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Category Archives: christian

A Little Encouragment Goes a Long Way

I’ve questioned the wisdom of walking away from WIC many, many times. The fear of the unknown – of how I’m going to pay the bills, of failure, of others judgement and criticism – weighs on my mind quite often.

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However, this isn’t the first time I’ve faced a hard situation in my life. While those other times weren’t pleasant, they did teach me that inside every bad thing or difficult time, there is something to be learned and a blessing.

So when those doubts and fears creep up, I tell them to shut up!

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I worked for WIC for 13 years – and those years weren’t without crises of their own. It’s a social service program – both federally and state funded. It lacked good benefits, took regular funding decreases, and even teetered on the brink of closure many times. During those years, there were many times I questioned why I stayed.

My answer – now and then – is that I prayed. And I did what I felt God called me to do. He didn’t want me there because the pay was good or because it was a stable job or any of those other things that most people look for. He wanted me there for a higher purpose. Sometimes I think I got a glimpse of that purpose, but most of the time, I have no idea what it was.

When I left last October, it was because I felt called to move on. God had closed that chapter of my life and wanted me to follow Him into another. I felt called to write. To take care of my home and my kids and my husband. To switch gears and change careers at the age of 37.

Thankfully, He’s sustained us through the past 4 1/2 months. No big picture, no blueprints for how He’ll make it happen. But small steps here and there where He provides and reassures me that I’m moving in the right direction.

I haven’t had as much time to write as I’ve wanted, as the needs of my family have been bigger. However, I am still writing.  I’m learning. I’m growing. I’m getting my feet wet and trying new things. I’m following this path I’ve been called to until God steers me to a different one.

My efforts haven’t been all that lucrative yet, which is a source of stress for me. I still want to contribute monetarily in addition to the blood, sweat and tears I give every day. However, despite only selling two blog posts out of six that I’ve written, I got this note of encouragement from the company (Blog Mutt) yesterday:

“Molly (BlogMutt)
Feb 15, 1:11 PM MST
Hey Adrienne,

Thanks for everything you do here! We really appreciate the work you’ve done so far at BlogMutt. You’re a really good writer, and a valuable asset to our team!

We just performed a quick review of your content, and this is just a note to say that we’re glad to have you as a writer. There are a lot of new customers who need great posts, and we’d love to see more of your content soon.

Let us know if there’s anything we can do to help you with your writing. Thanks, Adrienne!”

While I have no idea if the clients for my recent “content” will like the posts enough to purchase them, it was still nice to get this note from the administrative team. The encouragement is what keeps me moving ahead, gives me hope and courage to keep pushing forward in spite of the fear and the unknowns.

So to all of you out there who are taking a risk, following your passion or talent, and stepping into the unknown: Go for it!  You can do it!  Every journey is taken one step at a time!

 

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Posted by on February 16, 2017 in christian

 

Who is Abby Craig?

My daughter asked me this the other night and as I explained it to her, I realized I probably never explained it to my readers either.

I’m not sure why I like the idea of a pen name so much, other than Mark Twain did it and I thought it was cool to have two identities.

Anyway – my name is NOT Abby Craig. My given name is Adrienne. Most people know me by Andi. Abby Craig originated in college.

We had a guy friend who lived on our dorm floor that we met Freshman year.  For the life of him, he couldn’t remember my real name. He thought I looked like an Abby and so he called me Abby. His last name was Craig.

When I really started writing and posting my stuff for others to read, I decided to use them as my pen name. Hence, Abby Craig was born.

I thought it was quite clever, really. However, my daughter wasn’t all that impressed. And truthfully, it’s become quite difficult to maintain two identities.  Not sure how Samuel Clemens did it.

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Posted by on February 2, 2017 in christian

 

Does this make me official?

When I walked away from my nutrition job of 13 years back in October, I had no idea what I would be doing next. I just knew God had closed one door and would be opening another. The possibility of devoting more time to writing teased me, but I didn’t want to rush God’s plan. I’ve done that too many times and regretted not waiting for His answer.

I had tentative plans (as in dreams) to turn our spare bedroom into an office, creating a sanctuary that I could use to devote to writing. It’s been almost four months now and that bedroom is still a bedroom. This transition is moving much S L O W E R than I anticipated.

However, despite the other immediate things I’ve been called to do, I’ve still been given small windows to focus on writing – whether it’s writing my novels for WattPad, trying my hand at creating blog posts for other people, or taking online courses for things like SEO Optimization (I need a new bottle of Advil) or learning how to format for E-publishing (much more interesting but lengthy in details).

I would like to make this a profitable endeavor because I don’t want my husband to be the only one contributing to our family. However, I knew going in it would be a long process, building my skills and resume from the bottom of the field. Getting paid for my writing would take time – lots of it.

However, I was SO excited to log in to the Blog Mutt site today and find that I sold my first blog post!

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Funny, because the topic dealt with creating a trust to protect assets of medical practitioners. Finance is not my expertise and it took quite a bit of research to understand what a trust is before I could tell someone else why they needed one.

I gained some research skills that day, exercised my brain cells by learning something new, AND managed to earn a few bucks doing it! It’s not a lot, but it’s a start and I hope I can keep the ball rolling!

 

 
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Posted by on January 26, 2017 in christian

 

I’m so excited!  Excited and surprised!  This is my first writing challenge entry on the Faith Writers website in 2.5 years.  I had hoped to amass enough samples that I could use them as part of a writing resume. Earning a ribbon wasn’t my goal. . . . .

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But it sure feels good!  I had hoped to place, as that would look even better on a resume, but 1st Place? Wow!

In case anyone would like to read the actual article, I’ve posted it below:

MOTHER OF THE YEAR

I will never be awarded Mother of the Year. In fact, I’m positive I wouldn’t even get Mother of the Hour. Most days, the best I could hope for is Mother who Made It Through the Day Without Losing Her Mind.

When I envisioned becoming a mother, I never anticipated how hard, dirty, and heartbreaking it would be. My husband and I shared four years of marriage before we started talking about children. At the time all I could think about was how wonderful it would be to have this little blank slate that I could introduce to the world, molding and shaping and nurturing it, allowing it to grow into the person God created it to be.

Then I had kids.

The reality of raising children is the antonym of my visions. Kids are not born blank slates. God fills them up with their own personalities. They’ve got their quirks, their own likes and dislikes, and their own style of communicating.

Forget the flowery images of introducing the world to an eager, attentive little creature who hangs on my every word. Instead, I feel as though I’ve been given barbarians that I have to tame before it’s time to release them into the world.

I love my kids. I’ve got two of the most intelligent, beautiful, creative, and humorous daughters God ever made. I’ve also got two of the most stubborn, illogical, and unreasonable humans on the planet. There are days I step back, attempting to check my anger or tears (or both), and wonder why I ever thought I could do this.

There are moments I look at my kids and feel utterly unqualified to be their mother. I don’t understand who they are or who God expects me to be for them. I feel as if I’ve been handed a project that I don’t possess the tools to complete.

There are many nights that I go to bed with one simple prayer: Please Lord, may they know how much I love them. Don’t let my inadequacies screw them up.

I’ve accepted that I am the disciplinarian. I’ve been reassured that to be a parent, I can’t always be a friend.  I know that sometimes I will be disliked for making rules and decisions that they don’t understand. Those things I can handle. Those things I embrace.

What breaks my heart are the moments when I lose my temper or blow things out of proportion, hurting feelings and bruising souls, when patience or a kind word would have worked better. It’s the days that I’m stressed out by other things and I lash out at my kids that I know I’ve dropped the ball.

I can’t take those moments or those feelings or those words back. I can’t undo the damage to their little hearts or change a message I never meant to convey.

I’m okay with never being Mom of the Year. Some women are born with a gift for parenting and motherhood.  I was not.  It doesn’t come naturally to me. I’ve got to dig deep to find the woman willing to serve and sacrifice for the sake of her kids.

However, there are times when the only award I deserve is Worst Mom of a Lifetime. I will never be okay with that.

That’s why I’m grateful for each new day God gives me. Every morning is my chance for a fresh start. It’s my chance to kiss my daughters’ faces, hug them so tight it hurts, and try again. Even better, and more gratifying, is their willingness to give me a fresh start. They don’t hold grudges. They eagerly accept those kisses and hugs, ready to try again just as much as me.

That’s all the reward I need.

 
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Posted by on January 19, 2017 in christian

 

Waiting is Not Easy!

I’ll admit – I stole this title from one my kids’ favorite authors. The books are a family favorite. 20170104_133108Turns out the guy who writes them started his career as a writer for Sesame Street.

Despite writing his stories for kids, his messages apply to everyone. They’re usually about being kind, thinking of others, etc. As the title suggests, this one is about waiting. And lately, my life has been all about waiting.

Waiting is far from easy. It’s downright difficult. Rigorous. Torturous. For me, it’s been a lesson in Faith.

I worked for the Pennsylvania WIC program for 17 years – most of it in the same office and some of it as a college intern before I became an official nutritionist.

The job itself wasn’t hard and I thoroughly enjoyed expanding my knowledge about pregnancy, nursing, infants and young children. However, as anyone who’s worked for a government-funded social services program can tell you, other aspects were not so fun. Over the years we dealt with funding cuts, changing administrators, a decrease in benefits, a lack of 401k, and a host of other issues that depended on the current whim of those in office. Despite the frequent uncertainty of my job, I felt called to stay. I found a “supernatural” peace that WIC is exactly where God wanted me to do His work. If the time came for that to change, he would let me know.

That change came in September of 2016, when our contract went up for bid and a new agency took the reins of our program. We worked closely with this agency for years, as they had always been the ones to complete our yearly staff and program reviews. They trained us on any new rules and regulations as well as nutritional topics. I had the option to reapply for my job and continuing working for WIC.

I had the option to reapply for my job and continue working for WIC.

I chose to walk away. I don’t approve of the way this agency conducts itself when it comes to finances or employee relations. The thought of working for them directly left a sour taste in my mouth. It was time to move on. It didn’t take me long to make that decision and when I did, I felt at peace that it was the right one. God had called me on to something new.

I don’t approve of the way this agency conducts itself when it comes to finances or employee relations. The thought of working for them directly left a sour taste in my mouth. It was time to move on. It didn’t take me long to make that decision and when I did, I felt at peace that it was the right one. God had called me on to something new.

Writing has long been a passion for me, one that I’ve dreamed about turning into a career. When I made the decision to leave WIC I had no concrete plans on my next job, but I felt like God was paving the way for me to write.

Squeeeeeee!

My husband and I talked. We made plans to turn one of the spare bedrooms into my “office” and my current babysitter agreed to maintain our current schedule. However, as eager as I was to dive into this new venture, I barely managed to get my toes wet.

It’s been a little over three months since my time with WIC ended and I’ve barely done any writing at all. Instead, God called me to be a stay-at-home-mommy and homemaker. Two things that you would NEVER find on my wish list. However, the only time my soul felt at peace were the times I was taking care of “home” – my kids, my husband, our pets, the house. Anytime I tried to push into a different direction or rush God’s timing, I met resistance in one way or another.

Looking back, God knew what he was doing. At the same time I lost my job, my husband took at promotion. It meant more time away from home, sometimes overseas for a week at a time. I became the “It-Girl”. I needed to be able to pick up the slack to allow my husband time to find his stride with this new job.

So, even though I desperately wanted to write, I graciously -(at least I hope!) – became a servant and took care of whatever needed taking care of. Surprisingly, I fell into the role easier than I would have thought possible.

God had called me to wait.

I never heard him say, “No, you can’t write.”  Nor did he ever divulge his plan to me in any degree. Nor did he drop any other kind of grand career opportunity in my lap. Instead, I’ve been standing in the hall, knowing that closing the door to WIC remained the right decision but not knowing when or if or how the next one would open.

Guys.

Waiting is HARD!

Especially when you’re waiting on God’s timing, not your own. Things happen when he’s ready to make them happen, not when you want them to happen.

However, this isn’t the first time I’ve been called to wait. Looking back, I can see other missed opportunities or times when I jumped the gun, all because I reacted out of fear instead of being obedient to his plan.

This time I took a deep breath, put on my big girl panties, and chose to wait.  I’ve wondered many times if other people just think I’m being lazy, that I don’t want to work. When I try to explain this whole I’m-waiting-on-God’s-call thing, I’m expecting people to look at me as if I’m loony.

I’m neither. I’m simply being obedient. I’m refusing to give in to fear. I’m refusing to play by anyone’s rules but those laid out in the Bible. I’m trusting in God to use me where he wants me and that when he’s ready, he’ll make a way for that to happen.

Do I hope it’s through writing?

(You shouldn’t have to ask.)

Of course! But I’m determined to wait for his verdict, no matter what it is.

Last night my husband came home with his three-month review papers in hand and all that waiting paid off. God answered in a big way and it’s opened the door for me to pursue a life I’ve only ever fantasized about.

I still have no idea exactly how it’s going to play out. I’ve still got a lot of unanswered questions. I’ve still got doubts and, yes, fears. I still have to write at my kitchen table because that office is still a spare bedroom. I’m starting a new career, at the bottom of the ladder, at age 37.

But I get to write.

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What has all this waiting taught me?

That we are still learning and growing during the wait. We are learning how to choose Him over the world. We are learning how to trust Him for everything we need. We are learning what it means to live by faith, not by sight.

He uses that hallway to give us an opportunity to grow closer to Him.

Obedience and waiting are choices. Hard choices.

I’m glad I picked the hard choice.

 

 
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Posted by on January 4, 2017 in christian, writing

 

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This White Girl Meant No Offense

This White Girl Meant No Offense

First of all – WOW! I haven’t posted to my blog in so long I’m surprised it didn’t send me a Dear John letter.

What brought me back? Putting aside the job loss and maturing children that have given me a few more smidgens of free time. . . . .

Race.

Ethnicity.

And the process of creating characters – especially those of a different color, race, and religion than you.

Let me give you a bit of back story: I currently have 6 full length novels posted on WattPad. My second most popular one, All I Never Wanted, has been up for three years.  It’s garnered a few comments here and there, but recently it’s been one chapter in particular that’s gotten repeat comments – and they’re all about the exact same line in the story.

By repeat comments, I mean four. Of the 5,000+ reads recorded for this chapter, it’s these four that have struck a chord with me.

Why?

Because all of them refer to a moment in the story when I introduce two African-American sisters, whom I named Shasta and Shanikwa. And all four wanted to know why these girls don’t have “normal” names.

First and Foremost, please understand that this white girl meant no offense. However, I’ve struggled with the need to defend myself. I’ve also pondered the wisdom of mentioning it, because the topics of race and racism are so rampant right now. It seems like no matter what “color” you are – someone finds offense with something.

I’ll do my best to keep it simple:
1. I wanted these girls to have unique names and stand out, if only for a brief period of time.

2. The demographic I’m writing about is also the same demographic that I worked with for the past 13 years. When I chose names, I looked to my clients. These characters are named after real people.

3. What defines normal? It depends on your perspective. Let’s be honest – we all know African-Americans of both sexes with names similar to my sisters.  However, that doesn’t mean I think ALL African-Americans are named so uniquely. I know some beautiful black women with the more traditional names of Miriam, Evelyn, Alaina, and Helen. I also know some white people with the unfortunate monikers of Tequila, Chevelle, and T. (Yes – just T.)

4. Take it for what it is – a story. Not a representation of an entire group of people – white, black, or otherwise. The characters are all developed for that story, for that situation, for that place and point in time. I’m not going to change them because I didn’t write them with any kind of prejudice or ill intent in mind.

5. I also recognize that I am white. I grew up in a white family, in a predominantly white town, with white friends. I married a white man and have white kids. While I don’t consider myself to be prejudice or racist in any way, I also understand that I have a skewed perspective. I don’t know what it’s like to be a minority or to constantly be second guessing whether people are judging me, stereotyping me or making fun of me.

Please know that when I named Shasta and Shanikwa I was NOT doing any of those three. I simply wanted two, quirky, black sisters.

What matters most to me is the state of your heart – are you a good person with a kind heart and a positive attitude? I would hope that when someone of a different race looks at me, they don’t stop at the color of my skin. I hope they would look deeper than that before labeling me prejudice or racist or any of those other ugly names flying around right now.

While this white girl sees color, it’s not the only thing she sees.

 
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Posted by on January 2, 2017 in christian, Reading, writing

 

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Pursuing Your Passion

I recently started another blog (mamainsanity.wordpress.com) focusing on parenthood and how crazy insane I feel at times trying (and failing!) to be a good Mom.  This post came from that blog but I thought it had relevance here too.  Enjoy!

 

I wish I had known when I was young that I would grow to love writing so much.  More than that, I wish those who’d recognized my talent/passion would’ve encouraged me to pursue it and helped put me on a path that would help it flourish in the future.  Instead I ended up majoring in Nutrition and graduated with both a B.S. and an M.S. in the field.

I do enjoy my job with the WIC Program – I like the aspects of nutrition during pregnancy, breastfeeding, infancy and childhood.  After ten years in this specific field, I’m pretty darn good at my job.

But it’s not my passion.  I don’t go home still thirsting to learn more about nutrition.

Instead I spend my down time working over plots or character sketches or simply writing a story.

This true passionate talent gets relegated to the back burner because I pursued something else.

I’m 100% positive I’m not the only one.

I think it’s silly that those of us who choose to pursue a college education are expected to know what we want to do with the rest of our lives at the tender age of 18.  At that point in life we barely have our heads screwed on straight.  All we’re looking forward to is the chance to have freedom from Mom and Dad.

Granted, there are a few who know their passion and pursue it in four years and leave the rest of us in the dust.  It took me a whole semester just to decide to major in Nutrition.  Now, two degrees and thousands of dollars later, I wish I hadn’t wasted the time or money.

My hope now is that I can look at my girls as they grow, see what they’re both good at and truly passionate about, and encourage them to pursue that.  I want them to enjoy what they do and feel fulfilled by it.

This concept isn’t new and I think more parents need to pay attention to it.

When I got married I quickly discovered that one of my Mother-in-Laws favorite scripture passages is Proverbs 22:6 – “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.”  At the time, my brother-in-law was a rather wild and rebellious soul and I think she clung to this verse hoping that it meant he would someday accept the much more conservative principles of her own faith.

In some ways, she’s right.  As Christians we are in charge of spreading the gospel to our kids.  It is then their responsibility to believe or not believe.

But this verse means so much more.  I didn’t dig any deeper until I picked up a Max Lucado book and he spent an entire chapter devoted to this one verse.  His interpretation of the scripture meant something entirely different.  He charged parents instead to help their kids discover their talents, to find what they are good at, passionate about, and built for.  Then we are to take every opportunity we can to let them practice and hone that skill so that they can carry it into old age.

There are many translations of that verse, some helping to see this viewpoint better than others:
“Teach a child to choose the right path, and when he is older, he will remain upon it.”  The Living Bible
“Point your kids in the right direction – when they’re old they won’t be lost.”  The Message
“Bring up a child by teaching him the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn away from it.”  New Life Version
“Teach a child how to follow the right way; even when he is old, he will stay on course.”  The Voice

They all speak of a path or a course or a direction – and most assume that means the straight and narrow walk to Heaven.  However, it can also mean the direction of their life in general.  Help them discover who God created them to be.  We are all parts of one Body, that of Jesus Christ, and we all have different skills and assignments.  It is our job as parents to help our kids discover what God created them to do and be.  Beyond that, we need to put them on a course that allows them to use their talent to glorify God.

I only started taking my writing seriously when I turned 30.  For our anniversary my husband bought me a laptop and said, “I expect you to use that to write.  You’re good at it.  So do it.”

No one had ever said that to me before.  People humored me.  Some even read my books and told me they liked it or thought I was a good writer.  But no one ever pushed me to pursue it or helped me find the means to do so.

I had been writing for 19 years by that point, but only in the past five have I allowed my words free reign for the world to see.

Now when people ask me to define myself it rolls off my tongue without hesitation or embarrassment – “I’m a writer.”

I want my kids to have that kind of confidence from the start.  I want them to embrace and be proud of the person God made them to be.   So between all the temper tantrums and dirty diapers, spilled sippy cups and mountains of toys, I am quietly observing who they are.  What makes them tick?  What do they show a natural talent and interest in?

Those are the things I want them to pursue.

Though I may lament lost time and opportunities, I’m still thankful that I finally found someone who convinced me to take myself seriously.  Better late than never.  Even though I haven’t achieved “traditional success” – meaning I’m not published in print or in electronic form – I still feel like I’ve accomplished something for God.  I haven’t wasted my talent.

I have five complete novels posted on WattPad and all five of them are quickly and quietly racking up readers.  All but one of them focuses on a person’s journey to God – whether through grief, fear, anger or unforgiveness.  Better than the numbers and the followers are the comments I’ve garnered from my readers.

God is using my words to tell His story and people are responding to that.

Two of the best comments I’ve received were these:

“Absolutely loved the story line, the flow and character descriptions. You did a good job manipulating my emotions and reminding me of the various tough times that I just couldn’t pray or believe. Grief is not an easy road for many. You were quite effective in answering many grief related questions that people normally ask. All in all, this was an excellent story! This story is truly one of those hidden gems on Watt Pad. Keep up the awesome work!”

“The two stories I’ve read of yours have been a wealth of knowledge for me.  I’ve learned more about God and it’s given me some peace.  Your stories are excellent tools of learning and I hope you write more.  When Gabby threw the Bible I felt the pain rip through me too.  Thank you for beautiful stories of such deep faith.  I’ll treasure all I’ve learned.”

I have three goals when I sit down to write:
1.  Write real and raw.
2.  Point back to the source of my gift – God.
3.  Get it read.

I’ve accomplished those things with every single one and that makes me proud.

I don’t know it all and I’ve still got plenty of learning of my own to do.  But even in the middle of my mess – this crazy, insane, and totally brain-squashing thing called Motherhood – He’s still using me.

We’ve all got a gift or a talent, a passion that drives us.  Harness it.  Thank God for it and figure out how to use it to spread His message.

Beyond that, help your children learn who they are so they can do those things too.

 

*All scripture references were taken from BibleGateway.com*

*Max Lucado reference is taken from Cure for the Common Life: Living in Your Sweet Spot*

 
 

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