A little bit exciting

Do you know who these people are? (Besides the one in the middle. That’s me. And please ignore the fact that I I had horribly flat hair yesterday). Well, let me begin a bit earlier. For a month now, myself and the lady in the picture above have been trying to co-ordinate a meeting and, yesterday, our wishes came true. I was up at six thirty so we could leave at seven in order to arrive at the hotel/meeting place at eight because she had to leave at ten.

Ladies and gentlemen, I met Jill Williamson in person yesterday. Yes. I did. It was a BLAST. And see the guy on the left? One of my favorite composers (his Celtic song inspired all the pirate scenes in Elmeria) – Jon Maiocco. And guess who was sitting across the table from us in this picture? Bill Meyers. And guess who was upstairs even though I didn’t get to oficially meet her? Heather Burch.

We had an amazing two hours of non-stop talking. There were several funny ocurrences – first of all, we had told Jill I would be coming with my Mom. Which means we rather threw her off when I showed up with my Dad. We sat down at a table (in-lobby restaurant, yay), got fruit and juice, ordered omelets, and commenced to talking about writerly things until Jon showed up. It was pretty thrilling to meet him, considering I’ve listened to his music for more than a year. I recounted to him all the times my sister and I had dragged Dad downstairs to hear the latest musical blog installment, and told him how his Celtic song was my pirate captain Marcus’s theme.

We chatted about music and composers (hooray for James Newton Howard and Trevor Rabin!) and Jill laughed and said “The only composers I can name are John Williams, Danny Elfman, and – oh, who did the Pirates of the Caribbean music?”

Jon said “Hans Zimmer” – and then at the same time, he and I both added “Or Klaus Badelt.” And then we just grinned. Nerds forever.

We all ordered omelets (I ordered mine with sausage and cheese, Dad got a veggie omelet, and Jill got onions that she hadn’t ordered), and there was a slight problem with Bill’s. He said “There were ice crystals in my omelet.”

And so I looked at him innocently and asked “Did you order them?” 

Cough.

Anyhow, we sat and talked for two hours (a few dear friends whom I’ve never met in person got mentioned – Chris Kolmorgen, Misty Runes, Adele H.) until it was time to leave; because they had to check out of their hotel. We said good-bye and on the way home Dad took me to Starbucks.

We got back at the house just a little after I usually wake up on Saturdays – but the getting up early was totally worth it. I had an amazing, amazing time.

And just a note: I have been quite busy, which is why some of you are probably wondering why I haven’t written your letters yet. I’m working on it – we just got stamps (insert cheer) so I’ll be able to send them off hopefully this week. As for those awaiting art commissions – I must crave your indulgence. They are coming, I do promise you. Sometimes it takes longer than other times.

Credendo Vides,

Mirriam

 

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I’m back – with PICTURES!

On Friday I left my town with my father and younger sister to go to Calloway Gardens for the  Father-Daughter Retreat put on by Vision Forum every year. I’ve only been once before, three years ago. I was fourteen and looked like this –

And now I look like this –

Three years ago, I met my best  friend Hannah Tucker, as well as the AMAZING girls Keaghan, Cassie, Julia and Emily Rose. Hannah was at the retreat again this year, on our 3-year-friendship-anniversary, and brought a girl who became an instant friend – Abi Sitter! Hannah met her four years ago, and we found out something weird. She goes: So you have a blog?

Me: Yeah!

Abi: What’s it called?

Me: Thoughts of a Shieldmaiden.

Abi: YOU’RE HER??

We discovered that Abi had been following my blog since before she met Hannah – when I was still on BLOGSPOT! It’s a small world after all!!

She’ll be in a lot of the pictures, so I wil introduce you to us all –

Abi, Hannah, me, Dad’s arm

The room where we did everything except the tea =)

Father and three daughters – this man played the doctor in “Courageous” who informs Adam and his family that his daughter was killed in the car wreck. That nurse who hugged him? Yep – his real-life wife!

Some notes I doodled – Geoffrey Botkin did a talk called ‘Untangling Tangled’ (I did NOT want to hear my favorite animated movie get butchered. I did. But that’s okay, because I’d already dissected it for myself, and still love it).

‘ello! Bad hair day. Don’t ask. What a lousy day for my hair to revolt.

Finally, a picture with my dad! Isn’t he handsome?

The tea table! Isn’t it lovely? We had Darjeeling tea, scones, biscuits, tea cookies, cucumber sandwiches (surprisingly delicious), chocolates, little sponge-cakes that were SO Alice in Wonderland… it was delicious.

This lovely family sat across from us at the tea table – that beautiful girl in the middle who looks like Alice in Wonderland? I’m corresponding with her now; her name is Maggie, and next to her is her sister Hannah.

Beautiful twin girls and their father; the other family that sat with us at the tea.

After the tea, we changed and met up with the Sitters (Abi and her father) and the Tuckers (Hannah and her father) and went to the Calloway Gardens Horticultural Center!

Dad, trying to get a hold of Mom in the parking lot. He did. 🙂

Hello, it’s me again!

My little sister, looking lovely =)

EVERYTHING at Calloway is gorgeous. We weren’t even inside the Center yet!

Now we’re inside – look! A bunny! And a father!

A little children’s trail… down the rabbit hole!

Probably my favorite picture of the whole trip. I just love how it turned out. ^.^

L-R: Riah, Abi, me, Hannah

 

So they don’t exactly rival Babylon – but the hanging garden was pretty anyway =)

^_^ I love them.

God blessed us with a PERFECT day. Warm but not hot, breezy but not windy…

An indoor waterfall – BONUS POINTS because I heard a guy up behind the waterfall shout “No matter where you go, I WILL FIND YOU!” Last of the Mohicans FOR THE WIN!!! I wanted to find him and tell him how cool he was, but I didn’t catch what he looked like. Ah me.

 

More topiary-things; Chicks this time! (Easter, anyone?)

I love these girls!!

Dad and Mr. Sitter

Creepy coconut-head O_O

Abi’s and my feet – I like this picture, for some odd reason. We were swinging on the swing above. =)

I caught a lizard! Hannah’s hand is on the left, mine is on the right. =) I”m still adept at lizard-catching from my time in Florida, apparently. And here I thought I was getting rusty!

Koi fish! We were feeding them and having a ball.

Mr. Tucker enjoying himself =)

Hannah and her lovely expensive Cannon (I’m not jealous, I’m not jealous)

Fish: Don’t feed the humans!

I have frizzy hair, Hannah has sleek. ^.^

This was a modern art statue called ‘Peace,’ so we all stopped and, um, meditated. Doesn’t this just make you feel so peaceful? Really? Yes? *ahem*

 

I love this picture. There needs to be a T rex in the background.

Butterfly chrysalises! Chrysalis? Chrysali? Cuccoons.

The Butterfly House! Sadly, there weren’t many butterflies to be seen – the people outnumbered them.

But guess who I met and got my picture with in the gift shop?

Anna Sofia and Elizabeth Botkin!  I didn’t used to like them, but I do now. They’ve developed a sense of humor, and I’m older and understand more of what they have to say. It was one of those “You Know You’re a Homeschooler When” moments – “You know you’re a homeschooler when you have to have your picture taken with the Botkin girls.”

There’s a beautiful little memorial chapel hidden back in a ways, and it’s beautiful. So peaceful and thought-provoking.

 

The view from outside the chapel…

IRISES! My best friend’s favorite flower, and one of my own favorites as well (next to roses).

I took this one because Riah went “Look! It’s the Loch Ness!” Even if it was a very SKINNY Loch Ness, my inner cryptozoologist had to take a picture.

This and the above picture were taken at the visitor/info center. There were turtles below the bridge; I counted seven of them at one point.

Here we are!

We left on Sunday amid good-byes and dozens of hugs shared all around. I had the most marvelous time, and I’ll expound more in other posts, but let me just say –

Dad, I had an amazing weekend and it really put me back on track. I love you SO much. Thank you for everything.

The view from the street opposite the Country Store, where we had lunch and bought some on-sale rubber rings and a David Arkenstone CD =)

They sold Tribbles at the store. TRIBBLES! I couldn’t purchase it because 1. It would eat all all our quatrotriticale and 2. There’s not enough room in the car.

FACEOFF! When the bond between sisters is tested! (And one of them decides to be sneaky and pull an extra gun on me)

Wanted: Dead or Alive

We found him!

I’m fond of this picture =) It was a gorgeous blue Harley in the parking lot.

And last but not least, a very adorable, goofy dog sitting inside a truck =)

I hope you enjoyed all the pictures, and got a glimpse of the amazing time we had in Calloway =) It was amazing for me spiritually, it really put me back on the right track. I’ll post about something I realized very soon. I also hope you appreciated all the pictures – this post took about 2 hours total because I had to upload, resize, crop, and re-upload. Just goes to show how much I love to you all *wink*

~ Mirriam

South Carolina: Day Three

The last day dawned. Mom was coming this time, so the bathroom was even more cramped than last time. Makeup was hurriedly applied (note: mascara wand + eye = ouch) and showers were taken at record speed. (The first time I showered in that bathroom, I couldn’t figure out how to get the showerhead to switch from a thin stream of powerspray to something more useful. My younger sister showed me the second day. My family is so cool).

Dad talked me into going to see a class by Stephen Kendrick, called “Movie Story Building.”

THANK YOU, DAD, FOR CONVINCING ME TO GO.

It was *awesome.* For those of you who don’t know who Stephen Kendrick is, he’s the brain behind Courageous, Fireproof, Facing the Giants, and Flywheel (I don’t like Flywheel so much, but the other three? L♥VE).

This class was not just for people who want to make movies (the closest I get to movie-making is fan trailers for my books). It was for anyone who weaves stories, and it was amazing. I took pages and pages of notes. Many of the things he covered I already knew, but he said some things that really touched me. Everybody really enjoyed the class; in fact, we all voted to have him go overtime – and he did! We got like 15 extra minutes!!

Here are a few highlights from the talk.

“Use earthly realities to tell Heaven’s truth.” Can it get any more poignant? This phrase really touched me and has now become the basis of my writing.

“Let God be the hero of the story.” Now this was a revelation to me. I mean, if you look at Courageous, for example, the guys aren’t the heroes. It’s God, working in everyone’s lives. The same goes for Fireproof and Facing the Giants and Flywheel – it’s God behind everything. I thought this was an amazing way to look at it.

“Save the Cat.” Basically? KEEP YOUR READERS CURIOUS. End chapters/scenes on hooks. Those books that keep you turning pages, or movies you just can’t pause? You want to be that author. You want your readers to hate to put your book down.

“Begin with the end in mind.” The end is more important than the beginning!!

“Does this work?” This is the million-dollar question to ask. The story Stephen illustrated was this – Kirk Cameron,  who plays the main firefighter in Fireproof, is five foot five. Gavin, the guy who played the doctor, is like six foot six. The only scene where they are together is near the end of the movie, where Kirk tells Gavin to stay away from his wife.

“We couldn’t very well have him staring up at Gavin and shaking his fist while going ‘You leave my wife alone, you!” said Stephen. The entire crowd tittered at that image. Their solution? Put Gavin behind a desk! Nobody was the wiser.

“Skip boring parts.” Nobody wants to read chapters of tooth-brushing and homework-doing. Take the Doctor’s wise words – “It’s always a big day tomorrow, I have a time machine. I skip the little ones!” Use this same principle while writing.

“Race and pace.” Don’t be afraid to skip two weeks if nothing happens, but don’t be afraid to have a slower scene if it’s important to the story. My example? Korean dramas. They are masters at slow-FAST-slow-FAST-slow-FAST, and they get you emotionally involved.

And now, for the real adventure. It may seem small, but to me, it was awesome.

I made a new friend.

Her name is Abby, and we were staying at the same hotel. I saw her that morning, walking toward her car as we walked toward ours, and remarked to mom that I thought her outfit was cute. Lo and behold, I sat next to her during Stephen Kendrick’s talk, and we got to chatting. She had Phantom of the Opera pictures all over her notebook and we were both studiously taking notes and I thought “She’s writing, I must speak to her” and we began chatting and found we had quite a bit in common! She’s from Arkansas, so… yes. =)

After that class, we headed to the Malley’s second class on witnessing and being a leader while you’re still young. I doodled “I’m a nerd. Byte me.” on the top of my notebook page. I don’t know why. I also included a doodle of an apple with a bite taken out of it, and several. 1.0.0.1.0.1. because I’m a nerd.

The next class, in the same room, was “Why Wait” by Larry Blythe. It was excellent; re-enforcing things I already knew in a humorous, touching way. He illustrated sexual purity with stories like Joseph (“Flee sexuality and get sent to prison!” he said jokingly).

Our last lecture of the day was Voddie Baucham on ‘how to read the Bible,’ because, surprisingly, a lot of people don’t know how. It was very helpful and technical and filled with advice, even if I’ve been raised knowing how to read the Bible. 🙂 After that, it was time to head home. It was fun, really, climbing back in the car, knowing we had a few hours of road stretching ahead of us. We listened to Anna Sophia and Elizabeth Botkin’s CD “When Being Girly is Not Enough,” which I found TOTALLY INSPIRING.

I don’t usually like the Botkins (this is for no real, solid reason, I just don’t) but this CD really struck home. I’m not living for me, I’m living for God, and I’m doing that by serving. Or at least, I SHOULD be. I realized I’d been focusing too much on me and my pursuits rather than the Kingdom; so it was very eye-opening.

(Plus it introduced the new thought that Jael was a perfect hostess and killed Sisera from home. Oh yeah).

We FINALLY found a Starbucks (curse you, Spartanburg! No Starbucks! Shame!! Well, technically they DID have one – in a Barns and Noble. Which was heavenly torture because I could look at all the books and stationary and know I had no means with which to purchase them). I got a mocha from a friendly barista and had just enough time to finish it when we got to Chili’s and had dinner.

Then we went home.

Yep.

It was dark, the dog was very excited to see us, and it was a marvel to see my own bedroom again. I no longer have to share a bed with my sister! Pardon me while I quote some Sherwood outlaws –

Will: Peace.

Allan: Sleeeeeeepppp!!

I also came home to several letters (I’M SORRY EVERYONE; ART COMMISSIONS AND LETTER REPLIES WILL HAVE TO WAIT FOR NEXT WEEK!) and two packages – a necklace from an Etsy shop that I won, with Tolkien’s quote “All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us” printed on it, and a CD FROM KOREAAAA that I’ve listened to probably 20 times in the last week. Not to mention all the times I hear it on my iPod. No, it’s not the ONLY thing I listen to. (Just almost).

So, while nothing STUNNING or EXTRAORDINARY happened to me, the whole thing really did count as an adventure.

And now I’m leaving on ANOTHER adventure tomorrow – the father-daughter retreat in Calloway! I’ve scheduled some posts for the weekend which I hope you enjoy. One LOOONNNNGGG one on conflict and pain, and another shorter tag. Ahem. ^_^

Much love to you all, you fantastic fishes.

Credendo Vides,

Mirriam

P. S. Please help me remember to bring the camera this time. I really do want to share my weekend with you.