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Archive for the ‘Big Announcements’ Category

It feels good to be writing again after all the tragedy of the past few months. Today I’m honored to be featured over at themitchroush.com. His monthly series, “Music Changed Me” showcases people he knows and loves sharing the music that has impacted their lives. My piece focuses on disliking the word “secular” being used to label songs that are sacred to me, and the love song I have on repeat during this season of healing.

I’ve known Mitch for over 20 years, and oh the stories I could share about him. Ha! He’s an incredible man. Take some time to get to know him through his writing. He does an excellent job weaving faith and creativity throughout all he does.

It brings joy to my soul to hear him describe me this way: “Niki is one of the most eloquent feather-rufflers I know. An edgy soul, not out of attention, but out of a fierce love that has no other way of being expressed. She’s passionate and wants nothing more than for everyone to have a place at the table.”

Thank you, Mitch. That means a lot to me!

Here’s a teaser:

Music is one of my love languages.

If my inner 80’s child were to make you a mix tape and share with you the soundtrack of my life, you’d grin and possibly groan at the quirky variety of my musical tastes.  I bet you’d find something that suits your tastes too. Now and then, I get stuck on a song to help me through a particular season, repeating it until the music cleanses me or the season passes.

– See more at: http://www.themitchroush.com/music-changed-me-13-love-on-repeat

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I write fiction.

Now there’s a phrase I didn’t think would ever pass my lips. I’ve dreamed about writing a bestselling novel, but what writer hasn’t? I even went as far as outlining a novel at a workshop I attended a few years ago, but it was only to appease the speaker. I filed it under “writing misc.” and forgot about it. I have spent the past few years whining about not having enough time to blog, and working on piddly projects here and there. Until a few months ago.

I know this lady in my writer’s group who is always sharing opportunities for contests, anthologies, conferences, and such. She’s a writer/editor and probably submits more than anyone else I know. One day she cornered me and asked when I was going to write a story for her. With a polite smile, I kindly told her that I don’t write fiction. We chatted for a few minutes and I finally admitted that the time travel anthology she was working on intrigued me, and I did have an idea for a short story based on something that has puzzled me most of my life. I shared my idea and she said, “Write that!” So I did. Sort of. A few weeks after the deadline, I found out my story was accepted. I went to work on my edits and resubmitted my story. I was thrilled when it was also chosen as the 2nd story in the book!

From the intro:

What makes this collection unique is that an object must directly or indirectly be responsible for the [time travel] journey. The approach taken by all twelve writers is both as different and as diverse as the authors themselves. Several are from other countries. Several are brand new. Several are already published…it is family friendly. The editor wanted parents to be comfortable allowing their child or teenager to read these stories without fear of offensive language or sexual content. That being said, sit back and enjoy a trip through time via odd devices. It will be well worth the journey.

Time Traveling Coffers (WolfSinger Publications) released last week just in time for Mile Hi Con here in Denver. Last Sunday I joined my editor, publisher, and a few of my fellow authors in a reading, panel discussion, and book signing. We had a small but gracious audience and I received lots of encouragement and advice. I couldn’t cram all the story details into my limited 6,000 word count for the anthology, so I saved  a lot of it for the novel I’m writing. I hope others love my idea as much as I do.

Now that you know the story behind the story, here’s how you can buy it!

Print Edition is priced at $12.95
Ebook is priced at $5.99

Here is the link for Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/Time-Traveling-Coffers-Dana-Bell/dp/1936099373/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1350073188&sr=8-1&keywords=Time+Traveling+Coffers

 

Smashwords offers all available e-book formats.

(Save 50% by using coupon code WB94A when you order by 10/31/12)

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/243987

 

This is the link for create space:

(Save 25% by using coupon code 9HW5GHYR when you order by 11/31/12)

https://www.createspace.com/4021532

 

I also have limited e-book copies I can offer for anyone who would like to read and review the book on their blog. Email me if you’re interested.

 

I didn’t get to do this in the book, so special thanks to:

Dana Bell for asking me to write outside of my box, and accepting my first story.

Benny Nowell and Karen Stonecypher for thinking through the plot with me and being my head cheerleaders.

Paula Moldenhauer, Kordee Rose, and Don Hillson for their invaluable critiques of my SFD, asking me the hard questions, and keeping me encouraged and on track.

Will Rees, and Max, Zoe, and Pete Nowell. I was glad my kids were as excited about my story as I was. 🙂

 

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My writer’s group sponsored a devotional writing contest this summer. The deadline was midnight on July 31st. With moderate hope, I hit the send button at 11:50 something. I am thrilled to announce that Tuesday night I was awarded 1st place and a NOOK Color! I was shocked! I had no clue what my chances were, but I knew that I was up against some pretty fabulous people. I am so glad that I decided to submit even at the last-minute.

My friend Jason recently told a story about truth God had spoken to him during a bike ride with his daughter. I was deeply moved and asked permission to use his story for my devo.

Jason, many thanks to you for permission and more importantly, your inspiration. Your sharing of how God is moving in your life inspired me and rippled out to inspire others.

A Father’s Voice

“I know the Lord is always with me. I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me.” Psalm 16:8, NLT

It was nine-year old Jocelyn’s first bike ride with her daddy. Jason followed her down the trail, watching and coaching from behind, occasionally shouting encouragement, “You’re doing great honey! See? I knew you could do it!”

“Thanks Dad,” her smiling voice floated over her shoulder as she pedaled ahead.

Settling into a comfortable rhythm, Jason was soon lost in the peacefulness of the ride and the surrounding beauty. He startled when Jocelyn cried out, “Dad! Dad”! He watched as she wobbled, the confidence she had minutes before replaced with uncertainty and fear.

“Jocelyn, what’s wrong?”

“Uh…I’m okay. I’m okay,” she mumbled as she regained control.

“No sweetie, what’s wrong? You seem really afraid.”

“I’m fine now. I just needed to know you were still there. I needed to hear your voice.”

The Lord spoke clearly to Jason in that moment, “That is it. That’s what I want you to hold on to; what you need to cultivate in your relationship with me. Listen for my voice and know that I never leave you. I delight in that posture of your heart.”

Jocelyn was fine; it was Jason’s turn to wobble a bit as he wept.

Thank you, Father, for the gift of your voice and presence. You give us the confidence to keep moving forward. Thank you for never leaving us. Amen. 

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My cousin Janet sent me this necklace when I was nervous about my trip to Wisconsin in April. I wore it or carried it in my pocket the whole week I was there to remind me of her, and that I never walk alone. It really did give me courage, and I love her for it! But my story doesn’t begin there. We have to back up a bit.

Several years ago I read the book Captivating by John & Staci Eldredge, and fell in love with the idea of being a warrior princess. It was the strong women in movies, books, and the Bible that drew my admiration. Ezer Kinegdo. (A rough Hebrew translation: a desperately needed companion, or a life saver who comes alongside you. It was only used to describe 2 people in the old testament- Eve, when she was created, and God himself.) I want to be THAT. Reading that book changed my life. I felt understood, accepted, and encouraged. I asked God to show me who I am, and for the first time, I knew that I wasn’t ever going to be dainty and God was okay with that. He confirmed that I am a warrior princess. That played out for me in a very tangible way about a year later.

A good friend of mine had to appear in court. It was a pretty big deal. When I told him I wanted to be there with him and his wife to cover them in prayer, he reluctantly agreed. I prayed for the whole 30 minute drive to the courthouse. I asked God to give me the right words to encourage them. I prayed on the armor described in Ephesians in the Bible. I prayed for protection and wisdom. But I was still surprised when I got out of the van and felt 10 feet tall and invincible. I was a giant going to battle and I knew I was not alone. I was completely fearless, and that was just the beginning.

It was the last night of our SABBATH week with Trevor’s youth group, and we wanted to send the teens off with a blessing. We had them stand in a circle with Benny in the middle and me on the outside. We didn’t have a plan. We just wanted to follow the Holy Spirit’s leading. As I began to pray, I could feel the enemy pressing in. I prayed for protection and got an image in my head of my hands lifted and a large bubble descending over us. I knew that I was shielding the group from the enemy while Benny blessed them. Later that night, I told Benny about it and more importantly, I asked God about it. Was this a piece of who I am? Pictures while I pray isn’t the norm, but I knew it was an important vision for me.

I’m a crier. I am not afraid of tears, and God uses that. When I am touched on a deep spiritual level (I call it having a Holy Spirit moment), I cry. But the tears in those moments are from a different place inside of me than my tears of joy, grief, and anger. I don’t question it because it’s always been that way with me and God. He moves me.

When I read the Lord of the Rings Trilogy and watched the movies, Eowyn resonated with me. She gave me hope and courage to step more fully into who I am. In one of my favorite scenes in The Two Towers, Aragorn reminds Eowyn that she is a daughter of kings – a shield maiden of Rohan, and I wept.  Someone left this comment on the YouTube video:”It is amazing the way hope rises when fear is engaged with the truth of who we are and who we belong to.”

I once heard a pastor teach a lesson about every player on a football team having a specific job to do and the importance of each teammate playing their position to the best of their ability. I cried. Over football! I am not a quarterback, I’m the woman standing between the quarterback and the opposition. I am a shield.

I was stunned when I read Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer and she described Bella’s gift. The imagery used was the same as my vision of the bubble of protection I had prayed over the teens a few years previous. She was Ezer Kinegdo. And I cried, because I am a shield.

When Will moved in, I gave him this necklace. It’s a Telmarine shield from the movie Prince Caspian. I saw them a few years ago and was so moved by them, that I bought four. I didn’t know why since I only have three children. Now I know.

You still with me? Here’s where it gets weird…and very cool.

A few months ago, I was praying over someone at church and my hands were raised when I felt a tingling in my right shoulder that traveled across to my left shoulder and down my left arm. I told Benny about it and that I thought there should be a name to describe it, but I didn’t know what it was. It has happened many times since then – always when I was worshiping or praying over someone.

A few weeks ago, I was sitting at breakfast with one of our SABBATH groups when a song from Benny’s iPod began to play. (Make War by Tedashii.) It’s not really my style of music, but this song grabs me. At the lyrics, “Stand fearless on the front line,” my shoulder and arm began to tingle, and I froze. Everything I just told you played through my head like a movie flashback, or beads of mercury drawing together to form a puddle. Completely stunned, I looked at Benny and said, “I am a shield! I know why my arm is tingling!”  Because I had been sharing this stuff all along, he just smiled at me and said, “duh,” then googled arm/shoulder armor and came up with this picture:

I found this one:

THAT is what I feel when I pray! It’s called a manica, and it’s my spiritual armor.

I am a shield.

I fight for people. I protect them. I stand between them and the enemy.

When I walk in my identity – who I truly am – there is no fear.

Do you know who you are? Are you walking in your identity? What’s your story?

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Congratulations Barb! Send me your email and I’ll send you the codes.

Thank you to everyone who entered, and stay tuned for another give away after Thanksgiving. I know you love free stuff as much as I do! 😉

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As we prepare for the Zombie Apocalypse, it’s important for us to know how long our medicines and vitamins will last and update our stash of expired bottles, so I made that my September de-cluttering challenge. 😉

Seriously, we are as homeopathic as we can be, but a few weeks ago my son had such a terrible headache that we went for the hard stuff. I pulled the ibuprofen & acetaminophen out of the medicine drawer and it was expired. I wasn’t all that surprised because we hardly ever use it, but then I was faced with a dilemma. Let my child be in pain, or give him expired drugs in the hopes of killing the headache.

I hopped online and did a little research (after giving him the Tylenol) and found out that it’s up to me to decide how long to continue using medicines after the printed expiration date on the bottle. Whew. What a relief. Thank you Google for clearing that up for me.

According to this article by the Harvard Medical School, and many other sites I found, drug manufacturers are required by law to stamp a date on their products. This is the date at which the manufacturer can still guarantee the full potency and safety of the drug. HOWEVER, in a study done by the FDA, at the request of the military, 90% of more than 100 drugs, both prescription and over-the-counter, were perfectly good to use even 15 years after the expiration date, so the expiration date doesn’t necessarily indicate a point at which the medication is no longer effective or has become unsafe to use.

“It’s true the effectiveness of a drug may decrease over time, but much of the original potency remains even a decade after the expiration date. Excluding nitroglycerin, insulin, and liquid antibiotics, most medications are as long-lasting as the ones tested by the military. Placing a medication in a cool place, such as a refrigerator, will help a drug remain potent for many years.”

Good to know.

We’re not into taking medication unless it’s REALLY needed, so we don’t keep a full medicine cabinet, but I still decided to take a look at every bottle we do have and toss most of the expired stuff – especially the liquids. Here’s a picture of what I threw away. I added the quarter for size comparison. I’m clever like that.

One more thing. Here’s an article from the FDA which explains the proper disposal of over the counter and prescription drugs:

http://www.fda.gov/forconsumers/consumerupdates/ucm101653.htm

Moving on…

October’s Writing Challenge:

I emailed Don, my American friend living in France, and asked him to hold me accountable with my writing. Being a blogger himself, I knew he’d understand the need for motivation in the form of a challenge. WordPress issued such a challenge back in January, but suggested it to me again for the month of October. A post-a-day challenge is just what I need to get my butt in gear and quit making excuses for not writing. You can read about it at http://dailypost.wordpress.com/.

Consider this Day 1. 🙂

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Here it is. The post I’ve been avoiding for a few weeks. After the last exciting post, I’ve truly dreaded writing this one. My heart aches daily and I can’t fix it. If you’re my friend on Facebook, this is old news by now. Little Christopher, the blessing I delivered on July 12th, went home to be with Jesus on July 22nd.

While I am grateful for the 10 days we all got to love on him, I have struggled every day since then to understand why, how, and what if. I’ve been a part of his life both in and out of the womb for the past 8 months and now I feel like I’ve lost another child. According to all of the paperwork, I’ve lost a grandchild. Lexi listed me as her mother. As big of a responsibility and honor as that role is, I’m at a loss trying to comfort her when I’m grieving so deeply myself. I love her and I know she knows it. God help me to love her like she needs me to.

I said in the last post that some things are too sacred to share, and some are just too private, but I can tell you this: Little Chris got an infection in his umbilical stump inside of his body after his cord fell off. By the time he was admitted to the hospital, the infection had spread and surgery was required. He was transferred to Children’s Hospital in Denver where they did everything they could for him, but he died the next day. I can’t say any more. It makes the top 5 worst days of my adult life.

Gathering around a table to remember what we’ve been given and to celebrate life is fairly normal for my family, so we held a memorial service for Little Chris at the park in Boulder, underneath the library. There were about 20 people there: some street friends, volunteers from Stand Up for Kids, a few close friends, and of course our family and summer interns. We played a slide show of the pictures we had taken of him, and lit a candle for each day of his short life. Everyone was given an opportunity to say a few words, and I choked my way through my brief speech. We ended our time together in a circle of prayer, and at Lexi’s request, a group scream. You had to be there.

I had strewn small river rock over the table, so we invited everyone to take a pebble with them or throw one in the creek that rushes by the library. I scooped up 11 pebbles, and one by one, my friend Nesti and I threw them into the creek as reminders: one each for love, healing, hope, friends, family, community, peace, joy, strength, and the promise of seeing him again someday. I kissed the 11th stone and asked Little Christopher to please tell my sweet baby that I love her and that I’ll see her someday too, and I aimed for the rapids and let it fly. Nesti and I stood there and cried together for awhile. As I was beginning to calm down, Benny pulled me into a hug, kissed me, and whispered that he too had thrown a rock in for our baby. I love that man!

The cremation was a few days later and nothing prepares you for that experience. I had to sign a waiver to be present at the cremation, and now I understand why. The mortuary was wonderful to us and they tried to prepare us the best they could, but it was a jarring experience and one I hope never to repeat. Every one of us that was present at his birth was present at his cremation. We all decorated the box he was cremated in, and wrote letters to him. I poured my heart out in a 3 page letter, then sealed it and watched as Lexi placed it inside. I said what I needed to say, and there was a little healing in that for me.  It was difficult to watch Chris (Little Christopher’s dad) go between silently pulling into himself and weeping. We all grieve so differently. I just wanted to wrap my arms around him and tell him everything would be O.K. when I myself was feeling the sharp sting of death. I think we all did a pretty good job of encouraging each other through that day, and what had begun as friends 3 weeks earlier, brought us close together and made us family.

Today I received a package in the mail for Lexi and Chris – molds of Little Christopher’s hands and feet – a gift from Children’s Hospital. We’ll open it together when I see them on Wednesday, and there will be more tears (probably mine) as another milestone passes. I hope tomorrow will be a little easier than today.

My sincerest thanks goes out to Bob Flory, the director of Pastoral Care at Children’s Hospital Colorado, all of the wonderful nurses and doctors from Boulder Community Hospital and Children’s Hospital, and John DeMers of Crist Mortuary in Boulder. These people were kind and supportive during this horrible time. God bless you all! To my fellow grievers and friends who have loved us through this tragedy, thank you for not letting us walk this path alone!

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