A blog where families who love and live the Catholic Faith can share, encourage and support each other.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

The Life I Dreamed

Written enthusiastically by Sue Elvis

A couple of weeks ago, I received an email from my blogging friend Kari with the title Sharing my Joy… I knew Kari’s novel, The Life I Dreamed, had been published!

Kari and I both took the NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) challenge last November. We had to write a novel of 50 000 words in 30 days. Even before the month was over, we’d both reached our goal and were proclaimed NaNoWriMo winners. Then Kari did something I didn’t. She went on to edit and fine-tune her novel while mine is still sitting in a file on my computer waiting for attention…

Kari told me a little about the theme of her book and I couldn’t wait to read it. So as soon as Kari’s email arrived, I headed off to the Kindle store and purchased a copy.

This is the Amazon book description of Kari Burke’s The Life I Dreamed:

Motherhood is a gift.
Children are a blessing.
Marriage is a sacrament.

Emmy O’Brien knows all that. There was even a time she fought to promote those very values and beliefs. After having four children in rapid succession though, the demands of home and family have blurred her strong convictions. Tired, overwhelmed, and dissatisfied much of the time, she struggles each day to meet the needs of those around her. When her husband receives a phone call from a 16 year old girl, unexpectedly pregnant and suddenly homeless, Emmy’s world is turned upside down and she must now decide, are her old-fashioned values and beliefs still worth fighting for?

Doesn’t that sound worth reading? I couldn’t wait to begin.

From page one I was engrossed in the story of Emmy O’Brien. I won’t tell you the plot. There is enough of a hint in the Amazon description. Any more would just spoil the story for you. I will say all the characters are thoroughly believable. They came alive for me. I cared about what happened to them and so I kept clicking pages, not wanting to put my ereader down. How was the book going to end? It didn’t take me long to find out. I can’t share the ending of course! All I can tell you is this: I was left with a warm satisfied feeling. 

And now I am hoping Kari will write another novel!

Kari, November is not that far away. How about taking up another NaNoWriMo challenge?

I know I am useless at writing book reviews but I hope you sense my enthusiasm and excitement over Kari’s novel.

If you'd like to read an entertaining story with strong Catholic themes, please share Kari Burke’s novel ,The Life I Dreamed. It is available from Amazon as a paperback book or Kindle ebook.

And please visit Kari’s blog Overflow.

(I blog at Sue Elvis Writes)

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Fulfilling a dream

         The "profile" on my blog starts out "Me? I am 'just' a mom."  And, for almost 14 years that is exactly how I have seen myself.  I am a mom.  I love being a mom and I love being home with my children.  I wouldn't change being "just a mom" for the world.  Still, there is one other thing I have always wanted to do in my lifetime.  I have always wanted to write a book.

           Last August, I stumbled upon a brief reference to novel writing and “NaNoWriMo” while reading a home school blog that I have never since visited and cannot even remember the name of.  Nevertheless, that old desire to write a book came rushing back to me.  I went straight to the website for NaNo and was intrigued by the idea of writing a novel in a month.
It was summertime though, months away from November, national novel writing month, (which, if you have not figured out is what NaNoWriMo refers to). I thought about it, and prayed about it and mulled the idea over in my mind.  Could I write a novel?  Could I do it in four short weeks?  And more importantly could I write a novel in a month and still manage my home, care for my 5 children, home school them -- you know, maintain a relative amount of real life responsibility at the same time?  

The whole idea sounded completely crazy!  But, I decided, now that I knew about it, there was no way I could not at least try.  And, I actually did have a story idea.  An idea I felt God had sent me.  I prayed and promised God this would be His project, not mine, and I let Him know He would have to guide it all.  

So for months I thought about plot lines, character names, and how to fit in novel writing between cooking dinner and folding laundry.  Over and over, I reminded God I would need His help if this was to be and asked again and again for His guidance and reassurance. 

I did not write down one single word of my story before November lest I break a NaNo rule and render my novel illegitimate.  But very early on the 1st of November, I finally sat down to write, competing with my two oldest children for computer time because they, too, chose to participate in NaNoWriMo and had stories to compose as well.

Three weeks into the month, I reached the goal of 50,000 words.  By month’s end, I finished the entire story- beginning, middle, and end.  

Then, the real work began….editing, editing, editing.  Rewriting, reworking, revising.  But, God answered my prayers and so many things fell into place.  Along the way, I have been blessed with the support and assistance of many wonderful professionals and friends.  Through the grace of God (and the help of a friend), I was put in touch with a professional copy editor who agreed to edit my story.  Later, a friend who is a brilliant graphic designer, agreed to design my cover.  Perhaps the most valuable thing I received, though, was the support of my wonderful family who allowed me the time to work, believed in me even when I doubted myself, and enthusiastically cheered me on every step of the way.  

And now, I can say  
I am truly an author!

My novel, The Life I Dreamed, can be found here in paperback, and here in Kindle edition.

I do not want to give anything away, but I will say my book is a pro-life novel about a young Catholic family who is trying to do what is right and follow God's plan for their life.

Monday, July 9, 2012

North Coast Catholic Homeschool Camp

For many Catholic Home Educating families in Australia homeschool camps are an integral part of our lives.  Lifelong friendships are formed, isolation is eased, support is given. This year our family will be attending (and hosting) the North Coast Catholic Homeschool camp for our 12th year!  Excitement is building in our home, our children are asking, "what activities are we doing this year, who is coming? Will my friends from last year be there, will we have new friends?"

We warmly invite you to consider joining us for our 12th year!:) we still have a few cabins available.  Held on the 10-14th September we are located at  Lennox Head (Lismore Diocese), near the Gold Coast. Two hours south of Brisbane, nine hours north of Sydney.
At the core of our week is our shared Catholic Faith, our day begins with Mass, ends with the Rosary and Benediction and is woven throughout with Spiritual Talks and the opportunity for Confession.
This year Fr John Rizzo (FSSP) will be our Camp Chaplain.

On the Tuesday Bishop Geoffrey Jarrett (Lismore diocese) celebrates Mass offering the Sacraments of Confirmation and First Holy Communion.

 It will be a wonderful week of making, renewing and building friendships. Impromptu games of soccer, dancing, fun and laughter into the night are our 'stock in trade.'  Icebreaking games at the beginning and a time for parents to share ensures we all get to know one another.

Every day we enjoy swimming at one of the beautiful nearby beaches, we also enjoy a sand castle building contest, 

each year we hold a sports day, 

a concert and on the final night we have a grand finale with a bonfire.

If you are interested please don't hesitate to contact Erin with further questions or for a brochure with more details at
aussiethreads@gmail.com.  We'd love to have you join us:)

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The Extraordinary Ordinary Things of Life

Written by Sue Elvis

I am at Thomas’ wake. I have his memory box on my knee and I take out a few photos and pass them to a friend.

“He was a chubby baby!” she exclaims.

I reply, “He wasn’t really. Those photos were taken at the funeral home. He looked different at the hospital.”

I think about this. I remember how much I longed to see Thomas once more at the funeral home before his burial. He was in his coffin at the far end of the room and I hurried towards him. And then suddenly I stopped. He didn’t look like my baby. In some way he’d changed since I’d left him at the hospital. He didn’t look as I remembered. Tears rolled down my face and I wondered, “Did they get the babies muddled up? Is this really Thomas?”

My friend’s voice interrupts my thoughts. She is asking me another question and I open my mouth to reply. My lips move but the words won’t form. I try again, and again I fail to say anything. I have lost control of my speech.

My friend notices my difficulties and hurriedly says, ‘You don’t have to say anything. It’s OK.”

But it’s not OK at all. I want to tell her about my son but I can’t. I don’t want her to move off and leave me alone. But she thinks she is upsetting me. She pats me on the shoulder and hurries away. And I am helpless.

Yes, I remember the day I lost control of my speech. But it wasn’t just the ability to form words that I’d lost. I’d lost control of my whole life.

Life can go on the same, day in and day out. It is known and comfortable and we feel secure. We think we are in control. Yes, we have problems to deal with but we cope. And then one day we wake up and life has changed forever and we know there is absolutely nothing we can do about it.

I am very aware of how life can change so quickly. I travel through my comfortable days where I am seemingly in control and I wonder how long it will last. What plans has God got for me? Will He allow my world to be turned upside down again? Will I once again sink into that pit of suffering?

I remember going to town a few days after Thomas died. As I walked through the shopping centre, I noticed two happy young women. As I passed them, I wondered how they could continue to laugh and chat together about nothing of real importance. Didn’t the air around them turn cold as I walked by? Couldn’t they see I was no ordinary woman but one gripped by the arms of grief? I wondered why their lives were so normal and happy. How could they enjoy the trivial things of life?

The trivial things of life? It is strange how unimportant some things seem when we are grieving. What if my world fell apart today? Would I continue my normal routine? Would I be interested in the little things of life? No, I don’t think I would.

I think of the possibility of more suffering and my heart skips a beat. A feeling of dread and fear overcomes me that threatens to spoil the present moment. And then I tell myself not to be silly. I say: Trust. Live life to the full and don’t look ahead.  Be thankful for the joys of today. Don’t let thoughts of possible pain-to-come spoil the present. The future is God’s concern, not mine. My job is to concentrate on the little things of life.

So I get involved in the little things of life. I think about what I am going to wear for the day. I stand under the shower and enjoy the tingling of the hot water upon my skin. I spend time with God: I pray and read. I hang washing on the line and feel the warmth of the sun. Later I challenge my body to a long run. Afterwards I sit at the lunch table and devour my sandwich as I answer the girls’ eager question: “How far did you run today, Mum?” We work; we share books; we chat; we laugh; we write; we discuss what we shall cook for dinner. Then Andy arrives home. We hug. I pour a glass of wine and we exchange news. Eventually our ordinary day comes to an end.

My children arrive one by one to say goodnight. I think about how much I love my family. I love them so much it hurts and the present moment threatens to be spoilt by the question, “What if…?” But I don’t let it. I really have no cause to worry.

I think about Thomas’ death when I lost control over every aspect of my life, even my speech.  I was sure my life was over. But here I am full of joy, surrounded by love and loving… I still have no control over my life. I don’t even want control any more. Yes, I am aware that God could allow any sort of sorrow and suffering to touch me. But I also know He will always be there to bring me through it. For hasn’t He already done that before?

So I live in the present moment and I enjoy the ordinary things of life which I suddenly realise aren’t so ordinary after all. Ordinary becomes powerfully extraordinary when combined with love.

So as each child comes to say goodnight, I enfold her within my arms and I hug… I hug tightly, my eyes closed, my heart overflowing with love. This is today. This is what is important. This is an extraordinary ordinary moment.

If you'd like to share more of my stories about faith, homeschooling, grief, family, blogging and writing... please visit my blog Sue Elvis Writes.

I also post homeschooling ideas, resources, links, books... on my blog The Elvis Homeschooling Journal