God Is Everywhere

January 10, 2018

God is Everywhere

We usually talk about movies after watching them.  The girls were discussing a movie while sitting at the “stone table” (what the little girls call the stone bench and table they get to do school at while waiting for the big girls at college) today.

The exchange from this movie being discussed goes generally like this:

“Don’t rob me of my hate…”

“…God has given us a second chance.  Don’t slap His hand away.”

“God? Can’t I ever get away from Him?”

“No.  God is everywhere, even in a kiss…”

And so this story that, as a novel, is a story of bitter vengeance and betrayal becomes morphed for the big screen into a story of forgiveness and God’s mercy.

Jaquline says, “I like how God is everywhere.  The Bible says He’s in the darkest valley and the tallest mountain.  Is God really in a kiss?”

“I think so,” Kimberly pipes up, “God also gives life and love.”

“So if God is in everything, do squirrels get married?” Jillian asked.  (She loves the Landmark Tribe squirrel stories, and in those, the squirrels are married.)

“God is in everything; He created everything,” Jaquline sighed, “but I don’t know if squirrels get married for real.  Dogs don’t but when we are feeling sad, God uses Prim’s and Sheba’s kisses to make us happier.” (Prim and Sheba are our dogs.)

“So God is even in doggie kisses!” laughed Jillian.

I smiled.  The sun that warms us, the air we breathe, the water, plants, animals; each spark of life is a gift from God.  “God is in everything” isn’t just a movie line; it’s real.  Sometimes we try to make God so distant when in reality He’s inside us, touching everything within and around us.  No, we can never get away from Him.  That’s the beauty and mystery of His love.  Why would the God who spoke the universe into existence want to “chase after” each of us?  God is in everything so that everything we see, feel, and love reflects His love for us.  In this way, all of creation sings God’s glory!

Thanks for reading!

Type at you later…

~Nancy Tart

Meet Jordan Binak

August 2, 2017

Meet Jordan Binak

We’re going to meet another fictional character today.  This one was created over 20 years ago!  Often when authors create fictional characters, they pull from themselves and add strengths they want.  If you study Charles Dickens, you learn that the character of David Copperfield has many traits and experiences that Dickens actually had.  Of course, the story is fiction, but the lead character is very close to Dickens.  I think of this as a “masked cameo” – like when a movie director has a cameo appearance in a film he directs.  Only in a book, since the readers may not know the author personally, the author can give his “masked cameo” a larger role.

When writing “Web of Deception,” I used many friends and family from real life and masked them or blended them together to make my characters.  (Don’t tell anyone!  And, no, I’m not saying who is who!)  Jordan was how I envisioned my character with his backstory.  Strong, bold, self-sacrificing for others, humble, frustrated, confused, content, fearless.  (Actually, he sounds like any teenager!)  I would work out the story in my backyard, acting out each part until I was satisfied with the way each sub-story played out and how the characters acted.  (Quite a lot of it was chopped later, or rearranged, just like a movie!  And my dog, Lady, was my first-ever audience.)

Jordan gets most of his character from his birth family.  This foundation is built upon by the family who takes him in.  He credits most of his character to his sister, who he looked up to and was always trying to be like.  He doesn’t realize it (most young people don’t until later when they choose to analyze themselves), but even his perception of others is influenced by his childhood village.  As a youngster he enters a military training school.  This is common in the World of Kings’ province of Swavaria.  Their Warrior-Spirits begin training between three and five.  Jordan enters “late” at seven and a half.

When he’s graduated from this school, he finds himself thrust into a twisted quest he knows nothing of.  This quest will answer more questions and touch more memories than Jordan knew he had.  “Web of Deception” was written using my “step in their shoes and walk around” model that I use for most characters.  Being that Jordan was my first protagonist (lead character), I discovered that when I was frustrated, it was easy to write confrontation and fight scenes. When I was calm, it was easier to drift to other characters and develop them.  This made for a great release of frustration!  I’d just turn whatever was bothering me into the creature Jordan happened to be fighting!  (This was a major stress-reliever!  When I created Kvortee, I was envisioning a bully we’d just dealt with.)

I completed the first draft of “Web of Deception” when I was fourteen.  When the first edition was published, the ending was cut, so this second edition contains the full ending!  Enjoy!

Thanks for reading!

Type at you next time…

~Nancy Tart

Yard Work Day

June 30, 2017

Yard Work Day

Today was a yard work day.

I love yard work day because I love to mow grass.  With our push mower, it’s a walking workout where you can sing your lungs out and no one can hear you.  Today I was interviewing Ethan while I mowed instead of singing.

The girls love yard work day because after we spend hours yanking stumps and sticks and dead wood out of the ground (this yard was Florida brushland 8 months ago, so it was loaded with hidden spikes where bush stumps stick out of the ground), we can burn them in our fire pit (8 concrete blocks set in the dirt off the backyard in the middle of the dirt pit – I like to pretend that’s the summer kitchen; it might be, someday).

The dogs love yard work day.  Primrose likes it because she gets to be outside with us.  Sheba gets the whole house to herself – and we’ll come in to find her stretched out on top of the couch with a nest made out of her blanket.

But the critters who make the absolute best of yard work day are the chickens.  They follow the mower like rats following the Pied Piper, each hoping to snatch more dislodged bugs and fresh, juicy greens than every other chicken.  They race to whoever is raking and scratch the hay all over finding bugs. (10 adult chickens can smooth a leaf pile flat in less than a minute!)  They spy a child toting the full hay bucket toward their henhouse – Crow Cackle Cackle! – they call all other foraging chickens as they race back to the henhouse to inspect and rearrange their new hay immediately.  Soft grass cuttings make hay.  Thicker, brush-type cuttings make the hen yard mulch.  We fill this “hen yard mulch” about 6 to 10 inches deep and the chickens continually scratch and add nitrogen to it for a few weeks.  We use this finished, fertilizer-infiltrated, shredded indigestible plant material to mulch our bulb beds and for our future garden.

The bonus of yard work day is that everyone feels like we’ve accomplished much, we all clean up, eat dinner, and sleep.  The children all go to sleep as soon as they are out of the bath.  Even Mom is tired, but after the last outside chore (herding the reluctant chicken flock back into the hen yard for the night), I breathe in the sweet smell of cut grass, fresh earth, and wood smoke.  And we finish our yard work day with sticky, gooey roasted marshmallows over the dying fire’s embers.

Working outside always relaxes me.  I totally love how when God made us and put us in the perfect environment; perfection was a garden!

Thanks for reading!

Type at you next time…

~Nancy Tart

Home School Doggies

June 19, 2017

Home School Doggies

Many dogs have lived with us for various amounts of time (we’ve fostered quite a few).  Each one leaves their unique pawprints on our hearts.  Since dogs tend to single out one person to bond with, each one “belongs” to one of the girls for their stay.  They sometimes refer to our dogs as “home school doggies” because they are part of our “home school family.”

Rebeccah had a cute Black Mouth Cur named Lady.  Lady loved the girls so much that when they were doing school, she would wiggle around their feet and periodically whine.  We’d say, “Lady, hush!  They’ll come play in a bit.”  She would wag her tail (which wagged her entire body in waves) and give us “the puppy look.”  Lady weighed about eighty pounds and was still less than a year old!  One of our neighbors said she looked like a deer! (She jumped like a deer too; dead stop with a 5-foot fence in front of her? Boing! She cleared it no problem.)  She was friendly and loved everyone – especially other puppies smaller than she. (Since she was bigger than most of the children, I’m sure she considered them puppies.)

Sheba thinks she is the queen (our family dog who was 7) so she just slept on the couch during school work time.

Lady would climb in Rebeccah’s chair.  She thought she was human.  Rebeccah would occasionally dress Lady up.  One day I hear “Mom!  Come look at your newest student!”

Around the corner from the kitchen I spy our big human-sized dog standing with her back feet on the floor, left paw on the table, and right paw in Rebeccah’s hand with a pencil between her toes.  (The DOG IS ON MY TABLE!  But I laugh instead, because that look is hilarious – and yes, we caught it on camera!)

“Mom, Lady is doing my schoolwork today.”  Rebeccah says. “I hope she’s good at fractions!”

I love the fact that happy interruptions (like an impromptu photography session, discussion of dog’s feet and toes and how different they are from human digits, or recess to rub their dog’s belly) can pop up and get included in their day.

By the way, we were doing “bookwork” after dark (about 7 in winter) because the day was just too pretty to stay inside. (We’re in Florida; winter = 60 degrees at noon) There is so much to be learned from events in our daily lives.  We watched different Florida birds that morning and the explorers stumbled upon the deer thicket in the wild deep brush behind our house.  So we looked up birds for identification and researched deer. (Surprisingly, the movie Bambi has a lot of truth about deer in it.)

One stretch we had bookwork “paused” while we spent extra time loving on a litter of puppies and their momma until each found their “fur-ever” home.  The girls named and loved every one of those pups.  They researched and learned a lot about life from those little sweeties.

Today, our two family dogs observe “bookwork” each in their own way (none as active a participant as Lady was):

Prim (one month shy of 3 years old) curls at Christina’s feet, yipping if her master’s bookwork takes too long.

Sheba still sits like a queen (she’s 10) on the couch, pretending she’s old and weak. (But open the gate and she’ll rejuvenate to 10-month-old-puppy and sprint outside so quickly that only Daddy or Kimberly can grab her!)

I’m so thankful for the “home school doggies” God puts with us to learn from and smother with love.

Thanks for reading!

Type at you later…

~Nancy Tart