The Art of Interruptions

-Interruptions remind us we are not in control.---Karla Akins

Okay, this is hilarious.

I had this post completely written and guess what?

It disappeared.

Then I wrote it again. And added pictures.

And the pictures disappeared.

Then when I added the pictures again and checked on it–saved it, published it, the original post showed up without pictures. (I was working in Blogger for a cross-post to Hoosier Ink. I gave up and decided to post it here in WordPress.)

hmm...I find this extremely ironic since I’m writing about interruptions. And I don’t believe in coincidences. Sometimes life gets so crazy and bizarre you just have to laugh. Just like God does when we make plans. I picture Him sitting beside me, jabbing me in the ribs with a loud “Got ya!” He probably isn’t, but that’s how I picture Him when things like this happen. (I mean no disrespect to God. He knows how much I admire His sense of humor.)

You’d think after having kids with autism and a mother-in-law with Alzheimer’s living with us, I’d be the Queen of Handling Interruptions. But I’m not. I have a hunch that God must be determined to make me an expert. Either that, or he enjoys a good laugh. You know the Yiddish saying, right? “We make plans and God laughs.” He is hee-hawing all over the universe with the way my summer has gone.

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You see, I’m a planner. I love to plan. I have several planners — one for home/church, one for my writing and one for my college classes. I begin student teaching in August, and I’ll have a teaching planner, too.  I also use Google Calendar to remind me of appointments and deadlines. I love to plan. I buy all sorts of stickers and tapes and tabs for my planner. Planning is my hobby.

A few of my planning toys. I keep them in a ziplock envelope inside my planner. I have many more in my office drawers!

And oh yeah, I haven’t even begun to tell you all about how I plan on Kanbanflow! I have 11 (!) planning boards there. Now, admittedly, many of them are for books and projects. But a lot of them aren’t.

This isn't my kanban, but you get the idea.

This isn’t my kanban, but you get the idea.

Here’s how my summer has gone so far. Keep in mind, this is the summer when I was going to knock out those 11 Kanbanflow lists and cure world hunger:

  • My dishwasher broke the same month of the twins’ graduation open house (mid-May)
  • The twins’ caregiver quit in May. We still don’t have a new caregiver and they require 24-7 supervision
  • Ordered new dishwasher
  • New dishwasher arrived and quit working after one week
  • Part for new dishwasher will not be here until August 12
  • Air conditioner is not acting right. And it’s only the hottest summer ever.
  • June 25 my computer crashes. Kaput. Zero. Zilch. Will cost too much of a percentage of a new one to fix.
  • Wait two weeks for new computer to arrive.
  • Can’t find my backup files on Carbonite
  • My wedding ring got an upgrade May 1. Sent it off to get it fixed. It’s still not back after it being returned twice looking like a bubble gum ring. (Does this mean I’ve been single all this time?)
  • My mother-in-law who has Alzheimer’s has been sick a lot this summer. This means a lot of attention, care and trips to the hospital. (Keep her in your prayers. Her name is Ellen.)
  • When I flew to Colorado for conference, why didn’t I expect my plane to be delayed and have three gate changes in Dallas?
  • My back went out July 22. I have a bad sacrum joint thing going on. Which means I can’t sit, stand or walk comfortably at all. The only medication that’s touching the pain is Ibuprofen which I’m not supposed to take because of a stomach condition. But, it’s Ibuprofen that’s allowed me to sit here in this awkward position and type this post.

These are just a few of the highlights of my summer saga entitled, “Interrupted Summer.” Not very original, I know, but it describes it very well. (Which means it’d do well on a Kindle search, but that’s another blog post for another day.)

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God isn't looking at the clock.He's looking at my character.--KarlaAkins.com

I believe God is bound and determined to teach me how to handle interruptions with grace. I’m obviously a slow learner. This has been a sink or swim summer. I’m treading water, but not sure I’m going anywhere.

And yet, I’m trying to embrace the interruptions as positive opportunities instead of negative experiences. They’re like when I get lost on purpose when I ride my motorcycle. I love exploring unchartered territories. Why not view interruptions in the same way?

Interruptions are actually God’s Providence. It’s Him teaching me I’m not the one in control. He is. And I can either embrace these moments or kick against them. It’s up to me how I perceive them.

In the below video I share a few more of my thoughts on the matter. If you like the video, please subscribe to my channel and hit like on the thumbs up tab! (In Youtube.)

How about you? Do you like interruptions as much as I do?

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Please tweet: Interruptions are God’s unexpected field trips.

Rocky Mountain Prophecy Conference Recap

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I was blessed to have the privilege of attending the Rocky Mountain International Prophecy Conference July 15-17. And just as expected, I was blown away by all I learned. In fact, I actually ordered the DVDs to the entire conference before I left because my brain can only contain so much information at one time. And when I learn something, I like to learn it well enough to be able to teach it. I want to be able to explain things to other people and be ready in season and out.

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Besides learning, I had the best time meeting people I admire and have admired for a very long time.

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I can hardly believe I got to meet Tim Mahoney, creator and researcher of Exodus: Patterns of Evidence!

My excuse for spending so much money to go was that I was doing research for some book concepts I’m working on. This is true, of course. But I really just wanted to meet these fascinating people and experience their ministries in person.

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Derek and Sharon Gilbert of SkywatchTV. Love these two SO MUCH!

And when God made a way for me to talk to Gary Stearman, founder of Prophecy Watchers, I almost did a jig.

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Gary Stearman of Prophecy Watchers!

There’s always so much to learn and they are promising that next year’s conference will be twice as big and even better with even more speakers. However will my brain contain it all?

Here’s a video recap of this wonderful experience:

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Please tweet: Prophecy Conference recap: it’s time to wake up!

What’s on your writing desk, Mary Sayler?

Karla:  Today we’re visiting Mary Sayler at her writing desk! Mary also shares details about her routine. Take it away, Mary!

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Mary: I’m at my desk every morning, writing and posting Praise Poems or blogging on various aspects of words and The Word for The Word Center blog. Since I’ve been a full-time freelance and assignment writer for Christian and educational publishers for most of my adult life, I usually have a project in progress. Otherwise, I’m researching for my Bible study class, or I’m reading a new edition of the Bible I’ve been sent to review on the Bible Reviewer blog, or I’m revising my poems, or I’m critiquing someone else’s poems for a small fee, or I’m redoing my website, or I’m social networking, or I’m doing laundry or tending grandchildren or cooking dinner or emailing whoever is waiting for my response or waiting tables at our church’s weekly pancake breakfast.

Karla: Whew. What a whirlwind! But it sounds so fulfilling!

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Mary’s writing lair. Isn’t it cozy?

Mary: As a lifelong lover of Christ, the Bible, and the church, I’m a persistent pray-er, but praising God doesn’t come naturally for me. Then, last Fall, I felt the Lord coaxing me to begin the Praise Poems blog to praise God for Who God Is, rather than what He does. Those poems have kept coming as contemporary psalms until I have more than enough for a book!

Karla: That is so awesome! I love it when that happens!

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Click to buy!

Mary: Although many of my books (27 in all genres) are no longer in print, the newest ones can be found on my Amazon Author Page. I posted some of my online writing credits on my website and set up Profile pages in the Poets & Writers online directory of poets, About Me, and the just-discovered QuotesRain.

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Click to buy!

Back in the Golden Days, my traditional publishers did all of the marketing for me, leaving me free to write. Now, social networking seems to be a must for any writer with books or blogs, so I’m on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google Plus, and who knows what else! I’m grateful for my computer and Internet, but oh, I miss pencil and paper!

Where in the world do you write-

Karla: Me, too, Mary! I miss the days I’d sit in the trees over the creek behind my grandmother’s house and pen prose. Those were delicious moments. But from the looks of your twitter following (10k+!), you’re great at this social media thing! Wow!

Thanks for sharing your writing space with us today! It’s fun to peek in on professional writers’ lairs and see how they do it. Your space looks incredibly inviting for getting in the writing zone.

How about you, Dear Reader? Where in the world do you write? I’d love to know!

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Please tweet: What’s on your writing desk? Mary Sayler shares hers!

Announcing the Brilliant Blog Winner for the Month of June

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June’s pick was a no-brainer. I love this blog so much for so many reasons, it’s hard not to gush about it. What really amazes me, though, is that this author has only been published a short time. In fact, I read her first book and loved it. I was drawn to it because of the title. As a violinist, it was a must read.

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You can read my review of it here.

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Kristy Cambron impresses me on many levels. All  young, successful writers inspire me, but when I come across a young writer like Kristy: fresh, witty, confident, productive, speaker, wife, Mom, creative blogger — I have to gush just a little.

Here’s a bit about Kristy quoted from her website:

“Kristy Cambron has a background in art and design, but she fancies life as a vintage-inspired storyteller. She is the author of The Ringmaster’s Wife, named to Publishers Weekly Spring 2016 Religion & Spirituality TOP 10. Her novels have been named to Library Journal Reviews’ Best Books and RT Reviewers’ Choice Awards Best lists, and received a 2015 INSPY Awards nomination for best debut novel. The Illusionist’s Apprentice (HarperCollins, 2017) is her fourth novel.”

Pretty impressive, eh?

But her career and success aren’t why I chose her blog. I chose it because it’s fresh, visually appealing, and I sense her desire to connect with her readers. One way she does this is through video. As writers, I realize most of us really don’t like being in front of the camera. (I’m trying to learn to not be afraid of it.) Kristy has turned YouTube to her advantage when it comes to promoting her books.

But I don’t feel like she’s pushing her books when I read her blog or watch her videos. I feel like she’s just hanging out. Which is what a really good author blog does. It helps the reader feel connected to the writer. One of her most recent videos does this brilliantly:

And she’s a lefty like me! (That’s the real reason she won this month.) (Just kidding!)

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Yes, I’m signing a contract of some kind! Can’t wait to tell you all about it!

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Please tweet: Congratulations, Kristy Cambron! Your blog is brilliant!

Do you have a brilliant blog you’d like to nominate? You can do so here. 

How’s that Chromebook working out for ya?

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As I posted last week, my beloved computer died on me. Actually, it was the hard drive. The second one. I’m very hard on hard drives because I keep my computer on 24/7. I hate rebooting because if I stop in the middle of a project in the middle of the night, I don’t want to lose my train of thought the next morning.

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My train of thought is, well, easily derailed these days. I’m no spring chicken, you know. More like a fall-going-into-winter-chicken. Which, I suppose, is better than being a fall-going-into-winter-turkey.

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I’ve been using my son’s little HP Chromebook (actually called a Stream). Isaiah doesn’t need a powerful computer for working. He just needs something for accessing the Internet and playing around with social media. (He’s already graduated from high school. He used an iPad for schoolwork.)

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Basically, the way I understand it, a Chromebook is more or less just like a smartphone. While it doesn’t have the power to have a lot of windows open at the same time (something I’m famous for) or to edit things like videos, it can still do quite a bit.

Here are the specs (for those who understand them) on this particular model. Keep in mind, these Chromebooks come in all sorts of sizes. This one is on the lower end of the scale. Extremely affordable at around $200.

13.3-Inch laptop

Intel Celeron processor

2 GB RAM (in other words, very little power/speed)

32 GB SSD (This is the driver; it’s solid state which makes up a little bit for small RAM, but 32 GB is not very much on an android/PC device and I’ve had to limit the amount of apps to the very basics if I’m going to save any documents or pictures to the laptop itself.)

Cloud-sharing

The idea of these types of laptops is to use the cloud or google drive to store your pictures and documents. But I’m leery of storing everything online, and like to have my own backups. So what I’m doing until my own laptop gets here, is saving a document, then emailing it to myself. Then I delete it off of this one. It’s a pain. It takes time. But at least I can transfer these files to the new laptop when it gets here.

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Let me clarify. I only email those files that are extremely important for me to find when my laptop gets here. Others either go in the cloud, or get deleted permanently.

Some things I don’t like about this Chromebook:

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  1. The touchpad is very sticky and slow.
  2. It really doesn’t have the power to browse websites with pop-ups. I don’t browse too many like that unless it’s for research or reading the news. This particular Chromebook can’t handle it.
  3. The screen resolution isn’t great but it’s not horrible.
  4. Doesn’t have enough memory to leave a lot of windows open at once or to multi-task. Why do I need to do that, you ask? Sometimes I leave windows open to remember to go back to them. Other times I may need to have Thesaurus.com, my blog site, email, and a photo editing program open all at the same time. Working efficiently and quickly often means having several programs or websites open at once.
  5. I can’t edit videos. It just doesn’t have the power. Therefore, my video work has come to a screeching halt.

What I like about this Chromebook:

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  1. I’m pleasantly surprised at how well the word processing works on this laptop. It’s as fast as my regular laptop.
  2. For getting basic writing done, it’s a great little machine. I like that I can focus on my writing and I’m not distracted by other things I could do on a regular laptop.
  3. I love the size and weight. I’m toying with the idea of buying one for taking it to a coffee shop or to church to take notes on. The size is fantastic and the keyboard is still big enough to be comfortable typing on. (But, since Mr. Himself doesn’t understand why I’d need a second laptop, purchasing one of these cute little things for myself is probably not going to happen…)
  4. If you use Chrome for your browser, it saves all your settings when you use it on another machine as long as you sign in to your gmail account. I didn’t realize this for about a week and was using my son’s Firefox browser. So now, after downloading Chrome, I’ve been able to log in to my various sites (such as this blog) easily and get stuff DONE!

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Conclusion: The Chromebook is a great option if you’re in-between computers, or your main computer is in the shop getting repaired. You can still be productive in quite a few areas as long as what you’re doing doesn’t take up a lot of memory and doesn’t require a lot of speed.

I also see why schools use it for homework activities. While they may not be able to do a lot of fancy video editing, basic homework assignments can be done on this machine. (I get to experience this when I start student teaching in August! Yay!)

I look at it this way. iPads/tablets are great for consuming things like books and movies but not so great for creating documents. I’m glad the schools in our district have switched to using laptops instead of tablets.

Bottom line: a Chromebook is a good option for getting simple writing tasks done and answering emails.

Have you ever used a Chromebook? Weigh in!

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Please tweet: What good is a Chromebook?