NovelSisters

watching, reading, and writing stories

A Day Off

Happy Labor Day! Sorry it’s been over a month since my last blog post. I’ve realized how hard it is to do things when you are working a full time job. For all of my life up to this point I had been working part time, and I could do a lot of extra things with my time because I wasn’t working. And now, even though I’d still like to do some of those things, they just are harder to do with less time to work with. So since it’s a Holiday and I am not working today, I thought I’d write a blog post.

It’s easy to get into the grass is always greener on the other side syndrome. When you work part time, you wish you had a full time job, when you aren’t married, you wish you were, when you’re bored and have nothing to do, you wish something would happen, when you’re running around like crazy, you wish you had a day off and some time to relax.

But it’s important to be thankful. To stop and appreciate what you do have. You may be very busy with lots of work and responsibilities, but it also means you have a job and that what you do matters to a lot of people, and that’s a blessing.

Or maybe you don’t have a job and you really want one, but in that place of not having a job, you have a lot of free time that you can use to invest in people, to volunteer, to help others.

You can always find something to be thankful for, even if life is hard. You just have to look for it. So here are some of the things I am thankful for today.

-Rest. God intended us to have a day of rest once a week and I am so thankful for my days off. They allow me to refocus, refresh and allow me to spend time with the people I love.

-Friends. I am so blessed to have so many close friends, whether they live in other cities, states, or in my own neighborhood, I have so many people that love me, care about me, encourage me and will be with me through all the ups and downs of life.

-A Job. Even though it can be hard sometimes, I am so thankful that my job allows me to bless so many people, to be a part of what God is doing in this city and state and that I can join in His work. I know most people don’t dream of a job of answering phones and emails and organizing supplies and placing orders, but I love it, because it’s needed and a big part of a ministry that changes people’s lives and reveals God’s glory.

-A place to live. It may not be perfect, some things could be fixed up or upgraded, but I have water, food, a bed, and people I live with that I love and care about.

There are so many more things I could write about that I am thankful for, but with the fall upon us, I may want to spread them out for some posts leading up to Thanksgiving. In any case, I hope this post reminds you to be thankful, to enjoy the little things God has blessed you with, like a day off, or a cold drink, or a beautiful sunset.

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A Texas Hoedown in London

I’ve been so busy with work that I haven’t had much time to blog or tell stories from my trip to London. But I finally had a free Saturday, so I thought I’d write about one of the cool things our church group got to do.

On our 2nd Friday in London (the first one was when we were still jet-lagged and trying to stay awake) we hosted a Texas Hoedown for the community at the church. It was funny to me that we called it a Hoedown because I can’t say I’ve ever been to a Texas Hoedown myself. I live in the city and although I’ve been to plenty of Barbecues, Rodeos, Concerts, and Dances, I don’t think I can say I’ve been to a Hoedown.

But we gave it our best shot and tried to include anything Texan we could for the community to experience and enjoy. We had BBQ (though it was just burgers and hot dogs not brisket and ribs like I usually think of for BBQ), sweet iced tea, country western line dancing, and a mechanical bull ride. Lots of people came and I enjoyed seeing our students running booths, serving food and interacting with people.

I helped with a yard game called “Hillbilly Golf” or “Ladder Golf.” Several kids came over and wanted to try throwing the golf balls on a rope. I showed them how to swing it and let it go at the right time so it would spin and could wrap around the poles. A few kids got a bit too enthusiastic and threw the balls over the fence or into the tree, but we laughed it off and got some older men to help us figure out a way to get them down.

I especially enjoyed seeing people learn line dances like Boot Scoot Boogie and Copperhead Road. It can be a bit intimidating to try something new, but our team member Joy did a great job of including people and encouraging them to try out the dances.

So many people were laughing and having fun, and some of them had never been to the church before. Relationships were built, and one lady, Eileen, told me how thankful she was for this church and how it’s changed their community. It has provided a place for kids to have fun in a safe place and bring people together.

I learned a lot about how God’s church should be open and welcoming to all kinds of people through this trip. And that He really does want us to connect with our communities, not just become a click that stays separate from everyone else.

Here’s a few pictures from the Hoedown! I hope they inspires you to reach out to people in your community and get to know someone who is different from you.


I hope all y’all have a great weekend!

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The Incredibles 2

I’ve been looking forward to this movie for a long time. I just re-watched the first movie and boy is it good. There are so many subtle references to our own culture and the little things families face everyday, and there are so many laugh-out-loud moments and amazing quotes that I still use today like Dash saying “I love our family” or Edna telling Elastigirl to “Pull yourself together!” or Frozen arguing with his wife about his Supersuit.

So boy was I excited to walk into the theater and finally watch the sequel. I love the little shorts they play before every Pixar movie and this one was good too, it made me cry and was so sweet. And then the Incredibles started, picking up right where we’d left off in the first movie with our super family fighting the Underminer. It was full of great action and comedy. I loved seeing the family having to work together and so eager to help each other.

I don’t want to give away the entire plot, but I can say that this movie was very enjoyable to watch. I especially liked seeing how the family had to adjust to Jack Jack’s new powers and Edna Mode’s reappearance. I also really appreciated the struggle the Parr family went through of trying to do what they know is right while still respecting the authorities that deemed their actions illegal. It’s been something that society and the church has had to deal with over and over. How to submit to authority but still influence culture for good? When to obey and when to stand up and say this is wrong? It’s something we’ve been discussing in my church recently and one of the things my pastor said was that Christians should be the best citizens and work with the government and help them with their God-given responsibility, so that if there’s ever a time when Christians have to go against what the government is doing, it’s seen as abnormal.

Anyway, back to the movie. One of the sweetest moments was seeing Bob Parr trying to connect with his daughter and apologize for his mistakes. It was a good reminder that no one is a perfect parent and admitting your faults can go a long way towards forgiveness and closeness in relationships.

It was a little easy to see the plot twist coming in this movie, but it was still a lot of fun to watch and I would gladly see it again.

I probably won’t get to write another blog for awhile. I’m heading to London with my church this week. I’m excited to get to share what God does when I get back but that won’t be till July. So until then, I hope y’all have a good summer and maybe get a chance to see The Incredibles 2.

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Approval

As I was spending some time with Jesus this morning, I realized that I have an idol in my heart. And it’s easy to think it’s not a bad idol, everyone needs it. But that’s the thing about idols. Often times they are good things, but we take them too far, we put them up on a pedestal, and think if I only had that, then everything would be great. Or if it gets taken away, we are crushed. I actually read a great book about this years ago, called “Counterfeit Gods” by Timothy Keller. It’s a great way to help recognize the idols in your own life.

Anyway, back to this morning. I was thinking about a time recently when my feelings had gotten hurt. And I was trying to figure out why it hurt so much. I felt like usually things don’t bother me and I wanted to know why this did. The more I thought about it, I realized what I really crave is other’s approval. Whether it was in school and I tried to do everything right to do well in a class, or at work trying to finish all my assignments well, or even with friends trying to be available and ready to meet their needs. In all of these situations I wanted to be liked, to be approved of. I love getting sweet notes of encouragement or thank yous. Though I don’t want it to be in front of a lot of people. I’d rather it be personal than put on display for others.

But at the end of the day, what I really want is people to like me, to approve of me. And this, like many idols, is a good thing. I think wanting other’s approval is pretty normal for most humans. And in some ways it helps us think about others not just ourselves and be aware of how we treat others. But it can be taken too far. You can do too much, just trying to get people to like you, and you can be crushed when someone just doesn’t like you.

So after some prayer with Jesus, I think I have an idol in this area that He needs to help me overcome. Because ultimately, I should not be seeking other’s approval. I should not be ruled by ‘what will they think of me.’ Instead I should seek to live God’s way, and please Him, even if other people don’t approve. I should find that need for approval filled by Jesus, who loved me and gave Himself for me and doesn’t expect me to earn His favor.

So anyway, that’s what I’ve been learning today and thought I’d share.

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Life Changes

So a lot has happened since my last post and I have a feeling I won’t be posting as frequently in the future. On May 10th, I left my house to go to an interview for a new job with a ministry that my dad has been involved with for years. They were wanting to hire a new administrative assistant and it sounded like a good fit for me, so I went to talk with them about working there.

When I drove back to the house, I saw several other cars besides our family’s at the house. I wondered if something had happened. I walked inside and found my parents and sister praying with a family friend and our hospice nurse filling out paperwork at the kitchen table. My mom told me my grandma had passed away around 10:15 am, right as I had gotten to my interview, but she had wanted me to go ahead and do the interview, so she hadn’t called me.

I hadn’t necessarily wanted to be there when my grandma passed away, so I wasn’t upset. And in some ways there was a joyful atmosphere in our home. We were glad that my grandma was home with Jesus. And my mom pointed out that an encouraging song had started playing right as she passed that reminded her that everything would be alright. And she also told me that is was exactly 40 days after Easter, or ‘Ascension Day’ when Jesus returned to heaven after His Resurrection. So it seemed appropriate that my grandma would go home on the same day.

When relatives came later, we cried some. And at her funeral and burial this past weekend there were tears shed. But overall, I’ve felt God’s peace and presence throughout these past couple weeks. And I’ve seen how perfect His timing has been.

I’ve known for awhile that my part time jobs of helping my family would be temporary. My dad is planning on retiring at the end of this year and with my grandma passing, I won’t have my job of taking care of her either. So at just the right time, God opened up this opportunity to serve in a ministry.

I’ve always thought an office job would suit me well and I’m especially excited that it is connected with a ministry that I’ve known about for years and that I know the staff personally. It’ll be good working in that kind of environment, and be a way that I can serve God and His kingdom, but also provide for myself financially.

So last Thursday May 24th I officially said yes to a new full time job as an administrative assistant for the God of Hope Ministries.

I’m just so thankful for God being with me through all these changes and that He has the best plan for my life.

On that note, because this is a full time job, and I have already started training for it, I won’t have as much free time for writing blog posts or novels. So I will still try to write posts occasionally. But I’m not as determined to write a blog post every single week. And my next novel is not as high on my to do list as it once was. I would still like to finish my 3rd novel in the Finding Home Series, but it will probably take longer. I’ll post updates on it as I get closer to publishing.

Thanks for reading and I hope you have a wonderful Memorial Day Weekend!

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Granny

Today, as my grandma gets closer and closer to passing on, I’ve decided to write about her. Maybe I’ll be able to work out a poem or something in her honor eventually, but for now I’ll share this:

We share a middle name and have a similar height and facial structure. I found an old photo of her when she was young and we look so similar. She liked to garden, go polka dancing, and play Dominoes. In her later years she was quite fond of puzzles and made one with African animals probably a hundred times.

She also had a sweet tooth and would eagerly eat anything with chocolate and peanut butter. We’ve made her chocolate peanut butter shakes for the past few years, and she would almost always ask for more.

She was very supportive, always ready to help when we got in a pickle or needed some cash, or when my parents needed a babysitter or wanted to borrow her big van for family road trips. She loved to give us gifts, and support us on mission trips, or encourage us to travel.

She did a lot of traveling herself. I’m told she went to Alaska twice, Europe, New York City, and Colorado. I remember flying to Hawaii with her. She was so excited to go with us and see the beautiful scenery and wear a lei.

I don’t remember her watching TV very much, if she joined others to watch something, she would often fell asleep. But I do remember going to an actual movie theater with her to watch The Adventures of Tintin and she just loved seeing the little white dog barking and running around.

She owned doxins or dachshunds and cats and I’m pretty sure some other animals at different points in her life.

And she was always very welcoming of new family members. Whenever someone got married, she made the new in-law feel part of the family. I know my dad would call her mom, even though she was my mom’s mom. And I think it’s a trait she’s passed on to the rest of her family. When my younger brother married, his wife was welcomed in as part of the family, free to call my parents mom and dad.

More recently, my grandma told me that her grandma only spoke German, and she had to speak German to talk to her. She would often recite the first 10 numbers in German to herself and tell us ‘good morning’ or ‘tastes good’ in German. I’ve actually started trying to learn some German now, partially because of my Grandma’s heritage and influence.

Even though she wanted to be called Granny, she accepted other names from her grand kids, particularly Nana.

She also had a great sense of humor. When we’d ask her how she was feeling, she’d hold up her hands and say “With my fingers.”

I’m going to miss her when she leaves us. I know it’ll be sad and hard. But I’m also a bit excited for her. Soon she’ll get to be with Jesus, and see all the people who’ve gone before her and are waiting to welcome her to her home in heaven.

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Death is not the end

Hopefully I’m not ruining the new Avengers movie for anyone, but if you haven’t seen it and don’t want any spoilers, maybe you should wait to read this blog post, although I won’t give anything too specific away.

This last week has brought a lot of change for me and a lot of interaction with death and it’s nearness. Last week my grandma started getting hospice treatment. She started with still doing her normal routine of coming to the kitchen for breakfast, lunch and dinner. But she soon had a harder time walking to and from her room and then last Sunday we had her moved into a hospital bed and our nurse said she’s not leaving the bed. That was a big change for me. I didn’t realize how fast this was going to go. I knew she had liver cancer and she was slowing down and eating less, but going from walking to bedridden was a big step and seemed to happen too fast.

Since then we’ve learned all about caring for her while she’s in a bed, how to help her sit up and move around and get changed. And hospice has been great with helping us through that. But in only a week I’ve seen her go from a bit of conversation, eating, drinking and even playing dominoes, to barely responding to our voices and mostly sleeping. We’re getting close to the end now. Last night our nurse came to check on her and she said it’ll be about a week.

I’ve done a lot of crying, especially when all her kids and grandkids gathered to sing, pray and share stories with each other and her on Saturday. It’s hard to let go, but I know she’s going to a better place and this is not the end.

And well, in the middle of all this I saw Infinity War. In the movie a lot of characters die, but the first time I watched the movie I didn’t cry at all. It’s like I just knew this isn’t the end and there is hope, partially because there is a part 2 to this movie and the next one will probably have a lot or all of the characters come back to life.

But I just found it interesting that with the movie and my grandma I can still find hope even in the midst of the death. It is sad and I don’t want to say goodbye. But for those in Christ, we have a sure hope that there is a Part 2 for us too, that there is a future for us, one without pain or suffering, or death. I also was finishing reading Revelation this past week and it was so nice to read about the new heaven and new earth and what all I have to look forward to.

So in case anyone else out there is going through something similar. Here are two verses that are bringing me comfort.

“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” Revelation 21:4

“And I heard a voice from heaven saying, ‘Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.’ ‘Blessed indeed,’ says the Spirit, ‘that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them!'” Revelation 14:13

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One Step at a Time

This past week has been hard. Little by little my family has discovered what’s going on with my grandma. It started last Tuesday, right after my last post. I started noticing that my grandma was looking yellow. My mom thought it could be jaundice and told my grandma’s doctor. He quickly ordered a blood test and then we had to wait for the results.

The next day we got the results, my grandma was definitely jaundice and the doctor guessed it was from liver cancer. But he said we could run another type of scan to make sure it wasn’t something else. She got the scan Friday and we again had to wait for results. Meanwhile, my grandma’s 87th birthday was on Saturday and since it was highly likely this would be her last birthday, we went all out. Relatives came in from out of town, we had cake, pie, brisket, and huge balloons. I think my grandma enjoyed it, and I’m glad she hasn’t been in any pain.

Then Monday, while I was taking my mom to her eye appointment, she got the call from the doctor. He said the scan did show a growing mass on my grandma’s liver and at her age he wouldn’t recommend surgery or other cancer fighting options.

So now we’re looking into Hospice and that whole thing. It’s been weird trying to process all of this. Like part of me is just like everything’s normal and I go about my life and work routines. And in a sense I’ve actually been preparing for this for a long time. Ever since my grandma came to live with us, I’ve seen her slow decline in health; her slowing down, sleeping more, having less of an appetite, forgetting the day or time, or even people.

But having a doctor give us an actual diagnosis and timeline is different, it makes it more real, more important to spend time with her while she’s here. And some days I cry, but I know this happens to everyone eventually and that God will be with us through this too.

So anyway, I’m just taking this one step at a time. But I’d appreciate prayers for my grandma and family.

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Ready Player One

This past weekend I got to see Ready Player One in theaters. I haven’t read the book and all I knew about the story was what I’d seen from the previews: There’s this future world where everyone hangs out online in this virtual world, for work and pleasure. The person who created the virtual world, called the Oasis has died and left a treasure hunt in the world so that whoever follows the clues and finds the Easter Egg first wins control of the whole game.

If you’re interested, here’s a preview:

It was an intriguing set up and I was excited to see how the movie would play out. I really enjoyed seeing all of the visual effects and the references to pop culture, though I’m sure I missed half of them. I also really enjoyed the characters and how their online avatars were similar to their real selves, but often different in surprising ways. And the plot was very engaging and had plenty of twists and turns that were fun to watch.

The movie made me think about how much of our current world is tied to the internet and being online and how a virtual world like the one in the movie doesn’t seem too far from the future. But the movie gave a great message of remembering the importance of reality, and that even though the online world is fun or exciting, real life and real human interaction is important too.

So I would recommend this movie, it has a lot of action, some comedy, and sometimes the sense of a mystery or heist movie as well. It was very enjoyable to watch, except for the Shining portion of the film. I just don’t like horror films, so that part was a little too creepy for me. But the rest of it was really fun and interesting. And even if you’ve already seen it, it seems like the kind of movie you could watch again and again, just to find more of the less obvious references spread throughout the film.

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The Bird on the Wire

Have you ever seen a bird on a telephone wire? I’m sure you have, it’s so common that I often don’t notice it. But today I did. It’s windy today and as I watched, the bird swayed with the wind, buffeted back and forth, sometimes I was surprised he still hung on. I found myself thinking, “Just let go, just fly. It’s what you were made to do.”

But still the bird clung to the wire. And suddenly I saw myself as that bird. I cling to what’s comfortable, holding on to my little piece of wire. Then when the winds come, and life gets hard, when I feel like God is giving me more than I can handle, do I let go and trust Him? Or do I hold more stubbornly to what I want, what I think I need, what’s comfortable? Because when I do let go, I find I can fly. I have a faith that can move mountains, a hope that soars, a joy that can laugh at adversity. But I never experience that thrill if I don’t first let go of what I think will make me happy and trust that God really does have what’s best.

This past week my pastor said we don’t see how great faith is, until we’re in the storm. And as I look back on my life, I can see it’s true. When life is rolling along, everything fairly manageable, my faith doesn’t seem as important. Sometimes I forget it’s actually needed. But when those storms come, when the relative gets cancer, or the friend’s marriage is falling apart, or you lose your job, that’s when faith shows it’s strength. There’s a certain peace, or confidence God gives His children in the midst of suffering that you don’t experience until you’re in those moments. And even though it’s still hard, it’s also really good. The closest to God I’ve felt, has happened when I’m going through a hardship.

So that’s what God has been teaching me today; that He designed me to know Him, to trust Him, to love Him and that I’ll be happiest when I let go of all the other stuff, and choose to love and trust Him. Even if it takes a storm for me to do it, it’s worth it. because knowing Him is worth everything.

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