Kimly's · Kimly's Trade

I’m Back! I think.

I don’t know entirely what the hell happened between me and blogging, but after a long break-up, we’re talking about getting back together. In many ways, this is the conversation; I’m having it with the keyboard and I’m having it with you.

Honestly, this is all pouring out of me so quickly, maybe I’ll give you a little background.

Earlier this week, my publisher contacted me about rewriting my already published novel, Where the Water Rages, so that they could sell the rights to a larger book distributor, where it could be marketed it to a wider audience. The larger distributor had read the novel and emailed a review, which included changes that needed to be made so that the story would appeal to more people. Some of the changes made me laugh, and I was able to distance myself from work that I did so many years ago. During which time my library grew, and I had the opportunity to have many talented professors and academic peers speak into my writing. So, when I heard that they thought Kimly was unbelievable—too impulsive, it made me smile a defeated grin. Kimly was penned, nine years ago, by a woman who herself was impulsive and made reckless decisions, often getting in over her head. Broken pieces of me pierce through that manuscript and some of them are fraught with inconsistencies. To put it more bluntly, I was a hot mess, trying to work out my shit. This, of course, is not a reason to disregard the editorial recommendation. Maybe Kimly does need a face lift. The top two comments about Kimly are one: that people find her annoying, and two: she reminds them of me. Hmmm…how odd. Hearing now that the woman with whom I can relate, doesn’t seem like a real person sends my little Enneagram 4 heart onto a rollercoaster of introspection.

So, yes, I would be willing to work with editors and make Kimly more likable. If there is an opportunity for me to grow as a writer and to learn how to be more relatable to people, sign me up!

But, wait, there’s more.

And this is where I get agitated.

I start to remember why I felt pressure to be creating something. Making something, churning something out. Churn. Churn. Churn churn church churn church. Churn Church…work for it, work for it…earn it…deserve it.

The change that the bigger book distributor recommended ((SPOILERS)) was that the romance between Kimly and Dak be made more intense, and possibly that their relationship lands differently at the end of the book. In other words, Kimly needs to fuck Dak and leave her cheating husband. Hmm. Do I want to write that story? I didn’t then, Praise God.

The next non-negotiable idea they suggested to increase sales was to have Kimly do something significant by the end of the story. As they put it, quoting my publisher reading their email, “readers feel cheated watching Kimly go through all of these experiences, but at the end, she doesn’t even write a ground-breaking editorial piece. She only saves one child.”

Wow.

For a long time, I felt so much pressure to do something significant. The feeling runs deep and goes back far, and I’ve done a lot of work to break it down and understand it. But as for writing, as I remember it, I was feeling pressure to stand apart, to be excellent at something and it emerged with the digital age. This need grew inside of me. A need to have a lot of followers, a bigger team, a best seller. To do something big within this new digital world. The idea of just being a kind human living a simple life was out there, but I didn’t know how to make it what I wanted. I wanted to want it.

And then I did.

And so did Kimly. She just did it before me.

So when the bigger book distributor suggests I write a Hollywood ending, my answer is a firm, maybe.

I mean…I am writing again, and if a woman emerges who gets the guy, cracks the case, and sells a truckload of books, then, by all means, she is welcome to the story! But as for Kimly, no.

Kimly went on a search for significance, where she met a man that made her question what she had within her marriage, she saw the love she could have for a child, and she discovered how deeply God loved her and the places he would go to save her. Kimly realized that the most significant thing she could do was to be involved in her marriage to make it work, to become a more attentive mother, and to care for the person directly in front of her. She didn’t write the big editorial piece because that is not what this particular fable is about.

Anyway, all of this to ask, does anyone read blogs anymore? Just wondering if it’s worth my time.

Education · Freedom · Uncategorized

It’s because of Starbucks, it’s because of you!

IMG_1942
I am a 53-year-old Grandmother and I wear an Arizona State University pin on my green Starbucks apron. The pin often invites conversation from customers and each time, the exchange leads to the subject of my late-in-life pursuit of a Bachelor’s degree. I am always pleased to share with customers that I am only able to attend college now because Starbucks is paying my tuition. Becoming an ASU student through the Starbucks Achievement Plan, or SCAP, has not only enabled me to earn a Bachelor’s Degree in English, but it has also provided me with the opportunity to say thank you to those who are making it possible—each time I go to work.
My husband and I have been married for thirty-one years, during which time we raised three children to adulthood. He works as a 7th grade Science teacher and I’ve had various hourly jobs, either as an assistant in an office or classroom or in the customer service industry. We live modestly, but we’ve always had enough. We paid for our daughter’s wedding, we helped pay for our son’s semester studying abroad at Oxford University and helped another son through an internship on the North Shore of Oahu, Hawaii. To not recognize my blessings would be criminal, but as my children grew older, an inner aching developed: I desired to play a more substantial role in my community. We live in a small desert town that is in desperate need of teachers, and remembering how influential my own High School English teacher was during my formidable teenage years, I’ve often thought I could be effective in that role. But I couldn’t play that part in anyone’s life because I wasn’t qualified. By not respecting the importance of academia as a young adult, I was looking at living out the second half of my life being disqualified for jobs because of my lack of education. I didn’t like the math of the equation, but there wasn’t extra money for me to go to college. And who takes out student loans in their late 40s or early 50s, when they are so close to retirement?
Thanks to Starbucks, all of that is changing. It seems like yesterday that I was over two years away, one year away, six months away, 9 weeks away from graduation. Now, the nearness of the ceremony produces butterflies. Time, and again, I share my story with customers, and inevitably men and women, my age or older, lock eyes with me and nod encouragingly, offering sentiments of “Good for you!” or “It’s never too late!” And always, “Congratulations!” And time, and again, I respond, “It’s because of Starbucks, it’s because of you!”
Perhaps I would have found a different way to pay for college, but SCAP gave me something more than tuition. SCAP allowed me to live in a place where gratitude was at the forefront of my mind for an extended amount of time. For nearly three years, I’ve experienced what it feels like to say, “Thank you for choosing Starbucks!” and truly mean it. For it is the customers, from the first-timers to the every-day regulars, who are helping me change my life. I am always aware that the job I am doing at Starbucks is part of my education. Accurately steaming the milk for a Blonde Flat White and making the customer connection is just as important as studying for my Spanish final.
I have been inspired by the unselfishness of a company that is willing to pay partners’ tuitions, which will ultimately enable them to leave their jobs. At first, it appears to be illogical, but it is this backward thinking that changes our future. Howard Schultz once said in an interview, “we can’t build a great company and we can’t build a great enduring country if we’re constantly leaving people behind.”
I once felt left behind, but now my dreams are beginning to materialize. I have been hired in three local school districts to work as a Substitute Teacher while I pursue my Teaching Credential and Master’s Degree in Education. I cannot wait for the days when I will hopefully inspire the love of learning onto a group of students. It truly is never too late to become who you were supposed to be.
Jacquelyn Sill
ASU Graduate, Class of 2019
Kimly's Trade · spiritual growth

Ready to Quit, After Four Short Days

Have you ever noticed how as soon as we take that first step in faith, we begin to feel like we are on the wrong path? Ironically, we find ourselves wanting proof where God has called us to walk in faith.

Is it just me? Or can you relate? We can be completely confident in the thing we are supposed to do, but as soon as we hit minor hurdles, we begin to wonder if we were mistaken and entirely off base.

thSome of us begin to search for a sign or an indication that we are on the right track. If you think like me, if you find yourself wanting to please others, your first response when feeling insecure may be to look at how others are responding. Suddenly we get trapped into believing the indication of whether we are on the right or wrong path can be measured by the approval of others. Using the gauge of approval places us in constant turmoil, especially if someone we value silently withholds that all powerful nod.

Tuesday night I started a fundraising program for the fictional novel I wrote and am now rewriting and editing. Four nights later I came home from a eleven hour day at the restaurant and told my husband I shouldn’t be raising money or editing the novel. Tired from a busy day? Perhaps. But it was more than just food server exhaustion.

What had happened in four short days?

  • In four short days I saw my possible failure at this venture as being more humiliating than the shame God already helped me walk through in the past.
  • In four short days I began to take my eyes off the editing and fundraising God was calling me to do and place them on the response of others.
  • In four short days I forgot the importance of being obedient to God over pleasing anyone else.
  • In four short days I was willing to trade confidence from the Lord for “Likes” on a Link.
  • In four short days I forgot that walking by faith actually meant…WALKING. BY. FAITH.

1280x800-walkbyfaith

I have a welcome critic who will most likely call me out on posting this blog. Writing a piece about the need to stop relying on “Likes”, Comments, or Shares, while simultaneously placing it online where other people can give a nods of approval is ironic.

I gave birth to the welcome critic over 24 years ago, and on that evening I guess I invited his lifelong critique, however, at this time posting an ironic blog about faith is part what God is calling me to do as a statement of faith.

There is more at stake in what I am doing than just getting a book published. It’s a matter of doing the things God has called me to do every single time. It may be big, or it may be small–size TRULY doesn’t matter. Obedience matters.

Here’s the thing, the steps I took towards total rebellion to the Lord and the breaking of my marriage vows started off very miniscule. They were tiny little steps of disobedience long before they were outright strides. And late last night, after talking and crying with my husband about the fears I have for continuing with this project, it all came back to that. I heard myself say it before I even fully grasped it, “I can never live in disobedience to the Lord again.”  You guys, it was awful. Being in that sin wasn’t pleasurable and exciting, it was terrifying and lonely. I never want to be out of His will again. So, if taking tiny steps will keep me in His will, then tiny steps I will take.

For more information on my fictional novel, Kimly’s Trade, please visit our Indiegogo campaign by CLICKING ON THIS LINK.


 

Kimly's Trade

Because I Said So

I didn’t think I would ever say it to one of my children, but then one day it just fell out of my mouth.

“Why do I have to practice piano before I watch Sponge Bob?”

“Why can’t both of the cats and the dog sleep in my bed with me?”

“Why can’t I jump off the wall into the swimming pool?”

And there it was. “Because I said so.”

Throwing out the quick response wasn’t always done because my children couldn’t understand the possible consequences. The majority of the time I gave them a quick answer was because I didn’t want to take the time to explain the reasons they needed to obey.

Lately, I have heard God whispering those four little words to me.

Working through my devotionals, alone in my quaint little home, driving along the highway looking at the desert landscape–all of these times I have heard a holy whisper from God telling me to finish a project I started. I have told God all of the reasons why I shouldn’t finish this project and insisted we talk about something else, but he keeps bringing it back up.

When I ask him why it is so important to him that I finish THIS particular project, he simply replies, “Because I said so.”

The project is one that began several years ago as a story God had placed on my heart. Questions arose as I watched a friend live courageously while dying of cancer. I met Irene through a book club. I was invited into a group where I knew none of the other women. The ladies were reading “The Art of Racing in the Rain” in which one of the characters has cancer. Irene had already been fighting her own battle and she spoke freely about the things she read in the book that were transforming some of her thoughts, as well as those things with which she disagreed. I was immediately drawn to her because not only was she one of the most passionate women I had met in a long time, but she was also one of the most honest. There was no tip-toeing around an issue with Irene. She was blunt and straight forward. In many ways, she was everything I wished I could be. I never became her, but somehow, through God’s grace, I have a daughter who is a lot like Irene.

38383_1495481222489_7299045_nWatching Irene drift away was devastating. She died in her home in July of 2012. I wouldn’t claim to have felt the pain as deeply as others. She has three children who survived her death, and a handful of very close friends. They are the ones who have had to live life without this soul to remind them of their beauty and their worth. They are the ones who have had to make decisions without her input–knowing full well that she would have had an opinion! But with Irene my closeness to her didn’t matter, because she had the ability to pull in people who barely knew her. She could make everyone feel included in the heart of whatever was happening.

When I first met her she was fierce and strong, like a lioness. Granted, she was a lioness in leopard print with a bright pink bow, but fierce none the less. In her sickness she was becoming frail and weak, like a kitten. Watching this strong, beautiful woman who was close to the same age as myself, slowly drift away was alarming, and made me question my own significance.

One day, before Irene was too weak, we had gone for a hike in Marshal Canyon. This hike is more like a walk through the trees, and Irene begged me to take her. While walking I found myself confessing some of my deepest fears about my own identity to Irene. Even though I would come away feeling selfish for talking about myself to a dying woman, she didn’t make me feel that way then, and I don’t think she would see it that way today. She listened to the fears I had about sins I was fearful I might be capable of committing, and the confusion I was dealing with in regards to my marriage.

FullSizeRender(6)It was on this hike that she encouraged me to take my questions, fears, and doubts and give them to God in the form of a book. She told me that the greatest strength I would have over these areas of weakness was to talk about them.

It was shortly after that hike that I began to write “Kimly’s Trade”. The tale of a woman who in the middle of a marital crisis travels to Thailand desperately searching for significance. One of the key verses that came to me as I told her story was Matthew 16:25. I began to realize that the question I was trying to answer could be found in that verse.

Then I set it aside.

Even though God had called me to write it and take it to completion, I didn’t. Perhaps it was pride, perhaps it was fear–maybe it was just plain laziness. Whatever the reasons were, or the mixture of reasons, I put aside the story I had written, and I didn’t finish what God had told me to do.

So many things happened after that.

I turned my back on writing. I turned my back on transparency.

IMG_9004Now, here we are several years later and hundreds of miles away from that hiking trail, and God has called me to finish what I started when I first penned Kimly’s Trade. Through the last year and a half of blogging and reading God has allowed me to see areas where my writing can be improved, He has given me new insight to old struggles, and he has removed a lot of the fear that once held me in restraint.

Tired of resisting God, and fully aware of how things turned out the last time I resisted Him, I returned to the keyboard, doing a lot of cringing and some major rewrites on Kimly’s Trade.

Finally, knowing this venture would require a step of faith, I submitted to him completely and started the fundraising campaign with Indiegogo to raise the money to get the manuscript in front of a professional editor and published. I did the research and put together a plan.

Ironically, the very day that I was set to start the campaign, I received some bad news that left me feeling more depleted than I had felt in a long time. My heart was sad, but I did not fail to recognize the coincidence in the timing of the bad news with the timing of taking this step. Stopping was not going to glorify God. Moving forward in obedience was all He was asking.

Even today, as I look at what is required to make Kimly’s Trade fully honoring to the Lord, I am filled with doubt. I find myself waking in the middle of the night and praying for God to help me with the rewrites and take the characters to a greater depth. Do you have any idea how strange it feels to be praying for fictional characters? Can you imagine how vulnerable a person feels when they find themselves discussing non-existent beings with the one who created every being in existence?

Without understanding why God would ask me to do something so silly, my fears set in and I ask God, “Why can’t I just blog? Why do I have to tell Kimly’s fictional story?”

And He responds, “Because I said so.”


Where do you come in? Quite simply, we can’t publish Kimly’s Trade without your help.

  • Share my blog! Share the campaign for Kimly’s Trade!
  • Use the Indiegogo share tools and share about this campaign! (Indiegogo measures this and pushes the campaign along!)
  • Pray for our marriage. Pray that we would be diligent in doing the things we have learned to remain steadfast and faithful. Pray for our continued healing and for God to be working through us and in us.
  • Pray for the writing. Pray that God will be glorified through Kimly’s Trade.
affair recovery

Beauty in the Aftermath

It was ten days after the affair had ended.

It was three days after my failure had been announced in a large public forum.

I wandered into my husband’s study and sat down at his computer and created this Blog-site.  As you may imagine, my head was spinning, my pride was still running rampant and there was a lot of humbling that still needed to be done in this train-wreck of a girl. In most ways, I had no business blogging. I didn’t have a clue about the trials that were coming our way.

A lifetime friend urged me to keep myself private, but as I stated, I was a prideful mess and I didn’t know how to submit to the wisdom of others. Like a caged animal, I thrashed around trying to escape the prison I had unwittingly created. Fortunately, God is bigger than the aftermath of our aftermath. He heard my cry for help in my first blog post, Exposure, and He drew near.

Since that time, God has humbled me in so many ways; He revealed where I needed to grow, and He continues to show me new areas everyday.

When I set up the blog I couldn’t imagine giving it a name. Honestly, I didn’t think it was more than a forum to unleash my ramblings to the seven people I originally invited to read. I had the blog settings on private. Even if someone had typed in the blog address they couldn’t get in and read it without an invitation. I never envisioned God using it in any way other than keeping me connected and accountable to a few safe people.

Over the last 13 months of writing, it has become obvious that writing is something I am called to do. It’s not obvious because of ease, because there is nothing easy about it. On a day to day basis, writing is one of the hardest things I do, but simultaneously, one of the things I crave. I probably don’t have to go into detail about why writing is hard.

nothing-to-writing-hemingway-quote-sign

So why the craving?

The craving comes from loving what you do and doing what you love. It’s about experiencing God in whatever that thing is that you do where you find Him. Joy comes when we are in a place that draws us closer to God.

Sure, confirmations from other people inspire us to continue.  Hearing from another person about the way they are being blessed by what we are creating means more than most of us know how to express, but complements mean nothing if we aren’t experiencing joy in the thing we are doing. If someone doesn’t enjoy reading and writing, affirmations alone will not bring enough joy to that person to compensate for the hours of reading and writing that they didn’t enjoy.

Also there’s this little oddity, a strength building joy comes from doing something you love that is equally hard because of the growth that comes through the enduring.

Growth doesn’t happen because someone tells you they liked what you did. It doesn’t work like that. Growth happens when we push ourselves beyond what we alone are capable of doing. In these instances, after we curse and cry, we make a choice. We either stop and find an easier path, or we lean into the hard thing until beauty arises in the chaos. As a believer we have the advantage of leaning into the Spirit of God. We aren’t in it alone.  

411737_10150619971141970_899374882_oIn 1995, our daughter, Molly Christine, died suddenly at the age of nineteen months and five days. That was easily one of the most formative things that had ever happened in my life. Following the Lord has been the most formative–but even my faith took a backseat to her loss for a while. The strange thing is, my faith didn’t take a backseat during the primitive days and years after losing Molly. It was quite the opposite, in fact. During the early awful times my faith was more real; more treasured.

There was true beauty in the aftermath of losing that little girl. In the most unexpected ways–beautiful things happened when we needed them to happen the most.

So here we are. A new crisis. A different crisis. A woman made crisis. My husband and I are walking another path of pain, and while sometimes we walk with the same stride–there are times we don’t. We both have immeasurable insecurities, but they come from different places. He has experienced a loss I will never fully understand. I experience guilt he absolutely cannot erase. As you might imagine, some days it’s extremely difficult to see beauty amid this mess.

We make choices.

Hearts lean in.

God shows His face.

Eyes adjust.

In those times we see beauty in the aftermath.

spiritual growth

June Remembers December

When I was held captive by my sin, I lied to everyone I knew. I lied to my family and my closest friends, and even though I was doing it to myself, it was the loneliest time of my life. There was one area of my life where I couldn’t lie, and that was in my writing.  I couldn’t fake it when it came to writing. I had friends and family who were perplexed by the change they saw in me. “Why aren’t you writing anymore? We miss your blog…When are you going to publish the book you wrote?”

Yesterday in therapy I realized the reason I could not lie in my writing is because it is a place where I commune with God. When I am writing I release myself completely to Him. Oftentimes, I have no idea what I am going to say until my fingers are moving across the keyboard. I may have an idea of the concept, but as we are there together the words fall from my hands. That’s a scary place to be when you are watching every word that falls from your lips.

The attempts I did make at writing felt so fake, it compounded my guilt. This morning, I found one of the posts that I wrote in December 2013, and reading it now I can hear that the Spirit was nudging me towards confession and repentance. Now, don’t applaud–I didn’t obey the Spirit and come forward to confess. I was a cowardly sinner who avoided the shame, humiliation and pain until it was out of my control.

But, as I read my writing, I can hear that I did have faith in the hope that Emmanuel was coming to save me. Sometimes the way He saves us is in the exact way we would like to avoid. We want him to swoop down like Superman and remove us from the storm where we are in exile, but instead God walks with us as we head straight into the gale-force winds. On the other side of the storm, even as we travel through the barren land, there is peace. And, eventually He will take us to the promised land.

I am Israel (originally posted December 2013)

“I am Israel,” my voice bounces off my windshield and echoes through the car. Hearing the sound of my own voice jolts me a little and my emotions rise.

Israel in pain, you turned your eyes from God and focused on other gods to soothe the ache.
I am You in my pain. The ache is deep.
Israel in pride, you walked down the path of rebellion and selfishness.
I am you in my pride. I struggle to submit to God ways.
Israel in captivity, in your rebellion you chose these chains, and now your choices weigh heavy.
I am you in my captivity. The thing that I relied on to ease my pain now pushes me down and towers over me.

The dashboard displays the blinker and the tap, tap, tapping gets louder with each beat until the beating of my heart grabs a hold of the mechanical rhythm.

Emmanuel…Emmanuel
Emmanuel has come.
Emmanuel has come to set us free.

The blinker heartbeat turns to a Christmas carol. I hear the words I’ve known for years as new. Emmanuel has come to set us free. I am Israel and Emmanuel has come to set me free.

Depression cannot hold me down
Fear cannot captivate my nights
Sin cannot control my impulses
Anxiety cannot leave me breathless

I am Israel and Emmanuel has come to set me free.

The traffic light changes. As I turn the steering wheel with one hand, I reach across and switch on the radio. The soft whisper of the song treads easily across my heart and fills my soul with hope.

“O come, O come, Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.”

David and Jackie Sill with granddaughter Isla