Tuesday, May 27, 2014

From Rough to Polished: Carved By Heart Offers House Number Signs

One of the fun things about wood is that it can be crafted into so many useful and beautiful things. Take this box of wood we have. It can be used to make lots of projects, allowing us to repurpose old wood into something new.

From pine, crabapple, and even douglas fir, we have made many cherished items for the home. Pictured is a lamp carved from a dying crabapple tree.

Our house signs are popular items that get us many requests. We have signs for under the mailbox and those that can be attached onto the side of a house or hung from a lamp post.

Each sign is carved, sanded, painted, sanded again, and finished. We leave nothing untouched. Even the back sides of our signs are finished.

Some want an under-the-mailbox sign, carved on both sides. We assist with mounting instructions with each order.

We take custom orders and love to personalize.

Visit our Carved By Heart shop on Etsy to see more of what we offer and let us make a customized item for you.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

The Battle We Lost

It can make you feel that you're sinking or suffocating, or going through a little of both.

Eighteen years have passed and you'd think the damage would be over. Battle complete. Troops moved out. Rebuild. On to business as usual.

If only we were made that way.

As the holiday weekend approaches, I watch the men and women in uniform being honored, the waving Red, White, and Blue, read the grocery store specials on ground beef and chips, and feel this overwhelming ache. There stands what only I can fully see---a little boy in a Barney T-shirt and a pair of shorts. The boy needs a hair cut. His Mama wishes she'd taken care of that.

But in one second, a hair cut is forgotten. Because the boy needs so much more. He needs immediate surgery, a Broviac catheter inserted into his back running to his heart for chemo. Later he will need radiation. And stronger chemo. And prayers.

After the first week of chemo, hair falls out in clumps, sprawled out on the back seat of the dusty green van. A hair cut is not needed. His five-year-old sister cries when she sees his blond strands and balding head. "It's so sad," she whispers. We buy him a red ball cap to wear, one with dinosaurs. We buy him a blue one, too. He wears them for a few days, but when his head is smooth and shiny, he goes cap-less.

I recall how friends from church were driving in their van and passed us. I saw their smiles and knew that they were on their way to the Memorial Day church picnic. They turned right; we veered left toward the hospital. That image remains.

Every year for me, Memorial Day marks the beginning of the end. Eighteen years later and it feels just like yesterday when I sat on the sofa the Friday of Memorial Day weekend in 1996. The cordless phone was in my hand. The pediatrician told me that my son had a malignant tumor in his neck. The war raged from that day on, and on February 2, 1997, it ceased. All the surgeries, the chemo, the fight, the hope, the prayers-----over.

There was no victory; we lost.

Every year on Memorial Day weekend I am reminded of how much we lost.

Pushing it aside does no good. I have to acknowledge my heartache-----own it, for it is mine.

That's how we mamas are made.

And so I write on my blog and for some reason, that helps. Writing unleashes some of the ache so I can go to the picnics, hear the bands play, watch the fireworks. Writing keeps me from shattering like a bullet fired in the dark night.

For me, Memorial Day honors all of our soldiers---those here and those here only in the delicate arms of memory.

Monday, May 12, 2014

World Blog Tour

I'm glad to be part of the World Blog Tour! First I am going to introduce a fellow author, Diane Tatum. Then per the Blog Tour instructions, I'll tell you a bit about myself and why I write what I write.

Diane Tatum grew up in St. Louis, MO. She started writing her own stories in elementary school. Her first novel grew out of a short story she wrote in high school. College was a detour to a Bachelor’s degree in Accounting and Business Administration and later a Masters in Teaching Language Arts. Between degrees, she stayed home raising her boys and began writing again. She started freelance writing for magazines and church Sunday school curriculum. She also finished her novel, Gold Earrings.

After teaching middle school language arts in Tullahoma City Schools for 11 years, she retired with her husband’s encouragement to write the historical fiction books that she had been starting and saving on her computer. Gold Earrings was published in 2011. She has started a generational series of historical fiction novels set in American history. The first in that series is Colonial Dream and is completed. She has started the second in the series set in 1809, Transforming Bitterness Into Joy. The third book in the series is set during the Civil War is completed, A Time to Choose. She has also added college professor to her resume teaching English as an adjunct professor for Motlow State Community College.

Read more about Diane at her blog.

Now I get to answer these four questions.

1) What am I working on?

I am breaking from novel writing and cultivating bits and pieces of what keeps me up at nights----the desire to write a memoir. My agent is currently pitching this memoir titled I Came To Life Late. Yep, that title says it all, doesn't it? Everyone else seems to have things figured out and I am still out in the cold wondering where the front door to get into the party is. That's been me as a child and even as an adult! The memoir reflects on my childhood in Japan as a missionary kid and also how my past illusions about life have kept me from living life as it really is----tough, filled with disappointments and multiple heartache, and in need of God's grace, mercy and patience. As I write, I want most of all to be authentic in my story, not taking the easy way out by sugar-coating anything and that includes my marriage, my financial woes, my children, and the death of my four-year-old son Daniel. I know that there are many----especially women and mothers----who expected their lives and families to turn out differently than they have. This memoir is for them, a way of holding their hands and encouraging them to keep on looking up. As long as there is breath, there is hope.

2) How does my work differ from others in my genre?

Since I have five novels published (with the sixth due out this fall), I'll focus on them when answering this question. I think that my published novels are a bit more literary and quirky than many who write inspirational fiction. I like to write in first person, it makes it easier for me than third. My novels are also less subtle in their Christian message because I want to entertain first and master that. People pick up my novels to be entertained and so I want to deliver a well-crafted story in the best way I know how.

3) Why do I write what I write?

I love to have that unique voice and am working hard to improve it with each novel and story I create. My characters are flawed and in need of mercy. I want readers to know that they are not alone in their struggles and heartache. There is a God who listens, is full of compassion and love.

4) How does my writing process work?

I get an idea that usually comes to me on one of my walks, jot down the story briefly, make a chapter by chapter outline and go from there. Ideally, I like to write about three hours every morning. But I have to admit that I don't live in an ideal environment.

One thing I must say is that I don't always follow directions or read the instructions, and today will show you an example of that. I was to invite three other authors to participate in this tour. They were to post on May 19th. Here it is May 12th, and as I craft this post, I realize I am behind because I have yet to ask anyone to be the bloggers for that date.

So here is what I am going to do. (This breaks all the rules, but like I said, I often don't follow instructions well.) If you are a Christian author of books and would like to be part of this tour, then email me. I need three authors to sign up, three authors willing to host me on their blog by including my book covers and a photo of me and then answer the four questions about the writing process. Next is to get three other authors of their choice lined up to post on their blogs. This is sort of like one of those chain letters. Your three authors you ask to post will post on May 26th. Confused? Obviously, I have been too. Email me at awisler3@gmail.com. I will have had another cup of hot tea by then and will be able to explain it all to you. :-)

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Songs From Heaven

One night after my son Daniel died, I was out on our deck, thinking of him. When wasn’t I thinking of him? Who is going to remember this little four-year-old who ran outside naked to pick tomatoes from the garden? I wondered who, besides me, would recall his laughter and kisses—his life had been too short. Then the words, almost as though brought to me from Heaven herself, came: “Who will remember those who no longer sing on earth? We, who hear their songs from Heaven.”

The verse was first placed on glossy postcards with stars, and shared with those who had also had children die. But it expanded to anyone who had lost a loved one. A woman was sent one of the Songs From Heaven cards when her husband died, and to this day, she keeps it on her fridge door because it brings her solace.

Years later, when my husband and I opened our Carved By Heart shop, we created a plaque with the words. How meaningful it would be if people could add the name of their loved one under the verse that meant so much to me and to others. The plaque could be for either indoor display or outdoor, like at a gravesite, or in a garden. As orders came in, we were grateful to be able to offer these plaques to others with holes in their hearts.

We also thought of a plaque that could encase a memento (a shell from a beach trip, a trinket from a vacation in the mountains) as well as a color photo of a loved one. The plaques could tell the story of a special day or a week, and so our Story of a Memory plaque was designed.

Our memorial plaques are made of solid red oak, carved with love. We want to encourage others to recall their memories, whether they were many or few—it is important to remember with love.

Stop by our shop to see the remembrance items we have for you. Email us with ideas you’d like to see on a plaque. Our slogan is, “If you think it; we carve it.” We enjoy working with customers to create something memorable and fresh. Visit us at Carved By Heart.

~ Alice J. Wisler, author of Getting Out of Bed in the Morning: Reflections of Comfort in Heartache, speaker, writing instructor, blogger, and mom to Daniel (August 25, 1992-February 2, 1997).