Q&A #1: from Storytime with John

I asked for questions over the last week and some of you sweet people took the time to give me a few.  THANK YOU. :)

Question of the day

The first question came from Storytime with John.  He asked:

What is your definition of a successful writer?

I have to start out by saying I loved the questions people asked.  Not one of them is a question I would consider easy to answer. It will take more than a passing glance.

To answer John’s question, what is my definition of a successful writer, I had to really consider what I saw as successful.

I would say success is accomplishing what you set out to do.  It requires vision, defined goals, courage, support, effort/hard work, a pinch of stubbornness, and a time-frame within which to accomplish your design.

A successful writer is not just one who publishes a book or two. That is successfully publishing a book, sure, but I doubt it makes one a successful writer.

Let me explain.  Being a writer basically entails writing things that will touch people’s lives – make her think, encourage him, embolden him,  make her laugh, give her hope, open his eyes to things he may not have known before, let her know she’s not alone, educate him, make him cry out against injustice (and maybe do something helpful about it), celebrate with her someone’s restoration….if I keep going then this will end up being a really, really, REALLY long blog post.

As a writer, if you can touch someone’s life, then you are successful.  If you can help someone to think more deeply about your subject or gain new insight then you are successful.  If you can make someone laugh – you are successful.  If you can teach someone something new that will enhance his life, you are successful. I think you get the point. :)

 

I define a successful writer as someone who touches lives in big and small ways.  It can make all the difference in the world.

Here’s a quote to leave you with from someone who has accomplished success on many levels. I’ve never read his books, but I like how Steven King puts it:

photo only is from stevenking.wikia.com

photo only is from stevenking.wikia.com

 

I’m looking forward to answering the next question next week!

In the mean time, please leave any comments or questions of your own below or connect with me on

Facebook at WritingRaci or Twitter with me at RachaelRitchey

I’m on Google+ & Good Reads, too!

Ask Me Questions! (pretty please!)

It occurs to me that I have no idea how to really connect with people. I don’t mean I can’t connect at all, but I really want to make great friends through this blog and I guess I don’t know what you really want to know about me in order to…well, for lack of a better word, bond.

So, for the next week 9/10-9/17/14, I’m asking you to please write at least one question you would like to ask me in the comments section.  

I will answer every one of them in a blog post, and I will likely respond personally to each person.

I will probably ask some of my own questions and I hope to have a conversation with you! :)  Really, you’re also helping me improve my blog by doing this, and I can’t thank you enough for taking the time to do it!

Please ask whatever you want! It can be as serious or  silly as you want it to be.

THANK YOU!

-Rachael

Beautiful Lesson #1: Beauty and the Best Friend

At the hospital with Reagan earlier today.

At the hospital with Reagan earlier today.

A few posts ago I said I wanted to explore the concept of beauty more, and that hasn’t changed!  It just seems like life gets in the way of my best laid plans sometimes.  I’m going to combine two of my favorite subjects into one blog post tonight: Beauty and My Best Friend.

As you probably already know from my previous post called, “A Day to Pray, A Lifetime of Hope,” I alerted you to the special girl in the bed in the picture above.  Her name is Reagan.  Well, Reagan seemed to be doing better, but the middle of last week she took a turn for the worse and had to be admitted to the hospital.  Apnea (usually during sleep) is when someone stops breathing…here let me get the mayo clinic description:

Sleep apnea is a potentially serious sleep disorder in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts. You may have sleep apnea if you snore loudly and you feel tired even after a full night’s sleep.

There are two main types of sleep apnea:

  • Obstructive sleep apnea, the more common form that occurs when throat muscles relax

  • Central sleep apnea, which occurs when your brain doesn’t send proper signals to the muscles that control breathing

Well, she’s got it and other complications, but options become extreme for her because of her other health issues.  Her family is having to make some tough decisions and they’ve asked for all the doctors to gather together for a care consultation so that all can be on the same page.  It’s just tough!  In the meantime, Reagan is in the hospital being monitored and having her needed antibiotics administered.

In fact, today, I spent the morning and early afternoon with her because Mom and Dad both had prior commitments for the day that could not be shirked off on someone else.  They have been the most amazing parents to not only Reagan, but also their other girls.  They try so hard to balance life and keep it as normal as possible for them during these times of duress.  Reagan needs her mom and dad. She needs to not be left alone in the hospital, but the other girls need their mom and dad, too.  I and others are occasionally able to step in and help keep that balance viable for this family.  It’s easy to do because our relationship is strong and we are committed to each other, like family. One or the other of them spend every night with Reagan in the hospital.

THEY ARE SO TIRED six days later.  So very tired.  Please pray for them.  Here, this is what Sheila asked:

Day 6 of Reagan’s hospital stay:
Thank you, Rachael and Kelly, for staying with our sweet girl today. PICC line inserted, and we weren’t there with her. We are so tired and would love continued prayer for renewed energy. Our girls are all affected by the separation of our family, and it is difficult to be a sibling of a child with special needs – being asked how your sister is doing, what is happening… and simply not knowing how to respond. Our girls are struggling, too. Please pray for Reagan’s sisters tonight.

Our physical breath is such a precious gift.
Inhale grace.
Exhale praise.

Now, I said this post was going to be about beauty and best friends.  Well, here’s the thing…

Beauty that comes from the inside, the really potent kind, is probably best described  overall by the attribute of love.  I’m not talking gushy-ooshie-gooshie romantic love.  I’m talking, sacrificial love.

Maybe that term is too vague or doesn’t make sense for you, but let me show you a picture:

 2010-1016-a2010-0502-r

 

Yes, I am a bit taller and have to bend down so I don’t look like a giant next to my best friend, but it’s worth the back pain (I need to rub in my extraordinary height here….j/k! I’m not THAT tall!).

This woman is beautiful.  She’s pretty on the outside…pleasant to see, really. The thing is, though, she’s even more beautiful on the inside.  This woman has a heart overflowing with sacrificial love that doesn’t stop at her family.  Sheila is a perfect example of the first kind of beauty I want to touch on: A heart full of love.

There’s this famous chapter in the New Testament, Corinthians 13, that talks about love.  Paul says he will show us a “still more excellent way” and that is the way of Love. The first verse of 13 says, “If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.”  He goes on to list having knowledge and power and even faith that can move mountains.  But he reminds us that these things are nothing without love.  He then says you can give away everything you have and sacrifice your very self but gain nothing by it if you do not love.

You might have even heard the next part in verses 4-8a:

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude.  It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.

Doing good and being wise are great, but when we only do good for the sake of doing good (i.e. for recognition) and not in love then we become childish in our actions, and likely, pride is the reigning character trait behind our motives.  You know when you do something nice for someone else and then get cranky when you feel you haven’t been given the thanks you deserve?  Well, that’s a small example of what I’m talking about here. Actions and words, given in love, do not require a thanks in return. As nice as our service is, it’s not nearly as beautiful as seeing a person act out of a heart of love.

2010-1019-d This lady here is not perfect and doesn’t always love perfectly, but I would say that Jesus is the only one who has ever accomplished it. Sheila, though, looks to him for guidance and strength to love in the face of  unkindness.  She looks to him to lead by example how to love the unlovable.  She is generous, patient, humble, rejoices in truth and bears much.

It’s beauty at it’s best to love.  It’s beauty at the heart to do all that you do in love.  Our motives may not be evident to everyone, but eventually, if there’s love in a heart, it will shine through, and true beauty will be what you see, regardless. Or, if no love is present behind the actions, that will become clear, too.

In honor of my best friend, her amazing husband, and precious daughters, I’d like to encourage you to act out in love this week.  Find one thing you can do for someone and do it with a heart full of love.  Come back and tell us about it so that we can rejoice with you!

 

 

Sunday Thought: Be Still and Know

Rachael:

Be still….I’m like Ronovan. I don’t believe in coincidence, either. Thanks, Ronovan. This was something I read at just the right time….

Originally posted on ronovanwrites:

I read an article by someone I have come to consider a good friend of mine, Allison at Long & Luxe, and a phrase she used reminded me of one of my favorite all time scriptures.

Sunset Pear Harbor

gettyimages © Original Photo by Kathy Collins

“He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.”-Psalm 46:10

Each person reading this has different beliefs and we each have something we turn to that brings us comfort and peace. During a period where I was dealing with high blood pressure, which due to my weight loss I no longer have, and some newly found health problems at the time my world was chaotic. My mind was not able to focus and things had no stability to me.

I’m not one to believe in coincidences. Some people say…

View original 625 more words

A Day to Pray, a Lifetime of Hope

Reagan (and our families) enjoying my hometown's little local parade on Independence Day 2014

Reagan (and our families) enjoying my hometown’s little local parade on Independence Day 2014

NEW UPDATE AT BOTTOM!

It’s Saturday and I found out just two days ago that my friend’s daughter, Reagan, is having more hemorrhaging.  Click here to read my previous post about her and this reoccurring health issue. I asked her mom if I could share here with all of you. So, because I’m having trouble finding the words I need, I’ll just post her updates.  Be sure to read the previous post about Reagan if you need a better understanding of the seriousness of the problem and, most important, the preciousness of the girl.

On August 28th, Reagan’s mom said this:

Would appreciate prayers for Reagan. She is hemorrhaging from lungs again; third round in past 7 days. We are in close contact with our cardiologist, and he is calling another heart/lung specialist in Philly for ideas. It’s a waiting game. We are home; the hospital is another location to wait, so we would rather keep her home. We are thankful for good nurses and humble doctors who are willing to keep digging for answers. Picking up a round a steroids and an antibiotic today. Hopefully, it will alleviate the coughing and subsequent hemorrhages.

And God reigns through it all.

Here is what my dear friend posted on her Facebook page this morning:

Friends and Family, please continue to pray for Reagan and for wisdom on our next step. She had medium hemorrhaging last night; a few hours prior to that she was crying as if in pain. It is very discouraging. Our choices: wait this out hoping hemorrhaging will stop,coiling procedure at hospital again, taking out lung. Remember, there are thousands vessels and without an active bleed, the surgeon won’t know where to place the coils. Then, if he does coil, it just places more pressure on those other 9,999ish other vessels that aren’t designed to carry this much blood flow. Her little body is just getting pushed beyond capacity. We don’t want to rush her in to a surgery that is a best guess. Currently, her coloring looks good, and she is happy… except for the hour of crying last night. Oh, this is hard, and my heart is aching. Please pray.

It is times like these where our faith is tested. Why, God? Do I really believe that you are there? Softly, it comes:

“Your eyes saw my unformed substance;

in your book were written, every one of them,

the days that were formed for me,

when as yet there was none of them.”

He knows our days. I praise you, Lord, for Reagan is indeed fearfully and wonderfully made.

Does He speak to you through His word? He comforts my soul when nothing else can.

Please be praying for Reagan, for her mom, dad, and two younger sisters.  They are like family to me and mine.  I can’t see through my tears right now.  If this ache is so large in my own heart, I tremble at the thought of what Reagan and her family are feeling.  Thank you for taking the time to read this and keep them in your prayers.  They read my blog, so if you want to leave them a comment, please do.

Ps 18 2

 UPDATE: Sunday morning’s message from Mom said there had been another small hemorrhage in the night, but it had some clots in it which was different.  It is possibly a good sign that Reagan’s body is trying to close off the bleed.  It’s hard to say, though, and most of it is all guessing.  They have been provided with wonderful in home nursing care and have been able to get some rest, too. Thank you again for praying, and I will update over the course of the week. 

UPDATE: Tuesday, Sept 2nd, 2014 “Reagan attended school today. She slept through most of her day, but she ATTENDED SCHOOL. No bleeding since Sunday morning. Thank you for praying.

She is still having episodes of pain and on pain meds. We believe it may be abdominal cramping due to the antibiotic. One more day of hard meds.”  

me: We are all so very thrilled by this news.  Reagan always has a nurse at school with her nowadays.  Since there haven’t been any more bleeds in the last couple days she was able to have a normal day today…well, as normal as can be expected.  That is just amazing and wonderful.  I’m so grateful to all of you who’ve shared this post and prayed for this sweet family.  You are so very appreciated!  On a sober note, this is something that is likely to happen again. It is always scary and will be in the future, I’m sure.  Pray for their continued strength, for the helping hands that are needed, and the joy of being with their daughter all the days God has ordained for her.  Reagan isn’t normal, but trust me when I say, she is incredible.  A blessing in disguise.

WEDNESDAY, Sept 3rd, 2014 

Reagan is in the hospital. She had two very disturbing respiratory episodes today, one at school then one immediately at home…her chest was moving but no air was exiting or entering her mouth…We again ask for your prayers for our sweet Reagan…We are in hospital with her hoping for answers. Waiting. Praying. Hoping. Please pray with us.

Big change from yesterday.  Thank you for continuing to pray for them.  I know this is a let down, but we hope and trust in the creator of heaven and earth. His love for Reagan and my friends surpasses all others.  I trust this, and I hope you do, too. Your prayers for healing, comfort, strength, patience, wisdom, hope, peace, etc. are all appreciated.  Thanks so much for taking the time to keep updated by reading this and for praying.  It may seem insignificant, but I can assure you, it is not. 

With my heartfelt gratitude,

Rachael

Being a Part of the Body

There’s this old game…I don’t know how old, but it’s called something like “Here’s the Church.”  Do you remember it? There are many versions of it and you can even find it on YouTube. I’ll explain how I learned it.  You  play it with your hands…clasp them together, fingers on top and say, “Here’s the church,” then point your index fingers up and touch them while you say, “Here’s the steeple.  Open the door,” flip your clasped hands over, “Where’s all the people?”  Now, fold your hands together, intertwine your fingers together into your palms and repeat, “Here’s the church, here’s the steep, open the door,” flip your hands over and wiggle all your fingers, “There’s all the people!”

 

Photo is from grandparents.com

Photo is from grandparents.com

 

I really do have a point for sharing that game with you.  I hope you figure it out. :)

The following is a “note” I posted to my personal Facebook account about three years ago.  I happened to be re-reading my old notes and re-shared some of them.  A very special (wonderful really) lady asked me to make a a copy of it for her and in the process, I decided to re-post it here as well.

 

So, I cried at church this Sunday.  The tears were from frustration and from feeling like I’m letting people down.  I’m so thankful for our worship pastor, though, who has been an encouragement. His heart is full of honesty in the words he says.  Church, as I referred to it above, is a group of people, not a building… and as I briskly walked toward the bathroom, tears streaming down my cheeks, I saw the compassion of The Church.  Not one person who saw me go, in my embarrassed state, had anything written on their face other than concern and love.

As I was in the bathroom, bent over the sink, trying to remove the evidence of tears from my cheeks and eyes, I was struck, just struck anew with what it is to be the Church.  Just as my arm raises the hand that washes my eyes clean, so do the people who are a part of the body of Christ.  Each person plays an integral part, each person cares for the needs of the other. When we work together in our special roles (each one is special, great or small), we make a complete set, a WHOLE.

We carry each other to the places we need to be.  We hold each other up when we are hurt or in pain. I protect and gently hold my arm if it is broken or damaged.  This is the example of Christ.  Even when we see each other in a humbled state we do not give up on or ignore those pieces of us (the BODY OF CHRIST) that need some extra love.  We pick each other up with encouraging words and a helping hand.

I was crying for myself- for not being good enough, but I was reminded (and lifted up) first by words then by the actions of those around me. The reminder was that for God I am good enough (because the Goodness of CHRIST resides in me), and for the rest of the Church I am good enough (because we are a part of ONE body), and that for me- I am what God wants me to be.

So, My Church Family, may God continue to grow you in the love of the body and the love of the lost.  May He place the seed of the Gospel deep in your hearts so that the vine of Christ spills out from your doors and is used as the vine others are grafted into.  May you be a light, shining in the darkness and may you be known by your love for each other as you serve in all faithfulness.

Rachael

 

And there you have it.  I’m a cry baby, but at least I got something encouraging out of it. :)  Church isn’t a building, it’s the people inside it, who gather together and share their lives, loving and caring for each other’s needs.  Now every time I read this, I am reminded and encouraged again.  I hope it can embolden you to change the way you see and feel about church today, too.  Or better yet- maybe it will remind you, as it has me, that life is not meant to be lived alone, nor are we designed for selfish pursuits.  There’s so much joy in serving others and sharing.

Thanks for stopping in!  I’d love to hear from you about some encouraging thing that’s happened for you lately. :)

I’ve heard I’m Random

Ok, maybe not in those words, but I think it’s accurate…I’m Random.  Or is it?  Is anything really random, or is it organized chaos? Or chaotic organization?

My house is full of that-chaotic organization.  Watch where you step!  You could find yourself slipping on a scrap of paper left over from a craft project, stepping painfully on a Lego or Hot Wheels car, or tripping on a basket brimming with laundry.  The dishes…well, there might be more than a few in the sink.  What makes it organized is simple: I know where everything is located.  Can I tell you where it is? No…probably not.  I keep thinking I need to work on my directional instruction techniques.

Aside from my house being a bit random and messy, I could easily say my mind is in the same state of being.  There’s all kinds of things rolling around in this head of mine.  Most of it wouldn’t make sense to the average person.  Every so often, though, I come across someone who “gets” the beautiful mess that is ME.  I dislike very few people in this world, but it’s incredibly affirming to have someone understand you, even a little bit, and still accept you and – hold on! – like you.

So many people wander through this world searching for acceptance,  affirmation, affection, hope…Sometimes we look right through them, sometimes it’s as though our vision bends around them, avoiding the one who our mind doesn’t quite comprehend.

I think we all may be a little random.  I think we all are a bit messy inside and out.  Don’t let your messiness keep you from seeing the beauty in someone else’s randomness.  Sometimes accepting those quirky differences is just the thing that make you realize what a gift you could have right in front of you in that other person.

Don’t look through the odd ones. Look for them.  Look for us… because we can all make a difference in someone else’s life if we put in a little effort.  It’s a simple gift you can give with the potential for tons of personal benefit.

And, if you’re odd, like me, you can do the same thing for someone else.  If you’re odd, don’t let your insecurities define you.  You are a beautiful person, designed to be who you are and loved more than you could ever comprehend on this earth.  I know it’s true, because I’m odd, too.

 

I’d love to talk with you.  Please feel free to email me or leave a comment below.  You can also find me on twitter @RachaelRitchey or Facebook WritingRaci

 

Pearls of Wisdom from a Thirty-Something Man

Rachael:

Reblog from Suzie81-
I just get it. Maybe you will, too… :)

Originally posted on Suzie81 Speaks:

imageMy best friend turns 33 next month. He’s only a few months older than me, I met him when he was my boss at the bar that I worked at when I was 19, and we have been friends every since. For the sake of confidentiality, I’m simply going to refer to him as P.

Over the years we’ve talked about anything and everything, but as we’ve aged I’ve noticed that our conversations have developed from discussing our latest love interests and the varying degrees of our hangovers into more deep and meaningful thoughts such as the best cleaning products to remove mould, his awesome Batman moustache every Movember (which was number five on Google Images after I included it in my blog last year) and our favourite films. We have an understanding about certain subjects – he’s allowed to talk about Doctor Who (he’s the world’s biggest fan) and…

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Never…not ever.

This is my photo. I made this to share, so please feel free to save/copy and share around the 'net!

This is my photo. I made this to share, so please feel free to save/copy and share around the ‘net!


What comes to mind for you when you read this quote?

What is one thing you can’t stop thinking about?

What helps you fight the urge to give up?

What have you given up on that you still can’t stop thinking about?

What is something you want to give up on, but you know is too important?


I’d really like to know your answer or answers to these questions!

Leave me a comment below,

OR

If you decide to write a blog post about one or all of these questions, link it back to this post so that we can read it, too. :)

It would be my pleasure to find out more about what drives you, my friends!

Suzie81 Speaks WP Community Experiment

Suzie81 Speaks is hosting a WordPress Community Experiment.

I couldn’t help but participate. I’ll be answering a series of questions and linking you back to her original post.

image25

What I’d like to ask you to do is participate, too!  How to do that is visit Suzie’s blog post about it, answer the questions in the comments section or make a blog post of your own which you will link back to hers. (If you’d like to answer the questions in my comments section, I will make sure notify her of your answers on my comments if they are made within the time limit she set: 3 days).

Here are the questions & my answers:

1. How did you create the title for your blog?

I got an itch to write and couldn’t stop. I dreamed of writing for a long time. I’m still in the process, but being able to call myself an AUTHOR is something I’m striving toward with hope and promise!

2. What’s the one bit of blogging advice you would give to new bloggers?

Blogging is about community, about sharing, and about learning. Enjoy the process and making new friends!

3. What is the strangest experience you’ve ever had?

Being followed out of the grocery store into the parking lot by a complete stranger.

4. What is the best thing that anybody has ever said to you?

You are worth it.

5. When presented with a time machine, which one place and time would you visit?

It depends on if it only travels to the past or if it also goes to the future.  If it’s only the past I’d have to say the first place and time I’d like to go would be the Oregon Trail during the height of wagon trains.  I want to, at least briefly, see and feel what the pioneers felt crossing this amazing terrain here in the west I love.  When we drive down the highways, and I look at all the mass of desert, high plains, and mountains, I can’t help but wonder what crossed through the minds of the people determined to make a life out here.

6. If you had to pick a new first name, what would you choose?

Haha, the first name that popped into my head was Daphne.  If you’re curious it means “Laurel” as in laurel tree…apparently she was a nymph who was desired by Apollo in Greek Mythology.  Her father decided to “protect” her by changing her into a tree.  Really, though, I’ve grown to love my name and probably would choose it for myself if given the option. Yes, Rachael just fits.

7. If you were a B Movie, what would it be called?

She’s Not Just the Girl Next Door


 

Now it’s your turn!  Answer the questions in the comments below or post your own blog about it, which you will link back to this post or, better yet, SUZIE81’s Post.  I can’t wait to read your responses!  Let’s make this experiment an amazing view of our community here on WordPress!

(here’s the questions w/o answers so it’s easy to copy and paste to your own blog)

1. How did you create the title for your blog?

2. What’s the one bit of blogging advice you would give to new bloggers?

3. What is the strangest experience you’ve ever had?

4. What is the best thing that anybody has ever said to you?

5. When presented with a time machine, which one place and time would you visit?

6. If you had to pick a new first name, what would you choose?

7. If you were a B Movie, what would it be called?

 


 

Feel to blog, reblog, repost, retweet, or whatever it is you’d like to do to enjoy and/or participate!

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