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Posts Tagged ‘Maine Bible Quizzing’

After that hurried post of a Friday afternoon life got slower and sweeter. I returned to my roots of Maine Bible Quizzing, to be hugged to death by loving teens and smiled at until the world beamed as a happy place. My high school mentor lit up when I told her about the possible trip overseas, adding to the courage my mom and friend Amy had been instilling all day. It was Sister Kate who finally pushed my brain from ‘oh-my-goodness-I-can’t-do-this’ to ‘oh-my-goodness-I’m-going-to-Paris!’ So I spent the weekend dreaming. Dreaming of taking a train from Paris to Venice or landing in Tel Aviv instead of my original destination. Of scuba diving and visiting Jerusalem and taking a ride on a hot air balloon. Of course, the trip will probably end up a simple version of what it started out to be, but the dreaming has been fun.

Hopefully the next time I talk to Sister Julie about this trip I won’t accidentally hang up on her. Or hit the ‘Pandora’ button on my phone so that Michael Buble starts serenading me with Christmas carols. Maybe, I’ll be daring and step far outside my comfort zone and into the Middle East. Maybe, we will buy the tickets. Maybe.

See, I don’t want to look back on my life and find that I am the kind of person who said no to opportunity. I want to say yes. Even to big, scary opportunity.

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What are your plans for this Memorial Day Weekend? Perhaps to spend time with family, avoid the rain by slipping into a movie theater, catch up on the housework, or maybe to cuddle up with a blanket and a cup of tea to write? I will be at the Maine Bible Quizzing Retreat in Winthrop so I am sure I will be thoroughly drenched come Monday. Since I will be away and you might be writing let me leave you with one last portion of writing aid.

Perfectionism roams the world seeking to devour unwitting writers. Perfectionism not only gets you stuck in the mud, spinning your tires in a vain hope for escape, but it also vaporizes the joy of your craft. Don’t let it.

Take a stand against perfectionism this weekend. It starts by letting other people–trusted friends or family members at first–read your work. You have to accept that you will never perfect your novel. You can grow it and shape it, but it will always be a product of a human and thereby faulty. You also cannot control what others will think about your work. Fifty people may like it; one may not. Perfectionism makes you hold onto the one negative comment until writing is a labor–not of love.

Very often the difference between published (or self-published) authors and (unpublished) writers is the author’s willingness to look in the face of a novel, admit its faults, and love it enough to share it with the world anyway.

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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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This weekend Maine Bible Quizzing hosted its District Finals tournament. At it, the teens compete to see who goes on to the Regional tournament. Some of the kids who got busy and dropped out of the program return and at the end of the evening have a banquet (which for some of our homeschooling seniors is about as close to prom as they can get). So this was not a tournament I could miss. Yet I had conflicted dates. Sunday at 1:30 my friend was having a bridal shower in Virginia—fourteen hours away.

I settled on staying at the quiz until 3ish and then heading to New York. Sunday morning I got up and drove the rest of the way to the bridal shower, arriving a whole ten minutes early. I am really glad I made those arrangements. I would not have wanted to miss the quiz.

The youth were so much fun. I was an official, working with an old rival and friend–Scott. From Veggie Tale questions to Disney questions together we tried to make the time when the kids were not competing as much fun as possible. What came out of it was this gorgeous flower chalk drawing (I do not know who to give credit to, but it was one of the teens) that is reminiscent of the one in Disney’s Tangled. Props to whoever is responsible.

But as much fun as all that was it paled in comparison to the worship times we had. Usually I lead a singing time on Friday night with my guitar. This quiz we squeezed in two additional opportunities for the kids to worship in song. The last one was at lunch time. I pulled out my guitar and started playing. Instantly, the youth started to move in around me. Though they only have 40-ish minutes for lunch, they spent more than half of it in praise of God. To hear their voices willingly raised in worship of the Creator was incredible!

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The last time I was set to release a book, my chosto chondritus symptoms were just beginning to make me miss classes and lose some common emotions–like excitement–as I switched into survival mode. This time around, to be able to feel the thrill of Xsardis’ near-publication is invigorating. I had a meeting set with my illustrator for later this week, but he called and asked if I would come see the draft of the cover today. I was able to take with me not only my mother, but also my sister Kate (who has a VERY artistic eye). It is beautiful. Ande Binan has clearly captured the feel I want for my books and I cannot wait to share it with you all.

This weekend I spent at the Maine Bible Quizzing Kick Off at a campground in Winthrop, Maine. I was an official for the novices, eventually getting to coach the Blue Team’s first year quizzers while my good friend V coached the Red Team’s. It was a very good duel and the kids did great (the Blue Team won!).

But beyond the competition, it was an incredible weekend. It was my first Kick Off as an adult. The kids studied all of 2nd Peter (as did I). They studied, they quizzed, they ate, they worshiped, they learned and–while doing it–all they fellowshiped. They were filled and surrounded by the Word of God. The impact I saw in their lives and that they testified to on Sunday morning was inspiring. I led worship with the help of another guitarist and an amazing djembe (a drum) player. I love worshiping God with people I know and love.

There were ups and downs to the weekend. Even so, sometimes I wish I could just stay in that Christ-moved fellowship, that God-centered worship, that Scripture-filled time forever…

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