Tuesday, May 27, 2008

I feel like a world traveler

Hello again. It certainly feels as though I have traveled across the world, but I guess I am only a national traveler. Since the end of March, I have been in North Myrtle Beach, Colorado, Tennessee, and Virginia. I have stayed at least one night in each of those states besides Ohio of course. I have traveled either through or over the following states: Ohio, West Virginia, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Indiana, Illinois, I'm not sure if I went over Missouri, or (Iowa), (Nebraska) or Kansas, then Colorado.Add to that list Maryland, Pennsylvania Then this past weekend we were in Tennessee, then went to visit our son, Micah, in Virginia.
I am tired, and I certainly took a bunch of pictures. I'll post a couple at the end of this blog. I am not complaining, I am only mentioning what is going on in my world. I have never traveled so much, it is fun, but tiring. I don't know how people do it all of the time.
We had a wonderful time at Serenity Falls
(see http://www.serenityfallscabins.com/) for more information. We stayed in the General Store cabin here are some pictures of that.

The falls were so pretty, and very well named. I cooked most of the time we were gone, so I stayed on my "diet" and I am on the brink of hitting the 25 pounds lost mark. YIPPEE.

We had a cook-out at Micah's yesterday before we climbed back into the Honda to head home. We spent about 20 hours in driving time since Friday morning, and unfortunately, gas didn't go down in price. The cheapest we found was $3.78 a gallon, and we were almost giddy. I never thought I'd say that in my lifetime. I got to have my one day of eating what-ever I wanted to while at Micah's. I had a Hebrew National hot dog, low fat of course,a bun, a small hamburger no bun, a handful of tortilla chips and organic salsa, raw veggies, fresh fruit, and a wonderful (actually 2) iced brownies OH YEAH! It was so good. I am back to eating healthy today... boring, but I do feel better.

The Smokey Mountains were beautiful, but they certainly rivaled the Rockies. I cannot decide which are God's best. I think it's a draw. The Smokey's are on the left, the Rockies on the right. What do you think?
I need to work on my writing. I received two e-mails while I was gone as a result of the conference, requesting stories, so I better get busy. I just wanted to give a brief update. Thanks again for praying for us.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

My continuing session

I had one of the most amazing teachers for my continuing sessions. These sessions were an hour and a half each morning and an additional hour in the afternoons. My teacher was Jim Watkins. His topic was "Communicate to Change Lives". It was so full of information, and was so much fun. I had fully intended to skip around to several of these sessions because there were so many, that I had a hard time deciding where I wanted to go. I went to Jim's class first, and was hooked! I never missed a session if I could help it. Sometimes I had to meet with an editor or publisher, but I would hurry back to hear the rest of the class's message.

The messages he shared from his book of the same title were meant for me to hear. It was totally awesome. I have added his link to my list of blogs on the right: called Heavy handed with a light touch. Check it out he has a lot of stuff on it, and it is well worth the time to read.

I met a woman named Joyce when I was on the shuttle van from the airport. We instantly connected. It was amazing. She is from Birmingham Alabama. We were sisters from the get-go! Inseparable (till she left on Saturday morning). We will be keeping in contact, as we may have some business dealings together. I will be talking about this more in the future as the Lord shows us His perfect will in this. So make sure you check back to see if there are updates.

I feel a bit more rested this morning as I seem to be getting back to my regular schedule. The two hour time difference sort of threw me for a loop. I was awake before 7 this morning, I usually wake up about 6-6:15. I still have so much to do writing wise, but decided that yesterday I needed to get my ducks in a row, and my mind settled before I attempted any more writing. I am squaring up my piles, going over the notes I took, and trying to remember what I was told during the meetings I had. I did record some of them on a mini recorder, so I need to listen to those as well.

I found out that I have a terrible habit of using exclamation points, not one but several, and very often! Dave D used to tease me about doing that when I worked at NPCC, sorry Dave that you had to suffer through all of that. I also found out that I should not use parenthesis as frequently, and not write words all in caps. The young man that has been helping me do editing mentioned that more than once during the editing of Through the Tears. Ok, I get it. It is just so hard to not use those things to get my point across.

Remember I am a rookie when it comes to writing. I missed so many things going from school to school. I think I missed those lessons. I know I shouldn't make excuses, but I truly did not know. I am also learning to vary the length of my sentences. I was so concerned about the fact that my paragraphs had multiple sentences, that most of the sentences were about the same in length. Boring!

I am having fun writing now. I am not looking at is a work, I am looking at it as a hobby. Something I like to do that is fun. I am learning, so bear with me.

I may be making a trip to Birmingham in June to share at my friend Joyce's Relationship Conference. I am still praying about this one. I want the Lord to use me, but I want to make sure I go according to His leading, not mine.

Again, thanks to all of you for your prayers. I was pretty worried, but God really came through for me. He provided financially, and made a way for me to meet so many people. I was worried too about going off my diet, that I would gain weight. I am happy to announce that I am down to a 23 pound loss now! I actually lost weight while I was there. Thank you Jesus!

I need to get busy around here. I have to stuff a weeks worth of work into four days since Jeff and I are going to Tennessee on Friday. The boys got us a gift certificate to go to Serenity Falls cabins for this weekend Friday-Saturday. There is significance in why we are going this weekend. It marks the eighth anniversary of Liz's death. I cannot believe she has been gone that long. I miss her so much. I'm at the point where I really need a hug from her again. It seems when I get to that point, God tends to give me a dream. I get to talk to her, and hug her and tell her how much I love her. Then I feel much better. Maybe God will allow that to happen again. I am not going to count on that, but I can hope.

We are going to drive over to see Micah on Sunday and Monday too. It is a long drive, but I haven't seen him since we had that horrible snow storm that shut down the state in March. I miss him a lot too.

I better get some things done, I'll keep you posted on anything exciting, and maybe even some boring stuff!

Monday, May 19, 2008

I'm back and I'm blessed!

I don't know what to do first, I learned so many things while at the Colorado Christian Writers Conference. Wow. I am thrilled to say no one thought I was a complete nut case. Several thought my writing was very good. (I was shocked and humbled to hear that) We were told we could have four 15 minute sessions, but God was merciful and I had eight.
I found two possible publishers for Through the Tears. One took my book proposal and sample chapters, read them and talked to me again after our initial meeting. She said it still needs some polish, but it is good. They cannot publish it now because they have a book coming out this year with a similar message or rather topic about death/murder. She added that it would be about two to three years before they could produce something in that nature again. However, she did add that if I am not published within the next year, to call her! That was HUGE. Thank you Jesus. That was Howard Publishers. The other is Strang Publishers and she wants me to send her a proposal and the completed manuscript as soon as it is complete! She seemed excited about reading it.

I will be writing devotionals for the David C. Cook company's The Quiet Hour or Standard Publishing's Devotionals. I am pretty excited, it just happens to be a paying project. Hallelujah! So I will be published, I'm just not sure what month I will be doing the writing in. I am supposed to hear from him by June.

I also spoke to someone from Focus on the Family magazine, and Focus on the Family books. The magazine people told me to get the guidelines to submit a possible article, and she was very encouraging. The lady from the books portion was encouraging about my message, but said that Focus books has very limited titles that they publish, but encouraged me to submit to the magazine. Nothing negative, all positive. She also added she'd publish all of the books if she could.

I spoke to someone representing Come to the Fire magazine, and she liked my article. She told me that I'm a very good writer. That she could "hear my voice" as she read. Not literally but it's a figurative term. She told me to "tighten it up" to shorten it, to make sure it is focused on the theme, and take out the unnecessary parts that don't enhance it. She gave me an e-mail address to contact them.

I also spoke with David Manuel. He gave me a word from the Lord, and prayed with me. He encouraged me a lot. He is the Editorial Director for Awakening Unlimited, the author of 37 books, worked as editor for Doubleday Canada Ltd. Managing editor of division of Logos International where he was the first managing editor to set up and head the book division, it being the first Charismatic publishing house.

So, I think I made a few connections and I feel totally blessed that I was able to go, that Jeff agreed to let me be gone for that long.

I made some WONDERFUL friends while there. I met several authors while I was on the shuttle van from the airport, and we ended up meeting numerous times while at the conference. It was as if God said "these are the people that are significant for you to meet, they will be a new part of your life and your future" Whew, wow. I gave my blog information to most of them so I hope they all check it out, and contact me.
Here are a couple of pictures I took, the view was amazing. I didn't much care for the snow we got on Thursday, especially since I didn't take heavy clothes, or a coat (not one of my better ideas)
Thanks for all of your prayers, don't stop praying, because this is really only the beginning. I'm excited to see what God is going to do in me and through me!

Friday, May 9, 2008


Well, I have just found a moment to blog. I say that because my young friend that was editing my book sent it back yesterday, with corrections and suggestions, and I have diligently been working on it! I have been feeling rather overwhelmed at moments. Yesterday I spent 12 1/2 hours with only a few breaks for necessities. I couldn't even eat! I would get sick to my stomach every time I tried. So, I assumed that fasting was the way to go. Today I spent another 4 1/2 hours. I broke my fast this afternoon at about 4:00 PM. Almost 48 hours, and 140 pages later... I'm a bit tired, but oh, so happy with the amount that I have accomplished. I would probably still be writing, but laundry called, as well as a hungry family, plus I was helping out a friend this afternoon.

I must say I feel a bit more ready to go to the conference on Wednesday.
I feel a bit better about myself since I am down 18 1/2 pounds in less than 4 weeks! Wow, I almost feel like a new person.

I am planning on spending more time writing before I go, so please pray for an anointing for me to write. I would greatly appreciate it. Writing this, or rather re-writing (this is the 4th re-write) this has been extremely emotionally draining. I find myself in tears quite frequently, and remember the emotions I felt almost 8 years ago. I have been transcribing the interviews I did 4 years ago, and trying to fit them into the story where my friend suggested. It is a real stretch of my abilities. But I most certainly felt God's touch yesterday and today as I worked to diligently.

I need to do a few more things so I may not have time to blog before I leave, but I will try. Since Sunday is Mother's Day I will be going over to my brother Doug's house. He and his wife Renee will be hosting our gourmet dinner prepared by my brother. So along with my Mother, and my sister, and our families we will have a lovely day. And just to let you know, I will be cheating on my diet that day! I intend to have a little taste of everything!

So all of you Mother's out there, I hope you have a wonderful day Sunday! Happy Mother's Day!

Sunday, May 4, 2008

My new look!

I've made changes to my blog! Got tired of the pinks! I've added a few things to my sidebar too! Hope you like the new look!

Frustration with justice?

Jeff has asked me to write this as an account of his experience the last two and a half years.

When the sentencing of Matthew Vaca was over in July of 2000, we asked if we (Jeff and I) could have a private word with the man that murdered our daughter Liz. We were ushered out a door at the side of the courtroom, into a very small hall. There, amidst several deputies, a lawyer, Matthew and Jeff and I, we took a moment to speak with the man that has forever changed our lives. We had a few questions for him that only he could answer, and there in that small hallway he apologized to us. He also asked Jeff to come and visit him in prison. We were never quite sure why he asked Jeff to visit, but Jeff said he would.

Therein is the problem. In the fall of 2005 Jeff felt that he needed to keep his promise to Matthew, so he contacted the "proper officials" to help make this happen. After several phone calls, we were contacted by prison officials that we would need to have a meeting to discuss the reasons for the requested meeting. The meeting was scheduled, and a couple of weeks later we met with facilitators from the victim services at the prison. We met in October of 2005, and were told they would get the ball rolling. Well, it is now May of 2008, and the meeting has not happened yet! Jeff received a few phone calls in between, but nothing else until last week. On Thursday he met with the same two facilitators from the prison. They informed him that they had had more meetings with other people, meetings with Matthew, meetings with other family members, meetings to have more meetings, all this to "arrange" for Jeff to keep his promise. There is really no reason for Jeff and I to go to visit Matthew other than keeping a promise made almost eight years ago.

So, with that said, Jeff is now going to meet with Matthew...sometime. He was informed that there would be two facilitators, their boss, Matthew, a family member of his, Jeff and I and who knows who else will be asked to be present at this "visit". Frustrating? You bet! Why? Who knows! It is just another waste of our tax dollars to have meeting after meeting, to have who knows how many people present, to be able to make sure that when we "visit" Matthew that he (Matthew) won't have any problems. We aren't going to cause him problems, we have no desire to do that. We aren't the ones that requested this meeting, it was Matthew. We are only keeping a promise. It won't change the situation. It certainly would not bring Liz back. It won't change Matthews mind about what he did. That is done.


The thing that is most frustrating is how SOME of the people involved in this "visit" are treating Jeff. Like he is the perpetrator, and Matthew is the victim. Jeff has no desire to see Matthew suffer, or to cause any problems for him. He only wants to keep a promise. He knows that Matthew is in prison for life, with no chance for parole. He doesn't want to see Matthew be raped, or killed by another inmate. Matter of fact Jeff asked Matthew not to take his own life after he (Matthew) stood in that hallway and cried and said he shouldn't live.

Why is our justice system doing this? What is wrong with Jeff and Matthew and maybe one other person meeting for 10 minutes, and then getting on with life? Why all of the un-necessary meetings, all of the involvement of "other people" needed?

We have not changed our minds, we have not revoked our forgiveness, we have not done anything other than attempt to keep a promise. Yes, we are frustrated, and a little agitated, ok, maybe a lot agitated. Why does this have to be such a HUGE ORDEAL? Maybe one of you readers can explain this? Maybe you can help us understand the "Justice System" of this state, and how a murderer is defended, and worried about his "welfare" and protected from us, when we wish him no ill. We didn't seek the death penalty (which would have been our decision to pursue because of the charges of murder and abuse of a corpse) Actually the decision was left up to the county prosecutor. We believe that decisions like that are to be made by the "elected officials" (Romans 13). We would never try to take justice into our own hands. Yes, we believe that the Bible is clear when it says "an eye for an eye" (Exodus 21:23-24) The death penalty was not sought because the prosecutor did not want this to drag on for years, appeal after appeal. She wanted it to be over!

Matthew will have to answer to God for his sins, just as we all do. We have prayed for this man's soul from the moment we knew what had happened. We have never hidden anything from the public in reference to this case. We have been honest and truthful, and thought that we had been upstanding citizens. Are all good Americans treated with disdain?

I am thankful that we live in a free nation, except the cost to do the honest thing seems rather expensive to me!?

We are hurt, and feel that our justice system should perhaps look at things a bit differently than they are. Please pray for us as we continue on this roller coaster. We still want to take the high road in this situation, but for some reason the road is being blocked.