Tuesday, September 24, 2013

WIPpet Wednesday: "It's Time To Decide"

     It's WIPpet time! Time for me to pull out nine paragraphs from "A Boy Named Silas," the Work In Progress (A Second Time) I've been touching up. Silas, by the way, is now a healthy almost-six-year-old. At the time this part of the story takes place, my husband and I are trying to decide whether we will withhold life-saving medical care or not for our little nine-month-old.


     I never saw my son struggle like he did that night. Silas was working so hard to breathe that he bent his legs with each exhalation to try to force the air out of his sickly body. He was drenched with sweat from the effort. Even with my lack of medical training, I could tell Silas was going to wear himself out if things didn’t get improve quickly.

     And then the doctor touched my shoulder and told me I needed to decide whether to put Silas back on the ventilator.

     Or not.

     The fated moment had come. Philip and I understood from his birth that Silas might not survive. Still, we pleaded with God that we would never have to make that decision of life or death ourselves.

     When the doctor asked me what I wanted to do, it was two in the morning. I called my husband.

     “You’d better wake up Nate and get over here,” I said. “It’s time to decide.”

      By the time Phillip arrived, Silas' oxygen saturation refused to rise above 80%. His lungs just weren't working by themselves. As I heard Phillip and a now very-awake Nate coming down the hall to our room, I wondered if this little reunion was really going to be our family's last time with Silas on earth.

     Even though Phillip and I had discussed this kind of scenario in full detail, both with Silas' pediatrician and with each other, I was unprepared to make the decision final. What if Silas actually did die? Phillip and I would have to live every day with the knowledge that we let him go. Should we have fought more for him? Should we have given God another chance to work that miraculous healing we had hoped for in our son's life?

     Would our marriage survive the grief of losing our child? Would we wake up one day and blame each other for Silas' death? We did believe that Silas would be better off if we denied drastic measures, but was our choice truly in Silas' best interests? Or were we so exhausted from raising such a medically-fragile baby that we wanted to take the easy way out?


     So, that's my WIPAST submission. I look forward to reading all of yours! Oh, and if you're feeling lucky, check out my giveaway this week for a chance to earn a Bath and Body Works gift card or a collection of adventure books for kids.

     Thanks for helping me get my Kickstarter campaign fully funded. (You know who you are!!)

     Today's random fact: Eleven years ago, I was a click of the button away from applying to med schools. So glad that never materialized!

     Thanks to our fearless WIPpet leader, Kathy Schwengel! Can't wait to see what you've got coming off the press next!

Boy Named Silas: All At Once

    Someone trying really hard to be profound once said, "Good things take time, but great things
happen all at once." It's probably from some chick flick I've since forgotten. In my experience, good things take time. Great things take even longer.

     It would require a whole book (which I would love to write one day) to narrate how Phillip and I met, fell in love, and wound up sharing our lives together. The falling in love part didn't take all that long (just ask my college roommate), but getting to the whole sharing our lives thing certainly did.

     Starting our family didn't happen "all at once," either, since we experienced two miscarriages before our first son was born.

     Looking back on Silas' birth history, I might rewrite the above quote altogether. Does this resonate with anybody? "Good things take time, but horrible things happen in an instant." All it took was a few short minutes in the delivery room for our lives to be thrown into complete chaos, a kind of chaos it took years to recover from.

     But know what? We have recovered. This morning we took Silas to the dietician, and she decided to wean him off his formula. Silas hasn't used his feeding tube in five months, but he still gets about half of his calories from drinking thickened pediatric formula.

     Until today, that is.

     That appointment might be one of those moments I look back on in ten years as a major turning point in our family history. No one who's been following Silas' story would deny that our report from the dietician qualifies as a monumental achievement. Basically, aside from needing his drinks thickened, Silas has just graduated to become a "normal" eater.

     On one hand, it just took a thirty-minute doctor visit to get to this point. On the other hand, it took five long years and eleven arduous months.

     Great things are happening in our family. But they didn't happen overnight. They started happening the day Silas was born. They continued on as God spared our child from a premature death and sustained him through countless bouts of pneumonia and lung illness. Silas' road to oral eating took the cooperative effort of half a dozen skilled therapists, the input of several involved specialists, and the prayers of thousands of believers who loved our son and cared for our family enough to intercede on is behalf.

     Great things have happened since the moment Silas was born, but today we get to more deeply experience that awesome work God promised. He's the one who started the miraculous healing in Silas, and he's the one who has carried it on to completion.

    And now, amidst my rejoicing, I can almost sense the smile of the Almighty as he whispers to my spirit, "Just wait and see what I'm about to do next."
We'll be seeing a lot more of this after today

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

WIPpet Wednesday: Exhausted

     Happy Wednesday the 18th! Here are 18 sentences from my current WIPAST (Work In Progress A Second Time)... If you haven't tried sounding out WIPAST phonetically, I suggest you do so now. You're welcome.

     I am re-editing "A Boy Named Silas," a memoir about my son's traumatic birth and subsequent medical issues. I wrote it for family and friends and am now re-doing it with the general public in mind.


     I am ashamed to admit it, but early on I imagined my life might have been easier if Silas hadn’t survived his first day. I had absolutely no idea that something was wrong in the delivery room. If Phillip didn't finally get the doctor, there is no doubt Silas would have passed away, and we might have never even known why. It would be devastating, of course. But I couldn't help wondering if losing a baby would be easier than caring night and day for a child who might always be a vegetable.

     At that point in Silas' life, I didn't know what level of functioning to expect from my son. In fact, I didn't know if he would survive at all. And, in my worse mommy moments, I found myself resenting the time Silas took away from my able-bodied toddler, who looks perpetually lost and bedraggled in all our photos from that season.

     There was really only one word to describe my emotional state: exhausted. I was tired of pumping breast milk around the clock like some kind of dairy cow or human experiment. I was tired of suctioning Silas' throat several times an hour to keep his airway as clear as possible. I was tired of all the paperwork and logistics that were required to get Silas set up with all the services he needed. At that time in my life, I really could have used a full-time secretary. (Now that I think about it, a full-time nurse and housecleaner would have been welcomed too.)


     I would still welcome a full-time housecleaner, but I don't see that happening any time in the  next several decades. O well.

     And now for some virtual house-keeping: Congrats to Elaine Jeremiah for launching The Inheritance this week! Can't wait to read it. Speaking of reading ... do you know anybody who likes audiobooks? (That segue needs work, I know. I guess I need a virtual blog-keeper too.) Anyway, I need one or two more pre-orders for my Kickstarter campaign to be fully funded. If you're not familiar with Kickstarter, it's all or nothing. Not funded fully = no money at all. Please check it out! You can even order a gift copy of The Beloved Daughter audiobook for a friend. It will be releasing in time for Christmas (wink, wink)!

    As always, many thanks to WIPpet leader lady Kathy Schewengel! And if you're waiting for a fun, random fact about me, it's that I once had the first 18 chapters of the book of Matthew memorized. Don't ask me to prove it - I can't even get through the genealogy in chapter 1 anymore!

     Oh yeah, and remember that video of Regi and me that didn't work? Now it does! Here we are.

Now go check out that Kickstarter campaign! (Pretty please?!)

Monday, September 16, 2013

Giveaway Time!

Lucky Lephercaun 2014

Win the first three books in a brand-new adventure series for kids! Paperback OR Audiobook prize!

Join history-buff lake Otis, musical Genius benson, and their limerick-loving little brother O'Malley as they learn about their family history with some help from their zany inventor father in My Solar-Powered History series.

Easy one-click entry! Or get an electronic copy of book 1 FREE when you sign up for the Alana Terry Review Group.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Join the other blogs in the blog hop!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Gently Humorous: How to Be Obnoxious on Facebook

A (sarcastic) humor post for Christian Home Magazine. Check it out!

     Do you want to be obnoxious on Facebook? Here's some status update tips from the pros. Write a status update that's chock full of boasts - but covered by a transparent veil of false humility! A proven way to annoy your Facebook friends!

Don't take the credit. Are you a mom? Well, if all you do is talk about how terrific your kids are, you're probably going to get some irate non-friends real soon. So here's what you do. You take the "humble" approach. Try something like: Wow! 14 months old and Johnny is already knows all his colors and shapes?! Where did he get so smart? I know it wasn't from me!

     See what I did there? Not only did I point out how brilliant my son is (none of my boys are named Johnny, by the way), but I also was humble enough to admit there's no way he got those genius qualities from me. Humble? Better believe it!

Act like your successes are normal for everyone. If you're an author, you've probably read all kinds of helpful blogs that warn you against spamming your followers' newsfeeds just with sales blurbs about your books. But guess what? We authors like to write about our accomplishments. Coming across as humble in doing so, however, takes a little bit of tweaking. Consider a status update like this:

Don't you just love those days when you sell 498 ebooks in twelve hours? Notice how I make it out like selling 498 ebooks in twelve hours is such a normal, everyday occurrence? Because if I act like selling that many books is a common event in the life of every author, I'm not bragging when I say it's happened to me!

Turn your brag into a complaint. This is so frustrating. Now that I've lost 35 pounds, I can't fit into any of my old evening gowns. What am I going to wear to the mayor's gala now? These kind of posts have a two-fold obnoxious component. Not only do they tell your friends the reasons for your boasting, they also tell your friends that you don't even appreciate the blessings you've already received!

Just mention God. Because, let's face it. If you mention God and give him glory, you can basically get away with saying anything and still come across as humble, right? God has blessed me so much with a husband who does laundry, washes the dishes (twice a day), makes the bed, and gives me whole weekends off to spend with my girlfriends while he watches the kids. Thanks, God, for giving me such a terrific hubby! (Ok, so maybe this is going just a little too far. I'll let you be the final judge.)

     Unfortunately, there's no real secret formula to internet humility. But if I really come up with one, I'll be the first to let you know. (And I'll give God all the glory too!)

Random Fact: Check out twitter.com/#alanafam if you want to see all my goofy, snarky tweets MINUS the obnoxious book plugs!

MMM... It's Monday! Time for a mirthfully musical YouTube video. How about this one? If there are parents who have a right to boast about their son online, it's this boys' mom and dad! Join Regi for even more MMMs!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

WIPpet Wednesday: "What Really Happened"

The WIPpet Wednesday blog hop gives authors a chance to share snippets from their current Works In Progress. Thanks to K. L. Schwengel for hosting! 

     I'm not giving you a WIP today. "The Beloved Daughter: Bonus Materials" is now available on amazon and smashwords (and is therefore not a WIP). My kids book, "What, Hurricane?" is still in the illustrations stage, but since I'm not self-publishing it, I'm limited in how much of it I can share with you at this point.

     So, I'm going to give you a WIPAST (work in progress a second time). I've decided that while I wait for God to heal my wrists to the point where I can start working on "Not Alone" again, I'm going to re-edit, reformat, and relaunch my first-ever published book, "A Boy Named Silas."

     Today is 9/11, a day that no American who was alive in 2001 will forget. (It's also the birthday of a very special WIPpeter I know, but I doubt she wants me to make that public, so I won't mention who I'm talking about.) Back to 2001 ... after the attack on the Twin Towers, many Americans were left asking, "Why would God let something so terrible happen?" That's the same question my husband and I wrestled with almost six years ago when our son Silas stopped breathing in the delivery room. So, in honor of 9/11, I give you page 11 of "A Boy Named Silas: The First Five Years."

(Quick disclaimer: You'll definitely see my faith come out in these WIPASTs, because that's really the only thing that carried our family through Silas' traumatic birth experience. I know not everyone in cyberland shares my convictions, and I won't be hurt if you just decide it's not your thing to read.)


In writing Silas' story, it's hard to know where to start. I could tell you all about the moment when my husband Phillip realized something was “wrong” and went to get the doctor. I could tell you about all the medical procedures of Silas’ NICU days, including a surgery at three weeks to close off the top of his esophagus and put in a feeding tube directly into his little stomach. I could tell you about the friends and family who visited us and sent us cards, about the one year­ old big brother who woke up in our hotel room singing Jesus Loves Me, or about the family outings to Walmart that became the highlights of our weeks.

These are all great stories, and part of Silas' life that I don't want to ever forget. But there's an even more amazing story that needs to be told first. In spite of Silas' traumatic birth, I never felt the need to ask, Where was God in all of this? Where was God when massive brain hemorrhaging made my son stop breathing only an hour and a half after his birth? I already knew where God was. I didn’t need to ask. He was right there in the hospital room with us, and He was holding Silas. Of course. What else would the Almighty be doing at such a moment?
our miracle baby, 1 day old

It wasn't until Silas was three years old when I got an even more vivid picture of what really happened that horrible morning. And that’s the story that really matters. Silas is fascinated by angels. Once he spent an hour playing with Legos and literally built and entire army of angels. There were months of his life in which angelic beings occupied a large percentage of his imaginative play. Eventually I had to ask myself, Were there angels there with Silas that day he almost died? 

Finally I took the question back to God. And in my mind, I saw dozens of angels ... not cute little guardians, but soldiers who fight for the advancement of God's kingdom. Each one of these heavenly warriors guarding Silas' crib. They completely surrounded my son, watching attentively, even militantly. Each one wanted the honor of holding Silas as the doctors tried to resuscitate my limp and lifeless child. Then God came down, parted the company, and told his faithful servants, "No.” The angels moved out the way while the Almighty Himself declared, “I will be the One to hold the child in My own arms."

“A Boy Named Silas” is about what God has done from that moment on, and what He will continue to do in the life of an amazing little boy named Silas.


Random Fact: Silas has now gone four and a half months without using his feeding tube at all!

Want More? Check out my books on amazon! 

About That Video... I have no idea why the video I showed you guys of Regi and me didn't work out the other week. But if you want to see our video, it's up at the Kickstarter page for The Beloved Daughter audiobook, coming out soon! (I just need one or two more pre-orders for my campaign to be fully funded. Check it out!)

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Gently Humorous: Accidentally (On Purpose)

     It's pretty amazing how often my toddler will "accidentally" get himself into trouble. I've lost track of the times I've found Thomas with marker on his face, toes, hands, or other unmentionable body parts. When I ask him what he thought he was doing, he replies, "I accidentally drew on myself."

     I tried explaining to Thomas the difference between accidentally and on purpose. When I caught Thomas sitting on his brother's bed ripping pages out of a beloved book, I asked him, "What do you think you're doing?" I'm lucky my three year-old hasn't started rolling his eyes at me. He hasn't realized (yet) what a silly question that really is. Then again, I guess I haven't either.

     "I accidentally tore the book on purpose," Thomas admitted.

     At least my lecture set in. A little.

     Thomas' habit of "accidentally" falling into sin on purpose might be cute and humorous if it weren't so much like my own spiritual shortcomings. How many times have I accidentally wondered into the kitchen and ended up glutting myself? How many times have I picked up that secular novel and accidentally forgot to skip over those scenes I shouldn't read? How many times have I accidentally lost my temper with my kids?

     I'm horribly guilty of purposefully leading myself into temptation so that I can accidentally fall into it. Truth is, I'm no more mature than my three year-old. And I'm not as cute, either, which means I need to be even more careful. (Because, face it, it's not too easy to stay mad at a smile like this.)

     Thankfully, God has more patience with me than I have with my son, but every once in a while I imagine my heavenly Father must be sitting up in heaven asking me, "What do you think you're doing?"


Random Fact: My wrist tendons (which are responsible for my sporadic blogging of late) used to make a thumbs-up at only about 35 degrees. Now, thanks to a ton of stretching, I can give a 90-degree thumbs up. (It's the little things that count.)

Blog Love: This post is part of Christian Home Magazine, hosted by Laura O. Since my friend Regi is also hosting her Mirth and Music Monday meme on Mondays, I'm also posting a YouTube video for you to enjoy that, in my opinion, is so musically mirthful I'm giving you both M's in one bang.

Aren't the Piano Guys awesome? I'll be taking my five year-old to their concert next winter. I'm not sure if he's more excited or if I am.

Want a free book? I just signed up with a new website that rewards readers for promoting their favorite authors. Visit my Libboo page to see how you can earn a free ebook just for your tweets and posts!