How Long, O LORD?

“How much longer, Mama?”

“How much longer until we can watch TV? Play outside? Have a snack? Summer break?”

I have answers to those questions. Thank goodness. Because as any parent will tell you, kids ask questions like that ALL. DAY. LONG. And not being able to answer your child’s questions is maddening. Because as long as you have the answers, you still have the reins. You’re still driving the bus. You’re still captaining the ship. Until you’re not.

I love being the captain of my own ship. I love having my shipmates to scrub the deck (me harties! Just had to add that in there…)

This past year though, I completely lost my grip on the reins. I was NO longer in control of my ship. There was no bus driver. Because the bus had flat tires. My suspicion is that most of your “buses” were broken down on the side of the road this past year too.

And it stunk. No one wants to be aboard a ship where the captain doesn’t have the map. That’s when chaos ensues. That’s when luxury ocean liners crash into hidden icebergs.

And that… that, my friends, was 2020.

For all of us. All of us… except the actual Captain of the ship. He never lost control of the boat. His bus is still cruising down the freeway. And his horse is still galloping joyfully into the future. Because His reins are steadfast.

Now, don’t fret if, you too, often fall prey to the delusion that you’re driving your own destiny. It’s easier that way! It’s easier to think that we know exactly what’s coming down the pipe.

In two weeks we’ve got Susie’s birthday party. In a month, we’re heading to GeeMaw’s house. This summer, we’re camping out on the beach for a week. Next year, I’m scheduled for that promotion. We know what is coming and when it’s coming and why it’s coming. People are planners. But we fool ourselves into thinking we’re holding the pen. And then, when we are awoken into the actual reality that literally NOTHING is in our control, we freak out!

I’ll be the first to admit. 2020 FREAKED ME OUT. At the beginning of 2020 my biggest concern was convincing my husband that we were supposed to adopt. I thought that would be my biggest hurdle. And then, when I finally HAD convinced him (reality: I convinced him of nothing. He’s more stubborn than me. It was all God), I thought we were home free, and that we’d be home with our new little one by Christmas. Boy… was I OFF there?! Here we are one year later just clinging to hope that we might be able to bring our daughter home at some time in 2021. Bringing her home this year is going to be a miracle if it happens. But for now, we wait. And now it’s my turn to ask, “How LONG, Abba? How long, O LORD?”

But do you know what? I’m now settling in to the idea that it’s okay. It’s okay to not have the answers right now. I’m not the first one to ask these questions, and I won’t be the last. But now, at least, I’m starting to recognize to Whom the questions should be directed! And that’s the first step.

We have to look no further than the “Man after God’s own heart” himself, King David, to see that this is a tale as old as time. He cried out “How Long O LORD,” or something in a similar vein, more than almost any other person I can find in Scripture. I’ve been fascinated recently by reading the Psalms in conjunction with reading the events happening in David’s life as he wrote them. I know people much smarter and more faithful than me have probably been doing this their whole lives, but for me, it’s a revelation.

The Psalms in and of themselves offer such beauty and strength and hope, but when only when read in context can we see their true value. For example: Psalm 3 begins with “O LORD, how many are my foes! Many are rising up against me; many are saying of my soul, “There is no salvation for him in God.”” (Psalm 3:1-2). David certainly is up against something here. Clearly some people are out to get him. But do you know who it is? Not Saul, who has already been chasing after and trying to kill him half of his life because of a jealous rage. Not foreign enemies. It’s his SON – Absalom. His child. His baby.

His son has been standing at the city gates greeting all who come to seek solace from the king, telling them, “the king has no time for you… but oh… if I were leader, I would listen to you.” And why not trust him? He’s the prince after all. So the people turn against David and drive him out of his kingdom. And now his son is in pursuit trying to kill him. Talk about a “foe.” And this is not an isolated incident for David. It seems like he’s constantly on the run from this enemy or that enemy. Everyone wants him dead. And so we often see him crying out “How long, O LORD?” or “Why? O LORD?” or “Deliver me! O LORD!”

But the great thing about this example, is that it is when David is at these, what we would consider to be, “low” points in the circumstances of his life, that he is actually singularly focused on the real Captain of his ship. When David has relative “control” over his own circumstances, he tends to mess up. Majorly. As in, murder, adulterous, treason-level mistakes. Control isn’t a good look for David. But when he’s on the run, on his knees, in despair– this is when his life is actually under control the most. Because he recognizes and yields that the One ACTUALLY driving the bus is the Most High.

So, let’s not despair that we don’t know “how long” the circumstances of the past year that seem to be clinging to us are going to be sticking around. Now is a huge opportunity to yield control of the reins to the One who’s already got this all figured out. Because… He’s the one that’s been steering this ship all along.

Getting to Yes

Getting to yes.

(Part 1)

We’ve all had it. The itch, the twinge, the little whispering in the depths of your gut. It looks different for everyone, but it’s flowing from the same vein for each of us.

I’m missing something.  Something big. Something important.

What is it? WHERE is it? Did I lose it? Or did I not ever even know it was there?

For some, the answer comes quickly. You have so many bags of chips and cookies for the growing hive of teenage boys constantly swarming your house that you accidentally left one of the actual children at the store because you couldn’t see around your overflowing buggy. 

Easy answer. The what? Your child. Where? The store. Yes, you lost it. Go back and get it. 

But sometimes it’s not so easy. Sometimes the “what” is the hardest one to figure out. Especially if what you’re missing wasn’t something you had to begin with. 

This was the crisis I found myself facing a little more than a year ago. In November of 2019 my life trajectory had altered dramatically. All thanks to three little pills.

Don’t panic. These pills are legal. And non-addicting, at least in the sense that they’re only habit forming because they make me feel amazing. 

For those that don’t know, I have cystic fibrosis. I was born with it. It sucks. But I’ve lived with it and have been blessed enough to be healthy enough to not let it hinder me too much. But the inevitable slow decline into lung failure was looming until the fall of 2019 when a earth-shattering drug, and I don’t say that lightly, hit the market. This medicine, and don’t ask me how because these people who invented this are brilliant (all glory to God for His creation of these insane individuals) and have more degrees than I have toes, has the ability to move things around that are out of place at the cellular level in CF patients, thus “correcting” the issue that causes our problems. It’s not a cure, and I’ll have to take it every day. And the decline may still come some day, but it reversed years of damage in thousands of CF patients almost overnight. Since I was still relatively healthy, my reversal was less numerical and more in the “quality of life” realm, but nonetheless, I suddenly saw a long road ahead of me decades into the future, which had been the impossible dream just months before. 

So here I was, in the middle of the night, November of 2019.  And I feel the itch. The twinge. Something is missing. In my heart of hearts I know what it is, but am just terrified to go there… because I’m not alone on this journey of life, and I knew the man asleep (let’s be real- snoring) next to me wasn’t itchy at all. He was sleeping with skin smooth as butter like a baby. So I did what any reasonable wife does when she has something life altering to ask her husband. I sent an email…

(This concludes part 1 of ?? our adoption story… stay tuned for more!)

‘Rona Review – Lessons Learned Doing Ministry During the Time of COVID-19

2020 was shaping up to be a big year. I was in the second half of my first year leading our Children’s ministry at church, my husband was also in new role at church (same church, just different job) after 13 years in youth ministry and I was planning my first ever VBS.

I had it ALL planned out.

Teachers for every age – Check

Kids signing up early – Check

Full “Decorating Suite” ordered – Check

Reinventing some non-essential, yet timely wheels – Check

Global Pandemic Plan – uhhhhh… no. No plan for global pandemic VBS planning came with my handy, nifty-galifty VBS Directors Kit.

Quarantine began in March. Surely, it would be over by June. So, we planned on. Forged ahead. Pretended it wasn’t a “thing.” Until we couldn’t. As June approached and it was obvious we weren’t going to be doing “normal” VBS, we started formulating Plan B – push it back a few weeks to see if cases leveled off. Then Plan C – push it out a few weeks and also reduce class size, cancel “Friday Fun Day Carnival,” then our stay-at-home orders were extended and restricted leading to Plan D… and finally, the one that stuck… Plan O.

By June it was obvious only one plan would actually work, and work safely. Outside. It was the only way we could ever manage to do any sort of VBS in 2020. We would do the whole thing outside. In July. In Alabama.

There was just one problem – many of our volunteers were at-risk of severe disease. So we couldn’t in good conscience ask them to commit to this. So, we came up with Plan O.2. VBS Outside – with just staff running it all. 4 stations – families stick together, do the close-contact stuff at home.

That’s what we were left with. The remnants of “normal” VBS all crammed into sweaty, humid, and sunny July. This plan was safe as far as COVID-19 goes – very limited interactions among children who aren’t normally together, outside, staff stayed WAAAAAYYY far back, etc.,

But it brought its own challenges. We had to set up and tear down the entire VBS every single day because Summer in the South can be brutal with afternoon storms. We didn’t want our pirate ship sailing away and landing the next neighborhood over.

We had other challenges too… but let me tell you what I learned about kid’s ministry throughout all of this.

1. No man, or woman, is an island.  I’ve never been more grateful to have a singularly-minded group of coworkers around me in my entire life. At 7 am when it was time to drag everything out… they were there. At 11 when it was time to drag it all back in and we were gross, hot, cranky and sweaty, they were there…

2. Kids are resilient. Yes, it was hot, but to be honest, I don’t think the kids noticed that much. The discomfort was felt much more among the adults. For this reason, and during this season of coronavirus, I would 100% recommend doing children’s ministry events and classes outside without any hesitation. The kids will come, they will love it, and they probably won’t complain much about the heat. As an adult, you’ll be feeling it… but the kids just frankly don’t seem to care! They’re just happy to be WITH other kids.

3. And this is the most important… Jesus showed up. I know there shouldn’t have been any doubt… but I will admit that around mid-May I began to wonder if this was going to be some major regret I’d never get over in my life if we attempted to do this. Common sense screamed against it. My own fears and anxieties screamed against it. But the Father blessed it anyways. The Word was taught, fun was had, we got outside of ourselves and focused on people with life-long legitimate issues beyond the annoyances of 2020, and no one got sick. Not one person. It’s as if God knew about this ahead of time or something…

This is not to say everything should be “business as usual” in kids’ ministry right now. Obviously not. VBS outside in July will NEVER be my Plan A, B, C, or D outside of this time. But, there is something to be said for feeling the tug to do anything in your human abilities to take the Word to the children who need to hear it, and trust that God’s got the rest, because He does. 2020 didn’t surprise Him… and it doesn’t stop Him from working in us and through us.

“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.”- Hebrews 10:23

Stuck at Home

Wow, it’s been a minute! Since I last wrote on this site, my writing has taken a WAY back seat to some major life changes including a new job, a pandemic, and the beginning stages of the adoption process. Many people have asked me when that next book is coming, and my honest answer is… I’m not sure it is? I just don’t have it in me right now, but maybe soon! The thought train certainly hasn’t slowed! You would think that having literally nothing to do outside of your home for months at a time would lend itself to hours and hours a day to write, but for me, it just left me feeling confused and sad… which doesn’t lend to much creatively! At least for me.

I do think I’ll be starting a series of short stories here featuring a new character I absolutely love, so stay tuned for those and I’ll post them here!

For now, though, feel free to check out the new additions to my site, including the story of our adoption from China and kid’s ministry tidbits I’ve collected over the past year.

Now What?

I’ve been gravely wounded. By that Kraken… the demon monster that haunts the wee hours of every writer’s mind. That moment every writer dreads. The point in time where the vast chasms of your mind are filled with a million great plot points and captivating characters but they just can’t make their way onto the page (or screen… let’s be real.  This is 2019). I’m afflicted. I’m beaten down… by writer’s block.

They say it happens to everyone, but since I conveniently and lazily spread out the writing of my first novel over a span of four years, I never had moments like these. Now that I’m attempting to write the sequel to The Darkest Current, and probably DON’T have four years to do it if I want it to be remotely applicable to any reader who’s read the first one, I now find myself completely annoyed with… myself.

I know what I want to say and do, and just can’t do it. Everything comes out jarbled and uninteresting, whereas in my mind’s eye, the story is colorful, intriguing… you name the juicy adjective, it applies.  But I can’t translate that to actual words. I’m supposed to be a writer… not a thinker. Thinkers live in their own worlds. Writers share their thoughts with the world around them. Writers give. But right now… I have nothing to give.

But enough dwelling in my own pity party. This is where practice comes in. I must continue to write. Whether it’s ten words a day, or 1000. Whether I delete it all at the end because it actually is the garbage I’m sure it is, or whether a few words can be salvaged, I must keep going. Or I’ll get worse.

Isn’t that what life is like? We get stuck. And we get frustrated. And we wonder, “why bother?” More often than not I find this with physical exercise, which at it’s very core, I loathe. I get motivated by some new routine for a week or two and then I hit a wall and say, “I’ll just take today off.” And then three months later I look back and realize that one day turned into 90 without a second thought.

As a music teacher by trade, I often tell my kids… “if you keep messing up on a measure… play it 3 times, but then keep going. It’s okay to move forward even if it’s not 100% there and come back to it later… or you’ll just get stuck there.”

Such is life. We have to just keep moving forward. Even if it’s only an inch a day.

So, today I will write. It will probably be worthless and probably be just five words. But I’ll do it. Because if I don’t at least try, I’ll just be here lashing out at the Kraken for eternity.

A Little Piece of Me

My daughters are young – elementary and preschool aged. So when they heard I had written a book and we were going to be able to have a physical copy, they immediately demanded to know who the characters were, what they looked like, what they wore, etc.,

mirror_1551284438Children are visually stimulated at that age. That’s why I’m in awe of picture book authors and illustrators because they’re so good at creating brilliant imagery through words and pictures that help you see exactly what they were seeing in their minds when they were crafting their stories.

So when my five-year-old asked me for the umpteenth time what “Amelia,” the main character in The Darkest Current, looked like, I had to pause for a second. Then, ashamedly, I had to go back to my manuscript and look up how I described her.

It’s not that I had forgotten, or couldn’t see her vividly in my mind. It’s just when I went to answer my daughter, I realized that in my brain, Amelia looked just like me. But then again, so did her sister Adele, and their friend, Devon (who is a guy). Embarassingly… in my mind’s eye, all the characters are basically… me.

Of course, I didn’t describe them that way when I was writing the book. They all have distinguishing features. Admittedly, Amelia does look the most like me because she has long, dark hair. But Adele has blonde hair and blue eyes. That’s 100% NOT what I look like. But… I created her, and thus, she is reflective of me in many ways. Even the villain of the story personifies many character traits of myself, albeit those that I’m not necessarily proud of, because… villains.

Writers are artists in that they create a world in their heads and then attempt to lay that down on paper effectively. I’ve heard many an author say that they write because they have these stories billowing up in their minds that NEED to be told and they can’t rest until they’ve alleviated that urgency.

Darkest Current Right Side Cover

Writing is a labor of love. And time. And persistence.  You spend so much time in the world of your characters, you feel as if they’re real tangible people that you might bump into on the street in your neighborhood or in your favorite cafe. But good writers also write what they know, and who do you know better than yourself?

So, when you read The Darkest Current, now you know how I came up with the characters. They’re each just a little piece of me.


Get your copy of The Darkest Current.

The Darkest Current is also available at Lawren’s Gift Shop in Huntsville, Alabama.

Pardon Me, Do You Happen to Have a Copy of the Sears Roebuck Catalog, Issue Number 118?

I’m a nerd. I love doing research. When I was in college I was that girl you could always find deep in the “stacks” smelling the old books. I mean, come on, isn’t that what good English Majors do?  We read, we dig, we transport back and drop ourselves in the setting of any historical time or place.  It’s half the fun of reading!

When I set out to write The Darkest Current, I had wild notions of how fun it was going to be to create an exotic world from a time gone by. A better time. A romantic time. In my mind “Oak County,” Georgia was as vivid as a painting and I knew it would be pure joy to put my vision onto paper. I set aside some time. Frothed by foam for my latte I would giddily consume while my fingers flew across the keypad, and set to work.

And it was so fun.

Until that moment when I realized I didn’t know how much a wedding dress from a catalog would have costed in 1893. Or what it would have been made of. Or what the Catalog would have even been called.

Darkest Current Right Side Cover

Now Available!

In Historical Fiction, the setting is just as important as the dialogue and plot. It’s a character in and of itself. And to draw your readers in and keep them in that place with you, it has to be done correctly.

So, you can’t just write what you see in your head. That would encompass a total of five pages, ten if you have an immense vocabulary.

Spoiler alert– you probably already know this because you’re a reasonable individual, but it honestly hadn’t crossed my mind — the base price of an umbrella in 1893 is not a fact that materializes itself in your mind, no matter how hard you try.

Fortunately we have the internet. So most of these random facts are easily accessible and found in seconds. Because some genius out there had the foresight to scan copies of the Sears Roebuck Catalog in 1898 so we can all peruse them now to our heart’s content.

So, once I came to the inevitable conclusion that I would need to brush up on my skim reading skills, I thought it would be just a matter of hours spent at the desk Googling on repeat.

But then, I hit the trial scene and in spite of all of my best internet sleuthing skills, I couldn’t find a full transcript of a trial in 1890’s America online. Bummer.

So, I had to dig deeper and eventually came across the Lizzie Borden Museum in Massachusetts  where I was able to request and received a copy of the full court transcript from her trial (yes, the one where she gave her mother forty whacks), and from there I was able to recreate a trial in 1893 to a greater accuracy than my limited imagination was ever capable of.

What’s the moral of this tale? It’s this. No matter how beautiful of a scene you’ve created in your head, sitting down to write an Historial novel won’t be the romantic fever-pitched experience you envisioned it would be. But if you do the work, the end result may be.

-Meagan Kish

The Darkest Current is now available in Paperback or Kindle Edition.




Suspended Reality for the Sake of Suspense

Opposites attract. It’s an immutable law of nature. Everyone knows it. My romantic world is no different. My husband and I couldn’t be more opposite in personality and tastes if we tried, and I discover this in new ways all the time.

The most recent instance of this came when he read the first chapter of my novel, The Darkest Current. The book opens with the heroine, Amelia, diving headlong into a river because she needs to blow off some steam. This river is her solace, her “happy place”, to use modern terminology. It’s where she goes to think and collect her thoughts.

As I was writing this scene, I could smell the algae in the water, hear the rush of the rapids, feel the goosebumps because it takes place at night in early Spring. It felt appropriately vivid to me and completely believable for this character who was already fully alive in my head to be doing this. It was romantic and thrilling. Something every good Victorian heroine would do during a crisis.

My husband saw this completely differently. He read the scene and looked up at me and said, “You expect me to believe that this nineteen year old girl just dove into a river in March, at night, just because she was mad? No one does that.”

My author self wanted to yell “yes they do!” but then my reasonable self– let’s face it, the much less dominant side of me — thought, “huh. He has a point. No real person would actually do this… so why did I write it that way?”

Then, this flash of a memory took me back to a literature class in high school where I first heard the term “suspension of disbelief,” or the idea that readers are willing to temporarily separate what they know to be true and set that aside for the sake of the story. This is done for a number of reasons — it’s more romantic, more dramatic, more fantastic, etc.,

This then, is why I wrote the scene the way I did. It’s so much more fun to read about a girl throwing her boots aside on a log and diving into a river still wearing her dinner gown than it is to be told, “she was angry, so she paced in the hallway for several minutes.” At least, it is for me.

But for some readers, (I would argue probably half the population), these leaps away from reality for the sake of the tale just pull them out of the story altogether. They’re distracted by the unreliability of it all. This isn’t wrong by any means. It just means that they prefer a more realistic style of writing. They exhibit a more scientific and analytical approach to reading. And to be sure, there are some amazing writers out there who cater to this preference, and do it brilliantly.

Unfortunately for my husband, I’m not one of them.

The Darkest Current is now available for purchase!


Family Matters in Historical Suspense

I recently attended a mystery writer’s conference and sat in on a Historical Fiction session where several successful authors discussed the role of the family in Historical Fiction as opposed to contemporary fiction. As I thought back on my writing process for The Darkest Current, I realized that I inadvertently made almost every character a relation to another character in some way. Family is EVERYWHERE. And when you think about it, that makes sense, doesn’t it? In 18th and 19th century America, neighbors were distant, and the family unit meant everything. You relied upon family beyond all else.

In today’s world–and this is reflected in contemporary literature– family is much more broadly defined. Family can be a character’s close knit set of friends, colleagues, roommates, etc., And of course, much of literature still grounds the main character with nuclear family relationships. But a character can be totally estranged or unconnected from all family and yet still have a strong support system, whereas in Historical Fiction, it would be almost completely unbelievable that a character could be emotionally stable without the support of their family.

Over time and as our access to the world has expanded drastically, the definition of “family” for a main character has also expanded, but in some way, it has stayed the same. Literary characters need support, whether that’s from their nuclear families or beyond, if we are to find them validating of the human experience.

Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton