Monday, November 10, 2008

Life's Detours and Blessings & Book Giveaway is back!

It's been a week since I last posted. In that week I finally completed the wallpaper stripping and painting of our living room, celebrated our youngest daughter's eleventh birthday with a slumber party, wrote a short piece that clarifies what I see in festive trimmings, and discovered that getting up in front of a group of adults to lead adult education isn't near as nerve-racking as the anticipation of doing so felt. Wow, I guess I did accomplish a few things, after all.

And here I was worried that I wasn't doing enough to keep up with my NaNoWriMo responsibilities, and my blogging. It's true as they say, you can't do it all, but I'm blessed to have accomplished all that I did. It's good to be back blogging and writing The Unlikely One, though. So here is a picture of my newly painted living room. Yahoo, it's finished. Well, not totally. I still have to cut, stain and varnish the new oak window trim. But I'll do that over a bit of time as well.

Other Blessings for me:

I received the warmest compliment today when I opened my e-mail after the girls headed off to school. One might view the question "Did you write this piece?" as negative or positive feedback. But considering what followed in that e-mail I take it as a positive, and it gave me a real confidence boost and eagerness to get back to work on my next story, The Unlikely One.

Never before have I submitted anything to our Church Newsletter. I know, that seems really bad when I consider myself a writer-in-training. But the truth is that a few people at our church know what I've been studying for several years now, and so I continually worry that what I submit will dissapoint them greatly. It's that old "I'm not good enough yet, never will be" syndrom that's buried deep inside of me.

If you've studied the craft of fiction writing for as long as I have, or even half as long, I think it's natural that the writer assumes that there's certain expectations from those who have knowledge of what they've been doing. A real fear develops that we may not meet our friends' expectations in our attempts at writing and so we instead hoard our writing to protect our own self-esteem.

Many who know that I write, though, also know a few other things about me. Two of which are that I'm addicted to "stuff", seasonal trimmings included in over-abundance, and also that I seriously get riled when I smell injustice or misunderstanding prevailing. [I feel my heart pounding just thinking about a few of those sticky topics right now.] Anyway, our dear newsletter editor hit on one of my sticky points with her request for the November/December church newsletter submissions, and my need to explain my actions won out over my fear of not writing well enough. It would seem that she actually liked my piece, and what's even better is that in her response, she revealed what I aimed to show in that short compilation of words that I submitted.

There is no better feeling to a writer at any level than realizing that someone "got" what you were trying to creatively paint with your words. So, if you're reading this dear editor, Rebecca, I thank you. You made my day!!

On another note, I was tagged last week by Kalea to post seven random bookish things about me. I will follow through with this sometime this week. It should be a fun post, I hope.

For today, I offer to you readers, a similar question to what Rebecca posed to our congregation. [I'd offer the actual questions, but they went out in the recycle bin which in turn was dumped into the waste collector's bin this morning, unfortunately.] I'd love to hear your responses, and some day after the newsletter is released I'll post what I sent for submission in response to this topic. So you'll get my view on this, too, I promise!

How do you bring Christ into your way of celebrating Christmas?

BOOK GIVEAWAY Information:

In honour of my dear critique partner's book being next months ACFWBOOKCLUB selection, I will be drawing a name from the comments left this week until Thursday at noon to win a copy of Patti Lacy's An Irishwoman's Tale. Since the above question is especially interesting to me, I'll put two ballots in for each response given to it. I hope to hear lots of ways that we can bring Christ into the way we celebrate the Christmas season.



46 days left to reflect and celebrate our Saviour's birth.


Winona Cross said...

Well, Eileen, were we raised together. Twins, separated at birth. You echo my sentiments about many things--writing for a newsletter in which others know I'm trying and studying to become an author, collecting "stuff." I can't get enough. Much to my husband's chagrin.

I love your newly redone living room. Especially the horse throw on the sofa. I'm such a horse freak, even as old as I am. I, too, am working on NaNo, but I don't think I'll make the 50,000. Life things have been getting in the way. At the least I'm trying. "Rebecca's Journey" needs to be written.

We've been in the process of redoing our master bedroom for almost two years. We've added on a walk-in closet. The man that built our house thought tiny closests were more than enough. One bedroom doesn't even have one. My bedroom is a construction zone. Tools, a stack of flooring, paint cans, the organizers that will go into the closet. It will be decorated in a southwest motif with horses and Native American crafts and colors. I am getting frustrated at the amount of time it's taking.

Looking forward to knowing what you wrote in the newsletter. I just left a new blog on my site about accomplishments and goals.

Blessings to you, Eileen.


Martha A. said...

it is a very beautiful living room!!!

How do I bring Christ into my way of celebrating Christmas.....
It is a hard question for me, I find it hard in this society to figure out how to do that. But a couple ways, we have a birthday cake for Jesus. It is a apple cake we have made in our family since I was like 7 years old. We read the story in Luke, but also this year I would like to spend the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas and do a different activity every day about Jesus, by doing things for others, and reading books to the children about it. We used to have an advent book that had acivties like this, that was so much fun!

Sarah/Robert said...

Bringing Christ into Christmas?

Almost every year we have an Advent wreath, starting four Sundays before Christmas. Our church publishes an Advent devotional booklet, and God times in Advent are often with the candles and a paragraph or two that someone I know has written just for that day. The middle candle, the Christ candle, we light on Christmas Eve. The wreath is a great centerpiece, too!

Another thing we do is have a birthday cake for Jesus on Christmas Day. All the children (now grandchildren) join in and sing "Happy Birthday, Dear Jesus!" and blow out many candles on a yummy coconut cake (from the bakery!).

Do I get double entries for each idea? :)

Another thing we do is "decorate" with creches all over. The baby Jesus is present in so many places! Our favorite memory of this was three years ago when our toddler grandson removed the animals from one side of one of the wooden creche stable and parked his two red Hot Wheel cars in there instead! It was a carport at Jesus' house!

The Advent season in the liturgical churches is a ready-made time for preparing our hearts anew for the coming of Christ. He has already come in the flesh long ago, but we are constantly preparing for his return, asking of ourselves how best to welcome his Kingdom in our hearts, into our congregation, and into our world.

I'd love to win a copy of "An Irishwoman's Tale." Please count me into the drawing!


Carrie Turansky said...

Hi Eileen,
We have done several different things to help our family focus on Christ at Christmas. We have several nativity sets that we always enjoy bringing out early in December, including one that the children played with when they were younger. We also take part in Project Christmas Child sponsored by Samaritan's Purse where you prepare shoe boxes filled with gifts for a poor child some where in the world.

Another activity we have done as a family is to participate in the Angel Tree program which helps provide gifts for the children of prisoners at Christmas. We've also served dinner at our rescue mission on Christmas Day. These activities encouraged us to love and serve others, just as God loved us at Christmas and sent His Son.

Georgiana Daniels said...

Though we haven't done it in a long time, we used to bake a cake to celebrate His birth. Maybe now would be a good time to start again!

I love your living room. LOL, at first glance the horse heads caught me off guard.

Eileen Astels Watson said...

These are all awesome ways to bring Christ into the celebration! Thanks for sharing. Hopefully we'll get some more over the coming days.

We, too, alternate between giving to an Angel tree (the ones around here tend to give the gifts to local children in underprivileged homes) or fill shoe boxes for the Samaritan's Purse. We also give to the local foodbank each year, though that's usually seen by me only as I shop the grocery store and drop the bags in the designated crate right away. Only the food we send to the school for their food drive do my girls see.

An old friend of ours actually had a children's birthday party for Jesus years ago when our girls were very small. Of course a birthday cake was shared too. Several of you reminded me of that time. Great stuff!

And since this is the season of giving, I will put double ballots in for each way that you offer as bringing Christ into your celebration. Good luck to everyone!

Patti has offered to send tea to the winner as well. So you can enjoy Mary's touching story while sipping on some Irish tea from the author herself.

Stacey said...

That's a great question, Eileen. My family celebrates Christ in Christmas by participating in church activities including the candlelight Christmas Eve service. After which, we head to my Mother's to fellowship and eat dinner together and exchange gifts. We also participate in programs like Angel Tree to show love to those who may think they've been forgotten or abandoned.


Anonymous said...

as a family, we have always read the Christmas story in Luke. it started as practice for my younger brother who is dyslexic. he was bound and determined to be able to read just like "normal" people. it's a family tradition for him to read it as we gather to celebrate and now his daughter is asking to be the reader (she just turned nine). no gifts are pulled out until we go around the family and say what we give thanks for for the past year. i've always felt this has kept Christmas Christ centered and meaningful. celebrating any other way just doesn't seem the same.

Deb H.

Susan Anne Mason said...

Hi Eileen,

How are you? Nice post and somewhat appropriate since I am really trying to change Christmas this year. I hadn't thought about it your way (ie. bringing more of Christ into Christmas) but it kind of boils down to the same thing.

I started stressing about Christmas already at the beginning of October and my mother-in-law suggested I tone everything down. This sounded like a fantastic idea to me, so I am slowly trying to convert the rest of the family. All that shopping, spending, fighting crowds in malls, the rudeness and all, is so the opposite of what Christmas is about. I'm trying to focus on family and thankfulness and being together for a nice meal, instead of the commercialism.

I think this will help us all get back to the true meaning of Christmas. Take care and happy writing!


Carole said...

I already have Patti's book and look forward to reading it after Christmas, so don't enter me in the giveaway. I just wanted to respond to your question, Eileen.

My children are grown, so I'm not toy shopping. And we're very involved in our church, so it's pretty easy to focus on Jesus. Here's a few of the things I do:

1) Our choir program focuses on stories of Christmas from two directions - God's gift to us and our gift back to God.

2) Candlelight Christmas Eve service

3) Christmas memorial service where we honor our loved ones who are with the Lord by placing an ornament with their picture on a tree.

4) Memorize Scripture like the Isaiah passage, "For to us a child is born . . ."

5) On December 1, I will begin reading a book called Pursuing the Christ by Jennifer Kennedy Dean, which consists of morning and evening prayers for the month of December.

6) Participate in Angel Tree

Anonymous said...

Hi Eileen

When I was a preschool teacher I made a set of little figures from the centers of cones of wool used for knitting machines and scraps of fabric- baby Jesus,Mary, Joseph, angel, shepherds etc. I used them to tell an installment of the Christmas story to my class each day.

I no longer teach, but still have my little characters and will encourage my little granddaughters to play with them and act out the Bible story

Best wishes

Ruth Dell
ruthdell (at)

Patti Lacy said...

Hello, Eileen:
We Lacys have made a tradition of going to a Christmas Eve service. Peace and joy fill our hearts as we sing, "Away in a Manger" and "Joy to the World." A manger scene occupies the central table in our family room during the holidays.
Blessings to all of you ladies,

Unknown said...

A couple things that I remember which also made the season last much longer than just a few days were the Wisemen traveling about the house from the time we got out the decorations until Epiphany to mimic the fact that they were believed to have arrived at least a few weeks after Jesus birth.

I also remember having devotions at dinner time each evening as a family when we lit the advent candles on our wreath for that week.

Between the Advent wreath and the nativity pieces representing the Wisemen moving about the house we were able to celebrate His birth and remember the Biblical Christmas stories for over a month at that season of the year instead of just a couple days of singing and presents that are so quickly forgotten and rarely have much of a connection to the real reason for the Celebration.

These are traditions that I want to continue with my own family someday if I ever get married.


Unknown said...

Ooops I left the wrong email - sorry the email in my signature should be