Category Archives: Personal

When You Love a Dog…

It’s never easy when a pet passes away. At least I can say that Gracie looked as peaceful and loving as she always did in life. Today I figured I would write a post about her since all my other animals have a blog post dedicated to them.

Gracie wasn’t a rescue like all of our other animals. She was a dog my husband wanted for a very long time. When the time to pick her out of the litter, I told my husband I wanted a female and a runt so that she would stay small because we never knew what kind of house we would be living in or the size of the yard. The moment we saw that friendly, squirmy ball of red fur, we knew she was the dog for us.

Anyone who has known us for any length of times knows that we have moved a lot. Not sure why, other than that is what God has allowed in our lives. The other day I was telling Dan the only two consistent things in my life apart from God have been my family and my pets. Gracie moved to four different states with us and lived in numerous houses. And she took in all in stride.

Not only that, she was always welcoming people into our home. If you came over to our house, Gracie would lick your face off if I let her, and she would put her foot on yours to show she didn’t want you to leave. She also thought she was a lap dog and would try and climb into people’s laps 🙂

After we had to put our dachshund down, Gracie was lost without her little friend. Eventually we adopted a Jack Russel mix to fill the void left behind. Our Bella loved her big sister. She was always playing with Gracie and Gracie was so gentle with her new little friend. Yesterday the two were frolicking in the backyard and chasing birds.

This morning Gracie was sleeping in the chair I bought for her at a thrift store years ago (Dan would poke fun at me that I bought our dog a comfy chair to sleep in. She loved that thing!). I started joking with her about getting old and sleeping so hard she didn’t even wake up to chase the cat out of the house when I realized something was different. I shook her and she never stirred. That’s when it hit me. She had passed on.

GracieI thought I had more years with Gracie, but sadly that wasn’t meant to be. We believe she died of a stroke, fast and quick, right there in her chair. I take comfort in the fact that she never had to fight cancer or come to a place where we had to make a decision. Instead, she looked as peaceful and loving in death as she did in life. The Bible doesn’t say what happens to animals when they pass on, but I do know that God loves his creation and knows when even a single bird dies. Because of his great love, I know Gracie is in the best hands possible now.

But we sure will miss her!

 

Moving Again

This week begins the crazy week of moving. Again. Yes, we are moving again. When I first found out we were going to have to move in a couple weeks, I cried. I thought we have to be the family with the worst luck in the world! (If you’ve known me for any length of time, you know we seem to move every 1-2 years for reasons usually outside our control). Even worse, I cannot seem to have a book release without moving.

So as I started to settle deep into my pity party, God gently nudged me and reminded me of something: yes, we’ve had to move a lot (like over 15 times over the last 15 years), and yeah, it sucks. But…He has provided a place for us to move to every single time. And not only has He provided a place for us to move to, each home has allowed us to keep our pets, which is hugely important to me. I would live in my van in order to keep my dogs 🙂

That’s a lot of homes that have taken a risk on us and allowed us to have our animals. If you’ve ever had to find a rental, it’s hard to find a place that allows pets. Especially 2 dogs and 2 cats. More than that, every house has had four bedrooms, which has been a blessing for a family of six. Within the amount we could spend on rent.

That’s amazing!

God changed my attitude that day. I no longer said woe is me, I have to move again. Instead, I watched as God—once again—provided us with a home that fit our family and animals.

It’s still not easy to move. You say good-bye to wonderful neighbors, familiar neighborhoods, and schools. And moving furniture is hard! But it will happen, and next week I will be exploring our new neighborhood while walking my dogs.

So if you think about me and my family, pray for us. And if you are in a similar circumstance of looking for a new home, remember, you’re not alone. God is with you and knows your needs, and He always provides.

*This time we are not moving to another city or state, just to a new rental for those of you worried we are leaving California 😉

 

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!