Saturday, January 8, 2011

The Best of Seekerville from the Archives and First Five Pages Critique

God will grant you the desires of your heart

by Mary Connealy




One of the reasons it took me so long to get a book published…besides of course that I was no good…was that, at the beginning, what I wanted to write didn’t fit anywhere. The world of Christian fiction is wide open now, but fifteen years ago it barely existed.

The primary publisher of first time authors was Harlequin. They have a lot of lines these days, but that wasn’t always true. Except for Silhouette romances, which were really sweet, the few other lines had profanity and fairly graphic bedroom scenes. This wasn’t something I was willing to write. So with the exception of Silhouette, my books didn’t fit anywhere. I still remember vividly reading that Harlequin was opening a line of Christian romances called Love Inspired. They did this, I’d say, because books like the Left Behind series proved there was a huge market for books that included people of faith. I believe I was writing for ten years for an area of fiction that hadn’t been born.

There’s a line in Petticoat Ranch that says, “Pastor Roscoe had come west as an answer to a prayer that Sophie wouldn’t even begin praying for five years."

I like to think of God being ahead of us. Preparing us in ways we haven’t even imagined. He did this for me. I’m a firm believer that dreams can come true. And we need to make God a partner in our dreams. Praying for ourselves, for a thing like getting a book published seemed wrong, even sinful. Asking God for what I wanted seemed worldly, but I did it anyway.

I prayed hard for God to grant me this desire of my heart.

In Luke Chapter 18, Jesus tells this parable. Yes, Jesus was a storyteller, I love that. He tells the parable of the woman who went before the corrupt judge over and over asking for justice. In other words, she nagged.

The judge gave her justice just to get her off his back. The end of that story goes, “If the corrupts judge will give someone justice, how much more will your Father in Heaven give you justice.”

So, I nagged the Lord. It felt wrong, selfish. When I prayed there was a niggling place in my heart that would way, “You don’t pray for your children this much. You don’t pray for your friend who is sick this much. You don’t pray for your unchurched neighbors this much."

But still I prayed. I did add to my basic prayer though. After each time of pausing to pray, “Lord, help me get a book published." I added, “And let me write something worthy.” Worthy of God. Words that a person might read and be touched, changed, their hearts lightened, their faith strengthened, their unbelief challenged.

I’m telling you about the prayers because God gave me the deep desire of my heart. God blessed my words and my work. My dream came true and I don’t believe it was wrong of me pray for this. To put my hopes and dreams in the able hands of my Savior. I want all of you to let God into your dream. I want you to think about prayer in a new way. It’s not sinful to ask God for what you want. It’s more likely that it’s a sin NOT to ask. It’s wrong to keep God out of something this important to you.


Say the prayer to God with joy. Pursue the dream and desires of your heart in partnership with God.




Mary Connealy
writes romantic comedy with cowboys. She is the author of the Lassoed in Texas series, Petticoat Ranch, the Christy Award nominated Calico Canyon and Gingham Mountain. The Montana Marriages series, Carol Award Finalist Montana Rose, The Husband Tree and Wildflower Bride. A stand alone romantic comedy with cowboys, Cowboy Christmas which won the 2010 Carol Award for Long Historical Romance. A new series with ties to both of the old ones, Doctor in Petticoats, Wrangler in Petticoats and Sharpshooter in Petticoats.





This post first appeared in Seekerville February 4, 2008



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55 comments :

  1. Coffee will brew promptly at 4 a.m. Help yourslves!!

    I chose PRAYER for my one word. This seems an affirmation.

    Helen

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  2. Wow Helen.

    Isn't that something??? I guess so!

    Mary - this post also affirms something I just finished writing about 20 minutes ago.

    Especially these lines: But still I prayed. I did add to my basic prayer though. After each time of pausing to pray, “Lord, help me get a book published." I added, “And let me write something worthy.” Worthy of God. Words that a person might read and be touched, changed, their hearts lightened, their faith strengthened, their unbelief challenged.

    Thank you Mary! You epitomize the idea that we are to come BOLDLY before the Throne of Grace. The Lord is surely delighting in fulfilling your dreams!!

    Congratulations to you and may many more successes come your way.

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  3. Mary I understand what you are saying when I got back into reading it was a Janette oke book it was the Canadian west series but back then there was only a few authors it seemed. Harvest house and Bethany house. I know I got into June Masters Bacher and then Lori Wick but there were not alot of other books. I remember when Heartsong presents started and there were a couple others like that. But it was awhile before Christian fiction really took off. I am so glad it has and that you got your books published as I really do love them. Its funny we were discussing the changes in Christian fiction at on a goodread group this past week.

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  4. Wow, my post was a confirmation to Helen and KC. I think that's so great.

    And Jenny, I think those publishers existed back then, even published some fiction. But I didn't know about them. Learning about the market was really hard. I didn't have the internet at home. I didn't know how to use the internet much. There weren't many Christian bookstores. Regular bookstores were small like Dalton and Waldenbooks and they didn't have much for Christian fiction.

    It's all just changed so much. We're riding a wave, ladies, watching a new world being created before our very eyes.

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  5. "Say the prayer to God with joy. Pursue the dream and desires of your heart in partnership with God."

    I've said it before, Mary-you've helped pave the way for the rest of us.

    And you make me laugh each time we're together.

    And you were the inspiration for the first real novel I have written so far.

    Thanks for inspiring me again. I'll keep up that nagging prayer. :)

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  6. I'm glad God gave you the desire of your heart because I enjoy reading your stories, Mary. Keep 'em coming.

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  7. Mary we have had a christian bookshop here probably over 25 years but never a big fiction range and we had a couple like word and scripture union in the city. In australia very little christian fiction makes it to the regular bookshops.
    I can remember after getting hooked back into reading would have been around 89ish I would look but there wasn't a huge range. I just remember the ranges growing slowly and then they exploded. I know when I discovered Gilbert Morris I was in 7th Heaven. I remember buying so many book in the city I had them sent home rather than try to carry them It was a big carton of books cos our local shop hardly had any.
    I do understand about the internet. I only got it at home just before 9/11 happened.
    I think with the ranges expanding I am so excited we have finally got some companies in Australia willing to print good quality aussie fiction.
    (Me is thinking getting up at 3am this morning cos I couldn't sleep was a major mistake!)
    we were discussing how at one stage books by Grace Livingston Hill were so popular but how I and some others couldn't get into them that they were all seemed the same sort of story and depressing talking about how bad the world was not the reads we have now. Even in the past 5 years I can see a real change in how Christian books are written and subject matter etc. Its really exciting.

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  8. Mary, thank you for this post. I've been seeing that what you said is exactly true, as far as prayer goes. I've been trying very hard to look from a different perspective that He will provide if you trust in Him. I'm not going to lie, that's not exactly the message I've grown up with. I have grown up that you go to church every Sunday, the importance, yada yada yada, but I kind of felt that we were just going through the motions. It wasn't until high school I think that I started thinking a little more "seriously" about it. Then I became immersed into the blogger world and found Steeple Hill at about the same time which really opened my eyes.

    I now am trying to better myself. It's tricky because I feel as if I'm going at it alone, which is why I rely on so many of you so much more. You are the best role models a girl could ask for as she's growing up and truly becoming part of society. So for that, I thank you with all my heart. If I thought that Christianity and faith in general wasn't widely accepted, it's been a little bit of a shock in college. Lol! I knew that it wouldn't be "widely accepted" as I said before, but I guess I didn't quite realize to this extent. So I keep quiet about it, but not lacking in it I guess. I've been struggling a little just because I've been having a tough time. I know I was talking to Amber and she told me she didn't realize what all was actually going on. The scary part is I really haven't filled her in yet!! Lol....my only response was that I really try to keep it out of the blogging world. You all hear too much complaining from me as it is! You just have to put on that face as much as you can because if you actually let yourself and *gasp* your problems shine through, you'll only get crap. Lol....sorry to have such a negative disposition, but oh. I won't get into it.

    *sipping Chai (offers to the room, anyone else?)* Better let you all sleep instead of listening to yet again, another Hannah rant. ; ) Sorry everyone. At least they used to be happy and excited, annoying yes, but at least not gloomy and complaing.
    Sleep tight, Seekerville.
    Hannah

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  9. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  10. Sorry! It double posted lol...dumb Blogger...

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  11. Hi Mary:

    I remember that line from “Petticoat Ranch”, where you wrote:

    “Pastor Roscoe had come west as an answer to a prayer that Sophie wouldn’t even begin praying for five years."

    It reflects my own view that God knows what we want and knows it long before we do. I don’t think we pray to get God’s attention. I don’t think God is ever inattentive. I think we pray so that we can demonstrate to ourselves what we believe and what we hold important in our lives. I see prayer as an affirmation and not a supplication. This is a complicated view and I was surprised to see it so well expressed in just one sentence.

    I like the way you add wisdom to comedy and make it so entertaining as well.

    Vince

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  12. "Prayer does not change God, but it changes him who prays." ~Søren Kierkegaard

    "Just pray for a tough hide and a tender heart" -Ruth Graham

    Both these quotes came to mind as I read your post. The first because God has a habit of having us pray for things for a good while to mold us.

    The second just seems to fit what it took you to persevere.

    Thank you for praying, persevering, and creating such wonderful stories "worthy of God". They have lightened my heart and been a wonderful influence.

    Gingerbread pancakes with lemon curd and maple sausage this morning.

    Peace

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  13. Mary has matured me in the past few years.

    She knows exactly what I mean and tweaks me about it regularly, because I could never, ever, ever pray and ask God to help me be published.

    I felt selfish. Self-absorbed. Whiny.

    She hit me. Pummeled me, actually. And she is THAT MEAN AND STRONG, so I listened and learned.

    Ask and you shall receive. Knock, and the door will be opened.

    I will always bless her for this gift of strength she gave me. Always.

    (But I won't be nice to her in public. Eee gads, that's asking TOO MUCH.)

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  14. Hannah, blessed girl, I'm nipping some of that chai, and thank you for sharing both the chai and your love.

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  15. Wow! Amen and amen to Mary's post and all the responses. I have to admit that I have been totally lacking in this. I haven't prayed once about my writing!!!! Though I've prayed mightily in gratitude for the wealth of talent in the Christian fiction market and how much it has blessed me.

    And right now I'm praying fervently that Sharpshooter has finally arrived at my bookstore because I'm stopping in on my way to work.

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  16. I watched a video with John MacArthur just recently, and he talked about delighting in God and He will give you the desires of your heart. What if those were the desires He gave you? Especially since your weren't willing to compromise with more risque books.

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  17. Ooooh yeah. LOVE this post, Mary. And I adore it.

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  18. Mary,

    Thanks for this post. It was very encouraging.

    Blessings!

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  19. Wonderful post, Mary. I've clung to that chapter in Luke for almost twenty years because it confirmed something I think all women know deep down.

    Nagging works! ~grins~

    I pray about my writing too--mainly because I've come to understand that God's dream for me are bigger than anything I can come up with and while He's always known about my desire to write, He rejoices when I bring those desires to Him.

    The Seeker gals have been such a blessing to me over the years and I don't think I tell you enough how much I appreciate it. Love you, guys!

    Patty

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  20. Good post!
    I think you're right about God being ahead. That's pretty cool to think about.

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  21. Those tags really do make all the difference, don't they? I'm glad the Lord answered that prayer. I once nearly fell off the treadmill laughing as I read one of your books. BTW, I don't think I mentioned Buffalo Gals stands tall on my dresser.

    A wonderful post. Thanks for repeating it.

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  22. Mary, I think your dilemma about what and how to pray is faced by every Christian writer. We have to forgive ourselves for being human.

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  23. Hannah, you're going through some tough years ahead but also wonderful years.

    The advice that came to my mind (and may God forgive me and allllll my advice) is just to seek out other Christians in a small group.
    If you can't find them in the college, search for a church. They don't have to be college age either, though that would be wonderful.

    Are you going to a large college? Because unless you're in a Christian college, I think the larger the better for college because there are so many different kinds of people you can always find some just like you.

    God bless you. You're not going to lie awake at night and cringe, thirty years later, when you think about the things you DIDN'T do.

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  24. I gave in and started to pray for my dream as well. Who was I kidding? I talked to myself about how much I wanted to write well enough to be published and receive the additional income. But I didn't think I should pray for it.

    What, like God didn't know what I was thinking?

    He might be laughing but that doesn't mean the answer will be No.

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  25. Hey, Mary! That parable in Luke 18 is my favorite. God wants us to keep praying and not give up. That is so sweet to me! That he would care about us enough to tell us not to give up on asking him for things.

    I prayed to get published too. Now, I'm not so sure why I wanted it so bad! LOL! Seriously.

    Why couldn't I have wanted to be a brain surgeon? Something easier like meteorology or rocket science?

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  26. This reminds me of a prayer I used to pray...that God would put in me a desire to keep my house tidy.

    I didn't pray that I'd DO IT. That seemed to impossible, but that I'd WANT to.

    I just have this weird way of not noticing messes until oh...say...someone knocks on my door.

    fortunately I live waaaay out in the country. No one knocks on my door.

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  27. And maybe my prayer was for God to give me the desires of my heart.

    but maybe I felt compelled to pray so hard because it was going to take a miracle to ever get one of these books published.

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  28. Mary,just want you to know that I persevered through a blizzard, a broken down bus and nearly being late for work just to get my hands on your book (well...to get my hands on a whole bunch of books). Picked up Love on Assignment too and bunch of new releases. Yours had just arrived yesterday and was still in a box in the back room but I made them go dig it out (which is what nearly made me late for work). I figure if you put forth so much effort in prayer to be published I might as well make the effort to read what you published. :-)

    And Hannah -- I work part time in a medium sized college and we have a Christian group complete with campus pastor. I bet yours has something similiar.

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  29. Nagging works.

    Thank you, Patty.

    This is my philosophy in life!

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  30. Wow, thanks Mary. I do want to included God in my dreams with my fiction, I want to write to glorify HIM, but I have also learned that I was clinging too tightly to that one dream, when God isn't ready for me to go there yet. This was really perfect. Poor words for an aspiring author, but I mean them. Thank you!

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  31. Hi Mary,

    I love this post. It reminds me of the instruction in Matthew 21:22 "If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer."

    Such a simple instruction that's sometimes to put in practice.

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  32. Mary -

    I think that may be exactly what I should be praying about my house. I think we're very much alike in that area.

    Unfortunately, I do not live way out in the middle of the country :/.

    If I did, could Silas and Belle live next door? Or perhaps Abby and Wade?

    I am, after all, well on my way to 'finishing off' Mary Connealy. I've read through Wildflower. I need to reread the end because I can't for the life of me remember what happened to Sid [and if he could be the same Sid from Mandy]. Hey - it was late! I did give the nurse at my doc's office a Mary-rec though.

    AND my sister bought Sharpshooter at Walmart yesterday so she should be done with it before I'm ready for it ;). Hope Undaunted for her then Sharpshooter I believe.

    Er, right. Back to the topic at hand. I need to pray about the whole writing/publication thing more but I tend to be like Ruth there, I think. It seems selfish :/.

    Don't enter me for the contest - one of you loverly ladies has my 5 pages already :).

    Off to the store and to clean :p. Not because I want to but because my husband will literally go insane if I don't...

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  33. Great post, Mary! I think prayer is simple but our wayward hearts complicate it . . . I agree with Vince that God uses prayer to reveal what's in our hearts to us and to shape those desires. I also think that many times God waits for us to ask before He gives--like any good parent who is training a child.

    I don't have kids, but my little 5-year-old great-niece is my best buddy. She knows I'm an endless supply of all the things she enjoys. Her parents have instructed her not to ask me for anything. But I welcome it when she tells me exactly what she wants, and I do my best to fulfill each request. Just because I love her.

    When I have doubts, I try to picture God being like that with me. Just because I'm His child, He loves to give me "every good gift."

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  34. Mary, I've been out of the writing world for almost two months. My absence had to do with something I knew God wanted my family to be obedient in. It hasn't been an easy time but I knew it was of God. During that time I knew that my writing would still be there when all settled down.

    I've been trying to settle back into a routine. Since I homeschool my kids they come first. The first real day that I felt able to work on revisions, my computer decided it wanted to mimick a 747 with rumbles and squeals! I nearly cried. For a moment I threw my hands up a said I guess God is giving me a billboard sign that I should no longer be writing. It lasted all of ten minutes. Because I KNOW this is what I'm meant to do. I prayed, and prayed. Last night hubs asked me if I'd rather get a new computer than a much wished for dishwasher. I was stunned. Neither are a necessity, but one seems to be more practical than the other, even if I could make arguements for the computer's practicality. But that he was willing to show me his support of my writing meant a lot.

    Your words have encouraged me and brought tears to my eyes. For God does know the desires of our hearts and when we walk with Him He puts them there. I've often prayed over my writing that it would be worthy of HIM. I believe God has used you to speak directly to me today. God is so amazing!!

    Christina
    aka
    Renee Lynn Scott

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  35. All morning, as I've been taking down Christmas decorations, I've been praying for my dreams for the New Year, and then I thought I'd check in at Seekerville, and found this wonderful post that confirms everything I'd been talking to God about.

    Thank you!

    Kirsten

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  36. Mary, loved your beautiful, inspiring post!! I'm so grateful that God wants us to bring our needs and desires to Him. Even nag Him about them. I'm really good at nagging. LOL I'm filled with joy that God gave me the desire of my heart to write for Him. And He's helping me accomplish that too. I sure couldn't do it without Him.

    Janet

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  37. Thanks, Tina! I've been busy with holiday visitors and then students, but none of us can stay away from Seekerville for long . . . I won Audra's book and she sent The Rancher's Reunion along with it. Yay! So after our semester ends, I have some great reading to catch up on.

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  38. .
    Cassius’s Advice to Tina

    Nagging works
    But it hurts.
    Honey’s fine but
    takes more time.

    Of your philosophy
    Make no use:
    Avoid the chance
    of spousal abuse.

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  39. One inch of snow in last ten minutes. Possibly more. Snow, not minutes.

    Could be an interesting night!

    Housework is over-rated. Children are not.

    I love the years I devoted to my children although the nametag and hairnet jobs were not awe-inspiring or glamorous. But I LEARNED SO MUCH.

    So much.

    Housework???

    Really???

    Rule of thumb: If you can make it somewhat presentable in twenty minutes, it's not really dirty.

    My word is "laginout"...

    Which I'm not doing, I'm doing revisions. And drinking coffee.

    And sharing apple strudel with you all. Fresh, warm, out of the oven.

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  40. Mary,

    Thank you for those beautiful words! Just what I needed to hear.

    We don't have anywhere really around me to buy Christian books, but I just got the 7 ones I ordered from Amazon as a late Christmas present. Can't wait to dive in!!

    Cheers,
    Sue

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  41. Susan, I'm so glad they finally came! Obviously they fed the horses as they crossed the border!

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  42. Cassius? The Roman senator?

    Vince??? You're killing me.

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  43. Hi Tina:

    Cassius to Brutus when Brutus gives reasons for things not auguring well to kill Caesar:

    Of your philosophy you make no use if you give place to accidental evils.

    Caesar had Cassius’s number when he said:

    Let me have men about me that are fat,
    Sleek-headed men and such as sleep a-nights.
    Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look,
    He thinks too much; such men are dangerous.


    Of course, not all men who think too much are dangerous; just annoying.

    I simply must get more work at work or at least enter a contest!!

    Vince

    P.S. I just finished “Second Chance Courtship”: Very psychological; very inner-journey. A lot to think about.

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  44. Loved this post Mary. Thanks for the inspiration and encouragement.

    Blessings,
    Jodie Wolfe
    digging4pearls@comcast.net

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  45. Vince as a rule, I wish men would think AT ALL.

    Too much is never the problem.

    :)
    Male bashing alert. this post has NO PLACE in this lovely prayerful post.

    Ignore it.

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  46. Mary, I have definitely asked, but I still feel strange asking sometimes.

    I have five pages that I would love to have critiqued.

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  47. Thanks Mary for your encouraging and 'timely' words! To tell God our desires...He wants to give them to us anyway 'He will give you the desires of your heart.'(Psalm 37). I needed the reminder that it's okay to ask and He's already there(ahead of us) and ready for us to move forward in that:)

    thanks again,
    Lorna

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  48. Loves 2 Read Romance - LauraJanuary 8, 2011 at 9:45 PM

    What a great post Mary! God does answer prayers. We just have to remember that He does it in His own way and time. I am very glad that Christian fiction has taken off and look forward to many more great books!!

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  49. Mary,

    I appreciate your words. It took real courage to even say what you really wanted, I think.

    As Dr. Phil says "You have to name it to claim it."

    You have made me realize I need to get serious and admit to myself what I really want in publishing and have the guts to pray for it. Also, it follows that I have to act on a previous post this week, which talked about saying "no," to allow myself the time to actually go for it.

    Ruthy's statement about how she cleared her schedule (except for 14 jobs, more or less :) was an eye-opener.

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  50. Oh Mary, I am EXACTLY the same kind of housekeeper as you! Before I started writing, I used to pray that God would help me be better at cleaning my house. It was actually working. But then I started writing. The housekeeping immediately went to pot.

    This also reminds me of one of my all-time favorite movies, which I just rewatched over the Christmas break, National Velvet. Elizabeth Taylor is just a little girl, but she is an awesome actress. I love the part where she says very dreamily to Mickey Rooney's character, "Every night I pray to God to give me horses, and to make me the best rider in England."

    I borrowed her prayer, only I changed it to "Make me the best writer in the world." That hasn't happened yet (HA!) but he did let me get published. Just like Velvet and the Pi winning the Grand National, God gave me a miracle and let me get my medieval published. Very sweet.

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  51. Okay, Ruthy *hands over chai* Sorry it took me so long to get it to you though!!! It's good and hot :)

    And Mary, I'm not at a Christian school or a big school by any means lol! My school is a little under 1000 students total. Sooooo we actually don't have anything. Believe it or not! The town has one church right next door, but it's Catholic and I'm not lol, so I'd feel a little awkward. Besides that I'm not there at all on the weekends, I'm home, so I still get to go to my church as long as I'm not working :/ So I don't know! Lol!

    Mary, your words really touched me, thank you so much. In thirty years I don't necessarily think that I will be cringing about that, I think I'm going to be cringing at what I can no longer do. I feel like my actual time to really live has been cut short. That's what the RA and Fibro do to you, they cut your lifespan down too much. In thirty years I'm hoping to have found someone that can love me and all my problems lol! I would also love to have kids, even though I'm nervous as to how much I will be able to care for them. I know I can love them though and with some help we should be all set : ) Lol....I know, big dreams. Let's hope they can happen!

    And speaking of school's, Cheryl Wyatt's niece is one of my aboslute best friends in the whole wide world! Lol...we're newly friends, but I feel like I've known her forever and ever. Seriously, she's one of those people you never knew you could possibly deserve but now that you have them, you never ever want to let go. Anyway, my point being is that she keeps trying to get me to transfer to her school with her! Lol! It sounds great and the fact that Bee's there is........totally amazing and almost worth it in itself. But...I can't move from here to FL! Lol...sadly that's what's catching me up a lot. Anyway, I just thought it was interesting you were talking schools because hers is small like mine, but it's a Christian school, so I'm sure the atmosphere is possibly veryyyyyyy different from mine. And may I once again (publicly) thank Cheryl for pushing us together ; ) She was pestering me for ages, well months anyway, to talk to Bee. Wow...I should've listened to my Auntie C sooner! LOL!

    Okay, probably no one will even get this comment, but it's made me happy talking about Bee, sooooo I guess that's good :) Thanks for your lovely comments, ladies. You always brighten my day so much!
    *big hugs*
    Hannah

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  52. Hannah, I'm so glad I came back this morning and read this.

    You're friends with Cheryl's niece? Isn't the internet fantastic?

    It helps you connect to people in such interesting ways. (also crazy ways but that's not the case here)

    God bless you and your college experience and your health.

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  53. Yay! You did see it, Mary! Lol...

    Oh my goodness....I wish Cheryl had kicked my butt a little harder a little sooner! Bee is honestly one of my absolute best friends. Newest, but one of the greatest. She's kind, supportive, tough when she needs to be! Lol...it really, really stinks right now though. I'm happy for her because she just went to school and absolutely LOVES it but....she doesn't have internet and we keep missing. We used to talk every night and now it's been about a week. I can't wait until we get to talk again lol...I want her to fill me in on school but even more than that I don't care what she's saying. I just want to get to talk to her! I'm a very selfish person, if you haven't figured that out yet!! LOL!

    And Cheryl, I've been hasseling her too much ; ) I want to talk to her again! It's been since 2 Wednesdays before Christmas and I miss her lol. She's my first Seeker to actually get to talk to : ) And (no offense!) but I couldn't have asked for a better one. I love her so much. I love all of you, but especially Cheryl. She's very near and dear to this girl's heart.

    Anyway, sorry to keep talking at you, Mary!! LOl...
    Hannah

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