Apropos of Nothing

I love spring weather, but my allergies are ridiculous this year. Even after taking my meds this morning, I walked into Spanish class with puffy red eyes, smudged eye makeup, etc. I looked like a 15-year-old girl going through her first breakup. I’m sure my classmates were tired of blessing me every time I sneezed. I did take a Benadryl on top of my regular allergy pill, and that finally kicked in. So I quit sneezing but was groggy the rest of the day.

It is that point in the semester that I am mentally finished. I have been in class basically non-stop since January of 2017. I even took a full load last summer. I love school. I really do, but I am looking forward to taking summer to regroup.

Should I study abroad in Madrid?

I am reading a book that includes that whole concept of falling in love with anyone if you answer a certain 36 questions and then stare into each other’s eyes for 4 minutes. I find the concept fascinating.

My youngest son has his first girlfriend. THAT makes me feel even older than being on a college campus makes me feel.

I turned in my last poem of the semester today. Bittersweet. I have really enjoyed writing so much poetry this semester. I mean, aside from my novel-in-verse manuscript. That is coming along well enough, but I think writing outside of YA is really good for me too. It helps me to stretch my writing muscles in various directions.

I started a new job, writing product descriptions for a farmhouse decor company. That means I am officially a paid writer. I won’t be winning any pulitzers for my ethereal descriptions of rustic finishes and antique inspired charm, but I am getting paid to write. It’s a nice feeling.

I started watching “Love” on Netflix yesterday, and I think I have my new binge show. Not that I have time to binge any TV right now. I have a Spanish final I am super nervous about. Plus my other finals, of course, and the last assignments of the semester as well.

I am doing an open mic at school next week.

Okay, I think I am done rambling. I just hadn’t blogged in a while. I’m sorry there is no substance to this post.

Have a picture of my cute kitten, Edna Millay:

Photo Mar 17, 4 31 19 PM


Review: Box of Awesome Things

Last year, I did a few posts reviewing picture books, since I am spending a lot of time reading to preschoolers. Along those lines, I found a neat matching game that I took to school and shared with my students.

A Box of Awesome Things Matching Game


Matching games are pretty timeless in general. It helps kids learn to take turns and sharpens their memory. I found that using all of the cards was a bit overwhelming at first. If I picked just a few matches and mixed those up, it was easy to teach the kids how to play.

What I love about this set of cards is that they are different than the typical kids’ matching game. It’s not cartoon animals or the alphabet. The objects are a little odd in some cases, and kids love odd. Odd things make them giggle.

Here you can see a few of the awesome things the kids get to match from the box:


“Magnets” and “Science” also made the cut, and I love that because I try to teach my students to care about science and we have a whole set of magnet toys in the classroom.

These illustrations are fun and simple, and I adore them.



A Review: Start Where You Are


I am a little bit in love with the style of this artist, Meera Lee Patel. I got a set of her notecards last week, the Start Where You Are notecard set, and I have already sent three or four of them. They are just gorgeous.

A couple of these cards may never make it to the mailbox, instead landing in tiny frames on my walls. I am making a concerted effort to hang art on my walls, art that I love. I want to surround my family in beauty in more than one way. I think what our eyes see on a regular basis affects our attitudes and moods.

Sending cards in part of that. I have always loved greeting cards. I am a sucker for a funny/sarcastic card and spend too much money buying them for birthdays, etc. Lately, I have been more drawn to watercolors and meaningful quotes, cards that double as art and could actually hang in someone’s house and fit the decor, if they wanted to use them that way. It is like tucking a ray of sunshine into an envelope and gifting it to a friend.

At least, that is what I hope it is like when I write a short note and lick the glue to set the seal.

The artist for these cards has all sorts of books and other items available on Amazon. I am very tempted by her Start Where You Are journal. And her website is full of gorgeousness.

Anyway, these cards or some others, send someone a little note this week. It will make them smile.




Life Update

I’m busy.

Isn’t that always the excuse?

I miss blogging. It used to be such a part of my daily life… writing here and reading the posts of friends and strangers.

I write posts in my head sometimes, but I rarely sit down and make them appear on this screen.

And, yeah, I am busy, but I tend to make time for what I most want to make time for. So if blogging is important to me, I need to look at my priorities and see what’s up.

For a brief update:

I am finishing up my first semester as a preschool teacher. I have a backlog of picture books to review for you. I like the job way more than I thought I would, though it is not a forever job. I am praying the perfect work-from-home-with-flexible-hours job drops into my lap next summer. If not, I will go on teaching preschool and make it work.

I start back to college in January. I am nervous in a way, but mostly ready to get started already. Once I decide to do something, I loathe sitting around waiting to do it. Currently, I am waiting until registration to be assigned an advisor and told if any of my past credits will transfer to the new school. The idea of starting over entirely is frustrating, and it also hurts my pride. I will admit that. I am a writer with a literary agent, and I don’t want to retake Comp 101. Know what I mean?

I am working on a new manuscript. I haven’t written a word of it yet. Or, rather, I wrote a few hundred words that helped me see what was NOT my story. Now I am working through The Anatomy of Story and planning as I go. I started Chapter 7 of Anatomy yesterday, and I already feel so much more capable of writing this new tale. I am also scared to write it, because it is so close to my heart. Part of it is set in Honduras.

Speaking of, I will return to Honduras briefly in February. I cannot wait to be there again. My heart aches for that country. I plan to pick up some volumes of Honduran poetry. I’ve fallen in love with the writing of a poet there. She is my age, Mayra Oyuela, and her words are gorgeous. I also want to read the works of Amanda Castro. Finding the books I want is difficult in America. Amazon has failed me. But I contacted a bookstore in Tegus and they promise they carry what I need.

I have been thinking a lot about who I am and what I want my life to be like. I find myself wanting to finally make this house into our home, buying art and bedding and stuff and also getting rid of so much. I read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and I will have to write a whole post about my thoughts on it. Mostly, it has left me ready to not be owned by what I own. So I am discarding things left and right.

I have my theme for 2017. It is two words this year, though I am finding them to be synonymous. I will write more about that soon.

It is time for me to head to The Well for band practice. I’m glad I sat down to share here, this disjointed sort of sharing. I’ve missed it.

Some Dreams Don’t Come True

Sometimes dreams don’t come true.

Now all of the optimists and encouragers shake in their seats, wanting desperately to tell me there is still time, that my dreams might come true, that I should not give up.

And they are right. All of you are right.


All dreams don’t come true. Some dreams die. Some dreams look like destinations and turn out to be pathways to new dreams.

I’d be lying if I said I’m okay with any of this. I’m not. I’m frustrated and sad and scared and pinging back and forth between cuss words and tears on any given day. Regardless, the truth lays bare with every rejection I receive, with every day I clock in as a preschool teacher instead of hopping a plane for my book tour.


When I returned from Honduras and started my job teaching threes and fours at a local church program, there was one song I played on repeat. I sang it loud, alone in my car, every single morning, over and over, until I had to turn off the engine and put on my teacher face.

Lauren Daigle begins her song, “Trust in You,” with this line:

“Letting go of every single dream, I lay each one down at Your feet.”

Again and again, I picture myself spreading my dreams out at the foot of a throne, at the base of a cross, in the sands of a desert where the tempter lurks.



It hasn’t gotten any easier, and I don’t think it ever will.

Sometimes dreams crash and burn and you have to start over, choose a new dream, chart a new path, try not to give up and smolder alongside the ruins.

I’m yielding to my future, or trying to. I’m not really good at yielding. I never learned to do it as a kid. If confronted with my guilt, caught red-handed smacking my little sister, I denied it and never changed my story.

Give me a red light or a green light, but I don’t know what the heck to do with this yellow caution sign. Go? Stop?


I don’t know what tomorrow holds, friends. I’m guessing you don’t either. It occurs to me we are always yielding to the morning, always giving up the night.

Some dreams linger, but others disappear when you wake up.

I’m in a strange place now, trying to discern between the two.

How do you know when a dream has died?


*originally published on Middle Places

Currently: I’d Rather Sit on a Pumpkin

Current Books: I’m reading Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light after my Bible in the morning and The Circle Maker by Mark Batterson along with our leadership group. My current fiction pick is The English Major by Jim Harrison.

Current Playlist: “Trust in You” by Lauren Daigle and “Happy Girl” by Martina McBride, along with podcasts (Writing Excuses and Happier)

Current Shame-Inducing Guilty Pleasure: Soda. I’d gotten to where I only drank water unless eating out, but lately I find myself buying soda way too often.

Current Colors: Grey and white and teal

Current Food: Tortilla chips and melted cheese… simple and yummy

Current Drink: Coffee in the morning and then water at work and a soda or Starbucks Refresher on the way home

Current Favorite Favorite: The fragile gorgeous glass bowl I bought for our living room. It holds prayers from myself, my family, and my friends, and it makes me feel peaceful when I look at it.

Current Wishlist: I really want to take the time to “Konmari” my whole house, so time. Time tops my wishlist. Time to work on Christmas gift projects and the like as well.

Current Needs: Patience. Lots of it. With the kids in my classes and with myself as I revise this manuscript and with the various things going on with life goals and dreams.

Current Triumph: I’m really excited about signing with a new agent, and today I hit the halfway mark on revisions.

Current Bane-of-my-Existence: Working an on-the-clock job.  I hate not controlling my schedule and I miss being by myself for the majority of the hours in my day. The job itself is fine. It’s fun to watch how the kids grow and change as the year passes. It’s just an adjustment, having to be somewhere everyday and having to make arrangements if I want to travel. I know that sounds spoiled. Welcome to the real world, Heather. But I just prefer working for myself. Ya know?

Current Indulgence: Fridays. When I get off work, I pick up pizzas or something I want for dinner. I binge-watch Netflix and eat junk food and read books and work on Project Life. Basically, Fridays are sacred me-time.

Current Mood: Pretty good, actually. I’m intensely engaged in revising a manuscript and that kind of creative focus always enlivens me.

Current Outfit: Jeans, polka-dot tennis shoes, and my “When in doubt, go to the library” tee

Current #1 Blessing: My husband. I’ve had two friends lose their husbands to death this past month. I don’t ever want to lose Corey. I can only imagine the kind of grief they are living right now.

Current Quote: “Knowledge is only a rumor until it lives in the muscle.” ― Brené Brown, Rising Strong

Current Photo:

My football player


Title from:  “I would rather sit on a pumpkin, and have it all to myself, than be crowded on a velvet cushion.” ― Henry David Thoreau

When the Church Broke my Heart

How did you guys end up in Mississippi?

This week, as my husband and I chatted with new friends, a hard experience drifted into the conversation.

It’s a fair question. My husband was born and raised in Montgomery, Alabama. I was born in Kentucky and raised in South Carolina. We met at a church in South Carolina and eventually moved closer to his family in Alabama.

The leap from there to Mississippi was not one we ever planned to make. My husband took a job as a youth pastor at a church in a very small town on the bank of a river in Alabama, just thirty minutes from his parents and his daughter. It was there my oldest son turned two, and it was there I found out I was expecting my youngest son.

It was there the church broke my heart.

I grew up in a few churches and had mostly good experiences with them. The little church where my mama still attends taught me and sheltered me and launched me into adulthood. From them, I learned we always forgive, and we always lend a helping hand to those in need.

There were some lovely people at the church we served so briefly in Alabama. But the lovely people were not the people in power, as is often the case, and a series of misunderstandings and outright lies wove dissension around us. When we left, we left with broken hearts held quaking in our hands.

I still remember being six months pregnant, sitting on the floor of our little mill house, sobbing. Church people were supposed to be loving and supportive. They were supposed to be my community. They were supposed to lift me up when I fell down.

Instead, I felt isolated and scared.

All that to say, there was a time when I was terrified to let anyone associated with church into my heart.
It was in that moment, hopeless, money running out, that a church in Mississippi called my husband and asked him to interview for a youth ministry position. The timing was perfect, right down to the phone ringing as my husband was turning down a job offer in Alabama that we did not feel good about taking. We were hanging out on a limb, water rushing underneath us, not a canoe in sight. The church in Mississippi sure looked like a luxury yacht floating past.

We made the difficult decision to leave Alabama. Difficult, because my stepdaughter was there and the visitation schedule we were used to would not work with so much distance between us.

That is how we landed in Mississippi, but it isn’t why we stayed.

Nadia Bolz-Weber wrote, in her book Accidental Saints, “In the Jesus business, community is always a part of healing. Even though community is never perfect.”

We arrived at Crossgates United Methodist Church in Brandon, Mississippi, as two people broken by imperfect community. I struggled to find my niche. Nothing I had done at our previous church had worked. I was afraid to let anyone know me, because I didn’t want to get hurt again. I was afraid to listen to anyone, because hateful words had become the expected thing.

Slowly, the people of our new community drew me out. They bandaged up my wounds and showed me again and again that they were offering the love of Christ.

Did I ever get hurt by people at our new church?

Yes. I did. Eventually, I came to learn that a community is made up of people and people are often unpredictable. When you take a risk and share who you are, you might get hurt. But you might not.

And if you do get hurt, it might still be worth it.

My husband is planting a church now, and we are going to meet people who have stood where I once stood. There will be people who have no reason to trust us and every reason not to. I pray I can be a part of a healing community for those people, because I know how important it is. I know what healing looks like, what it feels like, how it takes time and effort and setbacks and fear and bravery and, eventually, you get to stand and look back down the road and see where you once walked.

The ugly can look beautiful when viewed across time and space.

He gives us beauty for ashes. I let the community that loved us burn away the pain, solder the wounds, and hold me up until I could stand on my own two feet again.

And it was worth it.

The risk was worth the healing.


*originally published on Middle Places