Monday, June 9, 2008

The choice is ours.



Life changes and some of those changes are wonderful. Some are an irritation. Some just plain hurt. Losing my father, a remarkable man, was one of the hurting changes.

I knew it was coming but I couldn’t quite imagine it. Not that I didn’t miss my mother and my husband’s mother and father—we were both blessed to have loving parents. But Daddy was the last and I didn’t want to let go. A retired Social Studies and Art teacher, he never made much money—teachers don’t get rich while enriching young lives, but I always looked up to him. Maybe because of the vast array of knowledge he carried in his head. Or that he handled remodeling projects without losing his cool. Or in later years, when my mother’s health failed, he took over preparing meals, saying, “If a man can read, he can cook.” Or maybe because he called me kitten and told me he loved me.

You may be thinking all that’s good, but hardly remarkable. And you’d be right. My father—and my mother—were remarkable because of the way they lived.

You see my parents were delighted by life. That may sound hokey but it’s true. The year they retired, they spent February, an unusually rainy month, in Florida, living in a van too low to stand in. They used futons for beds, stashed their belongings in boxes, and cooked on a butane stove atop a picnic table. Being a condo kind of woman myself, I couldn't understand the joy I read in their eyes while they told us about their stay. What I saw as hardship, they saw as adventure. That outlook exemplified who they were. Creative, hard-working, fun-loving, roller-coaster-riding individuals, they lived young all their lives. They did that by focusing on everything good, the glass half full.

So what does all this have to do with writing?

We writers can focus on that half empty glass, bemoaning those numbers etched in our brains. You know—the years of rejections, the years without a contest win, the years without a sale, the disappointing sales figures, the closing lines. All pretty disheartening stuff.

Or we can affirm our talent. Acknowledge the progress we’ve made. Find joy in the doing. When we grasp how much God loves us, that He has a plan for us and gave us the talent to accomplish it, then each day blooms with possibilities. In the end, gratitude is a choice. I’m blessed that my parents showed me how to choose.

Oh, and one more thing I’m grateful for. It was my father who sent me a newspaper clipping about the orphan train that was the impetus for my debut novel Courting Miss Adelaide, Love Inspired Historical, releasing September 9.

Janet

44 comments :

  1. Hi Janet,

    What a wonderful blog! Though I'm sorry for your loss, your dad sounds like the kind of person we should all aspire to be. I'd like to be like your parents living life to the fullest. :-)

    You're so right about the choice being ours. We can complain and be crabby or we can be joyful in all things, realizing the Lord has a purpose and a plan behind every step we take--even us writers.;-)

    BTW, I'd heard about your beautiful cover, but I'm just now seeing it. It's GORGEOUS!! Congratulations!!

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  2. Hi Carla,

    I should have mentioned my father passed away four years ago. So the loss is easier now, but it never goes away.

    With two positive parents, it's hard to understand why I tend to fret, play the 'what if' game. But I'm working on it.

    I'm so glad you like Courting Miss Adelaide's cover. I'm thrilled with it. Miss Adelaide is very pleased, being a milliner. :-)

    Janet

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  3. Janet, I'm jumping on the bandwagon here, too. Love, love, love the cover of Courting Miss Adelaide, and the fact that the heroine is a milliner (hat-maker for others like me who had to look that word up, LOL!) makes the artwork a stroke of genius.

    And such a fun book, too.

    Loved this post. Gave me a glimpse of the heart and soul of "condo-girl", but I also laughed wondering where on earth you came from, woman, with parents like that????

    Brings up the whole nature vs. nurture thing, doesn't it? I haven't seen Janet (nor expect to ever see Janet) without looking her BEST ever...

    Definitely one of our more 'tricked-out' Seekers.

    Dang, she probably looks good in the morning, too. Soooo not fair.

    But I digress. Janet, your parents' inspiration shows in your work, that strength and love for life. What a blessing right there.

    And there's sweet tea and fresh vanilla/hazelnut coffee set up in the Green Room, alongside the bagel bar. Try the bacon/scallion cream cheese. Wonderful stuff.

    Ruthy

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  4. That is so beautiful Janet. Thank you for sharing. And your cover is gorgeous.

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  5. Hi Ruthy! Thanks for bringing the coffee. I'm pouring a cup. Yummy. I made an egg bake, the perfect accompaniment to your bagels.

    And thanks for the high praise on my cover! I couldn't be more pleased.

    I sure have you fooled if you think I look good in the morning. I'm plain scary sans make up and a comb through my hair. My husband is used to me, but a neighbor man came to my door early one morning and flinched when he saw me. Honest.

    Janet

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  6. Hi Tina, this is the first cover in the Love Inspired Historicals with just a portrait on the cover. I love the look and hope Courting the Doctor's Daughter will get the same.

    Janet

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  7. Carla! The little birdie on Miss Adelaide's hat told me you're blogging over at Manuscript Mavens today. Let's all pop in and read Carla's call story at:

    http://manuscriptmavens.blogspot.com/

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  8. All the fun memories you must have of your folks -- I'm glad you told us about them.

    As far as half-empty, half-full, that would be good teaching to pass along to my kids.

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  9. Janet ... what an uplifting blog today!! Thank you for helping me to adjust my perspective. And oh my, we DO need to look at things through the lens of gratitude, don't we ... rather than self-pity, which is a particular Achilles heel of mine! Thanks for the reminder and the lovely post.

    And what everyone is saying about the cover of Courting Miss Adelaide bears repeating ... it is drop-dead gorgeous and I can't wait to read it!

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  10. Wonderful blog, Janet. Thank you for sharing. My father passed away on New Year's Eve. Through my grief I have clung to the things he taught me, the moments we had together toward the end. Reflecting on his life, I've seen how full and blessed it was, and I've been able to draw inspiration from it.

    Seize the Day!

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  11. Ann, I'm glad you enjoyed hearing about my parents. I think I got the desire to create from them. My mom made quilts; my dad painted. I treasure the things they made.

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  12. Thanks for the compliments on the cover, Julie! I'm often asked if I had input. For those who don't know, Steeple Hill asks their authors to fill out an online form that they use to create the cover and back cover blurb. I had to give them a landscape, still life and people scene. I hoped for a people cover, but knew they'd select a design they felt would best sell the book.

    Janet

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  13. Inspire, I'm sorry for your loss. This will be a hard Father's Day for you. But aren't we blessed to have had wonderful dads? Thanks for stopping at Seekerville.

    Hugs, Janet

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  14. Janet, Good morning. I love that cover and I've read just enough of Courting Miss Adelaide to be chomping at the bit for the rest.
    Here's the deal with looking bad in the morning. I don't.
    I mean I do...but it never gets better, all day, no matter WHAT I do. So, in a way, I'm as good as it gets from the minute I crack open my puffy eyes. :)

    I lost my dad six years ago. Wow, I can't believe it's that long. My dad died after a really long, lingering death from cancer, then two weeks later, my husband's dad died from a fall.

    Until then we had all four parents living then to lose two of them so fast, very shocking.
    We are really lucky in our parents. Good, loving, Christian people who knew how to enjoy life in a way, it seems like the Baby Boom generation never has. Maybe there's just too much to choose from and we always feel like we should have MORE.

    I'm past the grief but I really still miss the grandpas.

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  15. Janet, so very true. It is our choice as to how we look at what transpires in our life.

    I'm sorry for your loss, Janet, and greatful that you had such sound teaching to share!

    Blessings,

    Eileen

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  16. Losing both dads so close together had to be terrible for your family, Mary.

    I think you're right. Our parents grew up during a time when they didn't have much so their expectations weren't as high as ours.

    I remember the day I told my parents I was writing a book. They were so excited and certain I'd be published one day. My mother said, "I hope I live to see it." It's sad that neither of them did.

    Janet

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  17. Janet, thanks for sharing the stories about your mom and dad -- they really moved me. It's a great reminder that I need to appreciate every day with my loved ones. Your dad sounds like one of those who was truly "there" -- rare in our parents' generation when a lot of dads left most of the family stuff to moms.

    I think it's so cool that an article he gave you was the inspiration for Courting Miss Adelaide. (As a girl I used to fish a lot with my dad, and I used fishing as a major theme throughout my first ms, Taking the Bait.)

    Like everyone else, I love the cover. Congrats on your upcoming release - I'm looking forward to reading it!

    Heading over manuscript mavens now...

    Anne

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  18. Hi Eileen. Glad to see you today. Your words have blessed me. Thanks so much!

    Janet

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  19. Hi Anne, you know I don't think my dad was as involved when my brothers and I were little. I remember dinner as the time to talk to him. But the older we got, the more involved he became.

    How neat you and your dad shared the love of fishing and you used that for the theme of your book. The title is intriguing.

    Thanks for planning on reading Courting Miss Adelaide. She and I thank you. :-)

    Janet

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  20. Thanks for sharing about your parents, Janet. My dad died four years ago, too, but he was the first person I ever lost that I was close to, since my grandparents died when I was too young to remember. I was pretty shocked at how much it affected me, the whole finality of it. He was kind of your dad's opposite, though! LOL He was pretty cynical and lived way below his potential, I always felt, since he grew up really poor in a very rural area, and he had an eye defect that kept him from being able to read without getting headaches.

    Unfortunately, I'm pretty cynical, too! It helps with creating comical characters, but not with much of anything else! But God is teaching me about joy. He isn't done with me yet, and I'm optimistic about that!

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  21. Janet, what a beautiful post. I love your parents just hearing what they were like!

    I needed that push to be positive today. I'm excited about my son's graduation this past Friday , but I'm also a little blue that's he all grown up and will be gone from home soon. So today I choose to be happy about it, to look at the positive and to be excited for him. No more tears! :)

    Missy

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  22. Hi Melanie. You're young to lose a parent. I was very young when my husband's father died and I remember the shock of facing death for the first time.

    I love your witty take on life! We all need refining. But this world would be a boring place if we were all alike.

    Janet

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  23. Graduating from high school is one of those changes that's a mixed blessing. We're happy our kids have done well and are on their way to independence, while part of us wants to hang on tight. In a way it's an end of an era. Nothing wrong with shedding a tears, Missy. But I can tell you that our girls appreciated us more after they went off to college. So there's lots of happy days ahead.

    Hugs, Janet

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  24. If you click on Janet's book cover it gets big. The details are wonderful. I love that little bird on Adelaide's hat.

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  25. Wonderful words of wisdom, Janet. Except I always get a bit envious when I hear about how supportive other people's parents were. I missed out on that, so I've had to work even harder to choose a positive outlook when the going gets tough. Great friends like you help a lot!

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  26. Love your cover! She looks like she makes some mischief, lol.
    I'm not looking forward to losing anyone in my family. But I'm twenty-five and the older I get the older they get. So . . . definitely not wanting it to happen.
    My condolences to all of you who've lost parents. I hope father's day is not too hard for you.
    God bless and thank you for the wondeful post.

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  27. Your Dad called you Kitten? That is so sweet...and for some reason, it truly fits you Janet!

    Love Miss Adelaide's cover. Tell us a little about the story....

    Can't wait til it comes out!

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  28. I like your blog post, Janet.

    Whenever we had to make a detour while travelling, I was always so eager to look out the window. My family thought I was nuts, but I considered it an adventure. I mean, I was going somewhere we hadn't planned on going, so it must've been meant to work out that way, right?...something new to see?

    Even now if I get a flat tire or get stuck somewhere, I just whip out a book and snuggle down, thankful for the reading time.

    When I first heard the expression, 'Glass half full' it was as if a light bulb burst in my head. Someone had put a name on my behaviour - I was an optimist. Wow! So that explained my weird behavour.

    It's so nice to see I'm not alone. :-D

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  29. I'm always saddened when I hear others didn't grow up with loving parents. That people like you, Myra, rise above their less than perfect beginnings and give their own children a loving, stable home is testimony to how God works in our lives. I'm blessed to know you, Myra.

    Hugs, Janet

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  30. Jessica, thanks for stopping and sharing with us today. Have fun with your dad this Father's Day.

    Janet

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  31. Hi Pam! It's funny Daddy called me kitten because I'm allergic to cats. LOL

    Here's the blurb from the back of my cover.

    The “orphan train” seemed like small-town spinster Adelaide Crum’s last chance to know the simple joys of family life. So many lost children, every one of them dreaming only of a caring home—the home she longed to offer. And yet the narrow-minded town elders refused to entrust even the most desperate child to a woman alone….

    Newspaperman Charles Graves believed his heart was closed forever, but he swore to stand by this lovely, lonely woman who was fighting for the right to take some motherless child into her heart. And her gentle soul and unwavering faith made him wonder if even he could overcome the bitter lessons of the past, and somehow find the courage to love….

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  32. Mary, glad you like the bird on Adelaide's hat. Charles teased her about that bird. Guys just don't get it. :-)

    Janet

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  33. Anita Mae, you're the poster child for a great outlook!! Wish I was more like you!!! See the deal is, when I post on issues like attitude, it's because I need to hear it, not because I've mastered it. I can't imagine being happy about a detour. So glad you stopped in.

    Janet

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  34. You say your parents weren't supportive, Myra. Mine were great.
    HOWEVER they did have eight children in eleven years.

    95% of my interaction with my mother was, "Go outside and play."

    As far as quality time goes, that's about it.

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  35. Mary, with eight kids, who could blame your mother for shooing you outside? Most of us played outside, if weather permitted. One woman was the talk of our neighborhood because she wouldn't let her kids come inside for lunch. Did your mom go that far?

    Janet

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  36. Thanks, Janet. That's good to hear!

    Missy

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  37. She didn't let them come inside for lunch. LOL A that would raise a few eyebrows.
    Did she throw food out to them? Because we may be slipping into a weird child abuse area here.

    Or maybe they were just brats.

    Of course that's probably her fault too.

    My mom, one of the nicest Christian ladies I know, didn't go to church for about ten years. She always just stayed home with whoever was too young for Sunday school. (under three years old)

    I told my husband once I thought that was a shame she didn't get her act together enough to go.

    He said she was performing an act of Christian charity to not bring her one, two or sometimes THREE babies into church.
    When I was born I had a sister 14 months and another 27 months. Yikes.

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  38. Mary, the way I remember it, the mom wanted a clean house and fed her kids lunch on the porch. On plates I'm sure. That part's vague.

    I can't imagine the loads of wash your mom did every week!! Did she have an automatic washer?

    Janet

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  39. Ah, Janet, you've done it again! Such a lovely tribute to your dad. I know he and your mom were so proud of you!

    Love your cover!!! Oh . . . my . . .gosh! It's gorgeous! So fitting for you!

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  40. Thank God for the loved ones who support us and our writing!

    God Bless you for sharing this.

    PamT

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  41. I LOVE YOUR BOOK COVER!!!!!!!!

    It gave me chills the first time I saw it.

    I also loved your post. It brought tears to my eyes and was so inspiring.

    I hope you are a motivational speaker. If not....you should be.

    Hugs,
    Cheryl

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  42. Hi Pam. One thing I love about Seekerville is the comraderie and support I find here. Thanks for stopping.

    Janet

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  43. Thanks, Debby. I was proud of them. :-)

    I'm impressed by all the Love Inspired Historical covers. Steeple Hill's Art department is one talented group.

    Janet

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  44. Cheryl, you're so sweet! I'm not a speaker. Period. Is there any one among us who can give pointers on giving a speech? I may need to give one once Courting Miss Adelaide releases. What did the pubbed Seekers talk about?

    Janet

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