NO SMALL MOMENTS

Stacey Pardoe has such inspiration to share…enjoy.

There Are No Small Moments

I’m on my knees, camera lens inches from a dwarf ginseng, its tiny snowflake head bobbing in the breeze, when I realize we’re not alone.  “Beautiful day, isn’t it?” the khaki-clad elderly gentleman greets, and I’m drawn from my small moment with the ginseng.

“Sure is,” I say, somewhat embarrassed by the black dirt on my knees and elbows.

“Did you see the trout lilies?” he asks, and I notice the camera strapped over his neck.  I’m less embarrassed.

We talk for a long while about trillium and bluebells, and he finally meanders off along the path. Returning to my photo shoot with the ginseng, I remember the way I once looked at thirty-somethings with cameras and wildflower books.  At twenty-two, I kept track of miles logged and elevations reached, not dwarf flora, like violets and ginseng.  At twenty-two, I mostly lived for big moments – summit moments, and the thought of bending low for small moments seemed nothing short of condescending.

We walk farther down the trail, kids running ahead in search of toads and moths, and I consider these changing seasons.  When did small moments begin to take on such an authentic kind of glory?  It must have been before I dug the wildflower books out of the dusty boxes in the attic of the garage.

I remember when I started taking pictures of tiny mushrooms and sphagnum moss.  I believe that was the moment.  The moment I pulled out the camera and committed to capture the miracles I miss every day when I brush past in all my hurry, with my large-moment focus and my desire to prove something.

What if we could all live like we have nothing to prove?  What if we never again needed to prove our worth through demonstrating our intelligence, beauty, humor, and talent?  What if these things were simply gifts with which we blessed others, and we were fully content to live in the midst of our quiet moments in utter contentment?

Have I really learned the secret of being content in any and every situation?

What if there really are no small moments – just quiet moments . . . And what if the quiet moments are worth every bit as much as the loud moments performed before the multitudes?

I think long on it, while the kids build castles along the sandy creek, and I’m sure of it: These quiet moments of walking with children in the woods, baking cornbread, stirring scrambled eggs with a rubber spatula, folding tiny T-shirts, and wiping down dusty furniture are the moments that will make up the bulk of our lives.  There may be loud moments, platform moments, and moments that are broadcast before the world, but these big moments won’t make up the majority of our lives.

So what are we doing with our quiet moments?  Because the quiet moments are the ones that seem small, but they’re really the ones that comprise the essence of our lives.

Sitting along the water, I commit to live with more gratitude.  I commit to recognize the gifts that surround me and magnify God through naming them: dwarf ginseng, blue phlox, garlic mustard, and wild geranium; sandcastles at the creek, lunch on a hilltop, holding hands along the road; the mounds of dirty laundry that remind me of the gift of my family, the meat simmering in the crock-pot, the green crayon on the living room wall.  I won’t write these things off or roll my eyes.  I’ll embrace them and give thanks.

I commit to speak life.  I commit to ask direct questions and bite my tongue when I’m in a bad mood.  I remember to tell the kids that I love them just because they’re mine, that their mistakes will never define them, and that they make my world a better place.

I commit to live intentionally.  We role play the whole way home from the creek, and Bekah thinks of responses to every playground dilemma I can conjure up.  We read Bible stories before Caleb naps, and I pray specific prayers over each of them before he sleeps.  We turn off the TV and dive into imaginary play on the carpet with our assortment of mini characters.  I make some calls and send some cards.

When the sun sinks low that evening, Bekah and I put together a pocket guide of wildflowers from our sanctuary at the Wolf Creek Narrows Natural Area.  We find Latin names and study the history of each plant. It all feels a bit small, but when she looks at me with dancing blue eyes, filled wild with life and passion, I know for sure that none of this day was small at all.

Bio: Stacey is the wife of a handsome lumberjack, mother of two blue-eyed beauties, a freelance journalist, mentor, and certified special education teacher.  She writes weekly at www.staceypardoe.com

 

 

 

 

 

So I Wrote This Book…

Lisa Lickel, an encouraging online writer-friend, describes her novel Requiem For the Innocents. I read this story a couple of months ago, and highly recommend it if you like to read hard-to-put-down tales that make you think. And…Lisa is giving an e-book away to one of you who leaves a comment.

So, I Wrote This Book…

In 2008 I met my first agent. We had recently signed a contract for my first published book for Barbour’s new cozy mystery book club supposedly releasing later that year. I had signed up for one of those luxury writing conferences, the kind where you have to take a plane, then a shuttle from the airport, and eat food you don’t recognize served in tiny portions and try to find people and classrooms and stand in line for an hour to get an autograph. I came prepared with four story concepts to pitch, one of them I titled Innocents Pray.

I’m not great at titles which you must have in order to explain your book to potential publishers, even when you know they’re going to change it. The theme of this story was who does God answer when people offer fervent opposing prayers? Like, if you’re a Cardinals fan, and your friend is a Brewers fan, and the teams play each other for the league championship, and you both pray really hard for a win, does God like your prayer better if the Brewers win? Or did it matter?

I liked the irony behind “innocent” people praying with all their hearts for a particular answer. The same title had only been for a nonfiction book several years earlier, and since it wasn’t heavily used, I kept it, even though informal surveys of my writerly friends had strong mixed feelings. Since no one could come up with anything that strongly said, “this is it!” I worked with the cover artist and did it my way.

Sales tanked. Actually, they never launched. I had trepidations about the whole thing and trembled over the release. You see, I signed or was offered contracts with three successive agents using this novel as my audition. None of them could sell it, and one agent withdrew the offer of representation. At first I was told it was a denominational issue, then it was a “sorrow” issue; there was always some divisive issue about this story. But I loved it. I had worked on it for six years, and when self, or Do-It-Yourself publishing became slightly less objectionable and horrifying for traditionally-published authors, I went all-in and used the imprint of my publications business to publish this book completely on my own.

My writing buddies endorsed me. My book club picked it up for discussion, and I garnered a few good reviews, but book stagnated. I had to do something. I’d researched cover concepts and felt the art was good. The teaser was good, according to more desperate surveying: “One wants her to live, one wants her dead, and one wants her cells.”

The title still puzzled readers. Here’s the back cover copy:

Justice, mercy, and humbleness collide when four people pray for different answers to the same situation. How will God answer all of them?

What is wrong with trying to cure cancer? Brother Able, hospice chaplain, asks himself that question every day. His boss, Dr. Rich Bernard, performs closet genetic experiments at Paradise House. He blackmails Able into keeping his secret. When a grieving husband asks Able to pray for his dying wife, Able finally breaks his silence.

Libby Davis might be prepared to accept death, to sacrifice herself for Rich’s greater cause but fails to comprehend the love of a husband who cannot let her go and the son who’s a whisper from the edge of reason. Brother Able wades into battle for those innocents in her life. If he wins, it won’t be only Libby’s family he saves.

Like many authors, I needed to get out of my own way.

Just because I liked the idea of my characters’ not-so-innocent actions translating into a play-on-words title that would hopefully drop jaws of potential readers didn’t mean I would get my way. And I didn’t. So I changed the title about two months later.

What I am learning is to be flexible and find surer footing in presenting my books. I am confident that my stories do touch readers, but finding that beautiful key to unlock the adventure for readers is a continuing challenge to meet and overcome.

Where to buy the book and book info:

Print ISBN 13: 978-0-9904281-0-7

ISBN 10: 0-9904281-0-9

$14.95

6 by 9 inches, 340 pp

 

Ebook ISBN-10: 0-9904281-1-7

ISBN-13: 978-0-9904281-1-4

$4.99; some sites have a $.99 sale

 

Library of Congress Control Number: 2016908998

Key words: healing, cancer treatment, family drama, Christian fiction, Catholic, hospice, genetics, book club books

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/requiem-for-the-innocents

Apple iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/innocents-pray/id1120384134?mt=11

BN shortlink http://bit.ly/2bMI9Zx

Kindle shortlink: http://amzn.to/2d0nr9R

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/664454

Lisa Lickel, a Wisconsin writer, lives in the rolling hills of western Wisconsin. A multi-published, best-selling and award-winning novelist, she also writes short stories and radio theater, is an avid book reviewer, blogger, a freelance editor, and sometimes magazine editor. She is part of Novel-in-Progress Bookcamp and Writing Retreat, Inc., mentoring writers from across the US and Canada. Visit http://www.LisaLickel.com.

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/lisalickelauthor

Goodreads: http://www.facebook.com/lisalickel

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/lisajlickel

Amazon author page: http://amzn.to/2bPxi2X

Maybe We Aren’t in Charge…

Another wonderful photo from my husband’s collection – see this mama cardinal’s bright red beak through the peephole? This image speaks to recent events in our lives.  (See the previous blog’s great pictures.)

IMG_3794_2

 

She seems as patient and determined as can be, awaiting her hatchlings’ births.

 

The next shot shows  her from above, in our cold Northern Iowa rain. At first, he thought the white dots were actual specks on her back. IMG_3780But they’re raindrops a-sparkle.

Rain or shine, cold or bitter, nasty winter wind, she’s faithful, with no idea when these chicks will burst forth from their shells.

After a wild night last night, I can relate! My first women’s fiction historical novel in a series of three was scheduled to release on June 6, D-Day. I thought the date fitting, since the theme is one woman’s personal growth and victory over fear in the violent backdrop of World War II.

Well, what do I know? The book seems to have a life of its own, because last night it went live, regardless of our posted schedule. I’ve almost gotten over the shock, but still wonder why, since I had readers/reviewers lined up to post on release day–I was doing everything RIGHT to make this book release a success. (Just like my heroine, Addie does everything possible to please her controlling husband.)

Which takes us back to our title–maybe I’m not in charge. Maybe God pried my tight little fingers away from this story and has things in mind for it I’d never have dreamed of. Whatever the case, Addie is now out there in the world–sometimes cold and cruel.

Dear readers, I hope you love her! Here’s the book blurb:

Pearl Harbor attacked! The United States is at war.

But Addie fights her own battles on the Iowa home front. Her controlling husband Harold vents his rage on her when his father’s stoke prevents him from joining the military. He degrades Addie, ridicules her productive victory garden, and even labels her childlessness as God’s punishment.

When he manipulates his way into a military unit bound for Normandy, Addie learns that her best friend Kate’s pilot husband has died on a mission, leaving her stranded in London in desperate straits.

Will Addie be able to help Kate, and find courage to trust God with her future?

Here’s the Amazon.com purchase link: http://amzn.to/1VFEoYh