Category Archives: Writing

Playing Catch-up…

As our fallish weather turns wintry, I’m ever thankful for the factors that make my life so blessed. A sweet family to care for, a cozy home in the country, a hard-working husband, many special friends, and my God who is alive and well and working on us!

And time occasionally to update the blog. Sigh. I’m sorry my posts are so few and far between. Once November is behind us, I’m thinking there will be a little more time on my horizon. It’s been a good round of chaos, but balancing homeschooling with fall gardening, canning, and chicken processing parties, plus our normal day to day chores hasn’t left much time for writing or friends!

What’s new? I’m behind on connecting you all to my two latest articles for Writer…Interrupted, an ezine I submit to the second Thursday each month. In October, I was running behind on deadline so I slightly updated and republished an older post, one I’d originally written in 2007, called Sacrificial Moments in a Homeschool Fishing Booth. My November post is up today: Homeschooling, Homesteading and Living to Write About It. If you check them both out, you might be surprised at the difference in tone. The former is reflective of my early struggle with two passions: homeschooling and writing. The latter hopefully reveals the peace and joy God’s given me in this season of living my dream.

I’ll soon get back to the Romans 9 series, I promise. Sincere thank yous to all of you who have encouraged my writing here with your behind-the-scenes cheer. Wow, I appreciate you! I love being able to share what I’ve been studying with you. Not to mention that organizing my studies for the blog has etched them ever deeper in my own heart.

I pray that this scripture from Jeremiah envelopes you with the joy and peace and assurance that it does me…

Jeremiah 15:16, “ Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by thy name, O LORD God of hosts.”

Blessings,

Mary

 

Chicken Soup for the Soul: Devotional Stories for Mothers

Chicken Soup BookI’m published! *Smile*

A few months ago, Shelley Ring,  my good friend and critique partner, emailed me suggesting we both submit devotionals to the Chicken Soup people. They were looking for submissions to fill their Devotional Stories for Mothers project and the deadline was a week (or less?!) away!

So we churned out our stories, and both of them got through all the rounds to the finals! How exciting to be published together, in the same book, for the first time.

My wintertime story detailing a particular home front crisis of  “cabin fever emotions” is on page 294 titled, Rebuilding Castle Walls.  Shelley’s story, Hug ‘Em and Pray, shares from a step-mother’s heart the struggle to meet the cry of her step-son in his dark hour. You’ll find it on page 90.

Every story in this newly released book is preceded by a scripture verse and ended with a prayer. This encouraging collection of heart-squeezers would be a fantastic gift for the moms on your list!

Product Description

Throughout time, women have shared their joys and sorrows, thoughts and feelings, experiences and life lessons with one another. The tradition continues in CSS Devotional Stories for Mothers with 101 stories of friendship, faith, and comfort that affirm God’s unconditional love and His wisdom. Women will find encouragement, solace, and strength in these personal stories and prayers that cover motherhood from its joys and everyday trials to tests of faith.

About the Author

Susan M. Heim is a long-time Chicken Soup for the Soul editor and Christian author, specializing in family-oriented books and women’s issues.

Karen C. Talcott is an author and educator with an expertise in women’s issues, faith, and angels.

Foreward by Lisa Whelchel, best known for her long standing role as “Blair” in the television series, The Facts of Life, is a wife and a home schooling mother of three children. She has appeared in several feature films and is an author, vocalist, Grammy nominated songwriter, and an inspirational speaker at churches and conferences nationwide.

Buy the book now at Amazon.com!

October Writing Retreat

Last week I had the pleasure of attending a writer’s workshop at a writersretreattruckwonderful cabin retreat in Stark, KS with three other writers. Our gracious and sweet hostesses were authors Deborah Raney and Deborah Vogts.

Here we are at the entrance to the Murphy’s Landing Hunting Lodge B&B. What a lovely, rustic getaway!

Our arrival on Tuesday morning was a bit impeded by police blockades strung across the highway leading to our cabin, but Portia at the Murphy’s Mercantile and Cafe in Stark invited us in to wait it out over a piece of peanut butter meringue pie and coffee.  You might have gotten a cabinkick out of our *writer imaginations* going wild over what might have been the reason for the blockade! It didn’t help that we’d heard a news bulletin alerting the border communities to be on the watch for three escaped convicts!

Here we are at the cabin! Sadly this pic doesn’t showcase the mirror topped lake directly out from the front porch. Every evening and morning its perfect stillness reflected the sun’s journey atop our sky.

The front porch beckoned and provided a few neat photo ops.

porchretreatThe cabin’s decor was a fantastic blend for both the country cozy and the lodge savvy amongst us! I loved the wood beamed walls and wooden signs scattered around, while my husband would have admired the many taxidermies mounted on railings, mantels and above windows.

Here we are before breakfast on Wednesday. Our weather was grand for this three day getaway–60’s for a high, and 40’s for a low. Pretty chilly in the A.M. !

Our breakfasts were part porchlineuprof the package, so each morning we hit the road to the cafe by 8 o’clock. The omelettes were amazing, especially accompanied by Portia’s biscuits and local honey! Mmm.

Speaking of food…I am planning a recipe post based on our retreat menu. There are some grwriterretreat10eat cooks in the writing community, and I’m not talking about plotting!

We all contributed eats, from veggies, fruits and dips to chicken tortellini soup, lasagna, Mexican pork roast tostadas, sandwich wraps and chicken salad. A favorite of all was Julane’s corn dip! We also had a to-die-for chocolate chip cheesecake and a decadent peaches and cream dessert. And what is a writing workshop without a big bowl of chocolate candy? Groan. I’d hate to see a cumulative weight gain analysis for our little group, because we sure enjoyed stuffing ourselves!

cabinkitchen

That post will have to wait till Deborah Vogts is past her deadline for book 3 in her Seasons of the Tallgrass series. She’s the queen of hospitality, that gal. In this picture, she is the one behind the bowl of apples, wearing blue.

Behind the open cupboard door was our one and only bathroom, but what a bathroom. Check it out below.

retreatbathroom With six women attending, we scheduled our evening and morning showers. I gladly went last in the evenings to take advantage of soaking in the jacuzzi tub! writersbyouthouse

This out- house was our other option.  Pretty cute, aren’t we?

loftview

Here’s a view taken from the loft bedroom which sleeps eight: one double bed, three singles and their trundles.

We spent plenty of fun hours in this living area, brainstorming each others story conflicts, getting feedback on our openings, and learning from the two Debs’ workshops.  Since our group was smallish, size wise, we had some great one-on-one in depth interaction. What a blessing.

writersretreatloftHere’s the sleeping loft I was just describing. Sara got the window bed, and it was a good thing we talked the nights away because that ole full moon kept her blinking! Thus the hot pink post-it notes. Her effort to block the moonlight and get some z’s fell a wee bit short!

We had more than writing to talk about. How exciting that three of us had homeschooling in common as well! Wwritersoutsidecaferiting and homeschooling, now there is another topic altogether!

Here we are on the  last morning, just after breakfast and a book signing for two of our favorite KS authors! The wind about blew us away with the tumbleweeds…

Do check out Deborah Raney’s current series, set in the fictional yet endearing community of Hanover Falls, KS and also Deborah Vogt’s Seasons of the Tallgrass, featuring the beautiful Flint Hills of Kansas. I promise you will be captivated!

By the way, creativity aside, DebandDebwe never did find out why the police decided to “delay” our retreat kick-off on Tuesday morning.

Thanks so much to all my new friends who made the time away so special! I’m marking my calendar for next year!

Dealing With Interruptions

Check out my June article, Dealing With Interruptions, at Parenting Q&A, hot off the press! ;O)

Here’s the question:

I’m a stay-at-home mom, but I also freelance three days a week. Balancing parenting with my writing career is more difficult than I thought it would be. We do need the extra income, and we feel strongly that we’re to be the ones raising our three children. However, I’m verging on burn-out over here and can’t get a break for all the interruptions.

Happy first day of summer, everyone!

Parenting Q & A Column

funny_road_signDoesn’t this sign capture the sad hilarity of what many people believe is the inevitably bumpy road of parenting?

Let’s face it, there really is a crush of godless parenting advice out there, and sometimes I think the devil just brainstormed up every parenting lie possible that completely opposes  scripture and like Hitler’s cronies, we buy the outrageous lies with no questions asked. And the fine print on the price tag demands our children’s souls.

A biblical worldview is crucial to raising godly children in this culture. This simply means putting on your “God lenses”, becoming familiar with His words, seeking His will for every facet of your life. It may be old-fashioned and unpopular, but it’s obedience! God tells us in His word to “come out from them and be separate” yet how is this done exactly?

I’m ever so thankful for my Christian upbringing by loving parents, and for the several older and wiser couples along the way who weren’t afraid to stop alongside and share what God had shown them about this great adventure of parenting. It’s so easy to get discouraged, confused, off-track and just plain exhausted when it comes to raising kids with a Biblical world-view, a heart for others and that genuinely want to obey and respect God and their elders. I do firmly believe it is possible, yes, even in 2010, to accomplish this because in spite of many failures on my part, I’m seeing the sweet fruit in my children every day. We’re not talking perfection, ha. But parenting by the “Book” does reap radical rewards.

I love opportunities to encourage other moms to take to heart the Biblical direction found in Titus 2 to “…love their husbands and to love their children…” and to “Train up a child in the way he should go…” so I was excited when a pastor friend asked me to contribute to the Parenting Q & A portion of his website, WordExplain.com. So far I’ve contributed two articles, the most recent one is titled, “When Life is Not Fair.” If you have any questions you’d like addressed in the column, please email  Mary[@]homesteepedhope.com–without the brackets, and I’ll do my best to share the bottom line of what’s worked for our family. If you do take time to stop by his site, I want to add that there are many more parenting articles archived there covering a variety of subjects.

“What God is to the world, parents are to their children.”

–Philo

It’s a big responsibility, but let me ask this…what in the world are we doing for God’s sake? If you’re a parent, there’s your answer.

May Day is Tomorrow!

maydaybasketI’m over at Writer…Interrupted today! Come on over and read my post, “The Crafting of a Life.” It’s a sneak peek into the obsessive-compulsive life of a writer and how important it is to actively engage in real life every now and then. ;O)

By the way, some exciting changes are happening at Writer…Interrupted! We’re in the process of going to a monthly magazine format with something for everyone. I’ll keep you posted as it progresses.

Head’s Up! Tomorrow is May Day–and as the tradition goes, imaydaybasket1t’s a great day to put a basket together and leave it on your neighbor’s doorstep…how sneaky can you be?

Our favorite ideas for baskets:

  • dishtowels
  • bedding plants
  • garden gloves
  • seed packets
  • homemade cookies
  • mini-loaves of bread w/a jar of jam

Have a great day!

A stopping place for your child

Today’s my Thursday at Writer…Interrupted. I’m musing about the incredibly delicate balancing act we mothers with “side-interests” face. Hope you come over there and share your thoughts too.

On other fun topics, it’s about baby chick time again! And my original flock of 25 is fine and dandy. Spring must be in the air, as egg production is bumping up even without my daily dosing of their feed with cayenne pepper!

My 4.5 year old is reading! And loving it! All this after discovering she could spell with the kindergartners and first graders at our homeschool co-op’s practice spelling bee. She did so well we dusted off the early readers we had laying around and she’s addicted.

I’ve ordered some beautiful copywork books from queenhomeschool.com, and can’t wait till their arrival! Also have a fun music book on its way from playbyear.com. Fun, fun!

What’s new with you?

Posting at Writer…Interrupted Today

A new school year always sends me into a dither…juggling fifth and third graders and a very motivated preschooler means not verra much time for moi! Not to mention the whole housekeeping OR homeschooling dilemma!

But some good things have come of it…come see pics from our first day of school and read all about my adjustments!

Thought this pic of my youngest juggling cukes about sums it all up! Lately it seems I’ve been blogging by the skin of my teeth…sorry about that!

(Oops, wordpress isn’t letting me post the picture…I’ll try again later!)

Conflict of Passions

Are you struggling between two heart desires? Believe me, I have been there, done that and it’s not much fun.

For me, it began almost three years ago. You’ll remember many posts from me on the subject of my women’s fiction writing, and how easily I could lose myself in it–letting the children and housework fall apart around me. What a struggle to find balance, in fact, balance was so elusive, I finally quit fiction writing altogether. I just couldn’t reconcile the two passions–homeschooling and a writing career. I know better women than me can juggle these things…and maybe someday I’ll be able to, but not now.

At first letting go was terribly depressing. I hung onto my writing projects like a toddler on the verge of losing his blankie…I’d never had a passion outside my children and husband before. Sounds pathetic, but remember I married right out of high school, and my family has been my world. And I’ve been so fulfilled that I never felt anything was missing. Discovering the books within me, though, tapped a brand-spanking-new-and-exciting dimension of ME…a falling in love experience…a happy realization that God gifted me with this crazy love of words for a reason! Wow. Anyway. I lost myself in this dream for a year…devouring books on the writing craft and going to writing conferences and learning from other pros and wannabes. Pure bliss…that continually battled my family for my time until I realized that I had to cut back. And cutting back didn’t work. Giving it up altogether finally made the difference.

My point is, I’m not missing the fiction writing at all these days. I’m not even all that concerned when a week goes by without blogging. We’re ramped up about homeschooling and spending time with friends and church activities…right now the solitary and immersive lifestyle of writing isn’t possible! I don’t want it to be possible. I want my life to be about homeschooling and enjoying these girls while they’re little and being a 30-something stay-at-home mom is my ultimate joie de vivre!

How did I end up letting go of my writing dreams? Well, honestly, I haven’t let go of them. I feel a real peace that those are future chapters in my life, ones I anticipate and gladly put off for a more convenient time…possibly not until my kids are raised! I begged and pleaded with the Lord about it, especially because I got to the point where I would have gladly put the girls in public school just so I could have a full day of unfettered writing time. I began resenting my family’s needs and that was what finally opened my eyes to my wrong priorities. Wrong for *me* because God has emphatically called us into this homeschooling lifestyle.

Asking God to realign my desires with His really meant turning OFF my passion for writing. Please, I’m not preaching at anyone, this is *my* story–I’m not cut out to balance two passions. Not as whole-hog as I am about my “babies” (both real and imagined!)!

Anyway, I just realized today how God’s given me back my satisfaction with this season of life. And it’s a pretty blessed arrival, deserving of documentation at my site!

Anyone relate?