Sunday, December 22, 2013

In a strange spot between the move I want and being stuck here still.

This has been a different Christmas season for me.  I have tended to find Jesus hidden where I least expect him.  I found new meaning in gift giving for this reason.  We hide our great treasure that we've made or bought for a loved one behind a pretty exterior.  We spend hours do wonders to hide our gift (some of us, and some wrap it in a grocery bag.)  Everyone either oohs and ahhs at how pretty it is or wonders either inwardly or sometimes outwardly why it doesn't look so good.  But the treasure is inside-- hidden.  Does the exterior really matter in the long run?  When our loved one receives the gift they don't even remember the outside.  In fact that pretty exterior gets ripped right off the gift and ends up being thrown out.  It is the gift that gets their full attention.

With Jesus sometimes we look at the exterior-- the church, the activities, the hoops we jump through to make us look like Christians/Catholics/Orthodox/Protestants/whatever we are- Jesus followers.  When what we really need to look at and focus on is just Jesus.  Faith without works is dead- yes, but also it isn't works that is going to get us to heaven -or even heaven on earth.  Debate this for a moment.  Think of Mary's words when Saint Gabriel came to her-- "I am the handmaid of the Lord, be it to me as you have said."  She didn't say "Oh well let me help- I'm engaged to this great guy Joseph and he could help me and we could have a baby and make this happen!"  She simply submitted, even though she couldn't explain how all this was going to take place.  She allowed God to work in her and create his son.  He was hidden inside of her for nine months, then they were hidden together in a cave/stable in a little town that you could blink and miss.  When they were threatened with certain death they were hidden in another country.  God took care of it.  It wasn't fun, nor easy.  In fact in reality Mary almost was stoned, then almost divorced, then almost had her Son yanked from her arms and killed.  Key word almost.  God took care of it.

Jesus still is hidden. He hides in our quiet time.  In the church service we only went to because we promised him we would he's waiting.  In the little things that we could blink and miss, but somehow we paid attention he showed up-- unexpectedly.  He's there whispering in our ear as we wrap a gift then place it in yet another box and wrap it again as a joke--  "I am like that gift.  I am your surprise.  Will you receive me for who I am?"  He's there if we will look.  I don't want to miss him.  I want to slow down and help my family find him also.  I want to see his smile as he becomes my daily surprise.  He shows up in the man who opens the door before I get there and smiles saying "Merry Christmas." when I hadn't even given anyone a smile in days.  In that moment I am reminded, and I smile back and give the birthday greeting.  I want to change the life of my family, but in those moments I am reminded it starts with me finding my Savior, then doing my best to reveal him to others.  Maybe his hiding is what's changing me.  Or maybe it's me changing that is making me think to look.  All I know is I want to find him in all that I do.  I don't want to miss him.  I want him more now than at any other time in my life-- and very honest I've always had a craving for God.  Lately though, it is so strong!  He is everything to me, and if I would miss him somehow I don't know how I would even handle that.

It is the same with our planning on moving.

I want to do this his way.  You see I am Eastern Rite Catholic.  My church is four hours away, and for ten years I have traveled to be able to spend time in fellowship because my husband's job is here.  We've tried to move before, but it hasn't worked.  The 'doors' would get slammed in our face.  I have been trying to raise my family to love God, but when your fellowship is so far away that is hard- maybe harder than I first realized it would be.  I wasn't always Byzantine Catholic (another way of saying Eastern Rite Catholic or you can shorten it to just Byz).  I told you a little of my journey in my last post - 'What Christmas is all about to me';postID=6680885258977523207;onPublishedMenu=posts;onClosedMenu=posts;postNum=1;src=postname.  Twelve years ago I was confused.  I was technically protestant and I had been in more denominations than I can count as I searched for the truth and what I was missing.  For three years I studied scripture and history trying to understand what I was hearing God say to me.  Why did I have a problem with every church I was in?  Why did I see all the faults and have to be so stiff backed about having perfect clarity?  Finally I broke down and cried to God to allow me to go back to the church closest to the Acts of the Apostles church.  A church that hadn't been shredded by all the fractures that I saw within all of Christendom. Then we began working on the adoption for my son.  My son in from Bulgaria-- about two hours or a little more from Istanbul (use to be Constantinople-- the capitol of the Byzantine Empire).  At the same time my friend Mary that I told you about in my last post began at a new church.  She had been Byz for about a year or two and part of the Roman Catholic church before that.  She kept telling me about her new church and I could feel God calling.  I could hear him speaking, but I was afraid of being even more different than I already was.  Besides we had just moved because of my husband's job to this new city here in Northeast Iowa.  I had gone to the Greek Orthodox church here a couple times and it was definitely close to where I felt God leading.  I put off going to my friend's church for almost a year until after we knew we were going to adopt Peter.  Then I knew I couldn't put it off any longer. 

I walked inside that Sunday in July of 2003 and I knew I had a problem bigger than any problem I had ever had before.  I had found my church.  That day, without my husband there even, I talked to the priest and began figuring out what I would have to do to become Byzantine Catholic.  The next Sunday I brought my husband to the church, and he didn't feel the way I did.

For another two years we split our Sundays between our Baptist church and my Byzantine church until both of us knew we could not keep having our family church and my church-- or by then Hope, Becca, Peter, and my church.  Megan had decided as had Todd that they were not going to be Catholic- no animosity, just it wasn't something they could do at that time.  So in 2005 we all began going to the Byz church four hours away twice a month-- at least most times.  The problems came--  What do you do when it is snowing?  What do you do when one of your children are sick?  When the friends hosting you overnight can't?  When the wind sends your van sailing into the muddy grassy area in the middle of the interstate?  When you hit a deer-- or rather a deer hits you and skirts around your van while you're going 65 miles per hour at dusk?  When you don't have a working vehicle to drive that far that will hold your family?  When your sister's daughter is baptized Byz and you've made a promise to raise her within the faith then your sister moves out and won't let you even see the niece you made this promise to God and the priest about?  What do you do when your young teenage daughter refuses to go? 

What do you do as you watch your children rejecting their faith simply because they haven't gotten to know it as well as they could have if you were there like most families are?  Does your husband leave his job for a new job to become closer?  Does he request to move to the closest office where he works which will cut your drive down to two hours?  Do you become Orthodox?  Do you become Roman?  These are all questions we have had to try to answer.  Sometimes not having a good answer.  We are not independently wealthy, and we are not entrepreneurs so we are dependent on a fulltime position with a company to support our family.  My husband has been with his company since May of 1998, and so just switching companies isn't really a good answer-- especially now when most places are laying off people and my husband's position is pretty secure.

In late 2007 things began to change rapidly.  My fifteen year old had snuck out of the house to go to a party, and while there had been drugged and raped.  She didn't tell anyone.  I didn't find out until two years later.  By that time she was on drugs, alcohol, smoking, and doing a host of things I cannot imagine to talk about here.  June of 2010 as we found out Megan was pregnant (she was also raped when she went out with friends, but she did tell)-- Three weeks later she found out she was pregnant while Becca stoned and drunk became pregnant with my granddaughter.  We still do not know who her biological father is, and probably never will.  Megan was engaged, but her to-be finally could not handle things and so a few months after my grandson was born they split up which has been hard, but she's a good mother, she works hard, and life is coming together for her and her son. 

All of this changed my perspective-- plus several more things I could write a whole book on by themselves-- I realized where we are is not where we need to be.  That's not to say that I would ever stop being Byz-- I can't it's part of who I am.

The problem is Bec was raped in this neighborhood.  Peter has had trouble with friends in this neighborhood, and we've had trouble with break ins and things being stolen and cars being broken into.  This is a 'good' neighborhood.  This is scary.  Worse yet, without the influence of a community I've seen the influence of the world with my children.  I've seen how having our church so far away has hurt us.  Yet I've also seen when during Easter when we stay for almost a week how attitudes and bad habits change and almost disappear until we get back 'home'.  I feel the tears inside me as we have to leave to come back home.  I don't want to be here.  I want the community twelve years ago I didn't think I needed.  Now I realize you need truth, but you also need not to forsake your fellowship.  I've realized for sometime that where we are is not good for our kids.  Then sometimes I get glimpses of the future- 

This last October I received a flash of days not so far away.  I didn't like what I saw.  There was about two weeks I battled and prayed on what to do.  Why had we stayed here so long really?  Would moving really help?  Did I have any hope of saving my family from any more tragedy?  Around that time I posted --;postID=7441827288169716970;onPublishedMenu=posts;onClosedMenu=posts;postNum=8;src=postnameI

Then God in not so silent words ask me a question.  What would I sacrifice?   If we stayed here I knew the sacrifice was my family.  I saw us all falling and not recovering.  I saw the future ten times worse than it had been since we had lived here.  That was something I could not live with.  So what was I willing to sacrifice?

The answer was whatever I had to, but not my family.  So moving became the only choice.  As this was becoming apparent so many people began to 'see' things, and speak to us.  Funny thing was it was always the same everywhere we turned we were given the same advice.  To move, and in that advice and our prayer we knew where.  Now we know where and we have found a church that will give us community there during the week, and we'll only be a little less than two hours from our church home so we'll be able to be there most Sundays, but now we are waiting on the position.  It should happen.  We've been praying for it.  If this is God he will see us through to do it too.  Yet we're still stuck here, and I am learning-- all be it slowly-- to trust God and to believe-- and to hope even when I can't see it.  I'm learning to find Jesus in the places he hides.  I don't want to be stuck here anymore, but I also don't want to miss Jesus even while being here.  I think I am more scared of missing Jesus than even not moving--  And that's huge because seeing what is to come would scare anyone!  But missing my Savior?  That's absolute destruction.  I've already had enough of that.  Still we are in a weird place between moving and being stuck.  Even here Jesus hides waiting for us to find him, and I think he is even more excited than us when we do.

Monday, December 16, 2013

What Christmas is all about to me-- A little different than most-- or at least some.

Alright.  I'm not going to talk about Christ is the reason for the season-- per say.  Though I do firmly believe that, but let's go a little deeper.  I feel as if there is something I need to expound on. Mary-- You know the Mother of God-- And if you believe Jesus is God in the flesh then that is her title.  But let me talk about her from a different perspective-- no matter  you're faith persuasion.  Unless you just don't believe Jesus is the son of God-- then I can't help you because that is one fact I am sure of-- more than I can put into words.

Even though I was not raised in a religious home we had lots of talks about Jesus.  And I knew the basics as I think most people do.  I had a religious grandma and great aunt who showed me God pretty nicely and I had a dad that though of no affiliation or conviction was the best evidence for God.  At seventeen I decided to pursue God in the form of Christianity.  There was never a thought that God wasn't real.  It was more a choice to bring him fully into my life and choose to follow his ways instead of my very worldly ways.  Very honest my family had taught me well how to be selfish and put my needs first, and a few very abusive relationships had done the rest.  My perspective was skewed to say the best, and at worst I was angry, self destructive, super selfish, and could not see the nose on my face even to save my own life or anyone else's.  So at seventeen-- still not seeing my faults I somehow did see that God was my answer.  But I did not understand at that time what he was my answer to.  Mary was unknown to me.  Catholics were from the devil in my skewed view and Christianity was not real unless you professed to be 'saved'.  The question in my mind even as I searched was-- 'saved' from what?  No one answered that well.  --Saved from the devil?  Even then I knew no one was really.  Saved from the hole in my heart?  That wasn't working.  My hole consumed me and caused me to do things that no good Christian should.  Saved from condemnation?  No one could see my darkness it seemed.  They thought I was so innocent.  Saved from death?  My life was a daily death.  Hence all the answer that could be given me really after consideration didn't hold water.  Yet it took me fifteen years to outrightly ask the question-- and that answer is what took me from being Protestant to Eastern Rite Catholic.  Funny thing is I asked it of a Baptist minister not a Catholic priest.

But at this time I was about to have my first introduction to Mary at a Christian convention.  I was eighteen and half and was really starting to realize I had more problems than I had solutions, and it wasn't getting better. I sat down in a chair in the middle of the room with about a thousand other young adults and listened to a woman talk about Mary's interaction with the Archangel Gabriel, and listened to her response to him for the first time.  'I am the handmaid of the Lord.  Be it to me as you have said.'  I stewed on those words for almost two years.  They were part of my prayers.  I read them again and again in scripture.  I prayed for God to help me be his handmaid.  But my life was spiraling downward and I couldn't seem to turn it back.  I felt alone and by now so unworthy.  More than anger I was full of unresolved grief that I couldn't make better, and no one could help me out of my pit.  Christians talked about how when they came to God all their problems disappeared, but that wasn't what happened with me.  Why did I feel so alone?  Why did I not receive victory like the others I knew?  Why was I so confused?  Why did I keep making the same mistakes over and over and over?  Then the next morning I would ask for forgiveness and mean it just to do it again?  Why did the people in my church see me as so damned pure?  Couldn't they see the puss that oozed like a fountain from the lesions in my soul?  Now I hated Christmas, and wanted to avoid it like the plague.  I saw all the people just overflowing with joy and happiness when I was alone in a crowd with no one I felt like I could share anything with.  But this Christmas season was about to be altered universally.

Back at the beginning of November right before I turned twenty I made an astronomical mistake that was about to reorder my life.  The day after I came to church and cried through the service.  At the end of the service I ran into the singles minister, and for the first time he-- someone-- could see I wasn't doing so well.  I told him how black my life seemed while everyone thought I was so perfect.  How could God just accept me when I kept disappointing him?  He drew a triangle. 

The bottom angle represented where I was standing, but God was at the top angle and he could see where I was going to be, and he loved me because he understood what was really going on.  I kept the little drawing in my bible for years because that day he changed my life.  He gave me hope.  I don't know if he realized it or not, but he caused me to make a very important choice that day.  But something bigger was happening and I didn't have a clue that day. It was something that would bring me in direct contact and understanding of Mother Mary and my first hook into Eastern Catholism.

Four weeks to the day from that day I took a test and it was positive.  At barely twenty, alone, unmarried, confused, and deeply hurt I found I was pregnant.  It was the beginning of December just two weeks after my birthday in 1989.  The day I found out I was going to a play at my church where again I was presented with Mary.  They showed her as a young confused woman-- alone.  Fighting for what she believed, but vulnerable and in danger of being stoned.  I was already being stoned by my family.  My mother was enraged. My aunt wanted me to abort.  The father I hadn't told because we barely knew each other, and he was a different nationality than I was.  When my family found out I knew they would devour me.  My family was not to considerate of other races. 

Mary resonated with me, and realizing her dilemmas helped me grip mine.  It gave me an inkling of a like for the Christmas season. It also sealed something God had been working in me.  It was 'Catherine, I chose her to raise my Son.  I trusted her.  I trust you too with this child you are carrying.'  That thought, or instinct-- I would have not dared called it the voice of God then-- though now I most certainly know it was-- changed me.  My response was-- 'God then I have to change because I don't want my baby to be like I am.  Please help me.'  I didn't realize then that Mary was there with me, and praying for me.  I did not see her as the Mother of God then only a woman who carried God's Son.  Yet she was.

It would be eight years until my next introduction to Mother Mary, yet in that time I wondered about her, thought about her, and yet felt very odd when I thought to much about her.  I was told Catholics worshiped Mary, and so they were idolaters.  So each time I thought to much about her it would scare me.  I didn't want to anger God.  He'd done so much healing in my life, and though I still lived in pain it was different now.  I had a husband who loved me and our family.  By now I had three children-- all girls.  Each of their names had been chosen by God-- that somewhat frustrated me--  I always thought I would chose their names.  But He had other plans.  I had just met a new friend and had just begun a journey that was almost bigger than my original journey with God.  I had begun homeschooling my girls.  My friend was Catholic.  It was very evident to me as I got to know her that she was not an idolater.  In fact she loved God like I did, and she knew him in some ways even better than I did.  Ironically her name was Mary.

Mary's kids and my kids were best friends.  Mary and I fastly became best friends.  We would talk about so many things, but during this time I was searching for the truth.  I just could not accept most of what was being preached at me because when I would search scriptures I would find the errors, and when I would go back to the minister with the problems either they would ignore what I was showing them, or would say something like-- 'Yes that is what the bible says, but what it really means is...' and I just could not accept God would not be plain with us and mean what he said.  Mary would laugh when I told her, and tell me what she saw, and somehow it would always line up with what I was understanding too.  This sparked great questions and debates.  That would lead to more questions for both the 'teachers' around me and study of scripture.  Which would again lead to Mary and I discussing for some times weeks at a time some point.  Finally this led to me just reading the whole book of Acts and crying.  "God!  This is the church I want to go to."  It was a soul cry.  I wanted what the apostles had.  I wanted truth, and I really wanted preachers to stop telling me what scripture 'really' meant.  Why couldn't they just read a passage of scripture in context and not skip around to make it say what they wanted it to?  Mary must have been laughing hysterically inside of herself because that was what she received every week-- little did I know.  Mary though gently listened and every once in a while infused what the Catholic Church taught, which I would insist was not biblical, and then as I researched --always in context by the way, I was a stickler for this-- I would find it was completely biblical.  How was this possible?  Her church taught exactly what had been driving me batty that the church did not teach-- yet hers did.

Finally we got into the discussion of Mary- by this time we had known each other for a few years, and I had begun a study of biblical Mary.  Who was she really?  How important was she?  Because I was tired of accepting the old myths of Catholics not being Christians and only worshippers of Mary.

What I discovered was beautiful and frightening and it left me breathless and unsure of what to do.  Mary and her family had moved to Chicago as my family had moved an hour further west into the interior of Iowa.  Mary and I were still the best of friends, and spent time visiting by either meeting for a retreat, or me driving to her house over a weekend.  We were both natural health fanatics and so there were alternative treatments we would decide to try together, and during these times I would stay with her and would go to what would later become my own church home.  I didn't know it then.  During one of these times Mary taught me the rosary, and as my curious nature demanded I had to understand the origins of this prayer.  I found that it was biblical.  In fact the words spoken in the Hail Mary came from three sources and two of those under the direction of the Holy Spirit.  The third source was the Archangel Gabriel.  I was aghast.  Everything I realized that had been said about Catholics was not true.  This was not worship, but love.  And how could I not love the one who carried my Savior?  I began to pray.  For forgiveness for my brothers and sisters that were deceiving so many.  For truth to know this woman that is the Savior's mother.  For truth where I had been lied to.  For courage because I knew what was being asked of me.  I knew the condemnation that Catholics came under.  I'd seen it first hand many times.  I didn't want to be Catholic.  I was a conservative Protestant--  At that moment Baptist.  But I kept asking questions, and I kept searching out answers.  The final question-- though I didn't realize it at the time was to our pastor at our church minutes from our home.  "What do you mean when you ask if someone is saved?  Do you mean redeemed, because I realize Jesus does redeem us when we come to him, but salvation is a work that is not complete until we finally reach heaven.  So what do you mean?"  I thought of a verse-- work out your salvation with fear and trembling.  I thought of all the places I had looked in scripture for the answer myself, and I asked Mother Mary to help me understand what her Son was showing me.

The question turned into a battle of sorts, because he thought of 'saved' as redeemed, but then could not give explanation to the verse I mentioned above.  Which finally turned into 'Well scripture means saved when it says redeemed'.  In that moment I realized he didn't know the answer, but I did.  Saved was short for salvation, and an error.  Because salvation scripture made very clear was a lifetime work.  It was not a one time work.  God is not that small, and we are not that perfect.  I knew I could not give up the wonderful woman that raised my Savior from an infant to a man, and I could not give up the scriptures and I could not give up all the truth I had found.  As the years after this went on I came to rely on Mary as a mother to me.  When my mother moved two thousand miles away-- I cried into Mother Mary's tenderness.  When my biological mother died it was to Mother Mary I went to once more.  Because I am adopted as a child of God that makes Mary my mother.  I love her so much, and I trust her with my heart and tears.  But I love her most because she was open to being mother to Jesus who has saved me--  Saved me from myself, my mistakes, my selfishness, the lies that sought to entrap me, but most of all from being forlorn.  He not only gave me himself on the cross so I could come to God in eternity, but also could come to Him on a momently basis.  He is working salvation in me and cleansing me daily so that I will one day be able to enter heaven.  I was forlorn because I was alone, but he gave me his mother to teach me how to seek her son.  He handed me to her so I would have a mother even when I don't.  He handed me to his mother so I would know how to be a good mother to my own children.  He handed me to his mother so she would help me pray and hand my prayers to him in the way he wants me to.

We celebrate a baby's coming that redeemed us and at the end of things will completely save us.  But he came by a vulnerable woman who was willing to be called blessed.  She was only a girl really, and if not for His intervention she would have been stoned.  Yet he made her to be Ark of the Covenant-- He made her to be the Mother of God.  He made her to be my mother--  The mother of the motherless.  I cannot worship her.  She did not make herself.  I worship Jesus, but I dearly love his mother.  When I celebrate this season I celebrate His birth, but part of his birth is the making of a mother.  So I celebrate his redemption even in his own mother.  I celebrate him taking a broken woman and making her blessed.  I cannot separate what he did and what he did in her-- as he has done in me.  I am too grateful.  May you have a blessed season.  I am planning to. May you also understand that the Son is the most important part of this season, but he is very intertwined with his blessed mother-- Mary.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

New Computer-- great and groans

So around the time of my last post my computer started having issues...  Like it would turn itself off at odd times, and once in a while would overheat.  So my super techie husband says "I think it's a cooling fan issue."  I am not a techie at all--  not one ounce-- nada.  So I say "Well can we fix it?"  He groans.  Translation, not easily, and not les expensive than getting a newer one.

 We were only a few days away from Black Friday anyhow, and I had wanted to get something more portable-- and with more battery life, but until this issue came up had given up on it because our finances aren't the greatest.  But this was a big deal.  With trying to get The Key to Her Heart out and now doing all the stuff to get it noticed a computer is a must.
 So long story short I got a new lap top.  It's smaller and more portable with Windows 8 which is a little bit a pain in the butt!
 For the most part I like it, but because I am not a techie this has been-- shall we say-- an interesting transition.  I think I want to just stick with this machine for a long time because trying to get things transferred over and working, and me learning how to get places all over again is a little like teaching an older cat new tricks-- it doesn't work and the claws sometimes come out when I don't mean for them too.  So excuse me for not posting in so long, but here is my first post since I got my new computer--  Computie--  that's the name of all my computers. 
I tend to name things.  My van's name is Midnight.  We once had a house I named-- I haven't done that recently.  Mainly that is because that turned out to be my least favorite house of all the ones we have lived in.  When I had my ileostomy I named my stoma though.  Alright that is kinda of gross, so lets drop this.  Computie and I are trying to become friends, but that might take a little longer. At least it travels well which should help with all the book stuff, especially as I am working on Patrick's Rose to get it ready for publication sometime in the spring-- we'll see.  It needs a lot of attention, but so does publicity for The Key to Her Heart.  Busy busy busy-- that seems like the tune to my life.  Not that I mind.  I like the busy.  Anyway I am rambling, so I'm going to sign out for right now.

This is Cat out!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

News clip on The Key to Her Heart.

I've got the print copies of The Key to Her Heart.  We had to slow things down, one because Hope, Todd, and I were all sick with something close to pneumonia or bronchitis and two because Megan had some pressing things that have taken alot of time and energy and have a fastly approaching deadline.  So I promise I will get information to you about the print copies.  In fact I was thinking of doing a sale through me on paper copies of The Key to Her Heart for $7 dollars a copy plus shipping if you want to get in touch with me through facebook for Black Friday.  Otherwise, copies will be $10.95 plus shipping.  We should have it set up on the website soon, and you can still order though CreateSpace too.  Happy Reading!

Kids First Please!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Something is really bothering me today.  It is what is going on in this country, and it is what is going on in our own communities.  Two different articles I read: and both talked about parents and selfishness.  The first one was about parents who because of their concern with smoking and drinking didn't feed their nine month old son nor change his diaper or do basic care for him for days at a time, and at worst maybe as long as two months let him go without food.  I cannot imagine.  That is horrible!  There are just no words to describe how sick inside that makes me feel.  Luckily some teenagers heard him crying and found him, and he's alive and doing well now with a foster family.

The second article was about women in the military.  Whatever side you are on, and whatever your feelings, there is one thing that struck me while I was reading this.  How parents will chose to put career advancement ahead of their children.  I realize all of us want to accomplish, and want recognition.  I also realize career opportunities come with lucrative benefits.  In my own defense to publish my book I had to sacrifice some things in order to give the book the attention it needs.  But it was usually my sleep so that I could still take care of my kids and make sure they had enough attention and all their needs were met.  In fact the last two weeks I have cooled down on the book so that my daughter Megan who is my right hand person can finish some important career stuff.  That's just it right there...

My children have never, nor will they ever come second to any career or goal.  That is not so in many families.  At the end of our life what will be most important?  Whether you are Christian or not--  Whether you believe in God--  When you are taking your last breath and thinking over your life and maybe wondering if there is an eternity--  What will be your crowning achievement here?  Will it be the fact your children are there with you and love you?  Or will it be something you found so important that you ignored your family or put them second just to waste the years you were given only once?

Let me tell you about my oldest daughter.  She was born to me when I was twenty.  I became pregnant with her while on the verge of a modeling career, and chose to give up that dream to have her.  I became a single mother.  Her father (her biological father) was involved with another woman, but was still excited I was going to have her.  In her first few weeks of life he visited her and spent lots of time with her, but then the visits tapered off.  By the time she was seven months old he really wasn't coming to see her at all.  At eleven months old he had renewed interest in her for about a month.  When she was thirteen months old I moved from Riverside, California with my parents to the Midwest.  I tried to tell him, but he didn't really care.  Two months after we moved he called not realizing he was calling Indiana.  To make a long story shorter it took three more years before he saw her again.  Then he came with presents and great affection, and he tear up at how much he missed in those years.  The next year I got married to a wonderful man, and he visited again soon after that with presents and lots of tears.  She absolutely loved him and enjoyed the visits and he would promise such wonderful things and she would feel like a princess for the time he was with her.  The problem was the in between.  First he would call often and talk to her, then the calls would wain.  She would be heart broken.  He would promise to send her something then it would not happen.  By the time she was seven she refused to talk to him because "He always tells me one thing then it's not true.  He's just a liar.".  The sad thing is the statement was pretty much true.  I am sure her biological father did not mean to be this way, but his business always took prescience over Megan.  He would explain it as "Don't you understand, I am building this for Megan.".  She didn't talk to him until she was eight, and this time the cycle started all over again.

Her childhood proceeded to be a rollercoster of elation to devastation.  My husband by the time she was five and half had become dad and her biological father was just known by his first name.  She took my husband's last name. This went on until adulthood.  When she gave birth to her own son she had high hopes he would finally really be involved in her life.  He was so excited to have a grandchild, but to her devastation once more his excitement dimmed.  This time it is more serious.  She says "I won't let my son spend his childhood waiting for him, Mom.  I'm done. Alex has you and Dad, and you guys are wonderful grandparents."  By the way, her biological father's business that he spent all those years building is gone and he has nothing to show for it.  With it went his health.  He had another child too, but he like Megan wants nothing to do with him because when he should have been participating in their childhood he found other things more important.  His other child's mother has faced the same emotions with her child as I did with Megan, and for what?

I find so many families willing to make these sacrifices.  And it really bothers me.  Our children are only children for such a short time.  We are the ones that shape their future.  Do we really want to be careless?  Is our pride/need/whatever more important than their future?  It's not just basic care, but it's attention and love.  Do we really want someone else making the memories with them while we gallivant off in our glory?  Oh! It's for our children.  No it's for ourselves.  Truth is the time we spend teaching them the skills of life is for them. The other adventures is just pure selfishness at our children's expense that we try to justify by saying it is for them.  There is something I use to say to my girls.  "Just because you say it is that way does not make it so."  Just because we say, "This is for our kids" doesn't make it true.  Search your heart-- What is the most important thing in the world?  You'll find it easily.  It is what you invest everything you have in-- All your time, All your energy, All your resources.  When you are doing something else your thoughts will be on that very important thing/person.  If that isn't your children and your family-- suggestion-- For your happiness's sake, readjust your priorities.  Make the kids first.  You will never regret it, and neither will they.  If you want an awesome movie that deals with this pressing issue in our nation, watch Courageous.  It is a favorite around here that always brings both Megan and I to tears.  Please put your kids first.  They need you, and you know what?  The amazing thing is you need them!

Friday, November 1, 2013

Print copy of The Key to Her Heart will be available within days.

---------PRINT COPIES REALITY!!!!!!!!

O.k. --Yes!  I am just a weeeee bit excited.  Could you tell???  Really???  So here's the scoop.(below)

I received the proof copies Monday which allowed me to flip through and see if I found any errors.  It also allowed me to talk to a few people about my book.  So spent the rest of the week doing just that.  --May be setting up a book signing (happy!) and in the mean time just kinda excited about having a physical paper copy of my work!  It's real!  Like waaaaaayyyyy too real!  I just hope this works.  I hope that it's well read because it is a wonderful story --if I do say so myself!  Getting the e-book out there was awesome, but the paper copy is just so cool.  It makes me feel like a 'real' author.

So here's the deal.  We ordered the books today-- not proofs and confirmed the copies.  So within 5-7 days the print copy of The Key to Her Heart will be available on Amazon.  The other cool part is in town here we are talking to a store manager about doing a book signing.  With that possibility, maybe there will be others in town and within a hundred mile radius that will also do the same.  I am hopeful.  Maybe by Christmas it will have a place on some store shelves and a multitude of people receiving my book as a Christmas present.  I know I am dreaming, but all of this has been a dream.  Yet it has happened.  Heck I just started this journey in June, and here we at the beginning of November with printed books!  That's quite amazing. So maybe my unbelievable dreams are possible.  At any rate I have decided I'm going to continue envisioning what I want to happen because at the very least it gives me a road map to where I'm trying to go.

Meg should have a link on this blog site to Amazon to order The Key to Her Heart, and on the website we should have a place to order in the next few days to a week.  Baring those two possibilities you can go directly to Amazon/Kindle if you are interested in purchasing a copy-- Yes that is a shameless plug!  With the addition of a smiling face :).  But I figure since you are reading this-- ahhh I don't know anything is possible, right?

I'll let you know more in the next few day.  Until then... Happy reading!
This is Cat out.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

The Story of the Storyteller Part 2 (The storyteller's family and how writing and storytelling are different)

Alright, using a quick recap.  I have five children-- technically.

Megan is my oldest daughter and she has a two year old son (Alex)  he's one of the womb warped twins.

Rebecca, my next oldest daughter, is Tory's birth mother (Tory is the other half of the womb warped twins).

Hope is my sixteen year old super girl (she's graduated and taking a CNA class because she decided it was the first step she could take to becoming a nurse-midwife.  She has been working somewhere between twenty-thirty hours a week for the last seven months since she got her first job literally two weeks after she turned sixteen, and all this time she has been battling an illness that sends her to bed for days at a time.  She still always has a smile and kind words for everyone and works on her dreams no matter what's going on with her health 99% of the time-- that all qualifies her for super girl).

Peter is my only son.  He is twelve and  has battled with learning disabilities and handicaps all his life.  He's my conqueror like Alexander the Great.  Our battle this summer was restoring his sight from almost blind in his left eye to almost normal sight and correctable with glasses.  He's my almost super boy because he has had so much to overcome in his twelve years-- but his almost teenage attitudes don't quite get him there YET.  We keep working out 'tude problems, so hopefully he'll get to super boy status!

Then there is Tory, who we adopted when she was almost a year old--  She's my Joy girl plain and simple. Like her beloved 'Aunt Hopee' she always has an easy smile!

So these are my story providers for the most part.  These are the real live characters in my ongoing life story.

Tory will have a smaller part because she is still so small--  Just don't let size fool you; she is pint-size energy and attitude!  She keeps us all hopping and laughing.

Now, Megan is my super great writer person.  She is the most awesome editor!  She's the one that can take my story and add incredible dazzle without changing my story except to make it more interesting by a million! She is also a publicist extraordinaire and the person you definitely want to go to if you are trying to navigate social media and websites, or the internet in general. But by her own admission she is not a storyteller.  She can write stellar articles and she can take what I see and write down the details I have in my brain better than anyone I know, but she doesn't have that filter thing for stories.  She was the first person to give me a glimpse of the difference between writing and storytelling.

Rebecca is my picture writer.  She draws out her inner world, and journals by drawing and painting.  I can tell her what I see and she can draw it out in a picture, and she can help others to see her reality even if they do not like it. She can even draw emotion and you really do feel it.  She is the person that drew the cover for The Key to Her Heart.  Simply put, she is incredibly talented. I am not even close!  But I am not an artist by any stretch of the imagination.  Drawing a decent stick figure is difficult for me.  Telling a story is not her thing though.

Hope is my researcher, tender heart, and goto person for anything to do with natural health, vitamins, and believe it or not copy center things.  She is an absolute miracle worker with children.  She seriously thought she was going to be a teacher until she spent time in a classroom as a volunteer.  It wasn't the children that made her change her mind, but the district politics she got first hand introduction to.  She is my detail person where personality comes to.  She can read a person quicker and more discreetly than anyone I know.   She pulls together what they say with their body language, and what she knows about them innately without too much thought, and she's darn close to a 100% correct. She is becoming more of a speaker than either a storyteller or writer, though she can do both.

Peter is my storyteller.  He can spin a story about anything or anyone and, unlike me, has not a bone of shyness.  He is able to tell you all about it as if it happened.  In fact the first few times you hear one of his tales you will be shocked to find that most details came from his imagination (some would say overactive imagination).  He is fun to listen to and has captivated our whole neighborhood.  They love to listen to him and he loves the attention his gift brings to him.  The only problem with it is he tends to embellish even real events, and change the facts of things he doesn't want you to find out about.  Yes, though it tends to be getting better now that he has faced a few consequences, he does lie.  I am trying to teach him to write so he has a place to take his stories.  Some of them are incredibly good.  He also likes it when I read him things like the Chronicles of Narnia and stories from a book of heroes that I've had for all my children.  He loves it when I help him write down history details and let him embellish what he's learned to his hearts content.  He will tell me that Charlemagne wanted his grandfather's kingdom, and was glad when he became the sole ruler.  Adjective, adverbs, and prepositional phrases are his best friends not because he loves English or writing, but because they give him a way to describe what he gets inside of him naturally.  I expect as he gets more comfortable with reading and writing he will be more of a writer as I am, but I don't know with his propensity to tell his stories where ever we are  he could be some kind of speaker--  an attorney, a priest, a salesman-- I don't know.  He is a storyteller, and that seems to be his strongest gifting.

In alot of ways Meg and I are alike.  We are both writers and really have fun with the writing process.  But in many more ways Peter and I are identical. Seeing the world through eyes that view through details and telling an altered form to an audience seems to drive both of us internally and gives great pleasure.  Rebecca gets that kind of joy from drawing her world.  Megan gets that kind of enjoyment from singing.  Tory and Hope both seem to derive pleasure from the smiles they receive from others or helping people.  Tory though we will have to see where her giftings are as she gets older.  Maybe I'll have another storyteller-- you never know.

So that's the whole thought process I had with the differences between being a writer and a storyteller, and I hope my descriptions and opinions did not offend.  In the process I guess you really got a way too deep analysis of my life-- or maybe just the story!
Keep reading (even when I get like this) please!  This is Cat out.

The Story of the Storyteller Part 1

There is a great difference between a writer and a storyteller.

Let me explain.

When my children were young with or without a book I would sit beside their bed and tell them a bedtime story.  Sometimes it was one about my own life.  Sometimes it was completely made up and fanciful. Sometimes it was a wonderful story written by someone else.  As they got older sometimes it was something I was writing.  It was always the lure of telling the story that caused me to sit there with them drawing them into a world far removed from their own.  It also was the draw of hearing it myself.

I love stories so much that I collect books.  We have a library of over five thousand books and my family knows that the hardest thing to give up for me are my books.  It's a world of stories to read and to tell by reading them out loud to someone else.  I would by far prefer to read than to ever sit in front of a T.V., and even much prefered over that is to work on my own story.

Even now, that is what I am doing.  One of my twitter follows/ers made a statement about storytellers, and it sparked a story in me--  The story of the storyteller.  That's me.  It started when I was born perhaps????  At least as long as I have known, the need to tell the story and hear the story has been there.  It's a part of who I am.  My father encouraged it by reading fairy tales and fantastical stories from worlds I had never seen every night to me.  They became a link to the reading world, and gave me great desire to learn to read well ( I am dyslexic and did not learn to completely understand reading until I was in seventh grade.).  After I began reading something amazing happened- I remember the very day it happened.

I was standing in the lunch area at the high school I attended and I heard a girl reading a poem she had written and I realized everything written had a person behind it that was telling me a story.  So I wrote my first poem-  I was thirteen, and it had to have been within days of my grandmother's death-- my grandmother was more like my mother.

She was the reason I lived.  Her death nearly destroyed me, but it also caused me to write just for expression of my own story that I could not tell people yet.

Realizing I could write the stories inside of me changed my world!  When I would read a book, and I didn't like the way it was written I would try to write it different--  The way I saw the story going.  When I would hear a situation I would write it from my perspective.  When something happened I would journal it and that would help me make sense of it.  In a year's time writing had given me access to my soul!  The stories had always been there.  It was just that being a ghostly shy child there was no one I would dare tell them to. Writing gave expression to that which until then was stuck inside of me with no way out.  Then at fourteen my writing changed.

Another piece of the puzzle came together.  None of my scribblings were ever connected.  They were not a cohesive flowing complete story.  As I ferociously read everything I could get my hands on, I realized each was it's own story.   Even if it was a collection of stories still they all fit together to make one complete whole.  I decided that was how I wanted to write.  I wanted people to read my stories, and wanted them to think about the story. But it had to go together into one package.

It was out of these thoughts that The Heart of the Family began.  It wasn't at all what it has become, and if anyone had read it then no one would have been able to stand it!  But it was in this time that every experience somehow went into my written story.  It was in this time I developed my filter-- if you will-- so that every event that happened to me or around me somehow morphed into something my characters would do or would happen to them.  I would put it together in my mind as I watched.  It slowed my reaction times, and made me think of what would happen if I reacted this way or that-- or how would the outcome be if this person had done this thing over here different or had walked another way instead.  In my writing I began to experiment with these variables and my characters became alive!  To my closest friends I would talk about them as if they were real!  I wonder how many people thought I was off my rocker?  How many of you reading this think that now?  To this day my characters are still a real part of my life, and everything goes through my filter and into my stories in some form or another.

Lately-- like since June-- I've had this new medium, though too.  That is this blog.  It's more like my journaling when I first started writing as a kid, and I love retouching this type of story writing.  In this I can take the topic of storytelling and turn it into a story about it.  As in this post.  Being a writer is awesome, but what it does is give flight to the stories that a very part of my soul!

There is a second part that I am going to begin right after I finish with this.  There are those that are writers and only writers, and there are storytellers that are only storytellers.  I have one of each in my family.  Then there are picture writers-- artists.  I have one of those too.  That is all a part of the second part of this though!  Keep Reading!  

Sunday, October 20, 2013

To stay or move: That is the question!

This blog has nothing to do with my book, but with my life.  Is it possible that the dark descent that my family has been through has to do with choices made in the last ten years?  I am a Byzantine Catholic.  I became such ten years ago.  I will never regret that decision for as long as I live.  It was a miraculous doing of God that was in process from the time I became a Christian in 1988.  What I do regret is living so far from my church. (four hours one way.)  Is it possible that my family being without community in essence has made for a continuous uphill  battle that has not let up in all of this ten years?  I have one daughter who turned to drugs and then to a, shall we say, 'alternative lifestyle'.  I have one daughter who struggles on every front and almost gave up the battle entirely.  I have one daughter who struggles with her health, and just prays to make it through the battles in one piece.  Finally I have a son who struggles with the battle of kindness.  He has a good heart, just a flippant mouth that he can't or won't get under control (he's twelve and struggling with rebellious tendencies too.).   So could being without a community of believers, or 'forsaking your fellowship' as scripture calls it cause this destruction?  Maybe this is over dramatic, or me just not thinking straight, but it seems in the time we have not had fellowship except when we could get to our church (started out every two weeks, then recently it's been almost impossible due to my youngest daughter's illnesses.) that life around here has been in a steady downward spiral.  We try very hard to maintain our Christianity, but how does a child understand when all the 'mentors' around him are not?  At pascha when we spend close to a week at our church I watch my son's whole attitude turn around, but then we have to come 'home'.  There begins the descent again, each time worse than the year before.

My second daughter's drug use started in our neighborhood with local kids, despite homeschooling and trying to provide good friends for her to be around.  Her lifestyle now is not something I have ever approved of, or would want for my child and very honest I am scared to the roots of my hair that my son is going to fall into a similar pattern if we don't change something drastically.  All the counselling in the world can't fix the situation you live in day in and day out if you don't work on it.  I'd say that is true for the community also.  My oldest daughter claims she feels likes she living in Earthly hell, and I really can't argue.  She has been through a hell that no child or adult should go through, and all of it has happened within this community.  When she went to California, even though more worldly, she definitely could see the difference and if it wasn't for her family being here I am sure she would have stayed there.  Here lies my battle.

Community, or lack there of, is important.  Maybe even more important than the best parenting--  but then isn't that part of parenting?  So then if we stay where we are am I being a negligent parent?   Knowing what I know?  I am asking the question.  Is security enough to keep us where we are not thriving?  I posed this question to my dad, and his answer was 'Baring the weather.  You make your own community.  If you don't like the weather then you should move.  But just because bad things happen...'  The weather is the least of my problems, but I do realize that the climate of the people do change my mood.  Living in a place where there is no support for the way you are trying to raise your family can it make it impossible?  And what if because of my beliefs my community that I made is four hours away?  Maybe my dad is right.  We do make our own community-- but I made mine at my church.  Isn't that then where my family should be?  Shouldn't we be among those that count us as friends?  Those that love us even when we don't make sense?  If that is the case, then what am I doing here?  Perhaps that is the reason that God has allowed us to face such dark times?  Maybe it is a way of letting us know we aren't suppose to be so far from what he has given us?  But then it has been so dark, that it's hard for me to see the light and see if my thoughts are right.  So I pose it here in this forum because, even if no one makes a response, just the writing it down helps me sort it out and figure out what to do.  I guess in final review the title to this one is:  'To stay or move: That is the question!'

Monday, October 14, 2013

How do I do this? Any suggestions from seasoned veteran writers out there?

Though I have been writing all my life-- or at least thirty years of my life (since a teen), I have never published before and now that I have finally gotten my book online as an e-book with the print copy coming out (finger crossed) in November, my thoughts turn to marketing.  How do I bring people's attention to my life's work?  How do I advertise something so important to me without sounding totaling like I'm tooting my own horn?  How do I bring it to attention for those who have never heard of me or this adventure? I have tried to be humble-- truly humble, not just sounding like I am-- all my life.  I don't like attention, and I don't want to say 'look at me', but yet everything I read tells me this is what I need to do.  There has to be a way to give The Key to Her Heart full light without illuminating me.  This is about the story, and how it will be healing to some, and perhaps fun for others.  I know my story is not for everyone, but how do I help the ones it will be good for to see it?  What avenues can I use?

Most of my extended family don't even seem to be interested.  How do I interest a public I don't even know?  How do I keep myself from being slightly disappointed that only a few people have even looked at it?  This story has been loved by those who have read it, but they are close to me, and now I wonder just how good it really is if those are the only ones even interested now that it is out there for the public to see, and no one  is looking.  Is this disappointment normal?  Is this all I should expect?  Or have I missed the way to do this?  Or am I taking this too personally to early, and wanting more than I have a right too?

I figure I have to do an excellent job marketing.  Maybe that is what I am missing, but then I do not know how to do that and stay within the bounds of who I am.  I need help, but I do not know who to trust for advise.  Point blank I don't know how to do this!!!!

Beyond everything else, I am scared of failure and scared even more of success, and most of all confused by the barrage of emotions I did not expect.  There is disillusionment and disappointment when I expected to be feeling as if I had finally done it.  I thought I would be ecstatic to just have my life's work story out there.  But it didn't feel any different than the moment before when I was only a writer and had not published.  Now it's like I'm saying 'I'll believe it when I've sold a thousand copies'.  Instead it is not enough.  Will that even do it? Or am I just fooling myself?

I am so bewildered by my sudden need to see it become 'popular' for lack of a better word.  At the same time I am in a place I have never been.  This publishing thing is one of my life goals that I made when I was just a child.  It has been my most important one, and now I've accomplished it.  Is this all there is to it?  Does this change my life?  Or do I remain who I have always been?  What if I only sell one copy?  or five? or ten? or even a hundred?  Will that ever be enough?  Are we just programmed to never accept what gifts we have been given?  Are we just greedy?  Or maybe it's just me.  Does anyone out there have an answer?  Please respond.  I need to hear from someone with more wisdom than me.

Friday, October 11, 2013

It's Online!!!!!

Yes as the title says, The Key to Her Heart is now for sale online, or actually it will be in a few hours.  It has been uploaded and will be for sale for $3.99 on Kindle (amazon).  We are also loading onto other e-book sites, and are going to have a print copy, but that will take another four weeks as long as everything goes alright.

We actually did it!  I guess now I can say I am an author instead of just a writer, and anyone out there that is curious, now you can purchase The Key to Her Heart.  If you do, please e-mail me, or leave a comment and tell me what you think.  I would love to hear from you!

I guess for right now that's it.  It's been a long night, and I probably should be smart and get in bed for a few hours before babies and kids are up to start the day!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

So close I can taste it!

Oh my goodness I am so excited, scared, nervous, and even a little freaked out!  Everything is almost ready, but we've run into a few hitches--  nothing that can't be handled, but a little more time-- maybe twenty-four hours maybe even forty-eight hours???  But within the next day The Key to Her Heart will be online as an e-book and I will finnnnnallly be an author!!!!!!  Oh my goodness!  I am so excited!  Yes, my Southern Californian upbringing is kinda showing through right now.  I am sooooo jumpy, like ready to get up and jump up and down like a little girl that's going to Disneyland for the first time (yes I went there ALOT when I was a kid-- to the point that it spoiled me so that midwestern amusement parks are a let down).  But this is big--  as in huge!  This has been my dream since I was fourteen-- and we won't talk about how long ago that was.  Now it's really happening.  So please bear with me as we make everything work.  Also please bear with my horrible grammar and typing errors as I haven't exactly had alot of sleep the last few days.  I promise The Key to Her Heart will be up for everyone to see very VERY soon!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

The Key to Her Heart sneak peek!

Hi Guys!

Hope's starting to mend.  As you may have noticed September passed, and though my goal was to get The Key to Her Heart out online, it didn't happen.

Well-- We ran into a few snags, but The Key to Her Heart I am pleased to say is on the mend also.  Meg and I should have it for sale as an e-book by --of all days-- October 7th --my anniversary.  This makes perfect sense to me since this was the day eighteen years ago that the heart of this family began, and the series I am writing is called The Heart of a Family.  So what better day to first publish my first novel?

Well, to give you a little sneak preview I thought I would post Chapter 8.  I hope you enjoy, and get ready for the great unveiling!  Yes!  I am so excited!  I hope you are too.

The Unwanted Guest

It had been two hours since Patrick had left.  Anna acutely watched the clock.  She had been back from Cheryl’s for two weeks. Though Grace had asked several times why she had been gone she couldn’t bear to talk about it.  So after a few days the questions stopped and Anna was alright with that.
Now it was late June, and still she didn’t feel comfortable with anyone.  Quietly, she wrapped her arms around herself and held back the panic that wanted to come.
No longer could she wear a watch nor have her grandmother’s key hang from her wrist, so she wore it around her neck as her grandmother had.  Anything coming near her wrists made her jump and sent her back as if she was still in that horrible bedroom tied up and unable to escape.
Groups of people were the most uncomfortable.  Tonight she was suppose to be helping to get ready for a party here at Gracie’s apartment.  A ‘summer get together’ she called it, but she knew her friend well enough to know it was a party.  There would be fifty people here in another hour or so.  She would gladly escape, but what frightened her more than anything else was Wolffe finding her alone and defenseless again.  She wanted safety even though she didn’t want to deal with how ever many people would be arriving shortly.
“Are you ready?”  Gracie asked as she came back into the room.  Anna glanced down over herself.  Slim fitting faded jeans and a bright pink tunic tied with an equally bright orange sash making a statement of its own.  With her short nails painted with the same pink as her shirt and her hair hanging loose down her back and down to her waist; there was no doubt of the rebellious streak that had taken root in the last weeks.
“Do I look ready?”  Her hands perched on her hips.  Grace arched one brow quizzically. 
“You look ready to slam me for asking such a stupid question.”
“Good guess.”
“Gosh, you are different in the last few weeks.  You disappear and come back like another person...”
Anna walked away from her friend instead of giving any kind of answer.  She was a different person.  Wolffe’s violence had killed who she was.  She’d realized since there wasn’t a prayer of resurrecting the person she once was, she had to embrace this new person.  She wasn’t even sure how she would face her church or the youth once she was home in Chicago.  What would her brother think?  She shook her head as if she could make all the uncertainties shake right out.  They stayed and she walked back from the hallway into the living room once more. 
Gracie was staring out the window with a grimace. 
“What’s wrong?”  Quickly she turned back to her, then looked up to the wall where the clock was.  Anna snuck a peak out the window and noticed who was walking close to the apartment.  She barely held back the tremble inside of her.
“Tonight we’ll be sisters.”  Gracie informed as if it wasn’t a choice, but a fact.  Here we go again.  Anna didn’t let her thoughts be known.
“But Patrick will be here, won’t he?”  With a flip of her hand, Gracie dismissed the worry.
“You know Patrick will play along with us, and no one else knows the difference.” She grasped the door handle.  Anna stewed over what was happening in front of her.  Then she knew.  Gracie never gave out her real name.  Why was that?  What did she fear?
“What, the Paige name again?”  Anna asked.  It was one thing using a different last name so no one would connect her to her life back in Chicago.  It was entirely different just using the name on a whim at a party with people that were supposed to be ‘friends’.
“Why can’t we just be who we are?”  Though she in no way wanted anyone to know anything of her other life. 
“Of course, the Paige name.”  Grace piped up, ignoring Anna’s question. 
“At the gallery I never give my last name to my customers. You know that.  So, some of these people know me from the gallery.  I just feel safer, Anna.”
“Yes, I see.  You don’t feel safe around the people you allow in your life.  If you ask me it’s stupid.  Why invite people you don’t trust into your home?”  Anna retorted.  She was learning though, not to trust people with her true feelings.  Right then she was slightly glad for Gracie’s deception.  Grace nodded. 
“Tonight we’ll be the Paige sisters.  Tomorrow I’ll clean up my act.”
“Paige again.”  Anna groaned.  She was tired of the double life.  Why had she even stayed this long?
“You know some of these people, Anna.  They already know you as Anna Paige.”
“They will see right through us!  We don’t look anything alike!”  She complained.
“A smile always keeps people from seeing insecurities.  Just smile and introduce yourself as Anna Paige.  Here’s your chance.”  The doorbell sounded and Gracie opened the door.  Sure enough, there was Wolffe.  Nausea threatened.  Her soul shook.
“No.” Even for Gracie she could not, would not, stand there and pretend everything was alright.  With that thought, she spun and walked away.  She stood alone on the small balcony outside Gracie’s dining room as she listened to the door bell time and time again.  She’d purposefully left the sliding door open, even though it let in the hot summer air from outside.  Why did closed doors freak her out now?  She stood out there until Gracie found her. 
“Oh, here’s my sister!”  Grace exclaimed.  Anna groaned. 
“I think I’ll go back to my friend Cheryl’s house, Gracie...  I’m not good company tonight.”
“Nonsense!  Come meet...”  Gracie pulled her away from the balcony as the name she spoke was part of the wind.  She introduced her to half the people there.
“Are you THE Anna Paige?  The World Stage model?”  Anna wanted to groan, but instead smiled.
“Yes, Anthony Wolffe was a good friend of mine before he passed.  He will forever be missed.”  Every chance she had she turned the conversation away from who she was.  The last thing she wanted to talk about was herself. 
“His creations were incredible weren’t they?”  Then they were talking about the newest line scheduled to come out at the end of summer.  She smiled.  She remembered the days when she, Cheryl, and Anthony had worked on it last Christmas, but she said nothing.  That was her own secret and none of these strangers needed to know about her life.
“Do you think his son is as gifted as he was?”
She shook her head as she swallowed the choke inside of her. The question reiterated the large consuming void created by Anthony’s absence.
“No.  No one could be as gifted as Anthony.”  Not seeing Wolffe, Anna spoke boldly. 
“Matthew tries to imitate his father’s genius.  It’s not possible to do.”  A gasp went up in the crowd she was standing in the middle of.
“Would you say that to his face?”  Anna groaned. 
“Why?  Is he standing behind me?”  A couple of the people nodded.  Slowly she twirled around to face Matthew Wolffe.  He stood tall and formidable with his arms crossed.  But she had already faced him at his worst.  He’d already done the damage, and so there was nothing that could scare her about him now.  She looked up to him without flinching away.
“You’ll never be the man your father was.  It doesn’t matter what you steal.  It doesn’t matter who you get rid of.  It doesn’t matter what the rest of the world thinks.  I know the truth.  I know just who you are.”  Matthew shook his head and started to turn away. 
“You are so full of--”
“And what scares you more than anything, is you know that I’m right.  You can’t measure up to Anthony.  You never have been able to.”
The people standing around gasped as if shocked to hear her speak so bluntly.  She didn’t care.  The one thing he could never take away was the truth, and what none of them knew was the company he claimed no longer belonged to him.  Anthony gave her the provision before his death, and she had followed through three weeks ago.  He was stiff and silent.  Anger blazed in his gaze.  She didn’t care about that either.  Walking away, she left everyone around her stunned.  Without stopping, she walked into the kitchen.  It was the only quiet place in the apartment.  A moment later Wolffe stormed into the room. 
“How dare you!”  He grabbed her arm, but she yanked herself away.
“No!  How dare YOU!”  Taking a step toward him, she stared him down. 
“I will speak out against you every chance I get.  I will do all in my power to bring you down.  If I were you I would stay away from me, because there are no lengths I won’t travel to serve you back your own medicine... TIMES TEN!”  His hand came up. 
“What?  Are you going to hit me?  There.  That’s another difference between you and your father.  The only power you have is violence.  And you know what?  You can only scare people for so long!  So go for it!  What’s another bruise when I’ve had so many?”  Anna stepped back to regain her composure before returning to truly show him who he was.
“But you...”  Her gaze flashed angrily at him.
“You will never be anything but a snake.  So don’t compare yourself to Anthony-- You aren’t even close!”  He raised his hand up again resorting to what she knew was his only defense.  She barely kept herself from flinching before the kitchen door opened.

“Excuse me?”  A dark haired man gingerly peeked into the room.  Exasperation filled Matthew, but he kept his cool, bringing his hand back down to his side. 
“This is a private conversation.” He explained with as much control as possible.  The man didn’t seem to really notice his warning or him as much as he did Anna as he continued to enter the room.  The intruder’s presence seemed to cause her rage to dissipate, an unwelcome change in emotional climate.  Her frenzy sustained him and he always loved how a simple word could rile her up.
“Anna is everything alright?” She nodded, but a slight remnant of fear remained.  Was she afraid of him?   Was that what drove her into her tirade?  As the stranger reached toward Anna, Wolffe interceded before he had the chance.
“Hi, I’m Matthew Wolffe.”  He reached out a hand.  The man gave a strong handshake.
“Patrick Rueschel.”  Matthew watched as Patrick’s clear green gaze stayed on Anna.  His longing for her was apparent, but that would disappear if he knew she had already been claimed by another man.
“A pleasure, I’m sure.  Listen, Anna and I were just leaving here…”
He wrapped a hand around her small waist, fondly remembering their night together. She would always be his and no one could take that away from him.  Her attention suddenly yanked back to him.  Her eyes flavored with renewed anger that he basked in.  He loved knowing that the vehemence he could inspire was incomparable to that of any other bloke.
“Keep your filthy, no good hands off of me!”  She yelled. Patrick moved himself between him and Anna.  Did he really believe he could protect her?  This little boy actually wanted to play war with a seasoned veteran.
But of course… let’s play your game.  Patrick could calm her, perhaps, but only he could cause her heart to beat wildly, whether it be from fear or anger.
“My father could get you to stick around.”  He taunted with calm words as her blue eyes radiated with deep hatred.
“Your father was my friend.  You’re just a bastard.”
“Oh, that I am, but a bastard that has what no one else ever will.”  Leaning back into his stance, a secret joy filled him.  She was closer than she thought to giving in.  This Patrick Rueschel did not comprehend, but he was just a simpleton.  The dark haired man looked to Anna, trying to understand what he meant, while desperately trying to deny what he already knew.
“How much does it cost?”  He goaded. 
“That’s enough.”  Patrick held his hand against Matthew’s chest, keeping him from Anna.  The touch of someone so far beneath him made his skin crawl, but he pushed past him.  He had no rights, and they both knew that.
“What does it take, Anna? I won’t take no for an answer...”  He slinked behind her, drawing closer to her, feeding on her crescendo of emotion. 
“I came here for you.  You must know that, of course.”
“That’s enough, I said.  Go sleep it off, or whatever.”  Once more Patrick intervened quickly pushing him away from her.
“I’m not for sale, asshole!  Not obtainable or stealable! Get out of my face!”  The sound of her resorting to such crude idiolect kissed him like a sweet breeze.  It was a level to which he had never driven Anna to before.  Her defenses were crumbling and he knew she could never erase their bond. 
“You were almost an exclusive for World Stage Clothing.  You were paid for your attention and you loved it, Anna.” Matthew thought aloud.  Anna gasped.
“You can’t have me! You will never have me!”  She yelled. 
“What was the senior Wolffe better in the bedroom?  He definitely had more experience.”  Anna jumped around to him, as her hand came up in a loud slap across Matthew’s face.  Patrick leaped in between them, only to be met eye to eye.  For a moment the piercing eyes stirred a quiver of panic in Matthew, but he swiftly disregarded it.  What he and Anna had was private and he knew he had time for her to come to him.
“You can protect her this time, but she’s mine.  I had her first and you won’t always be there.”  He turned his attention to Anna.
 “Will he Anna?” 

Patrick’s fist curled, but she quickly pulled Patrick and herself out of the room before they both took out all their rage on Wolffe.
“He’s scum... not even worth it.  Just get me out of here, alright, before I deck him!”  He nodded and then turned her to face him.
“Are you o.k.?”  She took a deep breath and then hugged him. 
“I’ve never seen you like that.  You were ready to attack him.  You’ve never become that angry-- ever.”  She just raised her brows then let them drop and said nothing. 
“Anna, are you alright?  I want an answer...  Why did you disappear?  Then you come back like someone I don’t know.  Nothing adds up.”  Groaning, she pulled him with her as she attempted to leave the apartment.
“First we get out of here.  I’ll tell you all about it, but not here.”  Grace ran up to them as Anna grabbed her keys from the small table by the door. 
“Where are you going?”
“Go deal with your guests.  I can’t do this.  I told you that earlier.”
“I’m getting her out of here, she almost punched some guy--” Patrick intervened once more. 
“It won’t be pretty if she stays.”
“Patrick...  You should be talking her down, not encouraging her further.”  Patrick looked around the apartment as if searching for a quiet corner.
“No place to do that, Grace.  Not here.”  His tone was the most sarcastic Anna had ever heard from him. 
“Too many people.  Bye.”  He waved quickly, and then the two of them escaped.  Anna laughed as they ran to her car.  All along the street, on both sides, cars were parked. They were all there for Gracie’s party. 
“I can’t believe you!  You are just incredible!”  She reached up to him and kissed his lips then hopped over to her car and quickly unlocked the doors. 
“Get in; I know a quiet place where we can talk.  Beside there is someone you need to meet.”
He got in the car, and shut the door.  Then she started the engine and sped down the street.  A minute later she was on the freeway heading south.  He carefully stretched the seatbelt over him and clicked it.  She’d never dared to drive with such a vengeance in Sheldonburg.  Something in her had changed, and it had happened just recently.  As she drove he studied her.  She had an anger in her that did not dissipate even when the target was gone.  What was it?