• Tag Archives Amanda Tru
  • To Be Seen…

    So I haven’t written a blog post in a very long time. I intended to… just like I have intended to use Instagram, Twitter, Goodreads, Pinterest, Bookbub, Facebook ads, Amazon Ads and a few others authors swear by. But I have very limited time, and usually, all my best writer-y intentions go out the window when teaching a little girl to tie her shoes is my most important task for the day. I have been sending out a monthly newsletter, and I’m super proud of myself for that. I can’t brag that I have the best (or any) advertising for my books, but every month, people around the world get a real-life, encouraging, and hopefully inspiring email from me. That’s where a lot of my potential “blog posts “have gone. My newsletters are personal, and I guess I feel more comfortable writing my personal experiences and thoughts to be read by my “reader friends” rather than an open letter for all the internet to read.

    However, something happened this week. I intended to write about it in my newsletter. Knowing what to write is a huge relief just about every month. But then I felt the strong conviction that what I wanted to write needed to be shared in a blog post, and I needed to do it sooner rather than later. I feel the Lord saying that someone needs to hear the words I need to write. So I’m putting aside my long-to-do list and all of my “shoulds.” I’ll have to figure out my newsletter topic later. If you’re a subscriber, we can be surprised together by what I will write. For now, I’m sitting on the floor of a basketball gym with my laptop while my son practices, and I’m listening to the insistent whisper urging me to tell the story you need to hear.

    Earlier this week, I dropped my son off at basketball practice at his school and was driving home around 4:30 in the afternoon. The elementary school had released about forty minutes prior. As I drove down the road, I noticed a group of students walking down the sidewalk. That’s pretty typical. A lengthy sidewalk extends from the elementary school, past fields, eventually leads into town. Though it’s definitely not a short walk, students often walk home this direction. However, I noticed that a small girl trailed behind the other kids. As I passed her, I saw her tiny frame and estimated that she was a kindergartener, probably around five years old.

    And I saw she was crying.

    After I passed, I literally said aloud, “Nope, I can’t do that.” I couldn’t go on my way and pretend I hadn’t seen her. It’s almost like I had a conversation with God right there. “I guess you want me to turn around, God, because You know I can’t unsee that.” God knew that I couldn’t ignore a child.  If God asked the question of who would pass by a crying child and turn around, I’d raise my hand and say, “Me. It’s me.” I couldn’t continue home without making sure that little girl was okay. You see, I once wrote a book called A Cinderella Christmas, and its message convicts me on almost a daily basis. I try to notice those on the sidelines of my life. And if I see someone in need, I try to never walk away. Especially a child.

    Of course, the doubts immediately attacked. There was no place along the road to pull off. How could I check on her? I didn’t know her. Even if I managed to stop and approach her, would she freak out that I was a stranger? Would my efforts make it worse? Would it be considered creepy to stop my car and address a child I didn’t know?

    But I couldn’t walk away. I went to the next street and turned around, still doubting myself and having no idea what to do. I made another pass, wondering what to do. As I passed this time, I saw one of the older kids walking back to her, and I was so relieved. There! The other boy was going to help her. Everything would be okay, and I wouldn’t need to do anything after all. I went down the road and turned around again. Now I was worried that the kids would notice my minivan passing them multiple times and freak out!

    But I told myself this would be my last pass on my way home. Unfortunately, I saw that the older boy was still a ways away from the little girl. My gaze fell to her face one last time. And I saw her tears still drawing her features in heart-wrenching sadness.

    “Nope. Can’t do it.”

    I went back to my previous turn around spot and swung around once again. This time, I drove back down the road with determination. I found a slightly wide section of dirt on the right, and I pulled my minivan off the road as far as I could. Without hesitation, I hopped out of my car and crossed the street.

    “Is she your sister?” I asked the boy.

    “Yes,” he answered.

    “She is crying. Is she okay?”

    “She just doesn’t want to walk anymore,” he explained. “She wants me to give her a piggyback ride, but I can’t because I have my backpack.”

    I approached the little girl and spoke gently. “I saw you were sad, and I want to make sure you’re okay.”

    She looked up at me. My goodness, she was adorable! Her teary dark eyes blinked up at me. Her downturned mouth curved up. She tipped her head back and looked up at me, her face transforming with wonder. It was like seeing the sun come out from behind the clouds when you’d just experienced a storm so bad you doubted its existence.

    “You saw I was sad?” she asked, her little voice mixing with wonder and profound relief.

    “Yes. Are you okay?”

    I looked down and saw that snow boots encased her little feet. No wonder she couldn’t walk! I bent down and tried to adjust the boots, but there was nothing I could do. They weren’t going to fit her better, and there was no way I could fix them to be more comfortable.

    I brainstormed with the kids, trying to figure out what to do. I found out that they lived in the subdivision at the end of the road. Looking down the long sidewalk still ahead, I knew it was way too far away. The little girl’s feet must be hurting so bad. I knew she was telling the complete truth when she said she couldn’t walk anymore. It wasn’t practical for the boy to give her a piggyback ride for that distance either. I asked if they knew their mom’s phone number and I could give her a call. But they didn’t.

    I felt that the only option was to give them a ride. But in this day and age, I had no idea if that would be considered okay and if they would be comfortable with that.

    “I’m a mom, and I help out at the school,” I began.

    “I know you,” the boy said proudly. “You’re Levi’s mom!”

    Such relief. “Yes, I am!” I finally looked at him enough to recognized him as being in my son’s fifth grade class. I’m a regular volunteer in the classroom and the school. I’m probably a familiar face to many students. “So you know me. Do you think it would be okay with your mom if I give you a ride home? I’m not sure how else to help your sister. I don’t think she can walk anymore.”

    The boy eagerly agreed. “Oh, we’ve gotten rides before.”

    Right then, the few other kids who were ahead finally came running back to see what was going on. Turns out, one of them was another sister. And I recognized her immediately.

    “I know you!” she said with a toothless grin. “You’re Brielle’s mom!”

    I also volunteer frequently in my daughter’s class as well, and this little girl was in that class too!

    They were all eager and comfortable with me giving them a ride home. So I loaded them carefully in my minivan, made sure all seatbelts were properly clicked, and we set off.

    The boy directed me to his house, and they soon happily hopped out. I talked to the mom very briefly, explaining that I saw her daughter crying because she couldn’t walk anymore, and since the kids knew me from school, I gave them a ride home. She didn’t say much, but I did get an enthusiastic hug from one of the little girls.

    I finally made it home myself, but I couldn’t get the kids off my mind. I’d helped today, but what about tomorrow? Did the little girl even have shoes to walk? What if the snow boots were all she had? I sent a message to one of my teacher friends, explained the situation, and asked her if she could check to make sure the girl had shoes. Thankfully, she assured me she’d take care of it.

    I’m not sure how long the little girl would have had to try to walk home if I hadn’t come along. I’m so glad I didn’t look away and mind my own business. I’m glad I was able to help. But that little girl gave me something of greater value in return.

    I will forever remember the look on her face when I said, “I saw you were sad, and I want to make sure you’re okay.” She didn’t know who I was. She didn’t know how I saw her. To her, it probably seemed like I had just appeared. But in that moment, she truly felt seen. Someone saw and cared. Someone cared that she was sad and wanted to help, and that was wondrous. I think that she would have followed me anywhere simply because I had seen her, recognized she was sad, and cared enough to ask her about it.

    Just a few days before, I had read the Biblical passage in John when Jesus calls Nathanael. Jesus told Nathanael, “Before Phillip talked to you, I saw you under the fig tree.”  (John 1:48) I think we often gloss over that, thinking of it as the equivalent of, “Hey, I saw you standing over there on the street corner.” But I don’t think that was it. It had to be more than that. Others hadn’t seen Nathanael, otherwise it wouldn’t have been a significant thing to say. Something about Nathanael and the fig tree couldn’t have been known by others. Maybe Nathanael had been praying, confessing the secrets of his heart to the Lord. Maybe he’d been where no one else could have possibly seen him. Whatever it was, what Jesus told Nathanael was personal to him. It was significant and personal enough that it changed Nathanael’s life. Because of that one phrase, Nathanael followed Jesus, dedicating his life and his work in service to someone he’d just met.

    Nathanael felt seen.

    What I did for that little girl is what the Lord does for us. He sees us—every little insignificant detail, thought and feeling. All of the stuff we think no one else can possibly know? He sees that too. He knows when we are sad and when we can’t walk anymore. And He cares.

    The message came to me at the perfect time. I’ve been wrestling with a few things, often feeling that my prayers were meeting silence. Frustration was my companion on multiple fronts. And I heard the message: Even though it seems like I’m stuck on a very long road and my feet can’t take another step, God sees me. He sees that I’m sad. He sees all the reasons and all the frustrations. And He cares.

    He cares enough to arrange things for me and for you exactly as He did for that little girl. Even before her feet started hurting, he arranged for my son to have a 4:30 practice. He arranged for me to be the one to drive down that road at exactly the right time. He caused me to look and recognize sadness on a little girl’s face while traveling at 35 mph. He created me with a love of children, and He sent me knowing I would notice and not ignore. He gave me the idea for a book that I wrote several years ago—a book that haunts me enough that I turned around even though it would have been easier to mind my own business. He gave me the courage to be a rescuer even though I didn’t know how it would be perceived by others. He sent me to her at exactly that moment, knowing that I would meet her need—arranging things even before the need existed.

    Know that He’s working in that same intricate detail for your needs.

    Whereas I spoke to the girl within the confines of my limitations, the One speaking to you is limitless. He has provided the answers to your prayers even before you knew to pray. Just because you haven’t seen them yet does not mean they aren’t there. When you are exactly at the right spot in the road, your answer will appear even when you never saw it coming.

    This is the message He wants you to hear:

    “I see that you’re sad, and I’m going to make sure you’re okay.”

    May we look up at Him with the same wonder and relief of a five-year old little girl. And may we, in turn, notice those around us, not walk away, and give that same gift of making someone else truly feel seen.


  • What Went Wrong on a Date with Mr. Right

    What Went Wrong on a Date with Mr. Right

     

    I recently asked on my Facebook page if anyone had a great bad date story.

    Many events that happen in my books are versions of stories that I have experienced or heard about. For example, in my book The Random Acts of Cupid, the entire premise is based on something that happened to me in high school and the idea of what if it had ended differently.

    So if I ask a question, it’s only fair that I answer it as well.

    Although I never really dated much, I do have some great stories—my favorite being my first date with Brian, the man who would be my husband.

    I’ll spare you all the background of how we met (for now), and just tell you about our first official date. We decided to go fishing, since it was something we both love. The deal was that we would see who could catch the most fish. The loser would then have to pay for us to go see a movie afterward.

    We went to a local pond in the middle of the day, so the fishing wasn’t great. In fact, it was pretty lousy. However, I’m proud to say that I caught significantly more fish than he did.

    He caught zero. As in none. As in he never had a fish on his hook.

    I caught… one.

    Sure, it wasn’t huge.

    Ok, it was rather small.

    Maybe three inches.

    If I stretched it out on a ruler, and it held its breath.

    Seriously, I have no idea how the fish actually fit the hook in its mouth to be caught.

    But it counted, which meant that I WON!

    We drove to the movie theater, which was about an hour away, and talked the entire time. We parked and went into the theater to buy our movie tickets. The movie we wanted to see was The Mask of Zorro (So, I know this is dating me in a completely different way, but our first date was circa 18 years ago!).

    When we got to the line for tickets, Brian realized that he’d forgotten his wallet in the car. So back we went. At this point it was amusing, and I was certain his memory lapse was because he was enamored with me to the point of distraction!

    Midway through the parking lot, Brian realized that he couldn’t remember where he’d parked! Now, it was really funny.

    Eventually, he located his car and his wallet, and we headed back into the theater. Unfortunately, the show didn’t stop for Brian’s lost wallet. And car.

    By the time we got there, we were too late to see the movie. Now, it was absolutely hilarious. The next showing wasn’t for over an hour. With nothing else to do, we sat on a bench and waited. We talked the entire time, and it ended up being one of our fondest memories.

    We eventually did see the movie and had a great time. But looking back, I wouldn’t have wanted the date to go any other way. Sure, technically speaking, it had some big “fail” moments, but life is full of bumps. Our first date let us know that we could enjoy each other even if things go wrong.

    It just so happens that first date ended up being rather typical for us. Our dating experiences also included his car running out of gas in central California and us having to hitchhike to the nearest gas station.

    There was also the time Brian accidentally went swimming with his car keys in his pocket. They apparently parted ways at at the bottom of the reservoir, and we had to walk out of the canyon to get cell phone reception to call for help. Before he could locate another set of keys and pick the car up… it was towed. Needless to say, we were a little late and considerably poorer when embarking on our road trip to see his parents the next day.

    We didn’t have perfect dates. In fact, they were hilariously bad in terms of the number of things that went wrong. But I wasn’t looking for perfect. Life isn’t perfect, but if you can have someone beside you who is able to laugh at life’s imperfections, then life at least gets more fun.

    So when Brian asked me to marry him four years later, there was no question that I would say “yes.” Why? Someday I’ll write about how he proposed. (That one was as close to perfect as you can get.)

    Besides the fact that I loved him, I was also wise enough to realize that Mr. Right is the one you still like to be with, even when everything goes wrong.

    P.S. I’m always looking for hilariously bad date stories. What are yours? One day, I intend to write a sequel to The Random Acts of Cupid. A matchmaker series is going to need a considerable amount of wrong to find Mr. Right!


  • How to Screw Up a Really Great Art Project

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    How to Screw Up a Really Great Art Project

    (In 5 Easy Steps)

    Task: Make an art project about a book with your 6-year-old son for the library summer reading program.

     

    1. Have a fabulous idea.

    Well, he says he wants to do it on a Curious George book. You can work with that.

    Hmm… maybe something artsy from your childhood. Something fun that you remember doing with your mom.

    That’s it! A decoupage project! You can make a model of a hot air balloon like in Curious George and the Hot Air Balloon!

    curious george

    After all, you did a really cool one as a kid. Which means you’re pretty much an expert. And you can save time. You already know how to do it. It isn’t like you’ll need to waste time googling it. After all, it was only, what? 30 years ago. Piece of cake.

    1. Do the project completely wrong.

    Note to self: decoupage is not the same things as paper mache.

    As a child, you used decoupage to make a basket for your grandma for Christmas. As an adult, you once used paper mache to make a piñata (note the “once.” Never. Again.)

    Somehow these two techniques need to become tangled in your brain so that you remember the difference only after you have a mess of napkins and flour water. Yes, for those of you who don’t know decoupage (using a mixture of glue and water) makes things nice and shiny, while paper mache (using a mixture of flour and water) makes things, well, yucky.

    Big difference.

    1. Don’t get enough supplies.

    You really don’t need to buy more supplies. Save money. Just use what you have on hand. You know those birthday napkins that you never used from two years ago? Use those.

    No, it doesn’t matter that no store even carries that same design any more.

    Don’t worry about it. You’ll have enough.

    And if, on the off-chance you don’t, you can send your wonderful husband to the store at 7:00 in the morning before he goes to work, to find some that, well, don’t match and are still unusable anyway.

    1. Try to fix the mess when you remember how to actually do decoupage.

    Go over everything with the decoupage glue wash, so that now you have a shiny mess. Forget those nifty napkins your husband bought and just cover the holes with standard white napkins instead. After all, then you can decorate the white part with marker afterward.

    No, it won’t look like toilet paper. Promise.

    No, it won’t look like dirty toilet paper when the color underneath comes through. Double promise.

    1. Label the Monster.

    Maybe if you name the monster, it won’t be so scary.

    Everything is dried. All the pieces are attached. It doesn’t look great, but it sort of looks like a hot air balloon, and after the hours you and your son have already put into the thing, you’re calling it.

    Last step is to label it with the title of the book.

    You have to do this part. As fantastically smart as your 6-year-old is, you can not trust him to do this right. It needs to be legible. It needs to be spelled correctly.

    Here we go. Permanent black marker in hand. Positioned over the (sort of) white toilet paper at the top of the hot air balloon. Curious George and the Hot Air Balloon. Curious George…

    C-H-U…

    IMG_6953

    Why doesn’t that look right? What’s wrong with it?

    Of course you spell Curious, C-H-U—cue hysterical laughter.

    Then hurriedly draw a hot air balloon over your mistake and get the 6-year-old to come “fix” the rest of it. If anybody asks, he can honestly say that, yes, that part the looks like it was drawn by a 6-year-old was in fact his very own work. Because you’re an awesome mom like that. You let the kids do their own work. Even if it looks bad. Pride of ownership. Make your own mistakes. Clichés all packed and ready. Turn that monster in!

    IMG_6954

     

    And there you have it, the full free tutorial on how to screw up a really great art project. In our next installment, I will be writing about how to screw up licking an envelope. Challenging, I know, but this super-mommy has done it, and will show you how to do it too.

     


  • Tru Stories 2.0

    I am very fortunate that I get to live out my dream of being an author. I write books and people actually read them. And what’s even better is that they like them!

    But there are some things that I am not good at. I am a very busy mom of four young children. My oldest is 9, and my youngest is 3 months. I am a full-time mommy, with no babysitter, so naturally, some things just have to go. I’m pretty bad about keeping my website up, and not great at doing the social media thing or advertising. When I do have time, I’d rather be writing than trying to figure out creative ways to get more people on social media to buy my books. And honestly, I really don’t feel I’m interesting enough that people would care about a Facebook post chronically the number of times I changed a diaper today!

    As I mentioned before, what I like to do is write. I really can write about absolutely anything and be happy doing it. (Cue post about watching paint dry). So then it occurred to me that maybe I could write about my life in a way that people might enjoy reading it. What if I did the things I normally did, but then wrote about it in a fun way?

    For instance, I tend to be rather obsessive. This serves me well when writing books because I research things ad nauseam and am quite perfectionistic. But I also obsessively research non-writing things as well. Do you know the best way to get marker out of a hardwood floor? Or the best present for a 9 year-old boy? Or the best and safest shampoo for your kids? Or how to navigate Disneyland with a 2 month old baby in tow? I know all of those things. Plus, I’m fantastic at screwing up daily life and surviving to laugh about it.

    And you know what else? Along the way, I write some pretty awesome books!

    So my new goal for my blog is to write. Not just about my books or writing. Honestly, trying to keep myself to those subjects is very limiting and rather boring. My life is so much more than that. Instead, I’m going to write about whatever suits my fancy. But do it in a unique way with some different, rather entertaining angles.

    So I’ll share some stories, write about things I’ve learned or find interesting, and probably share some products that make a crazy life easier. Some of my product links may be affiliate links, which simply means, if I share about a product and someone buys it, then Amazon pays me a small commission. That just seems smart and we both win. You get something you like and I get some money that I will most likely spend back at Amazon to find more things you’ll like. Because honestly, Amazon is kind of my best friend. (Remind me to tell you about the Fed Ex guy who delivers my many Amazon packages. I keep him employed.)

    Chances are, if you visit often, you’ll probably learn something, be inspired, shed some tears, find some great books to read, and get plenty of giggles. If you happen to enjoy any of my posts, please share the link and / or leave a comment and let me know! I appreciate knowing these things don’t go into a great black hole in cyberspace.

    Ready? Here we go.

    Hope you enjoy a few Tru stories!