat in a warm car.

What an answer to prayer!

The following day, the weather was worse. I didn't have help. That man's daughter is seriously ill and needed to stay home. Kyle didn't complain when he had to sit on the hillside wrapped in blankets for four hours. Not one tear. John was able to take half a day from work and rescue to itty bitty icicle.

God does take care of us in tiny ways - even when we don't see the answers. Sure, the circumstances were far from ideal, but He helped Kyle cope, and provided the help needed at the right moment.

So, I'm not dead... yet. I will be someday, but when I do go, I'll be able to thank God face to face for His small helps.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Learning to let God be God -

- 'cuz I'm not.

Duh.

But think about it. How many times throughout the course of a day do we shove God aside to monkey with the control panel of our lives?

How often are our decisions made based on what WE want, what WE feel we need, what WE think is best?

All summer I've been doing a lot of soul searching. I realized I've been drawing my own maps and charting my own courses assuming God's approval. I'm a Christian. Jesus Christ dwells within. The Holy Spirit is my guide, so how can I go wrong? Isn't the mere having of those things enough?

Nuh-uh.

Oh, I have all the blessings God promised me when I decided to follow Jesus, but I haven't used them well.

It's not like I don't know how to use them. Wanting to be independent, I chose not to.

Digging deeper, I've discovered a lack of faith.

"It's not fair!" Is my mantra.

"Why me?" Is the oft repeated question.

Over the course of time hope disappears.

Last night in my CBS (Community Bible Study), I came across this sentence in the commentary that accompanies the lesson: "God is not dismayed by our questions, but He cannot be pleased when we question His ability to do what He says He will do."

That, my friends, is the story of my life. I'm asking myself: Do I truly believe God will do what He promises? D0es He really have plans to prosper and not harm me (Jer. 29:11)?

I need to let God be God. Keep my paws off my life. Listen. Be still.

Hard stuff to do for me, but I'm determined to try.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Writing is hard

It is. Really.

Okay, so maybe it's not so hard to peck a few words onto the screen. Subject/predicate - paragraph...

Approach writing as art and the challenge increases exponentially. Am I using a strong enough verb? Do the sentences in this particular paragraph read in a pleasing rhythm? Did I inject enough action beats and attributions to create the perfect pacing? Are my characters believable? Did I remain consistent with point-of-view within scenes? Trust me, when you start diving deep into the mechanics of excellent writing, the information is overwhelming. Daunting, even. But still, it's doable. Hundreds of writing books line the shelves at Barnes & Noble and the public library. Grammar for Dummies, anyone?

Getting published is a whole 'nother planet. I feel like I'm taking my well-honed pieces, rolling them into arrow shafts, loading them into a bow, seeking the darkest cave, firing at a target I can't see. Actually, I don't even know if the target is in the cave! Cave by cave I trudge, firing my arrows. Sometimes I hear the CLACK of arrow on rock, sometimes... nothing. The arrow is gone, never to be heard from again. Other times, up to half a year later, someone finds my arrow lying on the cave floor. They pick it up. Unroll it. Read it, then send me a form letter written by the publication's first editor from 1920. "We're sorry, but your article doesn't fit our publication needs at this time."

It's discouraging.

I guess that's why authors whose arrows finally hit the target tell the rest of us that stick-to-it-ivness is the true talent required for hunting down and hitting the elusive publishing target.

Way Back When, I used to have a romantic view of writing. Writing has been my secret desire since I was able to create stories. I imagined someone bundled up in a cozy sweater along some secluded glassy-surfaced pond in Maine that reflected the vibrant purple hues of spring lupines. Oh, with a GIANT mug of coffee by his or her side. Only the sounds of song birds and the wind in the trees wafted through the cozy cabin. Inspired words zip and zap from keyboard to screen. During lunch, while eating a pb and honey sandwich, the author is visited by a droopy-nosed moose: a muse in disguise. The Next Brilliant Idea has arrived!

Several long weeks pass, and contented author leans back against his Herman Miller chair, presses the "send" button on his e-mail and The Perfect Manuscript is off to the waiting editor wielding a million dollar advance.

Instead, I have to bushwack through a swath of Legoes (which hurt really bad if you step on the barefooted), type with a 1 and a half year old drooling on my arm, while clicking the mouse all over the screen making the sentence I spent six hours on disappear!

After hours of pacing the parquet, I figure out where to take the plot. I sit down and start to type when... HACK! GACK! HHHWWWUUUUHHHHH! A cat barfs on the floor. The baby unlatches his teeth from my arm and is toddling off to play with this gooey new toy. His giggles bounce off the bare walls of my living room turned office. Just as he reaches down to grab the stingy hairball, I leap from my cheap-o (not Herman Miller) chair, trip over Elmo then fall face first in the hairball. At least the little hands have no chance of grabbing the nasty thing.

By the time I clean the carpet with one off the rejection letters from a national magazine; clean myself; give the boy a snack; settle back into my cheap-o chair... I forgot The Next Plot Point.

Great.

Sigh.

I tried to quit.

I wanted to quit.

But I can't.

Something in my compels me to put words to screen - to tell the stories hiding in the creases of my gray matter.

Gotta pick up my bow and arrow and keep hunting. You thing wearing camo and night-vision goggles might help?

Monday, August 27, 2007

Baby Humans are so... fascinating!






(Blogger doesn't rotate pictures - sorry)

There's nothing like watching a baby find his feet. Shaky efforts to stand morph into tentative steps, then the classic toddle.

Last night John and I watched Kyle find his feet, We stared slack-jawed as the Booger experimented with trotting, running and hopping - all at once! Every now and then he'd list to the right or left and topple with a giggle. I can't recall a time where I laughed so hard for so long.

Watching him try to walk while bare-butt naked is hands-down, the funniest thing I've seen since the flying cats (scroll down to March 8,2006)! With diaper removed, the awkward mechanics of emergent ambulation are revealed. Knees point outward, thighs reach heights parallel to the ground, and tiny toes cushion the impact all while the Booger squeals, growls and flaps his arms.

I wish I had a video camera.

It struck me how in a few days, this crazy baby-walk will be gone forever. Kyle will move with smooth balance and steady steps. I didn't want him to stop. I didn't want the moment to end.

Joy flooded my litterbox as I watched my baby turn into a toddler.

Today I took him out in the Burley (bike trailer). We stopped at the pond by the Stone House park and watched ducks swim in the glassy water. Kyle kept saying, "Duck! Duck!" and learned how to quack.

Closer to home, we stopped at Bear Creek and threw pebbles in the current. He sat,hiny planted firmly in the mud, on the bank imitating my tossing motion. "Plop!" I'd say.

"Plop!" He'd squeak as his pebble dropped two inches from his hand. The helmeted little head turned to me and the little nose wrinkled in classic Kyle Smile Style.

Being a mom is the best part of my life. As I let go of my dreams of achieving Something Big, I realize I'm doing the most important job in the world. Writing a hundred NYT bestseller novels doesn't hold a candle to growing a baby boy.

God gave John and I the gift of Kyle. He wasn't a random act. We didn't even choose him. God chose him for us. That's the beauty of adoption. Anyway, given this gift, I have the responsibility to love, train and teach this amazing little boy, helping him develop into the man God wants him to be.

There's no doubt in my mind. Kyle has a special calling on his life. His mere existence is a miracle. John and I have the privilege of being part of that.

Mom is my job title. It doesn't pay the bills, but the rewards are beyond anything money could ever buy.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Voice of Truth

Perception. So subjective. So inacurate. So misleading.

My last post probably left you thinking I've gone off and hurled myself into some deep mountain crevasse. I'd love to be deep in the mountains right now, but not lying in a crumpled heap sprinkled with scree. Jesus doesn't like it when we take our life/death timing into our own hands. I promise you all, that's not an option for me. Ever. Hope does exist in this litterbox of a world. Faith is what carries us when we dig and dig and can't find it.

Anyway, God's been revealing things to me. Spooky, huh?

I haven't heard any voices in babbling streams or wind-tossed trees (yes, I have been hiking to get away from the 'noise' of Denver), but I have been reading words of truth. Everywhere I turn, I read/hear words that speak directly to my heart and situation. It's creeping me out.

The day after I wrote my last post, Beth Moore rocked my world even more. I even dialed my mom b/c lesson 5, week 5 seemed to have been written for me.

I thought the previous lesson on betrayal was enlightening. It helped me figure out what I was feeling. Lesson 5 blasted all the soil off the roots of my pain leaving them exposed. "Hearts broken by loss". I've lost a lot. So much, I didn't think anyone, anywhere could possibly understand. I've done hundreds of Bible studies, but not one has affected me in such a powerful way. Beth shares her losses. One after another, after another, after another. Like Job. Like me. No breathing room. In fact, she admits she's still healing from some of them!

Tears splashed onto the page smearing the vibrant orange highlighter marks. I found someone whose been on this road. Maybe even more painful than mine. She spoke to the raw places. She focused on the pains in my heart. She knows. She's experienced them. She's also allowed Jesus to do his thing. I've been mad at him. I've kept him at arm's distance.

By the end of the lesson I realized the TRUTH of my mental/spiritual bondage - I'm stuck in the grief cycle. I got hung up on anger years ago and never moved on. I've let circumstance feed the anger, fanning the flames higher and higher until they consumed me. Destroying me.

The scripture given was John 11:1-44. It's about Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. Take time and read it.

The freaky thing is, I've read this a gazillion times. Made popsicle stick mummies in Sunday School as a kid to play act, "Lazarus, come out!"

Never before had I focused on what Jesus did and said before he brought the poor man back to life.

Jesus knew his buddy was gonna die. He knew Mary and Martha would be beside themselves with grief. He knew they'd be horked off at him.

Jesus didn't keep his motives hidden. He was overt. Verse 4: This will be an occasion to show God's glory, Verse 15: You're about to be given new grounds for believing. (From the Message)

You see, it was about The Big Plan. Lazarus had to die. Mary and Martha had to grieve, so Jesus could perform the mother of all miracles - and foreshadow his own death and resurrection.

This is where Jesus identifies himself as the Resurrection and the Life. Without death, he can't resurrect.

Back to Beth. I'm just gonna throw some quotes out. They speak for themselves. Let them hit you as they hit me.

"Christ never allows the hearts of His own to be shattered without excellent reasons and eternal purposes."

"Any kind of 'death' is an invitation to resurrection life to the believer."

"Joy and effectiveness may seem to pause for a while as grief takes its course, but those who allow their broken hearts to be bound by Christ will experience them again."

"When our hearts have been shattered by loss, we hyyave an opportunity to welcome a supernatural power to our lives."

"Perhaps the most profound miracle of all is liing through something we thought would kill us. And not just living, but living abundantly and effectively - raised from living death to a new life."

"When our hearts are hemorrhaging with grief and loss, never forget that Christ binds and compresses it with a nail-scarred hand."

Whoa.

It hit me that my losses happened so Jesus could do his thing. I haven't let him. I've been mad. My losses/needs are great - beyond human repair. God knows that. I need to step away from the "poop" and let Jesus scoop it up with his scarred hands.

Beth wasn't the only one who honed in on my hurt over the weekend. Writer's Digest, had some quotes about perseverence. I've been seriously thinking about giving up on the whole writing thing.

"I know so many writers who are a hundred times better than me and have longer, greater ideas than mine, but they gave up; they stopped. The biggest talkent you can have is determination." Chuck Palahniuk Fight Club author

"The writers who succeed are the ones who refuse to buckle under the failures that are heaped upon them; who reject the notion that they aren't as mediocre as industry professionals say they are." Jodi Picoult, NYT Bestselling author

One more thing - on Sunday, a special music was done "Voice of Truth" by Casting Crowns. I've heard this song hundreds of times on the radio. For some reason, on Sunday, I felt I'd never heard the lyrics. Here are some below

Oh,what I would do
To have the kind of faith it takes
To climb out of this boat I'm in
Onto the crashing waves
To step out of my comfort zone
Into the realm of the unknown
Where Jesus is,
And he's holding out his hand

But the waves are calling out my name
and they laugh at me
Reminding me of all the times
I've tried before and failed
The waves they keep on telling me
time and time again
"Boy, you'll never win,
you'll never win."

But the voice of truth tells me a different story

the voice of truth says "do not be afraid!"
and the voice of truth says "this is for my glory"
Out of all the voices calling out to me
I will choose to listen and believe the voice of truth

- Casting Crowns, Facing the Giants

For decades I've been listening to the wrong voice. I know that now. Really, really know it now. So, out of all the voices calling out to me I will choose to listen and believe the voice of truth.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

My Big 'Ol Wrestling Match with God

I'm in a funk. Have been for a long time.

Life hasn't been kind to me or my family for the past five years.

I prayed and prayed. Had other people with "direct connect" pray... and the trials, pain and suffering continue.

God hasn't been on my list of favorite people lately.

Throughout the summer, I've been going through Beth Moore's Breaking Free Bible study with my BFF Stinky. Beth sure digs in the ickiest places, bringing up memories, habits and behavior I'd rather forget.

Yesterday's study was about betrayal. She posed the question, "Have you ever been betrayed by someone you believed loved you?" Chewing on my pen top, I dove into the sewage sloshing around in my skull. I couldn't think of a person... except...

God.

Flashes of me lying on the floor of my bedroom sobbing over devastating news or lying in a hospital bed, victim of stupid trauma flickered behind my eyelids. "I have tried to do what's right since I was six years old! I chose to obey you and be tormented and teased through school. I stayed pure, I (fill in the blank)... and this is how you reward me? Why am I a Christian? God, I feel betrayed!"

Nothing hurts more than feeling betrayed by God. Not even a dislocated elbow with a triple fraction.

Before you judge me and call me a whiny butt, let me point out this is how I felt. Feeling and truth are NOT the same. Betrayal was my human explanation for what God was/is allowing in my life. Yesterday I discovered I still feel that way!

Lighning flashed over the eastern plains, and the trees dripped with recently fallen rain as I shuffled through my neighborhood under the cover of darkness. Settling on a playground swing, I opened up and let God have it. No holding back. No trying to be a "nice little Christian."

I told God I felt he didn't give a damn about me. Such language is very un-Darcie-like. But it was the pain of my soul speaking.

As I cried, yelled, did a flip-de-do on the swing, I realized how much in bondage I am to this sense of betrayal and fear of attempting, well, anything for fear of failure.

Rabbits scuttled in the grass underneath the huge pines. It hit me. Dreams. Almost every dream I've ever dreamt for myself has gone down in a blaze of humiliation and crushing sense of failure.

Since age five I dreamed about being a doctor. Made it through two years of pre-med before I failed. Literally. Failed math and chemistry. Had to make sudden course change w/ no time to think.

Dreamed of becoming cinical psychologist. Completed a whole new major and minor in four semesters with a 3.7 GPA. Planned to go to Wheaton for my PsyD. Failed. Got rejected b/c of GRE scores.

Dreamed of becoming a teacher. Wracked up 56K in student loans. Dreamed of making a difference in kids' lives. Couldn't succeed in broken system. Had to bail b/c of heath. Failure.

Uncovered dream of wanting to be a writer... four years later I have $7 in my business account and few paid assignments, lots of rejection letters. Failed.

And I'm only highlighting the major ones. The root of my betrayal lies with my belief that everything I touch or attempt fails or breaks (don't get me started on the breakage thing...).

Faced with having to find a "real job" - one that actually pays money, so I can pay back the $56K I borrowed in pursuit of failure, I panic. I CAN'T see myself doing anything BUT fail.

Add to that the dynamic of being a wife and mother... how badly can I ruin all that?

I've begged God for answers. Silence.

All around me folks speak of answered prayers. Big prayers. Like, thousands of dollars showing up in their mail box to pay off a debt. Healing from some bizarre medical condition. Needs being met month after month after month. Instead of rejoicing with them, I get mad. I feel betrayed. By God.

I know Jesus said that life will be rough, especially when we follow him, but won't a little relief make the ick easier to swallow? Ya think?

Big Picture.

What next? I need to let it go. All of it. But this part me of clings with whitened knuckles to this crap. Yes, crap. Why? What is it about human nature that makes us cling to the things that render us ineffective and impotent?

Beth Moore says the hallmark of the work of Satan is guilt. Satan attacks us to send us to the bottom of the ocean, or make our testimony benign. After all, he can't take us to hell with him.

I wish I could tell you I had an epiphany. That I'm pullin' myself up by the bootstraps (spit-TING!) and gettin' back on dat dere hoss.

Rather, I'm tired. Clueless. Wondering if He'll ever answer. Hanging on.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Joy From the Litterbox




iMacs come with a handy-dandy built in camera and a photobooth feature that's fun to play with.
I captured some crazy shots of the cats (the dog wouldn't cooroperate, plus, he's easily embarassed). Every time I look at these, I laugh so hard tears run down my face!

With out much adieu straight from the Litterbox...

We just gotta have some fun every now and then don't we?

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Emotional Fatigue and Tiny Tantrums

SPLASH!

Water oozes across the parquet floor soaking everything in its path. Including a cat, magazine and baby boy.

"Kyle!" I jump out of the chair in front of my computer to discover numbers 1,3,4 and 5 floating in the animals' water dish. Kyle, sitting in the middle of the ever expanding puddle, flashes me a toothy grin. "Don't play in the water." I say bending to pick him up so I can clean the mess before something else 'drowns'.

Kyle claps in glee over his new found ability to create lakes where none existed - that is until I plop him down on the living room floor.

WHAAAAAAAAAAAAH! He rolls onto his stomach, scrunches his legs underneath and plows the carpet with his fuzzy little head. Kyle looks more like a doodlebug than a baby.

A toy cement mixer sits idle. I lunge for it, pressing the sound button. "Here. Play with this."

The tiny ball of boy explodes into a swarming tangle of arms, legs and loud screeches. The water is soaking into the wood floor as I watch in horror.

"You'll get over it." I shrug my shoulders and set off in hunt of a super-absorbent paper towel.

He got over it, all right.

The moment I knelt to sop up Lake Gudger, Kyle came scuttling across the floor on all fours landing with a belly flop into the lake. Spattering me. Great. Now I have to clean the floor, the baby, and now myself. How's a mom to get anything done around here?

An emergent walker takes full advantage of his newfound freedom. Freedom for him means more work for me. Every task I set out to accomplish takes five or six times longer than BMB (before mobile baby). Oh, I could shake open the pack'n play and drop the baby inside for a few hours of uninterrupted write time, but I don't.

Why?

Kyle needs to learn boundaries. He needs to know tantrums get him nowhere and there are certain objects in the house that are not his to play with. It would be so easy to pen him up, but being a mom is my primary job. I don't regret that one bit.

But it's emotionally exhausting! Mothers of toddlers should be given free year passes to a local spa for the hyper-vigilent watch we must keep on our wee ones while working and doing boring house stuff.

Living in a constant state of emotional fatigue is hard. Good thing it's only for a season.

Oh!

Pardon me while I go remove Kyle's fingers from Esau's nose...

"Kyle! Don't pick the kitty's nose... Don't. Pick..."

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Virtual Vacation




The fatal flaw of vacation is that it ends.

Coming off two weeks of band camp (marching band, colorguard), I'm having a tough time getting back in the groove or my writerly life. Here are some images from Pennsylvania, Ricketts Glenn State Park.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Reiview of THE ADOPTION NETWORK quoted on author's site

What a follow up from yesterday's post. It's like God is confirming me in small ways.

My review of Laura Christanson's book
The Adoption Network is quoted on her website Exploring Adoption and published in full on Title Trakk.

Can I just say I'm loving the Christian writing community? Christian writers go out of their way to promote, encourage and support one another. No fear of idea stealing in this circle.

Check out my review by clicking on the imbedded links above!


Monday, July 16, 2007

Somebody thinks I rock!


I opened my inbox yesterday.

Imagine my surprise when I found out that my blog - the litterbox was chosen for the "Rockin' Girl Blogger" award!

Wow!

Not something to brush off when I share the honor with mega-blogs like ragamuffindiva, relevantblog and gracereign! I mean, those gals are REAL writers as in PUBLISHED folk.

Okay, so I'm published...

but not books...

yet.

I guess I'm still not considering my self a "real" writer. I've been writing steadily for over a year now - articles, blogs, book & CD reviews.

Why am I hesitant to list myself among the legit?

Precisely, what defines a bonafide writer?

Someone who can spell? Someone who can diagram sentences while making monkey bread? Someone who can quote classic prose in the security line at the airport? A person who gets PAID for melding words and phrases? A hermit, holed up in a drafty cottage with a rickety Smith-Corona?

I'm none of those things. I do drink coffee.

My hang up is the money thing. How can I call myself a professional writer if I very rarely get paid for what I do best?

I'm under a lot of pressure from the budget powers that be to either start making $$ from my writing, or find a "real" job.

To me, "real-job" = something I'd hate doing.

Been there, done that. Hated every minute of it.

Yet I struggle to write.

What if I can't sell this? What if it takes years to find a home for my book? How am I going to pay off my student loans? I've deferred them as much as I can, and need to find the money two months ago...

I'm discovering that worry, and lack of faith are biggie creativity slayers. Also, my fear of naming myself as a writer...

Ahhh, there it is... fear.

If I call myself a writer, I'm under the belief I must succeed. I must become the next JK Rowling (after all, Harry's done come August). If I fail... then what?

Been on that gnarly path before...

Here's my prayer today: Jesus, I believe you called me to be a writer. Help me with my doubt.


Friday, July 13, 2007

I am the only me!

As I was reading through the ACFW e-loop, I came across a post with this website:

www.howmanyofme.com

it's run by the census people. You plug in your first and last name and immediately, the site tells you how many people share your names! How cool is that???

I'm unique!

I entered my maiden and married names and both times, I was the only me. My sister is the only her as a married woman. There are 20 of John.

I kinda like being truly one of a kind. I'm sure my friends and family are glad I'm the only me.

Kyle's the only him.

So, there you have it - a one-of-a-kind mom with a one-of-a-kind baby.








Thursday, July 12, 2007

I'm back

I've been gone for two weeks - vacation to the East Coast including lots of Mom-mom & Grampa time for the Booger.

When John downloads the pix from his drive, I'll post some cool shots of Maine, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire and Boston - oh lots of cute Booger and Pumpkin (Daniel) shots too!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Pay Attention to This

Recently my neighbor spent some time with a bunch of Christian women. Last night she asked me why Christians seem so discontent with their relationship to God. At the meeting, the women talked about how upset they were that they weren't achieving a certain level of "walk with God".

"Whose standard are they trying to live up to?" My neighbor asked. "I thought being a Chrisitan meant being satisfied with God. Why this discontent? Why aren't they content with who they are now? I believe we all go through different seasons in life and a relationship with God and Jesus would flex. I'm confused."

My eyes popped open. What kind of gospel are we as believers preaching through our actions? Not a grace gospel! Sounds like works doctrine to me. Yikes.

Knowing some of the women in the group, I understand what they want - what they are striving for, but how they expressed that in the presence of someone who is unfamiliar with the "church culture" caused confusion and even a stroke of fear.

Jesus Christ relates to each of us as individuals. My relationship with Him looks different than His relationship with my best friend, Stinky. My relationship with my husband, John, is very different than Joe's relationship with John.

We all desire to be closer to God - to have a better "walk" with him. What the heck does that mean? Maybe we need to rephrase that as "I'd like to know Him better." That's more accurate.

We don't have to achieve a three-mile long list of objectives to reach the goal of his love. "While we were YET sinners, Christ died for us."

Christians are imperfect. We will be until we're in the presence of our Savior. I shared this fact with my neighbor. I encouraged her to read the book of John. John is about personal relationship - the very thing she's seeking.

In the mean time, we need to be aware of who's around, who's listening, the words we use. Chrisitanese does more harm than good. As writers, we're admonished by editors to be exact. The reader should never have to guess our meaning. Same thing applies to our speech.


Thursday, June 21, 2007

Booger Goes Camping


























Last summer was the first summer in decades that I didn't go camping. Kyle was only a few months old, and I've only thought nasty thoughts toward folks who brought itty bitty babies into campgrounds.

Baby not happy = entire campground miserable!

I wasn't about to do that to anyone, not even myself.

After months of pleading, John persuaded me to give camping with a 15 month-old a try.

Rounding up all the gear that got scattered through the garage to make room for baby stuff, proved quite the challenge. So much so, that upon arriving at our site at Baby Doe, along Turquoise Lake in Leadville, Colorado I made the horrifying discovery that we had a tent without poles! No poles, no tent. (John packed the tent - he forgot the big tent body and poles were kept in separate bags).

It was after 6PM. Leadville is not exactly a thriving metropolis...

Both of the sporting goods stores were closed for the night.

Great.

A friendly local told us of a place outside of town that might carry tents.

Much to our relief, and $40 later, we had a small tent.

John, Kyle and I made it back to our site to set up before dark.

Putting a baby into a sleeping bag is like trying to stuff toothpaste back into the tube. Giggling, he crawled out and cruised the tent interior. John gave up trying and decided to start a fire for s'mores. While John tried to start a fire with big logs and lighter fluid (trust me, it doesn't work!), Kyle shrieked, squealed and growled his way through the tent. His little hands shuffling along the fabric walls. Eventually he fell asleep on John's bag.

The Little Booger slept soundly all night long.

We hiked all day Saturday along a historic rail bed, through a ghost town to the Hagerman Tunnel, which at 11500 feet, was once the highest train tunnel in the world. I'd show a picture, but the tunnel entrance was buried by a snow slide. The little eyes never closed. He was fascinated by the snow covered peaks, snickered as John and I were forced to hike about one mile in the middle of a snow-run off creek and watched
the dog post-hole in deep snow drifts.

I sure was glad I had a brand new pair of waterproof hiking boots!

The boys took a nap after the hike, and I started a fire. One match. No lighter fluid. Lighter fluid is for weenies.

Booger loved to watch the flames dance over the logs. We kept him in his stroller so he could watch us roast hot dogs and smores from a safe distance. He gobbled up a hot dog, bun and several graham crackers!

Then slept soundly through night #2.

It's safe to say, Kyle likes camping. What a relief! I missed it last summer.

Apologies for the sideways pix - blogger doesn't allow me to rotate to vertical. Just lean 90 degrees to one side and they will look upright :)




Monday, June 18, 2007

Funny Fotos



























I promised I'd do something funny...

JOHN takes 100% of the credit for diapering Esau... why Esau puts up with it is beyond me.

Sheba (a.k.a. "the Blob") put herself in the sink.

Kyle feeds himself oatmeal for the very first time. And wakes up after his first night in a tent.


Tuesday, June 12, 2007

You were never meant to go
through life by the skin of your teeth
but to flourish in the love
and acceptance of Almighty God.
- Beth Moore


God is after me. That's a good thing... I think. I mean, I already belong to Him. Gave my heart to Him when I was six. (My Sunday School teacher scared the Hell out of me - literally!)

You'd think after being a Christian for almost thirty years, I'd have it all figured out by now.

Wrong-O!

The older I get, the less I realize I understand.

Trusting God and finding satisfaction in Him were topics addressed in the Bible study Stinky and I are doing together.

Sink asked what my "storm" is at the moment. I could toss out finances as usual. However, my true storm rages inside me. Why? I'm not satisfied with God. Uh, let me re-say that.

I'm not satisfying my self with God.

For some sick and demented reason, I keep looking for tangible things to fill me up. In college, as I sat by watching my friends get married off while the guys made mooing noises in my general direction, I believed a man's love would fill me. "If only I were loved by a man who wanted to marry me..." I said while laying on a log across the Houghton Creek.

I've been married nine years, am the mom of the Cutest Baby in the World, have 3 cats, a dog, two tanks of fish, house, pretty flowers in the yard, friends and an evil-stepbird.

Some people even tell me I have talent! ;) I can write, sing, take darn good pictures and make people laugh.

But I feel icky inside. Often.

Poor John shleps into the door after a long day at the office and my claws pop out. He doesn't have a chance to duck before I take the first swipe.

"What's got into you?" He asks.

"I have nooooo idea." I cry.

God is after me. He wants me to learn to let Him fill me with His peace like a river - rapids and all. He wants me to learn about extending Grace to myself. Something I suck at. He wants to be Enough.

Yeah. Enough.

Next post will be funny. I can't keep ignoring the JOY in my litterbox.


Monday, June 04, 2007

Hezekiah...

...was this dude who was king of Israel during the time of the prophet Isaiah. All of his life, he did what was right in God's eyes - including obliterating the sex worship industry his forefathers chose to ignore.

This dude was able to get a wayward people back on track, worshiping the one true God. He was sold out to God in every facet of life.

But-

He got sick.

Isaiah told him he was gonna die.

It was bad.

Hezekiah cried out to God, "God, please, I beg you: Remember how I've lived my life. I've lived faithfully in your presence, lived out of a heart that was totally yours. You've seen how I've lived, the good that I've done." And Hezekiah wept as he prayed - painful tears. (Isaiah 39:2-3 Msg)

Stinky and I are are starting a Bible study titled; "Breaking Free: Making liberty in Christ a reality in life" by renown author, Beth Moore. Mom just finished leading this study at her church. She told me this lesson was written for me. She made me promise to do it over the course of the summer... or else!

Today's lesson was about Hezekiah.

I was grabbed by the throat and pulled into his story. I'm no king, but I felt my heart nodding with his prayer. I was saved at the age of six. With the help of my parents, I chose to live for Christ and not the world - paying a hefty price for that decision all throughout public school.

In college, after God derailed my plans for becoming a world-famous doctor, I sought His perfect will for my life the best I knew how at that time.

After college, in the big bad world of Denver, I chose to remain pure (not a hard thing to do when nobody ever asks you out) before I met John. John and I remained pure for our wedding (we hardly kissed!). The list goes on and it's pretty boring. You get the idea...

So.

My life has sucked big time. Lots of pain. Lots of suffering.

Read the previous post. I like to throw tantrums.

Today I sat on my patio doing my Bible study, and WHAM! I see a myself on the pages. Here's this guy who lived way better than I and he had a horrible, terminal illness. What kind of reward is that? How many times have I prayed the same thing? Why? God, don't you see how I've lived? How I constantly strive to live for you? This is how you reward me for my efforts?

Beth wrote the following: "Sometimes our enemy attacks the weak and wandering believers because they are easy prey. Other times he attacks competent, fully-surrendered servants of God for the challenge and the possible contagious effect of a fall." Gulp.

Don't know from whence it came, but I somehow bought into a lie that if I follow God, He will lighten the attacks. It's only fair, right? I know, I know - the New Testament talks alot about sharing in the sufferings of Christ. But still...

This stuff happens. Jobs go away, articles are rejected. Illness for me or my loved ones. Satan wants me to fall b/c my failings and icky attitude are contagious!

Sorry if I pulled you down. I'm gonna cry out to God and seek His direction for my writing. I have a sneaking suspicion about my focus but I want to be sure.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Bummed out

I'm feeling a little... no, make that alot bummed out today.

I just got an e-mail from Denver Mamas blog that the hosting company is discontinuing all their blogs, so as of today, I'm jobless in Denver.

It wasn't my writing. It had nothing to do with me whatsoever. That's the good news. What I'm really struggling with is this.

My student loan payments come back to torment me in June (tomorrow!). Several months ago I prayed. There was no way we could make payments on our current income. I found a blogging job. It was just the right amount of money I needed each month. Woo-hoo! Celebration! An answered prayer!

Today, the day before the month the payments roll in, I get laid off. Does God have some sort of sick sense of humor? I thought this writing job was an answer to prayer? What about the "I'll provide for your every need" bit in the Bible? Better yet, what about the part that says, "I won't give you more than you can handle?" HAAAAA! I've had over five year's worth of "more than I can handle."

Bills keep being added. Income keeps being stripped away. What's the deal?

I know my life is being "pared down" so I can focus on my family and my novel. BUT I NEED THE MONEY NOW! It may be two years at the least before I see any $$ from my novel!!!

Oh, and here's the really painful part. I made a promise to tithe a percentage of what I made every month through my writing, to the mission organization my brother-in-law serves. So, not only did God allow my income to be stripped, He made it impossible for me to give to missions! No income = no giving!

Sorry for the rant. I'm gonna eat a pancake, feed the Booger, and let the Colorado sun burn holes in my head and hope God will tell me something. I'm glad He's big enough to take my little tantrums. Especially when I can't understand what He's up to!

Monday, May 21, 2007

I've been tagged twice...

Okay, Paula & CJ - I'll play along :)

Each person starts with 8 random facts/habits about themselves. People who are tagged need to write their eight things and post the rules. At the end of your blog, tag eight people and list their names. Don't forget to leave them a comment telling them they're tagged, and to read your blog.

1. In high school I scared my writing teacher to death on April Fool's day. I walked up to her during a break, then proceeded to pretend I had a seizure. Convulsions and all. When she screamed, "Call an ambulance!" (we didn't have 911 in our rural area), I popped off the floor yelling - yep, you guessed it! April Fools. Uh, Mrs. Campbell wasn't happy with me.

2. Colorguard was my obsession from the time I was a mere child up until... now. I marched 6 years w/ my high school band and winter guard. At the time I graduated, our band and guard was undefeated for 36 consecutive years! Today I'm on my 8th season teaching guard at Sheridan High School. Under my instruction, the guard holds 4 state titles. I've completed my 4th year as an equipment judge for the Rocky Mountain Colorguard Association. Someday I hope to earn my WGI certification on equipment.

3. I fought a forest fire. Really! I'm not kidding! Between sophomore and junior year in college, I spent the summer in Maine. My roommate's parents owned a sporting camp in the Allegash Wilderness. One day Kim and I sat at the edge of Frost Pond, fishing. (Not much else to do up there). A column of gray-black smoke spiraled upwards somewhere across the lake. Unless someone was trying to signal an airplane, there was no way that smoke came from a mere campfire. We radioed it in to Greenville, and sure enough it was a forest fire! We were the first to report and were asked to volunteer. Kim and I spent an entire day cooped up in a tin can known as "Mission Control". Every communication on scene passed through us. We then radioed in to Greenville. Next day we donned Indian packs (water-filled backpacks) and squirted hot spots until a heavy downpour came rushing through rendering us useless.

4. I think I can sing.

5. I've kissed my cat(s) on the lips.

6. I was nearly squished by a train in a tunnel. About 10 years ago, Stinky, Marlis and I went hiking in Eldorado Canyon State Park near Boulder. At the top of the trail lie train tracks and tunnel. Being the curious soul that I am, I decided I wanted to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Marlis was game. Stinky was not. "I don't think you guys should go in there," she warned a safe distance away. "Where's your sense of adventure?" I said, my voice echoing off the cut rock. Marlis and I wandered in about 3O feet when we heard a faint rumble. Must be a thunder storm. Seconds later we got excited. We saw the light at the end of the... RUN! Light at the end of the tunnel don't got a horn! RUN! We ran, tripping over the ties. As soon as we reached the mouth of the tunnel, we dove off to the side. The honking train flew out of the tunnel. Stinky stood there screaming. Boy she was mad.

7. I've got a degree in outdoor recreation. Honest! Houghton College has such a degree. I am an expert at camping, backpacking and wilderness stuff. I led several Outward Bound style groups through Houghton and was a ropes course facilitator on the largest ropes course east of the mighty Mississip. Trust me, there are many crazy things one can do from wires suspended 40 -50 feet off the ground. To this day I'd rather be in the woods than anywhere else. I hate cities.

8. I grew up in the REAL Dallas - Dallas, PA which is near Harvey's Lake, the largest natural lake in PA. My buddy Bobby Jones and I pretended there were dead bodies in the woods across the street from our homes. We even used old appliance boxes to create Private Investigator offices on the side of the road. Our price was 25 cents if the mystery was solved. How entreprenurial of us when an average of three cars passed by each day!

I tag Joe, , Megan, uh, I don't have anyone else to tag b/c the only other person I know tagged me a while back (CJ I'm doing this for you too!)

Sunday, May 20, 2007

So many things...

My head is spinning faster than a Tilt-A-Whirl with a beefed up motor! That's what writer's conferences do to you.

As many of you know, little old me used to be a high school special ed teacher who realized her for-real dream was to make up stories and write them. For the past four years I wrote off and on, more off than on due to being dropped mercilessly into that refiner's fire we all grew up singing about in church. (Whoever wrote that phrase, "Refiner's fire, my heart's one desire..." needs their head examined! Okay so I left of the "...is to beeeeeee holy, set apart for-or you-oo my Master... but still...)

Trials still pepper my life, but for now I'm out of the hottest part of the furnace. Problem is, I still carry the scars. The scars weigh me down.

Countless times over the past four or five years I agonized over what I wanted to be when I grew up. I fretted and wallowed in regret over my degree choices in both undergrad and graduate school. Rejection letters collected in one of my paper piles whenever I finally got the guts to querry publications.

Staring at my computer, I'd often wonder what in the world I'd gotten myself into. I can't do grammar for Pete's snakes!

Save for this blog, I nearly gave up. But several people kept kicking me in the buhdunkadunk.

One Sunday at the conclusion of a service, Pastor Jim stood at stage end and said something really weird. It was really weird b/c Bear Valley has Southern Baptist roots and still holds to SBC theology despite its non-denominational status.

Pastor Jim said he had a prophecy. "I don't do this kind of thing very often, but God won't let me ignore this." He proceeded to prophesy that the tide is changing for a few church members. Those who have been beaten up for years financially, will find relief. Writers and architects who've been struggling, doubting God's hand in their lives will rise. This is the year of turn around. They will break through.

It felt like a million and three-quarter spiders crawled up my back, around my neck, up my face and into my hair. Tears formed in my eyes making my contacts all blurry (I hate that).

People filed out of the auditorium and Jim came up to me. "That was for you... and John (the architect)."

Skeptical me shouted, "This ain't no pentecostal church! Prophecies are pipe dreams to satiate people in pain." The burning in my heart fired up more, incinerating that voice. I nodded.

"See what God does. That'll prove it." Jim said.

Fast forward to now. The day after the CCWC conference. Little old me who believed her writing absolutely sucked voluminous quantities of dirty pond water through a very large straw, has piqued the interest of two publishing houses and two literary agents.

That's not all.

A panel of agents and editors facilitated a workshop titled, "Will they read on." Editors admit they only read one page or less of most submissions that pile onto their desks. If by the first paragraph, they aren't hooked, the manuscript is tossed. For this panel, they mercifully read first pages. After ripping several entries, an agent began reading the next novel opening. It was mine.

Bile rose in my throat. My hands trembled.

The page was read and the reader asked, "Would you this one on, why or why not?"

Down the line they went.

It was unanimous.

Every single one of them-

would...

...
...
... ... ...
READ ON!!!!

Not only that, but they kept saying "This is one talented writer. These word choices are incredible! Unpublished writers don't write like this... Wow! This person is gifted, however, I caught two participle problems." And so on.

The panel consisted of Dave Lambert (Simon & Schuester / Howard), Terry Burns (agent), Jeff Gerke (Freelance editor), Jeff Dunn (agent), Kathryn Mackel (bestselling novelist, Hollywood screenwriter), and Bryan Davis (Dragons in our Midst, bestselling author).

These people are at the tippy top of fiction writing. Who am I to say they are wrong. God used that very moment to strip away the lie I've been telling myself over and over again to the point I was creatively paralyzed.

I'm running loooooonnnnnnggggg here. I've got much more to share. Next time I'll give an update on the abortion skit feedback. It kinda fits thematically, wait - it DOES fit thematically with what I wrote here.

My litterbox is overflowing with joy right now!!!

Friday, May 11, 2007

Joy in another, uh, litterbox...




The one and only thing I really hate about coaching colorguard is saying "goodbye" to my seniors. They always make me cry and I miss them terribly. You'd think that after seven years, I'd be used to it by now. Frankly it gets harder and harder!

The class of 2007 is by far, the toughest class to let go. Amber, Angel, Shannon, Tess, Ambrosia and Rhonda dug themselves so deep into my heart, I feel as if part of me is being torn away.

I have to share with you all what they did to me... it fits perfectly with this blog!

That stuff in the pan... it may look like a litterbox, but it's a cake (a darned good one I might add - I ate a piece after snapping a picture). When I first put it on the table, Chloe jumped up and began sniffing. When she smelled chocolate as opposed to... um... you're smart enough to figure it out... she hopped down to the floor.

Oh, and the litterbox is not cat - it's monkey! Sock monkey. I have a sock monkey named Zippy. He tags along with me to rehearsals. His soul purpose in life is to remind my guard members to stand tall, keep their centers and not flop around like sock monkeys!

My seniors thought it would be funny to give me Zippy's litterbox. do monkeys use litterboxes? I'll have to ask the keepers at the Denver Zoo.

So, you goons, if you're reading this! I LOVE you! I'm gonna miss you terribly. I'm proud of all you accomplished and am proud of where you're headed.

And Ambrosia...

I see your...

CHIN!

Thursday, May 10, 2007

One of the cutest babies in the world!






Kyle now has to share that title with his cousin, Daniel who is very cute! It's been forever since I posted some pictures of the Booger. I've even got one of Cousin Dan!

Dang! Aren't they CUTE?

Sunday, May 06, 2007

How it Went

Knots ping-ponged in my gut as the abortion skit went public. I swear they turned the heat up about sixty degrees higher than normal in the sanctuary! Horror ripped through my veins when the bulletin and order of service listed it as "Darcie Gudger and the drama group". Why was my name put on there? So people could lynch me if they hated skit? Given the heavy nature of the subject, I hoped to remain anonymous.

Besides, I wasn't the only one involved. Sure I wrote the script, but my friend Dawn started the whole thing. She's a super-talented actress/singer who wanted me to write powerful, provacative sketches for church. We brainstormed ideas for hours. Spent hours on the phone. Hours in prayer. Hours worrying if the whole thing would fall apart, and hours trying to figure out who to cast! Dawn handled nearly all of the logistics and drama coaching. I couldn't have pulled this off by myself. So, I want to publicly thank Dawn for her hard work and for believing in me (when I didn't believe in me). Also thanks to Deb, Jonathan, John and Barb for bringing the characters to life.

So- how it went. After all three performances the audience sat frozen in time. No one coughed, sneezed, scratched or left their pew to go to the bathroom. Pastor Jim climbed onto the stage and started his sermon which really tied up all the loose ends the nay-sayers and skeptics worried about.

He shared some staggering stats about abortion then moved onto adoption as a solution. He also spent a huge chunk of time on healing - healing for people who've had abortions. Condemnation was nowhere to be found.

All the reactions Dawn and I received (at least to our faces) was very positive. Several people thanked me for being brave and courageous to tackle such an issue. Abortion is relevant to the church, not just some political bandwagon. The way to change minds is not charging Capital Hill or bombing clinics (pro-life? Ummmm... that's murder too), rather change happens one woman at a time. We have to reach out to women facing the temptation to take the easy way out and kill her baby. We need to support her, support her in the decision to keep or adopt her baby. Then continue walking beside her as she heals. THAT will change minds.

Let's just say I'm glad it's over now. The spiritual warfare was awful. Obstacles were flung into our paths several times each day. Doubts pervaded the process.

What helped most was giving it all to God. He inspired both Dawn and I. He brought all the pieces together and people were moved. I pray people talk about it and let God speak to them through it.

Joe, Willow Creek? Are you kidding me? That's like, a huge place where they do everything all professional-like! But, if that's what God wants, then...

(I really have no clue how to make that happen... the Willow Creek thing that is...)

Monday, April 30, 2007

Is Safe Really Safe?

I'm gonna open a can of worms here, hopefully sparking some controversy and intelligent discussion.

When is safe not safe?

My church is doing a sermon series called "The Untouchables". The pastoral staff is addressing issues such as homosexuality, racism and abortion. I've written a skit for the abortion sermon that is provocative and as someone said, "unsafe."

Unsafe?

Yep. That person feels church needs to be a safe place where no one feels any condemnation or judgment.

"Old people don't need to see this. It will offend them, and some of use choose to stay away from secular people so we don't have to be around 'this stuff'."

My skit has four vingettes. Two are the personal testimonies of the actors. In the first sketch, a young woman recounts her out-of-wedlock pregnancy. She was a prominent member of the worship team, lead Bible studies, MOPS, landed the lead in musicals and very outspoken in her faith. Two weeks after her divorce, she found out she was pregnant from a one-night stand. Abortions easy solution called to her. In her monologue, she cries, "I hate you baby! You will destroy my life!"

The second skit is a scene where a mother is demanding her daughter get an abortion. The girl was raped. The family is well-known in the church. The daughter has a ballet scholarship. "No one will understand! They'll assume things about you... about us!" The mother says, "I've already made an appointment with Planned Parenthood."

Scene three is a teen boy talking to his best friend. He's in a panic b/c he got the pastor's daughter pregnant (this is pure fiction). He talks like a teen boy in 2007. People have a problem with this sketch in particular b/c I had the "event" happen at a youth retreat and the teends involved are Christians.

Finally, the last scene is the my own testimony. Several wonder how it even ties in to abortion. I dramatized the conversation John and I had when I found out I was postmenopausal and unable to have kids - ever. The pain, the hopelessness of it. I wanted to juxtapose this scene for a startling contrast. People who deal with infertility have very powerful emotions relating to abortion. Every time I hear the word, it feels like someone is twisting a knife in my uterus. Yeah, there's a connection. Concern was raised that this scene would condemn people who had abortions in the past and keep them from coming to God. At the end I cry, "Oh God, this is so unfair! Women who don't want them get pregnant and kill them I want one and... and..."

Let me pose this question: Would you rather ignore these issues in the confines of church walls to keep it a safe, happy place? Leave folks to get their information from the world? Or, would you rather the church take a risk of offending folks in order to blow away deception.

When I wrote the skits, my intent was to cause audience members to consider how easily abortion would "solve" the immediate problems. I want them to understand how and why that option is enticing, not only to non-Christians but Christians as well when the stakes are high enough.

So, do we play it safe? Or if we do play it safe, are we really putting people at risk?

Monday, April 23, 2007

I Love the Earth, Butt...


No one can accuse us of hating the environment. Denver makes recycling so easy, that we truly recycle more than we toss. We turn of lights in unused rooms and keep the heat below 65 degrees. The energy savings are more motivated by $$ saving than loving the Earth, but it counts.

I'm a huge proponent of "No Trace" camping and hiking. John will pack out other people's nasty trash found along Colorado hiking trails.

God made the Earth. Whatever He made, He put in our stewardship. That means we are supposed to take good care of it.

Within reason.

Since Al Gore released his film "Inconvenient Truth", politicians and celebrities - all members of the FSR (Filthy Stinkin' Rich) club are telling the ROU (Rest of Us) to give up our modest lifestyles to live like we're in a 3rd world country!

They DO NOT include themselves in such sacrificial practices. Private planes, multiple mansions - all this takes up more energy per day than the ROU use in one year!! Whose being wasteful here?

Sheryl Crow is on some sort of twisted anti-toilet paper campaign. If such absurdity is put into law, more of us will be stinkin' than the rich!

I've done the no TP thing on a BACKPACKING trip in Central PA where there were plenty of ferns. Who likes to find piles of paper behind every tree? No me. But in my own home? Don't these bozos know about the kinds of diseases running rampant in 3rd world countries?

So, what will America be like if everyone walked around with poo in their cracks? Honestly, 1 sheet or 3 ain't gonna get that stuff off! We can kiss our clean air initiatives good-bye. The stench pollution will force us to walk around wearing those weird masks seen in apocalyptic films. Doctor offices will be inundated by millions suffering from horrible chaffing and butt pimples. The economy will take a major dive b/c no one will want to be around anyone else's butt-stinkies!

What about babies? Imagine the diaper rash!

When Sheryl Crow, Al Gore and the likes start acting like cats... (no more description needed - right?) Then I may reconsider.

I love the Earth...

butt not enough to traumatize it's inhabitants (or myself). I love hygiene!

Americans for Good Hygiene!