The Jelly Bean Prayer

Good intentions always come with the holidays, but the busyness of the season usually wins out. If you’re a late planner like me this year, don’t worry, here are some quick, meaningful and fun things you can do for Easter. What fun and meaningful things do you have planned this Easter?

This is a really fun ways to share the Easter story. Find each color Jelly bean and put it in an egg. Then on Easter morning, or during the week share the story!

Red is for the blood He gave

Green is for the grass He made.

Yellow is or the sun so bright.

Orange is for the edge of night.

Black is for the sins we made.

White is for the grace He gave.

Purple is for His hour of sorrow.

Pink is for our new tomorrow.

An egg full of jelly beans, colorful and sweet is a prayer,

a promise, A loved one’s treat.

by Charlene Dickensen, 1997

And my favorite:

The Jellybean Salvation Lesson found here.

In addition to an Easter Seder our family incorporates the following into ourEaster festivities:

Resurrection Eggs:
These plastic eggs with “little reminders” of the Easter story is always a favorit. The ones you buy have a wonderful guide to help share the good news, but you can make your own as well.

Legend of the Easter Egg “In The Legend of the Easter Egg, young Thomas learns the deeper meaning behind Easter eggs and the Easter story itself. When his older sister, Lucy, falls sick, Thomas goes to stay with John and Mary Sonneman at their candy store. But all the candy he could desire does not cure Thomas’s aching heart. Only when Mary Sonneman shares with him the story of Easter does he understand the hope he has—and what he can do about his sister’s illness.”

The Easter Promise This is my all time favorite Easter video and a MUST HAVE!
“Jerem dreams of being a soldier for a king. He is thrilled to hear about the upcoming arrival of the true King Jesus. Jerem, however, is fooled by appearances and soon rejects Jesus along with most of Jerusalem. In a wonderful lesson about truth, appearances, and forgiveness, Jerem ultimately trusts in Jesus and witnesses the fulfillment of the greatest promise of all — the resurrection.”

Easter Story Cookies This recipe has always been a fail for me, but I love the idea if you can recreate these cookies. Maybe I’ll let my baker boy try this year!


When You Just Don’t Fit the Market

I’ve never felt like I fit.

Growing up in the 70s and 80s on Long Island, New York, I didn’t know anyone whose parents (or grandparents) were divorced except mine. I didn’t know any other kids who had to visit their dad on the weekend instead of doing fun stuff with friends. And I didn’t know any other kids whose mother pulled them from the Catholic church when she found Jesus.

I didn’t fit.

In high school, I had my own salvation experience. Jesus had always been my savior, but in 10th grade he became my Lord. I didn’t know any other kids at my school who loved Jesus like I did, who drastically changed their ways over one summer, and who had to find new friends to hang around with the following school year.

Once again, I didn’t fit.

I went off to a Christian college in 1986 and thought for sure I would fit in. But how could a girl from New York ever fit into an evangelical Oklahoma school? I might have had the big hair, but I didn’t speak the language or dress the way they did. When people were fixing to go to lunch, I wanted to know what was broken. Eventually, I found people I fit with and it made my college experience one of the best experiences of my life, but after college I still struggled to fit into my church, my homeschool and mom groups. I don’t know why, but something always made me feel like an outsider.

Then I found my writing friends, and I finally found my home, that place that you know people love and accept you no matter what because they’re family and they “get” you. That’s what the writing community has been for me and most recently the dance community I’m a part of. I don’t have to explain myself to them, they just get me.

Where is all this going with fitting into the writing market?

The other day I had a chat with my agent about the story he’s shopping around for me. The consensus from editors so far is that the writing is really good, some even loved my writing…but the story doesn’t fit. Not a surprise, really. My last story didn’t seem to fit either. Too edgy, not CBA enough, too melancholy…whatever you want to call it, I find myself not fitting again, and this time I’m smiling.

Why? Because it just confirms the word my pastor spoke in church on Sunday and maybe something God has been trying to tell me all my life. I don’t fit because God doesn’t want me to!

God makes each person unique with different gifts and personalities so they can fit into different places. My pastor said we each are designed to fit in places only we can fit.

So I know there’s a place for me. A place my writing fits, and when I find it I will be smack in the middle of God’s will, the place he designed for me from the beginning. And I’m sure I won’t be the only one smiling!

UPDATE: After exhausting all leads in the CBA, we’re taking my current WIP to the general ABA. Uncharted territory awaits me! Not sure how I feel about it all, but I’m moving forward!

Have you found the place where you fit? If not, will you keep searching until you do, or will you conform to fit into a space that was never meant for you?

 

 

Are You Weary in the Waiting?

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 NIV

It seems that if a writer isn’t writing, then she’s waiting… Waiting to get edits back from a critique partner.Waiting to hear from a potential agent or editor. Waiting to sell a manuscript. Even when a book is sold there’s still waiting!

Waiting can often bring weariness, especially if there are other areas in your life where you’ve been waiting on God to move. And weariness often brings a loss of hope, even defeat. It might even cause you to give up on your dreams!

Believe me, I’ve been there, but what keeps me pushing toward my dreams during the seasons of waiting is wondering if the moment I give up is when God has something wonderful for me. So what do I do in the meantime?

In the past I would whine and cry and question why the answer wasn’t coming fast enough, why I had yet to be published? Then I’d suck it up and trust God. After all God knew best, and if he wan’t giving me the desires of my heart, then it was for a reason. It was for a good reason. I had to believe that! I had to or else I’d go insane waiting and wondering when the answer would come.

Today I’m waiting yet again, but there’s not really any weariness. There’s a little anxiousness, but the obsession in wanting to know or sell my current manuscript is gone. Have I become content in the waiting? I don’t know, but I think I’ve learned how to surrender without whining to God about not giving me the results I want.

Maybe I’ve become weary in the whining.

Maybe I realized it’s futile to complain about things I can’t change. Have I truly learned to be content in where God has me? I’d like to think so, but I also hold on to the hope that maybe God has something far better than I can even dream!

And maybe that’s the real reason I’m not weary!

So You Think You Have Nothing to Say?

Last month I drove an hour and a half to my first speaking engagement. I knew this day would come. The day when I couldn’t just hide behind my computer screen. The day when I would have to take my writing on the road and share everything I’ve learned as a writer so far. And sell books.

Problem is I’m an introvert at heart. Yes, those who’ve met me at a conference might want to argue this point, but I’m not one to crave the spotlight or get up and speak to a group, though I am capable and have been known to do both. Yes, even sometimes I confuse myself with my introvert-extrovert tendencies!

I guess I don’t mind speaking when I’m passionate about the topic. And writing is one thing I’m passionate about, but WHAT could I possible speak on? As a creative writing teacher to grade schoolers and teens, I know how to talk to them. Practically anything I say is brilliant. But to a room of my peers? What could I offer that they haven’t heard before?

Then I remembered I have years of speaking material on my blog. Just this year I learned how to cut my WIP from 56,000 to 21,000. Surely, I could teach others how to do the same. So I will, tomorrow!

The thought of speaking to a group may terrify some, for me, it’s just a necessary progression of this writerly life. Others like me, just have no idea how to start the speaking phase of their career. To you I say, you’re already speaking and people are listening.

Search your blog archives. Find the subjects people respond to. They could be on the craft or simply encouragement in the writing life. Look at your written words in a new and fresh way. Maybe they weren’t just meant to be read. Maybe they were meant to be spoken!

 

Make A Dream Come True: Fix Fatao’s Heart

Taken from the Compassion website:

UPDATE: Mar. 7 at 10:15 a.m. MT – Abdoul Fatao Kone is a 6-year-old boy living with his father, mother and five siblings in Bobo Dioulasso (southwest Burkina Faso). Fatao’s father is a part-time security guard who struggles to make ends meet for his family. And Fatao’s mother sells fritters (steamed bean cakes) at the local market to help support the family. When Fatao turned 1, his parents learned that he has a heart problem: a ventricular septal defect (VSD)—a hole in his heart.

Although his parents have known about Fatao’s condition for years, they’ve never been able to afford the necessary medical care. Instead, they tried traditional medicines and methods. The total cost of Fatao’s surgery, including passport, visa, travel, the surgery itself and follow-up care, is $23,000.

As Compassion’s Child Sponsorship Program grows, they are serving more children and families who struggle to survive in extreme poverty; many of them have special medical needs. Please make a donation to help pay for Fatao’s heart surgery. And if you prefer not to, please spread the word about Fatao’s situation. Pull out all the stops. And please keep Fatao in your prayers. Thank you for loving this child.

Any money raised in addition to the $23,000 for Fatao’s surgery will be used to pay for similar surgeries for other children in our sponsorship program. Children like Alexander, Rossy and Victoria. As I get more information about Fatao’s situation, I will share updates in this blog post (below) and on Facebook and Twitter.

UPDATE: Fatao’s parents will not be traveling to India with him. They are trusting God that everything will turn out well. I am not worried . . . All for me is about having hope and prayer. I pray for him to recover and come back to us. This is a matter of distance. If he were here, I would be there, but it’s too far. I will keep praying here so that he comes back to us. – Kone Lassina, Fatao’s father I know that I cannot be there, so I am just praying that my son returns home well, and I am praying that we are all well, too. – Sanaou Pauline, Fatao’s mother Courtesy of Compassion International

Help Fix Fatao’s Heart

Donate HERE!

From Contract to Shelf: My Book’s Story in Statuses and Pictures

I know I’ve been away from here for a while, but I haven’t been far. I blog EVERY Friday at Writerinterrupted.com PLUS I update my Facebook and Twitter statuses like crazy and I’m planning on reposting some popular posts I’ve written so stay tuned. I’ll try and hang around here more just in case you missed me! ;)

 

I thought I’d take the time to reflect on the one year gestation period of my “baby.” Special thanks to Facebook and my overactive status updates! Couldn’t have posted this without you!

December 2010: My anthology partners contact me to see if I want to resubmit our novella to Barbour now that Barbour was open to stories other than Christmas. I reluctantly say yes, knowing that if my story was contracted, I’d have to cut 36,000 words.

January 2011: I determine to get on a good schedule with my historical WIP, but cryptic facebook message sent to my phone from Lynette Sowell (while in a pet store shopping for my son’s belated Christmas present, a snake,) gives me pause… Since I didn’t have internet access, I couldn’t check my email like the message asked me to. After a couple of fb messages via cell phone, I get Lynette’s number and call her, confirming my suspicions that our novella collection had sold. It was about a week after we submitted!

January 28, 2011: I Facebook… (yes, FB is a verb!)

Guess the beans are out of the pot, so here it is. I got “the call” and first fiction sale for a Barbour anthology mystery series with Cara Putman, Lynette Sowell, and Frances Devine set in Washington, D.C. My story takes place at Mount Vernon where an archaeology intern finds a forged artifact in the mansion. It will release in early 2012. (Thanks to Facebook Timeline for helping locate this message.)

I never did get a picture of me actually signing my contract because it came during Snowmagedon 2011 and frankly, I didn’t get dressed for two weeks and HAD to turn that contract in to make it official. I thought about a faux signing…which still may or may not happen!

January – June 1 I agonize over cutting 36,000 words from WIP

Here’s a sampling of the many status updates…

Jan 5: Two computers. Three versions of WIP. 30,000 words to cut and rearrange. It can be done!! I just might not be sane when it’s over!

Feb 3: From 56,793 words to 35,635 and still editing my way down to 20,000. But it will all be worth it, right?

Feb 10: There is NO EASY button!

March 9: Just saw the cover for my first sale, Cherry Blossom Capers! I will post the cover when they release it to the public soon!

March 21: Email my agent with subject line: Trying To Swallow This Elephant.

Then the rant…”Oh, wise and all knowing agent, I could really use your advice, wisdom, miracle working powers right now!! I’ve cut about 26,000 words off my novella and I’m only at 29,000. I’m shooting for 22,000 and I just got rid of two cameo characters and beloved scenes, but still can’t swallow this elephant. I need perspective, practical ways to cut this baby down that I haven’t tried…and a hack saw!”

He replies, “When the ark is sinking, throw out the elephant first. Is there a huge chunk you could cut out? Could you start it later and cut the entire beginning? Is there an entire scene or set of scenes that could be cut out without doing damage to the story?”

I get back to editing…

March 30: ‎26,999! :)

April 1st: My book cover! What do you think?

May 13: 23,849 The End…again! Still have one more pass to try and cut down even more, but it’s almost done!!

May 26: Mind is drifting to ideas for my book launch party (Jan/Feb 2012) Think I should get the book turned in first?!? Less than a week til deadline!

June 1: Novella turned in! Onto the next story!

June 11: Working on my WWII women’s fiction is like visiting with an old friend. I could really use an uninterrupted weekend to catch up with the old girl!

July 20: My book is about 6 or 7 months from releasing, but I’m starting to think about my book launch party and promotion. I’ll be looking for influencers who will get excited with me about this book and spread the news, as well as prayer partners to cover me as I travel this new road. LMK, if you’re wanting to help in any way!

Interviews and guest post scheduling begin…

July 28: Just got my edits back from my editor, but haven’t opened the attachment yet! They need it back in a week! Good thing I’ll have plenty of idle time in the car while on vacation to work on this! And so it begins! Need to cut 600 more words! Prayers appreciated as I put this chubby baby on a diet!

Aug 9th FB Status: Thanks to all my new friends! Edits were turned in before vacation and now it’s just wait and see what to do next while I update my website and get ready to launch the book in January. I’m sure I’ll have another step or two before then, but it’s time to focus on new WIP!

Aug 11th FB Status: Look what’s on Amazon! And at a GREAT price!

Sept 20: First ever gallies (or is it galleys) on the day before I drive to ACFW! Guess I need to pack one more thing!

Sept 21: I’m impressed with my bio for Cherry Blossom Capers. Whoever wrote it @ Barbour, thanks! You made me look good!”

Sept 29: Writing my first ever dedication! How in the world do I thank everyone? How do YOU decide what to write in your dedication?

Nov 16: Most people are counting down to Thanksgiving, holiday shopping, and Christmas! I’m counting down to my book release! 45 days! Should I be worried?

Nov 25: Channeling my dormant news reporter as I finish up this press release! #amwriting #marketing #promotion

Nov 28: Holidays=interruptions in writing. Embrace it and don’t fight it. This too shall pass, might as well enjoy yourself! #amwriting

Nov 29: Writing 1000 new words this week, NONE on WIP! But having fun writing mystery script for book launch!

Dec 12: 19 days until book launch! So much time and so little to do. Wait a minute. Strike that. Reverse it…

Dec 14: I can really use some extra prayer these next couple of weeks. Remind me not to launch a book right around the holidays! :/

Dec 17: My books are delivered two weeks early!


Dec 22: If you pre ordered CHERRY BLOSSOM CAPERS on amazon, Merry Christmas to you!! They’ve been shipped & people are reading now!

Leah Bickler…My cheerleader and faithful fan even before she read it! And here’s some trivia. One of the characters in the book is named after her husband’s grandma, Martha Bickler, our dear neighbor of ten plus years!

Jan 8 2012: Cherry Blossom Capers: Mystery and Mayhem Book Launch Party

The signing

The Mystery Party

The Suspects!

See MORE PICTURED here!

Thru Jan 27: Book Sitings after first speaking engagement!

Local Christian Book Store

Justin “recommends” my book!

Walmart

And there you have it! From contract to book shelf. Isn’t the life of an author glamrous!?!

Do you own a copy of Cherry Blossom Capers? I would love for you to send me your picture holding the book and/or review and I will feature you on my blog!!

Growing Great Kids: Partner with God to cultivate His purpose in your child’s life

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old…or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today’s Wild Card author is:

 

 

and the book:

 

***Special thanks to Jon Wooten of Charisma House for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Kate Battistelli is a wife, former Broadway actress, and mom to one of Christian music’s most celebrated new recording artists—Grammy-nominated, Christian contemporary singer-songwriter Francesca Battistelli. Kate currently writes a popular blog at TheKitchenPrincess.com, volunteers at ESTHER Single Mothers Outreach, and is thoroughly enjoying her newest role as grandmother to Francesca’s first child, Matthew Elijah.

Visit the author’s website.


SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

Help your child become everything God made them to be.


Successful adults don’t happen by accident. It takes wisdom to raise your children with a strong sense of their destiny in God and a deep knowledge of their gifts and callings.


In Growing Great Kids, Kate Battistelli shares what she and her husband, Mike, learned about parenting during the journey of raising their daughter—Dove Award–winning recording artist Francesca Battistelli. Using anecdotes to illustrate the insights she and her husband gained, she provides practical advice including:


* How to dream God’s big dream for your child

* The value of humility and integrity

* How to interpret God’s seasons in a child’s life

* The power of a parent’s words, and more

Product Details:

 

 

  • List Price: $14.99

 

 

 

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Charisma House (January 3, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1616386541
  • ISBN-13: 978-1616386542

 

AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:

Chapter 1: Gifts and Callings

When my daughter was little, she definitely had a flair for the dramatic. She was fun-loving but with a serious side and a true sense of right and wrong. There was a Burger King commercial on television back then and the tag line was “Sometimes you just gotta break the rules!” Each time it would come on TV, Franny would loudly shout, “No, you don’t! You don’t break the rules!”

She loved to sing and dance and change her outfit half a dozen times a day, and I began to have a sense that maybe my little drama queen was inclined toward the performing arts. So like millions of moms do every day, I signed her up for ballet lessons. To say she loved it would be an understatement. She took to it like a duck to water—loving the pink tights, the hair in a bun, and especially when Miss Gina would single her out for a word of encouragement!

As time went on I started getting the sense that maybe God had something more for her in the performing arts. That’s when we intentionally began to take steps to expose her to the arts in a variety of small ways such as seeing the annual production of The Nutcracker at Christmas, watching old movie musicals, and taking her to children’s theater productions. We didn’t take huge steps, but we made small investments to see how she responded and to see if my hunch was right. For her seventh birthday we took her to see the Broadway production of The Secret Garden, and she was completely captivated with the show and with musical theater in general from that moment on. That’s when my husband and I really began praying about her future and what more we might do to help mine the treasure in her.

Mining the Greatness

Mine (noun):

1.an excavation made in the earth for the purpose of extracting ores, coal, precious stones, etc.

2. a place where such minerals may be obtained, either by excavation or by washing the soil.

3. a natural deposit of such minerals.1

Precious metals and precious stones are embedded in rocks and have to be extracted. Metals especially don’t generally appear in nature in their pure form. Shafts and tunnels are cut into the earth. The rock is quarried and then smelted with heat to remove the dross from the ore. It’s a difficult, tedious process, and it takes time and effort. The results, however, are certainly worth the effort to tap those precious veins beneath the earth.

Our children’s gifts are sometimes buried deep. It’s up to us to mine the gift in them, extract it, and allow it to be shaped and polished to be useful in building the kingdom of God. The effort requires selfless dedication on our part and an investment of time and finances, but one that pays lifelong dividends in the life of your child.

What is God showing you about your child? What traits is he expressing? What most interests or intrigues him? Is he outgoing or introspective? Is he intellectual or athletic? Is he artistic and creative or mechanically minded and good with his hands? And what are the dreams you have inside for him? Do you have a knowing deep inside about his life? Has God given you a glimpse into his future? What do you see when you pray for him?

I believe it’s my job to find out who God made my child to be. What particular path has He set for him? What’s unique about his personality, gifts, talents, and aspirations? How do I help him find the life God has already planned for him? What is God’s purpose for his life and how do I train him to accomplish his purpose?

Psalm 139:13–16 says it so beautifully:

For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise You, for I am  fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well. My  frame was not hidden from You, when I was made in secret, and skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of  the earth. Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, the  days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them.

He knows our paths and has already written them in His book!

I don’t claim to be an expert in child rearing, but I am an expert in raising my child. Just as you are an expert in raising your child. The fact is, no one knows your child better than you, and as your child grows and develops, his gifts and talents will be more obvious to you than to anyone else.Train up a child in the way he should go [and in keeping with his individual gift or bent], and when he is old he will not depart from it. —Proverbs 22:6, amp

Parents, we are the trainers, and train is an active word! We train the whole child in the Word and godliness, in faith and biblical principles. We train them to obey and honor Him in thought, word, and deed. We train them to pursue their future careers and callings. We do them a great disservice if we take this responsibility lightly. God has given us a sacred trust by allowing us to be the stewards of our children. Here is the note on this scripture in my Spirit -Filled Life Bible“Train up” has the idea of a parent graciously investing in a child whatever wisdom, love, nurture, and discipline is needed for him to become fully committed to God. It presupposes the emotional and spiritual maturity of the parent to do so. “In the way he should go” is to do the training according to the unique personality, gifts, and aspirations of the child. It also means to train the child to avoid whatever natural tendencies he might have that would prevent total commitment to God (for example, a weak

will, a lack of discipline, a susceptibility to depression). Hence, the promise is that proper development

insures the child will stay committed to God.2  There are many good resources available on how to raise your child in “the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Eph. 6:4, kjv).I’m trying to convey something else in this book. If you are a Christian parent, it’s a given that you will raise your child to love God with all his heart, soul, mind, and strength. Teaching our children to know and love God and to delight in Him should be our highest aim as we raise our kids.

My goal is to inspire you to partner with God to mine the greatness that’s lying dormant in your child. Each of us is capable of far more than we think we are. I truly believe we are capable of greatness and we shouldn’t be afraid to pursue it. God will show you the gifts and talents, the callings and destiny residing in your child. For your children to become all that God has designed them to be, means you have to be willing to go the extra mile and not assume they will simply “figure it out” when they are grown.

Too many parents seem content to allow their children to drift into young adulthood and then wonder what turned them into adultolescents (a person who has physically matured to adulthood, yet still behaves like an adolescent) and why they seem to have no direction in life. Childhood is an innocent time of wonder and discovery and endless possibilities, and it desperately requires our care, nurturing, and firm direction! Helping your child to explore life’s endless possibilities will open the floodgates to dreaming big dreams. As time goes on, with your guidance, he will narrow his choices, focus on what really interests him and embark on the path to building a future in the center of God’s will for his life.

I firmly believe God shows parents from the time their kids are small what He has invested in them. He shows us their bent and our job is to dig deep and find the depth of the gifts and callings buried inside. It is important we are not too busy or distracted with life to see what God is eager to reveal to us in each of our children.

Bumps Along the Road

When Franny had just turned twenty years old she backed into a lawyer’s car, in the lawyer’s driveway, after the lawyer had warned her to “be careful not to back into my car.” Naturally she felt foolish and was extremely upset. She knew Dad was likely to ask his famous twenty questions when she got home and was not looking forward to it. As she was driving home, she began crying and praying. The Lord began to speak to her heart,

reminding her she wasn’t perfect and it was OK with Him. He made her the way she was and to just relax and trust Him. She began singing this chorus: “I got a couple dents in my fender, got a couple rips in my jeans, try to fit the pieces together but perfection is my enemy. And on my own I’m so clumsy, but on Your shoulders I can see, I’m free to be me.”3

The next day she sat on the end of her bed and played for her dad and me the finished song God had dropped in her spirit during the drive home the day before. It might sound crazy, but as soon as I heard it, I knew this was a hit song. This occurred way before Franny moved to Nashville, had signed a record deal, or had any inkling anything like that was even possible. But I knew, because God knew and was just sharing my daughter’s

future with me. Three years later, “Free to Be Me” was the first single by a female artist to hit number one at Christian radio in eight years, remaining at number one for ten weeks!

Grammy Story

People ask me all the time, “Did you ever think your daughter would do so well?” Did you ever think you would hear her on the radio?” or “Are you surprised by her success?” The answers are yes, yes, and no! Mike and I always had a “knowing” deep inside about her career path as she got older. We sensed where God was going, and we let Him plant big dreams in us for her. From the time she was fifteen and beginning to pursue music more seriously, we would watch the televised Grammy Awards every year and every year I would say to her, “You’re going to be up there one day.” I don’t know why I said it; I just knew deep down it was true and, knowing words have creative power, I believed it important to actually speak it out.

I found an old journal recently and in thumbing through it, came across this entry. February 28, 2002:

Hi, Lord. It’s me, bugging You! Last night we watched the

Grammys and Franny’s emotions were so stirred she cried

through much of it. Mike says I set her expectations too high,

but I believe if You are going to go for something, go for the

highest. It’s not that it’s so important to win an award but

winning represents being at a level where you have respect

and acceptance. I know she is willing to work hard and

she will work hard. Show her mercy and encourage her in

all her hard work. Let her redouble her efforts and give it

everything she’s got. Show her Your favor and love. Raise

her up in the music business and let her be a shining, warm,

beautiful light. Give Mike and I wisdom with how to guide

her. Thanks, Lord!

In December 2009, seven years after I wrote in my journal, Franny was nominated for a Grammy Award in the Best Gospel Performance category for her song “Free to Be Me”! People asked me if I was surprised and truly I can say I wasn’t. I’d been praying about it for seven years! I was thrilled of course, but not surprised. It was just one more confirmation of what I already knew. She hasn’t won a Grammy yet, but I’m still praying!

My Story and I’m Sticking to It

Franny comes by her gifts naturally. She has the added benefit of parents who happened to stumble upon, believe in, and latch onto God’s principles for growing great kids. While it is certainly an unmistakable advantage to be raised immersed in these principles, successful adults can and do spring from circumstances where these principles are absent, but perhaps at play to some degree in the background. I didn’t have parents who followed these principles, yet I was able to dig down deep and define what I wanted in life and pursue it. However, I wouldn’t recommend rolling the dice with your children by failing to employ every asset in your parenting arsenal to stack the deck in favor of your child’s future.

I grew up in circumstances quite different from those I trumpet on these pages, and yet somehow found a successful future in spite of it. My life’s circumstances led me on a journey that took its inevitable detours, but it’s my life story and I’m sticking to it! Just so you have a little background and can understand better where I’m coming from, here’s my story.

I grew up in an encouragement vacuum. My parents had four kids, and I assumed my place tucked right in the middle at number three. As a child of the 1950s and 1960s and the conventional worldview of parenting in quasi-Christian homes during that era, my parents were busy with the social priorities of their all-American suburban lives.

As far as spirituality and growing up, I remember two things vividly about God. I remember being in Sunday school at maybe four or five years old and singing “Jesus Loves Me This I Know,” and completely believing it was true. Whoever Jesus was, I knew He loved me. The other thing I recall was thinking to myself when I was about six that I didn’t ever want to die and if there was a way to live forever, I was going to find it.

I grew up attending the Episcopal Church. I learned all about the life of Jesus, but I never knew Him in a personal way and I didn’t know He could live in my heart. I enjoyed church. The mystery and beauty of the liturgy, the candles and communion, the fragrant flowers, beautiful stained glass, and impressive organ music all contributed to my feeling of awe about God and awareness of my insignificance. Our church had beautiful stone

floors so your footsteps echoed as you walked along. I loved the hymns we sang and the readings from the Book of Common Prayer and the mystery of taking communion. I knew God was contained in all those things, but I didn’t sense a clear pathway to meet Him. It was His house after all, but how did you take Him home?

To her credit, my mom had us kneel by our beds every night to say the Lord’s Prayer and blessings over the family. My grandfather was a man of strong faith. He used to read Bible stories to us when we stayed over, and he would make them come alive. We would beg him for just one more! He would write in his Bible and underline scripture, something I take after him in. We could often find Grandpa stretched out over the couch in his office praying for what seemed like hours. We always knew not to disturb him during those times. He was not a perfect man by any means but those things I witnessed in him. His love for God and his devotion to his church and family have stuck with me all these years.

My childhood was pleasant with the typical ups and downs but no major traumas or tragedies. I rarely heard words that affirmed my value and potential or words encouraging me to believe the world was my oyster and I could be anything I wanted to be. There were lots of arguments between my parents and all the siblings. Expectations were high of course, but there was precious little praise and encouragement to attain them and far too much criticism. Somewhere in adolescence my self-esteem began to suffer, and I no longer felt comfortable sharing openly with my parents. My future lacked any kind of shape with no real direction. I didn’t have a clear cut path to run on with lots of support and nurturing. So I floated through high school. I floated through four colleges in two years. I was adrift with no focus and no goals.

I knew from the time I was a little girl that I loved to sing. It was my one passion, and I did what I could to develop my singing in high school. I joined the choir and did the yearly high school musical. We happened to have a wonderful and dedicated voice teacher at my high school, so I took advantage of her lessons. But I was pretty much on my own in my pursuit of music.

I asked my mom years later why she never pushed me or encouraged me in music and her response was fairly typical for her generation. She felt if it was really something I wanted to do, I’d pull myself up by my own initiative and make it happen. Actually, she was right. It’s exactly what I did, but I think I would have avoided a great many pitfalls along the way if I’d had her support.

As it happened, I discovered musical theater when I turned twenty. I began working in a local community theater where I lived in New Jersey and in two years performed in more than fifteen productions. I got a crash course in musical theater to say the least! I stumbled on an article in a magazine about goal setting and because it made logical sense to me, I started setting some practical goals. Not long after, I was auditioning for roles in New York City. I got my Actors’ Equity card and started doing lots of regional theater, actually surviving as a working

actor—barely.

I began working with an agent, and he secured me an audition for the Broadway national tour of The King and I starring Yul Brynner. My audition was for the role of the understudy for the part of “Anna,” played by Deborah Kerr in the movie. I was a young actress in my twenties, and this was by far the biggest thing that had come along for me. To make a long story short, I got the role of the understudy and happily packed my steamer trunk and went out on the road. I faithfully rehearsed my part never thinking I would ever really get the chance to perform. But when preparation meets opportunity, miracles can happen!

Life Comes at You Fast

About two months into the run of the show, I arrived at the theater around 7:15 p.m. for the 8:00 p.m. curtain only to find out the leading lady was sick and I was going on for the first time as the leading lady in forty-five minutes! I knew my part well but had never worn the costumes or handled the props, let alone been onstage with Yul Brynner! I was freaking out, but I had to focus and get ready. The night turned out well and I got to perform the role of Anna for two weeks while the leading lady was out with pneumonia. In the end, Yul Brynner (who not only starred in the show but was also one of its producers) preferred me in the role so he bought out the leading lady’s contract and offered me the role of a lifetime! It was an amazing time for me. I was privileged to play the part of Anna more than a thousand times, before more than a million theatergoers, over the next two-and-a-half years!

The best part of the entire experience though, was meeting my husband, Mike. He joined the tour about six months into the run of the show as the associate conductor and, as he likes to say, we literally fell in love across the footlights!

After performing eight shows a week for the next two-and-ahalf years, we left the tour, moved back to New York City, got married, bought a little condo in Greenwich Village and began our new life together. A year later, we found ourselves answering an altar call and giving our hearts to the Lord. Franny was born a year later, and we thoroughly enjoyed our new little family amid all the excitement of living and working in the hustle and bustle of New York’s music and theater world.

It wasn’t long, though, before we began to feel the tug on our hearts to lay down the business we had worked so hard to find our way in and follow what God had in store for us next. Bucking conventional wisdom, but following what we believed was God’s best for our family, we eventually left New York and our careers behind to embark on building a new life that included moving to the suburbs, starting a new business, and homeschooling our little girl.

Meet My Husband, Mike

Mike comes from a family without a rich musical heritage. In his case, however, his parents were very encouraging and supported his early interest in music. They purchased the finest musical instruments they could afford, drove him to weekly trumpet lessons at the Juilliard School preparatory division, and sacrificed to send him to National Music Camp in Interlochen, Michigan, during the summer. He later graduated from Interlochen Arts Academy, received his bachelor’s degree from the Eastman School of Music, and went on to earn his master’s and doctorate in music. He was a studio musician and played trumpet and flugelhorn in Broadway pit orchestras and musically directed and conducted on Broadway, on national tour, and at Radio City Music Hall. In his case, he was the first in his family who expressed any gifting in music. Often children inherit their parents’ gifts and carry on the family business, and other times they plow new ground.

With both her parents involved in musical theater professionally, you could say Francesca was destined to go into the arts, and specifically music. It was more likely in her case because of the very musical environment in which she was raised, not to mention being thrown into the deep end of her parent’s gene pool! But not every child’s course is as easy to recognize. 

With our daughter, obviously she inherited gifts and talent in music and the performing arts. Our job was to take those gifts and give them shape; give her opportunities to be trained in those areas; and expose her to teachers, classes, and mentors who would take her where God called her to go. We couldn’t assume she was going to follow exactly in our footsteps. And we had to make sure she knew her gifts and talents weren’t what defined her. We were going to love her no matter what life she chose. We had to seek God for His wisdom in her unique expression of her gifts in the performing arts. Our part was to mine those gifts and talents, and her part was to be diligent with what God entrusted to her. Success doesn’t happen by accident. It takes years of hard work.

I believe if we seek Him, God is faithful to put a dream in parents’ hearts for their children. He gives us a sense as they grow. Sometimes it’s just an inkling that turns into a knowing, and over time becomes a certainty. He entrusts the dream to us and gives us the responsibility to dig it out and give it shape. Kids don’t become successful adults by accident.

Success and Environment

In Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers, he writes: People don’t rise from nothing. We do owe something to parentage and patronage. The people who stand before kings may look like they did it all by themselves. But in fact they are invariably the beneficiaries of hidden advantages and extraordinary opportunities and cultural legacies that allow them to learn and work hard and make sense of the world in ways others cannot. It makes a difference where and when we grew up. The culture we belong to and the legacies passed down by our forebears shape the patterns of our achievement in ways we cannot begin to imagine. It’s not enough to ask what successful people are like, in other words. It is only by asking where they are from that we can unravel the logic behind who succeeds and who doesn’t.

The first place your child is from is you. You will have the biggest impact on his future. How you live, how you love, how you handle money, what you do in your free time, and the standard of integrity and honesty you set in your life—all these things and many more will shape your child into the adult he will become. You alone can give him the “hidden advantages and extraordinary opportunities,” and as you seek the Lord, He’ll show them to you.

How many families do you know whose adult children can’t seem to commit to their own future? And parents who don’t have a clue as to how to guide them? There is a culture of drift all around us—adults with no goals or dreams who are living out their lives in mediocre jobs, having little impact on society. If parents abdicate their responsibility and give it over to the school system or the church, they contribute to the drift. We aren’t supposed to be going nowhere. Destiny connotes a destination. But God won’t do it for you. You have to do it in partnership with God.

Who you are is going to shape who your child becomes. If education is important to you, you will raise your child expecting him to go to college and get good grades, barring any serious learning disabilities. If learning to manage money is important in your family then you will teach your child about budgeting at an early age and require him to earn the money to buy the things he wants and get a job when he is old enough. If parents

are extravagant in their spending their kids will be too! If sports are important in your family, you will set an example by making exercise a priority and being available to coach your child and take him to games and sporting events. If the arts are your passion, you will expose him to great music, museums, ballet, and theatrical productions. If you believe there is greatness in your child, you will find it and find ways to mine it!

It’s All in the Name

When Franny was a preteen, I became curious about what her name meant. I knew that Battistelli meant “to hit the stars” and I wondered what the name Francesca meant. So I looked it up at the bookstore in one of those baby name books. I found out the name Francesca means “free.” I was stunned! It was one more confirmation of what I was beginning to sense about her future, and I excitedly told her and Mike what I’d found. Her name

meant “free to hit the stars.” Talk about a prophetic picture! I was able to encourage her and remind her during down times just what her name meant and the destiny it conveyed.

Personality—Who Is She Like?

One thing that fascinated me when my daughter was young was the difference in our personalities. I’m pretty steady emotionally, calm, cool, and very practical and unsentimental. I love home, family, and the homemaking arts such as cooking, gardening, and so on. My husband is more of a type-A personality. He is a leader, strong-willed, and independent with a strong work ethic and a dedication to personal integrity. Our daughter isn’t exactly like either of us. She is sensitive, emotional, analytical, introverted, and a bit of a perfectionist. She has pieces of both of us but not a full distillation of either mom or dad.

God gave her a unique personality and our job was to parent who she was, not who we may have wanted her to be. Also, we had to be mindful not to superimpose our unfulfilled dreams onto her life. Remember, we had achieved a measure of success in the music and musical theater worlds. It would have been easy to assume she would follow in our footsteps and go into the theater in order to fill up some leftover longing or regret in us. Actually, in our case, knowing what we knew about that world, we purposely tried to steer her away from “the business” early on and focus her on dance. However, by the time she was eleven, she was already involved in professional theater here in Orlando, Florida. She even got mom to be in several shows with her! Often, the acorn doesn’t fall far from the tree!

If your children are young, then now is the time to really be seeking God about their future. It’s never too early to begin, in fact, the earlier the better! You probably already have an idea what their gifts and talents are. Ask God to give you a glimpse into their future. He will lead you step by step as you seek His wisdom in raising your unique child.

There is so much more in our children than we realize, and they are capable of far more than we give them credit for. There are precious metals and rare jewels deep inside your child. You will have to dig them out, but it will be well worth it when you launch them out into life knowing you did everything you could to equip them for success. And by success I mean doing what God has called them to do with passion and purpose and with Christ at the center. Perhaps God will call them into fulltime ministry as a missionary. Maybe He’ll give them a platform in Christian music to influence other young people to pursue God with passion and purity. Maybe your child is called to be a political leader, teacher, business owner, or inventor of something that will change the world. Maybe your daughter wants more than anything to grow up and be a mom, a noble and worthy goal. Whatever God shows you, believe it and get moving. Nothing is more exciting than partnering with God!

Questions to Ask Yourself

Has God given you a dream deep inside for your child?

What gifts and talents is your child expressing?What has God put in your heart about your child’s future?

What personality traits have you observed?

What practical steps can you take to train your child, both in godly principles and in helping them achieve his dreams?

Are you being proactive about your child’s future or are you letting him drift?

Do you believe that greatness resides in your child?

Prayer

Lord, I come humbly before You with wonder and amazement at the precious gift of my child that You have entrusted

to me. The course of this life is in Your hands, and I ask for wisdom and discernment in raising him. Help me to

uncover all the gifts, talents, and callings You have placed deep inside him. I know my child is fearfully and wonderfully

made, and I am excited to discover all You created him to be. Help me to be the parent he needs me to be and to have the ability to equip him to fulfill every dream in Your heart for him. Give me eyes to see and ears to hear as I raise him. Help me to be an example of integrity, humility, honesty, and diligence in all that I do. I pray this in Jesus’s name!

 

Cherry Blossom Capers Reviews Are In!!

“I don’t usually read light mystery or romances, which is what this collection is, but it was truly relaxing, and after spending a few days with these novellas, I totally understand why so many bookworms spend most of their time with these genres.” – Jennifer Donovan
Read more at 5 Minutes for Books

“The third story is Buried Deception by Gina Conroy, and is Samantha Steele’s and her two children Alex and Callie story. There are a couple of suitors and the setting is Mount Vernon Estates…wow!! There are some missing artifacts and forgeries added to the mystery here. You wonder if she will end up with Nick Porter or Cody Sparks, there is also murder, kidnappings and break ins.” Read the rest at GoodReads

Want a sneak peek at the first chapter of Buried Deception and read more reviews? FIRST Wild Card reviews are in at (you may have to scroll down a bit to find the reviews!)

Sunny Island Breeze

Heart of a Bookworm

Reviews by Molly

Musings by Maureen

GeorgianaD’s Good Times, Good Times

Splashes of Joy

RBCLibrary

Tweezle Reads

Radiant Light

Creative Madness

I Blog for Books

Thanks to EVERYONE who made this launch week AMAZING!!

How Do You Define Book Launch Sucess?

It’s been quiet over here because I’ve been busy with my other blog, Writer…Interrupted, and my book launch. To keep up with all my writing and book news, plus learn the craft of writing make sure you subscribe there. I blog at Writer…Interrupted every Friday and share my journey. One of these days I’d love to learn how to balance two blogs, but for now, I’ll be posting periodically here about life, family and pursuing dreams! 

Last weekend I had the official book launch of Cherry Blossom Capers. Just like many women dream about and plan their wedding, many authors do the same for their book launch. I’m no exception. I’ve been waiting for this day and planning for years!

Even before the book sold I knew what I would do for my launch. A Mystery party! I first heard about the idea from author Christy Barritt and thought it was fabulous, so I stored it in the back of my mind . Then when my book sold and as the days to my launch approached, I started planning and writing the script which featured characters in my book.

A lot goes into planning a mystery party, so I won’t go into that here, but what I want to explore is what is the definition of book launch success? Is it the number of books sold? (If so than mine was a COMPLETE failure since I think I gave away more books to my book launch party helpers than people actually bought.) Is it the number of names and emails I got on my newsletter list? (I did okay there since most everyone signed up thanks to that extra entry for the basket drawing.) Or maybe it’s the number of people that attended? (There again I fell short of my goal!)

I went into my book launch with the lofty goal of 100 people or 100 books, and I did everything in my power to make that happen. I blitzed the media and my FREE event was posted on every local calendar in town as well as being featured on the local midday news talk show. My daughter even heard my event on the radio, but bottom line, the numbers weren’t there. Does that make my launch a failure? I don’t thinks so and here’s why.

While I spent more on my party and promotion than I actually sold in books, I had fun! Everyone who attended had a blast and left with a positive memory. Hopefully so positive that they’ll tell their friends about the party…and the book.

Even though my party is over, my name and book are still out there.  Who knows where the fruit of my promotion efforts will get me. Radio shows and local stations still have my information, and I might get another media interview. You just never know.

Just because the party is over doesn‘t mean it’s over! I’m already planning another mystery party with my church which features my book, and I plan on offering this mystery party to other organizations, book clubs, and churches. So while my initial book launch wasn’t profitable, I look at it as the seed to the bigger picture.

THE SUSPECTS

I’m sure there are many other ways my book launch party was a success, but I’m still recovering and processing it all. The bottom line is I don’t regret anything I did or the money I spent. Sure I would have liked to have sold 100 books or had 100 people attend, but for me, that doesn’t define book launch success. At least not this time! :)

How do you define book launch success? And what have YOU done to make your launch successfful?

What Does Bohemian Rhapsody and My Life Have in Common?

Find out at Divine Detour! The interviews have begun and Kathy Harris’ are  the most fun and unique so far! 

Hope to see you there!

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