Tuesday, January 25, 2011

I Miss Me!!!

Sometimes I have this unsettling feeling that I don't know myself any longer. The person I was seems so deeply buried inside myself that I wonder if I will ever be real again. It's not just about the weight. Though, fifty extra pounds has a way of making one unrecognizable when looking in a mirror. The 37 year old woman with age lines beginning to dominate her once youthful face no longer looks like me. The weight makes that issue so much worse than it might otherwise be.

But it goes beyond weight. I can remember having a self confidence that bordered on arrogance. Although, I would never have considered myself an arrogant person. In fact, I detest people so full of themselves that they must automatically be the smartest person in the room. I can't stand people like that. I want nothing to do with them. Snobbery has never been a part of my personality. But confidence was. I was sure of myself in just about every area. At least in regards to intelligence and talent. Now, I am rarely sure of myself or my instincts. I begin to wonder if I have an inkling of talent...a speck of intelligence.

I've changed in another way. I've never been overly patient, but sometimes I feel almost mean. Like I have to hold back from being ugly to some people. I just don't have a lot of tolerance. Not like before. I've changed in other ways too. Ways more personal than I would divulge in a blog. Yet it's there. I don't know why these changes happened.

There are some changes that I welcome. Changes that God has made in me. Ways He has grown me and molded me. Those changes are the ones I want. But I don't think it was His will for me to ever think that I am unintelligent or ugly or a hack. That I can't write and was foolish to ever think I could. I know those messages are not from Him. Yet, I hear them over and over.

I look at this life I live. Knowing it is a world away from the life I dreamed of for myself. For my children. Yet, here we are. Longing for changes that will be good. Longing to see dreams come true and not be crushed.

I realize that life has a way of kicking us in the teeth sometimes. It's just true. I know that since my precious Grandma died over 8 years ago, that life has lost a lot of its shine for me. Losing a loved one has a way of making a person guarded. Of hurting ones faith. I have prayed so many times since she left that God would help my faith be strong because sometimes I am so afraid of the bad things to come. And since she passed, I've since lost my Daddy. The man who raised me. The man I was not as close to as I longed to be. I loved him. I believe he loved me. Yet, I regret all those moments that I spent away from him. All those visits we never had that I can never get back. Our family lost my sweet cousin, Vannessa, just two weeks before Christmas this past year. And I wonder why God let that happen.

I know His ways are not our ways and He is wise. He knows what He is doing. I trust Him. But I still feel wounded and raw. Kicked around and beaten. My faith has changed. Not for the good. I still have faith, but now when I get scared I have to pray, "Lord, help my unbelief." I don't want to ever be in a place where I am unpleasing to God. I love Him more than anything. Still, as life goes on, we just don't see the world as sunny and hopeful like we used to.

And I can't completely blame Grahm's death. Even before she passed away, I was changing. Sinking into myself. I was in a dark place. I have a past. Most people do. My past is pretty sordid. Steeped in sin and depression. I will confess that there were times I longed to die. Wished I could just stop. Stop breathing. Stop living. Stop giving in to the sin that I knew had a very strong hold over my life. So, I can't blame her going home. In a lot of ways, my changing was my fault.

But through all the dark times in my life. Through the sinfulness. The time spent running from the Lord and into many arms of people who never loved me. I never doubted that God loved me. That He had a plan for my life. I never doubted the talents and gifts He had given me. I wasted a lot of time. I knew I was throwing away precious days, but when you are young you think there are lots of days left.

Now, I see nothing but wasted days behind me. Days that I could have done something with my life. I can't even regret all the heartache and bad choices. If had I had made even one small decision differently, would I have my children? Would I have my husband and family?

Still. I miss me. I miss the girl who loved to joke and cut up. The girl who loved to laugh and did not believe in worry. The girl who knew that God would make everything good and okay. I miss the girl who knew at age 11 she was going to be a writer. The girl who could step on a stage and lose herself in someone else...feeling the pain or joy or rage or peace that her character felt and convince others to feel those feelings with her character. I miss being sure that I am talented and intelligent and capable. Absolutely capable.

And sometimes I wonder if she is still hibernating deep inside me. Groggily peering through my eyes, astonished how quickly and completely the world around her has changed, but knowing she is still the same. Deep Deep inside.

I have to believe I still exist on that level. Somehow. I am still here.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Excerpt From Getting Paid On Peyton Row

As most of you know, I am currently writing a book. I plan to be completely finished with that book (including edits and revisions and design) by May 29, 2011. I am hoping to have the book up for sale on Kindle, Smashwords, Nook, etc at that time.

So, I wanted to give you just an idea-- a taste-- of what to expect. The characters. The tone. So I am posting an excerpt from the Prologue of the book today. Keep in mind that in the prologue the character of Drew (who is a main character in the story...the hero of the tale really) is only 10 yrs old. He is older in the rest of the book. Spanning from his late teens to about his late 20's.

I hope you will enjoy this sampling, but keep in mind it is a first draft. It's not polished. Feel free to let me know what you think.

Thanks and here goes:

Getting Paid on Peyton Row by Lisa Ahne
(c) 2011 Lisa Ahne

     Drew’s Grandma stood leaning against the counter in the kitchen while Drew sat at the table with his dinner in front of him. Grandma had made fried pork chops, mashed potatoes, and peas. He mixed his peas into his potatoes and hoped Grandma would not be mad at Mama. It was Christmas. Your kids are supposed to come see you at Christmas.

     “What do you want, Carly?” Grandma asked.

     Grandma looked tired. Her short dark hair was just starting to have a sprinkling of gray here and there, but her dark brown eyes aged her. They showed the wear and tear of the day in them. The bags under them seemed to pull her eyes down and created a hooded effect.

     Drew understood how tired his Grandma got. She had not even had a chance to change from the uniform the hotel made her wear to clean the guest rooms. He doubted she had sat down once since she had walked through the door of her house. She was using her annoyed voice, and Drew hoped his mom would understand that Grandma wasn’t mad…just tired.

     “It’s Christmas, Mama. I just wanted to see you and my boy. That’s all.”

     Drew wanted Grandma to believe her, but from the way her lips were pressed together, he didn’t think that was going to happen. His happy feeling was still there. He just wished Grandma would be happy.

    “I thought I could spend the night, and that way I could help cook Christmas dinner with you tomorrow,” Carly said. “Besides, I want to be here when little man opens his presents in the morning.” Drew got excited.

     “Did you bring me some, Mama?”

     Carly fidgeted and picked at her fingernails. Grandma made her get rid of her cigarette when they came in. Grandma didn’t put up with smoking in her house. Carly looked like she wanted to take a drag off that cig. She did not want to look at Drew.

     “I’m sorry, baby,” she said, “I just been broke. Don’t worry, though. I will get you some great presents when tax time rolls around.”

     “I don’t have any money, Carly. I can’t give you anything if that is what you are thinking.”

     “I don’t want your money, Mama.” Carly’s voice became hard. Her eyes, dark brown like her mother’s and her son’s, glared at Grandma. “I told you I just want to be with my family at Christmas. What’s so wrong with that?”

     “Nothing at all,” Grandma replied. “It’s just too bad you don’t feel that way any other time of the year…except when you want something.”

     Grandma stared hard at her daughter. Her weary eyes saw the raw and scabbed over sores on her daughter’s body. She saw the bones jutting beneath the skin, no muscle or fat to hide them. The dirt under the fingernails, the nicotine stains on her fingers, and the oily hair that hadn’t been washed in awhile. She sighed. She was so tired.

     “Fine. You can stay tonight. Go ahead and make you a plate of supper, but you remember what I said.”

     Carly grinned with yellow teeth. “Yes, Mama.”

     Carly was starving and wolfed down the plate of food. Then she disappeared into the bathroom for a long time. She said she needed to take a shower, but she was gone a really long time. When she came out she wasn’t shaking like before. Drew thought she must have been really cold. Grandma didn’t say anything, but she looked especially sad when she told Drew to go to bed.

Well, that is just a taste of Drew's story. I also plan to introduce you to his two best friends, Vinny and Joey, very soon. In the book, Drew's nickname is "The King" or "Wise King"...mostly said in jest, however, Drew does prove to be a very wise leader. His friends also have nicknames. On the football field, no one can touch these guys. All three have promising futures in college sports...perhaps even the NFL. Vincent Cruz is teasingly called "Mr. Beautiful" because of the flocks of girls who are drawn to his good looks, athletic ability, and charm. Joey "Waste 'Em" Wade won't let anyone or anything get in the way of his future. His sole focus in life is a career in the NFL, and he doesn't care who he hurts to get there.
I hope you will think about going on this journey with me. I pray you will enjoy my story of three boys growing up in poverty, who will do anything to get out and have a better life. Getting Paid on Peyton Row.

PS: I have redesigned my blog page. What do you think??

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Stops and Starts and High Blood Pressure

Well, we are having yet another snow day here in Arkansas. It's beautiful, but it's messing with my mind! I have a lot on my plate. Stuff I really can't afford to put off. However, thanks to the snow and threats of icy roads, we had to cancel our play rehearsal tonight for Little Women. We are also going to push the opening night of the show back a week due to some of the cast not knowing their lines yet. That is good and bad. The good part is that it does give us another week of rehearsals. The bad part is having to change the established schedule. It means the next show will be late getting the set built and dressed for rehearsals. It just throws everyone off. I will admit that I am a bit relieved at the postponement. We just seriously need the extra time. Even though it feels sadly like a defeat. A lost battle in the war we will win on opening weekend when we put on an amazing production.

I get to stay home with my family tonight. I hope that takes some pressure off of my husband. He has had to keep the kids a lot lately between my working and being at the theater. He is a good sport, but he just doesn't need the added responsibility on top of what he is dealing with physically. When I am here, the kids can bring all of their bickering and begging for snacks and all around demanding natures to me and give him a break!!!

So, my plans for the rest of this day and this evening are going to keep me just as busy as if I had went to rehearsal. I am going to do some more work on the script for the play. I think some trimming may be in order. After that, I hope to get a chapter eeked out for my book. Maybe I will get to cuddle with the hubs and watch some TV or a movie or something later. It will be cool to get to kiss my kids goodnight at bedtime.

If you live in the central Arkansas area, I hope you will make your reservations for Little Women soon. We will be performing the first two weeks in February. Doors open at 6:15. Dinner is served at 6:30 with the show starting at 7:30. Please call 501-941-2266 or go to www.cabotcommunitytheatre.org to make reservations!!

When I get further along in my book, I am going to put up a facebook page for the book and start doing as much promoting as I am able for a release in May.

Enjoy your cold January evening...especially if you are blessed enough to be somewhere warm this winter.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

How Much Info Is Too Much Info?

At what point does sharing become over sharing? When does revealing personal issues constitute an invitation for family, friends, and even complete strangers to take inventory and assume the right to give advice, admonish, or judge?

Since I began this blog I have struggled with exactly how much personal information to include. I want to be interesting. I don't want a boring blog. However, I tend to think that if I shared half of what really goes on or some of the trials we experience, I would just be inviting unwanted opinions. No offense, but I don't think that would be a wise thing.

There is a very well known blogger who has laid her heart and her family bare. She has been completely open about the struggles she is facing. The financial hardships. The pain and anger her children are enduring. She is brave. I admire her. She writes one of my favorite blogs. However, she has taken criticism on everything from how many children she chose to give birth to right up to how she spends her money. One person thought they had the right (not sure who gave them this right) to question how she dared to take her girls on a Mommy/ Daughter day out when money is so tight. The gall of that amaze me.

I am not nearly as brave as she is. I will not give all the details of the struggle we currently find ourselves going through. I will be open and honest about our lives and family within reason. I have posted on here the awful pain my husband endures on a daily basis because of a condition in his back. He is no longer able to work. I work some, but even if my job was full time it would not earn enough to support us. The honest, transparent truth is that if not for God and the family and friends He has provided, I honestly don't know what would have happened to my family these past few months. I can't even guarantee that we would not have been homeless. In fact, that has been a very real possibility at times.

But God has not failed us. He has been wonderful to us. He has more than provided for us. We are praying for some changes to happen soon. We are praying for God's intervention both in our finances and in Shawn's health. And we still believe in our God...His ability and His love for us.

So, though I may not share the intimate details of my family at this time, I said all the above to say this: I have decided to blog about my progress in writing my book. To lay it all out there to hold myself accountable. The bottom line is that things need to change for me and for my family. I want to give the writing thing a REAL shot!!

I have wanted this my whole life. I am tired of talking and never doing.

My book is titled Getting Paid on Peyton Row. I have the prologue finished and a pretty good road map of where I want to go. The book will have three parts: Glory Days, Blitzed, and The Rebuilding Season. It is about 3 boyhood friends who grow up impoverished in America. They are looking for a way out of Peyton Row. The poor side of town. It's a story of what lengths these boys will go to in order to change their lives. The obstacles they face along the way. The people they hurt along the way. And the realization of what really matters.

Lots of drama. Some romance. Trust me. It WILL be worth the ride. When I get a bit further along I will create a page for the book on facebook and begin to earnestly promote its May release. I would like to put some sample chapters on Kindle for free to help promote the book. I am not sure if that is a possibility or not. I will see when I get further along.

Please go along with me on this journey. When the book comes out you will be as excited as me.

Thanks to all. God bless you and yours.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Is It Summer Yet?!

Life is crazy right now! I am in the final couple of weeks before we open Little Women at the Cabot Community Theatre. I have a million last minute-small but not too small- overwhelming details to take care of. I am more nervous about this play than any that I actually performed in. I think I have taken for granted EVERY director I have ever worked with. I am too tired to bother even trying to figure if these sentences are grammatically correct.

I am still working for the school district in my town, but I have not been working much. Yet, I have managed to stay busy. I would say these past few months have been some of the busiest I have ever experienced. I am not a person who enjoys a lot of activity. I like a slow and steady pace in life. I hate to be busy. I don't know why I am like that. I just am. I hate to have a busy schedule. I have said it before (a lot actually), and I will say it again. Most people stride through life. I stroll. So a lot of frantic activity just makes me want to find the nearest rock and climb under it.

To top it off, it is winter...the season I hate. I really LOVE every other season. Spring with it's new life and blooming flowers. Summer with it's glorious heat and water fun. Fall with it's crisp air and color explosion. But, guys, I SERIOUSLY HATE winter. I hate it. I miss a ton of church in winter because I don't want to get out. I would hibernate the season away if I were allowed to. This year I am forced to get out. I have Little Women coming up (which I am directing) and then we go right into The Nerd (which I perform in).

The thing I am focusing on most (next to Little Women...that will take up a lot of my energy until it is over) is the book I am writing. I have given myself a deadline of May 29th. The book will be finished, revised, and uploaded to all ebook formats by that time. Now, if I can get it done beforehand, I will. I chose May 29th because, not only is it a realistic goal to meet but it also happens to be my Mom's birthday. I am determined that my life, my husband's life, the lives of my children, and my Mom's life MUST get better. I am tired of struggling. I am fed up with poverty.

Everyone has hard times. Everyone struggles. I know this. I also know that God has always taken care of me and mine and He will continue to do so. I also believe that He wants my very best effort. He wants me to do what I can to help myself.

I just hope and pray that all of you reading this blog, all of my friends and family also, will help me to promote my book and to really get the word out about it when the time comes. I wish I could close myself up at my computer in a comfy cardigan and some sweats with a glass of soda pop beside me and just write, write, write the winter away. I wish I never had to go out for anything and could put all of my energy toward the book. That is my dream. Someday that will be my job.

Man! I hate winter!!! I hate to be cold. Doesn't summer just sound wonderful right now?!?!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

It's a New Day!

There are times when life just gets away from us. Times when we waste our days and times when we work our lives away. Some days I feel as though I just woke up one morning and my youth had evaporated before my eyes. I wonder where my 20's went. There are days when I look at my babies and wonder where my babies went. They are getting so big, growing up so very fast.

I worry about how I am doing as a mom. My children are home-schooled. Are they where they should be? I lie awake in fear at times that they might be behind their peers in some way. I pray I am raising them in a way that pleases God. That I am teaching them about Him and showing them how to live for Him. I pray that I am not saying or doing anything that could be harmful to them in the long run. Anything at all that could damage the way they think about me, themselves, or God. Being a parent is the scariest thing I have ever done.

Recently our family has been going through the biggest life trial we have had to face to this date. I won't get overly personal, but I will share some. My husband has a condition in the thoracic area of his spine that has been devastating to his life. He is unable to do much of anything that he could a year and a half ago. He has been in constant, horrible pain for over a year now with little to NO relief. He is unable to work any longer. This is a man who has a tremendous work ethic. He prided himself in doing anything and everything he had to do to support his family. He took any honest job and worked any long hours just to provide for his family. I am VERY proud of my husband. At this point in our lives, he is just not physically able to do the things he used to. He has not lifted his children for a hug or a piggy back ride in well over a year.

They can still climb into his lap and hug him...as long as they don't hit the area of his back that is injured. However, he is no longer able to lift them or carry them. He can't wrestle with his son or throw the football with his teen daughter. Those days are gone unless God will touch him and completely heal him. That is our prayer. But we don't decide the when and if. We can only trust and hope. We go by God's timing. He knows what He is doing, and we have to trust Him.

I have recently went back to work. I have been out of the workforce for almost a decade, so when I started sending out resumes...in this economy...I didn't exactly have people blowing up my phone to give this awful-close to 40-stay-at-home-mom a job. In fact, the only people who called me was Wal-Mart. I lasted less than a month and dealt with constant migraines. Sooo...I went back to substitute teaching. No...I don't exactly love it, but I will do it as long as I have to. We are literally the lowest we have ever been.

However, my kids have never done without. Thanks to good friends and loving family and my AWESOME GOD my children have not only had their needs met but almost every desire. They had the best Christmas of their young lives. God is so good to us.

That brings me to what I really want to say. I look at my babies and I see their childhood flying by. I look at my husband (who just turned 40) and I long to make his life better. I look at myself in the mirror, and I see the lines on my face...my youth almost gone (I'm not ready to claim old age at 37 ;-) ). I see the extra 50 lbs I've gained since my youngest child was born 5 1/2 years ago. And I am terrified that if I don't make some drastic changes NOW that they will never get made. If I don't take the first steps I will never lose the weight and become healthy.

What if I live my whole life and never actually do anything that I dreamed about as a young person?! What if I don't make a future for myself and my husband so that we can know that when we do reach old age that we will have our needs met? I trust God to meet all of my needs and to take care of us, however, I also believe that God expects and demands that I work and pursue goals that will put me where I need to be. I believe in my heart of hearts that God created me to be a writer. That is the profession I believe I am called to. NO, it's not necessarily a ministry. It's definitely not a five-fold ministry...that is not to say that my writing can't be used in a ministerial form. That God can and will use my writing if He so chooses.

I don't know the wherefores and whys. I only know that writing is ingrained in my DNA. It is a HUGE part of WHO I AM! And I have to focus and get serious about that part of my life or I NEVER WILL.

Wow! I really do go on and on, don't I? Let me get to the point: I have a plan. That's a good thing. A plan helps.

Please help me along on this journey. Please encourage and hold me accountable. Tell me off if I appear lazy. Cheer me on during the good days. And above all else, BUY THE BOOK WHEN IT COMES OUT!!

Thanks for being here for me. For letting me vent and think with my keyboard. :-) More details about the book is to come. I have some written. Not a lot. But it's a start. And I have a deadline FIRMLY in place.

Keep an eye out for the details. Until then, have a wonderful week.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Little Women, President Obama, and Birds Falling From The Sky!

Well, the new year surely came in with a bang here in Beebe. Fireworks started around 10 pm and popped until well into the bright and shiny new year. The next morning there were thousands of dead black birds covering about a one mile radius. The carcasses were on roofs, streets, and yards. People could not drive even a few feet without running over hundreds of dead birds.

The report is that more than a thousand (one station is reporting 3,000) blackbirds fell out of the sky to their deaths on New Year's Eve. Environmental agencies were canvassing the Windwood neighborhood of Beebe all Saturday and Sunday cleaning up the mess. Yet, no one knows what caused the birds to just plummet to their demise. Theories have run the gamut from the end of the world to cloud to cloud lightening, to a future earthquake. Is anyone else sighing and shaking their heads right about now?

This is not a new thing. It's happened many times before in history. The most accepted theory thus far (we won't have reports back on whether the birds were poisoned for a few days, but that is believed to be quite unlikely) is that the fireworks from New Year's celebrations startled and confused the birds either into flying too high up where they may have been hit by cloud to cloud lightening or that the confusion caused them to think they were flying upwards when actually they were flying straight into the earth below them.

Either way it is creepy and not something that happens everyday. We actually have a HUGE blackbird population here in town. They are a nuisance on one hand and very cool to see every year on the other hand. The fact that there were about a thousand dead fish about a hundred miles from here also caused a stir in the news. Especially since it happened close to the time the birds died. The news is reporting that the fish died of disease.
Just a few minutes ago a good friend of mine, Lee McLane (who owns and operates The Beebe News here in town) was interviewed by phone by a radio station in Melbourne, Australia. I guess thousands of birds just falling out of the sky is unusual enough to make a lot of people go...Hmmm.

On another note, a couple of my other friends had quite an unusual New Year's day themselves. Imagine you are spending Christmas and New Year's vacationing in Hawaii....I could stop right there and be in paradise. Literally. You are luxuriating on a sunny warm beach when suddenly there is great commotion all around you. You look up to see gobs and gobs of security flooding the beach, and the sitting President of the United States comes with his family to the beach to spend the day.

That is exactly what happened to my friends, Sandy and Wayne Branson. Even if you don't agree with his policies (which neither I nor them do actually) it is still very thrilling to meet the President. President Obama graciously posed for lots of photos with them and their family. Sandy said it was thrilling...but she just wished they weren't in their bathing suits at the time. I am left to wonder if the security detail were wearing black suits with dark sunglasses. Maybe I will ask her.

Lee is running the photo in this week's paper, so I will wait to ask if I can post the pic until they get back from vacation.

In my own news, I am currently directing the Cabot Community Theatre's production of Little Women in Cabot, Arkansas. It is my first attempt to direct, but as I see things slowly coming together, I am getting more and more excited. I didn't know it was possible to feel stark terror and giddy excitement all at the same time.
I hope if you live in the Cabot, Arkansas area that you will come out to the show and give me and the theater as much support as possible. Go to www.cabotcommunitytheatre.org for show dates and prices. :-)

The other big thing in my life right now is some ideas I have for getting my book written and up on Kindle...etc...by the end of May.

There will be more to come on that later. Until then, HAPPY NEW YEAR!! 2011 will have ups and downs...laughter and tragedy...I encourage you all to give yourself and your year to Jesus and see what He can do with it.