110 Women

110 women are going to Congress.

Wow.

These are women from all over the country. These are women from different political parties. These are women from different races, religions, creeds, and preferences.

Women make up over half of our country’s population, so there’s a ways to go for a truly representative government, if that’s something that’s even possible, but tonight I am encouraged.

I do not like the political strife in the atmosphere these days, but seeing people galvanized to take part in our democracy makes me very happy.

I think this is an election that will be felt for generations to come.

#girlpower

I Voted

I’m not gonna lie, Election Day is one of my favorite days. I get to vote!

One of the first things I did when I turned 18 was to go with my dad to the Election Board to register. It has always been a big deal for me.

I feel grateful to live in a country where I have a say in the government.

Not all of my female ancestors had this privilege. There are so many who came before me that didn’t see the realization of their dreams to have a voice in our government. I owe it to them to take advantage of my vote.

As the wife of a veteran, I recognize there are men and women at this very moment fighting for the right of others to have a say in how their countries are run. And, there are those who will never have the opportunity to make their voice heard. I owe it to them to not take this responsibility for granted.

Now, I’m not blind or crazy. I know these are politically charged times. I voted in enough elections now to know that my candidate doesn’t always win. And, you know what? That’s okay. It doesn’t make my vote any less valuable or important. I don’t believe the intent of our Constitution is for us to get our way all the time. In fact, I think it’s the opposite. I think we are suppose to have people from all walks of life with all different opinions to create legislation that works for everyone and to get there it takes compromise.

It takes working together.

It’s not a perfect system and certainly many of our current congresspeople don’t see it the way I do, but I believe we can keep moving forward and working together, but it really only works if we vote for the things we believe in.

One more thing: I posted this picture on Facebook with the caption, “I voted! God Bless America!”

It was the first time I wondered if by putting “God Bless America” in my status if people would assume I voted a certain way. I live in a mostly Republican state. I’m a Christian. I live in the middle of country, one of the “flyover” states. I would encourage you not to judge a book by it’s cover. I don’t think you can assume how anyone votes unless they tell you. Don’t assume or get mad at anyone over their vote or what you think their vote is for. The truth is I voted for Republicans, Democrats, and Independents. Like I said, I think we all need to work together.

We are the people in “We, the People.” God Bless America.

 

Let’s Talk About Imposter Syndrome

One of the hats I wear as virtual assistant in managing the forum for the 12 x 12 Picture Book Writing Challenge. There are over 1,000 members which makes it a job I definitely can’t do on my own. Lucky me, I have a team of “elves” to help guide our members. One of my elves contacted me unsure if we wanted to keep her on next year. She said all the other elves have more experience, have agents, and/or are published writers. She thought maybe we should find someone more seasoned and established in the picture book industry.

She said she felt like an imposter.

You know what I said to her?

PSHAWWW!

Okay, no, I didn’t really say “pshaww” but now I kinda wish I did. This elf is one of the most responsive people on the forum. If she doesn’t know an answer to something, she seeks out people who do know the answer. She’s encouraging and thoughtful in her detailed responses. The very things she thought made her an imposter are the things are that make her a good elf.

Here’s the thing: You don’t have to be an expert or the most experienced person in the room to be helpful.

Seriously. You know what happened when my elf had to go and find someone to help her answer a question? She learned something. Now she’s able to take that knowledge and help the next person. Of course, I want her to be an elf for me next year. I know she’s knows more now than when she started and I know she’s willing to find answers she doesn’t know off the top of head. Employers kill for that kind of employee.

Here’s Secret #1: Not all of our elves are agented or published. Many of them are now, but when they started elfing for us (yes, it’s verb), most, if not all, of them were NOT agented or published. They had their own areas of expertise but mostly they had a willingness to help other writers make their way through the writing journey.

Here’s Secret #2: When I started with this group, I knew precious little about the picture book industry. I kept my comments strictly to membership questions and tech help. I directed craft and industry questions to people I knew who could answer them. I’m not a picture book writer, but working with this amazing group, watching these writers go through every stage of the writing rollercoaster, and paying attention to our monthly webinars has given me a breadth of knowledge I can share with others. There are still questions I direct to other people more knowledgeable people, but really I think it’s strength to say, “I don’t have the best answer, but let’s find someone who does.”

So, if you’re a feeling like a bit of an imposter, stop. JUST STOP.

Think of yourself as a student. It doesn’t matter what field you’re in. By definition, there can only be one “best” at it. So, if you’re not the best (and odds are you’re not), then accept you have more to learn (you do) and get on with it.

If you let Imposter Syndrome stop you, it may be stopping you from completing the thing you were put here on earth do.

Guess I Was Suppose to Hear This Today

So, in Sunday School we’re beginning to study Hebrews. This pleases me because Hebrews is probably my favorite book of the Bible. It’s full of uplifting and encouraging passages to inspire you, but also challenges you to be a better Christian even when you can’t (and probably won’t) see the fruits of your labor.

Hebrews was also the topic of the sermon in church today, so apparently God wanted to make sure I was paying attention to it. Here’s the verse from today’s sermon:

Hebrews 12:1-3

1Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”

The verse came up today because it is the Sunday we celebrate All Saints Day and remember those who have passed on, specifically those passed away in the last year. During prayer people said the names of loved ones they lost this year. It’s beautiful and touching and heartbreaking all at the same time. These people are our “great cloud of witnesses.”

Now, once you start thinking about people who have passed this last year, you can’t really stop there. Pastor Scott talked about how we are the legacy of the people who showed us their faith and introduced Jesus to us. In turn, the people we share our witness with will be our legacy. So, I started thinking back to those who encouraged me and taught me that are no longer with us. Here are just a few:

Betty Vyse – Betty was the Sunday School Superintendent at our church when I was little. She was a force of nature! To my little eye, she ran Sunday School with so much organization and she was fun! I’m pretty sure it was her who taught me “The B-I-B-L-E” song and the little ditty I still sing when I’m trying to remember the books of the New Testament.

Ruth Rawdin – She was one of our upper elementary grade Sunday School teachers. You felt grown up when you got to her class. At that time, boys and girls had a separate classes and I loved being in that room full of girls. We also got a PIX comic/handout each week and I couldn’t wait to go home and read it.

Era Preston – Another force of nature! She loved God and was one of the strongest women I’ve ever known. She was the epitome of a servant leader. She could preach a sermon and then serve 12 for dinner like it was nothing. She held our church together during some very rough times and she looked good doing it. She was one of the first women I heard address domestic abuse and say that no woman should be treated that way and that if you were in a relationship like that to get out.

Jan Holbrook – Jan was our 6th grade Sunday School teacher and the mother of one of my best friends growing up. (Hi Holly!) She would tackle subjects at our request. (Ever try teaching Revelation to sixth graders?) And, she always made me feel at home when I was with their family. A wonderful example of unconditional love.

This is very short list (and doesn’t even include my family) but these were some of the women who came to mind today as I was in prayer. I thank God for them (and all the ones not named) and know I wouldn’t be where I am today with their influence and their tireless efforts.

We’re told that we’re never alone—that Christ is with us always. Thinking about coupling that closeness with Christ and the great cloud of witnesses lifting me up and encouraging me brought me a real sense of comfort and peace today. I hope it brings you comfort and peace too.

Peace be with you!

 

GoodReads Choice Awards 2018

GoodReads Choice Awards 2018

Ooh! It’s that time again! Time to vote on your favorite books of the year:

Not only is it fun to vote, it’s great way to find some new books you didn’t even know were out there. I work with lots of children’s book authors, so I’m especially happy to see someone I know on the list this year!

The Miscalculations of Lightning Girl by Stacy McAnultyCongrats, Stacy McAnulty! I know Stacy through 12 x 12 which is a challenge for picture book writers to write 12 picture book drafts in 12 months, but clearly Stacy is also killing it as middle grade writer. I know how hard she works on her craft, so it’s wonderful to see that effort recognized and appreciated.

Looking at these lists reminds that I don’t have nearly enough time to read all the books I want to read.

Which books will you vote for?

 

 

 

BA Football Undefeated! District Champs!

BA Football Undefeated! District Champs!

Well, it was easy to find something to write about today. Last night my son’s football team has a record setting night!

First undefeated season in school history!

Highest scoring game in school history!

District champs!

It’s been fun to be a part of this season as a parent and seeing these players work hard and grow. It’s been a huge season of growth for Ethan as he’s learned a new position and figured out how to navigate high school football as a sophomore. It’s not easy being one of the young guys on a big team. There’s not a lot of recognition or playing time. But, I’m proud of E for sticking with it and working hard. I know he will see success in the years to come and it’s my hope that he can relish this victorious season.

On to the playoffs!

 

 

NaNoWriMo…Sort of

NaNoWriMo…Sort of

It’s the first of November. For writers around the world, it’s the beginning of a big month: National Novel Writing Month. These writers commit to writing 50,000 words in one month which is essentially the first draft of a novel. While I’m not yet convinced I have a novel brewing inside of me, I do know that I like to write. I also know that I have been sorely lacking in the creative department over the last several years.

So I’m going to write a blog post a day in November. Some will be longer than others. Some will be about things going on currently. Some will be about personal history. For years now, I’ve been wanting to use this little book, Instant Interviews by Melody Ross, to get some stories down. (I can’t even find the book in print anymore and the company who originally published it is out of business, so, yeah, I’ve been thinking about this for years.) Some posts may just be about being grateful since we have a whole month of gratefulness here in the U.S.

As a virtual assistant/project manager, I spend a lot of time writing for other people and in the “voice” of that particular organization. So it will be fun to a little more free and write maybe without so much pressure…maybe.

I just know I have some things/thoughts/theories to get out of me and I’m ready to begin.

2017 – What a Year!

Some years are better than others. That is a fact. While this was a tumultuous year for the world collectively, oddly enough, it was one of the better ones for our little clan. (And, we’ve had our share of not-so-good years.) With more wins than losses this year, it seemed fitting to write down the good stuff while it’s (semi) fresh in my head.

1st Major Parenting Goal Accomplished: Our first kid graduated from high school!

The old cliche is true. While the days are most definitely long, the years are most definitely short. From the time the new year dawned, everything just barreled toward graduation with a speed I was not prepared for. There were tears and one big ugly-cry, but when he walked across that stage the feeling of overwhelming pride was like no other. We did it! We got him through school. We got him to age 18. We raised a human being. We’re putting a fine young man out into the world. I couldn’t be more proud.

2nd Major Parenting Goal Accomplished: Our first kid went to college!

While it seems like this should go hand-in-hand with the first one, I’m keenly aware this isn’t always the case. There are a lot of distractions and certainly other viable paths to take after completing 14 years of education (preschool – 12th grade). I’m proud Chet set his sights on college and stuck to that decision. It took a lot of effort but he did it! Now he’s a freshman at the University of Oklahoma! (Boomer Sooner, Baby!) This is something I dreamed about when he was born. To see it happening right in front of my eyes was so strange and satisfying. This kid was built for college life and is knocking it out of the park! He is a member of the AF-ROTC and is heading out this week on a mission trip with the OU Wesley Foundation. Watching him find his path is the most gratifying feeling of parenthood so far.

 

Parenting Dream Fulfilled: We have a football player!

There are goals and then there are dreams. When we had two little boys, I think both my husband and I assumed we would be spending every minute of free time at sports games and practices, and certainly we would have a football player since my husband played and his dad before him played. The boys tried a bunch of different things but nothing really stuck. Then, Coach Morgan happened. It was his 8th grade P.E. coach that suggested Ethan go out for the football. (Some things require independent 3rd party verification in our house.) So he did. He went to summer conditioning and played the full Freshman Football season on special teams and as a safety. They even beat their sworn rivals—TWICE! Now this kid eats, sleeps, and breathes football. “Is there a football game on today, Mom?” is a common question every morning now and when he’s not watching it, he’s playing it on his phone or Xbox. The video games and apps have actually helped him learn the plays and positions. So cool. While we would have been fine with whatever extracurricular activity Ethan chose, we are loving being football parents!

Major Job Promotion: I’m the Project Manager for Picture Book Summit!

This was a late-in-the-year development, but a huge one nonetheless. I’ve been working the founders of Picture Book Summit since the online conference started in 2015. I’m the executor (not like that!). I’ve been the one doing the behind-the-scenes tasks and taking care of customer service for the last three years. I love working with this team and our project manager Kristin. At the end of this year, Kristin was offered an opportunity to pursue her writing career she just couldn’t pass up. After she left, the team offered me the promotion to Project Manager! How awesome to have my hard work recognized. Grateful doesn’t begin to describe what this means to me.

Major Goal Accomplished I Had Nothing To Do With: My parents celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary!

How amazing is that? Fifty years with the same person. That’s an accomplishment. And, they still love each other! That’s an even bigger accomplishment. They still love doing things together (and still love some time apart too). We are so lucky to have them as our role models for how to navigate this life AND enjoy it at the same time. For their anniversary in July, ALL our family went to Hilton Head, South Carolina, for a week. Their best friends came with us and helped perform their vow renewal ceremony. Such a wonderful week!

Number of New States I Visited This Year: 9

We drove to the festivities in South Carolina and took a different route back so I visited these states for the first time:

  • Mississippi
  • Alabama
  • Georgia
  • South Carolina
  • North Carolina
  • Kentucky
  • Tennessee

Took a business trip in September and went to:

  • Connecticut
  • New York!

Yes! I got to visit New York City for the first time. My friend and unflappable tour guide, Katie, made it a trip to remember. I stood at the top of the Empire State Building. Rode the subway. Got lost on the subway. Saw Grand Central Station. Rode the Staten Island Ferry. Sailed by the Statue of Liberty. Had a drink at a cool bar in Central Park West. Walked through Central Park and glimpsed Times Square on our way out of town. To see all these sights from TV in real life was nothing short of amazing!

Other cool things that happened this year:

  • Watched our friends march with The Pride of Broken Arrow in Tournament of Roses Parade
  • Ethan competed in his first robotics meet. (He completely downplayed this but it was the coolest thing to watch!)
  • Chet and Ethan both got jobs working for Say It with Beef! Job title: Carniflorist – They make roses out of beef jerky. Seriously.
  • I learned to crochet!
  • Chet and Ethan went to New Orleans!
  • I filled in for the pastor and gave the message three times at church this year!
  • Met The Outsiders author S.E. Hinton at a 50th anniversary book signing event.
  • Big Chet drove an Audi R8 at 150 mph.
  • We got a new (to us) car!
  • Took my mom to a book signing with one of her favorite authors, Sandra Brown.
  • We had all the grandparents and aunts here for Chet’s graduation. Not sure the last time we were all in the same place at the same time.

Whew! No wonder I’m tired! As I said, not all years are like this, but I’m thankful during the tough times, there are good times to remember and look forward to.

Wishing you a wonderful 2018!

 

Big Little Lies

Big Little LiesBig Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was a great read! I’m not too far removed from the elementary school PTA crowd and I felt like I knew these characters. The sarcasm and humor were right up my alley with a mystery that had me intrigued. Liane Moriarty perfectly captured how the way people present themselves in public can be very far removed from the lives they are leading in private. Highly recommended.

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