Monday, August 31, 2015

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Emotional Throw Up: Mama-Drama Monday

Night time is the worse.

It's when I look back and think of all the, "I can't believe you didn't listen to me!" and, "How many times have I told you to pick up your plate?", and "It's past your bedtime, stop whispering!"

Mama-guilt kicks in, and I think, "Was it really that bad? Enough for me to snap at them? Enough for me to give them that look?" (And it's an ugly look I can give, believe me. I often tap into my drama background. There have been many times when I use the mirror to see exactly what expression fit the scenario. IT's not pretty!)

The thing is, when I allow my emotions to throw up all over the petty stuff, I have tapped myself out for the big stuff that is most definitely ahead.

So when I am faced with the, "He's got some major resentment," or, "She is begging for attention," or "We might need to call a counselor"... I feel like crawling in the shadows and hanging my head in shame. It's when I regret emotional throwing up at the little stuff in the shadow of the big stuff.

Why do I allow my emotions to erupt over ridiculous little things that kids are bound to do and say, and then feel emotionally spent when I need it most--for the important, life-shaping, supermom-sized stuff? And when I spend it all on the kids...then it surely does not help me on the marriage front!

If I could step back into the Tardis...actually, any time machine would suffice, I would start a reserve of my patience, my perseverance, and my proactive reaction. Actually, I hope to start that soon. Not stepping into a time machine, but starting a reserve once more.

It's been way too long since I soaked in the Word of God, or read a really good non-fiction book. I have a journaling Bible on its way, and I just picked up Jen Hatmaker's newest, For The Love.

Honestly, without a Tardis, the only way I can ensure a reserve to fill up, is by pouring into my heart.
No matter how much I have procrastinated, or have been scared to commit, or just don't know what it might look like now, I am primed for a change. And it starts with a page...or ten...and a God who cares enough to handle the small stuff AND the big stuff.

It's Mama Drama Monday. May it be a sane one!







Friday, August 28, 2015

Establishing Peace Among Us: Faith-Filled Friday

Anxiety is a common term around here. My son (in the picture) struggles with it day in and day out.
The little eight year old mind seems to wrestle with peace and discord.
All the time.
And it's something he showed signs of from the time he was very young. But still.
Guilt presses in on my mama heart as I consider the anxiety-ridden mess that was my marriage these past two years, and the thin shadow of stress that still follows us around. I know it will be there for quite some time in this wounded marriage, and we must find peace within the tension.
What seeps out from our relationship is surely absorbed by our children at some level.
On this Faith-Filled friday, I long for peace established among us...
Among the heart of my son who often loses hope in any peace as he cannot shut off his mind.
Among my house, where there are many treaded-upon eggshells.
Among my own heart, that I don't contribute to the mess, but channel the peace God so freely offers in His grace.

We are small compared to the entirety of God's people referenced in the verse above, but our family is in need of peace just the same. And I have hope, because I know God has performed works even here.



Thursday, August 27, 2015

2015 Pre-Conference Mix and Mingle

One of my fellow AlleyCats, Laurie Tomlinson, is hosting a Pre-Conference Mix and Mingle! I am so excited to see her this year at ACFW! Sad that my crit partner and several AlleyCats won't make it, but excited to see the many friends who I only get to see at this special time of my year!

So here are some questions I'll answer for the mix and mingle! Can't wait to learn about some of you all!

Name: Angie Dicken
Location: Iowa
Place in the book world: Pre-published author represented by Tamela Hancock Murray of the Steve Laube Agency. Currently working on my seventh manuscript while the sixth is out on submission!
On a scale of hugger to 10-foot-pole, please rate your personal space: I like hugs, but I am not always confident enough to initiate them! So, I will say 7.
The unique talking point that will get you going for hours: Tudor History, Europe, History, Food!, Memories
Loved ones at home you’ll be missing: Hubby, three sons and a little girl--but they do fine on their own. Just preparing myself for the "interesting" condition the house might be in when I get home!
Conference goals we can pray for? My goal is to spend quality time with my dear friends and MAKE NEW ONES! I want to have good conversations with friends AND editors--as more of a relationship-building dialogue and less of a sales pitch.
Anything we can celebrate with you? That I have finally taken the plunge into building platform/social media! It was overwhelming at first, but now I am meeting so many great people out there! 
One or two ways we can help you build your platform? You can like my author page on Facebook and follow me on Twitter and Pinterest! I am so loving Pinterest as a research tool and brainstorming tool for my books!

TBT: Love & Marriage

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Mr. & Mrs. Clique: H.S. Drama All Grown Up


I have felt the sting of cliques as young as 2nd grade. And I know I have contributed to stinging an innocent bystander (or wanna-be-included gal), plenty of times.

But I never thought the drama of cliques would graduate into adulthood alive and well and…shall we say, stinging?

Yep. I have felt the sting as a thirty-something. And I just gotta get it out…

UUUUUUUUUGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHH!

I have seen it as a transplant who didn’t place their roots in a town early enough and had to squeeze into well-established groups of old friends, tight-knit mom’s groups, church families (squirm).

AND…I have clung to a welcoming clique, turning my stinger on eager friendship outside the circle, causing hurt and heartache.

We’re all adults, we shouldn’t let it get to us right???

But, just cuz we're all grown up, doesn't mean that cliquing hurts any less.

The thing is, we all want to belong, and when we have a husband and children involved, it can sometimes feel like the shunning extends beyond ourselves, and to our loved ones.

That’s when it really bugs me. 

Even if it’s unintentional, even if it’s “normal”, clique-ing is an inevitable force to be reckoned with…or to stand against and try and strengthen your heart for the blast.

Lately, I have felt it most even though we have finally stayed put in one place for longer than a couple years. And while I will be the first to admit that I have a group of close friends, I will also be the first to say that I am the eager parent sitting on the sidelines, wanting to connect with those in my community.

And sometimes, I do.

And sometimes, I feel like a fly on the wall of a social extravaganza. 

It’s easy to shrug off most days, but when I start noticing a trend of it affecting my kids’ chance to be part of something…I feel panic bloom in my chest and I brainstorm a million reasons why I am not “cool” and how I can get “cool” before high school sports begin!

ACK!

Today, as I was driving home from my son's football practice, I was shuffling through my brain to reason myself out of the "what if me not always fitting in affects his not fitting in..." And, a truth swarmed my mind and rested in my heart.

God's got it. He knows our coming and our going, and He places people in our lives, friends in our paths, opportunities in our reach, for a reason.

If we find ourselves within the group, outside the group, or on the fringe, He is still there with us--shaping us and loving us.

Everything can be used for our good and His glory. So why the heck am I fretting so much about silly things like being known and knowing my kids will be given the chance to belong, too?

I am confessing this to the great blog world out there. And hoping that this little post keeps me accountable to myself. Even as I type this, I want to slap an ad on Facebook, “If you see me clique-ing, please slap me up the head”… Or, “Wanna be friends? I don’t care where you belong.”

"High School” me is awakened, and I’ve sooooo grown past that. If I could just ignore the growing pains.



**Disclaimer: To my dear sweet friends--This post is written with no one person in mind, but based on a social occurrence that I have noticed since post-college life...which has been many many years of data. HA! I think most of you who are in my every day life, know exactly where I am coming from, but for those who don't, really this is an "in-general" observation and not a hint or a nudge or a slap...I am as guilty as much as anyone!**

Sunday, August 23, 2015

6lbs 9oz bundle in 5th grade: Mama-Drama Monday

6lbs 9oz bundle. Yeah. That's how I will always think of him. Even though he is entering fifth grade, his last year of elementary school, he'll always be my littlest infant who cried his way through the first three months of life.

Funny, because now, he is a Mr. Laid Back, Easy Going, Friend-to-Everyone, kinda guy. Guess he got his protesting out of his system at the expense of mama's sleep and sanity ten years ago.

from his scrapbook...6lbs 9oz
I have been thinking about how much I've looked at my thirteen year old, and not given a ton of thought to the transition of my second oldest. It's easy to focus on the oldest one...he embarks on new territory for us as parents every day. And it's easy to focus on the youngest two...they still need a lot of our time and attention. But my ten year old gets the "oh, your brother has done this," or "you'll be fine, we know it's easy," or "this is nothing we haven't been through before."

But for him? It's still new, it's still the first time. I have got to remember this. It is his last year of elementary school...and he will take his first steps toward that milestone tomorrow. And that's special. Just as special as it was for my oldest.

I am starting to regret the moments past where I just wanted sleep instead of staring in his baby blues. Because now, life is busy, and he is mobile, and he is social. And time speeds by, and those beautiful eyes become a blur most days.

Mama might just cry, thinking how big he is, and how much he's grown in character. But really, I'll always see him as that 6 lb 9 oz bundle.






God=Good=Life


Saturday, August 22, 2015

One Sheet Design For Courtney Ballinger

Here is another design I have worked on this month! This girl has big things ahead. She is an ACFW Genesis Finalist and author of a great story!


Friday, August 21, 2015

One Sheet Design For Patricia Beal

This is the most colorful one sheet I have designed, but it's perfect for the southwestern flair of the story by Patricia Beal! Head over to her Facebook Page and hit like! She has reached a huge milestone of over 2000 followers!



One Sheet Design for Jennifer Major

I have been busy working on one sheets for fellow ACFW'rs just in time for conference! My first project was a beautiful historical story by Jennifer Major.


Religious Confusion: Faith-Filled Friday



Wednesday, August 19, 2015

TBT: Boy Driver

Thursday is my oldest son's 8th grade orientation. Seriously.

What?!?!

If I stay still long enough, I can remember actual thoughts I had as an eighth grader. I mean, my inner eighth grader is not so far from the surface!

Around here, eighth grade is the year when kids can start getting their permits. I think it's waaaaay too young, and my son is a young kid in his class, so he'll have to wait...but STILL! Just that makes this TBT a little OMG!




What My Daughter Needs, World!


Ever wish you could have the whole world's attention? Not in a vain way, but in a plea or a shout for change? As I raise three boys and one little girl in this ever-changing place, I cannot help but form a kind of 'call to action' for each of my children, but lately, for my daughter's sake.

She's a wide-eyed, ever-laughing, ever-dreaming four year old girl. And there is so much life and potential in her and so much I want for her future.

If I could grab the world's attention, these are a few line items I'd ask for in my 'call to action' on behalf of my daughter:

Value her. She is a precious girl. Don't minimize that. Don't excuse it. Don't act as though there is nothing special about her being a 'girl'. When she runs like a girl, she runs fast and hard. When she plays like a girl, she nurtures and dreams and pays attention to details and personalities and choreography. She is a girl, and she is special in that. She is a girl and there is power in that. She is a girl and there is blessing in that. Don't put shame on her for embracing her gender, for leaning into her bent, for loving pink.



Protect her. There is an innocence aflame in her heart, and she deserves to kindle it throughout her childhood. There is no reason she should learn the evils of the human condition just yet. Let her plant her feet firmly in goodness and hope-sure armor for your woes in the future. Remember the little eyes, the young ears, the shaping heart, and try to respect the newness of a child's mind. Don't let your bitterness, apathy, unreachable ideals forget about purity and the importance of maturity. 



Be kind to her. She is an openly loving, carefree little girl and she doesn't expect anything less than kindness. When you, World, shout  ideals and legislation and agendas, remember that she expects kindness. Her opinions and ideas and dreams might not line up with the status quo, but kindness matters no matter what.

These are giant requests. Unreasonable, for sure. But if I could stand on the world's soapbox, I would. For her.






Friday, August 14, 2015

Our God Boxes



Great quote. Great book.
Worshipping God beyond the boxes on this Faith-filled Friday.


Wednesday, August 12, 2015

What I Want To Say To My Son


I want to say:

You aren't into girls yet. Really. You think you are because of the buzz around you...because of the friends talking about break ups and crushes and hotties. But that's not you. That doesn't define you, no matter how much you want it to.
Yeah, it's "cool" to be "taken". It's a confidence booster to have a girl "commit" herself to you. But that's no reason to follow the crowd.
Actually, that's a red flag there. That's you seeking affirmation in the wrong place. That's you putting your worth in the hands of another and in the perceptions of others.

The thing is, I have always wanted to protect your heart. I wanted something for you that was better than I received at your age. When I was your age, I desperately avoided looking gullible and in-the-dark. I was eager to listen to anyone and everyone to understand the ways of the world out there. And I got most of my information outside of my home, from the mouths of other kids. It was just how I thought I would learn things. My parents were not my first resource. They were usually a last resort.

I so wanted something different for you. You were raised in a home with two parents who tried their best to balance appropriateness with honesty. We didn't want you to learn things faster than you should, but we didn't want to keep you in a bubble. The older we get, we realize that honesty is the best policy.

But we can't sit on your shoulder. We can't be there for you to answer those questions you have when your friends mention things you don't understand. We can't guard your heart for you.

Only you can do that.

Only you can choose the path of a conversation, and the need-to-know. It's sooo hard. You are curious. And that's okay. But just remember, once you hear or see something, you can't erase it. It's in your mind...and it can root in your heart if you focus on it too much. It can distort your view of yourself and the world around you. 

It's okay to stand tall and walk away. Even from that friend. If they're your true friend, they'll respect you in that. It's okay to back off of this "relationship" thing. Not in a mean way, not in a hurtful way, just in a personal decision to back your heart away, and remember who you are truly. In the eyes of your mom, your dad, and your Creator. You are a confident, responsible, insanely smart, loyal friend, growing Christian, super athlete, firstborn, brother...BIG brother...and most of all, a DIFFERENCE MAKER. 

Or, you can be.

If you act on it. Yes. You can make a difference in this world, one that matters. Don't let the buzz, the friends, and the world distract you from your calling to greatness.

Son, remember who you are, and stay true to yourself. No pressure here, no condemnation. Just love. 

That's what I would say. Should I?



Happy Summer 2015


The last days of summer are upon us. We are talking school supplies, school clothes, school jitters. I have one going in 8th grade, one in 5th, one in 3rd, and one in pre-k. While we busy ourselves with wrapping up lazy summer days and late summer nights, I look back over all we've done. And I see the good over the bad. I am certain there hasn't been any less bickering than other summers before, but as the kids grow, I am enjoying the fun times even more.

Besides a quick glimpse of our fun in the collage above, I had to share this one moment which makes me smile every time. My boys are constantly singing and dancing and making music as we drive. This is a perfect capture of Summer 2015 car time.

Happy Summer!

video


Monday, August 10, 2015

At The Alley with Patricia Beal

Author Patricia Beal
Be sure to swing by the Writer's Alley today! We have a wonderful post on writing conference inspiration by guest blogger, Patricia Beal. She'll be your Mississippi. :)


Sunday, August 9, 2015

Kid-"Friendly" Charging Station

I have loved the idea of a charging station for all our devices. It helps me keep track of not only my phone, but my kids' phones/ipods. The only thing is, it makes such a mess on our counter top with all the cords everywhere. So, Pinterest to the rescue! I took some ideas from boards, and created my own charging station inside a cabinet in the kitchen.
I also reminded the kids to ASK! The rule around here is, you have to ask to remove any device from the station.:)



Saturday, August 8, 2015

Miss Personality


Miss Personality resides here.

Nothing about this child is an introvert.

She asks who we will see every day and pouts when we have no plans.

She dances around and curtsies and giggles in the middle of a public place and demands applause.

She finds a peer wherever we go, and begs to go up and play with them...no matter what we are doing--grocery shopping, walking through a parking lot, sweating at a ball park.

She is pure life, pure fun, and pure JOY.

I have no idea who she takes after. But she's mine and I am ever thankful.



Friday, August 7, 2015

Faith-Filled Friday: 13 years of motherhood

Today my baby turns thirteen.

My baby TURNS THIRTEEN!

That sweet life-changer, love-grower, heart-skipper, breath-stopper, little baby boy I held in my tired arms as I blinked back tears, weighted with the immense privilege to share one of God's children with the world, is now too big to even give me a hug most days.

But tonight, as we chatted before bed, I took the opportunity to give him a fresh start. One with 365 days ahead to claim as new (and this goes for me too)!

I asked him to try and think how he can show those around him his Love for God with his whole heart, entire mind, and full strength. And it didn't take him long.
He knew his answers. I'll not share them here because I am going to also start by being a little more discreet for my boy-man's sake. But I will say, by his answers I saw that his heart is bigger than he shows, his mind is sharper than he admits, and his strength has so much potential for greatness...I pray, pray, pray a cover of protection over his character.

Thanks to this boy born on this day, I became a mom. And now, I am a mom of a teenager. There's going to be a lot of stepping up to the challenge around here. And stepping out in love and grace!

Have a faith-filled Friday...and weekend.




Thursday, August 6, 2015

Home Improvement crave, thanks HGTV!





So, I am pretty content in my house. It took a while to make it a home, but now, I love it. Even so, I dream often about how I can make it even better. IF you knew me as a child, that wouldn't surprise you. Besides writing fairytales in my spare time, I would sit and draw floor plans for hours. Yep, I was a ten year old with the heart of an architect (perhaps it's because my grandfather aka my hero, was a contractor.)

It's good to dream, but sometimes as an adult, that home-plan dreaming can be a trap of discontentment. Especially after long marathon viewings of HGTV to stir up that "If only"..."List it!" attitude.

But one way to curb that, is my bigger fascination with Pinterest. Yep. Right now, I just LOVE this old but new-to-me social media app. I might not be able to make all these projects happen around my house to make it my dream home, but I can fill up a board with everything and scroll through it and dream to my heart's content.

Want to see my favorite home ideas so far? Do you have a 'Home' board I can explore and share? Let me know!

https://www.pinterest.com/agdicken/home-improvement/




Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Preview to Wednesday's Post

Living with an Atheist has taught me a thing or two about skepticism. Staying close to my faith has opened my eyes to skepticism as a tool for my children. Come by tomorrow!