Monday, March 31, 2014

Recovering, Planning and Writing

March Journaling
1.     I did a bit of editing of my novel based on suggestions from my critique partner, so I feel good about that, but no real “creative” work. Also, I received a book I ordered on life in Bible times and it’s very helpful for setting in my novel.

2.     Stayed home from church again, recovering, but I listened to last weeks’ sermon on-line. He is beginning a series on Jonah, which I was looking forward to hearing. Our Pastor does narratives so well. You can hear it under sermons at Also, I am working on the plans for my party. I am putting together the music play list for the d.j. I have to find one who will play only what I want. I’m a bit of a control freak that way, but hey, it’s my party.

3.     Out to the grocery store today. I can walk slowly and have the cart to hold onto. I have help lifting the groceries in and out of the car.

4.     Blogged about the awkward years of the last half of public school. Also writing the introduction to the book I’m editing for church. I heard back from the publisher and it takes about three months from the time they write the contract up to completion. I need to get it to them by the end of this month, then.

5.     Was able to get onto my work account so I can print my T-4. I also made chocolate cake waffles for dessert. We ate corn on the cob and Northern smelts.

6.     Went out to the mall with my husband, so I could get some exercise. I’m getting stronger. We also bought props for the photo corner for my birthday party.

7.     I made beef stew in the crockpot today. It worked out well. Otherwise, another wasted day.

8.     My outing was grocery shopping with my husband. Also did research, reading a book about everyday life in Bible times. Horrible news about that Malaysian airlines plane crash.

9.     Sunday. I will attempt the evening service tonight. It’s a little shorter, time-wise for me, so more manageable. I feel like I’ve been away forever.

10.    Finally! After some much needed research I was finally able to write a scene that belongs in one of my earlier chapters. Now to finish up the last few scenes near the end, and I should be able to write, The End. My husband dragged me out for a walk in our neighbourhood. I haven’t gone out on those paths in the seven months since we put our dog down. It made me cry. Then I came home and made brownies, because nothing but chocolate would help.

11.    I went out for breakfast with a lady from church, or rather she took me out for breakfast. It’s one of my favourite meals, even if I always get the same thing; eggs. Then a long nap because I didn’t sleep well last night.

12.    Working on editing the Testimonies of Faith book, but I’m feeling a little frustrated by some people’s change in plans. I am the editor and I’d like to continue the book in the direction it was proposed two years ago, so I can meet my deadline.

13.   A good writing day on my novel. I read through part of it. I’m at 70,000 words and can see that I need to write just a few more scenes. I see an end in sight. So encouraging. Also celebrating that our youngest daughter was accepted at Law school. It’s not her first choice, and she may still hear from the other schools, but at least there is this option for the fall.

14. I went out to get a new photo for my health card, then my mom took me out for lunch and I went grocery shopping. A little cleaning tonight, as we’re having a couple from our church over for burgers in the evening.

15. I baked some Carmelitas, and vacuumed upstairs. May have been too much, but I’ve got to push myself to have more stamina. Work will be here before I know it.

16.   Made it out to church this morning. A long morning, but I’m glad I went.

17.  I had a good writing day today; mostly dividing up my chapters into manageable sizes, adding an appropriate Bible verse at the beginning of each, and updating my chapter synopsis record which is needed for a proposal. I was able to see which scenes still need to be written, and began keeping track of who’s who so I stay consistent with names and descriptions.

18.  Planning a lazy dinner of leftover fried chicken and perogies so if I’m on a writing roll this afternoon, like yesterday, I won’t have to stop everything for the big production of dinner. Why does my family need to eat…every…day?

19.  Out for lunch with my mom and sister; my treat. I don’t have much to spend my money on since I’m mostly at home and saving money on transportation. Then we stopped at an Estonian bakery for some meatpies. I made chicken noodle soup to go with them.  I also decided on cupcakes for my party, instead of a cake.

20.   A friend came over to help with planning my party and making props for the photo corner. Also excited to learn my eldest got a social work job at the Yonge Street mission and my youngest was accepted into law school for September. So proud of my girls.

21. Pretty good writing day. I made pea soup in the crock pot and we ate it with dark sour rye bread. Suddenly I'm a kid again. It was comfort food.

22.  Went out for dinner for my niece’s birthday. She agreed to be the photographer for the photo corner at my party.

23.  My husband filed our taxes today. Our return should help pay for my party.

24.  Church this morning, with a missionary couple from Romania whom we support. Then my daughter and I went for a cupcake tasting and chose the flavours for the dessert for my party.

25.  Haven’t accomplished much today except for improving my procrastination skills. Will go to IKEA tonight for a walk and maybe to get some kind of storage for my writing room to get this stuff up off the floor.

26. A little further on the manuscript I need to send to the publisher on Friday. Just need to do a final proofread and decide on formatting.

27.  My mom is 74 today. I had taken her out for lunch, but as usual, she insisted on cooking dinner and my sister’s family came over.

28.  Found a nice fish and chips place nearby. Something different.

29.  My husband went to a men’s breakfast at church. I prepared a message for the April Women of Faith on Psalm 24, Who is this King of Glory?

30. Missionaries at our church today, then a Providential dinner. Long day, but I’m feeling stronger.

31. More party planning, bought a few things like tablecloths. Also taken out for lunch by my friend. I have nice friends. The party planning is coming along. Also finished the manuscript for the Testimonies of Faith book for our church. Will send it tomorrow.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

The Awkward Years

Junior Highschool. That’s grades 6-8, isn’t it? Our public school in Sault Ste. Marie consisted of Kindergarten thru grade 8, then highschool. But if I was to focus on those three years, I’d say they were probably the three worst years of my school career.

When I was moving up to grade four, they decided to take six of the most advanced from our grade, of which I was one, and add them to a split grade four/five class. Suddenly, the group I had been with since age five, I’d only see at recesses. I found it quite stressful to be in a new environment.

I’m not sure what their thinking was in splitting us up. If it was to give us an advantage somehow, I don’t think it worked. In fact, I’m sure it backfired. My marks plummeted for the first time in my educational career, beginning in grade six, and my shyness became paralyzing, even once I was back with my former classmates in grade eight.

Up until grade five, I was a good student, actually a very good student, straight A’s right through. The only comments about me personally, were that I was very shy. An understatement if there ever was one. In grade five I was even the teacher’s pet. My Scottish teacher, Mr. Morris let me do whatever hairbrained schemes I’d come up with, like organizing a beauty pageant in class. Yeah, dumb ideas like that.

In grade six, my teacher, Mr. Willinsky, was a hippie, and he was my teacher for two years, since I’d be in this split class until I finally rejoined my class again for grade eight when the upper half of my class went on to highschool. He also followed the thinking of the time, and put all our desks in a circle rather than in rows, and it ratcheted my stress level through the roof to have everyone looking at me every time I answered a question.e ev

 If there was one good thing about that time, it’s that I became an avid reader, getting lost in the world of books such as Harriet the Spy, Island of the Blue Dolphins and Nancy Drew mysteries. I also turned inward and began writing. I was a dreamer, and to many I would seem to be clueless, but I was processing all that happened around me, and imagining better realities. My writing consisted of journals and stories, the most significant was one about a fictional best friend of mine who dies of cancer. I don’t think I even have it anymore, but my hippie teacher read it an encouraged me in my writing. I guess he wasn’t so bad after all, even though he was a hippie.

My shyness was at a crisis point, paralyzing my actions. At the same time, I became more solid in my faith and that made me even more pensive, looking at the world through a new lens. I had my first crush in grade five, and after that, it was one ‘love affair’ after another, all in my mind, of course. I was too scared to actually talk to any boys.

I didn’t struggle with acne or anything like that, but I had body image issues, like most girls. I kept my hair short and was slow to develop, so I would sometimes be referred to as a boy. It didn’t help that my real first name was unpronounceable and would always need to be repeated. See my blogpost, What's in a Name?  It was so bad that in grade six one boy gave me and my friend nicknames. She was chubby and I was flat-chested, so he called us Fatso and Flatso. Horrible, wasn’t he?

Overall, not a great time in my life. My mother’s alcoholism became worse and since she was my only parent, I tended to want to be anywhere but home. I especially loved being in Christian homes. I was determined that was the type of family I wanted to have and would hold out until God brought a Christian man into my life. At the same time, my mother became more hostile to my new faith and at first, forbade me from seeing my Christian friends. My sister’s intercession, convincing her it was better I was there than in trouble somewhere, softened her stance, and my faith grew.

Some people I knew, two teens, had committed suicide by overdose. In spite of all my issues, that was never something that crossed my mind, thank God.

A book that was helpful to me at that time was Hinds’ Feet on High Places, by Hanna Hurnard. The main character in that allegory was Much-Afraid, and I could relate to her so well. It encouraged me that I could grow and overcome on this journey with The Shepherd, and one day have a new name.

Books became my friends, and I began reading fiction. I especially liked Biblical, historical fiction and recall a book called Twice Freed, about Onesimus. I also learned so much just from my Bible reading, although it would have helped to have someone to explain things to me or to even have a commentary or study Bible. I wasn’t attending church so I had no one to explain the big picture to me. That’s probably why I am particularly fascinated with writing the Scarlet Thread; Discovering Christ in all of Scripture. It is so amazing to see Christ in the O.T. narratives and symbols. It connects the testaments and helps me to see the Bible as one book instead of two, or sixty-six.

Our circumstances and environments shape who we are, and those critical years shaped my faith, my love for reading and writing, and even my introverted personality. I guess I can’t complain too much, since I survived, but I wouldn’t wish those years back. Overall, that particular small town holds more painful memories than happy ones, and it was not surprising that when I moved to Toronto at age twenty, I changed my name. I had mostly outgrown my shyness and I was stronger in my faith. It was a fresh start for me. Like Much-Afraid, I finally had a new name.