Yesterday we had water lift off! We are one step closer and for that I’m so thankful.
My writing friend, Deanne Welsh, invited me to guest blog on her website, Eclectic Waters. I wrote on how to grow as a writer through the long season of rejection.
Check it out!
Thanks for reading, for coming back, and for commenting!
The other day Emma told me that she is a crab in a class play and we have to make her a costume! For those of you who know me, all of my creativity gets channeled into novels, writing projects, and cooking. I have absolutely no creative zest or zeal or capacity for any sort of sewing project, drawing, or hand craft stuff, or anything that requires manual talent. I just don’t got it.
Rodrigo was trying to think of something he could do to make a crab for the class play. He’s got way more talent than me, but he’s got no time right now. So, Emma brilliantly came up with the idea of Tia Marcela. Ding! We have a winner! Rodrigo’s aunt who can sew anything at the drop of a hat, create her own designs, and figure out how to do it on a budget of next to nothing.
Emma called her, they talked it over and she came to our house on Friday night. Tia Marcela and Emma went to work straight away. I stayed out of the dining room!
I’ll let you know what the end result looks like.
Tell me who your Aunties of Mercy are, and what you need help with when it comes to school projects. I’d love to hear.
Nine years ago I celebrated my first Mother’s Day.
There is no greater joy, no greater honor, no greater privilege than this identity, this life, this great task given to me from above… to be a Mom.
Motherhood is wonderful, hard, overwhelming, maddening, frightening … we hold these little people’s lives in our hands, in our hearts, and in our minds all day, every day. For the rest of our lives. I think about Emma and Lucas while they’re at school, while they’re playing in the park, while they’re out with Rodrigo. I miss them when they’re gone, and then they get home and they go from lovely little dears to annoying little tyrants who drive me crazy in about five minutes. I used to long for them to be just a little bit bigger, and now wish I could hold back the time and not let them grow even a day older, get even an inch bigger.
Today, I miss my own mother, Anita Joan, who tirelessly did her best to raise, nurture, and love each of her daughters. She is in Seattle and it’ll be the first Mother’s Day that I don’t see her in many years. And I miss Rodrigo’s mother, Violeta De La Luz. If I could, I’d sit down with Violeta and ask her a hundred questions about Rodrigo and I’d tell her all about her grandchildren, and share all the small ways they’re like Rodrigo, which is also a reflection of her – of her image left on this earth. She’s not forgotten.
I took this picture last June, at the airport in Canada. My mom and my friend, Katie, drove us up to the Vancouver airport – and my mom did one of the bravest things a mother can do: she said good-bye. She blessed me and let me go into my own life, my own dreams, my own responsibilities that were taking me far away from her, and tearing her grandchildren away.
I’m sure she cried a long time after we got on that plane, but she held her tears in check that evening before my departure and with a gentle emotion-filled embrace, told me to go, and to be brave… It wasn’t the first time she’s had to do this. I left home at eighteen, another sister left home at eighteen. And now she lives in Australia while I live in Chile. We’ve become adept at saying good-bye.
That’s the truth we face – we raise our children with the hope that they will be brave and strong in this world, that they will go and be courageous and do whatever it is they are called to do, even if it means they’ll be far away from me. I don’t raise them for my sake. I’m a steward – but for a time.
I must say, on this Mother’s Day, I know Violeta would be proud to see all her grandchildren, and be amazed at how her sons are strong and brave and good and have gone so far in this world. How they’ve traveled, and made beautiful lives all over the earth.
To be a mother is an honorable occupation and an important one. One of the most important and vital roles a woman can ever be given.
Thank you Emma and Lucas for giving me so much joy.
Douglas has been a friend of mine for many years. He’s a fellow writer – his book Olde Mysterium came out last year - and he was gracious enough to read As Waters Gone By, my novel that is coming out in September 2013, and give me kind feedback. His journey into the publishing world is interesting and noteworthy. It’s not easy to write, it’s not easy to push through rejection, and today I’ve asked him to share his story…
Writing By Faith
by Douglas Patten
When Tina asked me to write a guest blog on writing, my first reaction was to feel deeply honored and my second reaction was: what in the world could I say that would be helpful? Tina and I have been friends since high school and it was only once after we were raising our own families that we each discovered the other was writing. Over the years we’ve been able to give each other objective feedback and encouragement, both of which are important for any aspiring writer.
I’ve been writing seriously for over a decade and this last year my first book was published. I get a lot of questions about how I found an agent or a publisher, but the simple truth is that neither of those things panned out the way I had hoped and dreamed. After finishing my most recent book OLDE MYSTERIUM, I had a panic attack worrying over who would want to publish this thing and moreover who in the world would want to read it? It was the third book I had written and the first one where I wrote it without any major plotting. The idea was to do something new by creating broken characters and to unleash them to live and interact in their own world. To hurt. To struggle. To forge friendships. To love. And to find redemption. I had a vague suspicion where the story might lead, but ultimately things broke loose and the characters forged their own path. Nearing the end of the project, I realized that the characters were reflections of my own soul. Their fears were mine. Their questions were my own. And their doubts were buried deep within me. I was horrified to discover that God had been using this process to soften my spirit.
I wrote the last page of the manuscript in tears, knowing in the secret chambers of my heart that it was a good story, but ultimately unmarketable because it defied every niche in the market I could think of. I received confirmation of my fears from the rejections I received from agents and publishers. OLDE MYSTERIUM was too edgy for traditional Christian publishers because of the questionable situations the characters faced. And OLDE MYSTERIUM had too much Jesus for the taste of the secular publishers and agents.
It wasn’t until my wife, Caitlin read the manuscript and told me that she loved it (keep in mind this was the first thing I’d written that she took the time to read and actually liked). So we both faced the question: do we really believe in this story? It didn’t take much time in prayer because I knew God had guided the whole process of writing it and His answer was straightforward: “Let me be your agent.”
We undertook the process of registering our own publishing company Literati Press and obtaining the ISBNs as well as finding a printing and distribution channel. After that we had to design the cover and Caitlin found a beautiful photograph online. I reached out blindly to the photographer, Len Saltiel, and explained that I wanted to use his artwork for my book’s cover. Len expressed interest and I sent him a copy of the manuscript, not knowing how he would respond to such a story. The next morning he contacted me back affirming that he loved it and would willingly give me the rights to use his photo for the cover (to my amazement). I learned how to properly format the manuscript into book pages that would print well and selected a nice Baskerville font for an easy reading experience. Finally, at the end of last July we launched OLDE MYSTERIUM into the market place. Jesus is my agent and my wife and I are the publishers. It’s crazy and edgy to be in this place…but it’s also a walk of faith and there’s comfort in it.
Truth be told, writing and then publishing is as uncertain as it is exciting. I don’t know what God has planned next, but I know that I’m a writer and have undertaken a journey to write as honestly as I can. It won’t matter if OLDE MYSTERIUM becomes a best seller, because I’ve already seen many people who have been touched by it. And as I continue to write, I expect that God will continue to transform my heart and reveal new things with each story penned to paper.
You can read the first three chapters of OLDE MYSTERIUM as well as Doug’s blog at www.oldemysterium.com
Thank you Douglas! I appreciate your story and the willingness to listen and go down a road you might have wanted to be otherwise. Many Blessings!
Last night I sat on the couch next to Rodrigo, our feet intertwining. I held a wine glass in one hand, sipping a bit of Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon, and held my iPad in the other. I’ve been reading The People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks - and as a side note, absolutely loving it. Highly recommend it. Anyways, we were sitting there together, and I looked up, almost meditatively, and spoke. “It’s weird that we live in Chile.”
Rodrigo crinkled his eyebrows. “I know. It is weird.”
This time last year we were packing up our container, saying good-bye to everyone. Now, we’re saying hello, trying to figure out how to live here, making friends, learning how to pay bills in a another country, how to open bank accounts, buy cars, and to do life here. It catches me by surprise – in strange moments that have nothing to do with Chile – that I’ll think how surreal it is to find myself in this place.
And yet … I think there’s nothing unusual about my sensation. I’m sure all of us wake up from time to time and wonder at the interesting and strange turn of events in our lives. One decision leads to another, which leads to another, and one day you wake up and find yourself living in Southern Chile, or in Seattle, or in Holland, or Australia with a man or woman you still can’t believe you’re lucky enough to have in your life.
I don’t think it’s so much where you find yourself, but rather, what it is you’re doing with your life that matters. People of the Book is a novel about an ancient Haggadah – a Jewish book meant to be read at the table during Passover – the Haggadah had somehow survived five hundred years of hardship. The novel tells the history, fictionally, of various people deciding to save the precious manuscript and hide it in a safe place so no one could take it… and five hundred years later, it somehow survived. The novel is about how we react to our circumstances of adversity, what happens when someone does the right thing when no one is watching, believing that it matters enough to do it, and what happens when someone doesn’t do the right thing when it matters.
After thirty-five years of life and many adventures, I’ve come to believe something absolutely fundamental. Goodness doesn’t just happen. We have to practice doing the right thing when no one is looking, if we want to do the right thing under adversity. Cowardice and double-mindedness are easy, and turning the other way when we see something wrong is second nature. It’s hard to sacrifice comfort for honesty and it hurts to take the hard road when the masses are taking the main highway. It’s not easy to be the only voice standing up for what’s right, especially when right and wrong often get blurred by sentiment and emotion.
Rodrigo and I went out the other night and I shared with him that I’m troubled by humanity. I’m downright troubled. I’m troubled with our capacity to do such harm to one another, to turn our backs on people who we should be stretching our hands out to. I’m disturbed by so much hatred and the cruelty I’m capable of – my own capacity to say something mean about somebody else or to pretend I don’t notice someone’s pain, because I’m too tired. It’s startling really. It’s bringing me into prayer, into contemplation, into conviction.
The wise teacher, the one whom I’ve chosen to follow, says to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. He says that I’m to love God with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength and … love my neighbor as myself. That’s it. That’s what I’m to be about … loving God and loving people. So simple. So impossibly difficult.
This morning when Rodrigo and I prayed, we both talked to God about what it is we’re doing here in Chile. What’s the point? What was the purpose of this great big change? Why did we pack up and move? Why are we here? Why did God lead us here? Of course these are good and poignant questions … ones that matter. But we may not know the answer to these questions ever. Not to mention, the answers are multi-faceted. There isn’t one answer to these questions.
But in the questioning, in the pondering, in the pause – The Selah – I’m given a moment to reflect, to decide, to choose what I want to be about. And today, just like every other day, no matter where I live, in whichever city I’m in, I want to love God. I want to find him, to reach out for him … and I want to love the people that are here – all around me. I endeavor love them well. I want to love my neighbor with a generous and courageous heart.
What are you hoping to be about?
Yesterday one of my blog readers wrote that she wanted to donate money to my neighbor’s wood crisis. We talked about the way we could do it and decided PayPal was the best …
She deposited money into my PayPal account and I’ll transfer the funds today and buy wood for my neighbor next week – it takes about three days for funds to transfer.
I’m ecstatic! My neighbor and her family will be warm this winter and one of my friends is thankful to be part of the net -
I met Deanne Welsh many years ago when I worked on a missionary ship that sold literature to the developing world. It’s not surprising that both of us came off the ship with a deep love for books. She’s an excellent writer and reads my blog faithfully, encouraging me to keep pressing into the journey of change and transition … something she knows a lot about. She grew up traveling from port to port … Thanks Deanne, for sharing your journey.
“Where are you from?”
The question shivers down my spine like ice. I grimace to myself while responding with a smile, “I’m from Canada.” Sometimes I say, “I’m from Germany” or “I live in America.” Other times, “I’m a missionary kid so I’m a little confused.”
When I am honest, “I am from the sea.”
It began when I was twelve:
I do not want to live on the sea. My family and I are driving away from my home, school and friends of the last four and a half years in Mosbach Germany. I try to remember the last time I lived on the sea, but the memories of those seven years run together like watercolors. Only a handful of them have distinct shapes, their edges jutting out of the sea of color.
Until that moment my identity was defined by my friends, place, school, activities and home. Like a watercolor shape of white created by filling in the color around it, I knew myself based on the familiar people and places around me. When my family returned to the sea, the color left. Who am I?
The years living and sailing aboard the Logos II, a missionary vessel filled with volunteers (which is where I met Tina), drew me inward. I questioned, read, reflected, cried, buried my anger and tried to make sense of it. I felt adrift and unconnected: lost at sea.
Pain and loss can scrape the depths of our soul, but they do not have to define us.
For years I tried to circumvent my grief, cutting it short and stifling it as best I could. I was afraid to grieve. What if I get stuck in the pain? When I could no longer hide my anger and sadness, I learned the only way to healing is through the pain. I allowed myself to grieve. Thanks to the help of family, friends, two counselors and time, pain no longer defines my memory of the past.
As I acknowledged, grieved and let go of my losses, I remembered the moments of beauty and joy: dolphins and flying fish leaping through simmering sunlight; kind and generous people; laughing with friends; feeling like an explorer each time the ship sailed into a new port.
The move that took the people and places I cared for gave me unexpected gifts.
The gifts remained invisible until I grieved the losses.
What gifts have you found along the terrain of your life?
Deanne Welsh can be found at www.eclecticwaters.com. She writes for Turning Points magazine and loves words, stories, salsa dancing, techno music and deep conversations.
Her upcoming e-book, Living with Dragons: how to protect your inner world, delves further into the subject of loss, the lies we believe, and how to find healing. You can sign up to receive it FREE by clicking here. (create link: http://www.eclecticwaters.com/join-now/).
It isn’t surprising to go about my day and have one or two breath taking moments of wonder and utter amazement how it is I came to be in Chile at this time. The moments come during the ordinary and mundane, as well as in the middle of accepting the startling contrasts of life here. Sometimes, there are no words for how I feel – displaced and outside the circle, frustrated and angry at broken down systems that perpetuate poverty – and then the pendulum will swing, and I’ll be so thankful and utterly filled with hope, I’ll think to myself how much I love it here and I couldn’t ask for a more fitting place to live.
Friendships are forming, real friendships that talk of the things of the heart, where laughter is welcome and we can joke about ourselves – without the need for props and explanations. And for this, I’m eternally grateful. Community is what gives us a feeling that we belong, that we matter, that our place in a society is noted and cared about. The weekend comes and we get invited to go to lunch over at a friend’s house, or to enjoy some wine and cheese, to let the kids play together.
As I watch my children join the lighthearted banter of story-telling in Spanish, I stand in awe. The other night we drove to our land with a few friends who hadn’t seen it yet, and one of the girls rode with us. Emma, Lucas, and Sofia joked and laughed in the back – the things of kids, humorous stories that only children think are funny. I had no words, just a choked up throat and a heart of gratitude to God who is able to do so much more than we can ask or imagine…
And then later that night, I was overwhelmed at how hard it is here, at how much work it takes to develop land, to build, to understand a culture. The pendulum swung and I was frightened.
What do we do when our pendulum swings? How do we manage to live with hope in the midst of disappointment? Do we stuff our feelings and pretend they aren’t there? No. I think that only makes it worse. We keep moving, we keep trusting that God is here, and is leading us. We dare to hope again and we keep learning how to love with our hearts wide open. We open our ears and listen to the needs around us and choose to focus on something more than our temporary feelings and situations.
My neighbor needs wood. Or it’ll be a long winter. Listening to the needs of someone else has been so humbling. Real true need. Not wants and dreams laced in words of desperation – but real, striking need that chills me to the bones and lifts me up out of my own arrogant presumption and forces me to make a choice: to care, or to ignore the cries of someone close to me. That’s it. I could choose to harden my heart and stay focused on myself, my own pain, my own losses – or I could forget about myself for a few moments and carry some wood over to her house and say hi. Which one will bring more life?
The choice to care will forever change us. If I care, if I see those hurting around me, I must do something. I’m propelled into action. Whether it’s prayer or a conversation, or wood, money, food – If I care, if I choose to feel someone’s pain, someone’s plight instead of just living in my own nice bubble – then action is the next step.
Here, there’s a lot more need. There aren’t the same resources. It’s just plain different – and it’s hard to bear up under sometimes. How do I help when I’m struggling to find my own way? Perhaps that’s the answer … we’re all struggling to find our way and it’s in linking our arms together, in seeing that we aren’t in this alone, that we come to enjoy the journey all the more.
Yesterday, Emma pulled out a laundry basket and filled it with wood and dragged it over to the neighbor’s house. She said it was cold outside. It’s easy to think we have to solve people’s problems … that we have to fix it so it doesn’t hurt anymore. We can’t play God, but we can pull out a laundry basket and fill it with wood, drag it across the neighborhood, through the plaza, and drop it off at someone’s door.
Wood for the winter would cost my neighbor about $200.00 – There might be someone who wants to give to her – Operation Laundry Basket! Let me know. I’d love to facilitate generosity.
Have a wonderful day. Tomorrow I’m going to post some pictures and Wednesday I have a friend named Deanne who’ll be guest blogging for me … she’s fantastic.
Copyright Tina Bustamante