18 Big, Honkin’ Windows

“I just want to make enough to buy new windows for my house.”

He smiled and gently told me, “Well, that probably isn’t going to happen.”

This was the conversation that I had almost a year ago when I met with a gentleman about the merits of self-publishing my book.

Gosh I was naïve on so many levels. First of all, our adorable 80s ranch has 18 floor to ceiling windows. Awesome for lighting and curb appeal. Not so awesome when you have to actually purchase 18 big, honkin’ windows. It was going to take a MINT to replace all of those windows. Second of all, you generally do not make a MINT when you self-publish a book. See my issue?

My heart was in the right place. I just wanted to do something to help out. When you buy a fixer upper, there is always something that needs to be done. We have been able to tackle several projects.   However, the windows were a big one on our list that taunted us. We just couldn’t afford to take on such a big expense. Every time I walked by a window in the winter and felt an Arctic blast, they sneered at me. When it was 100 degrees and I kept the blinds closed so it wouldn’t get too hot, they mocked me.

I didn’t just want to be able to check it off the list, I wanted to help make it happen financially. Since I am no longer working outside of the home, sometimes I feel guilty for not contributing in a monetary fashion. I feel like I am one of the kids holding out my hands saying, “Gimme this please!!” Instead of asking for baseball cards, I am asking for things like a washer, dryer or 18 big, honkin’ windows. $$$

18 big honkin windows

Today I had 18 big, honkin’ windows installed into my house. Yahoo!!! It is not because of anything that I, Stephanie Greer, did. God simply provided for us. God did not want me to write my book so that I can buy 18 big, honkin’ windows. He wanted me to write my book to answer His calling to minister to women. He wanted me to share His love with women who feel alone and misunderstood.

Now every time I look out my office window, I can rest in the peace that God simply wants me to follow my calling. And He will provide.

Even if it is 18 big, honkin’ windows.

My Chaotic Office

“Gee Steph, you haven’t had a blog post in almost a week!”
My chaotic office

That would be because this is my office. My dryer has been broken for almost a week (YUCK!!) and we are getting new windows tomorrow (YEA!!). So life is chaos and my office is littered with laundry room stuff and curtains. I have been running my dryer 7 times basically fluffing and air drying ONE single load a day.  I went to Target to buy washcloths today because I don’t EVEN want to think about how many times through the fluff cycle something that thick would take!  I am considering hanging undies and bras from the ceiling fans because I am too cheap to buy more of those 😉   The most I could be motivated to write would be “why I hate my over priced Samsung washer and dryer and will never buy again. ‪#‎FrontLoadersStink‬”.

And since I only want to blog when I think it will bless my readers, I am giving myself a break 😉

I do microblog on my FB page (here) almost daily.  I like to share short stories and inspirations I have throughout the week.  I love to make people laugh and smile.  FB is my happy medium between a full blog post and Twitter.  140 characters?  I can’t hardly say anything in 140 characters or less!  I am too “flowery” with my words as my first boss would say 😉

If you haven’t already, Like my FB page for more fun with the Southern Lady Mama!

Publisher Update

Business Cards – Check

One Sheet – Check

Book Proposal – Check (all 31 pages!!)

Elevator Speech – Check (and practiced at nauseam)

Getting ready for the She Speaks conference was a lot of work!  When I signed up to go the Christian speaking and writing conference, I was able to also sign up to meet with prospective publishers.  This was like a dream for me!

I self published “Full Heart Empty Womb: How I Survived Infertility…Twice” in December.  I have never regretted doing that.  It was the clear path that God led me to take.  I think if I had pursued the traditional publishing route, I would have been overwhelmed with anxiety.  Will they reject my book?  What if they say my writing isn’t good enough?  And not just anxiety about the publishers.  What will my friends think?  Will they judge me for sharing my intimate struggles?  Instead I decided to put my nose to the grindstone and just write as God inspired me.

And God has blessed our journey together.  I have been able to comfort a lot of women.  I have become friends with complete strangers because we have shared the intimate struggle of Infertility.  It is such a blessing that a time of pain has been turned into loving ministry for me.  Everything I have been through could be to help just one person.  That is how vast God’s loves is.  Sharing my journey helped her realized that she wasn’t alone in her pain.  Sharing my pain restored her peace.

I went to get my make-up done in preparation for the conference because what better excuse??  As I was talking to the sweet lady who was helping me, she asked me what I did for a living.  That is always a tricky question for me.  I still kind of giggle when I say “A Writer.”  Why?  I don’t know.  I wrote and published a book.  I write in a blog.  It’s in my FB profile.  I mean I have business cards for Pete’s Sake!!  What more does it take to be an official writer??  😉

Any who – – just telling her that opened a door because she asked about my book.  Now the reaction I get when I tell people the name of my book is always interesting.  Men.  Completely shut down.  I might as well have said “vagina” (except I don’t even say that word.  I even giggled when I typed it.)  Women usually immediately tell me about someone they know who are infertile.  (Hello!  Validation that there is a felt need for this book!)  In this case, she told me about a co-worker who had just tragically had a late term miscarriage.  She wanted to say something to her and didn’t have a clue what to say.  I was able to talk to her about how to comfort her.  God loves those ladies so much that everything I have been through and written could have just been for them.  How AWESOME is that?  I am at complete peace with being part of that Love.

All that being said, if I had a chance to spread that Love further, would I?  Oh yea.  So I signed up to meet with publishers at She Speaks.  My first appointment was at the end of the day on Friday.  I sat in awesome training sessions all day and miraculously was able to concentrate in each one!  About ten minutes before my first interview, I snuck out to go pray and collect my nerves.  I sat in the hallway with my lucky charm my BFF, Jodi, gave me before I left.  I am not a believer in lucky charms, but the weight of it in my hand reminded me that I wasn’t alone.  I stared off in the distance and prayed.  A kind stranger saw me and came up to see if I was okay.  Her name was Debbie.  When I told her I was getting ready for a publisher appointment, she immediately asked if she could pray with me.  I sat in the middle of the hallway, hands clutched with a complete stranger, grateful tears streaming down my face, as Debbie said a heartfelt prayer on my behalf.  After a quick hug of appreciation, I dashed to clean up my mascara before my interview.

And it went AWESOME.  My first interview was also with my first choice of publishers.  She listened as I gave my spiel and asked a lot of questions.  In the end, she said I had a definite Felt Need (YES!!!), a great story, (YES!!), need to get a literary agent (On it!!) and need to continue to build my platform (that would be where YOU help by liking and sharing my blog & FB page ;).  I was so encouraged!  I honestly had no clue what would happen, and this was the best case scenario.  OH YEA!

I have learned that this is a long process.  Although this was a huge accomplishment for me, it is merely one step in a long process, and I probably won’t hear anything for several months.  But it is one step further.  My next interview went well too.  I walked into the room and instantly knew I was meeting with a matriarch of the publishing industry.  She was kind and thorough with her questions.  In the end, she told me that she only publishes ten books a year and that mine was too much of a niche market.  I thought that was fair and told her so.  However, she expressed to me that she felt strongly that I should get an agent and there definitely was a publisher out there for me.  She continued to share some much needed industry insight the rest of our time together.

I left the conference feeling reenergized and confirmed.  I am continually praying for God to direct my path for His will.

And I think I got a pretty big arrow about what way to go.

“Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways.”  Proverbs 2:26

How Can Little Ole Me Make a Difference?

Baltimore…Chattanooga… And Now Layfayette.

I am not gonna lie, there are times when I shake my head and think, “What is this world coming to? Sweet Jesus, please just come take us home now.”

It can be so overwhelming because there is so much hurt and need in this world. Senseless Violence. Sex trafficking. Domestic Abuse. Cancer. Racism.

How can little old me make a difference?When you wanna throw your hands up, you gotta bow your head down.

What kind of an attitude is that to have? Talk about being a defeatist. That is not Stephanie Greer. And that is not what I am raising my three kids to be. No. Siree. Bob.

When you wanna throw your hands up, you gotta bow your head down. I can’t make a difference everywhere there is a need, but I can where God lays my heart.

One of my favorite songs is by Matthew West, “Do Something.” I cannot hear it without being inspired and tearing up. Every dang time.

“I woke up this morning

Saw a world full of trouble no

Thought, how’d we ever get so far down

How’s it ever gonna turn around

So I turned my eyes to Heaven

I thought, “God, why don’t You do something?”

Well, I just couldn’t bear the thought of

People living in poverty

Children sold into slavery

The thought disgusted me

So, I shook my fist at Heaven

Said, “God, why don’t You do something?”

He said, “I did, I created you

Songwriter

WEST, MATTHEW

Published by

Lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.

That’s right. He created you. He created me. And He wants me to Do Something.

Well last weekend I did something. I did something BIG. This little stay at home mom packed up and flew to Charlotte. Yes, I was the annoying person in the airport security line. Do I take my shoes off or not? Do I take my laptop out? What about my jewelry?? Because I was fancy…because I was traveling…without kids!! Cool people who travel all the time, have a little heart for those of us who fly once a year if they are lucky 😉

I traveled to Charlotte for a HUGE conference for writing and speaking. It was called She Speaks, and it produced by Proverbs 31 ministries. It was AWESOME.

I humbly sat in a room filled with eight HUNDRED women who were ready to do something. This team of sixty or so women from Proverbs 31 trained and armed us to go out to our mission fields and do something.

I met women whose ministry was to help end sex trafficking. Women who empowered women to break free from abusive relationships. Women who clothed cancer survivors in dignity. Women who worked with organizations to rescue people from extremely dangerous situations. Women who were bridging the gap between races.

And then there was little old me. A woman whose ministry is to love on mamas and sweet ladies who hope and pray to someday be a mama. How blessed am I to be called to do this?

God lays on our hearts a little piece of His kingdom that He wants us wrap up in our arms and love. We can’t do it all, but we can do something.  Whether it is volunteering your time, giving your hard earned money, or starting a ministry, you can make a difference.

Every night after dinner, my family and I take our dog, Lady, for a walk. We walk around the neighborhood and talk about our days, tell jokes, and are often quizzed about anything and everything. One night our six year old, Matthew, and I were walking hand in hand. As usual, he was quizzing me. Sometimes it is about things he learned in Kindergarten and sometimes it is about deep things. I often struggle to answer both!  I can’t remember all the word blend rules dang it!! “Mommy. Can you do nothing?” he asked. After a long, long day, I laughed and said, “Matthew, I could easily do nothing tonight!” He quickly corrected me and said, “No you couldn’t. Even if you were laying down you would be doing something.” “I suppose you are right, Matthew!” I agreed. Then he continued, “You see, God made us so that we had to be doing something all the time. So if you have to do something, then you better make it SOMETHING.”  He wiggled his eyes for emphasis 🙂

Maybe you are in a season in your life where your mission field is at home with your babies. There is no better place for a mama to spread her love. You are raising children that are going to grow up and do something. Maybe you are like me and all your babies are in school now. Now I have the luxury and a little extra time to focus on where I am called to serve. Maybe you know you want to do something, but you don’t even know where to begin! Where are your passions?  All you gotta do is pray about it, and God will make it clear.

Come on, girls. Let’s do something.

Girls Night Out is Not Nice…It is Necessary!!!

GNO is not just nice...it is NECESSARY
Feather Boas. Bride and Bridesmaid tshirts. Blinking tiaras. Plastic, tacky necklaces. Loud giggling women. The Bachelorette Party is the mother of all Girls Night Outs.

Somehow Nashville has become the Bachelorette Party destination in the South. Every weekend Broadway turns into a sea of Bachelorette gals ready to have a night to remember…or not 😉 Although you couldn’t pay me enough money to get in the midst of that crazy today, I thoroughly enjoyed it 13 years ago at my own Bachelorette Party!

My Girls Night Out has changed drastically since I got married and especially since I have had three kids. They are fewer and much further in between. In fact without a concerted effort, they could easily disappear all together.

I have come to realize that having a Girls Night Out is not just nice… it is necessary.

Sometimes you just need to take a night away from the responsibilities of your family and just be YOU. No one tugging on your shirt. No one asking for more milk right when you finally sit down. No one saying “Mama. Mama. Mama. Mama. Maaaaaammmmaaaa!!!” until you turn around. No one who needs his food cut up.

You need a chance to get dressed with no spit up on your shirt. Maybe you will even wear a skirt because you won’t be sitting on the floor!! You deserve a night to be able to sit and finish a drink (or 2!) before the ice melts. You may even be able to have a conversation, and the only thing that interrupts is your laughter. You eat a meal that is hot, delicious, and not prepared by you. It is amazing how I can go from 10% battery to fully charged after a night out with my girlfriends.

Although I feel so blessed to me a mom, I admit it is stressful. No one told me that once I became a mom, I would instantly become vulnerable like I had never been before. Now there is a piece of my heart that is living outside of me. Sometimes that can be a bit overwhelming. My oldest son, Ethan, slept in this morning for the first time in forever. I actually stood outside his door at 7:45 contemplating if I should go in and put my finger under his nose to see if he was still breathing. Like seriously. I was so close to going in.

Being a mom can make you straight up crazy. Your husband doesn’t understand that, but your girlfriends do. You can talk about your crazy, laugh and realize that we are all crazy together. Even though we try hard to keep up this persona of the mom that has it all together, we are all a wreck sometimes. There is a comfort to hear that you aren’t the only one that struggles on occasion.

There are times when laughing through the stress isn’t going to cut it. Your girlfriends can also be a strong source of encouragement for you. I always talk to my husband, Eric, first. However, even he will admit, that there are times when he just doesn’t know what to say or do to help me.

When I was going through a particularly hard time a couple of years ago, it was my girlfriends that were the rays of sunshine that helped me through the day. A sweet card with a mason jar filled with chamomile tea left in my mailbox. A pretty bunch of daisies with an encouraging Bible verse left on my back porch. Praying with me on a bridge outside our kids’ gymnastics class. Seriously outside of a fictional romance novel, most men don’t do that kind of stuff. And those things are needed when times are tough!

All of these things encouraged me and reminded me that I had a whole support system. Sometimes you spend so much time inside the walls of your house with your immediate family that you forget that there are others who care for you too. Your girlfriends can help dry your tears (or let them all out when you really need a good cry!) or laugh until you forget what you were upset about.

God gave you your girlfriends for a reason. They can relate to you unlike anyone else. And like all blessings that God gives us, we should care for and nurture them. Sure texts and FB posts are nice, but just like any relationship, you have to invest a little time and effort.

Sometimes Girls Night Out isn’t a night out at all. I have a group of girlfriends from church that meet every other week after our kids go to sleep for Book Club at my house. We haven’t read a book in over a year, but we won’t stress about that 😉 As us Baptists say, we “fellowship.” Loosely translated: we meet, eat, chat, and “cackle like hyenas” as Eric describes it. Some of it is silly and frivolous, but it always ends with how we can support and pray for each other. We have become each others rock during the most trying times. I can look at each girl in our group and see how God brought us each together to support each other in our own unique way.

So we are all busy and getting a night out just isn’t in the cards. I also have girlfriends that I just meet and go on a walk with. Sometimes it is just us. Sometimes we watch our kids play while we circle the playground talking about life. You already know how refreshing I think a good walk is! The setting isn’t important. It is the time spent on the friendship.

As I have gotten older, I have learned that I would rather invest my time in a small group of good friends than spread myself thin among several shallow friendships.

My best friend, Jodi, lives way too far from me. I am in Tennessee and she is in the New York. Once a year she gets visits her parents in Kentucky. Yesterday I loaded up the kids and drove 4 hours to spend the day with her. It went entirely too quickly, but it was a blessed time. The rest of our crew from college is getting together this weekend for our annual girls weekend. I am missing it because I am traveling to the She Speaks Conference. It makes me sad I will miss this fun filled weekend, but I feel so blessed to know they will be praying for me and cheering me on from afar.  And I will laugh twice as hard next year to make up for it!!   😉

Girls Trip!

2014 Girls Trip. This photo was not at all staged 😉

So go ahead. Set a Date. Make it a reoccurring event on your iCal. And make spending time with your girlfriends a priority too. It isn’t just nice. It is NECESSARY.

The Skinny….The Down Low….The 411

The Skinny, The Down Low, The 411A year ago the extent of my writing was a grocery list and a FB post.  What a difference a year makes.  It occurred to me that I have finally burst out of my tiny bubble and that people are following my blog that aren’t even related to me 😉

I thought I would play a little catch up.  I started this blog at the end of May.  It has been so much fun to write and I am thrilled that it is resonating with so many people.

I actually only started seriously writing about a year ago.  I was inspired to write a book about my journey through Infertility.  I went through a particularly difficult year in 2013 filled with unsuccessful fertility treatments and a lot of tears.  I felt so alone and misunderstood.  And that is crazy because one out of EIGHT couples struggle with Infertility.

But no one talks about it.

Except me.  God divinely reached into my little brain and pulled out that filter.

So that was that.  I decided to write a book, tell my story, and share how I survived through it all.  In December 2014, I self-published “Full Heart Empty Womb: How I Survived Infertility … Twice”  After, I took a deep breath, enjoyed the holidays with my family, then jumped into the second part of my journey after the new year.  And boy did I underestimate what an undertaking that would be.  I had to focus on promoting my book…promoting me.  This was wayyyy out of my comfort zone.  This is the girl who never even sends out Friend Requests on FB because I am scared of rejection 😉

I have had some ups and downs.  Just when I was overwhelmed and at my lowest, God gave me the She Speaks Email
encouragement I needed to keep going.  He has plans for me.  One night in February, I was having one of my typical insomniac nights.  Up thinking, worrying, and stressing about everything out of my control.  How can I reach more people?  This is too much for me to do on my own!!  I finally got out of bed and went to my office.  As soon as I pulled up my email, I found an email that reminded me that I am not doing any of this on my own.  God is here guiding me every step of the way.  It was an email from Proverbs 31 Ministries and the subject line was “You’re called to speak or write.  Now What?”  Well, yes.  Yes I am!  Then when I opened the email, it said, “Do you ever feel alone in your calling as a Speaker, Writer, or Leader?”  I mean….HELL-LO!  Talk about a direct encouragement from above exactly when I needed it!  Even at 2:20 a.m.!!

I waited a respectable amount of time….well until 5:30…and woke up Eric to talk about me going to the She Speaks conference this Summer.  I had a whole speech prepared about how it would be beneficial  for me and my book.  I didn’t even get to my second bullet point before Eric was telling me to register.  How grateful am I that I have such a supportive husband??!!

So here we are six months later and I am leaving for She Speaks this Thursday.  And I am SUPER PUMPED.  Not only am I going to go to sessions to help me improve my writing, but I also have appointments with two major publishing houses about publishing my book.  I am glad I self-published because, honestly, I think I would have lost my nerve if I hadn’t just pushed through all the way to completion.  However, I would love the opportunity to publish on a wider scale so I can reach more people.

Regardless the outcome, I am thankful.  I have been praying about this so much and I know that it is all in God’s hands.  Hopefully, my book will be picked up, improved upon, and I will be able to help a lot more women.  If not, I am satisfied with knowing that I have helped a lot of women already because I wasn’t afraid to tell my story.

Pretty sweet situation to be in.

I am ready to head to She Speaks with my 31 page book proposal (gasp!), business cards (just hysterical), a lot of prayers (hint hint), and confidence that God will do His thing (no matter what it is).

And, of course, my Mema’s pearls to wear in my interviews.  (And I think Mema is looking down from Heaven and is smiling).

My Epilogue

My Epilogue - SLM

I absolutely love to read. My favorite thing in the whole world is my precious Kindle. It is loaded with hundreds of books that I use to escape for just a little while every night before bed.

I fell out of the habit of reading for pleasure when I was in college. I rediscovered it after I had my youngest child, Matthew. All of my friends were talking about this book about a couple and the boy was a vampire. (hey – no judgment!! You know you read it too!) Anyway I admit it. I read it and every other one in the saga within a month. Every three hours I would disappear in my room with Baby Matthew to nurse and read. Matthew gained about 5 pounds that month 😉

I have moved on from teenage vampires, but I do still enjoy a good love story.   And I don’t have a nursing baby to use as an excuse to have a quiet time to read. However, I do read for about an hour every night before bed. It is part of my Steph Time. Time just for me. 

This Spring I discovered a new author at the recommendation of my friend, Tara. It is an Austrailian author named, Liane Moriarty. Her first book that I read was The Husband’s Secret. There are a lot of things I like about it. It is told from different points of view. There are a few different story lines that run parallel and you aren’t quite sure how or when they will intersect. It is also so witty and will make you laugh…and even cry much to my chagrin.

But the thing I love the most of the book is the way it ends. Don’t worry I am not going to give anything away! It truly is one of my favorite Epilogues I have ever read. Instead of wrapping everything up real quick in a red bow with a wedding and/or a child born, it starts like this…. 

“There are so many secrets of our lives we’ll never know.”

Moriarty then proceeds to go through each of the characters and details how one changed choice or slightly altered circumstance could have drastically changed the outcome of their life and other people’s too. And we’ll never know.

Wow. Just Wow. Have you ever thought about that? What tragedy have we narrowly missed, yet we don’t even know it? Or conversely, what blessings have vanished before we even know of their possibility?

The car accident that was avoided because you lost your keys and were running 10 minutes late.

The breathtaking sunset you missed with your family because you were too busy trying to take the perfect family photo.

When I think about my life and Epilogue, I take comfort that someday all of those secrets will be brought to light. I often talk to my children about how wonderful Heaven will be. Usually it is after that have asked me a particularly difficult question, and I quickly refer them to Jesus. “Ask Him in Heaven! He will tell you!” Oh how busy they will keep Him! All joking aside, I do believe that we will be able to learn about things that we never could comprehend during our time here on Earth.

One time during my life that I really want to have a heart to heart with Jesus about is in 2013. It was when my husband, Eric, and I were going through fertility treatments. We had been extremely prayerful about each decision we made along the way, so we were confident we were in God’s will for our family. We had been cautiously optimistic that we were going to get pregnant. Why not? It was the direction that God was leading us, right? Even so, it was a long, hard, tear filled year for me.

After the second round of failed IVF and a surgery that left me without my fallopian tubes, the nail was in the proverbial coffin. The babies that I had loved and rocked in my dreams would never be. Why had God led us down this road only to be heartbroken?

I remember crying to my mom one day asking her to pray for me because I having such a hard time dealing with the anger and sadness I was feeling. Why didn’t God answer our prayers? She gently spoke to me. “Stephanie, you cannot see the whole story as God can. Perhaps He is saving you from even more pain down the road.”

I had never thought about that. What if I had gotten pregnant but it had ended in a miscarriage? Did God save me from that pain? Or the book that I have written about my battle with Infertility…I never would have felt led to share my story if I had a different ending. How many people am I helping by sharing my story? The horrible surgery I had to remove my fallopian tubes. Could that impact my health down the road? There are some studies that it reduces the risk of Ovarian Cancer. Could that have saved me for the children I have been blessed with?

The bottom line is that I can’t know the answers to everything this side of Heaven. I have to trust that God has written the best story for my life. He is the Author of my story. And I look forward to my book club with Him when I finally get to read my Epilogue.