End of a Decade by John E. Stack

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It has been several years since I have written a blog for this site.  I figure it is about time that I started writing here once again.  For now, this blog and my Indigo sea press blog will be almost the same.  Please pardon that lack of originality.

It is difficult to believe that it has been almost a year since my last writing. We have gone through some stuff and survived. I can’t say that I’m trying to find myself, because if I don’t know who I am by my age, then I’ve got some real issues (and I probably do, but I don’t want to talk about them right now).

Last year, work got kind of crazy. I teach at a local middle school. 7th grade. That in itself has crazy written all over it. Anyway, the science teacher on my team got sick at the end of the previous year and then did not return at the beginning of the new session. With the combination of doctors, paperwork and the hiring process, it took five months to get a replacement. The substitute was good, but if it is not a permanent situation, the kids go crazier. Well after the new science teacher got settled in, the math teacher turned in his resignation. There were no math qualified substitutes, so I went from 7th grade Social Studies teacher to 7th grade math teacher. This should have been no big deal, since I had taught math for 18 years, but I found out that this uses two different parts of the brain. Now, I’m at the age where lots of my brain doesn’t work as well as it used to, so this was extremely tiring. Well, this year I’m back to social studies and things are a little better.

Along with teaching, my wife and I are foster parents. We had been with our first agency for around 12 years. We had cared for around 22 babies, but over time things in the agency started to change. Changes in focus, management, etc. caused a lot of unrest in the agency. The workers were no longer happy which affected the foster parents. We were very unhappy and the agency kept trying to force us to take on situations that would completely change life as we know it and not for the better. Suzanne and I talked about just getting out of foster parenting all together, that maybe God was telling us it was time to call it quits. Since we knew there were problems at our agency, for the past several years whenever someone would ask us about fostering, we would refer them to a different agency. Eventually, we asked ourselves “why aren’t we with that agency?”. After some inquiring, and a little bit of paperwork, we are now with the new agency, with our first placement. As our ten-year-old said, God might not be through with you yet. Looks like she was right.

Another big change/decision for this year is that I have decided to retire from teaching at the end of this school year. I turned 66 back in November and decided that after 20 years in the military, and 22 years teaching middle school, it was time for me to do something different. Not quite sure what that might be, but I guess I will find out. All options are still open. I do plan to home school our daughter once she enters middle school, but for the rest of my time – who knows? I would love to try my hand at writing again, but I wonder how good a writer I really am. I do know that I enjoy writing and I always believed that you should do what you enjoy and if you can get paid to boot, so much the better. I do know that I will need to find something to occupy my time. I have seen too many people retire, only to have a heart attack and die in their recliner. Besides, Suzanne says that I can’t stay home because it (I) will disrupt her schedule.

Anyway, this is where I am at.  May God smile down upon you and the things you seek be found.  Have a blessed year to come.

***John E. Stack is the author of several books including “Cody’s Almost Trip to the Zoo.”

Foster Care Awareness by John E. Stack

I don’t get to this site very often, since most of my posts are published under Indigo Sea Press.  For this, I apologize.

My wife and I are foster parents.  We house little ones who the state remove from homes where there are problems of abuse (any sort), drugs or lack of care.  In the past 8 years we have taken in twenty babies, some “normal” but many medically fragile.  We adopted a little girl several years ago and now she an integral part of our family.  In other words, she is our daughter and we are her mom and dad, just like the girls we gave birth to.  She is now almost seven and she has really changed our lives.  By the way, I and sixty-two.

Foster care is not for every family, but if you have ever considered adopting or being a foster parent, I encourage you to step out of your comfort zone and change the life of a child.

In North Carolina alone there are over 5,000 children in the foster care system.  Many have been separated from siblings and wouldn’t it be cool to reunite them in your family.  Many are eligible for adoption.  Every year kids age out of the foster care system and are put out on their own at the age of 18.  There are not many options for a kid with little money and less education and no place to call home.  Imagine the results.

May is Foster Care Awareness Month.  I pulled some information off the Dropping Anchors Blog on Facebook and this is what I found:

*Over 415,000 children live in foster care in the US because of child abuse reports.

*Over 100,000 children in foster care are eligible for adoption, but one-third will wait over three years before being adopted.

*25% are infants.

*The average age of a child in foster care is 2 years old, and 50% are separated from their brothers and sisters.

*Over 23,000 teens will age out of the system without a family to call their own.

*Those kids that age out will normally experience homelessness, drug and alcohol dependence, sexual abuse and commit crimes.

Kids belong in families.  Families that care and love.  Fostering is not an easy job, as a matter of fact, it is one of the hardest, most difficult jobs I’ve ever done, besides parenting.  A lot of people say “I just couldn’t let them go.”  More often than not, you don’t need to. Others say, “I would love them too much.” Don’t you wish that sometimes someone would love you too much?

 Look into foster care.  You could change the life of a child, not to mention your own, forever. A simple phone call could start you on a journey of a life time. 

***John E. Stack is the author of Cody’s Almost Trip to the Zoo, Cody’s Rescue Adventure at the Zoo, Olivia’s Sweet Adventure and the soon to be released Cody and the Great Zoo Escape.

 

 

Sometimes Life Gets in the Way by John E. Stack

It’s been a while since I’ve been here.  I often try, but as I said, sometimes life gets in the way.  My fourth book and the third in my Cody series is at the publisher and my illustrator is busy trying to get the drawings completed.  Hopefully, it will be out in the fall.  We will see.

In September 2014 Olivia’s Sweet Adventure was published.  Around a year or two before, my then 3 year old daughter asked me to write her a story.  I started asking her questions about what the story was about and what she thought should happen.  By the time we finished I had about 75-80% of a story.  This was a story that I would have never written except for my daughter.  It is an ideal book for a child in the hospital and gives a ray of hope for a scary situation.

In Cody’s Almost Trip to the Zoo, Cody goes on a school field trip to the Zoo, but their bus driver drives the bus into a lake and it turns into a pirate ship.  They visit a strange island and meet some fantastic beasts that agree to come live at the zoo.

Book two of my Cody series follows the story line established in the first book.  In Cody’s Rescue Adventure at the Zoo, Cody and his best friend Logan help the pirates rescue the beasts which are being mistreated.

In my upcoming book, Cody and the Great Zoo Escape, Cody and his cousin Aaron help a girl, who can change into a kitten, escape from the zoo.  In order to help her get home they have to go places they have never been before.  They also have to overcome a communication problem in that the girl speaks words backwards.

I’m hoping Cody will have a few more adventures, but we will have to wait and see.  Stop by http://www.secondwindpublishing.com/#!john-stack/c1svm and check out my books.  Your kids will love you for it.

Time Goes On by John E. Stack

It has been around two years since my first children’s book was selected for publication. It came out in print in September 2012. I can’t believe that it has been that long, but it seems like only yesterday. Since that time I have written a couple of more children’s books and they too have been selected for publication. Hopefully, they both will be in print by this summer.

The first book is called Cody’s Almost Trip to the Zoo. It is a story about a boy and his class going on a field trip to the zoo. They end up on a pirate ship, meet some strange animals and finally make it to the zoo in the end. The second book is called Cody’s Rescue Adventure at the Zoo. This is the second book in the series where Cody and his best friend, Logaan, help some animals escape from the zoo and get back home. Hopefully this book will be in print within the next month. There may be a few more books in this series before it is all said and done.

My third children’s book is due out by summer. It is called Olivia’s Sweet Adventure, and it steps into the realm of Christian Children’s books. A sick young girl has a strange adventure searching for her lost puppy and then has to find her way home. A good book for children that have to go into the hospital or are facing surgery.

If God continues to give me ideas, I’ll have something to write about. Celebrate with me in all our blessings.

What was I Thinking

I just had my first book published and I keep asking myself “what were you thinking? Who do you think you are trying to enter the literary world? You are a math teacher. You have no writing skills. And, by the way, you really dislike writing things. It took you two tries to make it through college and now in your old age decide to write a book. And not just a book, but a children’s book series. What do you even remember about being a child?”

God gave me a passion for reading. I’m not big on space travel, but I don’t mind traversing dimensions. I like a little magic and maybe a talking dragon or two. Anyway, I have always been amazed at how someone could use words and create a new world with people, animals and all the stuff that goes with it. For years I thought that after all the stuff I’ve read there had to be a story floating around in my head somewhere.

I spent a short stint in the military – somewhere around 20 years and two weeks. Not really my entire life but a chunk. Being in the military can sometimes stifle ones imagination and for some reason writing anything other than training manuals never crossed my mind.

Anyway, I went back to college to become a teacher. I struggled through all the English classes and was often thankful that I was a Math major. After I graduated I landed that big teaching job and, again, writing never crossed my mind until I met that one student. You know the kind of kid you look at and say “if I ever get to write a book it will be about him.” In this case “him” was Cody. This lead to Cody’s Almost Trip to the Zoo.

Now, I’m back to asking “what were you thinking?” One Saturday morning in December as I was going to talk to my publisher, Mike, I prayed, “God, if this is what I’m supposed to do make it easy, if not then shut the door.” My prayer was answered and I am pleasantly stuck doing something I had never dreamed of, creating a new place with new and unusual animals. How fun! Now a second, third and fourth books are in the works and I am addicted to writing. Sometimes you don’t have to thinkabout what to do – sometimes things just happen because they are supposed to.