Category Archives: Personal

How I met my Husband

dan-and-morgan-wedding-pic

I thought in lieu of Valentine’s Day I would share how I met my husband :).

Dan and I met on the battlefield…er…football field. We were both teenagers at the time. I had seen him around at youth group, but we ran in different circles. He was a senior, jock, and could bench-press over three hundred pounds (in other words, very large guy!). And I was a freshman: short, shy, and a book nerd.

That winter we both attended the same winter camp. When a spontaneous football game was announced, I was in. I love football and have a secret competitive side. We lined up with our teams. I was on one side, and Dan was on the other. The field was icy and the air brisk cold. The game was two-touch, but with all the ice, it was more like ice-skating meets football.

Halfway during the game, the football was thrown to Dan. The rest of his team had my team blocked. I was the only one who stood between him and the goal. My one thought as he came barreling toward me: he would not get past me.

I meant to two touch him, but instead slipped, grabbed him, and knocked him hard to the ground. Dan looked up at me, astonished. Then he laughed. I grinned back. I had stopped him from scoring.

I held out my hand to help him up off the ground. We spoke for the first time. He called me freight train after that. The years went by and we became good friends. If someone had told me that I would marry the guy I knocked down on that icy field, I would have laughed. Dan was funny and cute, but definitely not my type.

I’m glad God had other plans. Four years later, we went out on our first date, and a year and a half later, married. We still enjoy football, even get out and play it once in a while. And our children love to hear how mommy knocked daddy down when we first met.

That’s my story. Now it’s your turn. How did you meet your significant other?

Thankfulness in Times of Darkness

Thanksgiving

It is hard to be thankful when your current circumstances seem dark and bleak. I know, I’ve been there. As I approached this Thanksgiving, I started reflecting back on the last few holidays my family went through.

5 years ago: we were unemployed.

4 years ago: we lost our house right before Thanksgiving.

3 years ago: we had just been informed by our landlord that she wished to sell the house we were in and we had until New Year’s to find a new place to live.

2 years ago: we were experiencing intense financial difficulties.

1 year ago: we were in the midst of changing ministries and preparing to move across the country.

Every year as Thanksgiving and Christmas rolled around, I felt anything but jovial. I wanted to pull the covers up over my head and let the holidays slip by. It was hard to be grateful when our lives were dark and difficult.

Yet it was during those very times I found small things to be thankful for, the things we usually pass over because life is going our way. Little things like beauty of a crisp, winter morning. The warmth of a fireplace. The wonderful aroma of something in the oven. The tenderness of a child’s hug. The joy in singing carols together. The gratitude of good health. The wonderment of unexpected gifts received. The goodness of God’s love.

I had to dig deep to find things to be thankful for, and what I found I always had. These things had always been a part of my life, but I never noticed until they were all I had.

This year is a quiet year for my family. There is nothing dark or looming in our lives (a first for us in a long time). But because of our past, I find my heart turning towards all I have to be grateful for. Every morning I wake up and I thank God for our home, for our church, for our family, for our health. And then I thank God for the little things too.

How about you? Are you having a hard time finding something to be thankful for this year? What is something little you can find, perhaps something you never saw before? Share in the comments below 🙂

How to Create a Steampunk Costume

For the last two weeks I said I would share how I created my own steampunk costume, including some things I made myself or how I cut the cost on some of my items. One thing I love about steampunk is its variety and eclectic style. There is really no right or wrong way to create a steampunk costume. The very nature of steampunk is pulling odds and ends together. So feel free to pick and choose what you want to create your style.

When I first started thinking about my own costume, I knew I wanted a corset. There is something elegant about a corset. But I didn’t want to wear a Victorian gown. I wanted something more spunky and adventurous. So when I went to choose my corset, I spent days searching out Pinterest and steampunk sites figuring out what style I wanted.

The most expensive part of my costume was my corset, but that was fine since—for me—that was the most important part. I created the rest of my costume around the corset. After searching, I settled with a steel boned, overbust, brown brocade corset and love it! For those of you wanting numbers, it was about $80. Note: you will need to take your measurements carefully in order to get the right corset. Steampunk costume

Once I had my corset, it was time to add all the other pieces. First thing I did was search my closet for a shirt or blouse and skirt. Why buy something when I might already have what I’m looking for? I found a cute peasant shirt that looked perfect with the corset. Cost? $0 🙂

Unfortunately, I needed to buy a skirt. So I started popping into clothing stores whenever I was at the mall. I knew I wanted the skirt to be brown, but I wasn’t sure about long or short. I wasn’t in a hurry, so I was able to be casual about my search. After a couple months, I found a knee length skirt with lots of creases and natural wrinkles, giving it a worn look (perfect for that adventurous look I wanted). Cost? $20.

All right, I now had a shirt, skirt, and corset, but needed something for my feet. And with a knee length skirt, I knew I wanted boots. I expanded my search to include online and thrift stores. Note: You can find some awesome things at thrift stores, so pop in and look. I ended up not only finding a pair of boots, but some small ivory kid gloves at a local thrift store. I wanted gloves too, but could never find leather gloves small enough for my hands that didn’t go above my budget. The gloves were the wrong color and not fingerless (which I wanted), but I figured at $1 I could experiment and try making my own gloves. And the boots were $3.

Steampunk costume

Dying gloves was definitely an experiment. I tried different dyes, resulting in different colors, the last one being a dark hunter green. Nice color, but not the color I wanted. My husband had one more idea and brought home some shoe polish. I thought sure, why not, and rubbed the polish into the gloves. Not only did they turn out the right shade of brown, the polish made the gloves look like leather (score!). I then cut the tips off and had my own fingerless gloves! The only problem I ran into was a small bit of the polish came off after wearing the gloves for a couple hours, but it was hardly anything and worth the leathery look.

For my head, I had a couple options (top hat, goggles, lace, etc…). Since I was going for that spunky look (and wanted something to hold my hair back), I went with goggles. I found a pair online for $10, but they were black. So I bought a can of brown spray with texture, covered up the goggle part with tape, and sprayed them a nice brown that matched the rest of my outfit.

I finally had my costume and could now customize if I wanted to. I found a wire necklace at a hobby shop and a key charm. Total: $6. I found a watch with a leather band and charms online for $2. And I found a pocket watch which I technically got for free during a bogo event, but would have cost $15.

So after months/years of casual searching at the mall, thrift stores, and online, I spent a total of $135 on my costume, $80 of it on my corset. I’m sure I could have found a skirt at a thrift store and saved even more, but $135 on a costume I will wear every year at cons, book signings, and parties is not bad 🙂

So how can you create your own steampunk costume without breaking the bank?

First, decide what look you are going for. Western? Victorian? Adventure? Elegant?

Second, decide what piece(s) are important enough to you to spend money on.

Third, take the time to look. The wonderful thing about steampunk is you can find all sorts of fun and strange things for your costume in places other than a costume store. Try thrift stores, army surplus, flea markets, and online.

Fourth, make it your own. Want cogs? Go for it. Want lots of lace? Go for it. Steam prosthetic? Go for it. There are not set rules for steampunk. Have fun and be creative!

Steampunk costume

Painfully Shy

For as long as I can remember, I have always been scared of people. One of my first memories is busting into tears when my mom asked me to go ask the cashier a question. I couldn’t do it! Talking to a person—any person—terrified me. I never grew out of this fear. Every time school started, whether I was starting a new school or returning to an old one, I would feel sick as I walked into class. For the longest time I never played sports or joined clubs because of this fear.

However, as I grew older, I grew more adapt at hiding my fear. My mother taught me to always have a list of questions ready to ask people so I wouldn’t feel trapped in those awkward pauses. I would hide in the bathroom and calm down before coming out with a confident smile on my face. And if things became too much, I could go hide in the corner, or better yet—go home.

In college I discovered I was an introvert which means I gain energy from being alone, but lose energy around people. Great! There are people like me! Until one day I asked my husband if he felt like throwing up every time he met someone new. He gave me the strangest look and said no. Wait, I thought everyone felt nervous when meeting new people (or needed a barf bag). There were actually people out there who didn’t feel this fear?

The more I asked this question, the more I realized that even most introverts are not shy, they simply cannot be around people for a long time since it drains their energy reserves. I, on the other hand, not only have my energy drained, I’m petrified when I’m around people.

A double whammy. Introvert and shy. And no matter what I do, both of these traits are built into my DNA. I cannot change either characteristic, they are part of my core being.

Because of that, I’m still shy. I shared a couple years ago when I attended my first American Christian Fiction Writers conference I took the elevator down, saw all the people, and took the elevator right back up to my room and hid for an hour. Even last week as I was driving to my book release party, I felt ill and wanted nothing more than to hide in the bathroom. Instead, I prayed and got out of my car. Admittedly, it took me about ten minutes before I felt comfortable walking around the room and greeting people.

I write this because there are others out there like me, although we have never met because we were most likely hiding in our hotel rooms or bathroom ;). I decided I would not let my shyness cripple my life. Every time I am afraid to meet someone or take a chance (like teaching a class), I consider what I would regret if I didn’t do it. My desire more often outweighs my fear. It’s like jumping off the high dive, you don’t spend a lot of time thinking about it or you will convince yourself it’s not worth it, when it is. Instead, you jump.

So if you meet me at a conference, party, or even church and I have a green tint to my face, it’s not you, it’s just me fighting my shyness. Give me a moment and I’ll be ready to talk :). And if you are shy, take the plunge (and have your barf bag ready!).

My Mother Prepared Me for the Zombie Apocalypse

Zombie

As you know, today is Mother’s Day. Everywhere I look, people are talking about how special their mom is and what she has done for them. I wanted to take it up a notch. What makes my mother so special? Then it hit me: she gave me the skills to survive a zombie apocalypse.

For as long as I can remember, we were always in the kitchen cooking with mom. Considering she is a home economics teacher, previous restaurant owner, and award-winning cook, that’s not a surprise. She taught me to cook anything and everything. And if I didn’t know how to cook something, to look it up. How many people know how to cook? Or to improvise in their cooking? Yeah, that skill will keep me alive should the zombie apocalypse occur.

I also know how to sew. Not very well, mind you, but I can sew a seam and know the basics, all thanks to my mom. She tried to teach me more, but I was never destined to be a seamstress. However, if the zombie apocalypse lingers, I will be able to make my own clothing and blankets. I will be surviving in style! Or at least clothed 😉

My mother taught me to share everything I have, whether I have plenty or little. We always had room at the table for a guest and floorspace when someone needed a place to stay. I would practice that same hospitality during the zombie apocalypse. Mi casa es su casa. Or would that be mountain fortress?

My mother also taught me to make friends. I was a shy, introverted little girl who was afraid of everyone. She showed me how to make friends, how to ask people about themselves instead of thinking about myself, and always have a list of questions ready so the conversation would keep going (this list has saved me many times from those awkward pauses that send me into a panic attack!). Who knows, maybe the whole apocalypse occurs because of a misunderstanding with the zombies? Maybe they just want to be friends 😉

On a serious note, my mother taught me many, many things that I take for granted everyday. She prepared me for life and then let me go. That is what a mother does: she gives you wings, but she doesn’t fly for you. Instead, she cheers you on as you hop out of the nest and soar into the world. Thank you, mom. You are one of the people God used to prepare me for life and you did a great job. I hope I can do the same for my own children.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Moving On

Today was our last day at our current church. During this next week, we will be moving halfway across the country to California and starting a brand new life and a brand new ministry. A friend today summed exactly how I am feeling right now: caught in midair between two cliffs.

We’ve just jumped and let go of our life here in Kansas, but we haven’t quite grabbed a hold of our new life in California. So we are in midair, praying we land on the other side. Or, as my son said later, we are at the top of a roller coaster and just starting the descendant and have that feeling of weightlessness in our middle (by the way, I hate roller coasters and that feeling, but it fits how I am feeling right now).

We are excited to start our new adventure, but will miss a lot of the people God brought into our lives here. It is a bittersweet feeling. But as another friend said during our good-bye potluck, we’re not really saying good-bye. For Christians, there are no permanent good-byes, just long time-intervals until we see each other again, most likely in a better place.

I like that idea.

In the meantime, I will enjoy these delicious cinnamon rolls given to us by a wonderful lady from our Kansas church. Cinnamon rolls help with weightlessness, right? 😉

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Christmas Traditions

With Christmas less than a week away, I am getting ready for our yearly traditions. Some of our traditions date back to when I was a kid, some of them even further than that. Some of them reflect my family’s heritage, some of them our beliefs. And some of them are just plain fun! So I thought I would share some of our traditions with you.

For as long as I can remember, someone in my family would make lefse for Christmas (pronounced lef-saw). Lefse is a soft Norwegian flatbread made from potatoes. My great grandmother, my grandmother, and my mother all would make this flatbread and we would eat it with coffee or tea. Usually lefse is topped with butter, sugar, and cinnamon, then rolled up and consumed. Yum!

Another tradition is serving snacks and finger foods on Christmas Eve. It was a tradition I brought from my family, and with Dan busy with candlelight services on Christmas Eve, it became the perfect and no-fuss way to celebrate Christmas Eve.

Also on Christmas Eve we give our children new pajamas and let them sleep under the Christmas tree. The pajama idea came from Dan’s side of the family and the sleeping under the tree was our own. The kids look forward  to sleeping under the tree every year.

Christmas Tree
My Christmas tree this year 🙂

On Christmas morning, our kids are allowed to wake up whenever they want and open their stockings (so the parents can sleep in a little bit longer). Then we join together to read the Christmas story and take turns picking one gift from under the tree to open. Opening gifts can take over an hour and everyone enjoys the gifts, both giving and receiving.

Then we spend the rest of the day playing with new toys, playing games, reading, and eating my famous lasagna. We end Christmas with a birthday cake to remember it is Jesus’ day of birth we are celebrating.

So that’s my family’s traditions. How about yours? How does your family celebrate Christmas? Are there traditions you celebrate that have been passed down each generation? When you married, did each of you bring a tradition to your new family? What is your favorite tradition?

Reader Group

Daughter of Light

Hi everyone! Due to some changes coming to Facebook in 2015, I have decided to start a closed readers group for my readers. It will be a place to connect with me, find out any news including cover reveals, book releases, etc…, and talk with each other. To sign up, just send me a request 🙂 Here is the link: Readers of Morgan L. Busse

If that is a little too personal for you, feel free to sign up to receive my posts via your email (upper left hand corner) or if you are only interested in book news, sign up for my newsletter. Looking forward to getting to know you all more and sharing some upcoming news in 2015!

The Power of a Smile

Vacations have the ability to be both wonderful and highly stressful at the same time. Things fall through and your expectations are not met, and without realizing it, the grumpy look steals across your face.

I had a great time in Oregon a few weeks ago, but there were a few hiccups during our trip. For example, we got into Portland after midnight (2am home time) and we are more than ready to check into our hotel and go to bed. But when we arrived at the counter, they told us they had overbooked and had no room for us (panic!). So we were shipped off to another hotel and finally went to bed around 1:30am.

Not a great start to our vacation.

Then the next morning I had to go get our rental car from downtown Portland (half the price if we picked it up there, so being the budget conscious people we are, we went with that option). This country girl hasn’t driven in a big city in a loooong time. Cue another panic attack, this time in the middle of traffic. By the time I got back to our hotel, I was frazzled.

Dan and I don’t fight a lot, maybe 2-3 times a year. But between energetic kids (hey, they’ve been trapped in a car for 8 hours, airport for a couple more, and now a hotel), no sleep, bad coffee, and shot nerves, we were at each other’s throats.

At one point, I stormed into the bathroom. I was done. Then I caught a glance of myself in the mirror and recoiled back. I looked awful, not because of lack of makeup or a bad hair day, but because what I was feeling inside was definitely showing on the outside. And it was ugly.

Smile.

The thought popped into my head.

No way! I don’t feel like smiling.

Just smile, the voice kept urging.

Wow, it felt like I was lifting a hundred pounds with my lips. I forced my mouth to curve upward until I looked like my old self again.

Let me tell you, it was an amazing transformation. My heart felt lighter, I looked better, I felt better.

From that moment on, I decided I was going to smile the entire trip. Every time I realized my lips had dipped down, I forced them back up. I wanted to be beautiful, both on the inside and the outside, and knew from my mirror experience that a smile could do that.

And it worked. It helped me refocus on what mattered, on enjoying my time instead of letting setbacks make me grumpy, and being an overall nice person to be around.

My trip is over, but I learned a huge lesson from it. Smiling changes us. Maybe some people can fake a smile, but I can’t. If I am going to smile, I have to change my attitude first. What a difference that little action made, both in my heart and across my face.

So I challenge you to smile today, especially when you don’t feel like it. Trust me, it will make a world of difference inside of you 🙂

 

The Beauty of Oregon

After planning and saving for over a year, my family finally went back to the state we called home for many years: Oregon. If you have never been to the Pacific Northwest, you are missing out on what I would consider one of the most beautiful places on Earth.

Many of the places in my Follower of the Word series are based on actual places I have visited or lived, including Oregon. For example, the coastal country and city of Avonai are based on the couple years I spent on the Oregon coast. In fact, watching how the ocean changed each day inspired the Avonain race and their connection to the sea (and how their eyes changed color with the moods of the ocean). For more on these people, check out my post The Sea People of Avonai.

Anyway, enough talk. It is said a picture is worth a thousand words and I have some beautiful pictures to share from my trip. Enjoy!Oregon CoastThis is the Pacific Ocean on our first day. A nice, calming gray.

Oregon CoastEnjoying a walk along the beach.

Oregon CoastA sunny day on the beach. Look at how blue that water and sky is, and all that white sand! However, you wouldn’t really want to go swimming. It was around 60 degrees while we were there.

Cascade MountainsAfter a couple days on the beach, we headed up into the mountains, far away from civilization (including cell service, internet, showers, and toilets lol). But who wouldn’t trade all that for this kind of view from the porch of your cabin? And for those who are wondering that is Mount Jefferson.

Cascade MountainsWent hiking into an area that was devastated by a wild fire a couple years ago. You can’t see it in the picture, but there were wildflowers everywhere, a reminder that beauty can rise from ashes.

Cascade MountainsLast picture. I was on another hike and found this meadow and pond. We hiked up to a lake and went swimming. Not for very long, though. The water was freezing! This particular trail intersected with the PCT (Pacific Crest Trail), a famous hiking and equestrian trail that runs the length of the US from Mexico to Canada 100-150 miles east of the Pacific coast.

So that’s my trip, and what a wonderful trip it was. I hope someday I can go back and revisit all of these wonderful places.

How about you? What is your favorite place to visit?