Writing Contest Announcement and Other Blogkeeping Blurbs

I have a couple exciting upcoming events here on the 5 Kids blog, and I’ve decided to let you in on them NOW because a) I’m no good at keeping things to myself, and b) you may appreciate having a little prep time so you can participate. Personally, I’m more of a massive procrastinater myself, but I’m allowing for us to be different because accepting all types of people is important to me, even you organized, detailed, plan-ahead types. (Psst… I used to be one of you! Let me come back.)

Here we go!


FIRST, I’m very excited to announce our very first WRITING CONTEST. WOOHOO!

I’ve toyed with this idea for quite some time because I have a deep desire to champion story-telling and, really, truth-telling, because I believe absolutely that the true stories – those messy, magical, authentic, vulnerable, true stories – set us free. Free to be ourselves. Free to love more completely. Free to live into the wonky, weird, wonderful lives that are before us.

But I’ve never pulled the Writing Contest trigger because I hate judging things. Hate. Abhor. Detest. Despise. All of the Synonyms! Mostly because I’m a wuss who doesn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. I want to pick EVERYONE. But I decided to put on my grown-up pants and do it anyway because it’s not fair to hold you back from this community or this community from you just because I’m a wimp. Also, I decided to ask some other folks to judge for me. So, hooray!

Here’s how it’s going to work. 

OldWoodPencil5 Kids Writing Contest Submission Guidelines

  • Theme: Family and Imperfection. Please note: this contest is open to ALL writers. Moms, dads, kids and non-parents. Essays will be judged subjectively (doy), based on whether they’re well-written, interesting, engaging, entertaining and/or thought-provoking. They can be serious, funny, sentimental… whatever. Compelling is what we’re after.
  • Word Count: The number needed to tell your story, although, as a loose guideline, I do recommend keeping it between 800-1,500 words just for readability. If your story is more compelling than 1,500 words, though, or doesn’t need 800 to tell it, ignore me. No one’s going to count your words.
  • Previously Unpublished: Please submit original and previously unpublished work. 
  • Dates: The contest officially opens for submissions February 16 – March 1, 2014. You may submit essays prior to February 16, if you like. Contest winners will be announced by March 10, 2014.
  • Contact: Send your essay to me at FiveKidsIsALotOfKids@gmail.com. Use “Writing Contest Submission” in the subject line.
  • Include: Your essay, a brief bio (less than 150 words), a headshot, any photographs or other illustrations that accompany your essay (you must own the rights), and any links you’d like included if your piece is selected (i.e. your blog, any books you’ve written, Facebook, Twitter, etc.)
  • Winners and Prizes: 5 Winning Essays will be selected and featured individually as guest posts on the 5 Kids Blog. From the 5 Winners, the editor of Mamapedia will select one essay to feature on the Mamapedia website as a Mamapedia Voice. Psst… Mamapedia has over 140,000 Facebook fans and 2 million unique visitors per month; I’m very grateful for the fabulous editor there for working with us on this contest!



SECOND, Lent will be here in less than a month.

Many of you don’t care about Lent. That’s OK. Sometimes, I don’t care, either, because KIDS, and who has 5 extra minutes to contemplate what to give up? I’ve already given up All the Sleep, man; I’ve done my part.

Sometimes, I do care, though. A lot. And I deconstructed Lent once here:

According to Google, which we all know is the very best place to get religious information, “Lent is a time of repentance, fasting and preparation for the coming of Easter. It is a time of self-examination and reflection.”

Lent starts today and continues for the 40 days (not including Sundays) until Easter. In practice here in the States, it’s the time when each participant fasts from something specific to himself or herself. Facebook, traveling by car, mojitos, nachos bell grande – the more creative you are about what you give up, the more Lent points you’re awarded. Minus the part about Lent points, which aren’t a real thing but which would totally make it WAY MORE RAD. (Someone put me in charge of Lent next year. Seriously.)

The truth is, Jesusy people in America freestyle when it comes to Lent. We like to participate for loads of reasons. Sometimes to feel closer to God, sometimes as a spiritual discipline, sometimes to draw attention to a cause, and sometimes because our best friends in the whole entire world, Caffeine and Chocolate, come to us in our dreams dressed in red riding hood cloaks with cloven hooves and horns on their heads and tell us with maniacal grins that they own our souls, and we wake up screaming and sweating and longing for big, hurking cups o’ Joe and entire bags of Hershey’s nuggets. Lent – it’s a high church synonym for Caffeine and Chocolate Rehab.

At its center, though, Lent, like other cultural and religious observances, pulls us into community with each other and ties us with thick cords to our historical roots. It makes us stop for a season to reconsider who we are at our core. It forces us away from the insignificant things that entangle us and turns our eyes to examine what’s relevant, what drives us.

At its best, Lent isn’t about deprivation. At its best, Lent allows us to work in concert with Love to refill our souls.

This year, I care.

And this year, I’ve been thinking about the insignificant things that entangle me. The things that are pulling me beneath the water. The things that are depriving me of oxygen. What I’ve discovered is this: the things that are drowning me right now are the things.

ALL of the STUFF. 

And managing the stuff.

It’s killing me dead.

The sheer volume of clothes and paper and toys and shoes that go through this house is stunning, ladies and gentlemen. And I will feel infinitely more focused, more prepared to look for Resurrection and True Life and Deep Love, if I can stop tripping over race cars and slipping on socks and stuffing the STUFF places over and over and over again.

But I am TIRED. And handling All the Stuff feels overwhelming. And I’ve met me, so I know I can’t do Everything, all at once. Or even Everything, eventually.

Which is why I’m going to do little purging projects for Lent and to let that be enough.

Little projects almost every day from March 5 – April 17. I’m going to put together a master, manageable list ahead of time, hoping I can convince some of you to participate with me, because, quite honestly, it’ll be way more fun with you along for the ride.

AND – BONUS! – I’m excited to announce we’ll have an expert on board to help answer our recycling questions so all this purging doesn’t head straight for the landfill. Win/win!


Alrighty. Two announcements down. Time for some Blogkeeping Blurbs.


Above-the-fold advertising space is available for a limited time on a first-come, first-served basis. If you’ve been thinking of advertising here, now’s the time for best ad placement. And the folks who’ve been advertising here can tell you I’m the WORST at reminding them to renew their ads on time, so ads typically come with free, extended time. 🙂

For all the information about advertising, go here.


After a couple of years with very, very good intentions, I finally added a page listing my speaking engagements. It’s currently updated with my Winter/Spring 2014 speaking schedule. I would LOVE to see you at the events listed.


Before the March 15th REST event in Gresham, Oregon, I’m planning to host a Portland area meet-up; if you’re interested in attending, please leave a comment to let me know so I can add you to my list for details. 


Old Wood Pencil image credit gubgib via freedigitalimages.net

ABOUT BETH WOOLSEY I'm a writer. And a mess. And mouthy, brave, and strong. I believe we all belong to each other. I believe in the long way 'round. And I believe, always, in grace in the grime and wonder in the wild of a life lived off course from what was, once, a perfectly good plan.
  1. I’m interested in the meet-up, although scheduling, you know. Things. Should one be going to the REST event in order to participate? Is that kind of the point?

  2. Great Lent idea. I’ve never done lent, but I’m interested in your purging a little each day plan. Count me in!

  3. Does “previously unpublished” include blog posts?

    1. Unfortunately, yes, Neva. BUT feel free to rework old blog posts, edit, rewrite, make an old story new.

  4. List list list list! Add me!!!!!!! (ignore the hysterical tenor of my please, we’ve been trapped inside since thurs. we’re ok. we’re ok. we evidently can’t capitalize nouns and have to speak in the third person but there’s nothing to see here. moving on.)

    1. Got you on the list, Liz!

  5. The first thing I did after reading this post was to search for flights to Portland that weekend. Unfortunately, I don’t really think it’s in the budget right now.

    I’m totally in for Lent purging, and possibly will look through the CHAOS to find my story. Love the idea of guest writers. You should pick more than one. 🙂

  6. I wanna come to the meet up! Or at least get details so I can attempt to plot an escape from the KIDS!

  7. Me me me! Pick me for the meetup! Oh, it won’t just be the two of us? Well, that will be rad too.

    1. Just sent you the message, Jennifer.

  8. I don’t know if I can make it (KIDS! AND WORK! AND THE THINGS!), but I’d love to be on the list for the Portland Meetup. 🙂

  9. […] See yesterday’s post for a few blog announcements and blurbs, including our first Writing Contest, BIG (little) plans […]

  10. Meeting up sounds Awesome! Put me in the list, please?! 🙂

  11. Yes for the meet up!!!

    1. Got you on the contact list, Beatriz!

    2. I tried to send a message to your email, Beatriz, but it was returned undeliverable. Message me at fivekidsisalotofkids@gmail.com if you want details!

  12. I’d love to go to the meetup.

    1. Add you to the contact list, Anna!

  13. Can we submit if we’ve written for the Parenting and Imperfection series before?

    1. YES! This writing contest is open to all comers, Stephanie.

      For those of you who want to read Stephanie’s previous guest post, you can find it at http://bethwoolsey.com/2014/01/on-releasing-the-way-things-should-be-a-parenting-and-imperfection-post-by-stephanie-gates/. You can also see Stephanie’s blog, A Wide Mercy, at http://awidemercy.blogspot.com/. Good stuff!

  14. OH MY WORD – You’re purging and organizing and speaking my language!!! Pitching stuff in the name of Jesus – it just doesn’t get any better.

    Two helpful tips from someone raised by a dad with OCD. 1. If you do it but didn’t write it down on the list first, write it down and then cross it off. Take all of the credit you can get. 2. Choose one small place, focus, and TRAF it – Trash, Recycle (of any kind) Action (deal with it stat) File (make it accessible to deal with soon or store wherever it needs to be stored).

    Ok- I will be drinking beer and having fun along with you unless I can get out to Oregon and put things in purgatory in the name of JEsus. Yes, I’ve done that before – gone to a friend’s house and stolen her mismatched tupperware and stored it in my basement for a few weeks to see if she even missed it. She didn’t.

    Can’t wait!!!

    1. Pitching stuff in the name of Jesus! Heh heh. YES, exactly, Heather!

      And your Tupperware spy skillz crack me up. I NEED YOU TO MOVE TO OREGON!

  15. I’m totally in for small manageable purging projects for Lent -live the idea. Can’t promise I’ll keep up, but I’ll try.

    1. I can’t promise to keep it up, either, Brandyn. You and I are going to be a good pair. I can feel it.

  16. Me! I want to go to the meet up! Whether I can will be another thing…because the things, they happen. But I do want to go!

    1. I’ll put you on my list of people to contact, Elizabeth.

  17. I am beyond excited to see that you accept speaking engagements. I have recently taken on some leadership of women’s ministries at my church in Salem, OR and have had requests for support for moms with children with special needs. And I can’t imagine anyone I’d rather refer to than someone as authentic and hilarious as you. How does one entice you to a speaking engagement and what does it entail?

    1. I’d love to come to Salem, Tara. My schedule is largely ruled by my kids, so that’s the one big hurdle in arranging speaking engagements. But send me an email (fivekidsisalotofkids@gmail.com) with details like dates, times, type of event, theme, etc. and we can start a conversation.

      ALSO, I highly recommend getting ahold of Michelle Cox who has started an AWESOME Portland support group for moms who have kids with special needs. It’s called REST (Rejuvenation, Encouragement, Support and Truth) and I’m thrilled to be speaking at their March 15th fundraising auction. Michelle, I’m positive, will have some good tips on what makes a successful support group for these parents. You can contact her at restsupport@hotmail.com.

      1. Thank you! My schedule is largely ruled by my kids too. And I’ve got three less of them than you do. Thankfully, I know from reading your blog that any amount of kids is a lot of kids. So we’re totally kindred spirits. I saw the REST info and it looks great. I am trying to figure out the best way to get the info out at my church. Thanks Beth!

  18. I wanna meet up!!! Yes yes yes!!!

    1. Yay! I’ll put you on my contact list, Crystal.

  19. I think your writing contest sounds positively splendid, especially since you don’t have to judge! I am not religious, but I am overwhelmed by All The Things and spiritual and because MESS, I just might join you on the Let’s Clean Up For Lent project. =) Strength in Numbers, right? And I would LOVE to come to a meet up in the Portland Area!! Sign me up!! I actually waved to you when I drove through your town the other day… <3

    1. YES! Strength in numbers. And encouragement in numbers. And I’m Not Alone in This Freaking Mess in numbers!

      I’ll add you to our meet-up contact list, Stacy.

  20. I am totally interested in your meet up…would love to meet you in person!!! Can we move it to Iowa?!?!? 😉 (no? shoot! guess i won’t be able to make it after all…)

    1. Hopefully someday, Malinda!

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