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Posts Tagged ‘book tour’

It is graduation day. Finally, I’m a college graduate.

I have been having a lot of flashbacks from different points in my college career, and as I promised you around New Years here is some self-reflection. My mom’s verse for me is Philippians 3:12, “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect,<sup class=”crossreference” value='(W)’> but I press on to take hold<sup class=”crossreference” value='(X)’> of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.” Nothing much sums up my life better than that. College really began in high school, when I took a few classes at local colleges. I learned then that I was not as outmatched by the big, broad world of adulthood as I had thought I was. I was still a bit of an introvert. And I spent every spare moment of that senior year writing or thinking about writing. It was the year I published Issym. And then I made the very logical decision to go to school for a business major.

Honestly, I don’t know that I would have gone to college if I had not started with a Business/Bible degree. It was the Bible degree that pushed me to head to South Carolina for college, stepping out of Maine, the only home I had ever known. I will never regret my one semester at Bible College. It was my chance to be a real student, to write on the side, to live boldly, to make friends, to feel warm everyday. I enjoyed Chick-Fil-A for the first time; I learned how to drive on a six lane highway; I discovered the value of coffee with the girls. Very importantly, the time at college granted me a deeper foundation of Bible knowledge and exposer to different chapel speakers and their ideas. I discovered that home could be found anywhere, even in the sweltering south. I made good friends that semester; not one of them lasted as more than a ‘Facebook friend’, which was okay too. Life is funny like that. What I desperately want to be permanent sometimes only lasts for a season. But oh, what a season! One must embrace moments. You do not reject summer because it cannot last.

My description of that semester at Columbia International University (CIU) would be incomplete if I did admit how very near death I seemed one fateful night when the chest pains I had been experiencing all semester surged to a new high. After not leaving my dorm room for a week, I was rushed home to Maine and admitted to the ER. I did homework in my hospital room, searching for the feeling of normality and holding onto hope that I would be able to go back to college. I remember being amazed how my heart (we had a special scan run) looked like an angry Muppet and how one floor of the hospital had the overwhelming smell of coffee. What was then diagnosed (although falsely so) as costochondritus allowed me to get on my feet, slowly. I discovered rest–pure rest–was about all I could do for myself. Somehow, through it all, I made it to the release of my second book, Asandra. That accomplishment may be my proudest because of how many obstacles seemed to get in the way. It was also the book where I learned how to be honest with readers, how to show them my heart. The reception was phenomenal. That semester I learned in a new way how true 2nd Corinthians 12:9 is, “But he said to me, ‘My grace<sup class=”crossreference” value='(P)’> is sufficient for you, for my power<sup class=”crossreference” value='(Q)’> is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” So I boast in Christ’s strength. I am full of weakness; He is not.

The fateful events that haunted me near Thanksgiving break led me on a journey back to Maine. At the time it felt like failure to leave my new home and head to my old one, to move back in with my parents, to have them carry my laundry, to barely drag myself to school every day. I was proud that I had finished the semester at CIU, but I knew that there would be no quality of life if I stayed in South Carolina. I could not have anticipated how good home would feel, how important it would be for me to work alongside Maine Bible Quizzing as a worship leader (for a pretty crazy crew of adults and teens), to participate in my nephew’s lives, to see my sister’s new home the day she bought it, and to take my place in so many little things. No, I have no regrets about coming home. Who knew then that what had been misdiagnosed as costochondritus would later give credence to my Lyme diagnosis as we came to understand just was really going on inside me. I could not understand during my semester at Husson University in Maine why I was not getting better from the supposedly curable costochondritus. So as my business grew and had me traveling, and when the opportunity for online college came along, I jumped at the chance.

I transferred to Nyack College where I completed my degree just today. The program was still business, but its title was ‘Organizational Management’. I think I had expected to be less of a guinea pig (I was in one of the first primarily online OM programs at Nyack), but all-in-all, I graduated and that is what is important. I published another book, the best yet (Xsardis). I invested in my home and family. I found an impact zone in Maine and outside, as  I began book touring. While I had lots of fun with friends in Virginia and met some awesome people at Soulfest, probably my favorite trip of the year was Ohio. The people I spoke with (young and old) and the reception I received was astounding and memorable.

During this last year of college I have learned more about myself than I thought possible. In understanding Lyme and what was going on in my body; in accepting whatever the outcome of my health is; in participating with friends and family; in investing in home and accepting the value of seasons that come and go; in traveling; in speaking; in writing; in worshiping God and writing songs; in choosing joy and peace; in seeking God’s will for my future; in meeting some very remarkable people that had a big impact on my life, I have discovered a fuller, deeper life. From uncovering my desire for coffee shops, to my love of Lindsey Sterling fiddle music, to my happy-place by my sister’s side, to the charm of dancing in my father’s arm, to the merit of playing guitar in an empty house, I have grown to understand a bit more of who God made me to be. I have learned that I love mentorship and so am working on mentorship programs with students. I have learned what I want to write about; who I want to be; and why it is so very important to live as God has called us to live.

So what’s next for me? Lots of family-time and reading by the fireside in the coming month. Part of my Lyme treatment is a doctor’s order for rest and that’s what I will be focusing on as much as possible. I head to the road in March to catch up with friends I have not had the time to see. I am highly motivated to work on my already-drafted novel, Mark of Orion, that has captivated my heart and my imagination. I plan to write/publish/and speak for six months as I look at buying my own printing equipment and try to gage how far I am from making a living based on my writing career. Whatever adventures come next, be they in this state or another, I will carry with me the lessons learned of joy and peace and seasons and the beauty of God’s majestic plan for my life and this world. I look forward to following where my Lord leads. The purpose of my life is to go where He sends me, to share His goodness with the world, to grow to know Him and love Him better. As my graduation verse, Ephesians 2:10, says, “For we are God’s workmanship,<sup class=”crossreference” value='(U)’> created<sup class=”crossreference” value='(V)’> in Christ Jesus to do good works,<sup class=”crossreference” value='(W)’> which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

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I did little work-related today, as expected. But there were unexpected pleasures. My three siblings and I got to go out just the four of us for the first time in over five years. When we were younger, Thursdays were ‘homeschooler hot-lunch days’. We would go to Tacobell-Kentucky Fried Chicken with out mom. So today we went back in time and enjoyed old-fashioned life at Tacobell and wonderous fellowship over chicken and tacos.

After Captain America (which was a great movie!!!) I went out for some much-needed alone time. As I sit at the Lighthouse Christian Cafe, my brain keeps coming back to the band that is playing. Their music is pretty good, but they have absolutely no stage presence. Things that I would consider in-public basics seem lost on this talented bunch.

There was a definitive point in my life when I realized the power of speech was within my grasp. Before this, I had never minded getting up on stage but I was helplessly ungifted. It was not until I gave a speech on Terri Schiavo at a library public speaking class that I grasped not only that words had a power greater than any sword but I had the power to wield them mightily. My fifth-grade speech made people cry. It moved the audience beyond what I could have imagined.

Since that day I have grown as a dynamic speaker. I have continued to learn and perfect the craft, desperate to get my points across. My passion cannot stand being bottled up or misunderstood. My love of words is not contained on paper. It takes true flight when you meet me in person. This is why I am so excited about the book tour. I LOVE getting to share with students and watch their minds come alive. With my recent enrollment at Nyack College’s online program, I am very pleased to know that I will be able to pursue the tour while still progressing in college. When I had to come home from Columbia I wondered if my life would ever find its track again. I am grateful to God that it has!

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Nothing, and I mean nothing, stresses me out like college and trying to comprehend my tangled mess of transfer credits. With the fall semester rapidly approaching I sat down to ascertain my ingenious plan to switch to a major in English in order to retrieve 15 credits lost in the Business department. Sadly, the plan was not that ingenious. It won’t work.

Disheartened I called in the mom card and begged her to weave some sense out of my various past and future plots. The call that ended up bringing life into my hopeless-self again was from my sister, Julie. She is in admissions for Nyack College, which just so happens to have a very unique, very wonderful business program. If everything works out (which probably won’t happen) it seems like Nyack might be the right fit for my busy life. The best part is that I can do the program entirely online, which means I won’t have to leave Maine this semester and it also opens up many possibilities for the book tour I have been longing to make. Either way, it made today better. So thanks Julie for taking your time to use your resources and make me feel not so trapped!

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There is this little sports restaurant called My Fork beside Bangor Maine’s dollar theater. A friend took me last night (Vaylynne from Asandra). She and I spent three hours just sitting and talking. It was so good to get to catch up with my old friend–more like sister–, to laugh, to tell stories, to dream. We have been close for a decade and I can still taste the days when we could do anything because we believed we could. I was the domineering leader; she the effective right hand, who could tackle anything that stood in our way. There was no task too great for my mind to dream and her will to accomplish. To this day she lets me dream and helps me accomplish. Most likely she will be joining me for a large part of my book tour as co-pilot and body-guard…

As we sat talking, I was so absorbed that  I did not notice as a guy came over to our table. And then I recognized him. It was Ande Binan of Davinci Signs, who designed Asandra’s amazing cover. It was so good to talk to someone from my business world. Sometimes, being so possessed by college homework I feel very disconnected from the beat of the publishing world. The kids I spoke to at McGraw got me back into writing; Ande got me back into publishing. He’s a great guy and fabulous to work with. If you need signs or trucks painted or book covers, check out his website: http://www.davincisigns.net/

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