Wednesday, March 28, 2007

I'm On My Way

I'll wake up at 4:30 a.m. to get ready for my 7:45 a.m. flight via Salt Lake City to San Jose, CA. From there I drive a rental car to the Mt. Hermon retreat center for the writers conference. I'll be serving on faculty to teach one workshop and meet with writers during one-on-one appointments. And I'll get to hear some great speakers and network with some others in the business.

Thanks for your prayers. I'm almost literally flying by the seat of my pants, since I just got word that I might go yesterday, and it wasn't confirmed until after noon today.

Just call me the "Plan B girl"!

3 a.m. Ramblings

It's 3 a.m. and I'm wide awake. I woke up with nothing but being overheated on my mind, but now that I'm up...of course the mind is racing and I can't go back to sleep. We all have nights like that!

What am I thinking about? Everything and nothing all at the same time.

I received a call yesterday that my boss might not be able to make a trip to a large writers conference in California this weekend. She is scheduled to be on the faculty as well as take one-on-one appointments with writers. She called to ask if I could be ready to go in her place if she needs me. I won't know until today, and if I go, I leave tomorrow morning!

What's a girl to think with news like this? Of course, my mind should be on the lesson I'll be teaching at the workshop, but mostly my mind is on:

-What clothes will I wear?
-How will I look for my first impression with many of these professionals?
-Should I go get a mani-pedi?
-I hope my hair stylist does a good job on my hair cut today!
-I hope I remember to pack everything I need, yet keep a light suitcase since I'll be staying over 5 nights.
-What's the weather like in northern California?
-What an awesome opportunity!
-I wish I had some of my book proposals drawn up-even just one-sheets, to show prospective publishers and agents!
-I hope I get some great new clients from the opportunity!
-I can't wait to be a blessing to others, and to BE blessed-to share Palm Sunday with so many other awesome Christians!
-I wonder who my roommate will be?

And of course, there's no sure deal that I'm even going! But that is how the mind works--especially at three in the morning!

And then there's the other thoughts that come crashing in while I'm "focused" on the conference:

-How am I going to get the house ready for the buyers' walkthrough this evening? Will they understand that the house is topsy turvy from packing? (They're packing too, so they must relate to the chaos!)
-Don't forget to pick up your prescriptions and diabetes supplies today!
-I wonder if Jazzy will miss me if I'm gone this weekend?
-If I do go, Russ will be left to coordinate moving our big stuff and many of our boxes to storage this weekend. I'm glad he has 2-4 guys lined up to help. I'm glad we don't have to be out for another week.
-If I do go to California, I'll need to go pre-sign the papers for the closing of our current house-it closes tomorrow.
-We're closing on our house! That means I'll be saying goodbye to our latest dwelling and moving to transitional housing (Extended Stay Hotel) in just one week. So much yet to do!

On and on the mind wanders and it wonders too!

And then there are those relational thoughts that rush in...
-I wish I could say goodbye to some of my friends before I move, but I don't know how they feel about our sudden departure. ACK! I don't know how *I* feel about our sudden departure!
-I wish things weren't so hard with the ones I HAVE been in touch with. Awkward. Difficult. At times even paranoid I'm sure. Them holding back. Causing me to hold back. Shallow conversations. No more real heart bonding. Less transparency, more walls. I hate walls! I'm all about the transparent! But being transparency risks vulnerability. Pain.

But soon. Yes soon! I'll be in a better place than I am this 3 a.m. posting. I am embracing the "yet to come." I am anticipating all the good stuff about to be opened up to us. I get to dream big and so does Russ. No limitations. Nothing holding us back but our own imaginations. Well...that and finances! haha!

I am reminded of the passage of scripture when Joseph tells his brothers, after all the terrible things he has been through because of their rejection, "you meant it for evil, but God meant it for good." God did not orchestrate this sudden turn of events, but He can use it for His glory. He can give us beauty for ashes!

I think of the beautiful wild flowers that bloom after the horrific wild fires. Literally transforming the black ashes into Nature's beauty. God will take the ashes of my pain, of my disappointment, of my hurt regarding what happened at church into something that will knock my socks off! And I'm a barefoot kind of gal, so I know, no matter what it is, I'm going to LOVE it!

Sunday, March 25, 2007

On The Way To Church Today...

One of the neat things about being in-between churches is the opportunity to visit a variety of churches to see what is out there. It's a time to experiment with new styles of worship and different sizes and structures and locations. Today we drove to Landmark Baptist Temple in Cincinnati, a church rich in history, but also known for making a transition into a more modern way of worship. We attended the 11:00 a.m. church service, which featured a praise band with tremendously talented musicians and singers. Honestly I felt like I was part of a concert setting, and it was amazing-with light show and everything.


On the way to church today, just before we made our last turn, we stopped at a red light and looked at the map. The traffic light changed and we hesitated just a split second before hitting the gas. Just enough time for the driver behind us to honk his horn.

The funny part is that they too turned at the church drive and parked in the lot to attend the very same worship service we were attending.

So much for Christians being in a "sweet spirit" frame of mind in anticipation of worship-at least, not the driver following us to church today!

It reminds me of something funny our Realtor told us. She said there was this car full of older ladies on their way to a church gathering. Another car cut them off in traffic. One of the elderly ladies told the older driver to give the other car "the finger." While that may sound crude, the funny part is that the driver complied with the instruction, shaking her pointer finger at the driver in a "shame on you" attitude. So cute-she gave him the "finger." Then of course they pulled into their church gathering to find the other car pulling into the same event.

We don't just take our reputations with us, we create our reputations on the way there!

(c) 2007 Kathy Carlton Willis

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Good-bye is the Hardest Word

The newspaper who hosts my weekly inspirational column

(which I also post on this blog) has decided not to pay me for future columns, so I had to make the difficult decision of telling them good-bye. I really struggled to know what to write for my last column, because good-bye seems so FINAL.

I'm not saying good-bye to my blog, but this column contains my prayer for you as well.


This week I must do something that is very difficult to do. I must start the process of saying "goodbye." Some doors have closed and others are opening. Part of closing the door on this part of my life is ending my column here at The Paris News. I have loved sharing my heart with you over the past six years. Thank you for inviting me into your homes via the newspaper. It seems like I know each of you and because of this bond, it is extremely sad to move on.

Each day is like a gift-wrapped surprise from God. We don't know what is inside until we open it! I have had many opportunities to write and encourage other writers since my humble beginnings with The Paris News, and now I also serve as a publicist with Glass Road Public Relations. It is the only literary firm in the country to exclusively promote novels with a Christian worldview.

What words would I like to leave with you in my last column? I hope each of you know Jesus in a personal way. The kind of relationship where you can talk back and forth, and you can have moments of contented silence as well. The kind of relationship that gives you peace about your eternal destiny AND your immediate needs as well. I didn't always know Jesus in such a way. For some time, I knew ABOUT Him, and believed in Him. But it was when I trusted Him as my personal Savior, accepting the price He paid for my sin by going to the cross, that life made sense.

I want you to see God in everyday things. Rather than having a God who is distant (with prayers never getting past the ceiling), why not have a relationship that is as close as your next heart beat?

Stay strong and stay in the Word. Cling to the Lord and seek His face for every detail of your everyday life. My prayer for you comes from Colossians 1:9-11. It says, "For this cause we also, since the day we heard it [your love in the Spirit], do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding. That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness."

Begin faithful, stay faithful, and end faithful!

(c) 2007 Kathy Carlton Willis

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Help Is On The Way

Last night an ambulance barreled down our quiet cul-de-sac at two in the morning. Bright lights were whirling around, illuminating bits and pieces of the neighborhood. When the hues of orange and yellow lit up the faces of family, I detected concern. They witnessed their loved one wheeled out on a gurney, strapped in and curled up on her side. What could the problem be? Our neighbor is around my age. Maybe she was severely dehydrated from a bout with a stomach virus or perhaps she had a fall down the stairs. All I was left to do was pray, so pray I did.

I'm not sure why I was still up at that time of night. Normally I would have been in bed. Maybe it was the concerns on my heart, or the highly caffeinated diet Code Red I guzzled earlier in the evening. But to be truthful, a phone call from a friend in Texas at 1:30 a.m. is what kept us awake at that late hour. He wanted to tell us about his son's wedding from the past weekend, and didn't care what time of night it was!

All I know is, while sleep is nice, the privilege to pray for someone else is even better. I'm glad I was awake to see the need. Have you ever had an odd set of circumstances cause you to be in the right place at the right time to intercede at the throne of God on behalf of someone else? What a precious gift!

We can use that thick sense of concern or worry for the good of others when we enter in prayer to our Savior. God doesn't want us borrowing trouble from tomorrow by worrying about the unknown. But I think in cases like this, He does use our burdens for someone else as a way to help us pray for them. When we put ourselves in their shoes, and empathize with them, we end up praying with greater fervency and urgency.

Look around for opportunities to pray for other. A friend of mine taught her little boy that whenever he sees the flashing lights and hears the blaring sirens of an ambulance or fire truck, that it means "help is on the way." And in that instance, she leads him in a simple prayer for the unknown person in need.

Let's look at emergency vehicles in the same manner. And when we pray, we can trust in that saying, that "help is on the way!"

(c) 2007 Kathy Carlton Willis

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Lessons Learned from Jazzy

[photo NOT of Jazzy, but close!]

Not thinking, this morning I smeared two nutri-grain reduced fat toaster waffles with Simply Jif peanut butter (diabetic friendly). I only can eat one-not sure why I made two. So, I let the extra one sit on the dining room table, and figured I would cut it up for Jazzy to eat later.

When I went to take my shower, Jazzy helped herself to the waffle. I walked back in the room, and could smell the scent of peanut butter, but the evidence was missing. Jazzy looked guilty, and then I put two-and-two together. I wasn't really upset-it was my fault to leave the waffle there, I was going to give it to her anyway, and she somehow did not make a mess, even though the waffle was still whole.

Later, I heard her rustling some papers around. I went to check on her, and she had discovered a pack of gum sitting on an end table. I found gummy bits of green and waxy scraps of paper scattered on the rug, and Jazzy with a guilty look on her face. I guess I learned a couple of things.

1. Even dogs don't want to have peanut butter breath-Jazzy helped herself to minty fresh breath.
2. Dogs, left to themselves, will find a way to add more chaos to an already chaotic day, while still making you smile.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Long Overdue "Letter"

I haven't written a personal update in a long time. I know some of you are wondering if I have dropped off the face of the Earth. If I did, I wonder how that would feel???

As many of you know, I was hired as the newest publicist for Glass Road Public Relations. I went for training a couple of weeks ago, and it was INTENSE. I love it! (That's a GOOD kind of intense!) I'm working with 14 books, obtaining media coverage of all sorts. Also am learning how to coordinate blog tours and do e-blasts. The authors are a joy and the publishing houses are very helpful.

I went to train one-on-one with Rebeca, the president and founder of the firm. She started GRPR for many reasons, but one was to be home with her child. Well, then her husband Charlie was also able to get into the business with her, and he serves as V.P. So, it is a real family affair. Russ went with me for the week, and we were both welcomed with open arms. We hugged the first night we met, and felt like instant friends.

Now we're back in Burlington. Our house was placed on the market at the first of the year, and not quite a month ago, we were offered a contract on it. The inspection went great, and we have no reason to think the appraisal will "flunk" so it looks like we will be closing on the house and moving around the week before Easter.

For now we are moving back to the staff housing behind our church facilities. It is a very nice 3 bedroom duplex with large Master bedroom (laundry off the bedroom) and formal dining room (or extra living space). We will be quite content there until we find our next home. The only thing that will make it more comfortable is if we put a little bit of fencing in the back so that Jazzy can go out on her own and we don't have to leash walk her every time she has to take care of business. (Although, mandatory walks 4 times a day might be good for us!)

Life is hectic with my new job and our impending move. But I don't know anyone who has a life without chaos anymore. I sure do miss the old days when life was all about a game of hide-and-seek or chasing the fireflies at night. I don't think I even really knew the definition of stress back then!

But God has a way of showing me His purpose in all of this. Even today I was able to cross paths with someone who was hurting and because of where God had me in life I was able to reach out to them. And others have been able to reach out to me too. Christianity is a mutuality of commonality. How's that for a tongue twister?!

I'll try to give you some neat snippets of life at the Willis' as I have time to post (or MAKE time to post). I've worked hard to stay connected to those of you I love and care for, and because of that CONNECTEDNESS, I commit to staying in touch! I want to hear from you too.

Have a great week!