Slices of Stories

August 16, 2017

Slices of Stories

Have you ever wondered about the stories of people you barely touch?  I do. Each time I see a person or group of people my brain asks that question and sometimes I theorize about the answer.

A biker in full regalia changing a tire on the sidewalk, a child standing in a full school bus with both arms protruding from the open window, a pair of women talking with their hands in the car next to you at the traffic light, a tall, thin girl crossing a 6 lane roadway with a drink in her hand; what are their stories?

These were all people I passed just on a twelve-minute ride this morning.  All bits of five full vibrant life stories and I eavesdropped on a few seconds of each.

Consider now: I’m at a park bench.  It’s early morning, school busses transporting children are still flying by the three roads that surround the park.  A mother and her toddler enter the park, they are the only ones besides me.  He laughs and runs free.  Mother checks out the surroundings from behind dark sunglasses – the same thing I do when I enter new surroundings.  Mother pushes him on the toddler swing as he smiles and points out squirrels and birds in the overhanging trees.

My mind asks me; what is their story?  I can describe them in detail.  I observe tiny things like how many keys dangle from her keyclip over her back right pocket, he is wearing the easy-slip-on canvas shoes I love (even in navy blue, my favorite color), her blonde hair is darkening at the base (maybe she dyed it blonde about six months ago or it’s summer-kissed) and twisted up in a becoming bun atop her head (It could be called a “messy bun” but it looks good on her), he has a cowlick (maybe he took a nap in the carseat).

It sounds weird, doesn’t it?  This is the overworking mind of a writer.  I only glanced at them twice, once when they entered and once when he squealed at a bird or squirrel, yet I imagine an entire storyline connected to them just from those glances.  Odd.  I’m probably wrong on all counts.  My mind has been doing this as far back as I can remember.  I see people and write sketches about them.  Many of these character sketches based on a 2-second glance have become bit parts in various stories.  I trained myself not to believe my assumptions and imaginative storylines about the people I meet. (That doesn’t mean my brain doesn’t still analyze and make storylines!) I allow people to fill in their own story as I get to know them.  I had to teach myself not to judge others by what my perceptions of them are.  As I learned more about people, took more psychology classes, watched lives unfold, and lived my own life, my assumptions came truer to reality; but I still don’t judge others by them.

It does help me get inspiration for story characters, though.  So, that’s just a glimpse into the mind of a writer.

I wonder what goes through the minds of the mother and toddler as they catch a glimpse of this woman sitting cross-legged on a huge picnic table by herself with keys, business cards, a banana peel, and a phone lying in front of her and tapping away like a diesel locomotive on a not-so-silent laptop keyboard.  What do they perceive of their observation of a slice of my life’s story?

Thanks for reading!

Type at you next time…

~Nancy Tart

 

Filling Big Shoes

July 31, 2017

Filling Big Shoes

We are always trying to be like someone.  Lucas is two.  He is always trying to do “like Daddy” or “like Becky” (what he calls Rebeccah sometimes) or “like you do.” (that can be anyone)  When Daddy got his hair cut, Lucas wanted “Daddy hair.”  When Jillian is coloring, Lucas wants to “color like big me.” When Christina is cooking bacon – BACON!  Lucas pulled out the bacon from the refrigerator before Christina had finished putting the pan on the stove!  He was jumping around, yelling “BACON!  My BACON!”  (We’ve never seen him this excited over food since the last night we made popcorn.)  After discovering that the pan was too hot for him to play with the bacon, he ran through the house telling everyone “Tina making my BACON!” and jumped on Daddy yelling, “BACON!  Me eat BACON DADDY!”

Although we girls laugh, I see this passion for food rather neat.  Lucas does everything with 110% excitement and passion.  He likes watching Wild Kratts.  When that comes on he jumps up and down and yells, “YEAH!  Animal movie!”  (Actually, that can be any well-done nature documentary that shows actual animals – I can’t wait to show him “A Zebra in the Kitchen!”)  He dances with joy when he’s happy.  He wants to be like everyone around him.

We were getting ready for a date one night and Louis set his Sunday shoes down in Lucas’ reach.  (Lucas had a pair of black dress shoes that looked like Daddy’s.)  Lucas climbed into them and said, “my Daddy’s shoes!  My shoes!”  He walked around the house for a while telling the girls “Me Daddy in Daddy’s shoes.”  Of course, they played along with this asking, “Daddy, can I go…”  Lucas has learned to laugh and say “why?” with his lips stuck out.

In the way a child wants to be like their parents, grandparents, or big siblings, we should want to be more like Jesus.  It may be comical for us to see a toddler in big shoes, trying to fill them, but being woefully short, but in the same way, we do not start our journey of faith fully filling the “shoes” we perceive ourselves trying to fill.  We aren’t perfect.  We try to walk as close as we can to Jesus.  Our aim is to fill the “shoes” God has given us.  Our role, our mission, our goal.  Our life here is a gift and we should enjoy it with passion!

Sometimes it’s rather funny what type of thoughts I have when I watch my toddler on his exploration of life!

Thanks for reading!

Type at you later…

~Nancy Tart

Who You Are

July 28, 2017

Who You Are

As a teen, I decided never to “change myself” for others.  I watch people.  I watched many relationships in various stages during my teenage years and learned that I didn’t want to present myself as something I wasn’t.  It seemed that those who faked who they were had a hard time in their relationships.  You don’t have to pretend to love everything another person enjoys to “capture” them.  My mom didn’t have to bury herself in computer code to get my Daddy’s attention, she just does the bend and snap.

I analyzed the relationships of those whose love I admired.  They were the couples who had vowed til death do us part and meant it.  They enjoyed each other’s company in simple pleasures, like taking a walk, exploring a park, watching a movie, or eating a meal.  They built their relationship on trust and honesty.  They didn’t always do everything together.  They didn’t always have the same interests.  They did respect each other.  They loved each other.  They did life together.

I didn’t want a “catch” or “conquest.”  I wanted a best friend.  I wanted someone to grow up with, raise a family with, get old together with, and enjoy forever – I wanted someone to do life with.

I like to dress up (Heels, skirts, blouses and dresses) for church, work, and dinner.  I’m competitive.  If you want to play a game with me, I’m going to try to win!  I’m stubborn, so I won’t surrender.  I love to be outside.  If you ask what I want to do, surfing, tennis, bicycling, and swimming top the list.  I love worship.  I love to dance and be childish when I’m happy or feel free.  If I’m watching a sunrise on the beach, I am likely to start singing and twirling.  Bored on a bus or in a ride queue?  I’m probably singing some silly song with whatever child will sing along.  I am myself.  I wasn’t looking to change anyone else, so why would anyone want to change me?

That was my attitude; still is.

Truly it came down to self-worth.  I knew that God loved me so what else mattered?  My self-worth was in how God saw me.  I figured He died for me.  He must think I’m something good.  Out of love for Him, I’m constantly trying to improve myself, but not because He says I’m no good as I am.  (I am also a perfectionist, so yes, I’m always critically looking at myself and trying to self-improve – we tend to be hardest on ourselves.)  I especially want my girls to know that no matter what flaws they see in themselves, they are always loved by God.  (And by family, of course, but we are all human so putting your idea of self-worth in a person isn’t perfect.)

So think of who you are.  How do you see yourself?  Are you seeing yourself as the amazingly beautiful creation that Jesus loved so much He died and rose again so you can have life with Him forever?  You are a beloved child of God.

Today, my sense of self-worth is still in how God sees me.  This has helped me not to expect perfection from anyone except God.  (That seriously helps with all relationships!)

I have my husband, daughters, son, family, and friends to do life with.  We are loving every day of it!

Thanks for reading!

Type at you next time…

~Nancy Tart

Investigating

July 25, 2017

Investigating

One of the things I love about writing anything factual, like the Home Edge Readers, is the research and investigation I get to do.  I love to learn about something new.  I enjoy compressing it into a compact form yet still managing to include most of the important facts and unique terminology.  (Like “rift” or “Plinian explosion” in volcanology.)

As a Mom, passing on the love of learning is my passion.  Children are normally curious.  I don’t want to squash that.  I want to build on it.  I want them to always look at the world with wonder and ask questions about whatever they want to know.  If they want to know about something, I want them to investigate: read, touch, listen, explore, and learn.  By definition, this is true science: the observation of the world around us.

Early scientists from all cultures (even if they were still called by some title other than “Scientist”) observed and wrote or drew about the world around them.

When I watch children learn, they observe, draw, write about, build models of, manipulate, and ask questions.  Our natural curiosity needs to be fed so we always want to learn!

Consider this beach day:

The water was cold so only the older girls were in the water deeper than their ankles.  Lucas seemed to smell the November cold.  (That’s Florida cold, though, as you can see they were in bathing suits!)  He didn’t even try the water.  He started off by chasing gulls.  Seagulls in Florida have learned the art of evasion.  I think they laugh at these funny miniature humans racing toward them making odd animal-like shrieks.  They watch until just the last moment, and hop-fly about 50 yards away.  Their bright black eyes challenge said little human as if they are saying “you can’t catch me!”  Of course, without adult intervention, Lucas would chase a single seagull until he dropped from exhaustion. (Maybe this is a seagull’s crab hunting technique?)

But as Lucas starts chasing, he steps in a squishy, odd thing he hasn’t touched before.  Two crabs race out of the seaweed and waddle into the water.  Lucas jumps off of it and dances around it, laughing.  Jillian joins him and pokes it with a small piece of driftwood she’s picked up from somewhere.

“What is this, Mom?” Jillian asks.  So I explain its seaweed washed ashore after the storm.  They spend about ten minutes poking, prodding, lifting, and observing that one clump until Lucas is sure it isn’t dangerous.  Now he uses his new knowledge and seaweed clumps become toys!

Jillian and Lucas built a seaweed mountain that stood as tall as Lucas, but they weren’t faster than the tide.  They also watched the ocean “eat” the seaweed a few strings at a time and carry them off.

At home, for many days later, Jillian drew her impressions of seaweed.  Whenever we watched ocean documentaries, she would spy seaweed and yelp, “that’s seaweed, I know that!”

She “knows” seaweed because she explored it and played with it.  I want my children to know anything they want to learn about that completely.  To have touched, tasted, researched, and immersed themselves in it.  It doesn’t matter if the subject is baking, gardening, crocheting, fractions, nouns, writing letters, raising chickens, equations, times tables, letter sounds, zoology, biology, or whatever they want to learn.  I want them to dive into it and “know” it.  I figure the best way to teach this is to show them that I learn this way too.  I let them see me looking things up, studying various recipes before I attempt a dish, reading their algebra books ahead of them to “relearn” it, searching with them when they have a question I can’t answer, and researching for my books.

I want learning to be a passion for them.  Because once you discover a love of learning, you will always be investigating new things!

Thanks for reading!

Type at you later…

~Nancy Tart

She’s On a Mission

July 21, 2017

She’s On a Mission

Sometimes God leads people into your life to bless you and everyone around you.  Sometimes you don’t get to see them all the time (Actually, you see them very rarely!), but you feel such a strong connection.  Sometimes those people are in your life to encourage you and to be positive influences in your children’s lives.

One such blessing in our lives is an awesome friend, Stacy.  (My girls all call her “Aunt Stacy.”)  She has been a friend of our family for over eight years.  She was at our house (and the only one with a camera) when Jillian was born, so she is the reason we have birth pictures of Jillian!  (She’s a photographer so not only did we have pictures, but they were awesome pictures.) Stacy is a missionary.  She has a blog where she writes a lot of interesting single-woman-missionary-related thoughts.  These are so insightful and spot on.  Christina started following her Aunt Stacy’s blog when she was about 10.  Every day Stacy was in Zambia in 2014, Christina would ask, “Has Aunt Stacy written some more?”  She updated everyone on her mission travels daily. (Or as she got internet connectivity) We’d read and Christina would journal about the verses Stacy referenced.

Stacy is a beautiful young woman.  I’ve watched her confidence and strength grow as now she’s inspiring and mentoring my teen and preteens.  Stacy has mentored other girls in person; she’s open, fun, and connects with them in a special way.  (Rebeccah says “it’s because she’s real, her love shines.”) Recently, Christina said “look!  Her quote is one of my favorites!”  In the last blog, “Jesus is not my Boyfriend,” Stacy quoted C.S. Lewis saying “A woman’s heart should be so close to God that a man should have to chase Him to find her.”  (This is one I’ve repeated many times in raising my young women – it’s also a favorite of mine.)

Even though we don’t get to visit in person as often as we’d like to, this wonderful young woman, a strong warrior of God, a vibrant passionate lover of Jesus, my sister-in-Christ, is such a blessing to our family.  She is leading, encouraging, and sharing from her heart.

That is how we teach people.  They say the best sermons you ever preach are the ones that are seen.  We show people who we are, what we are passionate about, and who we love, by the actions they see.  Online, you can’t really “see” people, but you can see the actions of what they are doing through the pictures and stories they show.  (It helps if they are “real” to you; someone you’ve actually met, but that’s not necessary.)  My children watch what I do.  I can talk patience all day, but if I get irritated because the line at the grocery store is too long, all that talk just disappeared because obviously, I don’t “walk the talk.”  When they see someone who has a huge heart for helping others and spreading God’s word and get to “follow” what she’s actually doing and read what she’s saying, it shows them that this person does “walk her talk” too.

I pray constantly to be the kind of person who “walks” my “talk.”  I want to be someone others can look up to and be inspired by.  This is why I write: writing is my passion, my love, my art.  God gives us talents and gifts.  He wants us to use them to encourage, inspire, teach, and love others.  This is my goal.

I am so grateful for those in my family’s life who provide positive inspiration for us – some may not even know how deep of an impact they have on our lives – but if I can, I want to tell them!  Stacy is such a blessing for us – it’s an honor to say she’s my friend.

Stacy writes about singleness, being “on a mission,” loving God, and everyday-Christian-woman challenges in her blog: www.thelivingone.blog.

Thanks for reading!

Type at you next time…

~Nancy Tart

Baby Mode

June 20, 2017

Baby Mode

Babies have several levels; there is no-sleep level, walker level, mobile level, and want-to-be independent level.  Then they graduate into toddler level and you’re off to the races.  Really, off to the races begins with baby’s birth.  When you hear Momma yell: “It’s time!” the race is well underway.  There are endless modes baby can choose from as well.

Random strangers say “Oh, your baby is so sweet!” but as soon as they turn the corner “Angelic Mode” shifts into “Cranky Mode with supersize red food dye on top.”

My personal favorite is “Grandma Mode” – this is characterized by sweet, innocent faces and nuzzling into lots of adoring hugs and kisses.  It makes everyone go “Awww how sweet!” then it’s time to go.  “Tell Grandma bye bye,” – cutest little wave and shy away ever!  But as soon as you drive off, “leaving fun mode” comes on and it’s ferociously scream “I want Grandma!” at the top of his lungs.  (This is related to “Auntie Mode,” “Bestest Uncle Mode,” and “Cousin Mode”)

“Snuggle Mode” is nice.  This always turns on when mom, dad, or big sister has something vital to do (like make food, do schoolwork, or remove the insect that is causing the dog to break the sound barrier).  Baby enters snuggle mode and the world stops until he is really asleep.  Don’t ever try to lay him down while in “Half-Sleep Mode” (this is where your stemware shatters with the ear-piercing squeal announcing that he had not received enough snuggle time)

“Goofy Mode” is the most wonderful of baby modes – and this mode continues into teenagerhood.  This is when anything and everything from “Boo” faces to tummy tickles to doggies kissing sister’s feet makes baby laugh.  Not just a little chuckle, but a deep belly laugh that makes everyone else in the house laugh too.

Laughter is Baby’s superpower.

Sometimes even in “Total Demolition Mode” laughter emerges.  Mom can be cleaning up one mess as baby is making two more yet when she sees the marker masked bandit excited to show her his masterpiece of tape and sequins decorating the couch, Mom just can’t help but laugh.  (Maybe a bit of insanity laughter, but still laughter.)  Of course, those stories make everyone at the family reunions laugh (or the lady’s group, church, PTA, etc.)  This is because anyone who has experienced baby knows the memories are what you carry with you.

God has entrusted us with His little angels (they are His first) for a short time.  18 years goes by so quickly.  Before you are done cleaning up messes, your baby has toddled off to school and instead of screaming because he’s hungry and can’t express it, he is asking for the car keys.

Enjoy the baby levels, different modes, and ages of life.  Remember that laughter can turn any situation into a happy memory. Who knows?  An artistic mess might be framed and remain part of the wall to show your Grandchildren, “see, this is what your daddy did to my wall when he was your age.”

Thanks for reading!

Type at you next time…

~Nancy Tart

Thrill Seekers

May 21, 2017

Three Generations of Thrill Seekers (Scream!)

     As a teenager, I went to Six Flags over Georgia with my youth group.  My mom was one of the chaperones. (That really means adults who want to have fun and use watching the kids as an excuse.)  My mother loves roller coasters.  I rode Scream with my mom. (LOVED it!) I rode everything else in the whole park too, but that ride was my favorite because my brain envisioned the car flying off or the wooden ride collapsing due to a secret termite infestation.  I loved scary and risky so I loved thrill rides.  I thought it was super neat that my mom loved them too.

Fast forward to my own little ones and we happen to be at Six Flags one day. (It was supposed to be Wild Adventures, but we didn’t check operating day until at 4am when we are on the way.  That park was closed so my crew is like “Let’s visit family in Atlanta!” and they were busy until afternoon so Six Flags it was.)

Big girls and Louis went for the big rides with long lines while Kimberly, Jaquline, Jillian, Lucas, and I went to the kiddie zone and they had an awesome time.  Lucas, we learned, was just as much a crazy risky-feeling ride lover that all the kids were. (Probably the result of Daddy, uncles, and big sisters swinging him around!)  We gathered together and swapped partners with me and Lucas as “base” since Lucas couldn’t go on anything by himself and I was dispatching.  (In an amusement park, 8 hours away, yes, working.)

Jillian hadn’t done any roller coasters yet because almost everything she missed by a hair.  An hour from close, Louis asked each girl what ride they wanted to do.  Jillian instantly shouts “Scream with Mom!” This results in me and my baby girl riding Scream for her first roller coaster ride.  I’m not much of a picture taker, (NEVER selfies) but when we got in the car, Jillian says, “I want a picture with you on my first ride!” (1st roller coaster, but I guess all the other rides didn’t count.) So, my first attempt at a selfie was me and my baby girl on the same ride I rode with my mom twenty years before.

We are a thrill seeker (or crazy, nuts for brains, no concept of reality, love to be scared to death) family.  We just see the fun and go, no planning, no thinking about what if this or that fails; we just trust that everything will be okay and we will enjoy the ride we are on.  It sounds a lot like life.  You never know what you will find.  You never know what challenge or risk or turn will be ahead.  You just have to hold on tight and go for it.  Trusting that God will take care of anything you can’t handle, give you strength and tools for what you can, and hold the safe end in His hand.

The fun comes with being thankful in every moment, finding the good even within the challenges, and encouraging others along the way.

Thanks for reading!

Type at you next time…

~ Nancy Tart

 

Introduction

May 20, 2017

Who I Am (Introduction)

   Most importantly to me, I’m a wife, mother, home-school teacher, and friend.

That sounds really simple… so, how about adding in our hobby garden, ongoing “school project” flock of chickens, the fact that I’m a mother to six (and yes, I’d love more) children and two dogs (okay, so Prim is Christina’s dog), published author with dozens of stories, and I am an owner, operator, business manager, and financial accountant for our primary business.

Okay, so why on Earth would I start a blog?  (Because I need something else on my plate?  Because I’m crazy?  Because I love drowning in deadlines and yelling “Just a minute!” at the top of my lungs?)

No.

Honestly, it’s because I love to teach.  I learn best by watching (or reading) about other people’s successes and blunders.  (Here, you will read both… but that’s okay because we are all human!)

I also love to write.  (Otherwise completing a science-fiction fantasy novel for young adults would NEVER have happened.)

I’m hoping to create a fun, happy place with this blog where people can catch a glimpse of my crazy, wonderful, amazing life and hopefully glean a few pearls of wisdom.

Thanks for reading!

Type at you next time…

~ Nancy Tart