Archive | inspiration

for those who have asked…

This is me on my way to the airport.
Okay, not really. But it is really me.

The conference, the pitches and home again: a recap

I was that girl, crying in the airport. It’s usually someone else, but this time it was me. As my brother toted our luggage over to the boarding pass printer, I was sniffling and wiping my eyes and wondering what everyone thought of me. Was I going to live with my dad after my parents had separated? Sneaking away from an abusive boyfriend? Attending an out-of-state funeral? Any of these would’ve been good guesses, but far from the truth. Sadly, I was just crying because I was nervous…and tired.

I don’t know about you, but I’m a cryer. I cry when I’m sad, happy, startled, embarrassed, overwhelmed or nervous. If I’m not crying, chances are I’m suppressing my tears.

On the short drive to the airport, the tears began to flow (not that they hadn’t already been flowing the night before) as I realized that there was no turning back. In what would seem like a moment’s time, I’d be sitting across from a publisher and they’d be asking me about my book. And I had no idea what I wanted to say.

Throughout the day, I began to feel better. I ate some peanut m&m’s, saw some cute kiddos, watched exquisite clouds float by the window as we flew off. We chewed a lot of gum, sent a lot of text messages to my mom, pulled our luggage a long way. Joey looked over on the first flight and asked how I was feeling. “Better.” Says I. “Better.”

When we arrived in Charlotte, the first thing I saw from the plane was a huge, bright rainbow looping over our heads. I saw it again from the airport window and then again from the rental car. Finally I realized that we were seeing several rainbows. The whole sky was scrolled with them. I felt like this was a good sign. Pulling out my pink point-n-shoot, I captured one of the arches. The picture turned out.

When we got to our hotel room, I was relieved that we were staying on the same side of the hotel as last year. I am a bit OCD when it comes to things like what side of a hotel I stay on or what side of the room I sit on or how said room is set up. It isn’t superstition, just a great need to be prepared ahead of time. I like to be accustomed to my surroundings. If I imagine that my hotel room is going to have the bed on the side of the door but it is on the opposite side of the room instead, well, it throws off my groove.

That night I unpacked and tried to get organized while my brother, being the kind and wonderful fellow that he is, ironed my conference clothes. (He did very well, even if he did call a skirt “they” as if it were a pair of pants…) We went out that night and ate at Cheddar’s. It was fun and the food was tasty, but as we sat down at our table, I looked at Joey and asked if he noticed anything. Looking around, he realized, as I had just done, that we were the only two caucasian people in the entire restaurant. And the restaurant was full. This gave us a good laugh. I wanted to stand up on my table and say, “Don’t worry! Half my family is black!” But I’m not sure how that would’ve gone over.

And besides, I had to pitch to Joey. We worked on my pitch all through dinner, visited with the waitress and went back to the hotel. After much more time spent working on the pitch, we finally went to bed.

The next day was wonderful, besides the fact that I still had to pitch my book to a complete stranger. I went upstairs (where the publisher appointments are held) and sat outside the room for twenty minutes or so, dead-scared I’d be late otherwise. I clung to the little cross my mom gave me on my birthday this year, prayed, tried to breathe and clutched my aching stomach. Apparently my stomach aches when I’m super nervous. I learn something new every day!

The first pitch went fine, besides the fact that I was visibly nervous and pulled the spine off of one of my folders with my trembling hands. I also stumbled over a couple of questions, but I think I faked it pretty well. This meeting was with an acquisitions editor from Harvest House and she was a very professional but courteous young woman. Very professional and courteous young women are wonderful, really. But they make me nervous. Ahem. However, I did like this lady and think she represents a wonderful publishing house, so I was delighted that she took my proposal.

After this, however, I was so relieved, I wasn’t nearly so nervous for my next meetings. The day continued in the usual fantastic She Speaks fashion. I heard scripture preached from the pulpit of incredible, Godly speakers. I took note after note in break out sessions on memoir writing, passion in writing, finding an agent, writing a book proposal etc. I threw my hands toward the ceiling and worshiped with 650+ sisters in Christ. I ate fancy meals on real table cloths and smiled at the women who were pacing in the bathroom, reciting their pitches. I got to meet up with some Facebook friends and some lovely faces from She Speaks, 2011.

The next day was just as wonderful, but I had two appointments that afternoon. The first appointment of the day was with a representative from Regal. As soon as I sat down, I felt comfortable. I gave my pitch and then she began talking. She seemed genuinely interested in my book. It was like sitting down to chat with a smart, funny aunt. This pitch went the best of all and it ended with her taking my proposal.

The last appointment was with another sweet, Christian lady from Tyndale. She did not take my proposal, but she gave me some good advice and interesting suggestions I’m still mulling over. It didn’t upset me at all that she didn’t take my proposal. I was glad that we were both mature enough to be honest about what we were looking for and, as I said to my SS peers that evening, “She didn’t take it, but she took it seriously.” That’s all an author really wants most days: to be taken seriously.

The rest of the conference was really excellent. Proverbs 31 Ministries doesn’t really advertise much, so I am going to do so here and now. The P31 Staff is made up of some of the humblest and, for lack of a better term, most “sold-out” Christians I’ve ever met. They are amazing writers, speakers and leaders and yet they constantly strive to put their family above their careers and ministries. They organize the conference excellently and make you feel loved and welcomed no matter where you come from or what experience you have. I’ve never been to anything like it, nor even heard of anything like it. If you are a woman who is a speaker or writer or ministry leader or think you might become one if you drop your baggage and say “yes” to God, I think you should start planning for She Speaks, 2013 today.

The conference ended on a bittersweet note as we were all so pumped up about all we had learned and ready to get home and apply it, yet sad to leave that place of constant encouragement and empowerment, sad to leave each other. I realized during the last session that check-out was happening while I was in the session, so I had to text Joey and have him start packing. He had nearly everything packed when I got upstairs. Besides crushing my blush tray and bending a belt, he did a fine job. Somehow, however, I had accumulated a lot of extra stuff. Either that, or my clothes expanded. I had won a copy of Lysa Terkeurst’s newest book, along with the DVD (super excited about this!) and then, for entering another competition received the participant’s guide. Then, for attending a certain session, received a free novel. Oh, and I had to buy Sarah Frances Martin’s book and have her sign it. Then there was the new Liz Curtis Higgs book that I got for Birdie, and all of the binders and notebooks and book samples that had been passed out. You get the idea.

(Liz Curtis Higgs, by the way, was amazing. During her talk, 650 women were laughing so hard they were crying. I’ve never seen someone have such a humorous effect on the entire audience. She is one of my new favorite people!)

Then it was back to the airport. There we finally had our Southern BBQ. While eating our pulled pork sandwiches, I saw around twelve or so She Speaks sistas in our terminal. We were taking over that place! If only we had planned a flashmob ahead of time…

Then it was the flight to DFW and the flight back home. Then it was waiting for luggage that had been checked by force. Then it was Mommy’s car pulling up and then it was home, sweet home. 

And boy, is it good to be home! As much as I love the conferences, any conference is an introvert’s nightmare. Needless to say, I was quite pooped out and declared this week “hibernation.”

I am thrilled to be back on the “blog-wagon” and full of ideas and inspiration. I am thrilled with so much right now, it’s really been a season of blessing.

Thank you for ALL of the prayers and notes of encouragement over the past few months, particularly last weekend. They all meant so much to me and really helped in calming my spirit. I don’t know of anyone else who has the support that I have. I am greatly blessed and very grateful.

 

9

the right education

meagan peckover: guest writerMeagan Peckover comes from a family of six people, a lovebird, two dogs and seven ducks. She lives in the place where trees grow greenest and m range tall, in a little yellow farmhouse in the midst of a valley. Sh loves to read for long hours, and always roots for the under dog. She is currently writing a novel for young adults, and is waiting to begin her senior year in homeschool this fall.

 Today I am proud and pleased to introduce you to one of my favorite writers, dearest friends and most faithful pen-pals. Please give a warm welcome to Meagan Peckover!

I read Aristotle’s Ethics when I was a freshman in high school. It was assigned, I didn’t go out of my way to read it, and I didn’t really understand it when I did. But the very act of reading, or listening, or recording, is often enough to let some glimmer of truth within the story shine through. I didn’t catch all of Aristotle’s meanings, but I saw this one sentence that spoke volumes, and wrote it down. It is from Book 2, Chapter 3:

“Hence we ought to have been brought up in a particular way from our youth, as Plato says, so as both to delight in and be pained by the things we ought; for this is the right education.”

I’ve tried to phrase why we should not become numb time and time again, but there it was, said better than I ever could. Writers, especially, do not become numb. If you are numb, if you don’t feel, if you do not care, you are a bad writer. Some people have been criticized for putting themselves too much into the story, for letting their beliefs speak too loudly, and I think, Isn’t that what a story’s for? Jesus spoke in parables. Fairytales were written to instruct. Aesop wrote fables to teach morals. When I write, I write because I think that the best way to ever speak of God’s love is in a story, whether that be fiction or nonfiction, historical or fantasy or sci-fi, it all has a place.

Aristotle knew even back then that the most beautiful people, the most intelligent, creative, imaginative people are the ones who have not seen the world’s horrors, turned their backs and said, “I can do nothing, thus I will feel nothing.” The people who change the world, the ones who write the best books and paint the most exquisite paintings and do the most heroic deeds, they are the ones who see, and who feel; they mourn for those who go unmourned, they have compassion on the compassionless, they look at the sick and the bleeding and the dying and they see a person. These people have had the right education: they are pained by the things they ought to be pained by.

Let your writing teach you, let it be painful, and let it be joyful. Writing is something you’re born with. I think that somewhere, deep in the womb where it is warm and dark, God puts a tiny seed in our tiny heads. And I think that this seed grows into a magnificent gift that drops more seeds, tinier seeds, seeds that sprout into homes or books or gardens or prayers. One of the seeds that grew out of my head was a character, a girl, named Eden. I don’t know all about her yet, but she wrote this, and I think it sums up what I’m trying to say.

I used to dream about people. Not people I knew, just everyday sorts of people, the ones that you pass in the street or in the grocery store or order coffee from. When I was awake I would stand in the middle of a crowded room and just look at everyone, all of them going about their lives and living in a way that I never could. They would live a life that I never knew, and there is a mystery in that. I wonder if anyone ever thought the same about me. I wonder if anyone ever looked at me and thought, Now there’s a girl with a life to lead; she’s going places. I wonder if anyone ever thought that. I remember passing people, looking at their faces, trying to imagine how they saw themselves, and I would think, She has no idea how beautiful she is. He has no idea that every step he takes is a miracle. It was sad, sort of, thinking that other people couldn’t see what I saw.

It sounds silly when it’s written out, like I walk around with butterflies in my hair and stars in my eyes, and I can’t see that some people are made prettier than others, and some people are made more talented than others. It’s not that, really. I understand that we aren’t all equal across the board. It’s just that-everyone has their own spectacular beauty hidden right inside them, and they don’t even know it. I think sometimes that we just have to wait and find out what that is, but other times, I wonder if maybe our beauty is for this world at all. Maybe there are some people who won’t discover how spectacular they are until they move on past death.

Please, go out in the world, and do not be numb, but find the beauty that is tucked in every person on God’s earth. You writers, feel the sting of the hungry and the fatherless and the widows. Do not let them turn you to ice. Writing is God’s gift to use, to help us make more sense of this broken world, and how it is being redeemed.

-Meagan Peckover

8

to mommy



I wish I could remember seeing you for the first time. I’m trying to think back…way back as far as my mind goes (which isn’t really that far, if you think about it) to my first memory of you. I can’t think of it for sure.


I do remember sitting in my little rocker with a baby doll while you were in the big rocker with my baby sister. I do remember you peeking through the doorway as I “cleaned my room” and smiling and clapping. I do remember a lot from when I was very young. You were always there.


You were the prettiest of all mommies. Your hair changed a lot. You wore bright lipstick to church. You wore a stretchy grey headband when you cleaned and big t-shirts when you painted. We painted a lot.


You were also the smartest of all mommies. You knew all the words to every song in the world. You had a beautiful voice (I am still holding out to inherit that from you.) You were the best at reading aloud. You knew what order the colors went in the rainbow and who built the ark. The important stuff.


You were good at everything. You made delicious cinnamon toast. You danced to Belinda Carlisle when you vacuumed. You made us giant hair bows. You made people laugh. You laughed.


I saw you go through hard times. I see you go through harder times looking back with a different point of view. I’ve seen you cry. I’ve heard you pray. I’ve hurt your feelings. One time I cut my hair in school and lied about it. 


You took me out of that school. You gave me a journal. You told me to write in it every day. I was passive-aggressive (that trait can be in a post about Daddy.) I would write, “Hi, G2G, Bye!” You stopped making me write in my journal every day. I started writing.


You made a felt board for all our flat, fuzzy friends. You put soft pink wallpaper in the laundry room and let me scream in there. You made me chocolate milk when I refused to drink it white. You combed my hair and smothered me in Baby Magic. (I finally stopped using Baby Magic when I was twelve, but I still like the smell.)


You read me the classics. You made me learn to tie my shoes. You cut my grapes in half. You plugged in Moon Angel. You taught me how to clean the bathroom (I remember you saying “elbow grease.” I was totally confused.)


You bought every math curriculum under the sun. You tried every method. You let me take breaks.


You ordered huge boxes of books. You gave me “The Borrowers” for when I got a little older. You sent us out to pick wildflowers before Daddy mowed. You made laundry smell like heaven.


You made every holiday fun, even when we lived in the middle of nowhere. You let us pick out a new Christmas ornament for the tree every single year. You wrapped our birthday presents with Dillard’s-level skill. You rolled our socks.


You made the yard beautiful at every house we lived in. You attracted birds and babies. You wore a furry leopard belt and big plastic sunglasses. You drove a green suburban. It was cool.


When you would tuck me in at night, you smelled like Avon strawberry lip balm. You would give me the empty tubes to play with. You gave us a puppet theater. You took us on nature walks.


When I got a little older, you taught me how to sing like Cyndi Lauper (the most important part being, to use whatever-WHATEVER-is on hand as a microphone.) You taught me to cook and clean and hold a baby. You taught me how to grocery shop, choose an outfit, be a hostess. You didn’t teach me how to drive, but it is your fault I put both feet on the pedals at Driver’s Ed.


You have taught me much. 


I could go on and on and on with memories I have of you, Mommy. Memories from when I was two to when I am twenty (the looking-ahead type of memory) but the best thing is, we’re still making memories together.


I love you so much and still want to be like my brilliant, glamorous, talented mother whenever it is I’ll grow up. Happy Mother’s Day, Mama.


Everly Caroline

7

a question for you

I’ve been, here and there, frantically working on the book. So many friends have left comments or sent notes offering me congratulations. Ohmygoodness, no. I have done nothing yet. At this point, I’ve looked at the tightrope very closely, glanced anxiously at the crowd below and taken a deep breath. That’s all. In other words, I’ve created a binder and written a few snippets that don’t yet fit into my outline. (And speaking of the outline, I don’t think I agree with it today.)


The Book’s Binder
But if you’re one of the sweet friends who have encouraged me, thank you from the bottom of my heart. And please keep it coming, if might be so bold. Many days I feel positively too young and inexperienced and wish I was better educated and better prepared. I am pitching a book at the She Speaks Conference at the end of July. I have to have three chapters ready to toss at someone. Someone important-looking, I’m sure. Welcome back, shy home-schooled girl
And yet, that’s how I know that it will be worth it. Because I’m scared. A good kind of scared. It must be important if it feels so risky. It must be what I really want if I’m willing to throw myself out there this way. I’m not even thinking about getting published or not getting published right now. That’s not in my hands. I’m thinking about doing my best, writing my heart out and giving this message a fighting chance.

Now for the question. (Sorry, this one is only for the ladies.) If you would like to be a part of my research (and inspiration) you can leave your answer in the comment box below or email me at everlypleasant@gmail.com


Have you ever been in a situation or field where you felt you were looked down upon merely because you are a woman? Describe this experience (whether you triumphed or not!)


Please share! 


Much love,
Everly

1

teddy roosevelt and my brother

My brother has long been a fan of The Art of Manliness (though I think he’s pretty much mastered it by now) and the entire family has enjoyed a variety of articles found there. I even follow the blog. Publicly. As Everly. Does this make me manly? Or one of those annoying ladies who considers herself a manhood expert? Perhaps the latter. But this isn’t about that issue part of my personality. 


This is about a recitation contest The Art of Manliness is putting on. If my brother’s recitation wins, he receives all sorts of goodies. If it doesn’t, the world has been given a gem of a Youtube video.

This will be my first year to vote. Anyone else wish they could vote for this guy?!


Well, actually, you can. If he is a finalist. I will be campaigning/tweeting tomorrow if that is the case! Stay tuned!


Everly

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