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27th Anniversary

Flowers oil painting by Natalie Buske Thomas
Flowers oil painting for Nana Plays book project


Wow, we’ve been married for twenty-seven years. I don’t feel that old. Of course, we married young. We were high school sweethearts and best friends. We went to two proms, watched M-TV when it was still cool, and we saw every John Hughes movie.

We’re still best friends, but the 1980’s were a long time ago, in more ways than just the passage of time. We didn’t realize then how innocent those years would be when viewed through the lenses of 2015.

So here we are. Who are we now?

My last blog post was about our Valentine’s Day flop.  What a disappointing day of unexpected bills and frustrations. But at least Brent was recovering from his scary battle with shingles. January was a horrifying month for us both.  It felt wrong to complain about trivial things like bills. Nonetheless, what a difference a week can make!

When our anniversary rolled around on February 20th we discovered that we were getting a big tax refund! My husband’s deductions had gotten messed up. They had been taking more out of his paycheck than they should have been… and now we were getting that money back! Also, the medical bills and college tuition that had been dogging us were helping us at tax time.  The refund will help us finance the final phase of Brent’s graduate school.

The refund is more than enough to make up for the financial setback from Valentine’s Day week. Last week’s discouragement was quickly reversed. We are back on track, baby! We have our eyes set on our next fundraising goal. We’re really going to do this thing! I feel the pressure of our “nonrefundable faith” every day, but I know that this is the journey we are meant to be on.

The next bit of encouragement came from my herculean efforts to accelerate my career goals:

1. I finished a major project that had been stressing me out for months.

The flowers oil painting at the top of this post is from my new book Nana Plays. Nana Plays is a project that I’d struggled to finish. It is a picture book illustrated by my oil paintings. It’s about caregiving from the perspective of my youngest daughter. I found it harder than I’d expected to go back to “that place”, when I was taking care of my mom. The project dragged on and on. Finally I asked Brent to help me finish it. I wanted him to help me photograph the art and put the pages together. He did. Now, it wasn’t easy to work together, I can’t say that it was. But we got through it and in the end I was enormously relieved to have the project off my plate.

The project is a beautiful legacy for my mom and for my kindhearted daughter too.  I’m proud to have been able to provide this for them. And for me, it is closure. I’m also hoping to further my career. I’m pushing myself as hard as I can to raise money for our new life in Ireland.

2. I finished new projects too!

I published the next book in my inspirational series “Thriving in a Hateful World”.  I also published the first book in my new YA “10 Chapters” series, Fender. This was particularly exciting because it’s a new direction for me.

While announcing these new books I rummaged through my saved e-mails for promotional opportunities I’ve been solicited for. I’d saved one that seemed promising. It was! I followed up on it and I don’t regret it. I absolutely loved creating a Booktrack for my new YA book Fender.

Booktrack offers up a free movie-like experience for books. Yes, it means that I’m giving my book away, but most readers are reluctant to read books by someone they’ve never heard of. I find the best way to gain new readers is to let them try my books for free. Besides, I love new techie projects and I had a ball putting my Booktrack together! I was definitely willing to do it for free.

But… the point I was trying to make is that new projects led to new opportunities. I’m optimistic that new opportunities will lead to meeting my financial goals. Hey, it sure looks better this week than it did last week!

So, I’ll put my Valentine’s flop behind me and focus on what we’re working so hard for, the dream... the longing… the hoping… the wishing… It’s all about the big picture. On December 29th we’ll be on a plane headed to Ireland. I just know it!