Monday, January 30, 2017

Meet My Characters: Ethan and Ginger

Another couple of my fictional characters have been patiently waiting for their turn to be introduced, and so I thought it was time. Ethan and Ginger were the main characters in my first 'real' book. Their story has been written and rewritten, edited and changed so many times I've lost track, and yet they remain the same. So, without further ado, here they are.

Meet Ginger. Raised by a loving mom and dad, she's had little in her life to perplex or disturb her. Her older brother is her protector, her parents are her guides, and her Lord is her life. She's known very little sorrow, very little pain. Her world that has been so happy and full of sunshine is suddenly ripped apart when her brother is in a terrible automobile accident and almost loses his life. His recovery takes time, and through it, Ginger comes to realize that time is short, our lives on this earth are not to be taken for granted, and that one must value the blessings God has given before they are taken away.

Meet Ethan. Abandoned as a small child, Ethan hasn't known the joy of being raised by his mom and dad. His aging grandfather has done the best he can to raise Ethan, but it's not until Ethan's family comes to know the Lord that their lives change. Ethan's long hard struggle to make a life for himself and to avoid becoming a repeat of his father and grandfather has caused this young man to lose some of his joy, though God has given him other blessings which he focuses on. One of those blessings is his talent for writing- a talent which will bring him to the next big blessing in his life, if only he can avoid any more awkward encounters with her!

I can't give away too much about how Ethan and Ginger meet or fall in love, as the whole story revolves around one specific detail. Let's just say, meddling grandmothers, letters to future spouses and flower shops have a lot to do with their happy ending. As seems to be the trend with most of my characters, Ethan and Ginger have opposite backgrounds and raisings, but one common factor in their lives brings them together that means more than anything else: their Lord. In fact, it's because of Ethan's new attendance at the small, fictional Baptist church where Ginger attends that they're able to share this common faith! But- shush!- no more. I'm afraid the rest of the story will have to wait until I finally finish editing this book and publish!
I hope you've enjoyed meeting Ethan and Ginger, my first 'book babies' who hold a special place in my heart 😊

Time to meet one of the most important people in my life...

Hello, everyone! I figured it was time to introduce someone who plays an integral part in my life, someone who helps me make decisions, name characters, and decide on yarn colors...
My Mom.
I'll start from the beginning. Mom was born in a small town in GA, although she was raised all over the world because her dad was military. She comes from a military background family. Her grandfather served in three branches, the other grandfather served in one branch, her father and one brother served as well.
Thanks to Mom being raised around the world, she knows a few things that people raised stateside don't- or, at least, isn't common. She knows that German French fries taste weird, how window blinds are different from ours, and some very interesting German phrases.
Mom is right in the middle of two brothers. Yes, I've heard many stories about her growing up with her older brother. Apparently having only brothers is not fun, or so she tells me. My favorite story is her one about smacking her older brother with a Barbie doll when he made her mad.
My mom has always been a very good mom- and I'm not just saying that. I think having two brothers helped her when it comes to raising my three brothers. When it comes to her four daughters, well, that's all Mom. She's been patient beyond belief with us- mostly me, I admit- and has been blessed with being able to homeschool all of us our entire educations. And for those of your who don't know, that's not an easy task. She's always encouraging us to read for fun, although she doesn't push it if she knows we would rather not read.
In my house, Mom is the first one up, usually before the sunrise. She has said before that when she wakes up, her mind is already running with everything she has to do that day. Between schooling, breakfast, making sure kids are up, dressed and ready for school, getting kids to work, lunch, cleaning, dinner preparations and just the general work a mom has to do, I know my mom's day is much fuller than mine is.
And Mom's the last one to bed at night. I know for a fact she can't sleep unless she knows that she knows that she knows each of her kids is safe in their bed. That means if one is out working late, she's not going to sleep until they are home. You can guess about how much sleep Mom gets, I'm sure.
My mom has also been a very godly mother. She's kept all seven of us kids in church our whole lives. She encourages us to read our Bibles, pray and be helpful at church where ever we can. She's managed to survive 25 years of sitting in the nursery for church with little ones! Maybe one day, all of us kids will finally be grown and she can sit out once again...
If you ask Mom what her favorite thing to do is, her answer will be (after she says spending time with her children) grocery shopping. Mom has always loved to grocery shop, and though I can't quite understand why, I'm always glad she does because it means a full kitchen 😉 Thankfully, she also likes to cook! If you couldn't guess it, her favorite game show was and always will be Supermarket Sweep.
This pretty much sums up my mom. She probably will say I praise her too much in this, but it's the truth and I have no reason to lie or make anything up. She's truly a great mom, and a great example to me of what a mom really is.
I love you, Mom 😊

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Don't Follow Your Heart

That's right. Don't follow your heart.
So this has been on my mind for a while now. As a matter of fact, I posted on Facebook and Instagram about this:

Anyone who has read Jeremiah 17:9 should know that your heart will deceive you. Feelings are temporary. What you just know 'with all your heart' or 'in your gut' is right, often is not. And I admit it, I have been guilty of this just as much as anyone else. It's something God has to remind me of all the time, that I'm supposed to follow Him, not my own heart.
It seems like every movie my younger siblings watch (or that I watched as a kid) pushed following your heart. As if somehow magically, following what you think is right will always bring about a happy ending and there will never be any trouble in your life. I don't agree with this.
You can't follow your heart, because then you're following your own desires and wishes, not God's.
And let's be honest, our own desires and wishes aren't the best. My heart's desire is to eat a dozen donuts in one siting, but I know that is bad for me so I don't. I know that sounds silly but it's just an example of something trifling that our hearts mislead us in. Think about all the bigger, more important things our hearts and feelings can lead us away from the Lord in!
"The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?"
Wow. God's Word says my heart is deceitful above all things. It deceives me?
Yes, it does.
My heart tells me that I'm a good person. My heart tells me that I'm not wrong in a fight. My heart tells me that what I'm doing is what's best. And you know what? My heart is wrong. I am not a good person- If I were a good person, I wouldn't have needed Christ to save me from my sin. I usually am wrong when there's a fight, just ask my mom. I usually do what I think is best for myself by it all reality it's the worst decision I could make. If I listened to my heart, I'd be on my way to a real and burning hell, friendless and in so much trouble I'd never get out, all while still trying to convince myself that I'm a good person who has done nothing wrong.
Thank the Lord, He forgives. And trusting Him is easier than listening to my own heart. Feelings come and go, but God's Word- what we should be following- lasts forever. As long as I'm following God's Word and His Will for my life, I know I'm following what I need to.
So, please. Don't follow your heart. Follow the Lord.
I promise, if you follow God, it's going to end a lot better than if you follow your heart.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Quarter of a Century, and What to show for it?

I realize it's been way too long since my last post, but to tell the truth, there's been quite a lot going on in my household. Revival meetings with the Frazor Evangelistic Team, the flu, and preparations for a most significant event.... My birthday. Between those three things, I've been either kept in bed sick or gone all day for the past few weeks. Monday I left the house around 10, didn't get home till 4, then had to turn right around and leave at 5:15 to get to church!
Since my birthday is coming, I thought I'd tell you a little about important dates in my life.
January, some twenty-something years ago. One premature, squished-nose Melissa entered this world. Yes, squished nose. My nose was off to the side because my mom was too small to carry me to term and so yeah, my nose looked funny for a while.
Fast forward about 7 years. This is when I got saved. I don't know the exact date but I DO know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I trusted Jesus Christ as my Saviour. I was baptized right around this time too.
Not much interesting happened the next few years. I got braces. Started writing about age 12. But nothing really interesting.
Fast forward to 2008. I graduated in December at age 16. Yep, took a bit of work but I made it just a month before I turned 17. Had a graduation party, got asked what my plans were. Honestly, I never felt peace to go to college. I did take a few classes at home (Greek and Old Testament Survey, Spanish and I tried Latin) but I never went away from home. I stayed at home to help my mom with the younger kids as the economy was so bad that I knew people had families to support and needed the jobs more than me. It was right about here I wrote my first, real novel, a story about Ethan and Ginger and how they were brought together in a rather odd but special way involving some letters, a nosy grandmother and a lot of books.
Fast forward (again) to my 20th birthday. I was asked to teach Sunday school for my church. Now, anyone who knows me well will know that I've been a shy person. Speaking in front of people was never a strong suit. That first Sunday when I taught, three little kids scared me worse than a room full of adults. But this was right about the time I was learning to actually serve the Lord, not just pray and read my Bible. I know, it took a long time for me to get to that point. But the joy of teaching and serving God grew until I was no longer afraid of speaking, and enjoyed seeing 'my kids' each week learning memory verses and Bible stories. Around this time I also learned to crochet. Boy, I'm glad I did!
Fast forward almost five years. I'm still teaching (doubt I'll ever quit) and finding new ways to share the gospel, to encourage and help others, and to be a Christian influence on social media. I'm still serving as a single (but praying God changes that this year!). I'm working on my
Etsy shop and trying to get most activity there. I'm still helping Mom with my baby sister until she starts school. I'm writing and looking for publishers. I'm looking forward to seeing what my quarter-of-a-century year of life will have in store.
To some, my life may look like I haven't accomplished much, haven't got much to show for it. But I assure you, God has done many things. God, not me. He's worked many times to teach me, mold me and change me. He's provided ways when I was blocked in my path, gave shelter when my storm was too strong, and gave me trial and tests to grow my faith. I know I'm not a perfect child, but I'm so thankful God has been patient with me. I can truly say, all the good that has been done through me or in my life has been God's doing and not my own!