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Month: March 2016

The Stages of Parenting

My brother and his wife have a little boy who turned 1 in December. He’s SO CUTE. Now, I’m in my mid-40’s, and this is my older brother, so he had kids rather late in life. Recently, he had a social media post about people criticizing his parenting style –  he used to the term “helicopter”. I laughed and told him after the 2nd kid, the helicopter loses altitude and by the 3rd, it’s completely grounded.

kaylee scott veterans day 2006Since that conversation, I’ve been mentally thinking about stages of parenting. It’s such a gradual thing.

When they’re born, you can’t fathom ever letting them go. You’re afraid to take a shower for fear of something happening to them in those 10 minutes you can’t see or maybe even hear them.

You take them with you into the public bathroom stall even when they’re 3 or 4 or maybe even 5.

You go with them to that first birthday party and stay the entire time, with all of the other parents watching — hovering like helicopters — while their kids learn the social graces that come with birthday parties.

scott first day of schoolThey join forces with all of the other 5-year-olds in your world and start their first day of school. You stay, you hover, you worry about what they’ll do in the lunch room and if their teacher will misplace them and not realize it before something horrible happens to them and you keep your phone next to you all day, turned up loud, just in case the school calls. You know that call — the one that never came because your kid rocked the first day of school and all of the subsequent days after that one.

You don’t let them go to that first sleepover because you just don’t trust how they’ll do in the middle of the night without you —  but have one at your house instead — and only half the kids invited come because their parents are just like you.

20140502_071428_resizedAnd then you let them go to the birthday party by themselves. You trust that the other parents will make sure they survive the piñata and ice cream and pray that your kid isn’t THAT KID who spills his red Kool-Aid on the white carpet and tries to steal a birthday present. You make sure that the parents know your phone number and keep your phone next to you at all times, the ringer turned up loud, waiting for the phone call that signals that your child needs YOU and only YOU. You know that call, the one that never comes, because your kid had an awesome time at that party. Even without you there, hovering.

One day, your son goes into the public bathroom alone. And he’ll never know how you hovered outside of the door, listening intently, waiting to rush into the room at the first sound of distress or stranger danger.

jeb first day of schoolOne day, they go to that sleepover. And, you keep your phone on loud the entire time and wait for the phone call that something horrible happened while they were out of your sight at 2AM. You know that call – the one that never came despite all of your worry about it. And your kid comes home jabbering about all of the fun she had the night before.

Eventually, the sleepovers are just a part of life. And you have a house full of kids as often as your kids are gone from the house.

You realize one afternoon that you might not know all of your kid’s friends’ parents, and wonder if that makes you a bad mom or not.

kidsEventually, they get their permit to learn how to drive. And you’re sitting next to them the entire time, teaching them, guiding them, knowing that one day you’ll hand them the keys and they’ll drive away all by themselves.

You wonder how you’ll do it.

And then they do. And you keep your phone on loud and close to you the whole time waiting for that phone call from the state troopers. You know that call — the one that never came despite all of your worry over it.

You have them check in with you everywhere they go. Check in when they get there, check in when they leave. Check in when they get to the next place.

Then the day comes and you wonder where your kid is. Did she have volleyball practice or work? What was her schedule this week? Then you wonder if not knowing for sure makes you a bad parent or not.

Senior year, your child will beg to go to Fort Lauderdale for Spring Break and you think of all of those wild girl videos and documentaries of the horrors experienced by teenagers in the midst of Spring Break Fever and send her instead to a beach closer to family and friends.

kaylee graduatingAnd then they graduate from high school. And, the next day, you put them on a plane to fly to another continent for their class trip. And the whole time you’re filling out forms and getting passports and paying fees and attending meetings with the chaperones and teachers, you’re wondering how in the world you’ll drop them at the airport with their backpacks packed and their walking shoes on. And, you do. With dozens of other parents. And you stare at each other and wonder how you just let them all go. And you all check your phones and make sure those ringers are turned on and loud.

Two weeks later, your kid comes home with a bag full of souvenirs, hungry for your cooking, and memories that can never be replaced. And you realize they’re on that cusp of not needing you all the time anymore.

kaylee ft laudThen that time will come when she’s an adult with her own apartment and job, and she pays her own way to Fort Lauderdale for spring break and you have to just anxiously watch her social media posts for any signs of anything horrible happening. And you keep your phone next to you at all times, turned up loud, waiting for that phone call from the Florida hospital. You know that call — the one that never came because your kid is smart and you’ve raised her right.

Eventually, you just let them go. You gradually quit jumping when that phone rings. You begin to trust that they’ve listened and learned and taken in all of your wisdom. And you think back to those days when they were infants and you were afraid to leave them alone for 10 minutes so that you could take a shower, when your helicopter was high above and you could observe everything all the time.

And you say to younger moms, “Take the shower. They’ll be fine.” Even though you know that you’d do it all the same again, with the same worries and the same hovering, and that painful, gradual letting go.

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A Melody for James is Free at iBooks!

Acover-front_9781939603074_640 Melody for James is FREE at iBooks only! If you’ve been waiting to read this award winning Christian suspense, now’s your opportunity!

The sale ends March 23rd.

The Back Cover:

Strangers meet during an unexpected layover. Hours later, their hearts sing a harmonious duet.

Melody Mason finds James Montgomery sincere, honest, and keenly intelligent with a tenderness that contradicts his broad stature. Melody lifts James from the depths of all- consuming grief for the first time since his wife’s murder. Uncannily, they learn that they share much in common. They begin to wonder whether God brought them together.

Though determined to unite, sinister events take an ominous turn. The couple won’t even see each other for four long years.

Melody rises to stardom as America’s newest Country Music sensation while James brings a billion dollar technological breakthrough within reach.

The two finally reunite and find the connection between them has only grown stronger in tempo, joining them like notes in a symphony. But once more, a terrifying hidden truth secretly sneers at their hopes for happiness. After so long apart, the couple must work in close concert.

They have to put all their faith in God as they solve the deadly mystery that ties their lives inexplicably together time and again.

Excerpt from the Book:

Chapter 1
ANGELA MONTGOMERY nearly missed it. She had lost herself in memories of her recent birthday celebration marking the passing of her 30th year on earth. Her husband, James, her junior by 2 short years, had gone all out. Being “much” younger, he had decorated the entire house with black balloons and held a surprise “wake” for the passing of her late youth. Daydreaming and lost in feelings of love and adoration for her beloved groom, Angela nearly failed to recognize the moment when it happened.

When her consciousness shifted from her reverie back to the present, for several breaths she simply stared at the smart board in front of her and ran through the calculations again. Then she tried to ignore the little shivers of nervous excitement that danced up her spine.

“Heeyyyyy …” Donald Andrews clicked a few keys on the laptop in front of him, magnifying the image on the smart board screen so that it covered the entire wall. “Did we just …”

Angela rose, her legs feeling uncharacteristically stiff, and walked forward while staring at the screen. “You know what, I’m cautiously going to say yes. Yes, we did.”

Alvin Berry let out a loud, “Whoop!” He removed the ever present knit cap from the top of his head and tossed it into the air. The group collectively looked at each other and grinned. Years of work, and the breakthrough sat right there on that smart board, staring back at them.

“We should celebrate,” Lorie Frazier announced. She pulled her glasses from her nose and casually tossed them onto the stack of papers in front of her. “We need to celebrate, then we need to call a press conference. But only after we get to the patent office.”

Angela looked back at the screen. “We have to be sure.”

“We’re sure,” Alvin said. “Look at that beauty. It is so simple yet so elegant.”

“Call James,” Lorie said. “Tell him to make us a reservation in the most ridiculously expensive restaurant Atlanta has to offer. Tell him we’re going to celebrate.”

Despite her naturally conservative nature, Angela started to let the feeling of giddy excitement take over. She laughed and hugged Don as she pulled her cell phone from her pocket.

Her husband would probably jump up and down or do a little dance of celebration. She felt like she might just as easily be making a call to announce that she was expecting their first child instead of the conclusion of this long project.

For five years, she and this amazing team of engineers had worked to perfect this revolutionary data storage solution. For five years, usually working six days a week, usually not less than twelve hours a day, they’d toiled in this basement lab in her inherited home. While she’d hoped and prayed for all that time, now that the reality of what they’d accomplished actually shone back at her from that beautiful smart screen, she realized she hadn’t ever really been certain they’d succeed.

But they had.

She got James voice mail. “Darling,” she purred, knowing he’d hear the smile in her voice, “We did it. We’re done. I cannot wait to show you. Come home. Come see. We need to celebrate.”

As soon as Angela hung up, she gave Lorie a hug and said, “I vote for cheesecake.”

“Copious amounts,” the nearsighted genius agreed. “Oh! With strawberries! And really good coffee.”

Angela felt her heart skip when the red security light started flashing. Her eyebrows crowded together in confusion. Why was the intruder alarm going off now?

Angela had inherited the farmhouse from her late uncle at the age of 17 and lived there throughout her lengthy matriculation at Georgia Tech. For a brief time when this venture was just beginning, she and her brand new husband, James, as well as their business partner and his best friend, Kurt, had all lived there under the same roof.

During the initial months and years, Kurt and James had renovated the basement entirely; installing a T1, a two post rack of networking gear, a four post rack of high performance servers; and most importantly, a state of the art security system, designed and built by her brilliant husband himself. For the last five years, they had hardened the basement into a panic room with steel reinforced doors, magnetic locks, and pinhole security cameras. It took two-factor authentication to even get into the room.

When the magnitude of the fact that the security alarm was still sounding sunk in, Angela whirled around until her eyes met with Don. When she spoke, she hated the shrill edge of panic she detected in her voice. “Back it up to the Snap.”

His fingers clicked on the keys with the speed of machine gun fire as spoke. “There’s no time. We didn’t do an incremental yesterday because the waffle was running a defrag.”

“Right. Execute a differential and encrypt it.” She waited a few heartbeats while Don’s fingers played out a staccato percussion on his laptop.

With confusion clouding his eyes, he looked up and announced, “Our hard line is down.”

Alvin pressed a series of keys on his computer and several small screens appeared on the smart board, all showing different angles of her home. Men in masks moved through the empty house with military precision, high powered and very deadly looking carbine rifles tucked tightly into their shoulders at the ready. They stared around every corner through the sights on the short rifles.

Lorie gasped and said, “What is going on? Who are they?”

Fear and panic tried to take over. Her stomach turned into ice and Angela felt like her breathing wasn’t productive, like she could never get a deep enough breath. Focus, she said to herself. You will have time to be scared when it’s over.

“Can you remember how we got here since the last backup?” Angela asked Alvin, her hand pointing in his direction like a knife blade. If she’d ever met anyone whose memory rivaled her husband’s, it was Alvin.

His voice sounded flat, emotionless. “Yes. Of course I can.”

She watched a crouched figure outside the entrance to the lab tape two liter plastic bottles filled with water to the hinges of the security door. The security that James and Kurt had installed was tight, state of the art even, and the door was sealed. But no seal in 100 miles would withstand the blast of a shaped charge pushing water ahead of a supersonic shock wave. It would slice through the steel door faster than the world’s most powerful cutting torch.

Whomever these people were, they had known the defenses they would have to overcome. They were prepared. They had planned. They had obviously even rehearsed as was apparent in their staged and perfectly timed precision movements. And the most dangerous thing Angela and her team had for protection once that door came down were a few custom computer viruses.

She’d known the risks. The success of their project was potentially worth upward of a hundred billion dollars in the first year alone, and that was on the conservative side. The long term applications of the soon to be patented technology could not even be calculated. The reason they worked out of her home instead of in some downtown lab was for the secrecy of the project, a vain hope of security by obscurity.

They’d taken additional precautions which Angela belatedly realized she had characterized as “paranoid.” A commercial exothermic incendiary device much like a military grade thermite grenade perched atop each server array that would, when detonated, melt their way through the machines at over 4 thousand degrees Fahrenheit, effectively destroying everything in a completely unrecoverable fashion. They would burn 3 times hotter than molten lava and the crew would have to be careful not to look at them since the radiant energy was bright enough to blind them without a welding visor.

“Then destroy it. Destroy it all.”

Lorie’s finger hovered over a steel pin. “You’re sure?”

The explosion above them shook the room. Alvin rushed to the inner door and made sure the panic room door remained bolted on all four corners. Angela closed the lid on her laptop and slid it into the 2 inch air gap between network switches. Then she draped her hand on Lorie’s shoulder and whispered, “Do it.”

She closed her eyes and started to pray as the room around her grew suddenly very hot and smoke started billowing up to the ceiling. “Lord Jesus, if I live through this, let me remain in Your will. But if I come home to you, sweet Jesus, please watch over my husband. Let him feel your comforting love and let him find the destiny you have in mind for him.”

Smoke alarms went off and the lights flickered. Then she felt herself being picked up and thrown aside, riding on the wave of a perfectly timed blast. As she flew backward from the shock of the multiple explosions blowing open her steel door she prayed even harder — she prayed for courage, for protection, for strength.

As she landed and fell against the tower of computer drives, she watched the thermite spill and splatter like lava, setting the entire area on fire. Her last thought was of pain as a spray of burning powder fell on her chest.
endscene

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Christian Fiction Friday – March 18th

Welcome to this week’s edition of Christian Fiction Friday brought to you by me and my lovely and talented co-host, Alana Terry! This is a chance for Christian authors to post short snippets from their works in progress! Easy and fun!

My most current work in progress was finished and sent to my beta readers. The overwhelming response was, “I loved it, but…” The “but” was the same. So, this week, I gutted it and started fixing that “but”. I won’t mention the April 1st deadline for a completely edited manuscript.

But, the gutting and rewriting is going well! This snippet is unedited and new from the suspense novella that is currently untitled, but will be part of a romantic suspense bundle that I’m doing with my co-host Alana Terry and six other authors!

She heard Esther lock the door behind them, and slipped her hand into Victor’s as they walked to the elevator. He pulled her close as the doors slid shut. He smelled of his leather coat and spicy aftershave. With her head resting on his shoulder, she just breathed him in.

“You nervous?” he asked.

“I was.” She straightened as the ground floor approached, and slipped on her jacket. “Then I had to talk to the mother of a sixteen-year-old and explain the radical amputation they’re doing to her son’s leg. Suddenly, meeting your parents became something to look forward to rather than fear.”

As they stepped out of the elevator, he pulled her over to the side and cupped her face with his hands. His eyes burned with intensity and a serious expression crossed his face. “I love you,” he said, his voice hoarse.

He’d said it to her a dozen times in the past week, and she still felt her heart soar a little higher every time he said the words. “I love you, too.”

His kiss spoke of love, of promises to come, and, dare she hope, a long future together. She felt tears burn her eyes as the love she felt for this man overwhelmed her and spilled out of her. When he lifted his head, he smiled down at her. “Major is the worst name for a dog I’ve ever heard.”

She giggled and slipped her hand in his again as they walked through the lobby of her apartment building. “You never know with Esther what made her choose that name. If I had time tonight, I would have gotten the story out of her.” The doorman opened the door and she smiled at him as they rushed to the waiting cab. Brushing the water out of her braid, she laughed, “I’m glad I didn’t spend any time on my hair.”

He gave his address to the cab driver, then settled back in the seat, Ruth snuggling up to his side. “You look beautiful.” She could hear his heartbeat under her ears, smell him, feel his warmth. She thought that if she could stay in this position for the rest of her life, she would be absolutely content. “Listen, my father —”

When he paused, she lifted her head to look at him. “What?”

“He’s, uh, very hard. He might not be nice.”

Wanting to put him at ease, she put her hand on his cheek and laughed. “I’m a second year surgical resident. I’m used to people not being nice to me.” She gave him a quick peck of a kiss, then settled back against the seat. “Don’t worry. You’ve managed to make me fall in love with you over the last year. Your father could be a mass murderer, and it wouldn’t affect my feelings for you.” She looked over at him, at the lack of humor on his face, and winked. “Well played, Kovalev. You have me well and snagged.”

Now it’s your turn! Just link your Christian Fiction Friday! Here are the rules:

1. Christian Fiction Friday is a blog hop where authors post short (400-ish words or less) snippets from their current works in progress (not published pieces).

2. Keep it PG-13 or lower. No swearing, no sex scenes. If you have a particularly violent scene or deal with a heavy or controversial subject matter, please include a disclaimer at the beginning of your post.


Suggestions:

1. Visit at least some of the other Christian Fiction Friday authors each week and comment on their blogs.

2. Don’t offer critiques unless the author specifically asks for it in his or her post.

3. Please include this blurb at the end of your weekly post:

Christian Fiction Friday is a weekly blog hop where authors post snippets from their current Works in Progress. It is hosted by Alana Terry and Hallee Bridgeman.
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Today’s Word of Promise: 1 Chronicles 28:20

1 chroniclesMany days a week, I do a 4-mile aerobic walk. It takes me one hour. I listen to my Word of Promise Bible while I walk.

Right now, I’m listening to the Bible in chronological order. This morning, I heard the end of 1 Chronicles, several Psalms, and the beginning of 1 Kings.

A verse this morning made me pause as I was walking. It was 1 Chronicles 28:20:

And David said to his son Solomon, “Be strong and of good courage, and do it; do not fear nor be dismayed, for the Lord God—my God—will be with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you, until you have finished all the work for the service of the house of the Lord.

I realize this was specifically to Solomon from his father David about building the temple of God. However, I found that it immediately spoke to me, about my career as a Christian author who is using my gifts as God has given them to me. My mission statement for my writing is to prayerfully craft stories as modern day parables to uplift fellow believers and minister to seekers in our fallen world.

I believe that is my own work for the service of the house of the Lord, even if it’s not for physically building the temple that Solomon constructed. With that comes a host of other duties — speaking, interacting with readers, traveling the world alone. Most of those things would terrify me if I gave it enough thought. However, I would rather not focus on what should make me fear what I do and instead focus on one thing: my God will be with me. He will never leave me nor forsake me.

So, even as I travel all over the United States and beyond (to Australia) in the coming year, most of the time alone, and as I work through my production schedule and bring you, my readers, the conclusion to the Song of Suspense Series and introduce you to my next series, I know that I am continuing in my work for the service of the house of the Lord.

May God bless you and bless your day. Find a word of God speak to you today.
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I’m so grateful for your visit, today.
You would bless me if you added me to your Subscribe via any Reader feed reader or subscribed Subscribe via Email via email.
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