Download this FREE book sampler from my publisher, Playlist Fiction
When I was in college Folgers coffee set up free coffee stations at the entrances to the major academic buildings on my campus. Honest. They were giving away FREE COFFEE! Clearly this was a time before there were Starbucks on every corner and long before cute boutique coffee houses, like Kofenya, littered college towns. My friends and I caffeinated ourselves with Diet Coke, cases of it. We didn't even like coffee. But Folgers wanted us to change our habits, offered us free caffeine where and when we needed it most, and even handed out free fudge packets to make it tastier. This I could do. Free caffeine? Plus chocolate? And thus Folger's "Jump Start Your Brain" campaign took place.I still love a free sample, whether it's a baguette spread with Pumpkin Butter at Trader Joe's or a sip of sweet cider from the orchard who has a stand at my local Farmer's Market. I love downloading the free song of the week from Starbucks and iTunes, and well, sampling. Trying these flavors and sounds on for size. Because sometimes they're a perfect fit.This week, I'm offering you (actually my publisher, Playlist Fiction, is) a free sample. A free sample of books. Now that's almost as tasty as coffee with chocolate.Until September 17 you can download The Best Teen Reads from Indie Authors featuring the first few chapters of my title, It's Complicated, as well as other young adult fiction titles from some of my favorite writers; like Laura Anderson Kurk, Jennifer Murgia, Stephanie Morrill and Rajdeep Paulus. Cool. Right? You can try on five different books. Who knows you might find your new favorite author or series. One of these titles might just be the perfect fit. And all you had to do was click.Dont' have a Kindle or the App, don't worry, that's free too. Not an actual Kindle, but you can get the free App on your phone, tablet, laptop, device from Amazon by clicking on my words free App, scroll to where it says Free Reading Apps and click on the kind that fits your device. Easy Peasy.
Let me know if you have any questions and what you think. I've read all of these books from cover to cover and always love a good book chat.
When I was on my high school’s dance team, our motto was “Teamwork Makes It Happen”. Not very catchy, but there’s a lot of truth in that phrase. On dance team it wasn’t about an individual’s abilities, it was about dancing in sync, together. The perfect example was the kick line. Everyone’s kicks had to be the exact same height, so it appeared as if one giant leg was going up then down, while the other giant leg followed suit. Shorter girls had to stand on tiptoes to make their legs reach. Uber flexible girls actually had to lower their kicks to line up with the team.
Have you ever been part of a softball team? A play? A fundraiser? If so, you know the risks of putting yourself out there. You’ve had to rely on others. You understand the challenges of working collectively for a common good.
I haven’t been in a kick line for a looooonnnnggg time, but this past fall I was invited to be on a team to launch a new line of young adult fiction books. By now, you’ve probably heard me chat about Playlist Fiction. Ever wonder what authors talk about when they get together? Everything, really. But recently, one of the other Playlist authors, Laura Kurk, and I were chatting about the excitement and uncertainty of banding together to create something new. Here’s an inside peek at our conversation.
LS: I remember when our agent suggested forming a team of authors to launch a new line, to include your novels, my novels, Jennifer Murgia’s latest title, Stephanie Morrill’s newest book and debut author Rajdeep Paulus. I know what was going through my mind. What was on yours?
LK: Writing is a lonely profession. It takes physical, emotional, and spiritual boundaries to maintain the integrity of our thoughts and ideas while we work.
I’m usually okay with this, being an introverted soul. But sometimes I feel too alone. I’ve dreamed of having a team of like-minded people who would offer support, guidance, and friendship. I said yes, without hesitation.
LS: Me too. It was an incredible idea to have a support network within the solitude, to not have to go these books alone. But there was still a major unknown. None of us had worked together. All of our writing styles were a little different. What were your concerns?
LK: The same all students have when they hear the dreaded words, “Group Project.” I was always the kid who took on the biggest part—because I wanted the project done right. But, it turns out, I think we were all the kids who took on the majority of the work for group projects.
LS: So, was that because we were overachievers, or because we enjoyed writing essays?
LK: Ha! Both. But the great thing about our team is we overachieve for each other. I’ve never really been on a team, so this is my first experience with seeing other people sacrifice their time and talent for each other. It’s overwhelming. Makes me wish I had played t-ball or something.
LS: T-ball was not my best experience. Let’s just say I sat the bench. A writing team uniform fits me way better. I think the two major factors that have led to the success of our team are communication and a common desire to succeed as a whole. LK: We’ve avoided any of us carrying all the weight. L S: Right. We share it. Our communication from the get-go was key. Remember the dozens of emails about expectations and content for the line? LK: Back and forth, plus the conference calls. We agreed on a mission and a feel. We agreed our books would be unique, real, and match the rhythm of our readers’ lives. We incorporated that into everything from our plot lines to the Playlist Fiction website. LS: And once we identified ourselves, we all took responsibilities based on our strengths. You developed our Twitter account. Jennifer worked with the designer. Rajdeep created the count down graphics and manages our Playlist fan mail. And what would we do without Stephanie who writes the newsletter and runs all the spreadsheets? It was remarkable to watch everyone play to her areas of expertise. We had all poured ourselves into our novels. We longed for them to reach readers who would identify with our characters and gravitate to our plots. The more readers engaged with the Playlist Fiction brand overall, the more opportunities we had to touch those readers. LK: We were all invested. LS: All for one and one for all. What hopes did you have for the team? LK: I hoped I would develop relationships with people who shared my faith and my goals. I hoped for friends who would understand why writing is spiritually fulfilling for me, and who would hold me accountable with the words I choose. We’re not just a team. We’ve found friendship, validation, accountability, a louder voice, a bigger splash. We’re even prayer warriors. LS: It’s awesome isn’t it? It’s powerful for me to see how much stronger we are together than alone. But when you gain something, you tend to give something up. What did you sacrifice to be part of a team verses publishing your novels under a solo contract?
LK: I think there’s a misconception that publishing solo with an existing publisher means you can sit back. Authors have to market themselves constantly, so the team has been a blessing. The sacrifices I’ve made have been easy. The amount of work we’ve done to build recognition for this debut line of fiction has been mind-blowing. We’ve worked a lot of late nights.
LS: Which resulted in a lot of late night e-mails. Some of them made me laugh so hard I almost peed my pants. Others brought tears to my eyes. We swapped lyrics from everything from the Mickey Mouse Club House theme song to old Depeche Mode tunes. We shared stories about our siblings and children, admitted indulgences and weaknesses. We became good friends.
LK: I love how we support one another. Often you see writers who grab attention, because attention translates into sales. Our team members are more concerned with making sure we all find success. We work like this because we believe in the message of hope and healing we each have for our audience. We write for young adults. We found each other because we all felt there was a lack of hopeful fiction for teens.
LS: I’m praying we’ll provide some of that much needed hope.
LK: I believe we are. But despite the encouragement from one another, it does take maturity to keep this team in tact.
LS: Definitely. All teams do. None of us can be scorekeepers. We can’t say, “she did this and she didn’t do that while I did this.” Just like soccer player can’t say, “I scored and she missed my pass and she should have stolen that ball.” Each author has the integrity to give our team her personal best. As a team, we respect and honor the time and way we each achieve this. On any given day one author could be promoting the line, while another is dealing with family issues and yet another is frantically editing her next novel. The following week those roles can and do switch. What’s beautiful is how much we lean on one another, draw from one another, learn from one another. Like you said at the beginning, writing can be a lonely endeavor. But our team offers a community to share the writing journey.
Jesus didn’t leave one disciple high and dry to share the gospel. He introduced them to one another, had them dine together, travel together, so when it was time for Him to ascend, the disciples were prepared to work as a team. I believe God brought our Playlist Fiction team together to share the stories He’s put in our hearts. Are you part of a team? How do you think God’s equipped you to be an important team member?
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.
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
Fight. Dream. Hope. Love. Les Miserables
I love award show season. I ogled over George Clooney during the Golden Globes, because; well, because I do every year. I’m counting down until Sunday night so I can glue myself to the Grammy’s. And don’t even get me started on the Oscars, but I do hope Les Mis sweeps.
One of the stunning gowns nominated for Best Costume Design at this year's Academy Awards.
Every year it seems like there are more and more award shows rewarding everything from Best Costume Design at the Academy Awards to Outstanding Performance Under Pressure for an athlete at the Espys.
In our house we give The Goat.
Although not quite as glamorous as a golden statue of a phonograph or a little bald man, The Goat is coveted and treasured in our home. We don’t select special outfits or write speeches in hopes of earning The Goat. Instead, we just try to be good people. And some days that’s easier than others.
A goat stuffed animal serves as the nightly award at our house.
Each night the recipient of The Goat from the previous night, sneaks into someone else’s room and places The Goat on the winner du jour’s pillow. Whoever is in possession of The Goat can award The Goat to whomever they want for any reason at all. There are no criteria. But, in the past The Goat has been awarded for listening to someone when they’ve been upset. It’s been snuck onto the pillowcase of someone who did somebody else’s chores. Some days The Goat appears in the bed of the person who had the hardest day, who cried and screamed (either literally or figuratively) but needs to be reminded how special they are.
We all love to be recognized for our accomplishments. Whether that’s running the fastest mile at our school or at the Olympics, writing a moving song or a powerful essay, or sometimes just making someone smile.
You don't have to give someone a golden phonograph to make them feel like a rock star.
Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven. Matthew 5:12
And we all have the ability to reward others for jobs well done. It doesn’t have to be a crystal statue. It can be a cookie (especially if it’s chocolate chip) or a text or a hug. Just something to let someone else know they’re special.
Who can you make feel like a superstar today?
Today's blog is a guest blog by fellow YA author, Jill Williamson
. Jill is a chocolate loving (see why I love her?), daydreaming, creator of kingdoms. She writes weird books for teens. She’s a Jesus follower, a Whovian, and a recovering fashion design assistant, who was raised in Alaska. She now lives in Eastern Oregon with her family and a whole lot of deer (and cows).
People spend more and give more in the month of December than in any other month. I love seeing how generous people are at this time of year. But there is so much need in the world. Do you ever feel like there’s just no way to give enough? And if money is tight, how can you afford to give to charities when you’re concerned with paying your bills and putting food on the table?
Fret no more! Here are ten ways to give to great causes that are close to your heart and on the other side of the world. And if you have kids or want to do these with a group of friends, that works too.1. Clean House-
Set aside a day to clean house. Go through your clothing, dishes, books, food—everything!—and find items to donate to charity. Get your kids involved by asking them to choose five to ten toys from their rooms too. It will be a great lesson in sacrifice. Ask yourself: When was the last time I wore this/used this? If it was gone, would I really miss it? Then take your donations where they can be used: the local food banks, coats for kids, a charity-owned thrift store, or a local church that ministers to the needy.2. Clean Up-
Set aside an afternoon to clean up the trash in a certain part of town. (If it’s snowy where you live, this might have to wait until spring.) But you (and your family or friends) could also volunteer to clean a community location like a park or a church. If the location has a janitor, see if they’d be willing to give the janitor a paid day off if you did his work. And if you do work out on the roads, be sure to wear bright colors or reflective vests for safety.3. Sign Up-
There are many worthy causes that people are fighting for. Sometimes no blessing is greater than giving your signature. Follow this link (http://donatelife.net/
) and click the “Register Now” button to sign up to be an organ donor. You could also sign various petitions for causes. See what causes you can find to join at http://www.change.org/
Did you know that associate links force advertisers to pay a little something, even if you don’t make a purchase? If you have a have a friend that uses Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or other store links on her blog, click through that link before you go shopping on that site, even if you don’t buy the item your friend was advertising. You could be giving her five or ten cents, or several dollars, depending on what you purchase. The same is true for organizations that use associate links.
Here is a site where you can click for worldly causes like hunger, animal rescue, veterans, autism, child health, literacy, and the rainforest. They also have products for sale that donate to these causes. Visit here to click: http://thehungersite.com
. This site works the same as The Hunger Site. Visit http://ripple.org/
to click for water, food, education, or home loans.
And how about playing games to make donations? Free Rice is a lot of fun (http://freerice.com
). On this site, you guess the correct definition of words, and each correct answer shows the amount of rice you’ve donated just by playing. I admit, I got hooked and wanted to keep playing!
you simply choose which commercial to watch and that company will pay for seven days of clean water. Easy peasy. If you find a clickable page you love, make it your homepage so you’ll always remember to click each day.
5. Random Acts of Kindness-
William James said, “The deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated.” Some simple ways you can show appreciation are:
-Smile. This is the fastest way to show others you like them.
-Give a compliment. Saying something nice is an easy way to make someone’s day.
-Ask a question. And don’t stop at “How are you?” Questions are a simple way to start a conversation. And people feel good when you’re interested in their life.
-Listen. Everyone likes to be heard, and listening lets a person know you care.
-Offer to help. If you see someone struggling, jump in and lend a hand! Get the door for a stranger. Give up your seat on the bus. Slow down and let a pedestrian pass—even if they’re jaywalking! And don’t honk at them.
Check out the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation
for more ideas.http://www.randomactsofkindness.org/6. Volunteer-
Charities always need volunteers–sometimes more so during the holidays. See what organizations in your town could use a helping hand. Some ideas are: soup kitchens, churches, Habitat for Humanity, homeless shelters, lunch buddy programs, your local schools, retirement homes… You could even go Christmas caroling!7. Pocket Change-
Every time you see a bell ringer outside a store, empty your pocket change. Every little bit helps. And ask the bell ringer a question or two, as well. It’s hard work volunteering to stand on your feet all day while people avoid making eye contact with you. Make their day a little brighter by making a donation of pocket change and saying something kind.8. Hang Out-
There are tons of kids, teens, and adults performing this time of year, whether it’s Christmas programs or sporting events. Support someone by attending their event. And be sure to speak to them while you’re there and give them a compliment to show them how much you care. You could also go visit someone who’s in the hospital or a retirement home, take them a treat or a book or movie. Or make plans to have coffee or a meal with an old friend you haven’t seen in a while. Make it a point to bless them with your conversation.9. Recycle-
Do you recycle your soda cans? If so, cash them in and give the money to the charity of your choice, or look for a place to donate them. Our town has several donation boxes for school teams or youth groups.10. Buy a book (Jill’s shameless plug)-
If you like to read, I recently published an enovella (book length: 120 pages) in which 100% of the proceeds go toward the adoption of a little girl from Eastern Europe. My friends need to raise over $40,000 to bring their daughter home, and they have a long way to go.
Sydney - soon to be Haydon
This is a fun story about a teen guy who has joined a Christian spy organization. I wrote it for teens, but adults enjoy it too. It follows the first book in the series, but you can enjoy it without having read book one. Check it out:
Chokepoint: Mini-Mission 1.5
Ever since I returned from Moscow, life is a full court press. Mission League field agents are everywhere. All the time. Watching. Waiting for me to fulfill a sixty-year-old prophecy. When some baddies try to guy-nap me, the field agents threaten to move me and Grandma Alice to some random hick town, to give us new fake identities until the prophecy is fulfilled.
Not going to happen.
I’ve got one chance to stay in Pilot Point. I have to prove to the agents that I can stay safe. Have to make this work. For basketball. For Kip. For Beth. So, bring it, baddies. It’s game on.
100% OF THE PROCEEDS FROM THIS ENOVELLA GO TOWARD THE ADOPTION OF LITTLE SYNDEY FROM EASTERN EUROPE. PLEASE, HELP BRING SYDNEY HOME.
How about you? Any other ideas for ways to give that don’t require donating money or buying a gift and wrapping it? Have you tried any of the above ideas? Share in the comment section.
Have you ever met someone who you knew God introduced to you to somehow, someway alter and enhance your life? Laura Anderson Kurk is one of these people. I haven't known her for long, but already I feel like I've known her forever. We both write stories for young women, live in college towns, and yeah, the "Laura" thing. So, today, I want to introduce you to Laura and give you a chance to win her book Glass Girl. You'll be hearing more about her in the future. God will make sure of that. In the meantime, read her insights on "Indie Girls" and the deets on how to win her book.
GUEST BLOG BY LAURA ANDERSON KURK, AUTHOR OF GLASS GIRL
Girl boots and boy boots under a table photo courtesy of Cary Anne Photography
A few weeks ago, my daughter and I had a conversation about the minefield of middle school and how the girls who'd seemed unique and awesome in lower grades suddenly looked like copies of one another. One day--cool, relaxed and confident. The next day--clingy, rubber-stamped robots. I told her the same thing happened when I was in middle school and when her grandmother was in middle school. It's just that weird middle school thing that happens when we stumble a little with confidence. The conversation came about because my daughter had talked to a girl in the hall that morning while they were waiting for the bell to ring. This was a girl she had never talked to before. They moved in different circles, respectfully distant. The girl said—"Hey, I've always wanted to tell you that I like your style. Most people here are too afraid to be different but you aren't and I really respect that." That was it....the whole conversation. I think my daughter swallowed her tongue and then went on with her day in her cool, vintage way. But the girl's words stuck with her. And they emboldened her and went a long way toward making her feel more confident. It got me thinking, again, about the power of words. And the power YOU hold when you reach across the chasms you think are between you and the other girls at school. So here’s what’s up. I want you to try to encourage one girl at school tomorrow. Spend tonight thinking about who needs words from you. Who is out there, trying to do her own thing, and thinking no one notices her? I know that applies to you--you think no one notices you. But watch what happens when you toss a pebble in the school pond and compliment someone who needs it. The ripple effect is a beautiful thing, girls. And soon you'll see those little waves coming back to you. You've heard me talk about "art bombing" a bit over on my blog. Well, now we're going to "compliment bomb." It'll be fun, trust me. And don't forget to come back here and tell us what you did, said, and saw. We're all in this together, learning how to feel our way toward comfort. Here's something, too, that makes me smile. Even the "Indie" girls admit that they're just another fashion trend. There's a Wiki on How to Be Indie. (You can take the "How Indie Are You" quiz here if you're interested.) I think it's okay, though, because what's cool about "Indie" is the attitude of acceptance they have for others. Once you realize everyone is trying hard to be noticed and accepted, your viewpoint changes and you're suddenly more approachable and accessible. Your heart is open to people. There's nothing cooler than that. Trust me. “Watch the way you talk . . . . Say only what helps, each word a gift.” Ephesians 4:29 msg
beautiful teenager pondering her gifts photo courtesy of Sydney Gass Photogaphy
photo courtesy of Cary Anne Photography
FREE BOOK DEETS: Laura Anderson Kurk’s debut YA novel Glass Girl is available now. You can win a free copy by being one of the first twenty people to comment below, or share this post on Facebook or Tweet about it on Twitter. Just make sure to let me know if you FB or tweet, so you can be included in the drawing.
Girls and boys enjoying the game, while playing spring soccer.
The earthy, fresh smell of mown grass. The squishy, muddy ground, slopping against my feet. The chill of early morning cocooned in a giant sweatshirt and an even more giant dark roast with a shot of chocolate from Starbucks. Pulses racing. Fans cheering. The satisfying slap of leather on the insole of a cleat.
It’s that time of year. The time when every Saturday morning is spent at the soccer fields. Not that different than fall in attire, gear and schedules, but the attitude, the atmosphere is like it’s from a different district altogether.
Fall soccer buzzes with the start of a new school year, new teams, grueling heat, fierce competition. Spring soccer is shorter, random, more congenial, do I dare say it -- relaxed.
In the fall, groups of boys within 24 months of each other’s birthdays and girls within 24 months of each other’s birthdays pass, dribble and shoot together. But in the spring, due to the large clumps of players lost to the ball diamonds – there are co-ed teams, the age spans of leagues goes up to 36, sometimes 48 months!
Teams always seem to be running late, short a player or two. How do you handle that? Sub, trade, swap. What other sport or season takes its best player and loans it to the other team? What other fans cheer for all the players on both teams, because at some point in their sons’ or daughters’ sports careers the other players from both teams have been on their teams?
It is a sport season like no other. Don’t get my wrong. Fall soccer, with all its intensity and speed and skill are an absolute thrill. But, there is so much to be learned from this softer, spring version of the international sport. So much to be gained by teaching players and fans alike what’s truly of value:
Sharing - of players, fields, equipment, high fives, resources
Sportsmanship – valuing all players, old or young, big or small, experienced or newbies for what they add to the game
Appreciation – for the other team, for your own team, the other parents, the refs, a Saturday in April without lightning, the sport, time to play, time to cheer, time to bond
Sounds like the Golden Rule to me: “Do to others as you would have them do to you.” Luke 6:31
Many will argue, that the thrill of the game is embedded in the rivalry. But I will argue back, that the true thrill of the game is playing our best, cheering our loudest, meeting new people and appreciating their talents and strengths.
Pulling into our neighborhood after another adventure, this time to North Carolina for a mountaintop spring break, I felt myself ease back into the driver’s seat, release my grip on the steering wheel and audibly sigh. The trip was a lovely escape from calendars and clocks, but there is always something soothing about returning home.
Everything was as we left it – even the load of darks in the dryer (apparently they didn’t fold themselves while I was gone). Once back inside, the unpacking began -- the transition from vacation to reality. Traveling is a passion of mine. The more treks I take -- both in actual voyages and on the road of life, I realize how important this final step is. As much as there is anticipation and excitement in the packing for a trip, there is therapy and peace in the unpacking.
Pillows back on beds, iPods back in docks, jackets back on hooks. As each item is transported from car to home, it carries a story with it -- tales of the bunk beds the pillows rested on, the tune that became the theme song of the trip, the day it started out chilly, but we ended up building sand castles on the beach.
What happens to you in a day or week or month or year? Who did you meet? What did you learn? Who did you disagree with? Who pleasantly surprised you? What was the strangest thing you experienced? The funniest? Who are you worried about? What are you praying for?
From the time we leave our homes in the mornings to the time we return in the evenings, even if the only place we go is to our virtual office, we collect stories. At the end of it all, it’s necessary to unpack. After all, what good are stories if they’re never told?
Unlike unpacking a roller bag, to unpack our lives, we need a partner. This could be a parent, roommate, best friend, boy/girlfriend, teacher, coach -- whoever’s a good listener. For me, the unpacking is always with my husband. Some days we dump the contents of our daily suitcase in heaps, rattling off event after encounter in one run-on sentence. Other days we remove one item from our suitcases at a time, sharing one meeting, a new place we discovered, a confrontation, piece by piece. Some nights we take turns unpacking items from our mental luggage back and forth like a tennis match of show and tell. And there are times, due to urgency; it’s necessary for just one of us to unpack a steamer trunk of a day. The other’s carry on can wait.
And just as it’s satisfying to have my faded jeans back in my wardrobe, my clunky, silver bracelets back in their drawer and my favorite black boots back on their rack, it’s gratifying to share with my hubby about the route I took on my morning run, a quote from the book I’m reading and the phone call I had with one of our moms.
Life is a journey. You need to pack to get ready for each adventure, town and port along the way. But you also need to take time to unpack your bag, look at where you’ve been, how it will effect where you’re going and every once in a while do some laundry.
Who helps you unpack the stories of your life?