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A Day To Celebrate

12 years ago my precious daughter came into the world. She brought with her a message from God that He loves laughter and joy and delights in innocence. She is a spirited child full of wonder and grace. I love that she was born just after Thanksgiving because she reminds me of just how much I have to be thankful for.

Today is also a day to celebrate because of what she has done. Her first book goes to the publisher tonight. This book isn’t her’s alone. It is a special project that began just 5 weeks ago. Here’s the story…

The last week of October I presented 37 middle school students with a challenge, The NaNoWriMo. The NaNoWriMo is the National Novel Writing Month held every November. The challenge is to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. I didn’t think the kids were up for writing 50k words each but together they could do it. It broke down to roughly 1,400 words per student. The second part of the challenge was that they all had to use the same first sentence for their chapter, the same last sentence and a commonly agreed upon main character. The main character they created is a 13 year old boy named Timmy. The chapters open with “The door before Timmy was…” and end with “Once again Timmy was in front of a door.” Everything between the doors was up to each individual writer.The reward for completeing their part of the challenge was a real copy of their book professionally published via FastPencil.com.

Quick aside…We could not have done this without Mash and his incredible support team at FastPencil.com. The free upfront software and collaboration tool has given these students an opportunity that they never knew was possible. The classroom visit from “their Publisher” inspired them and showed them that this wasn’t just a school project but a real book.

This morning the score is: 63,149 words! 31 students done! 2 hours to go….

The reason I started this project was because of my daughter. Today, because of her 36 other students will become published authors. Today, because of her, 36 other young writers have cause to celebrate their own accomplishments. Today, the world has indeed been blessed by Grace.

(If you want to order a copy of “The Indigo Door 2010″ paypal me $10 by 9pm tonight. That’s when the order goes to the printer. :)

And the Beaters Go On

There are two homemade pumpkin pies baking in our oven right now. That may not seem very notable or unique today. It’s more rare than it used to be but not totally unheard of. What makes these pies special is they are third generation pies. You see, on the blue and white tile counter in my kitchen sits a faded harvest gold Kitchen-aide stand mixer. It belonged to my mother-in-law. I never met her, she died before I met Matt, but many times I feel like I knew her and she knew me.

Today my daughter whipped up her first homemade pies using Gramma Vaughan’s mixer. Later today those pies will make the journey to the family cabin. The cabin was built for Matt’s Great-grandmother Nellie in the 1930′s. It has been the traditional hostess for family gatherings for almost 80 years. The women in this family have been strong, hard working, life loving girls who loved deeply and embraced the challenges life tossed at them. They are sturdy and built to last like the old Kitchen-aide. And like the old Kitchen-aide they offered sweet things to those who knew them. So another generation has stepped up and flipped the switch, added eggs and Carnation Evaporated Milk and Libby’s Pumpkin.

They say Thanksgiving is about family. In our kitchen, the heartbeat goes on. Time to peel some apples…

Thankful in my brokenness

I was at the dentist yesterday because I broke a tooth Friday night. As I was trying not to listen to the sound of the drill “Unchained Melody” came on the radio playing in the office. Instantly my heart was flooded with gratitude and love.

The first time I heard that song was in the movie Ghost. I was a single mom at the time and remember just weeping as my heart made the agreement that I would never be loved like that. It wasn’t until years later that I would be sitting at a Righteous Brothers concert hold Matt’s hand on our honeymoon when I would heard Bobby Hatfield sing it live! My life isn’t like a movie. It is better. I am loved like that! It is real. It is my life!

Yesterday as my aging broken body was being bondo-ed back together it was because everything I needed had been provided by someone else. There was nothing I could do to fix my own brokenness. Matt provided the dental insurance by working to support our family. Dr. Comport studied and practiced for years to be able to do what he did so quickly and expertly. The woman behind the desk processes an insurance claim that will pass through invisible hands to be covered. And somewhere a station programmer decided that that was the perfect moment to play a song recorded by a man 50 years ago to remind me how deeply and completely I am loved and cared for.

You could say I have more to be thankful for than I could ever have imagined that night so long ago watching Ghost.

Time to Choose

A habit is the name we give to repeatedly making the same choice.

Breaking a habit is simply making a different choice.

When you think about the possible alternate choices, they are just about endless.

If you want a different result…make a different choice.

When Help Doesn’t

If something you added to your life to make your life easier actually just adds another layer of stuff without achieving it’s desired effect do you keep investing in trying to make it work or abandon it and re-invest that effort into the original problem?

The Indigo Door 2010

On November 1st a brave group of 6th, 7th and 8th grade public school students began a collective adventure. Based on the NaNoWriMo challenge of writting 50,000 words in 30 days these 37 students were given the opportunity to each write a 1,400 word chapter of a book all using the same main character, the same opening and closing sentence for their chapter and total freedom for what came in between.

Using the FastPencil publishing platform these kids are at 30,844 words this morning. Five have completed their chapters. Several have blown past the 1,400 word base line and can see 3k in the review mirror as they bring their chapter to a close.

Each student who contributes a chapter will receive a free professionally published copy of “The Indigo Door 2010″ at the publishing party on December 17th. The cut off for writing is midnight November 30th.

If you would like to support these students and see what the next generation of authors is working on today you can contact me to order a copy of this incredible project. There will just be one printing of this project and the order goes in December 1st. The cost of the book is only $10 plus mailing.

On a personal note I can’t begin to explain how incredible it is to watch this project come together. They decided together on the basics of the main character and seeing how different their plot lines, additional characters and themes are has been exciting.

37 kids…50,000 words…30 days…one character named Timmy…

Priceless!

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