3 Gifts I Found During My Time Away

It’s been 8 weeks since my last blog, and I’ve missed you while I’ve been away! Thank you to each of you who were praying for me and my family, and for the encouragement so many of you shared.

For those who may be new here, I took a blog break since October because, at the time, I faced a book deadline that I didn’t think I was going to make, and because one of my daughters needed more of me for a season. It was a step of sheer obedience. . . and one I’m so glad I took. Guess what came of it?

A change of pace can open fresh gifts in our lives. {Image credit: melpomen / 123RF Stock Photo}

A change of pace can open fresh gifts in our lives. {Image credit: melpomen / 123RF Stock Photo}

God showed me that I can write a book in 6 weeks.

When I found out I’d gotten two contracts for books in February this year, I had no idea what I didn’t know. Namely, that it takes a whole year to write a “first book” because it’s not just writing, but communicating about the book’s direction with the editing team and making mid-course corrections along the way. Then there’s editing, marketing meetings, more editing, getting endorsements, more editing, more marketing discussions, more editing and, finally, more editing. (Did I mention the editing?)

That was book one. Which took me until the middle of October to get ready for press. Book two was due December 15, and my brain was fried chicken by the time I could start working full-time on it. Fortunately, National Novel Writer’s Month happens November 1-30 every year, and as I started hearing my fiction-writing friends post about it on Facebook, I realized “that’s just the thing I need: a bit of fun and friendly competition to get this project done!”

I signed up for the site with my “novel” (also known as a non-fiction parenting book), and boy am I glad I did! There were some days I honestly would not have had it in me to write another word (let alone the 2000 needed each day), but for the feeling of humiliation that “today’s word count: ZERO” would inflict on this get-it-done girl.

God connected me with a resource that wasn’t even strictly-speaking applicable to me, but which gave me the oomph I needed to do more than I ever dreamed possible in such a short time!

Feeling lost is a great start to a holiday.

By December 15, when that book was done and in the hands of my editor, my kids were looking at me with their big cow-eyes, wondering what happened to their usual Christmastime mom. The house wasn’t decorated, the lights weren’t up, we hadn’t made Christmas cookies, and I was NOT in the mood to do any of it. I wanted to sleep for two weeks instead.

Of course, as a mother of four, that wasn’t an option, so the day after I turned in the book, I woke up the kids with hot chocolate and pronounced it a family holiday. I called in to all their schools and told them the truth: I was toast and I wanted to play with my kids. Guess what? None of the school attendance secretaries gave me the third degree. . . in fact, they all said they wished they could do it too.

That day, I took the kids to sing carols at an Alzheimer treatment facility, and watched them make it Christmas-y for folks, some of whom didn’t have any other visitors around the holidays.

My four girls pulled it together, managed their sensory issues, special needs, and tween eye-rolling for a few hours in order to bless people who needed to know they weren’t forgotten. I couldn’t have been more proud of them. Or more inspired to welcome Christmas in to my home.

Ditching traditions is my new tradition.

While I was drowning in words, finishing my book, the kids had begged me over and over again to make sugar cookies. I’ve done that for 10 years, so it makes sense they’d think of that when they thought of Christmas traditions. But after posting “let’s do what we love, not what we feel obligated to do this Christmas” on my Facebook page, I decided to listen to my dread of hours and hours over the stove, and ditch the tradition.

I’d always wanted to learn how to make classic gingerbread, so we did those instead this holiday. Not only did they taste better, they smelled great and were beautiful on plates around the kitchen and as gifts to others!

As we enjoyed this new tradition, I decided to make a new tradition for coming holidays together: pick one to change each year. It will give us some space to do what we all love and look forward to. . . and give us space to find fresh joy with each Christmastime.

What about you? What surprises have popped up in your life in the past few months?

-Laurie

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