Summer clothes are so easy. Even something as simple as a black tank and jean shorts looks fabulous.
It’s that time of year. I’m switching out everything.
First stop, my closet. I’ve packed up my boots and thick sweaters and swapped their spots on my shelves with shorts, sandals and swimsuits. It’s amazing how much less crowded my closet appears—how much lighter and less burdensome my summer clothes look all laid out and feel when they’re on my body. There’s an effortlessness of tossing on a cotton sundress and flip-flops and being ready for the day. There’s a comfort that army shorts and a black tank always look and feel great. If it were warmer in Ohio, I’d dress like this all the time.
Iced coffee with mocha and a little milk is my morning milkshake.
I’ve also given up my morning cup of steaming coffee. Don’t’ worry, it’s not what you think. But in the summer I drink iced coffee with mocha, a little milk, and preferably a green straw. Straws are fun, like a giant sippy cup. And my morning caffeine fix tastes almost like a milkshake for me to savor each morning.
I’ve also traded eating in the kitchen to dining al fresco. Even what I eat transitions in the summer from soups and pastas to salads and grilled shrimp. I am more relaxed on my screened in porch. Woodpeckers lightly tap our trees, searching for their dinner. The warmth of summer seeps into my skin. Last night we got a typical summer evening thunderstorm. The cadence of raindrops on the porch roof lulled my soul. And with a table laden with tomatoes and corn on the cob, alongside wedges of watermelon all from the farmer’s market down the road, my taste buds wake up from their winter slumber.
Fresh watermelon from the farmer's market wakes up my taste buds in the summer.
As I look around my house, my life, and make modifications for summer, I wonder what else I need to trade out. What’s weighing me down? What’s slowing me, crowding me, stifling me? What do I need to say “no” to or get going on? Is there anything I need to change, maybe just for a season? Do I need to wake up earlier or sleep in more often? Is there something in my work out routine that could use a boost – a new playlist? A different trail to run? How about in my family life? Is there someone I need to spend more time with? More quality time?
And in my faith walk? Where does God want me to go this summer? How does He want me to allocate my time, set my priorities? What does He want me to learn? I’ll need to spend some time chatting with Him about that, and then I’ll get back to you.
In the meantime, what changes do you make when the temperatures rise?
Swimming Through Clouds by Rajdeep Paulus
By now, you've heard about the exciting writing adventure I've been recently involved in, an entire line of fresh Young Adult titles filled with grief, love, addiction, romance and friendship. The most amazing part for me, is are the amazing friendships I've forged with the other Playlist Fiction authors through the start-up process. The latest title with Playlist Fiction is by debut novelist Rajdeep Paulus. It's been a blast getting to know Rajdeep. We've shared everything from intimate stories from our pasts to our favorite brew of coffee--mine dark roast with a shot of chocolate, hers a sugar-free latte
. Another perk of working in conjunction with the other Playlist authors, Laura Kurk, Jennifer Murgia and Stephanie Morrill is that I've gotten advanced reader copies of all of their latest novels. My most recent read, the first on my summer reading list, was Swimming Through Clouds.Swimming Through Clouds by Rajdeep Paulus is a story of the deepest, darkest pain—the kind we’re too scared to share with anyone—all locked in one high school girl’s heart.
Talia is a senior in high school. She and her brother, Jesse, know something no one else knows. They endure terror no one was meant to experience. They feel as if they are drowning.
And then a stranger reaches into their pool of fear by means of a sticky note. Cool, laid back, Lagan, holds friendship and acceptance out to Talia like a lifeguard extends a life vest. Talia must decide if she has the strength and courage to grab it, or if the consequences would be too grave.
A heavy story revealing shards of hope from the tender love of Jesus (referred to as The Gardener), Swimming Through Clouds keeps you fearing for and cheering for Talia, Lagan and Jesse all the way through to the final scene.
Playlist Fiction Author, Rajdeep Paulus
Rajdeep decided to be a writer during her junior year in high school after her English teacher gave her an “F” but told her she had potential. She studied English Literature at Northwestern University, and writes masala-marinated, Young Adult Fiction.
When Paulus is not tapping on her Mac, you can find her dancing with her four princesses, kayaking with her hubs, coaching basketball or eating dark chocolate. Find out more about Rajdeep, Swimming Through Clouds and Playlist Fiction on our website www.playlistfiction.com
What are you reading this summer?
Perfect Glass by Laura Anderson Kurk, a sequel to Glass Girl
Today I'm talking with Laura Anderson Kurk
. If you know me, then you probably know by now, she and I are kindred writing spirits. Although she lives in Texas, and I live in Ohio, there are times when I grab my phone and start dialing before I've even thought about it, because I NEED to talk to her. And almost daily there are instances, when my fingers fly across my keyboard consulting, celebrating and commiserating with her over "writing stuff". Tomorrow she releases Perfect Glass,
the sequel to her novel, Glass Girl.
You will fall in love with it! Today we discuss how Perfect Glass
came to be, so tomorrow you'll be ready to dive into a book that will absolutely absorb you.
You write Perfect Glass from two point of views, Henry and Meg. Was this difficult?
When I first wrote Perfect Glass, the entire story was from Henry's POV. I loved it. My agent and editor didn't. They felt the book would be enjoyed by more readers if I added Meg's voice. That's why you'll find the switching narration. And now that the book is done, I see how much stronger it is to have both points of view. Both stories show the development in Meg and Henry and allow readers to see Meg through Henry's eyes and to see Henry through Meg's eyes. Getting to write Henry's words as he describes Meg's beauty and how much he loves her, was my favorite part of writing this book.
Readers wonder if writing from multiple POVs is difficult. The difficulty (as you know) is in making sure you're staying true to each character's voice and tone. Readers are sensitive to the pitch of a narrator's voice and if they sense something off-key, it pulls them out of the story. Making sure I had the voices just right was the trickiest aspect of writing this book.
How did you stay in character?
I wrote Henry's entire story first and lived in his head for a few months. Then when I had it perfect, I wrote Meg's entire story. That way, I didn't have to force myself in and out of character. I think that would've made me crazy. Once I had both stories the way I wanted them, I joined them. Chapter by chapter, I wrote in connecting elements that made the two stories interlocking. The common ground came in the fact that both Meg and Henry are learning what it means to love people who are considered unlovable. They're both learning to put away selfishness and grow up. They're both struggling with ego, but learn a lot about themselves. The novel's epigraph is an old quote (paraphrased) "calamity is the perfect glass in which we can truly see and know ourselves." The calamity Henry and Meg each face becomes the mirror that lets them finally see themselves clearly.
Was one of their voices easier for you to write?
Believe it or not, I'm more comfortable writing Henry. I have a theory about this . . . I think it's because there's more of me in Meg and I've never been great at understanding the nuances of my own personality. Meg -- holy cow. She's just complicated and because she's a lot like me, it was hard for me to see her objectively. That dilemma actually lends a lot of truth to Meg's character, though, so I think she comes off as honest and raw and real. As an observer, I've known so many guys who are like Henry. I've studied them. I know their mannerisms and speech patterns. I know how their brains work and what affects them. So I was able to construct Henry with a really objective eye.
photo by JP Waterhouse Photography
Meg and Henry are dealing with a long distance relationship. While Henry is out of town, a new student, Quinn (who is clearly interested in Meg) arrives. If you were Meg, which boy would you choose and why?
Oh, there's no question my heart would remain with Henry. But...can I be real? I have a weakness for boys who understand literature and poetry and songwriting. Boys who get Whitman and can talk to me about the Harlem Renaissance in easy conversation. In the same way, Quinn is definitely interesting to Meg. He reminds her of the urban, sophisticated kind of guys she knew in Pittsburgh. And he reminds her more importantly, of the brother she lost. She wants Quinn in her life, but she knows Henry is her future. Henry opened a new world up for Meg, and she's head over heels in love with him.
Most high school stories would be incomplete without the school dance, including yours. There is so much hype surrounding homecoming, prom, etc. Do you have a distinct high school dance memory?
Oh my lands. Yes, I do. Dare I dredge it up and share it with your readers? What to do...what to do...
I was a late bloomer. A wallflower. Not noticed by guys. Ever. But for some reason, my junior year, the best looking but most dangerous boy in my class took an interest in me. He would laugh now hearing how I describe him. He was tall, blonde, cocky, and WILD. At least that's my memory. He made me so nervous. I was timid, rail thin, and naive. You know, the girl who'd never been kissed.
He asked me to prom and I almost didn't say yes because I thought I'd die of nerves. My best friend talked me into saying yes. I was nervous the whole night and, when he drove me home, I was so afraid he'd try to kiss me goodnight that I almost threw up in his car. In fact, I had dry heaves sitting in his passenger seat. Loud, dry heaves that went on and on. Is there anyway to recover from that? Nope. You gotta live with that nightmare the rest of your life. No sanctuary from a dry heaving past.
What's your dream prom dress?
I'm not a follower of fashion, to be honest. I like when I see girls who dare to look different because it seems like, these days, every girl is trying to look like the same person. When I see a girl brave enough to look a little indie or alternative, I silently cheer for them in my head. (not out loud because indie types do NOT want to be noticed in that way.) My favorite formal dresses are always very vintage. I dress Meg and her friend, Abby, in vintage dresses for Winter Dance. I just think it's important to look like a class act, because you'll stand out in the sea of too tight, too short, too low cut dresses. And take care that you don't look like you're headed to a pageant, either, with the overdone makeup and stiff hair. Imagine how that looks from a guy's perspective. I think guys probably prefer soft makeup and natural, soft hair. Anything more and you just look plastic.
If I were seventeen and shopping for prom, I'd be looking for a dress like this.
Vintage prom dress.
I love the relationship Meg has with a painter in this story. I understand your mom is a painter. How much of her did you pour into this book?
My mom does paint and she's really good, but it's a hobby for her. So some of Jo Russell's thoughts and attitudes came from my mom, but the deepest and greatest parts of Jo Russell came from one of my best friends--Mara Schasteen
. The book is dedicated to Mara. Our lives intersected in Texas when we were young moms together. I can't begin to tell you how indelible an impression Mara made on my heart and soul. We survived a lot of things together, but more than that, we met each other in a place where we were starved for beauty and art and kindness. We were able to enrich each other in a lot of ways.
Mara is a brilliant painter. I want people to see the world through her eyes. It's a beautiful, wondrous, God-filled place. I describe one of Mara's paintings in Perfect Glass.
Henry dreams that Meg has painted it.
Much of the artistic words and phrases and technical aspects of painting that you find in Perfect Glass
came from Mara. She's the one who described the wet dog smell of a studio full of primed linen canvas. She's the one who once pointed out that everything in the world has just a touch of ultramarine violet in it. It's not that I interviewed her. These are things that came to me from having a relationship with her and knowing her heart and her art. Jo Russell, the artist in Perfect Glass
, is seriously one of my all-time favorite characters I've created. I could live in her world for a long while and never get bored.What have you learned about the art of writing from Mara's and your mom's art?
MOONLIGHT by Mara Schasteen
I've learned all art is the impulse to create. That's an impulse given to all humans by the original Creator. Even Eminem was given the impulse to create by God. He may not realize it or acknowledge it, but that's where he got that desire.
From fine artists, I've learned that beauty is there for the taking and it's everywhere -- even in the things that look ugly at first glance. I've learned inspiration comes in the act of creating.
I've learned writers build stories in exactly the same way fine artists build a painting. If you watch an artist, you think they're crazy when they first start working on a canvas. They're staring at a waterfall and painting random crooked lines. But if you watch a while, it clicks. And you finally see what they've seen in their heads the whole time. Then it builds and builds. Mara says her favorite part of a painting is when she's almost done and she's adding the magic. Suddenly things move and shine and shimmer. Suddenly eyes look alive and faces look warm. Suddenly nature looks energetic like you could walk right into her trees. All this happens with calculated brush strokes.
It's the same with writing. I start with the bones, spare and barely there. Then I build the muscle and fat and skin. Then I add the curves and the meeting places, where parts of story meet like parts of a body meet. And finally I add the magic - the precise rhythm and heart of the story.
The singular words that make a reader stop breathing for a second so she can hear me. That connection right there, between me and a reader, is beautiful and tender. It's a shared experience. Readers don't often realize that they're giving me as much as I'm giving them. Just imagining their thoughts as they read my thoughts blows my mind.
To experience Laura Anderson Kurk
's magic first hand, download Perfect Glass
by clicking on it's title or cover.
Long before Katniss and Peeta, the question has lingered--can boys and girls be friends without romance?When was the first time you asked yourself if men and women can be just friends?
Today's guest post by author, Renee Fisher, dives into this question as she talks about kissing, dating, break ups and her latest book, Loves Me Not
. She first asked herself that question when she was in the seventh grade. She writes:
My friends and I were wasting time in gym talking about more important matters: boys. After listening to my friends, I was horrified to find out that (shocker)--I was the only
girl who hadn’t kissed a boy yet. I instantly felt this pressure I’ve never felt before. Maybe it was just me, or the way I was raised--but I wasn’t quite comfortable with having boy friends. And I certainly wasn’t going to kiss a boy who wasn’t my friend.
Katniss and Peeta
I wonder if I’m the only one who’s ever felt that way.
In a hook-up-or-go-home culture, it’s tough for me to justify skipping the “let’s be friends” part while jumping into a serious relationship. That probably also explains why I was single for so long.
I tell people often that I was single for over a decade until I found my prince. Personally, he was worth the wait--but how do you find friendships before marriage? Can men and women be just friends? I recently wrote an eBook entitled Loves Me Not
to help answer these questions.
Questions like these are very important to ask before marriage, BUT
before I attempt to answer these questions, I want to talk about friendship—more importantly, what godly friendship— looks like. First you need to know what you're looking for in a friend. Later you can evolve the right friendship into the right romance.
+ Friends don’t gossip about each other (Proverbs 26:20).
+ Friends are gentle instead of harsh or angry at each other (Proverbs 15:1).
+ Friends words bring healing (Proverbs 12:18).
+ Friends should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry (James 1:19).
+ Friends don’t destroy each other (Proverbs 11:9).
+ Friends are understanding and even-tempered with each other (Proverbs 17:2).
+ Friends pray for each other (Job 42:10, James 5:16).
+ Friends spur each other forward (Hebrews 10:24).
+ Friends encourage each other daily (see Hebrews 3:13).
+ Friends share in each other’s troubles and joys (see Romans 12:15).
+ Friends are reliable and stick closer than a brother or sister (Proverbs 18:24).
After reading the list, I hope you know and understand more about what a true friend does and doesn’t look like (whether they're a boy or a girl).
Nowhere on this list does it say you can or can’t be friends with the opposite sex.
Nowhere does the Bible say, “Thou shall or shall not be friends with the opposite sex.
” Praise God, right? But it does
say to choose your friends “carefully” (Proverbs 12:26, NIV).
Maybe after reading the list you’ll know more about your motives and the intentions of your friends. I also hope to instill a deeper sense of appreciation for what it takes to be friends first
before jumping into a relationship. What better way to discern if a relationship will be a good fit if you know what good of a friend he or she is? I believe it is possible for guys and girls to be just friends.
The how is between you, God, and the other person.
What’s the verdict? Do you believe men and women can be friends? If you’d like to read more from Loves Me Not
, I’d love to share more with you. If you or anyone you know is currently experiencing a broken relationship or a breakup--I encourage you to pick up the eBook for only $2.99.
, the Devotional Diva®, is the spirited speaker and author of Faithbook of Jesus
, Not Another Dating Book
, Forgiving Others, Forgiving Me
, and Loves Me Not
. A graduate of Biola University, Renee’s mission in life is to “spur others forward” (Hebrews 10:24) using the lessons learned from her own trials to encourage others in their walk with God. She and her husband, Marc, live in California with their dog, Star. Learn more about Renee at www.devotionaldiva.com.
Ernest Hemingway immersed in his writing.
I believe Ernest Hemingway is one of the greatest wordsmiths of all time. His ability to describe a scene, a person, a feeling in bold, simple words borders on perfection. I admit, (don’t hate me) I don’t love his books. There I’ve said it out loud. They are full of war and blood and ugly things like boxing and bull fighting that I’m not good at reading.
But his personal story tugs at me.
Hemingway was young, and he burned to be a writer. So, he moved to Paris and wrote. He didn’t let anyone or anything get in his way of that. He knocked down, or ignored, all of the proverbial roadblocks in his way to achieving his dream. Ahhh talk about a dream chaser. He would disappear for hours or days, completely focused, totally immersed in his writing. He didn’t tweet about his characters or check his email for word from his agent. He isolated himself from distractions and dove into the words that filled his head.
Me outside of Hemingway's haunt, Les Deux Magots, on a recent trip to Paris.
When I was recently in Paris, I sought out the famed Le Deux Magots—the café where Hemingway penned A Moveable Feast. The café where Ernest and F. Scott Fitzgerald, James Joyce and Ezra Pound frequented together in the early 1920’s.
Les Deux Magots was harder to find than I’d imagined. My husband and I walked up one side of Boulevard Saint Germain and down the other. We walked so far, we had to hop the metro and backtrack three stops. I am blessed to have a husband who is:
1. Extremely patient with me
2. Has a built in compass, where I obviously, was born without one
3. Incredibly supportive of my dreams
Forty-five minutes after the begin of our search I exclaimed, “There it is.” It was a café, plain and simple, like hundreds of others that litter the Parisian sidewalks. But my eyes welled up. There was that pinch on the bridge of my nose and the warm feeling seeping from my heart. Perhaps the struggle to find Les Deux Magots made it all that much more powerful when I found it.
This was the place where creative geniuses congregated, where stories were exchanged and ideas shared by some of the most proclaimed literary artists of all time. I felt a rush of inspiration to create, to write because it’s how God made me. Not because I had a deadline or an interview I needed to respond to or a clock ticking, but because it’s what God placed in my heart to do.
After taking a photo for my scrapbook, my husband said, “Let’s sit.” And we did. We sat in the café, sunshine warming our faces and ordered from our waiter donned in a formal dinner jacket watching the passersby and dreaming.
Hemingway’s life was full of pain and turmoil. I do not envy his life. But his passion—his desire to fuel his dream, to write and write and write—I admire.
What is your passion? How can you fuel your dream today?
SCHOOL'S OUT FOR SUMMER, for Palmer, Claire, Kat and Hannah at Clarkston University, the fictitious setting for my Status Updates series. To celebrate, the four college roommates in the books are offering you their first book, It's Complicated, for only 99 cents!
From left to right - Palmer, Claire, Kat and Hannah get ready to head home for summer vacation. Photo courtesy Kelci Alane Photography
For less than a song on iTunes, less than a pack of Claire's bobby pins, less than a slice of pizza at Clarkston's Ragazza, less than even a small cup of coffee from Corner Cup, you can get an entire novel! Just click on this link and download: http://www.amazon.com/Complicated-Status-Updates-Series-ebook/dp/B00C2BXK6Q/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top
(if you don't own a Kindle, no worries, the App is free on the Amazon site for most phones, tablets and laptops)
OR if you don't have access to a Kindle or Free Kindle App, visit Smashwords and enter promo code WK68Z prior to checkout. Offer expires May 16, 2013.
It's Complicated for only 99 cents through May 16!
"I absolutely love love love this book!!!
Here are 3 reasons why...
#1 FAB FRIENDS- these characters are unique, fun, funny, and wonderful! It's hard to pick my fave! There's super-athletic KAT, fashion-forward PALMER, boy-crazy HANNAH, and the serious quiet type CLAIRE. I love them all!!
#2 ISSUES & DRAMA- author Laura L. Smith doesn't shy away from issues that real teens are dealing with today, and when you put four friends together you know there's gonna be some drama!!
#3 IT'S A SERIES!!! I soooo can't wait to read more about these girls. It's Complicated is a totally awesome start to what promises to be one of my fave series ever!!!" JoJo's Corner
It's Complicated by Laura L. Smith book cover
Slide on your flip flops and shades, grab a Tazo or an iced latte and enjoy a summer read that will take you to the beach, the soccer fields and Paris before it's time to dive back into next school year. All for less than a dollar.
Tingling all over with the announcement of the second book in my Status Updates series, It's Over, releasing April 19!
Book cover for the sequel to It's Complicated, It's Over. Photograph by Kelci Alane Photography. Cover Design by Angela Llammas.
HOW CAN YOU MOVE ON WHEN IT'S OVER?
When four college roommates lose pieces of their lives, the pain isolates and the tension rises. Emotions are hard to hide and even harder to tackle. How can the girls move forward, when there is so much pain in letting go? Together, Claire, Kat, Palmer and Hannah learn to lean on God and each other, and through it all they learn loss is a part of life."In It's Over, Laura L. Smith confirms the truth we've been told that we are never alone in the midst of heartache and struggle. In fact, she takes us to a place where we not only get to see, but feel deeply the truth of the fact that every single one of us has a story. Every single one of has experienced pain. But more importantly, that every single one of us has great hope. Laura L. Smith's writing strikes a deep chord in my heart. It makes sense. It's real--and in my opinion, that transparency makes all the difference." ~Holly Starr, Christian recording artist
"Laura Smith speaks for the broken. With a voice that’s warm and true, Laura gives words to those rendered speechless by issues that high school and college girls should never have to deal with—but so many of them do. In writing that’s raw, relevant, and real, Smith goes where few authors dare to go: straight into the heart of today’s young woman." ~Amy Parker, bestselling author of Courageous Teens
"YA author, Laura L. Smith crafts another story that will appeal to all girls, because no one is untouched by heartache in all its forms. The grace Smith extends the four girls in It's Over will touch readers in deep ways, as they follow these characters through some of the worst parts of life. Best of all, they'll cheer when the girls lean on one another and find ways to be thankful in everything. This is a fantastic read, one that will resonate with teens, college girls and their mothers." ~Laura Kurk, author of Glass Girl
I'm thrilled to announce the upcoming release of my latest book, the first in the Status Updates series, It's Complicated April 1
It's Complicated, cover photo by Kelci Alane Photography cover design by Angela Llammas
There’s a reason Facebook has the relationship status, “It’s Complicated.” Follow four college roommates, Claire, Palmer, Hannah and Kat as they maneuver crushes, confusion, and the crisis when pushy boys go too far. Complicated as it is, these four friends will pull through, guided by the strength of their friendship and the power of God’s love.
"Laura Smith speaks for the broken. With a voice that’s warm and true, Laura gives words to those rendered speechless by issues that high school and college girls should never have to deal with—but so many of them do. In writing that’s raw, relevant, and real, Smith goes where few authors dare to go: straight into the heart of today’s young woman.”
– Amy Parker, best-selling author of Courageous Teens
"YA author Laura L. Smith has crafted a story that lets readers learn along with her four female characters—and the lessons aren’t hollow. Tough issues that follow girls to college—like beauty, physical relationships, underage drinking, and loneliness—are treated with Smith’s usual grace and humor. Fans of Jenny B. Jones and Sarah Dessen will love It’s Complicated!" ~Laura Anderson Kurk, author of Glass Girl
“WOW. Even from the first page it is so real. It's almost as if you were with me that night. All of it (the abduction) happened so quickly for me and you nailed that in the story. I wish every college freshman had to read this book upon entering college.”
– MEH a college date rape victim
"College Roomies, Kat, Hannah, Palmer and Claire are standing on the brink of their futures—an aspiring athlete, ballerina, a girl searching for love, and one trying to hold onto it. Author Laura L. Smith has done a remarkable job of allowing each girl to shine in her own light then bringing them together beneath a shadow of doubt—allowing them to see that together they are a million times stronger than alone." ~ Jennifer Murgia, author of Between These Lines
Raw. Daring. Revealing. Strewn from the tip of the Eiffel Tower, to grass stained cleats in the heat of a college soccer season, to all the secrets behind a closed dorm room door. Laura Smith's latest release has distinguished the life of the normal college student from what you see, but even more, what you don't. In a time when so much is changing in a student's life, Laura's book admonishes the one thing that doesn't...God. From one chapter to the next "It's Complicated" will grip you from the start weaving you in and out of the strenuous life of 4 college girls and their means of developing who they are, while protecting everything they've been. Heart or Brain. Studying or Flirting. Flesh or Faith. "It Complicated" addresses all these questions, and manages to do so even before the end of freshmen year.
And all it has left me saying is, "If only she would write one for guys." ~ Luke Grigg, University student
“As a date rape survivor, I felt Laura L. Smith truly captured the emotional turmoil I experienced during and after my ordeal. She sheds light on such a traumatic, yet frequent attack that happens to women across the country. Her powerful portrayal truly signifies what I believe -- that through friends, family and your faith, it does and will get better.” – Ally, recent college grad and date rape survivor
“Claire, Hannah, Palmer, and Kat had me laughing, crying, and cheering with every page. Here’s to the power of four!” ~Darby Karchut, author of Griffin Rising and Finn Finnegan
“I devoured the whole book in two days, and can’t wait to hear more about these girls. It’s like a Christian Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.” – Jessa Bertone, college junior
What trophies from past accomplishments are on your shelves?
I have recently staked out a spot in our house, complete with windows and bookshelves, to be my very own writing nook. I L-O-V-E it! I’ve placed a handful of photos of my favorite places and people on the corner of my desk. I painted the walls a lovely smoky, pale lilac and one square with white board paint, so I can dry erase writing ideas at will. I’ve set my cool pottery coaster in place, so my coffee cup always has a home.
But in order to claim this space, I had to clean.
I had to dig through existing cupboards and go through baskets and file organizers in my previous writing space, a.k.a. the corner of our living room. I found everything from paper clips to business cards of people I don’t remember meeting, from an array of neon sticky notes and magazine images to old plaques and certificates. It was simple to put binder clips in the little organizer on my desk and to recycle hand scribbled notes for articles, blogs and books I’ve already written. But there was this stack of awards from my past that perplexed me. How long had I kept them? Better yet, why?
When I leased shopping malls a new store, like J.Crew, was like a merit badge of worth in my career.
As I lugged the load of metal and wood and paper to the garbage can, I laughed. There was something extremely freeing about no longer being tied by measurements of how many dollars of clothes I sold (my short career as a manager at the Limited) or how many square feet I’d leased (my longer career in shopping mall development). There was a time when those stats, and the status that went with them, were extremely important to me. But those things are irrelevant now, so I pitched them with a hearty heave.
And the next day, I stumbled across this passage:
The very credentials these people are waving around as something special, I’m tearing up and throwing out with the trash—along with everything else I used to take credit for. And why? Because of Christ. Yes, all the things I once thought were so important are gone from my life. Compared to the high privilege of knowing Christ Jesus as my Master, firsthand, everything I once thought I had going for me is insignificant—dog dung. I’ve dumped it all in the trash so that I could embrace Christ and be embraced by him. ~Philippians 3:7-9 MSG
And yes, I giggled at the mention of dog dung in the Bible, then marveled, how liberating it felt to let go of past credentials. But my trip to the garbage was easy. I’m no longer trying to sell the most wool coats or trying to convince J. Crew to come into all of the malls I lease. I’m happy I can let go of the past, but it’s a piece of cake, since those things aren’t relevant to me anymore.
What’s harder is the here and now.
I have two new novels releasing next month. Will I be able to consider my rank on Amazon insignificant? Will I be able to let less than glowing reviews (everybody gets some) slide off my back? I hope so. I’m praying I won’t get tied up in those numbers or any other worldly measures, for that matter. But it isn’t always easy. Today, I’m mentally throwing away earthly labels claiming how good I was or wasn’t. And I’m praying I can keep carrying more bags of garbage out to the curb.
How about you? What’s the craziest old trophy you have sitting around?
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
I recently had a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle marathon with a six-year old. Granted I knew who the turtles were, some kind of super heroes who ate pizza and shouted, “Cowabunga!” But, I’d never actually watched an episode.
The thing about Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is—they mutate.
TGRI, the chemical OOZE that causes the mutations.
Leonardo, Raphael, Donatello and Michelangelo began as four ordinary turtles in the sewer system of New York City, but after coming in contact with OOZE they mutated into these cool ninja-like heroes and were named after Italian painters. But the problem with OOZE is it doesn’t always have positive effects.
There is an episode (trust me, I watched eight in a row) where the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles mutate into creepish, monster-like versions of themselves. Instead of bringing peace they bring destruction. Instead of working together (“turtle power”) they attack one another.
I find myself mutating sometimes too. I don’t have to come in contact with TGRI (the chemical nickname for the OOZE) to turn into a monstrous version of myself. All it takes is something small and quirky. It might be the train gates clanging shut just as I approach, followed by the longest cargo train ever crossing the tracks to mutate me from my smiley self to an impatient grouch. Or if I spill my dark roast with mocha down the front of my white shirt, I mutate from feeling stylin’ to feeling like an ugly beast and growling a bit for good measure. If I hear a friend has been talking behind my back, I mutate into someone with a hole in my gut, who snaps and says unkind things in return.
Leonardo when he mutates into the worst version of himself.
The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles needed fragments of Vortex Crystal to stabilize their mutations. I need The Word.
Snub evil and cultivate good; run after peace for all you’re worth 1 Peter 3: 11
I read that, and I’m a bit less monstrous. I feel more comfortable in my own shell and don’t’ feel the need to bad-talk those who have bad-talked me.
OR Our God gives you everything you need, makes you everything you’re to be
2 Thessalonians 1:2
And then I’m less grouchy, less negative and less worried if I’m late for a meeting or have dark brown spots down my blouse.
God’s Word reminds me I am not alone, I am loved, I am capable, God will give me strength and stand by my side. I can breathe deeply, shake it off, cross the tracks, take a sip and walk proud, knowing I am stabilized.
Only the Vortex Crystal can save the turtles? What stabilizes you?