TO BE WELL

If you had asked me last week, “Catie, are you well?” I would have told you no. 

The weeks leading up to last week were not kind to me. Between a series of rejections, failings, and flare-up of my auto-immune disease, I emotionally collapsed. I did not feel well mentally, emotionally, and physically. I wanted to cave. I wanted to quit. I wanted to be sad. Not a great place to be. I was letting my outward journey determine my inward journey. I was letting disappointments dictate the wellness of my soul. Negative thoughts can be quite alluring in the valleys of life. But what does negative thinking achieve? Nothing. Does it make me feel better? No. But did I feel justified in my negative thoughts–yes. That’s the catch. That is what makes them alluring. I feel I have a right to think negatively and be sad and throw myself a this-isn’t-fair party. So I did. I dwelt in that space for a few weeks. It made me more depressed.

Then, God spoke to my heart and said, “Enough. It’s time to move on.” He, of course, was right. It was time to move on. I cleaned up my office space. I put my storyboard away. I filed all current books-in-progress. I have to stop striving to make things happen that just aren’t happening.

I can’t control my health. I can’t control my publishing career. I can’t control the unknown. But, I can rest in Jesus. I can let go. I have to let go. 

In my last novel, Marvel and Mayhem, my main character, Mattie, wrestles with anger toward the song and belief, “It is Well With My Soul.” She feels that the song was a lie. Life hasn’t been good to her. Each character in Marvel and Mayhem is confronted with hardships on some level and must respond to it–either with resentment or surrender to God. My youngest character in the novel, Effie Emery, understands surrender. She knows that no matter how bad things may get, with the Lord holding our hand through it, we can still say, it is well with my soul.

As you can guess, I’m more like Mattie. Surrender doesn’t come natural to me. But God hasn’t given up on me. I see more clearly now that God called me to write Marvel and Mayhem because He knew I needed to process this journey with Mattie. We are connected, her and I. God has been leading to me a place of relinquishing control and placing my trust in Him.

The lyrics of the old hymn say, “When peace like a river, attendeth my way, When sorrows like sea billows roll, Whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say, It is well, it is well, with my soul.”

I’m still working through this. It doesn’t come natural to me. BUT, I know one thing for sure, I am reaching out and God is reaching back. This is WELL. With Him holding my hand, I can be WELL.

 

If you are interested in my novel, here’s a quick link for more information:

https://amzn.to/2Wv17Oa

 

 

 

 

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I TOLD YOU: a poem of hope

This poem was written by Ella Wheeler Wilcox in 1905. I painted this watercolor today  in honor of spring and new hope.  Dear readers, there is always hope. No matter what your “winter” has brought;  spring will come.

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Adopting 8 Little Ladies on Father’s Day

We were so blessed on Father’s Day. Two weeks ago, I lost three of my beloved hens due to a predator attack. Since then, we’ve made adjustments to secure the rest of our flock. However, it’s made me feel quite sad seeing the coop so empty, and especially sad for my little Gretchen, who lost her best friend. She wanders alone now in the pasture and doesn’t have a buddy to roost with at night. Chickens tend to make friends and stick with them. But…on Father’s Day that changed.

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A friend from church is going through a transition and needed to find a new home for her 8 chickens. It was a mutual blessing for all of us. She knew her chickens were going to a good home, and our henhouse would once again be full of love and eggs. So on Father’s Day, we collected our new little ladies, which wasn’t easy since those rascals were fast and kept running under the deck!

Once they were settled into their new coop and pasture, they seemed happy to explore. My daughter was giddy to show them around and give them all lots of hugs.

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At night, I checked to see that the girls had all made their way into the coop and then my heart swelled. Gretchen wasn’t perching alone. She had a new friend, a little Ameraucana hen was tucked close beside her. I am sure they slept warm and happy. In this little thing, I see God’s love. He cares even about my hens. And if He cares about a small chicken, believe me when I say…He cares even more for you.

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Saying Goodbye to Three Sweet Hens

This morning, I went out to collect eggs inside the hen house. My two little children tagged along beside me as they usually do. What we found upon entering reduced me to tears.

Last night a predator, we’re thinking it was a raccoon, got inside the henhouse and wreaked havoc on my precious chickens. Three of my hens were dead and missing large parts of themselves. One of the girls is limping badly. I love my chickens. They are my little girls. They lay eggs like champions and always greet me at the gate. I have even given each one a name based on her personality. Today, I said goodbye to Josephina, Ginger, and Aretha. They were sweet, and I hate that they died this way.

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Ginger, she always strut around like the model on Gilligan’s Island.
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Josephina, aka Josie
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Aretha. She would always pause, kneel slightly and let me pick her up. She liked to be held and petted.

Needless to say, does anyone know a good type of trap that will catch medium sized predators?

 

 

 

Good Manners, Etiquette and the Art of Shaving

History repeats itself in clothing fashions, but I’d like to see the former teaching of etiquette and good manners make a comeback. Oddly enough, a simple example is shaving.

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Both men and women have been shaving off unwanted hair since before 3000 BC. Luckily, our methods have improved over time. I imagine that shaving with water and a sharpened stone, clam shell or copper wouldn’t have tickled.

Since then, the method of shaving has been greatly improved with modern razors and creams. In fact, shaving was considered a thing of expertise in the 1800’s. A sophisticated gent would own a shaving kit with all the necessities: a folding or shraight-edged razor which was sharpened on a leather strop, a brush of soft badger hair, lathering cream and a china shaving mug, aftershave lotion, and cologne.

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Excerpt from a book featuring life in the late 1800’s.

Once barbershops opened, men would go to a barber to have his hair trimmed and his beard shaved.

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This is a picture of a man named Glenn Porter Black, who was known as “Porter the Barber” in the small Quaker borough of Millville, Pennsylvania, for 73 years.

Nowadays, men and women generally buy a razor at the grocery store, perhaps a can of shaving cream and call it good. But the heart behind the tradition has been lost. Granted it takes more time, but like many of the old traditions, we’ve lost the beauty of etiquette. In many modern homes, children aren’t taught the art of gentility and good manners. Young men don’t know what it means to be gentlemen and young girls don’t know what it means to be ladies. I find this disheartening.

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That is why I found this store in the Woodland Mall (Grand Rapids, MI) so special: The Art of Shaving. This store cares about the old tradition of shaving and desires to bring it back. I found it fascinating, as did my husband, who left the store with a kit of his own!

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My thought is this… if you have to shave, why not enjoy it?

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References:

http://www.moderngent.com/history_of_shaving/history_of_shaving.php

http://www.todayifoundout.com/index.php/2013/04/the-history-of-shaving/

Esquire.com

http://www.theartofshaving.com

 

 

Real and Rollicking

Today my post is featured on Breathe Writer’s Conference Blog. http://www.breatheconference.com. I hope it encourages you…

 

I knew it from age nine, the same age when I decided I should have been born an Indian-American. It was probably this instinctual habit of imagination that made my cousins think I was weird and forced my mother to explain by saying, “She’s just analytical.”

They were all right. I am weird. And analytical. And a bit neurotic. But mainly, I’m bent toward creative. My imagination Catie Stories pouredfound its outlet through drawing, poetry, reading and writing stories. Each summer, I loaded up on 18 to 20 books from the library, living vicariously through plots of witty western Belles, rogue cowboys, and shipwrecked sailors.

I wrote as often as I read, but I wasn’t sure if I had much talent.

In sixth grade, I decided to test the tea by entering my short story, By My Turpleplum Tree, into the Young Authors, a book contest comprised of four elementary schools. Among all the contestants, my story took First Place. I was astounded and revved up like my dad’s blue Cutlass.

Stories poured from my mind filling the pages of stapled booklets. After oodles of sketched plots, I settled upon a story that I entitled, JYIA. It was a story of a Navajo chieftain’s daughter. It was also my first time writing historical fiction, another excuse to go to the library and boil over books. From ages fourteen to eighteen, I worked on this novel. I consulted with my English teacher, Mrs. Smith, for three of those years. I gave her my chapters and received her critiques every month.

Upon the completion of the 270-page manuscript, we looked though the 2001 Literary Guide to Agents and selected a few. She helped me compose my first query letter, and we sent them out with hopes flung high. Months later, my hopes tiptoed home holding rejection.

In my senior year, I gave the story to my new English teacher, Mr. Moreau, and he gave me the truth. “Be proud that you accomplished this huge task. It’s a good first draft, but needs work. Also, you might want to reconsider the ending. Girls aren’t going to like that you kill your heroine.”

I took his words to heart and revised until 2008, when I stopped, frustrated and tired. On my living room floor, I pleaded. “Lord what do I do now? I want to write about Indians!”

The Lord calmly replied, “Right now it’s time for something new. Look into the 1920’s.” I obeyed.

I realize now that God not only intended my Roaring Twenties series to stir an audience, but to transform things inside of me. Writing has a way of doing that. The best part is our characters get to suffer the lessons of our personal stupidity.

Today, I stand a writer, not because it was something I had a talent for, but because I had the gumption to keep doing it. It’s not a faint-hearted hobby; it’s my dream and ministry. It’s because I was persistent that I now have an amazing agent who is shopping my trilogy to several publishing houses. It’s because I wasn’t afraid to be real with myself and others that I’m writing the rollicking tales of the 1920’s.

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Don’t ever give up. Keep writing. Keep dreaming. Use the talent God has put inside of you.

“And by the way, everything in life is writable if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.” ― Sylvia Plath, The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath.

– See more at: http://breatheconference.com

The Power of Music and Amy Grant

I am a big fan of Amy Grant. I grew up listening to Unguarded, Saved By Love, Heart in Motion, Lead On and many of her other gems. Her songs stick with me. I have a vast collection of Amy’s music. I like the jump around songs and the ones that bring me to my knees. There have been many times, I have sat with tears, listening and thinking, “Amy, you’re right on.” I also felt that way as I read through her book, Mosaic: Pieces of My Life So Far.

In 2010, my husband surprised me with tickets to see her in concert. I was recovering from a rough patch of life and her words in the song, Better than a Hallelujah ministered to me. The music moved me, changed me, and prepared me for the next step. Why? Because I experienced God in that music. I witnessed God’s presence in that music.

Here are a few of the lyrics to Better than a Hallelujah:
God loves a lullaby
In a mother’s tears in the dead of night
Better than a Hallelujah sometimes
God loves the drunkard’s cry
The soldier’s plea not to let him die
Better than a Hallelujah sometimes
We pour out our miseries
God just hears a melody
Beautiful, the mess we are
The honest cries of breaking hearts
Are better than a Hallelujah
The woman holding on for life
The dying man giving up the fight
Are better than a Hallelujah sometimes
The tears of shame for what’s been done
The silence when the words won’t come
Are better than a Hallelujah sometimes
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Amy Grant at the Concert in Ada, Michigan

Music is a powerful vessel. That is why I desire good, strong, and uplifting music. That’s why I listen to Amy. Her honesty in her songwriting has meant so much to me and still does.

 

http://amygrant.com

#AmyGrant #Mosaic #ChristianMusic

Nine Years Married

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June 18, 2005

Today marks the 9th anniversary, since my husband and I said “I do.”

And since then, we’ve continued to say I do. I do take you as my best friend to explore and adventure life together, no matter what we face, let’s do it together! In nine years, we have already shared many adventures. Today, I’ll highlight a few.

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Our first quest took us to Kauai in 2005 where we kayaked rivers, tubed down irrigation ditches, went off-roading in mud buggies, discovered some native hotspots for eating, and conquered Hanakapiai Falls. The hike to the falls was crazy. The sun was going down, we didn’t catch the group with a tour guide, but we managed to follow the overgrown trails to the waterfall and back out before it was completely dark.

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We bought our first house on Mix Street in Bay City, Michigan in 2005 where we both worked on staff at a church. The house was built in 1952 and needed work. We loved it. Even though the basement flooded in 2007 from the sewer drain. We were ankle deep in brown water, toilet paper, and poo.

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MIX STREET HOUSE

We journeyed through California in 2008 doing ministry work, but also having a lot of fun!

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Newport Beach, CA

We toured through England with my dear friend, Joanna and her husband, who are residents of Ipswich. Joanna and I first met during a school exchange program to England in 2002 where her family hosted me. They will forever be my English family!

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London’s Tower Bridge, 2008
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Posing with the Police in London

 

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Sir and Madam of Warwick Castle

 

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Stonehenge

In 2009, we started a very new journey, adding to our family! I became pregnant with my daughter in June 2009. And three months into the pregnancy, we traveled to Costa Rica for a missionary trip and to see Jonathan’s family.

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Jonathan and I with his Auntie
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Posing with Jonathan’s cousin and his wife
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Church Valentine’s Banquet, two days before I delivered!

My baby girl was born on February 14, 2010. Our adventures continued with our trio. We went to Seattle, Washington!

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Since then, we added three more beautiful children to our Cordero clan. Two are being cared for in Heaven and our son, Gabriel is here, making sure Bella knows what its like to have a brother pull her hair.

Now our family is pursuing a life-dream adventure. The country life. We built a home on land and are moving toward a self-sustaining lifestyle with hobby farming.

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The best part of this story is simple: I did it with my true love, Jonathan Cordero. I can’t wait to see what the future holds; I know it will be great as long as I’m with him.

 

 

The Creative Touch

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Am I partial, absolutely, but its for good reason. Changing Thymes, located in Grandville, Michigan, recently welcomed a new booth into their store. It’s called The Creative Touch. It’s a special booth because not only are there sweet knick knacks and collectibles, but there’s a variety of handcrafted and hand painted items. Who is the painter, you ask? Her name is Cindy Overbeek. She is my mother, and I’m proud of that.

My mother has been painting for over thirty years and has traveled both in and out of state doing arts and craft shows. Her paintings cover a wide range: still-lifes, signage, realism, florals, chic, and more. The pieces also vary in size and style. Within my home, I have many of my mother’s painted pictures and furnishings.

Cindy is a gifted artist and has a sharp eye for detail. Below are current pictures from her booth. I encourage you to check out The Creative Touch today! (Located in the left wing of the building)
2900 Wilson, Grandville, Michigan 49418

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I Had Given Up on Prayer

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My scull can be thick. But thank God, He’s a master carver. And He has pared past my unbelief, doubt, and fear.

And He has shown me this…prayer isn’t futile. It isn’t merely dead words as I thought. Perhaps you think I must have been quite calloused and distant to ever think prayer ineffective, and to which I say, you’re right. I was. I was angry. I was jaded. I was hardened by the misfortunes dealt by the cards of life.

I entered church ministry as a newly twenty-year-old with rose-colored glasses and left fives years later with blackened shades. I felt abandoned by God doing the very thing I thought he’d called me to.

In the wake of this, baby number one was born a success, but my body was not. It took seven months of physical therapy to correct my pelvic floor and keep my hips in place. But finally I was strong enough to continue my dream of more children.The lenses of my glasses became darker when the ultrasound for baby number two didn’t show a heartbeat. I couldn’t understand how a child I’d dedicated and prayed for the moment the pregnancy test read positive was now gone. I felt abandoned again.

The abandonment accumulated as my sister lost her first child and then I miscarried again, losing baby three. I couldn’t believe I had lost another child. Especially since I had specifically asked God this time to please, let this child make it. To please let this child be healthy. My prayer wasn’t answered (so I thought). My glasses weren’t just black anymore; they were impenetrable. I was blind to hope. I felt worse then abandoned; I didn’t care if He was there for me anymore. I didn’t want to talk to God. Of course, as a good ‘Christian’ mother to my daughter, I continued the evening prayer, for her benefit. How trite.

When the test read positive for baby four, I was scared. As a high-risk pregnant woman, I wasn’t sure what would happen. I wasn’t sure if my body was even capable of holding life. And mostly, I wasn’t sure if I dared ask God for his help. But there came a day, eight weeks into the pregnancy, where I began to bleed. At two AM, I woke my husband, crying. The contractions had started. My body was trying to miscarry, again. My husband turned on all the lights. I lay down, scared. Miserable. He knelt beside me and put his hands on my abdomen and prayed. A fervent prayer. He claimed life and rebuked miscarriage. He prayed on and on. Until the contractions stopped. The bleeding stopped. And today, I have a son. His name is Gabriel, which means, “Strong man of God.”

In those early, terrible morning hours, I learned something.

Prayer does work.

It works! It isn’t futile. God does hear. And even more so, He showed me that he heard each prayer and answered all of them. They simply weren’t answered like I had expected. I asked for healthy, full-term babies. And they are. Shiloh and Selah are healthy and were born full-term in heaven. Their natural bodies couldn’t sustain life in our world, but they are thriving in heaven. They’ve gone ahead of me, but we’ll have eternity to spend together someday.

My glasses have been washed clean, as forgiveness has entered my heart. I blamed God. I was angry with Him. I thought he had abandoned me. But I now know the truth.

He never left and when I was at my worst, he was still present. Rooting for me and waiting for the blindness to clear.

Thank you, God. I now see.