Adventures in Writing

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I’m usually, at best, a sporadic blogger. I have the best of intentions, but those seem to fall by the wayside as my real, and very busy, life takes over. Then, I get discouraged because I haven’t created the online community I dream of having and I feel like no one reads my blog.

so….I’ve joined Jeff Goins in a 31 day blogging challenge to make my blog an intentional part of my life. Over the next 30 days, I will be blogging about the stuff I love and the stuff that makes me tick. I will be challenging my readers to share their stories and encourage other bloggers trying to make a name for themselves in this same journey.

Look for blogs from me like:

  • Make a Difference Monday – #madmlinkup – it’s pretty much the only blog I’m guaranteed to do every week
  • Writing what you know…and what you don’t know.
  • Book reviews
  • Book to movie adaption reviews – spoiler – there are very few good ones
  • Creating online community
  • Surprises galore!

I’m looking forward to the challenge. I think it will be a healthy way for me to be disciplined about writing regularly and will stretch my creative side a little more. My friend Chris Holmes recently published a book of encouragement and posts updates on his facebook page and blog regularly. As I was thinking about whether or not to do this challenge, this was what he posted last night:
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…and that pretty much sums up my writing life to this point. It’s time to be intentional and do something about it. So, here’s to 31 days of adventures in writing!

 

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#madm linkup: Sole Hope

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(I may have told you I would stop writing about One Girl last week. Whoops).

I was first introduced to the awesome work that Sole Hope does about a year ago at the Influence Conference (we’ll talk about how sad I am that I missed this year’s conference later). Their premise is so simple. Turn everyday items like jeans, milk jugs and plastic folders into shoe for kids and adults in Uganda.

Taken directly from the Sole Hope Website:

Core Purpose

To effectively put in place preventive methods to combat diseases that enter through the feet and to create a positive physical and spiritual difference in the lives of individuals in impoverished communities.

Core Values

Relief: We believe in addressing the very real and present problems associated with the feet through medical intervention as well as taking preventative physical measures.

Education: We believe that education of the youth and their caretakers is essential for long-term solutions.

Sustainability: We believe in supporting communities and teaching the trade of shoe making. We innovate and demonstrate solutions that combine the best of indigenous and contemporary practice to create sustainable skills and employment.

Pretty impressive, right? What impressed me even more were these images: 200 girls and another 30-40 leaders tracing, cutting and connecting with the mission and vision of Sole Hope at the One Girl Conference:

View More: http://katiekillionphotography.pass.us/onegirl View More: http://katiekillionphotography.pass.us/onegirl If you’re looking for a practical, easy way to make a difference with your small group, a group of friends or just your family, consider Sole Hope. They are super easy to work with and super fun to be in partnership with! I’ve loved every minute of our collaboration. I will update this post with the number of shoes we cut out soon! (We’re still cutting the leftovers and still counting!)

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Book Review: The Rainbow Rowell Edition

As of now, I have read all four Rainbow Rowell books. Instead of four different reviews, here are my thoughts on each of her books.

FanGirl

Fangirl.

I seriously adored this book. I saw so much of who I am in Cath, it almost hurt. (Except for the fact that I’ve never written Fan Fiction). Cath is the quiet one, the introvert, the lover of words and the worlds they create. She wants to be challenged, but doesn’t want to get too far out of her comfort zone. She worries about her sister and her father. She wants to fall in love, but gets her heart stomped on in the process. She loves the world of Simon Snow so much and has such a following there that she doesn’t know how to find her own story. She is smart, but insecure in her intelligence. She is the feeler, the girl who wants to make everything right. She is me, in literary form.

Fangirl is such a great book. I am sure I’m not the only one who wants Rainbow to go ahead and write the Simon Snow books, too (yes, I see the blatant comparison to Harry Potter, but still). Fangirl is about finding yourself the first time you’re away from everything that used to keep you grounded. It’s about growing up, but not too fast. It’s about letting yourself be loved and loving in return. It’s about first heartbreaks, recovering from bad choices, and discovering your place in the story. It’s about the power of friendship and the moment that you really see the person who has been standing in front of you the whole time. It’s about expectations and reality. It’s about life.

 

 

 

Eleanor & ParkEleanor & Park

If I could count the number of people who told me to read this book…well, it would be a lot. I know it’s the book that brought Rainbow Rowell into the forefront of everyone’s imaginations. It’s a poignant love story about two misfits who find each other – and find out who they really are in the process. This is most people’s favorite Rowell, but I think my friends are right – the first one of her books you read is your favorite (for me, that’s Fangirl.)

Eleanor has a horrible home life, and a not much better school life. Park comes from a solid, if somewhat odd family. Neither of them are popular. Neither of them are part of the in crowd. But, over a shared love of comic books, mix tapes and the somewhat odd, they find each other. Their romance is sweet and tender, while being real and containing just enough angst to make their teenage selves feel real.

The “twist” at the end of the book wasn’t all that surprising, but was well written. I don’t want to give anything away, but I think the thing that bothered me the most was how Rowell wrapped up Eleanor & Park’s stories. I felt like it was out of character, and that bothered me.

 

 

 

AttachmentsAttachments

Rainbow Rowell doesn’t just write for teens; she’s also released two adult books. Attachments is about an unlikely office romance; Lincoln was hired by a local paper to monitor email as it first becomes popular. The powers that be are worried that people will misuse the technology, which is probably a valid concern. Instead of addressing the issue head-on, they hire Lincoln to flag, read and reprimand anyone who uses the office email inappropriately.

Beth and Jennifer couldn’t care less. Coworkers and close friends, they use email like an instant messaging service, revealing the highs and lows of their lives to each other in written form.

Attachments is written mostly in email correspondence, especially with Beth & Jennifer. Lincoln’s story is told through “traditional” writing styles. I loved the creative use of style, though it’s not the first time I’ve seen it used. It’s a fun, different way to tell the story. However, it leads to three narrators in some ways, which confused me at times. I had to keep jumping back to see if it was Beth talking to Jennifer or vice versa. At one point, I had their story lines completely mixed up!

Attachments is an easy, fast read. It’s a cute story of relationships, falling in lust, falling in love, and trying to make life work. You learn about people in ways that you wouldn’t normally learn because of the use of multiple narrators. Overall, an easy summer beach read.

 

 

LandlineLandline

Landline is the newest addition to Rowell’s catalog. In this book, another adult work, Georgie is a hot sitcom writer on the verge of finally having her dream show picked up. However, it’s Christmas and to make deadline, she can no longer go back to her husband’s home in Omaha with their two girls. Georgie stays behind while Neal and the girls leave, setting a spiral of strange happenings in motion.

Tired, frustrated and alone, Georgie finds herself in her old room at her mom’s house. Since her cell phone battery keeps dying, she pulls out the old landline, plugs it in, and calls Neal. But, the Neal she’s talking to is not her husband – yet. It’s Neal from the past, during a week when Georgie thought Neal was going to leave her for good.

As Georgie struggles to come to grips with what’s happening in her world, she goes through a hilarious list of potential things that could be happening – including having a magic phone that calls the past. That scene is one of my favorite in any Rowell book.

Landline is a fun, quick read. I enjoyed it, but I felt like there were too many characters vying for my attention. At the core, it is about Georgie and Neal and whether or not their marriage will survive a Christmas apart. But the story is cluttered with co-workers, family (both dead and alive), new loves, random circumstances, and even one too many dogs for my taste (and I’m a dog lover). If you eliminate all the “extra” stuff, the story between Georgie and Neal feels like it takes up barely half the book. I could have done with less of the other stuff and more of Georgie and Neal discovering the magic phone and what it could do to change their lives.

 

#MADM linkup: What I Learned at One Girl

one girl logoIt happened. One Girl came. One Girl went. I have about a thousand mixed feelings that I can’t quite put into words about the whole weekend-the whole experience-the whole reason behind One Girl. This will be my last Made a Difference Monday post about One Girl (for now). Here’s what I learned about making a difference and running a conference.

  • Everyone needs to feel like they are important. Simple things like smiles, hugs and eye contact make all the difference in the world.
  • Being nice is easy. Truly loving people requires commitment and sacrifice.
  • You are only as good as your team, so surround yourself with amazing people and make sure they know you couldn’t do it without them.
  • Be gracious and kind. Everyone is fighting a hard battle.
  • Expectations can determine reality.
  • Never go into a weekend like this thinking you’ve got it all figured out.
  • Expect the unexpected. And then learn to embrace it.
  • Giving of your time is one thing. Giving of your heart is something else entirely.
  • Smile and laugh a lot.

Next week will be back to regularly scheduled #madmlinkup fun. Right now i’m just too tired from one of the best weekends ever!

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#MADM Linkup: It’s One Girl Week!

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It’s finally here! It’s One Girl Conference week!! All the prayers, all the preparation, all the sleepless nights (oh wait, those are still happening)…it all comes down to a few hours beginning Friday night and running through Saturday. I could share more about why I feel like One Girl matters here, but you might just want to read this post instead. It’s all there. Why I love One Girl. Why One Girl matters. Why I believe One Girl can change the world, one life at a time.

I’m so excited. We have great numbers so far. 200 girls. 65 moms. 100 volunteers.  We have great content about pursuing God and pursuing a change in the world. We have amazing breakouts scheduled. Heck, we even have cool swag on the way here.  It’s all exciting.

But, the most exciting part for me? That girls that maybe have never believed it before will hear a message of life change:

they are loved

they are pursued by God

they matter

they have a place to belong

they have a story to tell

I cannot wait to tell you all about One Girl next week. But this week, can I ask for your help? I have set up a super simple Google Doc. I would love to cover One Girl in prayer in the hours leading up to and during the conference. Would you pray with me? Here is the link:

Pray for the 2014 One Girl Conference

Put your name, or just that you’ve taken the slot. Thank you!

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#MADM Linkup: Where I’ve Been Edition

MADM-Circle-FinalHi! Remember me? I used to blog here. And then the last few weeks happened.  I’ve gone on vacation. My sister got married. There was a long holiday weekend. A dear friend got married this weekend.  Another of my grandfather’s died. Oh, and the One Girl Conference is just a few days away.

It’s been a crazy few weeks. And, every time I go to blog, I have about 1,000 other things that pop up on my list to do. So I do nothing. Paralyzed by the blank blog box and the ever-growing to-do list.

But I miss you girls. I miss the community. I miss knowing you all have my back when I embark on crazy adventures.

Today, I just want to remind you that you can and do make a difference, right now, right where you are.

How do I know?

  • Because you’re engaged with your family and friends.
  • Because you believe in the people in your life.
  • Because you cheer your virtual friends on when their goals seem crazy.
  • Because, just by reading this, I know you want to make a difference.
  • Because you’re still here, living and breathing. That means God’s not done with  you yet.
  • Because I believe in you. I believe in your dreams. I believe in the big and small ways you’re changing everything.

I promise I’ll write a real post again soon. But probably not until after One Girl. Because right now, I’m not just writing about making a difference. I’m praying about it. I’m dreaming about it. I’m willing this conference into existence in just 12 days.

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#MADMlinkup: One Small Step

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It’s time for another make a difference Monday post! Today I’m super excited to tell you about an awesome event happening in Bloomington on August 30. My friend Sarah is a mother, a wife, a sister, a friend, a Christ-follower, and an advocate. She is passionate about her children, passionate about life and passionate about making a difference. I still remember when I heard that her oldest daughter, Lillian, had been diagnosed shortly after birth with Prader-Willi Syndrome. You can read more about PWS here. At the simplest – PWS means Lillian is always hungry, will always be hungry, and will always have to have her food intake carefully controlled.

Out of nowhere, Sarah and her husband had to learn a lot about having a child with a special need, learn how to manage Lillian’s constant hunger, and raise their daughter, despite this unexpected diagnosis in an otherwise uncomplicated pregnancy. While many people would crumble under that kind of struggle, Sarah and her husband rose to the challenge. They are a constant inspiration to me. They have two beautiful children. They have a strong, wonderful marriage. They are tireless supporters of PWS research and believe that a cure is possible for their little girl.

As part of their constant dedication to finding a cure for PWS, Sarah hosts a One Small Step event in Bloomington. One Small Step is a free family event, obstacle course, craft fair and more – all dedicated to helping raise money for PWS. They are raising money through donations and pledges, committing to help other PWS families as they learn how to live with and manage PWS. Here’s a little more about the event:

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I am always amazed by Sarah. She fights for her daughter every day. I cannot imagine how tired she can get sometimes. She has to be careful about who she leaves Lily with because they have to know how to manager her food intake. She has to worry about social events and school, both of which center around (often sugary, empty-calorie) food. She has to be strong when the world seems to fight her at every turn.

It’s funny. I emailed Sarah to have her answer some questions for me for this post. Then I realized, all at once, that she doesn’t have time for that right now. She’s a few days away from a big event. Lily started school last week. She has a lot on her plate all the time. So instead, I combed through her facebook page and found some awesome information from when she was doing an awareness month about PWS. This one, in particular, stood out:

“How can friends and family best support you, Lillian, and your family? And on a related note, what actions or things said are NOT helpful, even when really well-intended?”

The best way to support us is to truly understand PWS and the struggle that it is on a daily basis. To know that we try our best to include Lillian in any and everything she can be. We want her to have best friends and sleep overs and play in sports that interest her and exceed in school. And please know that those things are so not easy for us or for her.

It might not come as natural for her as it does for your children, and we’re going to need a lot of grace and understanding when we get frustrated over the circumstances. We might be frustrated because we can’t escape the fact that food is everywhere and it is going to throw a wrench in her ability to focus and cause her distress and anxiety.

It would help if people would realize that food doesn’t have to be involved with every single event/party/celebration. And if it is, it would be helpful if it wasn’t the main focus or used as a “treat” or a prize. It would be helpful if people could get creative with holidays and instead of a candy exchange at every holiday, maybe create a craft or handmade cards or toys to exchange or games to play. It would be helpful if parents considered other children’s dietary issues during sporting events and if the snacks after soccer practice or cheerleading meets or t-ball weren’t loaded with sugar (because that’s a horrible idea anyway).

That being said, what does not help us, but is always meant to be well intended, is when all of those things happen mentioned above, holidays/parties/celebrations etc and they are surrounded by cake/cookies/sugar/candy and then you offer to get a healthy alternative for Lillian. Thank you for the thoughtfulness, I know you mean well and are going out of your way to insure she can be included. And we appreciate that VERY much. It’s still not creating a safe environment for her though, or any child with parents who would prefer not to indulge their children due to behavioral issues or allergies. Trust me when I say, there are a lot of moms who struggle and have a difficult time with this but choose not to say anything to you. I hope that this doesn’t come across as ungrateful, because every single one of our closest/best friends and family have done exactly this. And it’s thoughtful and we appreciate it and the thought really does count. Unfortunately it’s just not all that helpful.

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You can read all of the questions and answers Sarah covered here: https://www.facebook.com/onesmallstepbloomington

If you feel inclined, donate to the One Small Step  – Bloomington event here: http://onesmallstep.fpwr.org/dw/walking/location/993

Sarah, you are an inspiration to me every single day!

Love,

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