At somewhere around 10 years old, I knew I had to write. I started with a tiny diary and progressed to poetry, short stories, and personal essays. A planner by nature, I quickly developed a filing system of magazine and anthology submissions, publishing houses I wanted to target, and story ideas I planned to pursue. By 18, I was desperate to publish a book. But I felt like something crucial was missing: life experience. I'd yet to experience heartbreak or tragedy or any real angst, and I felt like every character I wrote was flat. Looking back, I think I simply didn't trust my imagination.

For a while, I found my groove with journalism. I wrote for local newspapers and a couple of small magazines, And then, for a long while, I stopped writing.

It was, apparently, time to have some life experiences--expected and surprising, planned and unplanned, welcome and despised. Namely: marriage, a miscarriage, infertility struggles, international adoption, a move across the country and away from friends and family, my husband's sudden and severe illness...and all sorts of things in between.

For about six years, I was immersed in life, all dreams of writing set aside indefinitely. I was too busy learning how to survive a Houston summer, bake a six-layer rainbow cake, navigate the school system with four kids, and build a new home-base of friends. I taught private piano lessons for a time, volunteered at school and church, researched doctors and dragged my husband to appointments...and filled every waking hour until I'd lost all my margins.

Then came the spring of 2013.

My sister Shirlee convinced me to enter a writing contest. As soon as I started writing again, I remembered why I loved it and how much I needed it. A year later, I signed a contract for my first book. For a couple of days, it was a dream come true. Then I started the revision process and became a certifiable basket case until my husband basically told me to get a hold of myself. Actually, what he said was, "Something has to change."

So we dropped pretty much every non-vital activity.

I rediscovered unscheduled time, and I tasted my dreams again for the first time in over a decade. I took up teaching English at a local community college, started writing for a local magazine, and continued to work on my next book.

In November 2016, however, one of our daughters was diagnosed with cancer, and our entire world shifted. By the grace and power of God, Aaliyah survived and was declared NED (No Evidence of Disease) in September 2017. Not a day has passed since her initial diagnosis that I am not reminded that our life is a tiny breath in the face of eternity - and I want to make it count. What that looks like for me? Slowing down. Connecting with friends and loved ones. Caring for people in need. Pursuing the career I know deep in my soul I was born to do, and living "like there's no tomorrow."

Lord, remind me how brief my time on earth will be. Remind me that my days are numbered - how fleeting my life is. You have made my life no longer than the width of my hand. My entire lifetime is just a moment to you; at best, each of us is but a breath. -Psalm 39:4-5