Six Years

This Sunday my husband and I celebrated our sixth wedding anniversary. He surprised me with a trip to a dinner theater here in Ohio, and my parents took Arianna over night. Sister Act was the show and it was hilarious. The night was lovely. We ate too much and laughed really hard. It was nice to enjoy some time just the two of us.

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The Ameri Brit Mom

A New Five Minute Friday: Future

I am very excited to announce a huge change in my Five Minute Friday community. Last week, a new site was launched- Five Minute Friday. The weekly link-up is still hosted by Kate Motaung, however, some of the changes to the site help with site navigation and make it easier to access tools and topics.

What is Five Minute Friday?

It is a link-up (which is equivalent to a Meet-and-Greet in the world of blogging.) Each week, the topic changes and participants are encouraged to take five minutes to write according to the prompt. Because you only have five minutes, posts are raw and unedited. Luckily, Five Minute Friday is a positive place and by joining the group you are giving yourself permission to step outside the confines of perfection. It’s a place to write from the heart and to be encouraged.

So here is my unedited post on this week’s topic, Future:

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The first week of June is always a busy one in our home.

On Wednesday, the school year came to a close. On Sunday, we celebrate our sixth wedding anniversary. Next week, I also turn another year older.

Many times it’s easy to get caught up in where we’ve been when we celebrate anniversaries and birthdays, but this year I find myself focusing on the forward motions of life. I’m dreaming about what is left to accomplish. I see the goals we’ve set for our family, and what once seemed so distant and far off is close enough to cross my vision. Exciting times are around the bend, and I am thankful for all God is doing to bless us as a family.

My heart beats with excitement when I think about the verse is 1 Corinthians, “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived” — the things God has prepared for those who love him—” (2:9)

Those things that stir me most and cause anticipation for the future are just the beginnings of what God planned for me. I’m coming out of a season of pain, but I can now say in confidence that the future is full of bright things. The blessings that await each of us are deeper than what can be seen. How encouraging!

God is good!

The Ameri Brit Mom

Mom’s Group

For the most recent publication of my church magazine I wrote an article highlighting a Mom’s Group. Meeting this group of women encouraged me in my own walk. What started out as a writing assignment has become so much more.

Every other week these ladies meet together to discuss God’s Word and pray for one another. It is so empowering to be surrounded by other mothers who seek God’s direction in the same way that I do. Below is the article that appeared in the publication as well as a photo of the finished product with photo credits to Beth Simmons.

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Group Highlight-Crystal Beres’ Mom’s Group- By Lauren Sisley

Many of the cLife groups at Covenant are open to all types of people and from every point of life’s journey. One thing that makes Crystal Beres’ group different is that it is a cLife group exclusively for women. The group was founded on the principle that women need to band together and encourage one another. Currently, this cLife group is reading through Hope Unfolding by Becky Thompson. This text helps to direct conversation about being a woman and living out that purpose with hope.

Christina Galvan is a young mother of two who has been encouraged by attending this group. “It’s easy to feel lonely and like no one shares your struggles as a mother, but when we meet I feel uplifted. The women’s group has impacted my life in a positive way and has connected me with strong and encouraging women I may not have met otherwise.”

Women who attend this group are mothers of babies, toddlers, and young adults. The group is also composed of both singles and married women. It is unique when women of these different distinctions gather because they serve as mentors and resources for each other.

“This women’s group quickly realized we needed to encourage each other in our marriages first before we focused on our kids. We know that sometimes our husbands get seconds when we have small children, but when we focus on our marriages God blesses the whole family.” Host, Tami Iguchi says of an important focus of the group.

Ali Spann has been attending the women’s group for several months and says her favorite part is, “how open and honest everyone is. I feel secure sharing things going on in my home and knowing I will be encouraged and not judged.”

After her first visit to the group, Jessica McMillan said the group was, “close knit, but willing to open up to visitors.”

The women of this group have come to value this time so much that they have  organized nights for their husbands to get together and meet in a similar format. cLife groups are designed to be places where we do life together so if you are a woman in need of a team to encourage you or lift you up in prayer, then check out this women’s group led by Crystal Beres. They meet every other Monday night at the home of Tami Iguchi.

Life Updates

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In life we go through many seasons.

Although every journey is different one thing that remains true is that each season has its own ups and downs. For the past several weeks I’ve experienced some of the highest points I can remember, but they’ve been coupled with times of trial. I’ve started new personal projects that thrust me from my comfort zone, and unfortunately, it’s stolen my small supply of energy.

I’ve also been carrying around a weight on my shoulders. For the longest time I tried to ignore the issue because it seemed easier than dealing with it. I tried everything I could to distract myself. I used exercise as a distraction. I listened more and talked less. I used television to fill my free time so that I didn’t have to write. All of this because writing made me vulnerable. The words I write come from my heart, but my heart aches and I am afraid to let it bleed on the page.

Someone I love very dearly is sick. Actually two people. There. I said it.

Over the past seven months my family has been under attack. Cancer snuck its way into the bodies of two people I love very much. It hurts to watch them fight. It hurts to see the messages and to hear the news. It hurts that in a time when we all need one another, that the illness keeps us apart.

Nothing can prepare you for this road, and I feel so helpless. I like to be in control. I like having answers and knowing outcomes. Just like everyone, I like to pray and see results.

So please forgive my absence. Many people tell me how encouraging my posts are, but I have days when being positive doesn’t feel honest.

There are times I rejoice over good news. Recently there have been tears of joy as things seem to be turning around, but as I tread this rocky ground I’ve struggled to find my footing. I’ve tried to keep my eyes on Jesus, but there are days when my strength is weak.

One thing I am sure of despite the battle is that God is good. Just because situations stink and the skies seem cloudy doesn’t change the fact that I trust Him. I know His plans are good and I rely on His strength everyday. I pray for God to lead the doctors. I pray for God to bind up the wounds and heal the sick. I pray for blessings. I pray for miracles. I pray that good will come from all this pain.

Thanks for letting me be honest with you today. Sickness is an ugly thing that can destroy healthy people and spirits. Please join me in prayer for my family, and know that I am praying for you and yours as well.

The Ameri Brit Mom

 

The Bone Clocks: A Book Review

Title: The Bone Clocks

Author: David Mitchell

Publisher: Sceptre

Copyright Date: 2014

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One thing I look forward to every summer when we visit England is stopping in Waterstones Bookstore and looking to see what is current in British fiction. Two summers ago, The Bone Clocks, was at the top of every list. I don’t tend to choose science fiction for myself, so I decided to buy this book for my sister with the intent to borrow.

It took two years, but I followed through with that plan.

The Bone Clocks is one of the longest books I have ever read. At 613 pages, this book is nearly twice as long as my usual reads. The text is divided into six chapters. Each chapter is a different POV during a different decade, but all are connected.

From the onset, the reader meets Holly Sykes, a British teenager in 1984. After arguments with her parents about her inappropriate relationship with an older man, Holly decides to runaway. She finds herself on a road to self-discovery during the time on her own. On the night of her escape, Holly encounters a strange elderly woman, meets her partner, and finds out that her younger brother has gone missing.

Hugo Lamb has always had the world handed to him on a silver platter. His parents are some of the wealthiest in England, and it has always been expected that he will carry out their legacy at an ivy league school. Over Christmas break in 1991, Hugo meets Holly while on a ski adventure with friends.

In 2004, Holly’s sister, Sharon, is getting married and her daughter’s father has flown in from Iraq to be a part of the big day. Ed Brubeck has spent much of their daughter, Aioffe’s, life overseas reporting on the wars of the Middle East. Some days Ed dreams of being married to Holly and having the family he always dreamed of, but his addiction to the thrill of battle keeps him from making that commitment.

Since she was a young girl, Holly has suffered from inexplicable dreams. Haunted by the apparent death of her younger brother, she finds herself communicating with the same elderly woman in her dreams. These strange encounters lead to Holly writing an novel, which eventually lands her amongst the greatest modern writers. While at a speaking engagement in Spain in 2014, Holly meets the acclaimed Crispin Hershey and begins to form a relationship with the author.

All of Holly’s strange dreams begin to make sense in 2025 when she is introduced to Horology, a group of souls that have survived death several times over. She meets Marinus who teaches her about the Great War between Anchorites and Horologists, and she becomes a pawn in the fight for Horology.

In 2043, after the collapse of the world-as-we-know-it, Holly finds herself taking in two orphans in her old age. Having survived so much heartache and terror in her own life, Holly tries to teach the orphans the most important things, and she learns to sacrifice herself for those she loves.

From its first page all the way through page 613, I was drawn into Holly’s life and those she meets along the way. Most of the story follows the rules of realistic fiction, but every so often Mitchell lays breadcrumbs for the reader leading up to the climax–a war between two entities beyond this world. In the end, the reader is left thinking about the difference that each decision can make and the chain reactions that they begin.

The Ameri Brit Mom

Dressing and Educating: Days 161-170

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Day 161: April 24, 2017

I wore a Perfect T from Lula Roe and olive green jeggings.

 

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Day 162: April 25, 2017

I wore a purple tunic and cardigan from Primark in England. I also wore black Lula Roe leggings.

 

Day 163: April 26, 2017

I had to miss school today for an appointment 😦

 

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Day 164: April 27, 2017

I wore an Irma from Lula Roe and khaki jeggings.

 

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Day 165: April 28, 2017

I missed my opportunity to do a classroom photograph today as I spent my morning proctoring tests. I wore an Irma from Lula Roe and OS leggings.

 

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Day 166: May 1, 2017

I wore a spring dress from Old Navy and paired it with a Lindsay Kimono by Lula Roe.

 

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Day 167-My daughter had a pre-school field trip to a children’s museum today. My husband and I were both able to come along. It was a wonderful day full of smiles and gratitude.

 

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Day 168: May 3, 2017

I wore a Carly dress from Lula Roe with OS leggings underneath.

 

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Day 169: May 4, 2017

This purple and gray tunic came from Stitch Fix. I paired it with black OS leggings from Lula Roe.

 

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Day 170: May 5, 2017

I wore a navy tunic and jeggings today.

Which look was your favorite?

 

The Ameri Brit Mom

Lesson From an Aspiring Author: ONE Question

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You may be wondering where I’ve run off to. My posting schedule has been on hiatus and it’s been weeks since I last talked writing with you. Don’t fear–I haven’t given up on my blog and its readers, however, it has been a struggle to balance blogging with intensive personal projects. Since the last time I provided a lesson I have started a new  manuscript, been accepted to write published book reviews, met non-fiction picture book writer Linda Stanek, and had the first two chapters of my first book critiqued by a free-lance editor.

The writing life is a busy life.

One thing I strive to do despite the high demands for my time is to continue to educate myself on craft. Before plot and characters can impact readers I have to be sure that my craft is on-point. I love running into great books on craft at the bookstore. While some of you may think books about writing sound about as dry as the Sahara, I find joy and passion in studying writing.

Lately, I’ve been reading through the Gotham Writer’s Workshop: Writing Fiction. It is a practical guide from New York’s acclaimed writing school. As I read through the book it helps with my character descriptions and plot development. One thing that I’ve focused on in my second manuscript is the idea of one major dramatic question.

Each work of fiction should be written to answer ONE pressing question. The answer to that question is what drives your reader through the pages of the book. Their hunt to know how the question will be resolved should guide the author’s writing. Stepping outside of the information pertinent the question bores readers, and concluding your story without answering the question reader’s asked throughout will leave them confused by what the book was really about.

I started to think about some of my favorite books and how the one question is revealed and answered in each work.

In The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, the question is: Will Liesel survive the war in Molching? This question arises early on as the narrator for the novel is Death and from its onset, the reader knows someone is about to die. Each page turn is a step closer to the impending Death promised in the first pages.

In The Selection by Kiera Cass, the question is: Will America be the next Queen of Illea? This question transcends the first three books of the series. At times, it seems the answer is clear, but other times the unpredictable nature of the protagonist leaves the reader wondering.

In Not a Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinnis, the question is: Can Lynn survive on her own in a world without water? From its earliest pages this book describes life in a post-apocalyptic world where people are dying in a war for water. Lynn’s mother has been her rock and helped her to defend their pond from the thirsty. When Lynn’s mother is killed Lynn is faced with the challenge of survival on her own. This conflict-packed story finds its roots in the major dramatic question and all of the plot returns back to the essence of that question.

What are you writing? What’s your ONE question?

The Ameri Brit Mom