Blog Hop

Blog Hop

I offer many thanks to Tanara McCauley, who invited me to participate in a blog hop to explore and share my writing process. I met her at a Christian Writers Guild Writing for the Soul conference in Colorado two years ago, and she is just as lovely in person as she is online. This talented writer is a semifinalist in the Contemporary category of the American Christian Fiction Writers Genesis contest. Find out more about this hard-at-work, faithful wife and mother at tanaramccauley.org. Okay, Tanara, you asked me for the answers to these four questions, so here you go! 1. What am I working on? When I can find time to breathe I’m working on the baby I gave birth to about sixteen years ago—my book, that is, and not my first child, who arrived about the same time. A Long Time Comin’ (oh, how appropriately named!) is a mother-and-child love story that spans three generations of southern women. Set in North Carolina, my novel shows how unforgiveness affects this most basic of bonds and how this root of bitterness gradually burrows into other relationships. I’ve “finished” my voice- and character-driven story several times, but God has been showing me that He’s not finished, that there’s still refining work to do. So, I keep plugging at the editorial process of rereading, rethinking, and rewriting. I’m also working on a new writing venture, an online journal called His Fruitful Vine, with Andrea Thorpe, another homeschool mom. We’ll talk about issues related to marriage and family, education, home management, and faith. She is so much more organized and technology gifted than...
My Umbrella Policy

My Umbrella Policy

“When I grow up I want to be a rocket scientist,” Think Tank announced, and after a moment he added, “or a garbage collector.” It sounds like a line from “Kids Say the Darndest Things,” but actually, Think Tank is onto something. He has the brains to achieve the first, but he also has the common sense to evaluate his own skill set and current experience and plan accordingly. Tonight, when I think about Think Tank and his dreams for the future my heart aches, and it’s not because he’s considering a career in trash collection. At this moment, I don’t care if he wants to teach underwater basket weaving in the Sonoran Desert because I can’t help but consider the never-to-be-realized dreams and plans of those young people in Santa Barbara, California. Which of them wanted to become a minister, activist, actor, scientist, teacher, or parent? I think of their families, of the mother I saw crying on the news. I imagine myself in her place, and then I put my own children—who will soon topple from our nest and fly off to college—in their place. And it scares me. I’m known in these parts for my “worst case scenario” thinking; I try to prepare for any contingency. When we walk around the neighborhood I carry a large stick, just in case some ferocious dog or black bear should attack us. My family dresses in similar bright colors for field trips so I can spot my kid in a crowd. I don’t allow the little people to eat grapes in the car because I can’t do the Heimlich...
Who Loves You, Baby?

Who Loves You, Baby?

When I was a child my mother told me two things that still resonate. The first was “Robin, don’t show all your teeth when you smile.” Yes, a big ouchie, but I don’t take a picture to this day without thinking of Mama. The second? “Robin, I’m not your friend.” Now that hurt! It took years for me to get over the pain, to grasp the multi-faceted meaning of her simple statement. But one day, my eyes met my precious Songbird’s over the dinner table, and unbelievably, I heard myself repeat my mama’s words: “Darlin, I am not your friend.” Bull’s-eye! Man down! When Songbird first heard me say these words she was speechless. Up until the last year or two, I was Mommy, someone who loved her unconditionally (as long as she cleaned out from under her bed, held her pencil properly, etcetera, etcetera, yeah, unconditionally); who said “yes” every once in a while; the mother who fed her, taught her, cuddled her, and transported her; the one who translated all the girly stuff for her dad and brothers. But one day, all of that got tweaked—maybe it happened the day she borrowed her first shirt or slid her toes into my shoes for the first time or we stayed up late together to watch a Lifetime movie. Suddenly, Songbird saw me as her “bestie” and the world as she knew it opened up: she pictured us holding hands, skipping through the mall, whispering about boys, comparing diets. I saw her face crumple and heard her heart break, but oh, Songbird, a mother is so much better than...
The Mother Ship

The Mother Ship

Do you ever sing this Sunday school song with your little people? “Who built the Ark? Robin, Robin. Who built the Ark? Mother Robin built the Ark.” Perhaps not. But it’s a song I hum from time to time. You should try it; feel free to substitute your name in place of mine. It took Noah more than 100 years to build the Ark. He’d never even seen rain and he wasn’t in the shipbuilding business. But he had faith. He trusted. He had resilience not just to work, but he had the strength of mind and godly character to wait for the promised result of his work. Wait and work. I have the working part down. I’m a hard-working mother, a person who works from home, a woman who loves to work with kids. “W” is literally my middle initial, and work is what I do. Okay, waiting? Not so much. I often use Noah as an example with my little people. If anyone followed directions to a tee, it was Noah. God gave him exact specifications for constructing the vessel that would save himself, his family, the animals—the world as Noah knew it. If it had been up to my little people, the Ark’s inhabitants might have found themselves clinging to floating olive branches and random pieces of gopher wood, for that great boat would have broken up at the end of Day Four. Why? Because my children are good for winging it, for thinking on the fly. These are great skills to have when they’re doing critical thinking exercises or sitting in art class—maybe they should...
Seventh Heaven

Seventh Heaven

Okay. I’m tired of pretending. Raising seven kids is no joke. When we’re out and about I’m always trying to put on the “this-is-a-walk-in-the-park” face. But I must admit that there are bees and gnats and spiders and lots of sweating happening on this particular sunny walk. When I don’t call you back, it’s not because I don’t want to talk to you; it’s because I don’t have time to talk to you. I’m sure when you think of seven kids you think of your own struggles, and you multiply them. Seven not-so-little plates around the breakfast, lunch, and dinner table and all the snacks that go in-between. Seven attitudes that go along with those plates of food because more than likely, not everybody likes hamburger casserole or sweet potatoes or chicken Marsala or pasta (but only on Tuesdays). Then there’s seven people to dress and teach and cart around. Seven people saying, “It wasn’t me. I don’t know who left the windows down in the car. I didn’t know it was going to rain.” Seven people who don’t feed the dogs or take them for walks. Seven people who have to stop by your bedroom at night, even if it’s just to tell you who won the basketball game or to ask if she can have an apple now that she’s hungry because she didn’t like the sweet potatoes you had for dinner. Seven people who want to play soccer or take piano lessons (okay, to force to take piano lessons) or do Mock Trial or star in the community theater. Seven people who don’t like riding in...
Listening for the Answer

Listening for the Answer

“Mom, could you play ‘Beautiful Day’?” “No, we’re almost there, so I’ll have to play that song on the way home.” Two seconds later… “Mom, could you play ‘Beautiful Day’?” “Uh… Lone Ranger, I just answered your question. We’re almost at Aunt Mo’s, so I’m going to play the song on the way home.” “Ohhhh, I didn’t hear you!” “What does Mommy say…?” As a chorus, the Think Tank, Songbird, Lone Ranger, and Maven intone, “Listen for the answer!” Yes, my little people, listen for the answer. That scenario is a daily event in our household. It may not be about what music I’m going to play from my iPhone; it could be questions about the lunch menu, if they can play outside, whether or not they can watch television, if I will count while they jump rope… Whatever the case, they generally ask me the question one million times (and yes, just me, and not their dad sitting peacefully in the corner, undisturbed) and just when they tug on my leg for the tenth time or form their lips to pose the question for the one million and first (oneth?) time, I yell, “You asked me; I answered. Now, listen for the answer!” And though the situation is oft repeated, they always gaze at me in shock that their request was answered, that I responded quite appropriately, immediately, and completely. Sometimes my kids do hear me, but they give up hope because it takes me a minute to fulfill the request. For instance, Brown Sugar will ask, “Can I have some water?” She’s too small to reach the...