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 " 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-


... ... ...

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...


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...)