It Takes a Village (of Authors)

When I started this writing journey, I was one little person typing her thoughts and feelings away on a blog from the comfort of her home. That was back in 2011 and I had no idea—not even a small clue—of where I would be at six years later. Well, I’m still typing away in the safe bubble of my house (with a never-ending supply of tea!), but I’m no longer alone. I have a whole village of people surrounding me, all of whom I’ve never even met face-to-face, but that I communicate with on a regular basis. How is this possible? It’s called the internet!

And because of the amazing, talented, and supportive authors I’ve been able to meet online, I’ve been able to learn and grow and evolve into the writer I am today. I owe a LOT to these people. I digest their blogs and books, pick their brains for advice on anything from commas to marketing strategies, and lean on their support in sharing my work.

I’ve always been a solitary type of gal (I was an only child until age 10 and an introvert, still am!), but I’m starting to see the benefits of being part of a village. Regardless of what we do on a daily basis—whether it’s teaching, researching, programming, counseling, raising kids or writing—we need others. We need others who understand the challenges we go through and don’t fault us for having a bad day when (fill in the blank). We need folks who know just the right thing to say that will encourage and push us to do better. Most of all, we need to know we’re not on this journey alone, that we have people cheering us on every day.

I was so fortunate to find an online author village with Clean Indie Reads (if you want to join our Facebook group, let me know!). Last year, I was able to meet another group of wonderful authors when we collaborated together on a boxed set (insert shameless plug: Click HERE to get 7 stories for only 99 cents!). 🙂 And more recently, God graciously opened the doors for me to be part of an author cooperative, Sweet Romance Reads! I am beyond excited (and a bit starstruck to be among such accomplished authors!) and am looking forward to working with them to introduce you to more warm-fuzzy stories. I now feel more equipped and supported than ever as an author and ready to tackle this year.

Yay for finding my village! Have you found yours? Comment below and let me know!

Here’s a great song about supporting one another, Josh Groban’s “You Raise Me Up”, covered here by Jai McDowell & KHS.

Showing Kindness to 200 Kids

What a week! 🙂

For five days I helped assemble breakfast, snack and lunch for 80+ first to sixth graders at an academic camp put on by our church. And let me tell you, it was tiring, but a blast.

Here are some of the snacks we served – can you guess what the theme was? (Hint: Something that’s related to tents, campfires and the great outdoors.)

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I found out recently that our school district only has one summer school site for the entire district, which means each school can only send one or two kids from each grade to attend. There are so many kids who need the academic help that summer school offers, but they can’t get in! This is why some teachers from our church decided to put this summer camp together for the underprivileged kids in our community. Last year we served close to 100 kids on one campus, and this year we expanded to two campuses! By God’s grace, we were able to reach out to almost 200 kids in all.

Each child who came was touched by the registration folks, the group leaders, the teachers (for science, reading/writing, math, PE, crafts and music) and the food crew. They received one-on-one attention and were affirmed on how valuable and loved they are. Over the course of the week, the kids really opened up and blossomed. One child who showed up on Monday was so quiet and shy that she needed her group leader to speak for her, but by Thursday she had gained the confidence and courage to sing a solo in front of her whole music class! This was just one of many stories I heard over the week that proved it’s possible to make a huge impact on children in a short, but meaningful time.

As part of the food prep team, I particularly enjoyed seeing the kids’ smiles when they received a meal or even for something as small as a carton of milk. These are kids who don’t have much (a couple of them live in motels), but they were so polite and thankful and enthusiastic. It really made my day to know I could play a role in helping their minds and bodies be ready to learn and grow.

I ended the week with this quote on my mind:kind

Life is hard, so let us be kind to one another. Even a smile can go a long way. I know the smiles the kids gave me this week made a big dent in my heart and will stay in my memory for a long time.

Here’s a short clip of the kids singing Josh Groban’s song, “You Raise Me Up” for their families on the last day of camp. 🙂 May these little ones inspire you to raise someone up with your kind words and actions.

How have you shown kindness to others recently? How has someone’s act of kindness made a difference in your life?