Friday, May 22, 2020

Embrace Your Season


by Pam Hillman

It’s been a really strange spring. I realize COVID-19 has consumed our country and the entire world, and it’s certainly played a big part in my life the last few months as well.

However, something closer to home has occupied my time and energy even more than a worldwide pandemic. My elderly mother had a health scare in March and we’re still dealing with some of her health issues and will be for some time. So I can certainly understand the worries and fears that so many families faced when they couldn’t see their loved ones or stay with them in the hospital. Yep, been there, done that, and it’s a terrible feeling!

But then our family has also had blessings upon blessings heaped upon us. I have a new grandson. He’s one month old as you’re reading this, and he, his mom, dad, and big sister are all doing well and with the parental leave act can pretty much hunker down away from all the big, bad scary stuff of the world for these precious first few weeks at home. Of course all of this means that I’ve only seen him twice, but that’s okay.

I led into this blog post with a bit about my current crazy life. Even after 5 days in the hospital with my mom, I didn’t go back home for three weeks, and I live a short 4 miles from her. Under normal circumstances, she would have been in the hospital, but with COVID-19 patients there, her doctors decided that my brother, me, and home health (bless home health!) could take care of her just as well. We were thankful to be sent home.

So, how does this relate to writing? Well, I sort of feel guilty about not be really productive during this time. I mean, many of my writer friends are happily plotting and writing their latest novel right now. We’re used to social distancing, aren’t we? We tend to go for days without seeing another living soul, except for the occasional glimpse of a spouse or a few kids or grandkids. So being cut off from the world should be right down our alley, isn’t it?

But this “stay home, stay safe” isn’t necessarily a vacation or a sabbatical, is it?  I suspect plotting, planning, and spending hours upon hours has been far down the list for others as well. Some of us have been involved in elder care, others have had to dive into the uncharted waters of homeschooling, or even babysitting grandchildren because daycares are closed and one or both parents are essential employees. Our family is overrun with nurses (praise the Lord!), so I’ve done my share of extra childcare over the last few weeks as well.

I guess my point is that for everything there is a season, and maybe this season is one where we have to stop and reassess our priorities. Mine right now are taking care of family. Interestingly enough, I look back over the last few years and see that God knew this time was coming. He knew I’d need this time to take care of my mom, and I’m in a place where I can take a breather. In other words, I don’t have a LOOMING deadline.

As I type this, I’m sitting on my mother's front porch with my feet propped up late at night, listening to the frogs croaking in the nearby swamp. Mom is doing her crossword puzzle and we’re both yawning, just waiting for 9 o’clock so we can go to bed. We're in a new season, a different one to where I was two months ago, a month ago, even last week.

Who knows what tomorrow will bring? Whatever it is, we need to be prepared to embrace it.

I’m playing with new story ideas, new series, new plots and enjoying the process, but I'm not putting hours upon hours of time into getting words on paper. But those stories will have their season.

Someday.

So, if you're feeling a little down because somehow self-quarantining didn't result in that great American novel you always dreamed of writing, look outward, instead of inward. Look at the blessing you've been to your family, your friends, the elderly, your country, or whatever, wherever you've been needed during this time.

That's your season right now. Embrace it.




CBA Bestselling author PAM HILLMAN was born and raised on a dairy farm in Mississippi and spent her teenage years perched on the seat of a tractor raking hay. In those days, her daddy couldn't afford two cab tractors with air conditioning and a radio, so Pam drove an Allis Chalmers 110. Even when her daddy asked her if she wanted to bale hay, she told him she didn't mind raking. Raking hay doesn't take much thought so Pam spent her time working on her tan and making up stories in her head. Now, that's the kind of life every girl should dream of. www.pamhillman.com

47 comments:

  1. I just thinking and I'm thankful that staying at home is a Blessing, because everyone has time for their family, but at the same time sad because we don't have work.
    General & Independent Contractor Insurance

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    1. Tyronia, it is a conundrum, for sure! Blessings!

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  2. Pam, this is SO deep and something I'll be thinking about for the rest of the day, or maybe even the rest of the weekend. I AM getting a lot of writing done, but I'd trade every line for a chance to have my precious mother or precious father back and be able to care for them. Or a grandchild. I'd even try to homeschool it. That may be why God didn't allow me to be published until I was older. If I'd had it when I was younger I would have mowed down everyone else chasing my definition of "success."
    I occasionally feel guilty when I see my friends' projects on Facebook, cleaning those dreadful closets, painting rooms, even laying a floor, and all that bread-baking. But I am NEVER going to have this much uninterrupted time to write, probably ever, so there's that. The house, the yard, even the bread recipes will still be there.
    I think we all have different roles to play in this crisis, and you are playing yours beautifully.
    I AM watching too much television, mostly the classic Westerns on Retro TV. "Wagon Train" from 4 to 5 p.m. with my husband, "Gunsmoke" from 7 to 8 p.m. and "The Virginian" from 9 to 10:30. I chalk it up as research for my Western books. As you Seekers know, Kaybee can rationalize anything.
    Pam, this is a timely post for ALL OF US, thank you.
    In and out today, may be back later.
    Kathy Bailey
    Writing but not doing much else in New Hampshire

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    1. Oh, Kathy, you made me tear up talking about your parents! Sniff, sniff!

      My brother and I were (and are) both thankful that we're able to take care of my mom and stepdad during this time. At the peak of the crisis, he and I were the two in the "middle" of the fray, so we took on the role of being the ones who stayed with them for almost a month to keep them in a "social distancing" mode, more so than US.

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    2. Kathy, I have the same guilty feelings when people post their completed projects, but like you said, this time looks different for all of us. I'm also intrigued by your research (which I think is totally valid, by the way). Do you have a series of western-themed books? Are they romance?

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    3. Hi Rachel, sorry I didn't get back to you on this. I usually get into Seekerville early in the morning but don't always get back during the day.
      I write historical romances of the Oregon Trail period for Pelican/White Rose publishing. We published the first book in the Western Dreams series, "Westward Hope," last September. The second book, "Settler's Hope," is scheduled to come out in e-book July 17 and paper at an unspecified date due to COVID 19. I'm working on the third book, "Redemption's Hope," and have almost finished the first draft. It's a fun period for this Eastern girl to explore! thanks for your interest and see you around Seekerville.

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  3. Wow, I capitalized a lot of words in my comment, rest assured Seekers and friends that I do not use that many caps in my novels.

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  4. This is a special time that will never come again. It's up to us what we do with it, and that looks different for each of us.

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    1. Yes! Also, what I didn't say is that mom doesn't have wi-fi and I even have to stand on one foot with our finger stuck in a light socket (okay, I'm kidding... but just barely) to get service on my iphone, but I have discovered that the guest room I'm sleeping in has service (whoot!), so that's been a blessing.

      Even though I WROTE this post at her house, I had to take a break and come home for a couple of hours to log in and post it. It's a blessing to live so close!

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    2. kaybee I just think the term 2020 Hindsight is going to be HUGE. We're going to look back on 2020 and think what was, what should have been, what is because of 2020.

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  5. Pam, this absolutely hits home today. So far this year has brought a lot of challenges and a lot of blessings. I had a college student that never left after spring break, a high school senior who has been the recipient of a lot of disappointment and a mother who is now at home in hospice care. The joy is that we've had family around, despite COVID, and we are able to spend many precious moments together that we might not have. I haven't written many words this month, but I have faith that will happen later. And maybe they will be better words because of this time.

    Thanks, Pam, for this. It is a beautiful encouragement to us all.

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    1. "Better words because of this time."

      Yes. You've got the right idea, Glynis!

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  6. Pam, what a beautiful post. I've been kicking myself for not writing more. But I've had to shift some priorities too. I love your take on this.

    Man, it sounds like a dream to be sitting on the porch listening to frogs! Wish I could've been there, too.

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    1. They were in full form! It was late, but the temp was just right. And mom has a screened in porch so we didn't even have to fight the bugs trying to get to the light. Nice!! :)

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    2. A screened in porch sounds ideal!

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  7. This is beautiful, Pam. "Bloom where you're planted" has long been a goal of mine, but I admit to having some rough days over the last few months, too. It's very hard on me as an extrovert to be away from people I don't live with. Especially church family. But in TN, we're starting to open up again (maybe even too much), and I look forward to worshipping with others again soon. But I was able to get a book written and snag a contract on another so I can't complain too much about the writing side of things. :-)

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    1. Congrats on getting another book written AND on the contract. That's awesome! See, that's the way to seize the day. Your writing is definitely blooming in this season. Go you!

      Yes, we're opening up here, too. My home church is having church for the first time in months this weekend. Mom's church has been having outdoor services once a week, so we've been going with her and sitting in the car. I'm ready to go back, but that doesn't mean that I won't run screaming if someone tries to hug me! (And I'm not even kidding!)

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    2. Congratulations, Amy, on the contract and on writing accomplishments111

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    3. Amy, what is the projected publication date of this one? I'm looking forward to your new release this fall, too!

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    4. Pam and Mary, thanks!
      Rachel, the new one coming out is due to release April 6, 2021!

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  8. Hi Pam:

    This is wonderful and so optimistic!

    It may be well true that for everything there is a season but if you can change your season, then all things are possible.

    The greatest changes seem to come from the inside because the kingdom of God is within you.

    Stay safe and blessings.

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    1. I like the idea of changing your season.. or at least growing and learning while you go through it, so that you're ready for the next season when it comes.

      Praying for you and your family's safety as well!

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    2. Or maybe not CHANGING IT, but recognizing and embracing it.

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  9. Pam, I'm sorry about your mom's health scare. That must have been really stressful at its height. I love that you have seen the blessings in this season. I appreciate your perspective and the choosing to focus on what's important.

    Beautiful post!

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    1. Jeanne, it was scary, but there were so many blessings that we recognized even as we were going through them. So many that I won't list them all here.

      But one things is that I was so focused on my mom that the worst of the "mental" worry over COVID-19 passed me by... not completely as I come from a long line of worrywarts, but it wasn't nearly as bad on my psyche as it could have been.

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  10. Thank you, Pam. In Indiana, we've been allowed to walk in parks this whole time. My friend and I often walk "together" -- it's a wide path -- and we've discussed how our lives have slowed down. No more hectic pace, more togetherness with spouse and family, as if the Lord were reminding us, "Remember who comes first!"

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    1. Linda, thankfully, we live in the country and have been able to get outside a lot once mom's health got to the point that we felt we could leave for an hour or so. My husband runs cattle on her land, and I've even walked through the pasture behind her house.

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  11. Hi Pam. So weird for a Stay Home time to be so HECTIC!!!

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    1. Exactly!! Right about the time Mom got sick, I made the comment that *I'm* the stay-at-home writer and designated babysitter for grands, plus we live way out in the country, and I was spending more time in the "city" than anybody I knew. It was crazy weird!

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  12. Pam, I'm so glad for you that your were able to be with your mom during this time. It's been a rough road for you, but like you said, God knew what was coming. I know it's much less stressful not having to worry about a looming deadline.

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    1. So true. When your brain is going in 10 different directions, staying focused on writing and an imminent deadline would be really hard.

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    2. I am in 100% agreement with this... I have never forgotten the cherished time I had with my mom and my two sisters as she fought cancer... So many beautiful memories, and a time I can never get back. That made it doubly special.

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  13. It is a different and difficult time but God is still in control and we must spend our time seeking Him even more. My prayers for your mom.

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    1. So true, Lucy. And we've certainly spent our time on our knees the last two months. Thank you for the prayers!

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  14. Thank you, Pam! I needed to read your blogpost today. I keep beating myself up (inwardly) for not being productive with my writing. Instead, I've had quality family time, have prepared good wholesome meals for my family three-times a day, I've survived isolation, which is difficult for an extrovert, and I've spent lots of time in prayer. Plus, I've been connecting with other Prayer Warriors on FaceBook and that has blessed me abundantly.

    So I'm going to look at what I have done instead of the Corona Brain that makes me struggle to write my next book. I do have a deadline so I need to work, but as Ruthie mentioned earlier this week, I can be the tortoise and not the hare!

    You're a good daughter! Praying for your mother's recovery!

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    1. Oh, Debby, you are always such an encourager and I covet your prayers daily. If there's one prayer warrior who was made for being alone with God and beseeching him on behalf of others during such a time as this, it's you, my friend!!

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  15. Ah, Pam, something tight in my chest eased as I read this reminder. Congratulations on the new grandboy, and I'm glad you are able to help your family in so many ways!

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    1. Yep... reread it at 2 am when the doubts and fears set in. (Pointing my fingers at ME!!!)

      Oh, and about that new grandBOY. Well, my mother has TEN great grand-daughters and this is her first great-grandson. She's over the moon excited! And this is the first "Hillman" in this generation for My Cowboy and his dad, so of course they're happy as well.

      What is it with men and carrying on their surnames? Ha!

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    2. Well, they're men. So there's that. ;)

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  16. Pam, great post! Sometimes we just need a breather. And that's okay. Makes you stronger. I thought being sent home to work would be wonderful. Boy, was I wrong! It was a whole new learning curve.Setting up my work computer and printer, figuring out boundaries for the work people now not working the same schedule I do. Family members home and running around while I'm trying to work. Who knew working from home could be so hard? But, I found some things along the way. virtual writing conferences, online church services, virtual writing workshops, etc. I've learned so much while at home. And since my commute is 3 seconds, I have more time for these other things. So, I entered quarantined feeling isolated, abandoned, alone, confused, and have now turned it around to being more connected, learning the ins and outs of Zoom, getting ready for my second writing conference. I would not have been able to attend writing conferences if they hadn't gone virtual. Thanks for this post of slowing down, breathing, and enjoying each minute as it presents itself. We had to put one of our dogs to sleep, a 15-year-old Jack Russell. But with quarantine, I got to spend so much time with her before we had to do it. I am so thankful for that.

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    1. Sally, I love your quick run-down of all the positives that you've found along the way. Except for your poor pup... SO SORRY!!

      But, yes, the whole virtual parking lot church thing has been an amazing thing for small country churches who never thought they needed such a thing. My mom's elderly pastor of a tiny country church really stepped up to the plate and they've had parking lot services, which could be watched on Facebook, PLUS they got some little gadget where if you wanted to come to the church and sit in your car, but couldn't hear the service, you could tune in on your radio. How cool is that?

      So, when this is over, I can't see them NOT continuing to do this. It's amazing the # of people he's been reaching. Two weeks ago, a couple came with their SIX DAY OLD BABY. I mean, all they did was get in the car and ride to church for an hour. Hubby got out and got the baby, handed him to mom, then got back in. It was a nice little outing for them, and nobody BREATHED on the baby or anything. And nobody thought it was odd that they sat in their car because everybody else was doing it. It was pretty cool!

      And my mom isn't real steady on her feet yet, so even when her church decided to have an indoor service last Sunday in the Family Life Center, she and my stepdad stayed in the car and listened on the radio. Before this, she would have just stayed at home because it just would have been too weird to sit in the car. God knows what he's doing, doesn't He? (BIG GRIN!!!)

      And that's just one of the things I've learned. Goodness, where do I start??? Because of so much time spent with my mother and brother, I've discovered we're all SO MUCH ALIKE that's it's plum scary! I know what I'll be like in 10 years (my brother's age), and again in 25 (mom was 25 when I was born). Yikes! Ha!

      I've learned the ins and outs of prepping meds for a week. My mom has this amazing system and I hope I can remember it when I have to take 50 gazillion pills a day! She uses a permanent marker to put ONE big dot on pill bottles that she takes ONE pill, TWO big dots on the lids of the pills she takes TWO of a day. When I fix her pills for the week, I separate the bottles, then start filling the dispenser. Easy-peasy!

      She's a smart cookie, my mama.

      Oh, and, yes, on the virtual conferences and meetings. I had a business meeting online last week with ... 10 people, I think. It lasted two hours and we got as much done as we tend to face-to-face. Not QUITE the same, but doable in a pinch. We're all learning some great new skillsets. What a blessing!

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  17. Pam, you are so right. To everything there is a season and we don't always love those seasons, or embrace them, or understand them but they've been coming and going forever... so we forge on. We move ahead as needed, maybe at a different pace, and often in a different direction, but family is clutch. Who are we if family doesn't rank first?

    Praying for Mama's health and yours too and I love that grandbaby! So cool, Pam! Aren't we amazingly blessed?

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  18. Bless Your heart Pam and Thank you for sharing this post God has a plan for everyone and everything This post touched me so much You Lady are so amazing God Bless You and Your Beautiful Mom and Family!

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