Documenting the Coronapocalypse   Leave a comment

This is not going to be about making recommendations or talk about flattening the curve or hand washing or anything like that. I have an awareness that we are living through something that will be considered a historic event, and as a storyteller, and a person who has been somewhat removed from the panic, I feel it’s worth documenting my observations.

Some context: I don’t really read the news. By this I mean, I do not frequent any specifics news sites, and we don’t watch live television, so I don’t watch any TV news. My method of current events intake is to have very politically aware friends from all parts of the political spectrum on Facebook and click on as many article links as I can. And then I ask my husband to fill in the rest and I watch a couple YouTubers. I am not completely uninformed, but I admit that this method leaves some gaps. Not as many as you might think. Sometimes I read about the same thing from multiple points of view. Sometimes only one side cares about something, so it only shows up from a couple people. Other things are considered big enough news that no one really posts about it directly, but usually in those situations, someone says something vague and I go look it up. It’s not perfect, but it works, and as a person who tends to be fairly moderate and enjoy reading different viewpoints, I honestly haven’t found many news sources that I trust not to be so biased as to be worthless as a daily landing place.

Moving on.

The coronavirus first hit my radar in early February. YouTuber Tim Pool began mentioning it as something to keep an eye on, and I agreed. My main point of concern was that China was admitting they had an issue. China doesn’t exactly have a history of being terribly forthcoming about issues within their borders. So what would it take for China to admit to a problem? To me, that meant it must be really bad and worth following. And then it showed up outside China, but still only in Asia. And then they were bringing Americans home that had to be quarantined and I just thought, “No. Don’t do that.” I mean, I understand wanting to be home, but if you’re exposed to something like that, hang out. You don’t want to bring home nasty souvenirs like that for your friends and family.

When it showed up in Europe, my husband said he wanted us to get together some emergency supplies, just in case it turned into a thing. Now, we’d been talking about having an emergency food supply for a very long time. But for the last two years, we’d been living in other people’s basements, and it just didn’t seem like a thing we could put together. At the beginning of February, we had moved into our own place and we had plenty of storage for something like that (especially since we hadn’t finished unpacking yet). So, while our concerns about the spreading of COVID-19 provided the push that created action, we weren’t specifically storing extra food just for that. Either way, I sat down and figured out what we’d need if we couldn’t go to the store for four weeks, and I priced it all out from various places to make gathering it all as cheap as possible. And we started putting it all together in the last half of February. This means that when people started panic buying toilet paper, I was already done with most of my preparations. So I’ve been walking through stores as a mostly casual observer who happened to be there for ice cream or something, rather than cleaning supplies.

Empty grocery store shelvesEmpty grocery store shelves











My husband works for the USPS. He is a mail carrier. He is unlikely to have his job shut down because the mail is typically considered an essential function. So we don’t have the ability to 100% quarantine ourselves, and he comes in contact with a lot of people in a day, because his route is all businesses. And he tends to work a second route on a regular basis (especially when people are out with the flu or whatever). Currently, we’ve made some routine changes to try to keep us all healthy. When he comes home, his shirt and jacket go straight into the washing machine and he takes a shower. He previously showered in the mornings, so this is a bit of a change for him, but it seemed like an appropriate change. It’s unlikely to prevent us all from getting anything, but at least it will reduce our exposure (and not just to COVID-19, mail is dirty). I’ve been teaching my kids proper hand-washing technique and we all wash our hands as soon as we come home from anywhere. And we’ve only been leaving the house one or two at a time, so that we reduce our points of contact with others. It’s probably the best we can do as a family that has a member with a job that interacts with others so much and isn’t likely to be shut down unless things get really bad.

In the last week, I have been in stores to get fresh things, like milk, or items for my daughter’s science experiments or donuts for our regular Sunday morning thing. So I’ve been able to do some observing. As late as Thursday (March 12), I was able to find toilet paper and a small selection of cleaning supplies (we’d finished off our soap in the bathroom, and I was able to find a bottle of hand soap during a trip to Aldi). Most food items were fully stocked in the store that I went to. On Friday, President Trump declared a national state of emergency and that seemed to loose the floodgates here. On Saturday, when I went to the store for mozzarella cheese and milk (the 5yo wanted to make pizza and we go through a lot of milk), it was a completely different situation. The bread was completely gone. As were most of the chips. The canned goods were much less fully stocked (though there was still plenty). There were milk and eggs, but the meat department was almost completely empty. The cleaning products were gone, as was the toilet paper. There were only a couple cases of water.

Sunday, my husband and I went to the store for donuts and yeast (making pizza showed that my yeast had gone bad) and because, again, we weren’t there to stock up, we were able to observe some of the craziness. We did not go to Aldi this time. We were at our local Dillons. The bread aisle had clearly been hit hard. There was actually a decent amount of meat in the meat department, but it had all clearly been restocked recently. We were absolutely mystified that the canned fruit and vegetables didn’t seem to be seeing any additional buying. Everything looked just as full as usual. My emergency food plan included a lot of canned fruit and vegetables and things like tuna and beans. So it was quite a curiosity to us. The bottled water was pretty low, though they had some on a display in a prominent place. All of the frozen pizzas were wiped out. The frozen french fries had clearly taken a hit as well. They only had disinfectant wipes because a stocker was putting those items out as we were there. There was plenty of milk, but the egg selection was fairly small. My husband and I made note of all of this, feeling like alien spectators because we didn’t actually *need* to buy anything. It was an odd feeling to watch others in a situation of frustration and panic over something we saw coming several weeks out and took action on early. I’m not normally an action person. I typically react to things by thinking about them obsessively and coming up with as many scenarios as possible for how things could go and then probably coming up with a story I could write based on whatever the thing was. So without my husband, I probably would have been one of the people suddenly thinking, “Oh, I should buy some groceries to last me a while.” And then I would have found the stores like that.

Some final thoughts.

It is quite clear to me that Americans have no idea how to plan for a disaster. It is also quite clear that Americans don’t cook. Frozen pizzas were wiped out but canned vegetables were plentiful? That seemed so backwards to me. Granted, I made a plan for my family and the way we eat, so maybe the frozen pizza buyers did the same thing. But it seems odd to me that the frozen pizzas should sell out before canned goods. I suppose most people didn’t make a plan thinking that they wanted to turn anything they didn’t use for the coronapocalypse into a larger emergency food supply. If you’re only buying to get you through a few weeks of social distancing and then you plan to go back to life as usual, frozen pizzas aren’t bad. But we want to continue to have an emergency food supply when this is over, so we chose things that could still be part of that if we didn’t use it all up.

We originally purchased extra food so that if we needed to be quarantined, we wouldn’t have to worry about anything. Now, we’re glad to have it because the supply of food has gotten so low. Our stash of food, will help feed our family while the market resettles and supply chains get figured out.

Timing has been on our side. We were watching events unfold early on. We started gathering food early. And we all got sick (with the flu, we think) and were staying home to get better when things started to unfold here. So we’ve already been as socially distant as we could for several weeks while we got over being sick. And then it was Spring Break here, so the few things we normally leave the house for weren’t happening. Which means that school closures and event cancellations are just more of the same for us right now.

I very much hope that in a couple months, we all look back and think, wow, that didn’t turn into much of anything. Right now, I’m not super hopeful for that just because there are people out there that legitimately think this is a hoax or the media trying to stir us all into a frenzy. And enough of those people will drown out the work of those who are concerned about overloading our healthcare system and then all bets are off. But, as I told my daughter, all I can do is my part. I will do what I can do to try to protect myself, my family, and others I come in contact with. And then I will rest in the Lord. God is in control of what happens. So as long as I have confidence that I have followed His will, I can trust that things will turn out as they should.

Notes for Christians.

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35

We have been provided with a unique opportunity to love one another. During this time of social distancing, we can still reach out to those around us. If someone has to work and needs childcare because of school closures, we should consider taking those children into our homes. I know it’s discouraged because we want to keep points of contact between families low, but there will be some people who literally cannot stay home from work. And those kids will need someone to care for them. If your neighbors or maybe someone from your church wasn’t able to get food before the stores were crazy, and you have food, this is a perfect time to share that food in the name of Christ. People are scared. Share the hope that you have in Christ. Reassure and encourage those around you. Email or call coworkers and friends to check up on them. Let people know that just because we have to be physically distant, doesn’t mean we can’t still be mentally and emotionally there for each other. And through it all, we can rest in the Lord. He is faithful. He will see us through this crisis and bring us out on the other side, stronger for the struggle.

Note: This post was originally written March 16, 2020, but not posted until March 18, 2020. The pictures are from March 17, 2020.

Preparing to Homeschool (in Kansas)   Leave a comment

Preparing to Homeschool collageMy sister-in-law is preparing to homeschool her daughter, who is the same age as my oldest child. Since I’ve been doing this for so many years, she has asked me for advice. So, I’ve been thinking about what things from the last decade of reading and learning are the things that feel like the most important to pass on to a parent just getting started. In order to keep all of these thoughts in one place, and to maybe be of use to anyone else about to get started, I decided to turn it into a blog post so she can take her time going through it. So here we go.

Kansas-Specific Stuff
In Kansas, homeschools fall under the laws regarding non-accredited private schools. You follow this same procedure whether you’re preparing to homeschool your own child or start a non-accredited private school for others to send kids to.

  1. Register as a private school with the Kansas Department of Education. This site has the link to the online form, as well as links to PDFs of the actual statute that applies to homeschoolers, and forms for mailing in if you’d rather register that way. One thing to note: if you register online, they do not provide you with a copy of your form, so be sure to print or screenshot your registration before you submit it. You only need to register once. If you move, submit a change of address, but otherwise, you’re set.
  2. If you’re removing your child from a public school, let their current school know that they are transferring to a new school. You are a private school now, so if they seem unsupportive of homeschooling, you don’t have to call it that.  But definitely do what you need to do to get a copy of your child’s records. My kid never went to public school, so I’ve never had to do it, but it should be as simple as giving them your private school information so that they can forward the records.
  3. Take a deep breath. Now is when you start making choices and that is both terrifying and liberating. You can do it.

Other Kansas rules of note: CHECK has a pretty easy to understand write-up of the specific wording of the educational requirements. Basically, you have to provide a public school equivalent education from competent instructors. I’ve never met a homeschooling parent that wanted their kids to be dumb, so it shouldn’t be that hard. Just make sure your kids are making educational progress and following a curriculum of some kind that includes academic subjects and you’ll hit the legal requirements almost on accident.

Making a Game Plan

One of the best things you can do, before you look at a single  curriculum or make a purchase or research a thing is to sit down and decide what your true goal is. This can be done as a mission statement, or as a list of goals/standards to complete, or a description of what you want school time to look like. 

  • Creating a Mission Statement/Set of Standards

Once upon a time, I went through this series of posts to come up with my end goal for educating my daughter. But there are other options for going through that process.

  • Determine Your Educational Learning and Teaching Styles

Every kid has a learning style (or two or three). Every parent has a teaching style. At the point where those intersect (with minimal compromise), you’ll find your ideal homeschooling style. For reference though, there are articles and quizzes that attempt to help you determine how you want to do things.

  • Determine Your Planning/Recording Style

Some people need everything written out ahead of time. Some people find that daunting. Some people are excellent at recording every moment of what they’ve done with their chidren. Some people are struggling to remember what they did two weeks ago so they can get it written down. Technically, in Kansas, you are required to keep records. There is almost no guidance regarding what that should look like. I tend to go with a planner where I write down what we got done. And this year, I had some spare pages about every two months that I’ve been using to put in pictures of our work and activities so it can work as a portfolio of sorts when it’s done. No one way is the right way. The following two videos basically show opposite ends of this spectrum.

I’ve also used this planner before:

  • Decide When to Start

If your kids have never gone to public school, this is more of a question about what age to start at. For that, I recommend following your kid’s lead. No matter how excited you are to start, wait for them. Trust me. They will show you when they’re ready.

If your kids have been in public school, you need to decide how long you’re willing to allow the transition to take. There is a thing called deschooling. Basically, it’s allowing your kid (and yourself) a period of extra time to get all the public school routines out of your system. I’ve never seen it discussed better than here, so I won’t repeat the stuff that she says wonderfully:

  • Now, You Pick Your Curriculum

I started homeschooling my oldest at a point when my husband was unemployed, so I had to do everything basically for free. If that’s somewhere in the realm of your budget, there are a lot of places to find free things. (Easy Peasy. It goes K-8 and has a companion site for high school. This is my default. I only don’t use it for everything because my kids struggle to focus when using the internet for school. But the materials are great and everything is free. If you decide to use it, definitely join the Facebook groups. They are super helpful.) (Ambleside is hardcore Charlotte Mason. It’s going to be very different from public school and it is quite rigorous, but for some people it’s perfect.) (I’ve never personally used CK-12, but it seems to be popular.) (This probably falls somewhere between Easy Peasy and Ambleside Online.) (And there are more.)

If you have a larger budget than zero, there are curricula that will meet it. I enjoy reading curriculum choice posts from other homeschoolers, even when I’m not looking for new stuff. Around July and August, you can find a TON for the upcoming year. I’ll probably do one for next year because we’re making a lot of new choices this year. You can get a good idea of what’s out there and what kind of quality it is from here:

That’s a ton of information. And really, that’s just scratching the surface of what’s out there. But anything more would probably cause exploding brains. So take your time, and just know that you love your babies. You want them to be the best they can be. So whatever choices you make will be okay. Also, if you decide something isn’t working, it doesn’t mean you’ve failed. You’ve learned something new about yourself or your child. Take that information and make a new choice. Education is a marathon, not a sprint, and most of what we’ll teach our kids is more about teaching them how to keep learning when we’re done with them.

Life of Fred   Leave a comment

Elisebeth is good at math. It is not a struggle for her. But she struggles with it. She doesn’t like the repetitious nature of it. She finds most math curricula boring. It becomes a fight to get her to do it. But she loves Life of Fred. I feel like it’s not enough though, so I’ve started looking around for coordinating printables or activities or something. There were a few sites where I found some extra activities for the early chapters of Apples. I found some cute generic notebooking pages to go with the first two sets of books. But I didn’t really find anyone that had done a consistent job of gathering activities and printables to go with the whole series. So I think I’m going to tackle it. I don’t know that I’ll be 100% consistent about getting things posted (or even figured out). But there appears to maybe be a need for it and I’m going to be hunting for the stuff anyway, so I might as well post it. She’s already on Chapter 10 of Apples, so that’s where I’ll start. But since I found stuff for the earlier chapters, I’ll link some stuff here just to get things started.

Life of Fred – Apples

LIfe of Fred fans Facebook

Overview of the Series – If you scroll down, there is a listing of topics by book.

Apples-themed notebooking pages – Scroll to the bottom of the post where she links to the pages for the first four books.

Some overall ideas for use with the book

Is Life of Fred enough? (includes information about things that are good to add on)

Teaching Money with LoF. This includes free printables to use as you go through at least the first four books.

An interesting post about math journals (with lots of other links and info).

Chapter One

An excellent example of activities to go along with the book from Noah’s Ark Homeschool. These are actually exactly what I’m thinking of doing, but she stops at Chapter 8.

Peanut Butter and Prosecco

Chapter Two

Another Noah’s Ark LoF lesson.

Peanut Butter and Prosecco

Chpater Three

Another Noah’s Ark LoF lesson.

Chapter Four

Another Noah’s Ark LoF lesson.

Chapter Five

Another Noah’s Ark Lof lesson.

Chapter Six

Another Noah’s Ark LoF lesson.

Chapter Seven

Another Noah’s Ark LoF lesson. 

Chapter Eight

The last Noah’s Ark LoF lesson.

Turning In the Keys   Leave a comment

We are moving. And for the first time since I was a kid and had no control over these things, it’s not just across town. We’re moving to a new town. And the whole thing is confusing and everchanging and immediate and confusing (did I say confusing?). I have lived in this town for all of my life, give or take a year or two when I was a kid. My family is here. My husband’s family is here. We have quite possibly the best library in the world. It’s so supportive of writers and provides such excellent programming for children. I love it. And I will miss it and all the wonderful people who work there that have gotten to know me and my kids (at least by face, if not by name). We have gone to the same church since before we got married. We’ve only ever gone elsewhere once or twice while traveling.

Overall, it’s scary, even if it’s also really exciting. We’re not moving ridiculously far away. Only about an hour away to the Kansas City area. Close enough that we can still come back here for a somewhat weekly tabletop game with my brother and friends. Close enough that we won’t have to miss holidays with family. Close enough that they can come visit us fairly often. But just far enough away that if the car breaks down, I’ll think twice before calling up my mom to come get me. Just far enough away to feel like another world on days when I’m lonely.

Originally, we were moving in another direction. South, to a smaller town, and we were supposed to be moving down there around this time. So I “turned in my notice” as a Sunday School teacher and prepared myself to beginning looking for a new church home. As much as our church has been home for over a decade, we barely make it on time when we live 20 minutes away. There’s no way I’d get us to church if we were driving an hour to do it. So our last Sunday came. And I decided that I could see a little bit of what was going on in Topeka before we left, to sort of get me ready for visiting new churches. So we spent a couple Sundays at other churches. But today was Thanksgiving dinner at our home church. And a special musical key-1546278program. So back we went. And somewhere in the middle of the service, it dawned on me that I still had a set of keys to the church.

I was tempted to just keep them. We haven’t yet found a new church, so we’re still members there. I plan to continue sending our tithe there until we find a new home. So why not just keep the keys? But we won’t typically be going there. We won’t have responsibilities that require us to go there when others aren’t there already. So why not give them back? In the end, I gave them back, turning them in after the service was over. But it felt like such a final thing. After a couple Sundays elsewhere, I thought I was doing okay with this whole moving thing. Now, I realize I’ve still been holding onto things that make it seem unreal. And that’s no way to cope.

So I’ve turned in the keys. And now I’ll get back to work finding us a new home. And packing. And preparing us for our new life in a new city. Even if I’m a little terrified.

Posted November 15, 2015 by Maidenfine in Church, God, Randomness

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Old Stories, New Beginnings   3 comments

This last Saturday, I went to the Local Writers Workshop at TSCPL (my local library). To say that Topeka is a good place to be a writer would be an understatement. My favorite librarian has worked for over a decade to grow a community that is writer-friendly. She started with NaNoWriMo and once that hit critical mass, she worked as a librarian to offer first pre-writing seminars, then editing seminars, then branched out into the Community Novel Project (and really, they would not have had writers the first year if she hadn’t grown a close-knit NaNoWriMo community first). And now they offer workshops, fairs, and programs for writers year round. It is seriously the best support network a writer could ask for, and I am thrilled to have it.

Back to the Writers WorkshopNotebook, Folder, and Pen

Spending an entire morning talking about writing and the business of it and the future of it and the doing of it. . . It was inspiring. And I’ve been thinking ever since about some projects that I’ve maybe let sit for too long. So I’m going to be working. Somewhere, I have the Sims 2 Community version of The Mansion (complete with pictures) saved in a file. Since I have determined that The Mansion will be barely recognizable once I’m done revising it, I’m going to figure out a way to republish the original version. Maybe I’ll do a freebie PDF or something. We’ll see. I have to find it first (but I’m 98% sure it’s on a CD so I just have to find the CD). I wish now that I’d never taken it down, but I thought my chances of traditional publication would be better if it weren’t still up on the Sims 2 site for free. I’m sure that whole community is non-existent now anyway. But for the people who loved that original version, I want to make it available again.

As I look for that, I’m going to be going back to the drawing board with the story somewhat. Basically, I’m going to go back to what the story was supposed to be and rewrite it. I’ll be doing a lot of prewriting thought experiments that I will put up here. Hopefully, they won’t get boring for the people that don’t come here for my writing stuff. We shall see. Once I’m sharing here regularly again, I’m sure some of my other stuff will get posted too. Weight Loss Wednesdays were always popular and I definitely need a little weight loss accountability in my life again.

The other thing I’m going to be doing is revising my 30 Days to PreWriting. Because it contains so many links, it needs going over every couple years. And the way Kindle stuff works, if you own the book when I update it, Amazon updates your version for free. So now would be the perfect time to buy it. You can get all the current links and information, and bookmark what you want. Then when the new edition is finished, you’ll automatically get all the updated prewriting goodness. I will aim for finishing the updates before October 1st for all the pre-nano work that people like to do.

From where I’m sitting, the next year looks pretty darn good. Let’s get to work.

Posted August 16, 2015 by Maidenfine in Writing

The Real Problem   2 comments

I had an epiphany.

I’ve had this project I wanted to work on, for over a year. But every time I had a chunk of space, I couldn’t get into it. And not even just couldn’t get into it. I mean I had this feeling like I shouldn’t even be thinking about it even though it’s a project that I love and can get fired up about and can be turned into a vehicle to get more of my writing out there. All of the positives of this project meant nothing, when the feeling came up to make me feel bad about the project. Now, some people might say “That’s God telling you not to do it.” Those people would be wrong. In fact, I’ve very clearly received a kick in the pants from God on this very issue. It surprised me, because I hadn’t realized until that moment that God had anything to do with it. The writing didn’t seem particularly godly, and the person I’d be working closely with is not a Christian, so it never dawned on me that it was of interest to God beyond the principle that all things should be done as if for the Lord.

So it wasn’t God holding me back. What was it? It would seem like something God wanted me to do, once I knew was something He wanted, would be pretty high up in the priorities, right? But still that feeling nagged at me. And finally, I figured out what it was. And once I really truly figured out what it was, I was able to unpack it and examine it and put it away. But just in case it should plague other Christian writers, I wanted to speak about it here.

BookshelfI was a writer before I was a Christian. Whether you count from my childhood decision to follow Christ or from my adult decision that led me back to God, the fact remains that I was a writer first. I learned to read, so that I could write. I have a vivid memory of being about five and I was writing something, but I didn’t know a lot of words, so I had to ask my mother how to spell just about every single word that I wanted to write. How she was so patient, I will never know. What I was writing, I have no idea. But I remember the incident very clearly.

All that to say that many of the stories locked in my head are not “Christian” stories. I would estimate that about 90% of my characters are not Christian. Do I love Christian fiction? As long as it’s good, yes. I have a great appreciation for Christian romance novels because I feel like I’m getting two love stories for the price of one. There’s the love story between the two individuals and the love story between God and Man. They are often very beautifully written and I love the way the chosen Scriptures speak to the conflict. But I cannot write Christian romance. I have tried. It is not what God has gifted me with. It is not inside me to produce. And that is the real problem I’ve been having.

Several years ago, a member of our church was asking about my writing and asked if all my stories had the Gospel in them. I said no, because that’s the truth and their response was to ask “Why not?” And the unspoken part of that question, the part that I heard, though it wasn’t said, was what kind of Christian writes stories that don’t contain the Gospel? What kind of Christian writes stories where the express purpose isn’t to convert the masses? What is the point of writing, as a Christian, if it’s not to bring others into a greater understanding of God’s desire to be in their lives?

And all of that unspoken junk has kept me from really seriously writing since then. I was in a lull at the time and even when I’ve attempted to break from that lull, that sense of shame, of not measuring up, has pulled me back. So, here, for others who may struggle with this, or for me, if I should need to hear it again in the future, I answer those questions.

All of Heaven and Earth proclaim the glory of God to those who have ears to hear. Everything beautiful points to God. He does not have to sign his name at the bottom of the painting for us to know the strokes of the Master who created it. I do not have to shout to those around me for them to see Him at work in my life. In fact, many won’t listen unless you speak softly. Christian literature is for Christians. Atheists and agnostics do not purchase the latest Love Inspired titles. They do not read Karen Kingsbury books. Christians do. And there’s nothing wrong with that. There is a place for those works.

There is also a place for the works of Christians that do not keep to those tight restrictions of content. There is a place for works by Christians that are relatable for non-Christians. There is a place for Middle Earth and Narnia, worlds where perhaps the Gospel is there, but it isn’t obvious and it doesn’t beat you about the head. That place is where my foul-mouthed, gypsy-cursed Hungarians belong. That is the place where my timid, pyrokinetic redhead belongs. That is the place where my genetically-altered government assassin belongs. That is where my writing belongs. It belongs on a shelf not labeled Christian, where someone might pick it up, and believe that it is beautiful and be interested in the soul that it came from. And when they go looking for that soul, they will find this place. This little spot on the internet where I have poured out my heart about what God is doing in my life. And I have been vulnerable and imperfect and I’ve shown a true face to the world. And maybe, on that day, they’ll believe.

And maybe they won’t.

It doesn’t matter. What matters is that all things beautiful show God’s face to the world. And I want to write beautiful things. And no matter what I think a Christian should be writing doesn’t matter. Because a Christian should be writing what is inside them to be written. Especially when God tells them to.

Posted February 18, 2015 by Maidenfine in God, Writing

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Posts Not Written   1 comment

It’s been a weird year. And I’ve thought of more posts in the last few months than I normally would in a whole year. But I’ve been struggling. What is worth writing? What matters enough to put out into the world? I’m sure these are questions every writer asks (probably over and over and over and over). But more than any other time, I’ve been answering those questions with “When in doubt, don’t.” Sadly, that means not much going on in the post writing department.

Another hurdle has been my relationships with other people. I feel like I’ve spent the last year or two putting more effort into my relationships. For that reason, most of what I want to write about involves other people. Where is the line between writing something thoughtful and writing something that will hurt people close to me? How many of my thoughts and observations are not appropriate to be shared because I wouldn’t just be sharing me, I’d be sharing them too? Private things about me, don’t necessarily bother me to be shared because it’s my choice to do something public. But my husband didn’t start this blog. My mother didn’t start this blog. My children didn’t start this blog. So when my life intersects with theirs, it become hard to decide if what I’m writing is okay to share, or if it needs to be in my own personal journal instead.

These are the things that stop me from writing. These are the things that have left countless blog posts as simply wanderings in my own mind. I am hoping to get some things started in 2015 and hopefully they will lead to more blog posts here from me. But no guarantees. Life is good. God is good. But not everything about it all is meant to be shared. And I’m trying to figure out where that line is.

Posted January 4, 2015 by Maidenfine in Writing

Aaaaand I’m Back!   Leave a comment

So I’m back, in more ways than one. I’m back writing, and I’m also back at my free WordPress site. It was an interesting foray into paying for hosting and all that, but it was too much pressure. Pressure to keep to a set schedule to try to build a following so that I could maybe make money from the site in order to pay for the hosting I couldn’t afford. Pressure to write, even when I didn’t feel like I had anything to say, because there was a bill to pay now. I greatly prefer free, where I can write when I need to speak, and not worry about it when life gets crazy or I feel like I have nothing to contribute.

I spent a few hours yesterday moving as many posts from the last two years as I could get. I didn’t get a backup saved before my hosting expired, so I had to use the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine to retrieve the posts from old copies. There were still a few I couldn’t get. And most of them with pictures no longer have them. But somewhere on my netbook I know I have them all, so I’ll find them and put them back eventually. Maybe. I may just call it good enough that I retrieved all that writing.

It’s been a very tough couple years. I’ve learned what it truly means to trust God to provide for your family. And what it truly means to surrender your future to Him. I’ve had moments of profound thankfulness that I homeschool, and moments where I wondered if it was the right thing when our life has been so hectic. But that same craziness that made me wonder if my daughter would fare better with the regularity of public school, would have meant changing schools enough times that it would have been even more traumatic. I pray that our life will be mostly restored soon, but I know that in some things, we still have a long way to go.

A quick look at the last couple years:

September 2012 – My husband, under the leading of God, quit his job. A debt collector, attempting to collect on one of our medical debts, garnished our bank account (i.e. wiped it out), causing us to be behind on our house payment. Despite turning in over $3000 worth of past due bills to his 401(k) in an attempt to receive funds for economic hardship, they approved around $300. That didn’t even catch up the house, much less the utilities that were near being shut off. When he quit his job, we were able to cash out his 401(k) and catch everything up. We hoped this would be a short time of unemployment, since we were being obedient to God and he’d been working for 8 years there, so we figured he had established himself as reliable.

20130413_142226January 2013 – We ran out of 401(k) money. Thankfully, we were able to get our taxes done quickly and with our large refund, we floated a few more months.

May 2013 – Despite our best efforts, we lost our house. We moved out and into a house with my father-in-law. It’s actually a little bit painful to look back at posts from our old house. There were problems with it, but it was ours, you know? I cried as we drove away for the last time.

July 2013 – After a mass of crazy paperwork stuff, we got my husband’s pension money. Our tax refund had run out in May. We got the money just in time to pay rent on the new place we’d been living with my father-in-law (he’d covered our first month there).

August 2013 – We discovered that I was pregnant. In July 2012, we had felt God calling us to let him be in charge of our family size and He had promised us a son. I was beginning to think the promised son may be a long way off when I started being fatigued and occasionally nauseous. I ignored it for several weeks until my husband insisted that I was pregnant. I took a test. It was positive. Very few members of our family met the news with happiness.

October 2013 – The pension money was gone. We were going to lose yet another place to live. I prayed nonstop for God to keep us from being homeless. Nothing happened. Then, I owned up to my fear of homelessness. I gave God control and acknowledged that even if we became homeless, He could still care for us. The hymn, Have Thine Own Way, Lord, grew exponentially more meaningful.

November 2013 – In the midst of moving, after 13 months of unemployment, my husband finally got a new job. As a pizza delivery driver, making less than minimum wage part time. I was struggling with fatigue and morning sickness and my husband was working every hour he could get as we tried to pack and find a place to go with no income to pay for it.

December 2013 – A member of our church family took us in temporarily. Our landlord, feeling that we had taken too long to move (despite the fact that she never evicted us or gave us a deadline to get out), changed the locks on the home we were leaving. She refused to allow us to get the rest of our belongings. The value of the belongings was such that we will require a lawyer to take he to court in order to resolve this. We have yet to find a lawyer.

We also have yet to find a plElijah Paulace to live. We applied with public housing, but have made very little progress. On April 1, 2014, we welcomed our promised son into the world. Elijah Paul is the spitting image of his big brother. Unlike his big brother, he has a working thyroid (and that is literally the second question people asked after what he weighed and such). He is a very calm and mellow baby who took to breastfeeding right away. He has brought me such immense joy.

So, we’re still technically homeless. Or maybe it’s technically not homeless. I’m not sure. And when we get a place, we will have no dishes or pots and pans. We lost a large portion of our school supplies and all of the children’s books. But we have our family, and we’re healthy, and in the last 7 months, my husband went from delivery driver to assistant manager to store manager. It’s pretty much unheard of. When I was younger, I worked as a delivery driver for 9 months and couldn’t even get a raise when a coworker commented on how hard I worked. Most of the managers I had, had been working in the industry for several years. We know that his advancement comes from God. And we are very thankful, especially since it means that we no longer need to wait on public housing. We can being to set aside money and start looking for a new place to live. I am hopeful that if we continue being faithful, we’ll be in a home of our own again by the end of August. God has seen us through times that made me weep more intensely than I ever have in my life. But in those moments, I felt Him so strongly. There were days that I literally felt Him changing me. And it was painful and beautiful and intense. But I am better now for all of it. And despite the fact that we’d hoped to be on our own again before the baby was born, I was so thankful to be somewhere that I could get help with the older two as I recovered from childbirth. On our worst days, our church family has been there for us. They are most certainly the arms of Christ wrapping around us in our need.

You Are Worth More   Leave a comment

I know it’s been a while since I posted anything, but this has seriously been crawling around in my brain insisting on coming out. So here I am.

Over the last week or so, I have seen a certain movie trailer at least a half-dozen times. Probably a lot more than that. The whole movie looks like something I wouldn’t be interested in. It hasn’t hinted at any plot and looks like it’s basically just a thinly veiled excuse to spend a couple hours watching people get drunk and do stupid things. But that seems to be the trend these days, so whatever. That doesn’t so much bother me. But there’s a short exchange in the trailer that got my attention every time. It goes like this:

Boy 1: She’s cute, right?

Boy 2: Yeah, she’s cute, but she’s not my type.

Boy 1: What’s your type?

Boy 2: Girls that want to have sex with me.

Then both boys appear to laugh at what is supposedly a joke. The first time I saw the trailer, I rolled my eyes and the cynical part of my brain that grew up in the World said “Ugh. That is so young guys these days.” The second time I saw the trailer, something just didn’t sit right. And after 4 or 5 times, that part of the trailer actually made me a little angry. Because I realized what was being said, not just between those two characters, but to every young man and woman watching the movie:

Girls, you are only as attractive to a man as your willingness to have sex with him. Boys, you are only worth as much as your ability to get girls to have sex with you.

Well, I have something to say to all the young men and women who are going to see that movie and hear that message, and you’ll have to pardon my language a little, because I’m just not sure I could get it across any other way.

Dammit, you are worth so much more than sex.

Girls. You are not the sum of your parts. You are not a vagina and a pair of tits and some legs. You are not just a blond or a brunette or a redhead. You are intelligent. You have hopes and dreams and fears and weaknesses. You enjoy hobbies. You probably like certain books. You have a family that has shaped your life. You have a past that has made you who you are. And you deserve to have a man care about all of that. You deserve someone who will meet your family and listen to the stories of your life growing up. You deserve someone who will 1402028_45685628value and respect your intelligence and encourage you to pursue your hobbies. You deserve someone who will be interested in your hopes and fears. Who will work to make your hopes come true and protect you from your fears. You deserve more than sex. And any man who thinks you aren’t his type because you don’t want to immediately have sex with him, does not deserve your time.

Boys. You are not the sum of your parts. Your worth is not measured by your penis or how it looks or how many women it’s been with. You are not measured by your likelihood to become an underwear model. You are intelligent. You have hopes and dreams and fears and weaknesses. You enjoy hobbies. You probably like certain books. You have a family that has shaped your life. You have a past that has made you who you are. And you deserve to have a woman care about all of that. You deserve someone who will meet your family and listen to the stories of your life growing up. You deserve someone who will value and respect your intelligence and encourage you to pursue your hobbies. You deserve someone who will hear your fears and weaknesses and not think less of you for them. You deserve someone who will hear your hopes and dreams and inspire you to achieve them. You deserve more than sex. And anyone who tells you that you aren’t a man because you haven’t had sex with enough women is leading you astray. You are worth more than the notches on your bedpost. Manhood is less about sex and more about taking responsibility for your actions.

I know that millions of young people across the country will see that movie. And they will hear those lines. And many of them will laugh. But it is far from funny. It is wrong. It sends a message that devalues every person that believes it. There is more to life than sex (and drinking). And you deserve to have all of it.


P. S. I know that there are those who will dismiss everything I just said at the mention of Jesus, so I’m putting this down here. But in my life, I have never found anyone who could give me all those things I deserve. I love my husband and he loves me, but neither of us are perfect. Jesus Christ was. And He knows you, down to every cell in your body. And He loves you more than any person will ever be capable of. If you don’t know Christ as your Savior and Lord, I would be more than happy to answer any questions you have or discuss it further. But if you don’t want to drag Jesus into the discussion, still know that you are worth everything I said and more.

Posted June 21, 2013 by Maidenfine in God, Movies, Randomness

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Found Mommy, Following God   Leave a comment

This has been a hard post to make myself sit down and write. Not because the subject matter is difficult, but just because the very nature of what I’m going to say doesn’t lend itself well to being written. But, if I’m going to continue on this blogging journey in any form, this post has to come first. Because the last thing I posted was talking about making a decision about whether or not to continue blogging. And that question needs to be answered.

When I changed my blog from Maidenfine’s Musings to Finding Mommy, Finding God, I had a mission. My mission was to explore who I am and who God wanted me to be, while also trying to strike a balance between being a mother and wife and my writing. And while I could continue to write here, I can’t really continue on that mission. Because I feel like I’ve found the path that God has for me. And I feel like I’m living the life he wants. And I feel like I’m not just someone’s mom or someone’s wife. I’ve found my own identity again.

My sister, mother, and me at the Rock and Worship Roadshow in November 2011.
My sister, mother, and me at the Rock and Worship Roadshow in November 2011.


So what do you write about after you’ve reached the goal you set out to achieve?

I suppose the answer to that is. . . whatever I want. But I’m not wanting to hold myself accountable to some posting schedule that a social media expert said is the minimum for blog growth. I don’t want to force myself to produce, even if it means producing junk. So I’m going to keep going. But I have a few other things that I want to do that don’t necessarily fit here. And I don’t want to sacrifice those things for maintaining a writing schedule here.

So, I’ve set up a MailChimp mailing list. I’ll still write here as the Spirit directs. But I’m working on other things. Things that will require a hefty chunk of my time. And I don’t want anyone who’s interested to miss my posts here. So if you want to keep reading as I’m inspired, sign up. It’s not likely to be a lot of emails, but there will be some.

Posted February 1, 2013 by Maidenfine in God

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