Monday, August 21, 2017

Old School Mother Love



I'm an old school mom.

Let me rephrase that. I'm a mom that is old school, not that I'm old and a school mom, though I feel old and my kids are still in school; but that's not my point.

Old school love is different that your average 'Huggy Bear, Cuddleumpkins' kind of love.

Old school love is willing to get hard core.

It's willing to let your babies fall out of the nest and let them figure out how to get back up. 

It yells when your kids just aren't self motivated and need some 'assistance' getting started.

It isn't afraid to tell the truth, even if the truth hurts a little for now.

It swats kids' upside the head when they get too snarky or disrespectful.

It might even toss a wayward kid out of the house for a time, hoping the culture shock will set them straight.

It cries in private, so the kids don't see how much they are tearing your heart into little bits of misery.

Having an old school heart can be a very heavy burden sometimes. It can also make a parent very hoarse.

But old school love is more than that.

It also helps your child when she's done her best and still can't do it.

It tells your kids how awesome they are- and will be- at the top of your lungs, if they just apply some effort into the game that is life.

It hugs your kids in the middle of a yelling match- even if they fight your embrace.

It calls all your friends and neighbors the second your child slams the door as he leaves home, just to make sure he'll be safe. It makes you worry all night until he returns, yet still manages to keep your turmoil a secret.

And it's not afraid to ugly cry in front of the kids if all else fails.

Old school love isn't easy. It isn't that soft, warm blanket that people love to sink into after a hard day. Old school love is more like a snug, secure jacket that keeps you warm enough, but allows you to do what you have to do to accomplish life. It's like Kevlar- tough, flexible, and durable, and can take the hits its' dealt. 

Old school love is tough love around the softest of hearts.

I'm a mom with an old school heart. My Kevlar is dented, even torn in places, but it's still holding firm. It will be there when they call at three a.m. asking for help, or when someone breaks my baby's heart. It will also be there for backup in case my child needs some encouragement, or Momma Muscle in case they can't handle the problem. Old school hearts are like that.

So spread your wings my young ones. and go forth knowing I will be there in a half of a heartbeat if you need me. In the meantime, I'll be here to swat you upside the head, yell when you need it, and put on my combat boots when you or someone who wronged you needs a good butt-kicking.

Because old school love isn't afraid to get in the ring to fight with you, or for you. Old school love just wants you to win.

Monday, August 14, 2017

College Edumacayshkun



My son is going to college. 

As a parent, I'm torn between "Oh, my sweet Baby is going out on his own!" and "Buh-bye All-Knowing-One- good luck in the real world!"

To some of you, that last statement might seem snarky, but there's good reason behind it. You see, according to our nineteen year-old son, my husband and I are morons. 

We had a huge discussion with him about grants vs, loans, what kind of dorm to pick, what he'll really need vs. what he wants, and other fascinating topics of disinterest, when he chimed in with the statement, "But Mom, you and Dad don't understand because you've never been to college."

Let me let you in on something, Seeker-Of-Expensive-Knowledge, neither have you.

So how is it that he thinks he knows more than we do? Just because we never went to college, doesn't mean we are unedumacated- it just means our grandchildren won't be incurring the debt of our non-existent student loans.

My mother's heart wants to find ways to make enough to pay his way no matter what, working myself to the bone to make sure he's fully funded. I want to send him to college with enough care packages that he will want for nothing, never be hungry or thirsty, have enough blankets to stay warm, and a fan to keep him cool. I want all the best tech at his disposal, so he can do what he needs to do to succeed.

But then my realist heart pipes in. How much as he done on his own so far? Ugh. Honestly, not as much as he could. And me 'following my mother's heart' would actually be detrimental to his growth into a productive human being. 
Why? 
Let me count the ways...as of right now:
He sleeps when he wants.
He eats when he wants.
He does chores when he feels like it, which mean he waits until we yell.
He hasn't earned any money because he doesn't work. Yet.

We trained him to be responsible. Really! This was a kid that at ten years of age, could do the laundry on his own. He even did it willingly! Now I can barely get him to clean himself, no less his own clothing.

Ick. 

He knows how to care for a home and keep things organized- he just doesn't do it. It's like trying to get an elephantine-sized sloth to run a marathon...it just ain't gonna happen, no matter how much prompting you do.

And after talking to the college staff, his is not the only case of All-Knowing-Do-Nothing Syndrome. In fact, colleges are loaded with peers like him, so he'll be in good company. At least for the first year. After that, I can see two things happening:

One, we parents will seem even more moronic than before, being mentally comparable to the amoebic gelatinous ooze of a fifth grade science project, because he can now claim a higher educational status.

Two, we parents will be genuinely revered and respected for the true Givers of Life Sustaining Food and Goods that we were, and hopefully will continue to be, because he ran out of snacks, money, and toilet paper. 

We also hope he'll think the second one without the addition of continual financial support, because he'll have a real job by then as a tutor and can pay his own bills.

Alas, for now, we have ten days left before the sloth goes off to start his new life. And ten days to go through his things, list what he needs, then go out and get the rest. 

It almost sounds like the beginning of a bad joke- A sloth and an amoeba go to store for college supplies...

We've learned life through experience. He needs experience to get through life. Hopefully we can find a happy medium before his college season is over, and if not, the means to move before he finds us!

Monday, August 7, 2017

Distraction Traction



I love to use that little red laser to play with my cats. They come running when they hear the soft scrape as I take it from the shelf, looking expectantly to the floor for the red dot that sends them running about the house as they try to catch it.

It's just a light. It's isn't something they can catch. Try telling one cat that, no less three

Unfortunately, I have my little red light too. Several, actually. I think everyone has at least one, maybe more. Mine are Facebook, emails, and videos. Facebook friends need to be spoken to, emails need sorting and deleting, and videos? 

Well, they need to be watched.

The sad part is, even if I had no internet, I'd still find other red laser lights to distract me. Like the crafty stuff I never put away. Or those piles of paperwork that need sorting, tossing and filing. And oh yes- books and magazines that need reading.

Don't get me wrong, Books and magazines are awesome things! I love to read. But when the story or how-to book distracts me from my work, then it becomes a problem.

Like this week.

I was supposed to write. In fact, I was supposed to write a lot. I have an agent interested in my book ideas, but he wants three of them finished and three ready to be done. I have one finished. Did I work on the other two? Nope. Not a single, solitary word. But I did start this great book on how to build your author platform.
I also had some health issues, but they required me to remain fairly still. Helloooo- writer here! Staying still is my job. My fingers were the only things that needed to really be running at top speed. 

Instead I used them to go through emails. Yes it had to be done. It had to be done for a long time! But I was supposed to be writing those stories. There goes that little red light again!

And here I sit on a Monday. It's Blog Day. It's also time for me to write my column and create a few puzzles for Ruby magazine- not to mention the puzzle book I'm supposed to finish in the next few weeks.

I feel like I'm in Distraction Traction- so distracted I can't move because everything I need to do is piling up around me. That's like twenty little red lights going in all different directions- Yikes!

Do you ever feel like that? I'm going to have to knuckle-down and break free of my Tractions. 

I'll turn off the internet as soon as I'm done this post (um...okay, after I post and share it, I swear!) I'll put the book in my purse so I don't see it. I'll crack open those story files and work on them until my brain is tired, then I'll work on the puzzle book (which is not actual writing, but more like digital crafting and a nice change of pace for my brain.) 

I will have at least one draft of one story finished and at least two others partially written- or have three story premises/outlines finished. And if I get done early, I'll continue writing instead of distracting myself. Maybe if I can do a little writing then do some puzzles I can entertain my brain long enough to get some projects finished!

Have you ever gotten stuck in Distraction Traction? I'd love to hear your stories of how you won free and pounced on those pesky projects!

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Conference Capers




Last week I attended the last (but not least!) Philly Christian Writer's conference. I was both an attendee and faculty, which I can tell you on these gimpy knees of mine, was a challenge!

Not only was I trying to sell my own work, I was helping others publish theirs in Ruby for Women Magazine. I'm the Assistant Editor, so I represented a lot of possibilities for new writers.

There was a lot of good stuff this year. One lady was so happy I was an 'Assistant' Editor, because I didn't seem so scary! I know that was meant as a compliment, so I took it as such. Full-blown editors can be scary to someone new to the pond.

My friend Christian Barbie was there (the post about her is here), and she also was faculty; she was a teacher as well as helping people find their place in the writing world. I wanted to talk with her at length but people kept coming up to me and wanting to talk.

We looked at each other after the fourth interruption and she said 'Wow- you're really popular today!" I especially was amazed, since I didn't do anything to gain notoriety- but someone must have read or said something about me, because people I didn't even know were approaching me like I was their long, lost sister. It was awesome. If this was a taste of popularity, I can see why someone could get carried away by it!

Part of it was because my husband and daughter provided the snacks for the faculty. My daughter baked cookies and my husband baked cakes and set out all kinds of goodies healthy and not-so healthy to keep our faculty from passing out from exhaustion. 

My daughter wasn't there this time, due to a snafu in her schedule, and I had a lot of people wondering where she was. We brought her the last day of the conference and she was delighted by all the people who wanted to talk to her.

My darling husband also played chauffeur to those that needed rides to and from the airport and train station, as well as the near cross-country trek across the quad to and from the cafeteria. Only I was allowed to tip him with kisses, but he took a few hugs on the side as well.

The only downer was I'd brought a lot of my self-published (now called indie-published) books to sell, and was encouraged to bring my handmade tote bags (some high-end quilted totes and some lower priced giant grocery totes) as well. I sold one grocery tote and no books. Now I have a box of books at home with nowhere to go...yet.

But I have ideas. You know I'll always have ideas!

Between classes, appointments, and moving to and from the cafeteria hall lines for meals, I was physically and mentally exhausted. But it was a good exhaustion. I had appointments with two agents, and though one wasn't interested, but the other was. There was a catch- he wanted six books; three ready-to-print, and three almost ready and waiting in the wings. Only when I had those should I approach him again.

Six? It took me a year to polish the one I had! How was I going to...

Wait. I wrote that part-time. If I wrote full-time, I bet I could do a lot more. Looks like another lifestyle change is approaching! And let's not forget I have a book store interested in the puzzle book I'm writing- could this be the big turning point in my writing life? I'm so excited!

Lots to do. Lots to think about. and lots of new writers for Ruby for Women magazine. God is good! 

This week has been one heck of a roller coaster ride. Most of it really, really awesome!

As for this last big conference, the lady running the show decided that after thirty-four years (and a lot of work!) it would be a good thing to break a huge, costly conference into smaller, more reasonably priced conferences. There would be more of them, just smaller, cheaper, and more defined concerning genre. And that means she will reach a lot more Christian writers! Change is also good!

I'm looking forward to the changes coming this next year- I can't wait to see what happens and how God is going to move!


Monday, July 24, 2017

Coming Apart at the 'Seems'


Yes, we've all done it. We've all watched someone going about their day, and we come to our own conclusions. Many times those conclusions are wrong.

Sometimes they are really wrong.

We see the well-dressed neighbor and her well-behaved children piling into their brand-new vehicle, and we imagine their perfect life as they drive off; we look at our own rugrats (who are painting the cat purple and running around like rampant lion cubs) and gaze into the hallway mirror wondering how that tired-looking woman in the reflection lost control.

Or the guy who seems to have everything- a pretty wife, great kids, and he always seems to be working in the backyard or on the house with the latest and greatest tools and equipment, complete with a shiny new van.

We envy our neighbor sometimes. But we only see the outside of their lives, not what's actually going on. It seems as if all is well, but is it really?

Then we find out later on that the neighbor that was so well-dressed was taking her children to the courthouse to try to gain custody from a divorce gone bad. Looking good is the only thing she can do to cope, and she feels like there's no one else to talk to.
The guy that seems to have everything had his truck totalled when he lent it to a friend, lost his job as a result of the accident, and is using a rental van to get around, borrowing his friends tools to do odd jobs and working on the house in case they have to sell because he can't find work. He pours his frustrations into fixing what he can, because life is getting out of control.

People who 'seem' to have it all together, usually don't. Take a look at your life. Parts of it are probably a mess right now. Yet someone is looking at us and assuming all is well! I've had people assume things about me that are way off base; But those assumptions dissipate once they talk to me- and then we have a good laugh!

She's so creative! I bet her house is like a museum of art! Only if you consider dust bunnies and cat hair an art-form.

She's published so many books! I could never talk to her about writing- she's out of my league. All writers started our as new writers. And this writer loves to talk shop! 

Her kids are so polite and her husband is so nice! They probably never have family issues. You'd be wrong there on so many levels. Polite kids take a ton of work, and even then they aren't always at their best- just like the rest of us! As for my husband- he is nice, but we still argue on occasion!

She has the best marriage/kids/life/whatever! We've had our trials, issues and hardships. Just because we don't show them doesn't mean they don't exist. And when someone talks with us and those 'seems' are mended, that's when friendships are born!

Talk to your neighbors and church members, and engage in your community. Get involved with others and repair those ripped 'seems' with stitches of friendship! You never know how many lives you touch just by talking to someone- help them (and you!) from coming apart at the 'seems'!

Monday, July 17, 2017

Forgiveness 101



Forgiveness...it's such an easy thing to do, right? Just say you forgive someone for something, then forget about it. It's so simple!

Or is it?

I had to forgive someone. Yet I had to be forgiven by this someone as well. To be honest, that rankled me. I'd done my best and messed up- but it wasn't on purpose! Why should I take any of the blame and be treated like that?

But there's the rub- I had to see things from the other person's perspective. Once I did that, I could see how my actions could be seen as something other than I intended. 

The Bible talks about how to forgive and be forgiven. I needed to go to that person and have a face-to-face talk (if possible- it's hard to do if your offender lives far away). In my case this was possible, so I called to plan a meeting. 

The person I wanted to speak to brushed me off. Twice. I almost took this as a sign. Maybe I didn't need to get forgiveness from this person because I had given it a decent try- I was vindicated! 
But no, God had other plans and kept poking me in the heart about it for the next year.

Yes, you read that right. A year. God is good, but He's also as persistent as a kid at Christmas. He kept poking me, asking "You going to talk to her now? How about now? Now?" Finally I'd decided to stop the phone tag and talk to this person face to face. I passed by their house, called and asked if they were home. They were. I told them I was coming to the door and to please let me in so we could discuss things. I slowly released my pent-up breath as I walked into one of the hardest talks I've had to do in ages.

It wasn't easy. This person was resistant. The TV was blaring, and they conceded to just turn it down instead of off. They wouldn't look me in the eyes. I could feel their invisible wall trying to push me away. A chainsaw wouldn't have cut the tension I'd felt in that room. The silence was truly deafening, and I almost walked out. But I had to do this. I needed forgiveness just as much as I needed to forgive this person.

The discussion didn't go as well as I'd hoped, but there were some bridges mended. All the while this person never even looked my way. One thing that was said stuck with me; "I can forgive you, but I'll never forget." 

I always thought the term 'Forgive and Forget' was in the Bible- after all, it sounds like it should be in there. But forgiveness has nothing to do with forgetting- forgiveness is about holding no anger and resentment towards someone for something that happened between the two of you. 
It took me years to forgive my mother for some of the things she'd done; but once I truly forgave, I didn't forget- I just remembered without the anger and resentment that usually came with those memories. Instead there was an understanding- an empathy for her concerning what she was thinking and feeling at the time. My mother and I had made peace with each other before she passed away.

This was a bit different. I could still feel the anger from this person. My anger, however, was spent. I left with a mixed bag of emotions. The little stone of resentment in my heart was gone, but I was sad because this person was still holding anger towards me- and there was nothing else I could do to alleviate it. 

I've learned much about forgiveness these past few years. You forgive, and do your best to be forgiven. You have no control over how (or if!) someone forgives you, but if you do your best to make amends- that is all God asks of you. It's up to the other person to let go of their anger- not you.

Forgiveness is freeing. I never realized until I'd forgiven my mother just how much weight anger and resentment presses on your heart. But oh- when you let it go! Your entire spirit lifts, and the world is seen through more gracious and appreciative eyes.

I wanted to share this with you today, in case you have someone that needs to be forgiven, and you just can't. I'm going to tell you that you can- ask God for the strength not to falter or curl up in a ball of misery because of what happened. 
You can get rid of that unseen weight on your heart. Maybe you'll fight it for a year (or years) like I did. I'm quite stubborn! But in the end, forgiveness is what lifted my depressed heart and brightened my spirit so I could see God's grace all around me. 
And I want you, my Dear Readers, to feel that too!

Monday, July 10, 2017

The Big Gulp of God!



My cup is full of a lot of things.

Ideas. 
Frustrations.
Plans.
Complaints.
Hugs.
Laughter.

Unfortunately, when my cup is full of these things, there isn't much room for God. In fact, God should be filling my entire cup so there isn't room for much else- except the good stuff He wants in the cup.

But noooooo, I have to go fill it up with the other stuff first! When I have a full cup of gunk, I have a hard time trying to empty it. Letting go of everything and letting the contents spill to the floor just isn't my nature. Instead I savor that cup of glop and hold it close to my heart.

Maybe you do too?

Some of the things in my cup are good. Ideas. Hugs. Laughter. Even plans are good for the most part as long as God has His say in them. But the other things- the negative things- need to be spilled into the dirt where fertilizer belongs. 

I just have to let my cup of glop go

The best part is, when I empty my cup, God gives me a bigger cup for Him to fill. In fact, I get to help fill other peoples' cups because God doesn't just fill my cup, He overfills it! And we all know when God decides to do something, He goes big.

It's like going to the store for a small soda, and the guy at the counter takes your tiny soda and gives you a giant Big Gulp of the best soda you've ever tasted!

Oh yeah- Gettin' me a Big Gulp of God!

It's hard to let go. Trust me- I get it. I struggle with my cup every day. But the more I spill out, the more God fills my cup with the good stuff- and life starts tasting better and better each day.



Let God be your Ultimate Soda Guy. Let Him trade your small cup of glop and give you His Big Gulp, overflowing with enough blessings you can share. Take a sip of what He has to offer- you won't regret it!

Monday, July 3, 2017

Mind Matters




Do what God wants. A simple concept, but hard as heck to execute.

I've heard these phrases many times:
Have faith.
Believe in what you're doing.
Believe in what God is telling you to do.

It should be so easy to just throw caution to the wind and go for it. But fear always holds me back. Why am I so afraid to go for the gusto and let God do what He will? After all, He's the end-all, be-all of beings...right? He can do anything. We're supposed to have a child-like faith. Kids have no fear when they try something for the first time- They have no idea what an amazing gift that is!

We learn to fear. We learn to hold back. We learn to be cautious and not throw our cares to the wind and go for it. Because after the first failure, it's just too darn scary!

That's where courage starts. It uses fear to its advantage. Courage is fear that put on its boxing gloves. Oh, we still have fear, but it's held in check by our will to change. We have to want to change enough to beat the fear and continue the fight for what God wants for us.

The Mind really does matter!

A positive mind-set is the springboard that launches us in the right direction. A negative mind-set is more like walking through a field of deep mud. You might be headed to the same destination, but the latter will take a lot more struggle and time.

A personal mantra helps. Tell yourself that you will (action) _(goal)_ by _(time)_. Tell yourself this several times a day, every day. Keep focused. stay on track. Don't let setbacks stop you long term. I've let setbacks stop me, so I know- I've lived it- for far too long. I'm tired of mucking about in the mud, and I'm ready to try out that springboard.

Want to come with me? I'll start!

I will finish writing one book by the end of September.
I will save enough each week to pay an artist for cover work for one book before October.
I will publish a written work within a year.

Picking smaller goals is good, but also have a longer goal as well. Running a few small races helps prepare you for the marathons!

What will your mantras be?


Tuesday, June 27, 2017

My Hyper Workaholic Husband



I have a husband who is a hyper workaholic. He's the kind of guy that never stops doing stuff. 

Never.

I think if he could get away with doing things in his sleep, he would. It's a quality that can be both a great blessing and a great curse. Allow me to explain.

He gets up at the crack of dark to go to work. When he's not doing overtime, he usually winds up running errands for our church, or working on a church-related project. Sometimes he'll come home on the early side of late and fix something in the house that needs fixing, or he'll decide to make dinner for us (he loves to cook and absolutely needs to create something foodish at least twice a week to stay sane), turning my once-clean kitchen into a flour-ensconced war zone. Sometimes he promises to help someone or make them a special dessert. Only when the cakes have cooled or the desserts are chilling in the fridge does he finally settle down for bed, which is usually after I'm already asleep.

Even when he had his accident over four years ago, he didn't stop for long. The man had third degree burns on thirty-five percent of his body, and came home eighteen days later with skin grafts, a swatch of pig skin with three hundred staples in his mid-section, and strict orders to not do anything but his exercises. Did this stop him? Nope. He was practically vibrating in his lounge chair, and finally came up to me all hunched over because of the staples and said "You gotta give me something to do!"

He hasn't stopped since.

His doctor (and practically everyone else) told him he needs a break, and must take time off to recharge. So we went to an off-grid cabin in Maine for a week. I'd prepared all of the food ahead of time so all we needed to do was heat it over the fire or bake it. No fuss, no mess. Just rest. 

The first few days he actually slowed down enough to relax. But then he started going on walks, finding things to do like gather wood, chop wood, and find places to drive to so that we could walk around. He needed to do something. Anything. 
Then God gave me an epiphany. We bought coloring books, crayons, and colored pencils with a sharpener. He spent the next three days coloring! It was the only time in our twenty years of marriage I'd ever seen him busy and still at the same time!

You'd think all of this self-discovery and rest would put his mind into a lower gear. At least I did. But when we came home, he happily dove right back into the chaos- in fact, he was even busier than he was before we left for Maine!

He did three straight weeks of overtime. We're talking fourteen to sixteen hour days, five days a week. The weekends were used to play catch-up with church needs (he's a deacon and also the church building manager), so I haven't seen much of him for the past month or so. if this keeps up, I might have to start scheduling appointments to see him!

My husband is a powerhouse for God. He works for Him, does ministry for Him, and expects nothing in return. He's a giver to the point of sacrificing his precious time and energy to help someone in need. People can call day or night- he will be there for them. He's a rare and precious man. He's also as hyper as an over-caffeinated chipmunk! 

I wish I had half of his energy. Only God could have a man do as much as he does, and still have the strength to breathe! I still marvel at all God has done with my husband.

I wish that there was a way to infuse each other, so he would rest more and I would have more energy. The only way I'll get him to stay still at this point is if I duct tape his butt in bed! 

hmm...Another epiphany? I wonder how much duct tape I'll need?


Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Which Way Are You Facing?

Epiphanies can hit you at the oddest times. This one happened while I was in church during a sermon.

The pastor was talking about getting closer to God and keeping your eyes on Him, and since I'm a literal thinker, I kept picturing myself nose to nose with the Almighty. Can't get much closer than that, can we? 

But then it hit me; all I had to do was turn around to be the furthest away from God. One simple act with a plethora of consequences! He's right there with you, but you can't see Him- all you have to do to get as close as possible is turn around.

Wow.

How many times have I walked around looking for God, only to never see Him? How many times did I turn my eyes away from Him to see some shiny sin-filled bauble dangling in my peripheral vision? And how many times did I refuse to turn around because the bauble seems like the right thing to focus on or (let's be honest here), I didn't want to focus on anything else that might tear me away from the sparkle?

I can tell you this- every time I turned my eyes from God I got into trouble. Every. Single. Time. So why do I still do it? Because baubles are shiny and we humans like shiny things. It's so much easier for us to stare at a glittering object than focus on our work- just ask any school student or desk jockey. Shiny catches the eye and seems more interesting!

Just look up a series of YouTube videos called 'The Most Satisfying' and you'll know exactly what I mean. I could stare for hours at that stuff. 

I'm so glad God is patient and is willing to stick with us, waiting until we turn around to see Him. It's almost like He wants to yell 'Surprise! I've been here the whole time! Aren't you glad to see Me?" 


We are both the closest to God and the furthest from God, depending on which way we're facing. So the big question is...which way are you facing?

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Being Crickety



It's not easy losing some of your mobility- even if it's only temporary. At least I hope it's temporary! But with every trial there's a life lesson- sometimes more than one. I've learned to laugh about my creakiness, and I want to share a few things that creaky life has taught me.

One lesson about creakiness is similar to child-rearing; what used to take me five minutes now takes me at least fifteen.  Alas, the pendulum has started swinging the other direction. My kids are now helping me to get over obstacles instead of the other way around!

I've also noticed a change in my decision-making skills because of my temporary lack of mobility. 

Stores are no longer chosen by their sales flyers, but by how many benches they have available throughout the store.

Big stores must have motorized carts. At first I was daunted by using them, but now it's a lot of fun- especially when I can cruise around the store announcing 'Watch the tram car please!' (anyone who has been down on the shore boardwalk knows what I'm talking about!)

Little stores must have chairs or wheelchair carts.

Weight loss is no longer about attractiveness or fashions, but about increasing functionality.

Dinners have become more simple, usually involving the crockpot. Stove-top cooking has become a rare beast, unless it's a recipe for 'make in one pan and simmer'. Casseroles are also in the mix, as long as I can cut the veggies and meat sitting down at the kitchen table.

Not only do I check bathroom stalls for toilet paper, but now I'm looking for that helpful little ballerina bar bolted to the wall just in case the toilet sits too low. Like I wasn't already anxious enough by public restrooms. Sheesh.

Swimming isn't for play anymore- it's for exercise.

Exercise DVDs used to be no good because I never used them. Now they're no good because I can't use them.

I can't catch the kids doing something sneaky anymore because the knee pops betray my former ninja stealth. (and the kids love catching me trying to sneak up on them!)

The cats always know I'm home before I even take out the house keys due to cane thumping and knee popping.

When I go for a walk, kids keep running up to me asking if I have bubble wrap. 


No one likes being crickety, but I'm going to make the best of it until it either goes away (read: get rid of it), or I find better ways to deal with it. In the meantime, I'll be snap, crackle, and popping my way around stores and the house, doing what God tells me to do- and if you hear the sound of Rice Krispies, take a look around- I might just be behind you!

Monday, June 5, 2017

How God Grows Us


Ever feel that if just one more thing went wrong, you'd go stark raving bonkers?

Me neither...not

I'd been feeling overwhelmed lately and asked my buddies on Facebook for some encouragement. I wasn't disappointed. In fact, I got a private message from a Christian friend, asking what it was I needed encouragement for, so she could pray for me. It's friends like these I wish lived closer to home.

I told her my troubles and how I felt. She told me feelings are fleeting and temporary things, and God is using these troubles to grow me as a Christian. Before I could stop myself, I blurted,
'Egad woman- I know He's trying to grow me, but does He have to add so much manure?!?'

And she laughed

Her laugh made me feel a little better. And after talking and praying with her. the bad feelings did fleet...er...flee. The black cloud wasn't entirely removed, but at least I could see the silver lining. 

When I'm in one of those 'one-straw-before-the-back-broken-camel' moments, I used to hide myself away from people and sulk, wallowing in misery until I pulled myself out of the muck of my emotional tar-pit. Now I force myself to talk with others and ask for help, as hard as that is. I try not to complain to the world (though that sometimes happens), but instead find a friend on the phone or online that is willing to hear my troubles. 
Though the issues and that overwhelming feeling don't always go away completely, talking them out with a friend makes me feel like I can handle things once more. Their prayers and willingness to listen infuse me with God's strength to move forward. What a blessing that is!

God piles on the manure on occasion, but He also provides a means to gain strength through Him- He wants us to talk to fellow Christians to gain perspective, gain composure, and maybe even laugh a little in the process. He never meant us to go it alone in our own strength. As my friend encouraged me, I'd like to encourage you if you're in the same proverbial manure pile.

Don't hide yourself from others. Find a Christian friend and talk to them. 
Look for friends that don't just agree with you, but are also willing to be honest when they don't and tell you in a gentle way.
Know that in all things, God has a plan and this is a temporary feeling. It will pass.
Pray and talk to God and ask for strength, endurance, and to send Encouragers. 

And when the trial is over and you've done a little growing, be an Encourager to someone else. You never know what kind of hidden blessings He has in store for you!

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Three Tweets and a Hoot

My husband and I are morning people. We're up right before the sun rises, and we're in bed by the time the sun sets. So we figured when we had kids, they would follow in our early morning footsteps.

Well, one did. The other one? Not so much.

In the beginning he had to get up with us- at least when he started sleeping through the night. But once he became a teenager, things started to change. Especially now that he's graduating high school. 

Tweet, tweet, tweet...hoot.



There was an old cartoon of an owl family who had three eggs ready to hatch. They were classical birds in this case, and when the owlets hatched, two sang in perfect classical tones- but the third? He was all jazz. Oh yes, people, we classical birds are now living in the jazz era. Our son can't seem to rise before ten o'clock on the weekends, and that's when we wake him. Once we let him sleep in and he wasn't down the stairs before two o'clock in the afternoon. Yikes!

For you other night owls out there, two o'clock is when the morning birds' energy starts to wane. By the time he's in high energy mode, we're ready for a nap. This makes for some interesting family adventures.

Not to mention a challenge every school day. For twelve years. Ugh.

My daughter is the exact opposite- she's up before my husband and I are, and usually has her chores done before we're out of bed. This is a child born to love the early life of a rancher or farmer, and her love of horses is sending her right in that direction. She lives to be up at the crack of dark, and if she does work at a ranch, she'll fit right in. By the time we get up for a family trip (usually around six a.m.), she has breakfast made so we can all eat and move, move, move.

That's if we can get Hooty out of bed. 
Even the smell of freshly made breakfast won't stir him out of slumber at six in the morning! We wind up waking him up at least three times before dragging him out of bed (sometimes literally!) to get dressed so we can go. Nine times out of ten he's sleeping in the car on the way to our destination, while the three of us are chattering away with excitement.

Lunchtime is about when the energy levels equal out, and we can all get along for about an hour or so. My son will start to interact with us, and we morning birds still have the energy to belt out road trip songs as we go on our merry way. By the afternoon we're dragging while he wants to explore. By night time he's excited and full of energy and the rest of us are travelling zombies. 

Our not-so-little owl will be flying off to college this fall, and I can't help but wonder if he'll survive the morning classes. I also wonder how the family dynamic will change when there's three morning birds left in the nest. I suspect a lot less drama and earlier starting times in the future!

It's not easy for morning birds to raise an owl (and I suspect the opposite is also true of owlish parents raising a morning bird), but I think we did a pretty good job.

After all, if he can survive us, he can survive anything!

Monday, May 22, 2017

Called on the Carpet


Ever have one of those moments where truth hits you in the heart so hard you have to cry out 'Ouch!"?

I hate those moments; but I also love them. At least when I have a chance to step back and recover from the 'Ouch' part. 

Our deacon was talking about 'Ears open, Mouth Shut' moments- Times when we had a chance to share God's word, but didn't. I don't know about you, but just him mentioning that made me scrunch down in my seat a little bit.

He wasn't talking about us having open ears, but the uninformed masses that don't know God who are ready to hear about Him. They might be ready to hear, but fear freezes the words on our lips and we say nothing, losing a great opportunity to help them get to know God.

The deacon asked 'How many times have we had someone come up to us to teach us about Jesus? In a week? In a month?  In a year? 
Well, that was easy- no one. Not one person ever came up to me and asked me if I knew God or Jesus. Not for a few years, no less just one.

But his next few questions really hit home.

How many times have you talked to anyone about Jesus? In a week? In a month? In a year?

Ouch.

Scrunch, scrunch, scrunch.

Romans 10 talks all about it. Not only to hear and proclaim the Word of God, but to spread the Word to others who are willing to hear, like in verse 17- Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ. 

Can't really do that if my lips are frozen shut...can I? Yikes!

Many times I felt called to say something to someone and I kept my yap shut. Oh sure, talk about writing, fabric crafts, or movies and I'm a talkaholic, but talk about God? Pass the superglue please!

It also didn't help that the deacon speaking was my husband

There was no way i could scrunch down further in my seat without hurting myself. And when I looked around, I noticed a lot of others scrunching down too. So it wasn't just me after all.

God created us to glorify Him- That's our one and only job on this planet. And as my eyes scanned the room, there was a whole church full of people who weren't doing their jobs- me included.

Double ouch!

Don't get me wrong- I'm in a good church, with good, spiritually driven people. We work together getting the church fixed up (we're renovating when we can), and we also adopted a day care center and donate food to them and the surrounding neighborhood on a regular basis. I run the bread ministry, as a matter of fact! 
But something important got lost in all of that giving. We're feeding people without teaching them how to feed themselves via the scriptures- and I think a lot of churches (and church people) are making the same mistakes. 

If you feed them, they will come...but only until the food runs out. People need to develop a taste for learning more about God before they come back week after week. We need to feed their ears as well as their mouths.

God called me on the carpet that morning. I'm more aware now of His call to action, and less fearful of obeying it. With God beside me, who can be against me? And if He's giving me the words to say, they'll be the right ones- as long as I keep that superglue in my purse where it belongs!

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Even God Rested!

This has been one heck of a chaotic year. If you don't know why, you might want to read the previous blog posts- but get some coffee first, you'll be a while!

Both my husband and I were burnt out. Completely. Like 'rampaging forest-fire inside a volcano' burnt out. We were coming to the last dregs of our energy, time, stamina, and sanity. His blood pressure was way up, as was my temper. We needed a respite.

We got one.

Thanks to a pastor friend of ours (Yes, you, Rob!), we were connected with a ministry in Maine for a stay at a pastoral retreat cabin in the boonies. As long as my husband qualified (he's a deacon so he could apply), we could stay for a long weekend. After the owner of the cabin read my husband's long list of ministries, he contacted him and said 'Buddy, a weekend isn't enough- if you can do it, I'd suggest an entire week!'

So that's what we did. The week of our twentieth anniversary, in fact.

Granted, at first I wasn't thrilled about being cooped up in a cabin with nowhere to go. Oh, and did I mention it was off-grid? That means there was no TV, internet or even phone service. No screens, no DVD players...nothing concerning visual entertainment or contact with the outside world.

But there were elk, coyotes, and bears around, so they said. That didn't help.

Egad. I was going to die. If not of boredom, by the mauling of some wild animal as I tried to limp my way to civilization.

But wait- was there another way? I could still use my laptop, because the cabin had solar power; I could plug and charge my Link to Sanity (at least during the day), and get some writing done...right? Both my husband and I had a plan. We were going to write, read, write some more, and brainstorm all kinds of things we could do in ministry. After all, that's what busy people do- even when they're supposed to be resting! I even brought a craft with me for my creative side- just in case.

We also had to eat, and there was no way I was going to cook all week. So we made meals we could bake or make on the propane stove/oven (as we couldn't use anything with heating elements like crock pots or microwaves- they take too much power). There was no freezer but there was a cube-like fridge, so we froze what we could for the trip, and packed a massive cooler full of food for single serving breakfasts, lunches, and dinners- and even more than a few veggies and fruits to snack on. We were set.

We visited and stayed overnight with my husband's uncle on the way up, but miscalculated the distance to the cabin (thinking it was on the way), and wound up making a twelve hour drive instead of an eight or nine hour drive to Maine the next day. We had to adjust our time to leave and left as soon as we woke up- about 4:00 am. Let's just say when we got to the cabin at 4:20 pm, we were ready for a meal and some rest.

The cabin wasn't the mud-and-stick hut I imagined it would be- it was a one thousand square-foot pine-scented piece of heaven! The kitchen bore a wood stove (for warmth, not food) that was giving off a pleasant heat that the owner stoked before we arrived. There were even bird feeders all over the place for us to enjoy the local feathered wildlife! We were greeted cheerfully, shown how to work the water pump and energy system, given the basic rules in a notebook, and left to ourselves for the night. 

I don't think we ever unpacked so fast in our lives. 

The kitchen was roomy, and as the oven was baking our dinner, we went upstairs to check out the bedroom. And it was a bedroom. The room was almost all bed! Not only did it take up most of the space on the floor, it was tall- almost up to my ribcage. We both noted the hand-made quilt on it and smiled appreciatively, but then I wondered....how was I going to get up on this thing with two gimpy knees? 

I had to find out if I could get into this massive bed. I hoisted my trunk onto the mattress, and tried to swing my left leg over the top- and failed. I tried again, grasping the quilt and sheets on 'his' side and I tried pulling myself up. After a minute or two, I was on top- and out of breath.

Then I heard my husband chuckle. I would have maimed him (because the Bible says Thou shall not kill, after all), but the bed was so soft and so comfy I almost put off dinner to get some sleep. But my belly complained, and I had to slip off of the mattress ever...so...slowly onto the carpet. 

The next few days were spent sleeping, watching the birds, eating, and reading. It's really nice to be unplugged for a while! I'd forgotten what that was like. On the third day though, we became restless (and we ran out of milk), so we went on an adventure. Try finding a Wal-Mart in the middle of the Maine boonies with a GPS that didn't work until we were miles down the main road! As we left the dirt road and hit asphalt, I'd hoped we'd find the cabin again when we came back.

We found the Wal-Mart at least thirty minutes away, and decided to peruse the aisles a little. I found a few crafty items that I needed, but the best find was... coloring books! I loved to color, but what I didn't know is he loved to color too! All these years and I never knew this. We flipped through about twenty of them before he chose one and I chose two, making sure we also got a big box of crayons and colored pencils. And a sharpener- don't ever forget the sharpener.

That as our only trip out of the cabin that week. The laptops, lesson books, and projects we were going to read, write, and plan, all were replaced by three coloring books, crayons and colored pencils. We were happier than two kids in kindergarten. 
Our TV was the bay window featuring blue-jays, wrens, finches, a woodpecker and one red squirrel; at night we were lulled to sleep by the 'peepers'- little frogs by the thousands that chirped like an orchestra of crickets.

The rest of the week was filled with naps, crafting, and coloring. We didn't do one 'productive' thing the entire week. Maybe that was the point.

Our only adventure with the large outdoor wildlife was a bear removed one of the window feeders with a loud 'Pop!' about 1:00 am mid-week, destroying the feeder. The little birds still flew to the window though, looking in at us as if to say "Dude- where's the birdseed?"

By the end of the week, his blood pressure went down twenty points. My temper dissipated. We visited his cousin overnight on the way home (and this time it was on the way back), and got home in time to spend a few hours with the kids on Sunday. We came home to a clean house- our two friends and the kids all worked to make the house sparkle- my Mother's day gift! The only sad part is we didn't have a 'buffer day' to rest before we had to jump back in the fray on Monday morning.

Sometimes you just have to stop, unplug, watch the birds, and color.

We learned a lot about ourselves this week. We need to rest more. Need. Not want. We have to remind ourselves that even God rested on the seventh day! 
We must plan off time to rest, and not try to 'let it happen'. Busy people who don't schedule time off will never get it.
We also learned that being off grid is good, and not to pack so much stuff just in case we get bored. To take more fun reading than lesson reading. To take less food (we had a lot of leftovers). And to remember to bring coloring books and plenty of crayons and colored pencils. It leads to a lot of really good conversations.

Now that we're back, we're not jumping into the chaos with both feet. Yes, we have a lot to catch up on, and yes, there is a backlog of things to do, but our minds are rested and can sort thorough the muck a lot better now. It's amazing what you can accomplish when you're rested! And I'm making a point to keep it that way as long as possible.

I'll no longer get mad at myself for falling asleep on the couch. I'll have a more flexible schedule, so when driving jobs come, I can maneuver things around. I will watch less TV, play less computer games, and time them when I do. Looking back, I was stunned by all of the time I wasted with a screen in front of me! Now if I'm in front of the TV, I'll be doing something productive- like cutting fruits and veggies or sorting through papers. The job is a lot less daunting that way, and I still get to watch my favorite shows.

If you need rest, please plan for it. Even if it's staying home and unplugging everything- do it. Rest your mind, body, and spirit for a day, a weekend, or a week to get yourself back on track with God and His purpose for you. It will be the best thing you've ever done for you and your family!

Monday, May 8, 2017

Feed Your Flame


We all start out with a pilot light- that little spark that inspires us to do bigger and better things. Sometimes we wait for others to feed our flames to take us to the next level instead of finding our own fuel. It might work for a time, but when the fuel from others runs out, we often find ourselves back where we started- that tiny flicker of flame.

We can’t let ourselves wait for someone else to build up our fires. Don't get me wrong- It's great having support to keep the flames going, but the bulk of the fuel has to come from within us. 

Cakes bake from the applied heat, but cakes wouldn’t be the yummy, fluffy things they are without their ingredients!

This not only applies to our lives at home and the workplace, but also applies to our spiritual lives. God gave us the Holy Spirit in our hearts, but it’s up to us to apply the heat and fuel the fire. Use that passion you have deep down inside! Get inspiration from others, but remember if that's what you're depending on, the flames won’t last long without our feeding and fanning them by praying, reading the Bible, going to church and really listening to the sermons.

Don't wait for an epiphany- look within yourself and your environment (who and what you surround yourself) and seek an epiphany through God. Believe me- I’ve done the sitting and waiting thing- it just doesn’t work.

What would make more sense- a writer that waited for a publisher to come and discover her book, or for the writer to contact publishers? No one will hand us our dreams on a platter- not even God will just hand us everything we want- we have to be spiritually ready and pray for it. Babies aren't ready for solid food, and even toddlers with teeth don't get fed T-bone steaks! God will feed us what we need when we can handle it. He's a really brilliant Dude.


Pray. Read. Attend church. Fellowship. Feed that flame within you. Dance around like your spirit is already on fire and the flames will grow. I’m wearing bunny slippers when I dance- just in case someone is making a YouTube video!