The season finale of The Amber Show

For years, my parents have shared the story of the first Christmas pageant I participated in. According to them, the Wonderland Preschool Christmas Program should have been called The Amber Show. I sang all the solos, danced all the dances, and had all the speaking parts.

In kindergarten I was always in trouble for two things:

  1. Reading entire books to the class every time it was my turn during show and tell.
  2. Writing in cursive.

I was put into GATE (Gifted and Talented Education) early in elementary school.

Growing up, I got the lead in every school play I tried out for and every solo I auditioned for.

As a child I believed I could have anything I wanted, and that I could achieve anything I set my mind to.

But in high school, things started to unravel for me. Suddenly, there were things that didn’t come easily to me. There were moments when I wasn’t number one.

It was hard to come to grips with, and I’ve struggled with it ever since.

Recently I heard a message by one of the pastors at my church. In it he said, “You are not what you produce.”

It hit me hard.

I am not what I produce.

I am not my books. I am not my songs. I am not my voice. I am not my talent. I am not measured by my success.

In some ways this is so freeing. In other ways it’s incredibly difficult.

When my parents tell the story of my preschool pageant, I hear the pride in their voice. I know that my family has always been proud of the fact that I talked at an early age, read at an early age, tested at a higher grade level than I was in. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

What was wrong was my need to always be on top. My need to always please everyone. My need to be seen. To be heard. To be in the spotlight.

To be number one.

It’s set me on a path of constantly comparing myself to others, and constantly searching for approval.

people pleaser

If you’ve followed me for any length of time, you know that the last five years have been rough for me emotionally and physically. I won’t bore you with the details since I’ve blogged about it so much in the past. You probably already know that my mantra for the last several years has been, “I’m no longer a slave to fear. I am a child of God.”

I began 2017 praying for breakthrough in the area of fear and anxiety. After several years of being sick, I had experienced major physical breakthrough in 2016, but I was still dealing with some of the after-effects emotionally.

God answered my prayers: In the past six months I’ve only had a few panic attacks. After having daily ones for years, this is huge. Fear doesn’t plague me the way it once had. I’m not a slave to it any longer. I know this for sure. That’s not to say that I don’t deal with it sometimes or that I’ll never deal with it again. But I’ve experienced major breakthrough, and it no longer has me bound.

So I’m starting 2018 asking for breakthrough in the area of identity. I want to truly believe that I am not what I produce. That I am not measured by my talent and success. That I don’t have to prove myself. That I don’t have to be the most talented or smartest or richest.

That I don’t have to be number one.

Of course I will keep working hard. I will keep reaching for the stars.

But above all I will seek God.

Years ago, God directed me to this verse:

But if from there you seek the Lord your God, you will find him if you seek him with all your heart and with all your soul.
I didn’t fully understand what he was trying to tell me until now. This year I want to know Him in a way I never have before. I don’t want to seek man’s approval. I only want to seek the approval of the one who has always given it to me – freely and without expectations.
I know I will find Him, and in the process I hope to find myself.
me
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Summer Survival Guide for an Indie Author

My kids have one day left of school and then they are out for the summer. Which simply means life as I know it is ending for the next few months. Gone are the days of sitting in my quiet office writing for 6-7 hours everyday. My house will be filled with chaos. The chaos of teenagers no less.

Which means, I have to make a plan.

I know many people think I have it made in the summer. I mean I work from home, right? Right, but the operative word here is “work.” I WORK from home. Yes, it’s true that I don’t have to worry about babysitters or sending my kids to daycare or endless summer camps because I have to work outside of the home and need a place for them to go. However, I can’t get much work done when my kids are home, which is hard since I’m self-employed. I sort of need to still generate an income in the summer.

Last summer I wrote and released 2 books during the summer months, and let me tell you it was hard. I brought my laptop with me everywhere and wrote while carting the kids to their music lessons and sports camps. It was overwhelming. So as the summer months loomed before me this year, I sat down and wrote a summer survival guide. First it was filled with things like soundproof walls and more locks on the doors. Just kidding. As tempting as that sounds I’d never do that. lol

No, truthfully, it wasn’t so much a survival guide as a goal oriented plan. I had to ask myself what I wanted to accomplish this summer both professionally and personally. First and foremost, I know that my time with my kids is running out. They are 12 and 15. I don’t have a ton of summers left with them. Second, I don’t want to be stressed out about pumping out 2 books like I was last summer. So, I’ve decided I will only release 1 book – BREAK THROUGH. It should release end of June/beginning of July. Other than that I will be spending time with my kids and doing some marketing. I figure I have 18 books out. Marketing all of them can definitely keep me busy!

So I have some fun contests, giveaways and sales planned for the summer. In fact, I will have a fun giveaway coming up later in the week which will focus on my summer books: HEAD ABOVE WATER, WINNING ME OVER and FALLING TO PIECES.

headabovewaterfront

 

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I also plan to do some fun contests revolving around ENGRAVED, my only adult mystery novel.

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What are some things you’re doing to survive the summer months? Comment below. I’d love to hear from you!