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Naughty to Nice

It’s the time of year again!!! It’s Susanna Leonard Hill’s 4th Annual Holiday Contest!

Write a children’s story (children here defined as approximately age 12 and under) in which wild weather impacts the holidays!  Your story may be poetry or prose, silly or serious or sweet, religious or not, based on Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or whatever you celebrate, but is not to exceed 350 words

Here’s my submission :) Enjoy!

Naughty to Nice

“Fantastic flight,” said Santa, folding his empty bag.

“Santa?” asked Marion. “You asked if Sam was naughty or nice this year—”

“And you said, ‘Naughty,’ Santa reminded.

“Because he’s always naughty. Every year. Naughty,” piped Lena.

“We double checked the list… he was nice this year,” said Marion.

“Nice?” Santa chuckled. “I knew he could do it.”

“He’d never been nice, so we assumed—”

“Re-harness the reindeer!” Santa called out. “Load the best gift! Quick!” Marion hung his head, embarrassed. “Kids can always change,” said Santa, patting the open seat beside him. “A naughty-to-nice child is special!” Marion slid beside Santa.

They were off, with bells and Santa’s laughter…

until a large crunch rocked the sleigh. “What was that?” asked Marion.

*Thud!*

*Clunk!*

*Bam!*

Hail. BIG hail. The sleigh twisted as the reindeer leapt out of the way. Marion covered his head as ice-balls attacked.

“Santa!” Marion cried.

As Santa shouted directions to the reindeer, a hailstone knocked his hat. 

The reindeer wove a path through the storm to Sam’s house. Santa and Marion dashed inside.

Sam, wrapped in a hole-y blanket, sat beside a low-burning fire. The hail shook the thin walls.

“Sam, we’ve brought you something.” Santa placed a colorful package next to Sam.

Sam asked, “Are you taking back the coal?” An open bag sat beside the hearth. “I’m naughty to get coal so we can light the fire. This year I shared our coal with my best friend. Was that too nice?” he sobbed.

Santa crouched beside Sam and pulled a bag from behind his back.

“That’s the biggest bag of coal I’ve ever seen!” Sam exclaimed.

“It’s enough for you and any friends who might need some.” Sam leapt into Santa’s arms.

“You don’t have to be naughty to get what you need,” said Santa, chuckling. “Just be who you are… and let me help with the rest.”

On the way home, ashamed of how he’d misjudged Sam, Marion asked, “How’d you know?”

“Let’s just say I’ve been around the world a few times,” said Santa, his laughter trailing behind them into the dawn.

Dearly Loved

Five-Minute-Friday-4-300x300 Dear: “Regarded with deep affection; cherished by someone.”

It never goes away.

It’s the same longing I had as a toddler, as a teen, and now as a married mommy.

I just want to be dear to someone. To be regarded with deep affection and cherished.

And not just by anyone.

By a man. A husband. A lover. A protector. A strength. A defender.

I love my girlfriends, and indeed, I want to be dear to them, too… but there’s a place that can’t be filled by a girlfriend. Kelly Needham has a great series right now on Friendships Gone Wrong. It’s fantastic. If you’re a woman, you should read it. I want to be dear to my friends, just not that dear.

And sometimes, even in marriage, I still have an unmet longing to be dear to someone. Even as a mother, with adoring children, this depth remains unfulfilled. Is it because they don’t love me enough? Because they don’t cherish me?

No.

Well, on some occasions I can convince myself that the answer is “yes.”

But really… it’s not meant to be filled by a human being. I am created with a void that only God can fill.

Yes, my human counterparts can warm my heart with love. I can feel overflowing with affection. I can feel enamored and romantic. But all of those feelings fade away, and I’m left with my own self, my sense of inadequacy and insufficiency, my failures flashing in my face… and I don’t feel so dear anymore.

Yet He says, “He humbled you and let you be hungry, and fed you with manna which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that He might make you understand that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the LORD.” Deut 8:3

He lets me hunger for more than this earth can fill.

He lets me thirst for more than this earth’s water can quench.

He lets me suffer for more than this earth can cure.

Because it was never meant to be my sole provider. My all.

He was.

He is.

He is my beloved and I am His.

He bids me come and fills me with Himself. And only then am I content, in whatever circumstance. Only then do I have the peace that transcends understanding. Only then does the song of lasting joy break out.

Only then do I hear Him whisper, “Dear Marcy.”

Get more of Jimmy’s music here. He’s FANTASTIC. We love the Needhams. :)

Slide1 It’s official! I am one of twenty women who contributed to this book, Becoming Women of Worth, Stories of Hope and Faith. I’m excited to read the other nineteen stories. And I’m excited to share mine with you.

It’s been an EXCITING month over here. I won the NaNoWriMo challenge by writing 50,000 words of my Young Adult novel.

I came up with a BUNCH of PiBoIdMo ideas.

And I’m a featured author in this book that has JUST come out.

If you are in the Fresno area and you’d like to buy a book for only $13, send an email to my friend, Allison Vasquez. She will be in touch with you about getting you your book.

Here’s a snippet of my story:

Slide21

If you’re not in Fresno or Kandern and would like a book, head over here to amazon and order one :) I don’t get any compensation for Amazon orders, but shoot! I’d love for you to have the book in your hands, so you can walk away encouraged by women who’ve gone through tough stuff knowing who we are in Christ.

I’d love to hear your thoughts after you’ve read it. And we’d love your honest reviews on Amazon. YAY!!!!

Do They Notice You?

Five-Minute-Friday-4-300x300 It’s that year. That year when you’ve just given all, pushed through much, persevered faithfully, and then you pause for rest.

To drink in those deep breaths of life giving air. To lie flat on your back, melting into the mattress and blankets and pillows and taking a sweet reprieve.

And then life keeps going.

The world doesn’t stop along with you.

Hardly misses a beat.

And resting gets hard when you wonder if all that hard work, all that grinding on, trudging through, all of that intentional smiling and loving and giving made a difference.

It’s like no one noticed.

Never on the list of accolades. Never in the seat of honor. Not even the name on the lucky draw.

And if they haven’t noticed you, maybe He hasn’t either. Maybe, when He skims over the earth, looking for a place to rest His pleasure and favor, His eyes pass right over you like the million other creatures, all blending in to a blur of deep hues.

And if HE doesn’t notice, what’s the point? Where has all this striving led you but to confusion, doubt, and despair?

That maybe, even with all of those good intentions, you’re still nobody. Nothing. Worthless. Useless.

The irony, I imagine, is that most of us walk through life on this tightrope with the pendulum of the clicking clock swinging over our heads. Many of us genuinely do our best and every now and then realize that no one has noticed.

But has He?

We can’t always tell. So we try harder. Do more. Don’t lose their attention once you get it. Applause? Is that applause? It feels good.

And it fades.

Now it’s more difficult to get and keep their attention.

Or you get it. You get your spotlight.

And you wonder, “Is this flattery? They can’t possibly really think I’m wonderful.”

There’s a hole in our hearts. We crave to be the apple of someone’s eye. To be adored. Recognized. To have it proven that we are a person worth knowing. Worth loving. Worthy dying for.

But what if we’re not?

Actually, we’re pretty sure we’re not.

I’m sure I’m not. I know myself. My weaknesses. My failures that are stuck on “repeat.” My flaws. My inner thoughts and judgments and hypocrisy. And when I forget and start to think I’m something… that maybe my good is finally starting to tip the scale, well, the world reminds me that I’m less. Less than this actor, less than this princess, less than that athlete, less than this politician, less than that wife or mother or friend.

I’m less and I need to be more.

Ads, commercials, magazines, newspapers, blog, tweets, articles, comments, “likes” – Oh, they notice alright. They notice every little flaw about you that makes them feel bigger and better and–

noticed.

Don’t we feel note-worthy when we see someone “less than”?

We get noticed, but not for the good we hope for. Our mistakes get magnified and go viral, reducing our possible “goodness” to insignificance and obscurity.

The pendulum keeps ticking… in the spotlight? No, stay away from the spotlight! But cheer for my good deeds! But don’t notice my poor deeds.

All the while, the hole in our heart stays empty. Unfulfilled.

Because the reality is, no matter how much you’re noticed, it’s not enough. No matter how many golden globes and Emmys and trophies and plaques and Caldecott and Newbery honors and music awards or scholarships… it’s never enough. It never fulfills. We always wonder if tomorrow they’ll still notice. (Or hope that finally, maybe, tomorrow they’ll stop noticing).

But He does notice.

He noticed a tax collector up in the tree.

He noticed the youngest of twelve shepherding in the field.

He noticed a future king in the smallest clan of the smallest tribe.

He noticed a jewish girl within the walls of exile.

He noticed a foreign widow gleaning in the fields of Boaz.

He noticed some fishermen, dirty with the grime of their trade

He noticed two ordinary but faithful hearts in Nazareth.

He noticed one man and his family in a world of corruption.

And he notices you.

And me.

And not just for our flaws and mistakes.

But for who He’s made us to be. For the very fact that we are His.

His design. His creation. His child. His deepest love. I could never un-notice my children.

But do we notice Him?

Do we notice how lavish His love? How relentless His pursuit? How passionate His intentions in our lives?

Our God is not patiently standing by and waiting for us to offer love; He is actively and vigorously pursuing us…… He is the father running down the trail to embrace the prodigal son even before the boy can speak his act of contrition. He is the mad farmer showering a full day’s wage on men who hadn’t even worked. He is Jesus forgiving the sinful woman even before she spoke her sorrow. He is the king lavishing a banquet on beggars. These are all symbols of a God whose love for us is so active, so strong, that by human standards He would be, at least, said to be mad.  –ANDREW GREELEY

Do we notice? When we do, all of our striving becomes a gift that we give back, not for our own honor, but for His. Not for our glory, but for His.

In gratitude.

That He would dare notice such as us.

Such as me.

A Life of Leaving

Five-Minute-Friday-4-300x300Today is November 1st.

That means that as I wake up this morning, I am already feeling the joy and pressure of this entire month.

NaNoWriMo has begun. PiBoIdMo has begun. Two of my favorite events of the entire year.

And I’m not ready. Well, I AM ready for PiBoIdMo. I’m NOT ready for NaNoWriMo.

And I should have gotten EVERYTHING on my to-do list done. Now it has to sit there for a month.

But I digress.

November 1st also happens to be a SATURDAY. A day AFTER Friday :) Since I didn’t get to it yesterday, it’s November 1st. And so begins this day (and month) ‘o writing with an unedited, five minutes on my thoughts about leaving.

Fitting, isn’t it?

Leave

FMF-Leave-600x600This one word can suitably sum up much of my existence.

I have been left.

I have left.

Emotionally.

Physically.

Geographically.

Sometimes willingly.

Many times not.

He left our family for three years. I was young and innocent, yet my memories were full of yelling and slamming doors and eating to comfort myself. He came back but my heart was changed.

Two preschools, two kindergartens, two elementary schools, two junior highs… almost two high schools but I put my foot down firm, and He made a way. But by then I was hooked. Four colleges/universities.

Eight moves in eleven years.

I have said my fair share of goodbyes.

Either these things shaped my wiring, or God wired me and put me in the right home setting. Since then I’ve moved more times than I can count. My first high school trip to Mexico opened my WORLD to travel beyond the confines of a city, or the rearranging of a bedroom.

Thirty-four countries later and I’ve been as many places as I am old.

The He said, “Get rooted.” What the? Rooted? Why? What does that mean?

Terror. Grief. Confusion.

This time a dream was left.

Five years. Five years of waiting, wondering, rooting.

It was hard.

It was amazing.

It was absolutely why I can live in Germany as a missionary after God’s own heart.

Because I needed the flock.

I need the flock.

And now I get it. I get staying.

But He still hasn’t called me to it.

My leaving has only grown more sophisticated. Involves four children now. And husband. With people I love on multiple continents.

“Family” in Paraguay. Guatemala. Colombia. America. Canada. Germany. Sweden. Italy. Switzerland.

No matter where I am, I’m not with all of them.

And if I stay… they still leave. Because my people are God’s people. Called to the uttermost parts of creation.

And “goodbye” never gets easy.

But peace in my heart transcends the pain of leaving. Because HE is worth it. And joy is worth it. And sometimes the best things in life spring up from the pain of obedience. From the pain of a “goodbye.” Goodbye for now.

Because I know we are weary and joyful travelers, from inn to inn, until that day we all arrive at our final destination.

And we never have to leave again.

But probably not the letters you think…

Letters of the alphabet.

Like, NaNoWriMo and PiBoIdMo.

Some of my favorite combinations of letters, because they signify an entire month DEVOTED to the craft of writing.

This year, I am going to end up with over 30 new picture book ideas (Picture Book Idea Month) AND a complete YA novel (National Novel Writing Month).

I might have a problem. A good problem. This is my fifth year with PiBoIdMo. It’s my third with NaNoWriMo.

I’m hooked.

If I’m honest (and I like to think that I am), this has been a rough year. I started out very optimistic about my writing endeavors… and then life hit, and it hit hard. All of my optimism settled at the bottom of a big tank of reality.

10729105_10153286042007571_601739217_nBut today was a day of writing resuscitation. I had the wonderful opportunity of joining the SCBWI Switzerland region in Lausanne, Switzerland (which is closer to my house than the location of my Germany region meetings) for a workshop on writing and illustrating for children.

It was the first thing I’ve done for my writing in a long time. And it was good. I loved connecting with “old” friends and making new ones. I loved listening to Jude Evans of Little Tiger Press share about the kidlit industry. And I loved knowing that I get to submit two of my manuscripts to her over the next couple of weeks for critique. And all of that just a few precious days before November starts with all of its letters.

And fantastic posts.

And support groups.

And LOTS of writing.

Participant-2014-Web-Banner

piboidmo2014officialparticipant

Marcy P.:

I wrote this for our ministry blog… to communicate with friends of our ministry a very difficult but beautiful journey we’ve stepped into, though we are across the ocean from the heart of it now. However, it seems to fit in well with my audience here also. And it’s my hope and prayer that you be encouraged by the beauty that springs from ashes in the life of others. And that you will also be inspired to know this God who is still good in the hard stuff.

Originally posted on The Vertical View:

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I thank my God every time I remember you.
Philippians 1:3

I’ve always understood that verse to mean that I am so grateful for the life of a person… that when I think of them, I thank God for them. When I think of how dear my children are to me… sometimes moved to tears by the undeserved gift they are to me… I thank God for them.

And that is beautiful and it is true.

But Ericlee and Dorina have inspired a new interpretation in my heart.

Every time I think of either of them… I see, in their lives lived out, that GOD IS GOOD. And when I think of them, I think of His goodness.

And upon my remembrance of His grace and glory and intimacy revealed in their lives… I find an overflow of gratitude in my depths to God for His sovereignty.

I thank God…

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