February 29, 2012

Nineteen Ninety: The Year of Change by Kathy Stemke


In the beginning of 1990, life stabbed me through the heart. When my 93 year old grandmother passed away, my extended family fell apart. Dying after suffering seven months with bone cancer, my mother left a gaping hole in my immediate family. When I lost my job as a teacher in our church school, I re-evaluated my life. Although I’d been born and raised in New York, living as a single parent in this area had become increasing expensive.

My uncle offered me a job in Georgia. I went to visit and fell in love with Atlanta, but my fifteen year old daughter didn’t want to move away from her friends. Here comes the leap of faith! I decided to move 881 miles away from everything I ever knew. 

I traveled back to Atlanta a couple of months later to find a place for my daughter and me to live. I looked at a beautiful apartment with a swimming pool and tennis court for $1, 200 a month as well as some for $500 a month rental. Then my uncle informed me that he couldn’t give me that job after all. My heart sank into my stomach. That night, I cried out to God for an answer. “Lord, I don’t want to move to Georgia if it’s not your will. Please give me some kind of sign.”

The following day, I took my daughter to see the luxury apartment. I turned toward the rental agent and said, “We can’t afford this apartment, but I wanted my daughter to see where we could live someday.”

The agent smiled. “Can you afford $400 a month?”

“Well, yes, but how…” My mouth dropped open.

“We’re having a contest today. The first agent to rent a room at any price wins a prize.”

“But…I can’t get down here until August,” I said.

The agent put her hand on my shoulder. “We’ll hold it for you. I moved here years ago to start a new life with my teenage daughter. I know how you feel.”

I quickly signed the lease and paid the first month’s rent. All the way back to the hotel I thanked God for his clear answer to my prayer.

As usual God was right. My life in Georgia has been fruitful. My daughter adjusted, married and had two children. I started my own tutoring business. For many years, I was able to help homeschoolers achieve their academic goals while earning enough money to buy my own house. Then I met and married my wonderful husband, Tony. Visit his food blog.  http://gritsandgroceries.blogspot.com

Before long I began my writing career. After selling my first few articles, I created a teaching tips blog and a free monthly newsletter, Rhythm and Movement. http://educationtipster.blogspot.com  When teachers and parents wanted more, I wrote my first picture book, Moving through All Seven Days.  My next two picture books, Sh Sh Sh Let the Baby Sleep and Trouble on Earth Day were recently awarded The Children’s Literary Seal of Approval. My WIP is a YA historical fiction.
As a freelance writer and ghostwriter, I have published over a hundred articles in directories, magazines and on websites. I’m a reviewer for Sylvan Dell Publishing and a former editor for The National Writing for Children Center. I’m part of the team at DKV Writing 4 U, a writing services company that includes ghostwriting, copywriting, editing, proofreading, critiquing, and resumes.  http://www.dkvwriting4u.com

23 comments:

  1. Wow. What an awesome post. Too often people are too scared to even consider a leap of faith, more or less actually take it. I'm so glad it worked out for you.

    Rena (<--- also a homeschooler)

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    1. No doubt it takes courage to make a dramatic change like this.

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    2. Thanks Rena. It worked out well.

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  2. Love it! These moments of grace - I always feel bad for people who aren't listening and recognizing them. Good for you, Kai.

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    1. I'm sure you meant good for you, Kathy ;-)

      You are SO right, though. We get so caught up in the day to day that we forget to listen or we are too afraid to acknowledge what we heard.

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    2. Thanks Margie. I wish I listened more often.

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  3. This inspiring story is encouraging for everyone.

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    1. Thanks Jan. I hope all is well with you.

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  4. What a beautiful and inspiring story. It brought a tear to my eyes. You are an inspiration, Kathy.

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    1. I love to hear story like this too. This is what my mom and I did when I was a teenager. Up and moved across country. Scary, but really exciting.

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    2. Thanks Beverly. There's so much more to this story. I should write a book about it someday.

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  5. Kathy, it's great to know what a courageous person you are. I'm glad your leap of faith turned out so well.

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  6. Thanks Kai for hosting me. There is so much more to this story. I think I'm going to write a book about it. thanks for inspiring me.

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    1. Oh yeah! Sounds like you'll have a willing audience in all of us if you do write it! Thanks for participating. Look forward to having you back again for 3x's A Charm.

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  7. Kathy, you are such an inspiration!!!

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  8. Love your story. I believe in leaps of faith. Here's mine. http://www.epaperflip.com/aglaia/viewer.aspx?docid=7fac1663e6784d479437f15efe4c04ad

    Also Congrats on the SCBWI prize.

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  9. Thanks Mary Jo. I'll hop over and check yours out now.

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  10. This is Linda R.'s granddaughter. Remember, the one whose story you started editing? The Deadly Secret? You are such a good story writer! Congratulations, and I hope you write more books in the future!

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