On Patience and the Lack Thereof

Dear Readers,

As spring blasts into Vermont like some kind of ravenous beast, I sit in the absolute worst possible position for me. I am waiting.

I am terrible at waiting.

Well, let me rephrase that. I am terrible at waiting for things that matter. I can stand in queues for ridiculous periods of time; I can sit in DMV waiting rooms and doctors’ offices and wait for that magic “A-19” or whatever number to appear for simply interminable lengths. But when it comes to waiting for things of great importance to me, issues in which control has been completely been removed from my hands – I am simply childlike in my petulant immaturity.

After putting it off as long as I possibly could – and by this, I mean writing four (really, four) subsequent books – I came to the conclusion that It Could No Longer Be Avoided. I’d done all of the rewriting I really could; I’d broken the first book into two bits; I’d edited and beta’d and restructured and handed the manuscript out to anyone who could legitimately read it and give me anything resembling an “objective opinion” on it. And then I’d tinkered with it until it really couldn’t be tinkered with much more without admitting that I was Avoiding It.

So I did It.

I have begun the process that will finally – I hope – get the blasted book published, at least the first in the series. As for the subsequent four, well, we’ll have to see how the first one goes, but they are in various stages of completion and will undergo my obsessive tinkering as well until they, too, are Public-Ready. But now I have to wait, as the process is entirely in someone else’s hands, and it’s a bit like having your darling child handled by strangers. Still, it is a necessary step.

So for those of you who’ve asked, “WHERE IS IT?”, my answer is, “IT IS COMING!”

I hope.

This is the process, for those of you unfamiliar with it. The author writes a manuscript and tinkers with it (as above) until his/her neuroses are satisfied, and the author decides that he/she can do no further good. Then they decide how to get it published. There are two principle ways to do this today – self-publication (which is largely as it sounds), and traditional publication. For various reasons outside of the scope of this article, I’m choosing the latter. So, for authors like me, we then compose a Query Letter. We do this (hopefully) after a good deal of study into how to write a decent letter; it’s akin to an author’s letter of introduction for his/her manuscript. We then send these letters off to Literary Agents.

Then, we wait. This is what I’m doing. I’m waiting. More on that in a minute.

Hopefully, we hear back from an Agent who would like us to send some portion of our manuscript to read, and we do this, and they say, “We’d love to be your Agent!” And we, all gleeful, do a happy dance.

And then the real work begins. Because then the Agent goes about trying to find a publisher, and then they negotiate a contract together outlining who gets what and when. And then the writer goes back to the manuscript and changes it according to what the publisher and his/her editor decree needs to be done. And covers are decided upon, and stores are found, and marketing is accomplished, and hopefully all of this is a team effort – but it is becoming more and more largely the author’s job, so the finding of a good team is really a bit of a brass ring.

So as I wait and chew on my nails, I’ve begun a new project, completely different from Angylaidd. This is driving me a little crazy – I miss my Arwein, Daniel, Michael, Gwen, and Tywyll, but the separation is letting the remaining books settle a bit in my mind, which is a good thing.

In the meantime, I wait, and somewhere out there in the great blue sea, there’s a team, just waiting to be built.

Be well, God bless, Love on.

And visit me at https://www.facebook.com/juliachoover, where I post much more frequently.🙂

On Morning Rituals

So. Here’s the (as my sister in law would call it, “First World Problem”) of my week. McDonald’s Smoothie machine is down. (Everyone go: Awwww….). McDonald’s makes a relatively-close-to fat-free mango-pineapple smoothie that has, for about two months, succeeded in getting me out of my house and into the library to work. This, for a socio-phobe, is a Huge Thing. Well. I’ve also moved from MY coffee (VT Coffee Roasters Vanilla Bean, thank you very much) to McDonald’s coffee.

Because McDonalds’ smoothie machine is down, I’ve had no impetus to get my (an author friend of mine dubbed it…) “Author’s Bubble Butt” out of my house all week, a habit that I dropped into with the cold I had last week. Well, apparently, MY coffee must be “High-test, High-octane,” or the like, because I have been bouncing of the WALLS, with those creepy skipped beats that one gets occasionally-now-and-then-that-make-you-put-your-hand-on-your-chest-and-looked-freaked-out-for-a-second-until-they-pass… but – A LOT. Only, here’s the thing: I was on this coffee all summer long – so maybe Vermont Water + Vermont Green Mountain Coffee = Vermont Cardiac Arrhythmia? Perhaps I should be taking Vermont Coffee Cardiac Medications. I don’t know, but in any case…

Yesterday, in high anticipation, I went back to McDonald’s, because they were supposed to “be getting a new part in.” I drove through the drive-thru, all excited to be back on my regular routine, and ordered, “One burrito, one large mango smoothie, and one large coffee, please!” in a very cheery and “boy, I’m so excited to be alive and in Vermont!” sort of voice.

And a very dull and inappropriately unapologetic voice came back saying, “I’m sorry, our smoothie machine is down at the moment.”

I just about threw my old coffee cup at the speaker.

But I didn’t. Instead, I whined. I said, “But… but… you said you were getting a new part in on Monday!”

Silence.

“Hello?”

“I don’t know what happened. Can I get you anything else?”

My dad used to make this face. It was awesome. Anyone who ever met my dad knows the face I mean – it was sort of like an English bulldog about to tear your leg off, all crumpled up and jowly. I made that face – at the speaker. But it didn’t produce my mango smoothie. All it did was make me look silly.

In the end, I ended up going to Dunkin Donuts and buying their Strawberry something or other, which was far too sweet, vile, and awful. I’m sure many people enjoy it, but I wanted my mango smoothie. I drank it anyway. I complained loudly to the librarians; they commiserated appropriately, and my day went on.

And today, I’m at home, working on my laptop, and drinking my high-test, which TASTES AWESOME – and will probably have me in the Cardiac ICU by Sunday.

So if anyone wants to call McDonald’s on my behalf, I’d be more than happy to bail you out of jail for it.🙂

On Emma Watson and Gender Equality

My dear readers:

This past Saturday, 9/20/2014, actress and UN Goodwill Ambassador Emma Watson gave a speech to the UN about Gender Equality. She spoke with poise and eloquence; she invited men to the table both graciously and articulately. And now she has come under fire.

While this isn’t the first time she has experienced strong opposition, two days after the speech, the US delivered airstrikes into Syria, targeting the radical group ISIS. I very much fear that the timing may change these threats from threats – to much more serious actions.

Why do I care about Emma Watson?

I am a Christian – but I am also a feminist. And I believe that the right to choose what a person, male or female, does with his or her life, be it spiritual or marital, should lie with that person and his/her God. I firmly believe that the Bible – no matter who tells one otherwise – is necessarily interpretable. Whether one reads the words oneself or hears them from someone else, they are interpreted – not delivered directly from God. Therefore, somewhere between God and each interpreting human, there comes a necessary distortion. For every human reading or hearing those words, there is a different distortion.

John 6:37 says: “All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away.” These are Christ’s words. Note – all those the FATHER gives me. Not “all those Julie gives me.”

Now for my distortion.

I’m off the hook. God will take care of it. There is not one single thing that I can do to keep Christ’s chosen children from him. Can I be a vessel through which God can bring those children to him? Absolutely; and I try, in my own way, to do that. Mine is not a commonly used path. But there are others laying common paths.

Back to Emma.

Currently there are some 7 billion people living on our  planet. Roughly half are female. I believe that those 3.5 billion females should have the right to practice whatever religion they prefer and not be killed for it. I believe that they should also have the right to choose their own path – to use their free choice. And that, to me, means all of us. The only exceptions are those incapable of choosing – children, and those who are medically unable to make choices.
This is what I believe Emma advocates. Not Women Over All; not “Man-Hating.” She invites men to embrace the parts of themselves that they have shed in fear of not meeting society’s expectations of What A Man Should Be. She advocates the right for a woman to stay at home or to work based upon the path that she and her partner have chosen together; or if circumstances have forced something upon them, together – my interpretation – let it be in a way that it might upon anyone else.

I’ll take this one step further.

I want a world in which adult humans medically capable of making decisions all have identical rights – regardless of how their human chromosomes play out. We are all humans. And beyond that, I really don’t care; I don’t care whether they are male or female. I don’t care where they live or go to worship. I don’t care who they love or what they look like; what they eat or how wealthy they are. We all should have the same opportunities to grow, to flourish, to love. To win and to lose and to grow from both. To worship – or not.

To CHOOSE, and to bear the ramifications of those choices. We are adults, and we should have the right to act that way, and to let others do the same.

And I believe that Emma Watson agrees.

I would like to believe that, as do many Wellesley College graduates, I advocate not only for women’s rights, but human rights. Ms. Watson has the potential to act as spokesperson for a long term movement promoting ‘Equality for Everyone.’ But I also fear that she could become, due to the timing of her speech and the US strike in Syria, the Martin Luther King of Gender Equality.

I am asking you, dear readers, to take a stand with me. Help her. Say that Gender Equality is long overdue – and that Ms. Watson has your support in that effort.

Someone close to me recently said, “Yeah. In a utopian society… maybe.”

Well – if we want a utopian society, we need to act as if we already have one.

Help me help her. Please.

Thank you.

Julie

http://www.cnn.com/2014/09/23/opinion/lemmon-emma-watson/index.html?iref=allsearch

On Robin Williams, Depression, and Suicide

I want to post something regarding Robin Williams and suicide, because it is important to me, and because I know that if you’re reading it, you might _need_ to read this. It comes from a dialogue with a friend. Please – if you have negative things to say about depression or suicide, keep them to yourself for now. This is neither the time nor the place, but an attempt to help heal those who might need it. Otherwise, read on.

At the risk of exposing something that I rather fear putting out there, you are right. It comes at moments that others would look at and say, “Yes, of course, it happened then…;” it comes at moments that would baffle others. It comes when one can fight it off; it comes when one needs help to do so. And if, God help you, you are by yourself when it happens… then, truly, God help you, because there is nothing between you and that gaping door but you. It is hard to remember friends when they are not right there – RIGHT. THERE. – in those moments, and love simply does not exist. And ___ is right; depression is a hero’s daily fight, and cowardice doesn’t come into it – ever.

But all of that being said, I have to say that I have heard nothing – nothing – negative about Mr. Williams’ situation. Still, that’s just me.

Speaking for myself, Dead Poets Society probably saved my life many, many times; and, ironically, Robin Williams himself _in_ Dead Poets Society probably saved my life more times than I can think of. It isn’t like I can look back and say, “Well, there was this time, and this time, and this time…,” but rather the fact that I know those scenes so very well and know that they flashed through my head at some critical moments. The same is true of Good Will Hunting, but I identified more with the boys in Dead Poets, so it touched me more. Not that Neil’s battle was mine; my parents weren’t like his. My struggle was always closer to Todd’s – Neil’s roommate’s. I WOULD have stood on that desk, and so, in a very personal way, I do say farewell to “My Captain.”

I only wish that he had someone who could have done for him what he did for me – and, I suspect, for countless others.

I post this not as some macabre expose, but because I know that there are people reading it. And I hope that maybe, if any of them are in that position, they can slow their thoughts down a bit and think through to find whatever thought(s) or person they need to get through just that second. And then the next. And then the one after that. Because – for me, at least – those moments are terrifying in their vastness, and “having a life to live” is too great a thing to contemplate. But having the next second to survive has been manageable.

I have been supremely blessed with a set of tools that many people don’t have; family members who get it; the knowledge of what has helped me in the past; the understanding of who might help again without considering it “drama” or burdensome, most often without the faintest idea that that is what they are doing – because who calls or sends an email saying “I’m reaching out because this is how I’ve chosen to survive these next few x increments of time”? I don’t know. I haven’t done that. The implications have been too large to consider.

And yet, I write this.

I do so because now I feel a responsibility that I never faced before; a responsibility to take a stand and make a statement.

I am not anonymous. But I have been suicidal. No, I’m not now, so I don’t need flurries of supportive or concerned emails / PM’s (though I do appreciate the thought).

But I want you, if you’ve gotten this far, to feel free to write to me – or to PM, or whatever – if it resonates, because I know that the anonymous feeling of writing into the computer might help.

Love On, people. Love each other. That’s how we survive.

And S – I love you, too.❤williams robin dead poets society o captain my captain todd desk scene

Angylaidd: Basic Q & A

“So – I hear you’re writing books, yeah?” Yeah. I am.

Many people have told me – “That sounds really complicated.” Hm.

Well, I thought I might simplify what they’re about!

In a word – love.

But that’s awfully trite, so I’ll be a bit more complete. I don’t mean “romance;” I mean love, in all its wonderful, terrible forms.

The series follows Arwein Angylaidd and his son Daniel D’Eyrie through some ups and downs, and although they are rather complicated individuals, in the end, the books really are about a man (well – a Demi-Angel, but I’ll get into that) and his son.

So let me get into the meat of it. A “Frequently Asked Questions,” if you will.

Q: What are the stories about?

A: They are about a man, Arwein Angylaidd, and his son, Daniel. Arwein is a Demi-Angel who runs an Institution in Wales tasked with fighting Lucifer’s minions throughout time. This Institution includes an army that can call upon the Angels when Arwein deems it necessary, and a top-notch school. Daniel is a boy who has been raised in foster care; he has spent his life believing that his parents are dead and that he is not now, and never will be, ‘anything special.’ They need each other – a lot – but neither really wants to admit it, and Arwein holds all the strings. In addition, Daniel is pursued by the evil Demi-Angel Tywyll throughout the series (at least through those which have thus far been written), and Arwein must both protect and train Daniel to keep him – and their secret – safe.

Throughout, we visit different situations of historic significance – sixteenth century Paris’ Barricades; the Battle of Flodden Field; the Battle of Bosworth; King Edward VI’s court before Elizabeth becomes Queen Elizabeth – and there is a good deal of humor and a little romance interjected as well.😉

Q: What are the books called, and what happens in them?

A: The first is “Angylaidd: Demi-Angel’s Son,” and it introduces us to Daniel and Arwein – as well as to the evil Demi-Angel, Tywyll. Daniel learns to manage his Telepathy, but when tragedy takes his best friend, he is set up for a series of escalating crises that culminate in the abduction of Arwein’s fiancee and a climactic battle in which Daniel and Arwein must work together to overcome Tywyll.

 

The second is “Angylaidd: The Dark Resurrection.” In Dark Resurrection, Daniel has taken his oaths to Arwein and is sent on his first independent assignment to Tudor England to protect the Lady Elizabeth Tudor. But he doesn’t expect to confront an old friend thought long dead – now resurrected and Turned to evil. His difficulties with Arwein continue as well, and in an act of defiance, he fathers a child who becomes the focus of a battle the likes of which the Legion has not seen in hundreds of years. In the end, when Tywyll attacks the family Daniel has sought his entire life, he must choose between vengeance and forgiveness or lose the father he never knew he had.

Q: Who is Arwein Angylaidd?

A: Well, without giving too much of the books away, Arwein used to be a man. In 1486, he was transformed by the Archangel Michael into a Demi-Angel; essentially a Half-Angel. He was given a great deal of power as well as access to the spiritual realms. He needed access to the realms generally inhabited by Angels in order to allow him to do the job he was “hired” (Raised) to do. But because he was taking on a position that placed him in great danger, he was forced to place his son, Daniel, in hiding until he was no longer such a target.

Arwein is not only his name, it is his title as well – he is the Arwein as well as Arwein – and as the Arwein, he leads an Institution divided into Castle Corwyn and the Legion of Wales. These together educate, train, and send out individuals in an ongoing battle against Lucifer’s minions – through time. Yes, time travel (although here, we refer to it as ‘time transfer’) is allowed. Castle Corwyn is the site of research, training, and education as well as housing; it develops Scholars and militia who eventually join the Legion. Those who follow the Arwein have many individual Talents; they can transfer through time and manipulate energy in interesting ways. Arwein, at the time he was Raised, was a Telepath – a Talent which now is quite rare as a primary Talent, although many students and Legion Brethren manage some Telepathy.

When Michael took Daniel, he hid the newborn in 1969 in Pennsylvania, where he stayed untouched for almost 500 years. In 1981, we begin the series in Demi-Angel’s Son. Here, Arwein reclaims him, bringing him to Castle Corwyn in Wales, where he will be trained to follow Arwein.

Q: What does Arwein Angylaidd mean?

A: Well, Arwein, technically nothing – but Arweinydd means ‘leader,’ and therefore, it has been derived and cut for simplicity. Angylaidd means ‘angelic.’

Q: How the heck do you pronounce it?

A: AR-wen AN-jil-ayth

Q: So is this a Christian work or a fantasy or historical fiction or what?

A: No. Yes. Yes. Some of each.🙂 It is not simply anything – I will say that although it is difficult to write a book that uses Angels without referencing Christian dogma, this is a book about love, power, and relationships. It is a book about whether it is ever possible for those with great power to act infallibly – including those who love and who use that love to act in the interests of others. And as the story progresses, we will find that many religions are represented; but we start Christian. And there is magic, and lots of history – but at its heart, this is a book about a man, his son, and their loving – but extremely dysfunctional – relationship.

Q: Who’s your audience? Is this a YA book?

A: It’s not young adult. Otherwise – frankly, it encompasses so many different genres (history, fantasy, romance, mystery…) that I cannot pigeonhole it so simply. I’ve yet to hear overtly bad reviews from this segment or that of readers, however, suggesting that it requires immediate stuffing into a single category.

Q: What’s with Daniel?

A: Daniel was raised as a foster child, and Arwein has yet to tell him that he (Arwein) is his father. Daniel resents Arwein for taking him from his foster parents, and when tragedy occurs during his first field assignment, his resentment turns to bitter depression that Arwein must battle. Arwein has a hard time accepting his own responsibility for Daniel’s… issues.

Q: What are Annwyls, Tywylls, and Aberths?

A: The Annwyl is the Arwein’s wife. Annwyl means ‘Beloved,’ a title bestowed not for the Arwein – but to remind her as well as others of her importance to the Institution.

The Tywyll is the Demi-Angel leader of the Dark Legion. Tywyll is Welsh for ‘Dark,’ and, indeed, the Tywyll has a dark spirit. He follows Lucifer, the ‘Morning Star,’ the fallen Angel.

And, lastly, the Aberth is the heir of the Arwein. Aberth means ‘Sacrifice,’ for in being named heir, he sacrifices his will to serve the Institution – and the Arwein. He is generally the eldest son of the Arwein, but Arwein has – for reasons of his own – thus far resisted naming Daniel. Together, the Arwein, the Annwyl, and the Aberth form a triad that has been meant to act as the base for Corwyn and the Legion; it was never intended for the Arwein to manage everything on his own, as Arwein has attempted to do.

Q: So – why isn’t there an Annwyl yet?

A: Good question. Ask Arwein.🙂 Gwennlian Penmynydd is Arwein’s best friend – and the likely future Annwyl.

Q: Where can I get a copy?

A: You can’t, yet – but FB text me, and we can talk. https;//www.facebook.com/juliachoover.

That’ll be enough to be going on with for now; happy summer!

Lovingly,

Julie

 

On Standing in Corners and the Love of Friends

“Friends are the Family we choose for ourselves.” I’m not sure where first I heard this quote, but as I have aged, I have realized how very true it is.

Please, don’t mistake me – I love my family dearly. But in many ways, they don’t know me as well as those with whom I’ve chosen to surround myself over the years, and I suspect they would agree with that sentiment. I bet many of you feel the same about your families and friends, although there are clear exceptions – my mother is, and will always be, my closest friend.

But there is something special about finding people out there among the sea of humanity individuals with whom we find a harmonic vibe – a parallelism – a click. Sometimes, we know it right away, and sometimes it takes many years to develop.

I met one of my best friends while I was in college. I woke up one morning, and sitting in the hallway was a guy playing a guitar; next to him was a young woman stuffing a mile-long sub sandwich into her mouth. I was at Wellesley College, which is a women’s college, so clearly, the guy was attached to someone. Well, the someone was across the hall in another room in my new friend’s room. The two of them came out, and shortly – strangely enough, we were all singing, I believe, “American Pie.” It was all sort of odd, but we ended up joined at the hip for the next two years until they graduated. The two across the hall have become lifelong friends. Linda is in the picture at the top; we go camping together and just sit in one another’s company when we can.

Another of my dearest friends I met during medical school – strangely, she helped me pass Anatomy by not going to dissection lab with everyone else because, like me, she worked much better alone, but couldn’t afford the time to do both. It hadn’t occurred to me that skipping the class could help, but in the end, if I hadn’t, I would’ve done much worse. Her perspective has been something I’ve valued since. Friends are like that – they show you ways of considering things that you wouldn’t have seen without them.

We have, also, a certain “stratosphere” of friendship, as well. There are the closest of friends – like Linda – and then the newest ones, the ones we meet online or at kids’ events whom we think we might like to get to know, but aren’t quite sure yet – and everyone in between. And we label them all “friends,” and, at some level, we love them all. They add shades and hues to the palette of our lives; we enjoy their stories, revel in their successes, and share in their anguish – and they take the same benefits from us, though often it is difficult to believe this. I’ve actually given my closest friends a cheesy label – the Spectacular Six. These Six are the first to know what’s going on in my life, and when things are really touchy, sometimes, they’re the only ones to know. And they are an incredibly varied group – a radiologist in Wisconsin, a librarian in Cambridge, a businessman in upstate New York (who I met, strangely enough, in a ski lodge; we chatted, and I’ve never seen him since – our friendship is based entirely on correspondence and shared ideas), a lawyer in Arkansas, a pediatrician in Pennsylvania, and a teacher in Arkansas. They attest to the fact that friends reflect the many sides of ourselves; people are deep and multifaceted, with many loves, many needs, and many things to share. And, like many of you, I cherish and protect my close friends, as they do me, while I keep on the lookout for others who might someday join that group.

It can be hard to put oneself out there. I’m at heart a shy person – I talk a good game, but put me in a room full of people, and I tend to freeze. If we were all together in a large gymnasium, me and all of you, I’d be the one hiding in the corner hoping not to be noticed. Still, I try to push my envelope and meet people when I can. Currently, I’m meeting authors and editors online – and I’ve met many wonderful, not-scary people whom I hope will become lifelong friends.

Today, I encourage you to think about your friends. If you’re like me and are perhaps a little nervous about people – reach out to someone who isn’t one of your closest friends. Say hi. Tell them what you’ve been up to, and invite them to do the same. If you’re one of those lucky outgoing folks, contact someone who you haven’t heard from in a while – it could be that they’re a little nervous about getting in touch. You’ll be glad you did; really, nothing bad can come of it, and you never know – maybe you’ll end up drawing someone closer to you. Perhaps you’ll end up really helping someone out. A little love goes a long way, even if we in today’s society hesitate to call it “love.” We find it a scary word, full of implications. But all it means is caring. Caring enough to act.

And to my friends out there, old, new, and the ones I haven’t yet had the fortune to meet – thanks for helping make me who I am. You’ve made me a better person, and taught me a lot about love.

And isn’t that what family is supposed to do?

Lovingly,

JulieImageImageImage

Of Rocks and Jars

I once heard a lecture – probably many of you have as well – discussing prioritization. The lecturer said that our time is akin to a jar, and the things we must do are akin to rocks. If we are to do the things we must do, we must put the big rocks – our biggest priorities – in first, otherwise, they’ll never fit.

Sometimes, it seems as if we’d like to trade up for bigger jars, or perhaps trade in for smaller rocks – yet it never seems possible to do so. I’ve got lots of rocks: family; health; books to edit; books to write; stories to follow up with online; and this new wonderful world of the “Platform.” I’m sure you all have plenty of rocks as well, and I’m equally certain that you spend as much time as I do wishing for different rocks and jars.

But my dad once told me something that has always stuck with me. He said that if everyone in the world took all of their troubles to one central location and piled them up on one great big heap, and if we could all choose whatever problems we liked – we’d all pick up our own problems again and go home. And you know what? I think he’s right.

And so it comes to this – finding a way to make peace with our own rocks and jars. In the end, perhaps some of our rocks got there by accident… not of our own doing. But largely, we helped get them there. We chose our own rocks. So why not be grateful for them? And if, each day, there are too many rocks – set the ones aside that don’t fit, and pick them up and try again tomorrow, remembering that, along our own paths, we stopped to pick up each and every one of those rocks, loving them for something specific. This one for its shape, that one for its shine, and so on. Enjoy your rocks – don’t complain over them. And if they grow too heavy – discard the ones you can. Don’t mistake me – I’m not advocating leaving your children by the side of the road. I’m merely saying that for the most part, troubles that we pick up along the way can, in some form, be set down again if we choose.

We have a saying in this family: “Take what you want – and pay for it.” There’s another way of saying that – “Take what you want – but pay for it.” It means that we each make our choices, but every choice comes with consequences. As we grow, and as we learn, we must accept both the good – the ‘and’ – and the bad – the ‘but.’ And then, we move forward, trying to remember that largely, our paths have not been thrust upon us, but chosen as we proceeded – and, for us, guided by our God. Perhaps that is true for you, and perhaps not, but hopefully you do not see your life as a random accumulation of events.

Today, I encourage you to look at your priorities. Take the ones you enjoy, whether you see them as burdens or not, and thrust them joyfully into your jar. And the ones you can do without? Cast them aside to make room for the rocks that lie upon the path ahead.

Lovingly,

Julie