Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Gales of Change

Now that Christina has posted about her situation, I'm free to write about it also. If you read her blog ( you know that her marriage of thirteen years is over. This came as a complete surprise to her, as well as us, and the shock of that cannot fully be conveyed. There was no time to prepare for the bad news and its ensuing pain.

It feels like an unexpected death in the family. It creates that "I'm on the verge of throwing up" feeling in the pit of my stomach. It takes me to a place I never thought I'd be.

I realize that many parents have to watch their children go through the devastation of divorce and that it's never easy. But John and I are in a different situation than most. For the past four years we have shared a multi-generational home with Christina and her family. John built the lower story into our dream home, where we planned on living until we died. Instead, it's the kids' marriage that has died.

Because of the change in her financial situation, Christina will no longer be able to afford to live upstairs. And we certainly don't want to live here without her. Ashberry Lane is more about the people than the locale. Our piece of Eden has been changed by the fall.

So not only do John and I have to watch our daughter and her kids go through this change in every part of their lives, but our future is drastically changed too. We will be putting Ashberry Lane on the market and looking for new housing in whatever nearby community Christina moves to. We won't share a house, as we'll never again find a place like this, but will live close by.

My friends have gathered around to lend support as I walk through this painful time. Everyone is so shocked by what has happened to Christina and how it is going to impact our lives. I have held on to the fact that God has not been surprised by this. He is still in charge, still in control. He will bring beauty from ashes and restore our joy. He has lessons to teach us, character to build. I want to accept this with an open heart and not waste the suffering.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Out of the Mouths of ...

Last night a friend of mine came up and said, "I just have to tell you what one of your AWANA kids did today." As she started her story, I soon realized she was talking about her seven-year old son. She had walked out to the living room and been shocked to find three-inch high letters scratched into the beautiful finish of her piano bench. A lone pair of scissors lay in guilty silence nearby. "Elijah, what did you do?!!" He admitted to the crime, though he didn't seem to understand the seriousness of it right away. So his mother spent some time talking with him about his transgression and of how he could never do something like that again. He asked her to put the scissors up high where he wouldn't be able to reach them, but she said she wouldn't do that, as he needed to learn self-control. She went on to say that he would need to be punished, but stipulated that the punishment would be determined by him. "Elijah, I want you to think about the seriousness of what you've done, and then you tell me what you think you should take for doing that." He thought for a bit, then seriously replied, "Mom, I think I'll take mercy!"

Friday, February 6, 2009

The IDAhope Writer's Conference

Christina and I had a wonderful time this past weekend when we flew to Boise, Idaho, for the first-ever IDAhope Writer's Conference. It was hosted by the local ACFW chapter, headed by Angela Meuser. She and her fellow officers did a phenomenal job putting everything together.

What was especially exciting for us was that Christina and I were invited to be presenters, for the first time in our writing career. We had a blast planning our two sessions. We taught one class together, called "Writing in Tandem: How to Maximize Your Writing Relationships." That covered dealing with editors, agents, critique partners, readers, mentors and mentorees, and of course, co-authors. It was very practical, as we shared things we've learned in our years of writing together.

Christina taught a class on her own (we're not really joined at the hip!) entitled "Five Best Tips for a New Writer." It was fun for me to sit back and watch her do her thing. She has developed into a good public speaker and people came up to me afterward to say how much they had enjoyed both classes. Christina, as a contracted author, was able to sit down with some of the conferees and help them make their writing better. One of the ladies she worked with approached me later and said, "Your daughter is so sweet. She's able to be positive and yet show me what I need to work on. She really knows how to work with a middle-aged woman." I said, "That's because she lives with one!"

What seemed surreal to us was that we were on the author panel Friday evening along with Robin Lee Hatcher. We first read her books years ago, and in all our time with OCW and ACFW had never had a chance to meet her. She lives in the Boise area and taught a couple of classes for the weekend, as well as did a key note speech. She's written over 60 books now, and she's not even that old! I mean, how can a person write more books than their age??!! We got to spend some one-on-one (I guess it would really be two-on-one) time with her Saturday afternoon. What a friendly, down-to-earth woman she is.

We flew back to Portland on Sunday morning and were home in time to prepare for hosting a Super Bowl party and leading at Awana. By the time Sunday night arrived we were both pretty tired and glad for the chance to sit down and relax before starting a busy week by showing up in court Monday morning for a foster care case.

It seems the Lord has suddenly opened up speaking/teaching opportunities for us over the past few months, and in to the coming months. We hope that keeps happening. And we'd love to get invited back to the IDAhope conference!