Thursday, December 31, 2015

Making it Happen in 2016

goodbye2015

The Christmas ornaments are all packed away, and my son carried the Christmas tree back down to the basement before he left last Sunday. This week, I moved room to room, carefully wrapping in tissue paper and bubble wrap the holiday decor and replacing it with the items I'd boxed up just a month ago.

Yes, Christmas is behind us. And in 3 1/2 hours, 2015 will be behind me as well.

2015 was, like every year, one of ups and downs, struggles and successes, joys and sorrows. My oldest child buying his first house, the youngest moving twice due to her career. My oldest  interviewing at hospitals back home and deciding where he wants to practice medicine after his residency ends in June; my daughter graduating with her Masters, accepting her first full-time position in her field and then just a few months later receiving another, better offer. My oldest becoming engaged; my youngest suffering her first real heartbreak.

Of course, those things didn't happen to me. Yet they did. My heart exults with each wonderful event in my children's lives, and it breaks when they hurt.

But what did 2015 bring me personally? It began with a move "back home" and a 2-hour each way commute to work several days a week. Summer found me undergoing my 1st-ever surgery (oral surgery doesn't count) -- arthroscopy to repair a severely-torn meniscus. And, of course, I worked and cleaned house and did laundry and weeded the garden and walked and read and knitted and wrote.

And now, the year is almost gone,and I've begun to look ahead to 2016, to what I want to focus on and what I want to accomplish in the next 12 months.

First and foremost, I want to grow spiritually. My baby steps last year have only caused me to want to take bigger steps and then bigger still.

I want intend to begin living again. Really live, not just get up when the alarm goes off and do what needs to be done each day before going back to bed at evening's end. I am determined to stop just thinking and talking about what I want my life to look like and, instead, take the steps necessary to create that life. Risky? But necessary.

But what does that mean? What will it involve?

It means I'm going to remove the things that weigh me down -- the glances backward at what my life used to be and what I've lost, the parts of me that don't fit anymore, the behaviors I developed out of need long ago and that have become habit.

It will involve me writing and revising and editing a book. It will involve me completing the 12 monthly challenges I set for myself and doing at least 4 things on my "100 Things I Want to Do" list. It will involve me jettisoning  possessions and obligations I've kept out of habit.

It will require me to take risks both personally and professionally. Big risks in some cases. Scary risks, even.

A dear friend sent me the following in a Facebook pm.

comingyearquote

The kiss, I'm not too sure of. From where I sit now, I can't imagine that scenario. But I think I may be open to it . . . finally.

But the rest? Magic and good dreams and good madness. Reading fine books. Creating art. Living as only I can. Surprising myself.

That, I'm ready for. That is exactly what I want 2016 to bring.

No, that's what I'm going to make happen.

 

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Ahhh . . . the Joy of Pieces Falling into Place

I'm a nerd. Not in the way most people might define the word -- I'm not technologically gifted nor am I at all interested in math, science, Star Wars, Star Trek, playing video games, or anything along those lines.

I'm a nerd in the sense that I love challenges and checklists and setting goals and subgoals. And when any 2 of those things somehow dovetail, I am almost giddy.

What happened last night is a good example of those small moments that bring me great, nerdy joy.

I decided a few weeks ago to participate in "52 Books in 52 Weeks 2016". I love to read and regularly read at least 2 books a week (except finals week each semester). Now, you might be thinking that it's a bit silly for a person that already more than exceeds a challenge to participate in that challenge, but I just can't resist! I'm nerdy that way.

I'm also participating in "16 in 2016", a challenge/treat group I created*. My January challenge is to sort through every closet, drawer, bin, box, and cabinet, donating or selling or throwing away anything I don't love and/or use on a regular basis.

The continuous rain and stormy weather has kept me inside, and I was feeling a bit antsy, so I decided yesterday evening to get a jump start on my January challenge by decluttering the family room. I packed away Christmas decorations (more on that in a future post, I think) first and then moved around the room, quickly going through the 2 drawers in the end table before moving on to the entertainment center/book shelf I made from a dresser.

I sorted through my videos quickly and made quick work of the board games. Then I moved on to my books (which I'd already downsized before I moved last February), and that's when 2 pieces fell into place.

As I began going through my books, I made 2 stacks. A short pile of reference-type books that I use fairly regularly went back on the shelf. I was left with a stack of about 38 books that I have either not read in a long time or have not yet had time to read. I don't know if I *love* them, so I don't know if I should keep them.

I decided I need to read each one, but when would I have the time? Then I remembered the "52 Books" challenge, and it dawned on me that the first 38 books I would read were those in that second stack. I'd be meeting the "52 Books" challenge while at the same time determining whether or not each book was a keeper.

Did I say earlier that when a goal and a challenge dovetail I become "almost" giddy?

Well, in this case, I felt absolutely giddy. So much so that after I moved the 38 books to the open bottom section of my nightstand, I treated myself to a piece of Christmas-dinner chocolate cream pie with a hefty dollop of whipped cream.

I may be a nerd, but I'm a happy one!

*If you are interested in learning more about the "16 in 2016" challenge & Facebook group, you can read more about it here:  facebook.com/groups/121017364936892   or you can request to join the group on Facebook. There are already around 25 participants, and we'd love for you to join us!

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

16 in 2016

I haven't made New Year's resolutions for several years, and this year will be no different. Instead, I've created a Facebook group called "16 in 2016". I hope that after reading the overview (from the Facebook page) posted below, you'll decide to join the group. If so, search for "16 in 2016", request to join, and I'll add you.

"16 in 2016" Overview

Follow the steps below to prepare for your participation in 16 in 2016:

1. Brainstorm a list of "challenges". A challenge can involve *adding* something to your life, *removing* something from your life, or *replacing* something in your life. Think of changes you are willing and reasonably able to sustain for a month.

[A list of ideas is provided as a file on the Facebook page]

2. Hopefully, you have a nice little list of things you. Choose 12 , and assign each of those 12 challenges to a month in 2016. Remember, you are going to make that change for an entire month.

3. Now it's time for the "treats". Brainstorm a list of things you would really like to do, that you think would be fun, something you have never done or perhaps that you haven't done in a long time. These treats should be fairly big; each one should be something that takes all day or even an entire weekend (or longer). If you have a "bucket list" (btw, I despise that term; I call my list "100 Things" -- for the 100 things I want to do), you could choose items off that list.

[A "treats" file with some ideas is provided on the Facebook page]

4. Choose 4 of those treats you listed; commit to doing one each quarter of the year (Jan-March, April-June, etc). I'm going to treat myself each quarter, no matter whether or not I am able to complete the monthly challenges that quarter, but you might choose to only reward yourself with the treat if you complete 1, 2, or 3 of the challenges. You get to create the guidelines that work for you.

12 monthly challenges + 4 rewards = 16 in 2016!

Near the end of each month (beginning December 2015), I'll post a "Monthly Challenge" post. I hope you'll chime in and share what you're challenging yourself to do that month. Of course, if you would prefer not to share your challenge for a particular month, that's great, too! Just chime in and say you're adding/removing/exchanging something but don't want to be any more specific.

Near the end of each quarter (beginning with December 2015), I'll also add a "Quarter Treat" post. Again, feel free to share what you will be treating yourself with the coming quarter.

Throughout the month, we can chat about whatever you want -- how the challenge is going, an update (pictures are great!) of your treat, or anything else you want to talk about *except* controversial topics such as politics or serious social issues. I'd like this group to be a place to chat and have fun, encourage one another, share concerns, etc., but not to get into deep discussions/debates.

If you have any questions, please post them here [on the Facebook site or here on the blog]; I'll respond as quickly as possible.

One last thing. I've set this group to "Closed". Anyone on Facebook can see the group exists and can ask to join; only members can see the posts. If you "Follow" this group, the posts will appear on your wall, but your friends will not see them.

As a member, you can add other members, so feel free to tell others about this group and to add any friends that are interested!

Friday, December 11, 2015

Reflections

I'm very excited again this week to join a talented group of women bloggers in an online, unedited flash mob free write. This week, the word-prompt given to us by our fearless leader Kate Motaung (whose wonderful blog can be found at katemotaung.com) is reflect. My timer is set for 5 minutes; ready, set,

Reflect. I would bet that, if we were somehow able to track this sort of thing, we'd find that the word reflect sees more usage in December, particularly the latter 1/2 of the month, than it does in the entire previous 11 months. December is a time we're all encouraged to look back over the year this drawing to a close, to ponder the good -- our accomplishments, the fun times -- as well as the not so good.

The whole point, or at least what I think is the purpose,of this time of reflection is to pause for a moment and celebrate those moments that perhaps a person didn't have time to celebrate in the busy-ness of the moment or perhaps didn't celebrate because, at the time, he/she couldn't see that the moment was worthy of celebration. With the distance of even a few months and the perspective they bring, time can be spent celebrating and its importance can be seen.

Conversely, this time of reflection allows a person to look back objectively on those moments that were not celebratory and perhaps see patterns of behavior that need attention. Perhaps the behavior is directly that of the reflector (how's that for overly-formal language!); perhaps the reflector can see that he/she has a habit of making commitments and not following through on them.

Perhaps, the behavior is in response to another person's behavior. A friend told me this time last year, that as she reflected on 2014, she realized that she had, time and again, covered for her teens' seemingly-inconsequential rule-breaking in order to keep their father from finding out about behavior that didn't bother her but did violate family rules they had all agreed on. She told me had to face the fact that she had disrespected her husband by her dishonesty in not expressing at the appropriate time how she really felt about the rule and by lying to him. Similarly, she disrespected her teens by teaching them that breaking the rules is okay if you disagree with them, lying to someone is okay if you think the reason is worthy of a lie, and (more specifically) by modeling to her teens what an unhealthy marriage relationship looks like.

Reflection can be a good thing.

It can be a very dangerous thing as well.

As I reflected back on 2014 near the end of last December, I was forced to face the fact that I spent much of the year reflecting on the past, focusing on what my life used to be, on what our family used to be, on what was no more. As a result, I mourned the past when I should have been living the present.

I think that was normal for where I was at the time. Who knows.

But in 2015, I made an effort to look back only briefly and only in healthy ways.

So now, near the end of 2015, I reflect on whether or not I've done that.

Sometimes, yes. Sometimes, no. And again, I think that's pretty normal for my circumstances. Hopefully, prayerfully, in 2016 I'll be more consistent in looking to the past in healthy ways.

And this time next year, I'll reflect again to see how well I've done.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Ho, ho, ho, What Would Jesus Say?

I know I'm not alone in my love for almost everything Christmas.

I particularly love that that the family room is adorned with a beautiful tree hung with ornaments collected over the years or made by my children when they were much younger; the fireplace mantle's normal decorations have been replaced by stockings "hung with care" and Christmas cards from loved ones near and far; and that everywhere I look are snowmen and snowmen and Santas of various sizes and type of craftsmanship.

The red-sweater Scentsy emits a warm glow and the gorgeous scent of a Christmas tree, and candles and holiday decor placed throughout the house gives it a much-needed makeover every year when cold weather keeps me indoors.

I'm also a big fan of Christmas goodies -- cookies of all sorts, divinity, and fudge (but only the type made in a cast-iron skillet with Hershey's chocolate, milk, lots of stirring, and a test ball in a glass of cold water to see if it's ready to be poured on a buttered plate).

I don't get as excited about Christmas music. I like it, of course, and I sing along with it at the appropriate time, but I don't seek it out unless I'm decorating or baking or it's Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.

One thing I really don't like about Christmas is the constant preoccupation with the seasonal greeting businesses place on their signs or people use as a greeting or  farewell. In fact, I'll just say it outright:

I don't care if a person prefers to say "Merry Christmas"!

I don't care if someone says Happy Holidays instead of Merry Christmas!

There. I said it. I've been itching to post that on Facebook, where people have been frantically sharing "If you love Jesus you'll say Merry Christmas" memes.

While I don't care what greeting people use, I am bothered by the fact that the posters of these memes, and many of those who agree with them, are essentially determining what it is that reflects the nature of another person's relationship with God.

I'm in the last week of a very well-respected, Biblically based, non-denominational 12-week Bible study on knowing and loving God. Each week, I've sat down at the table 6 mornings a week and read the 3-5 page lesson, consulted Scripture, and answered another 3-5 pages of questions (and this book is not a small one -- the pages are 8 1/2 x 11 -- that's a lot of material!). In all of those pages, in all of the hundreds of Scriptures, and in the various commentaries I've consulted, what I've learned about knowing and loving God comes down to this:  a person who loves God will obey God. Not a single reference to using any specific, or God-approved, phrase.

I wonder, too, why some people feel it's imperative that "Christ" be the root word of the phrase used so that the everyone is reminded that Christmas is about the birth of Christ. Yes, I know that Christ's birth is essential to Christianity.

The same Person's death and resurrection 3 days afterward is also essential to another very important Christian holiday, yet not a single "Merry Christmas" hardliner I know ever questions the fact that "Christ" is not a part of the word "Easter".

Besides, "Holiday" originated from "holy day"; and isn't Christmas, in fact, a holy day?

But what really stands out to me about the posturing on social media and elsewhere as well as the hand-slapping of those Christians who refuse to boycott stores using "Happy Holidays" or who {gasp} actually send Christmas cards with that phrase, utter it aloud, or use it in any other way is this.

Jesus made it very clear, more than once, how He felt about those who practice their faith publicly in order to show their righteousness. To save you some google time, I'll share just one of quote of Jesus' words from the Bible (Matthew 6:1):

"Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven."

Is it wrong for a person to prefer "Merry Christmas" over "Happy Holidays"? According to all the Scripture I have read after weeks of googling, various respected concordances, and red-letter New Testament passages in letters on Christian conduct penned by the human writers of the New Testament -- absolutely not.

Is it wrong for such a person to take upon themselves the role of doctrine-maker and then judge of those not practicing their man-made doctrine?

I don't need to answer that question. Jesus already did.

Monday, December 7, 2015

All I Want for Christmas

Video provided to get you into the mood before reading my Christmas Wish List:     All I Want for Christmas by The Chipmunks  

Why would I, a woman who has throughout her adult life resisted requests for a Christmas wish list and only produced one when prodded and nagged, willingly produce one this year, when only 2-3 people are giving me a gift, and none of them have requested such a list?

That's a good question. But before I answer it, I need to explain why, once I reached adulthood, I tried year after year to worm out of making a Christmas list.

One reason is that, at least as far as gifts go, I love surprises. Really love them.

Additionally, I could rarely think of anything I wanted and, when I did, it was something that wasn't mass-produced in a factory somewhere and sold by the dozen at a local department store. On the contrary, I wanted items that are hard to describe -- a hand-made quilt of a design that I would fall in love with as soon as I saw it, for example, or a hand-knitted scarf that would be perfect with my winter coat.

The last reason -- the most important reason -- is that I want people to think of what they know about me and then give me what they feel is a great gift for me. I love seeing what people who know and love me choose!

This year I feel comfortable making a Christmas gift list because I know the 2-3 people who will be buying or making me a gift either already have or don't read my blog (but I love my son anyway, of course lol). There's absolutely no chance that anyone is going to feel pressured to run out and buy me any of these things even if they could, so I can dream big and be completely honest.

That said, my parents did teach me the importance of graciously accepting a willingly-given gift, so Wealthy Celebrity Who Has Happened Upon This Blog, feel free to add me to your Christmas shopping list!

Patti's 2015 Christmas Wish                                                              *items listed in order, "want-wise"


**no "world peace" or "for my children to be healthy and happy -- this is admittedly a list of things for me




  1. To be able to retire without being old enough to retire -- immediately. This gift will, by necessity, need to be a renewed gift for the next 5 years. If I only get one gift, this is the one I want to find under my tree on Christmas morning.

  2. A mortgage-free very small home with a small yard in my hometown -- neighborhood to be disclosed as when needed

  3. A friend who is a proficient in digital scrapbooking who is willing to teach me and scrapbook with me at least once a month until I get 29 years worth of scrapbooks created for my son and daughter

  4. A new class-B camper (for the non-camper, a class-B is a converted van)

  5. A red Prius (I miss my old one) -- the electric model would be fantastic

  6. An already-housebroken German Shepherd puppy (from a specific breeder I'm already acquainted with)  accompanied by a gift certificate for all necessary training sessions


There you have it. Happy shopping!

 

Sunday, November 22, 2015

My One & Only Gratitude Post for 2015!

November is, of course, a month in which we focus on what we are thankful for. Television commercials spotlight happy families preparing for Thanksgiving Day festivities, and various social media venues are filled with posts by people participating in a myriad of gratitude challenges.

Every year since I joined Facebook, I've participated in a "30 Days of Gratitude" challenge in which, each day, participants share one thing they are thankful for. I decided not to participate this year, but if I had, my very first post would have been about my son and daughter. Nothing -- absolutely nothing -- brings as much joy to my life. As in previous years, I would have gone on through the month to list the good health my children and I enjoy, my home, living in the United States, extended family, etc.

But this year's "gratitude list" would, no doubt, include a new addition -- friendship with my 90+-year-old pen pal. I've shared before about how I came to visit PB, as I'll refer to him, this summer after he moved to a local nursing home after surgery in which his right leg was amputated. Over several weeks between his move to that nursing home and his subsequent  move to a different home near two of his daughters several states away, I was privileged to get to know PB as we chatted several times a week.

After PB moved, we began corresponding. Letters from PB are like conversations with PB -- intriguing and engaging and, I don't mind admitting, often far above my head.

To my reference to a desire to someday take sailing lessons, he responded with several discussions on the design and building of sailboats and sails (PB has designed and built several sailboats and everything needed for those vessels). We've discussed politics and even poetry. With every letter, I am amazed at the depth and breadth of PB's interests and knowledge and at his intellectual vigor -- his passion for learning even more exceeds that of the vast majority of people of any age.

His last letter is, without a doubt, the most amazing so far. Three typed pages -- single-spaced at that -- in which he shares with me his thoughts on the theory of relativity. I don't mind admitting that until I began reading PB's latest missive, I hadn't given a single thought to this topic in my entire life. I took the bare minimum of science courses through high school and college, and if an instructor ever spent any time at all on the subject, I must have been daydreaming.

PB was a college professor, and it is evident as I read his letters that he was a great one. Through his discussion, even I could make sense of quite a bit of what he shared concerning the theory of relativity. When I refolded his letter and slipped it in my letter box, I was smiling with the satisfaction that comes from grasping concepts that until then were unclear and seemingly beyond my grasp.

PB makes me chuckle, and he makes me think. He gives me a reason to look forward to checking the mailbox and a reason to do something I've always loved to do -- write real, honest-to-goodness letters.

He causes me see my own life, my own circumstances, from a broader perspective, and in doing so, he makes me appreciate anew the many blessings I have.

He's the reason I give you a very important piece of advice today. I know you're busy; I know that, in fact, this is probably your busiest time of the year. You have turkeys to baste and pumpkin pies to bake, presents to buy and wrap and adorn with bows, school concerts and Sunday School programs to attend, and perhaps even activities to plan for a pesky Elf on a Shelf.

Those are very important things -- admirable, even. So much so that I hesitate to ask you to do another thing, and if it weren't so important, I wouldn't even mention it.

But it is.

Reach out to someone that you otherwise wouldn't. Not just once, but make them a regular part of your life. That elderly widow who sits alone in church every week? Sit with her next Sunday and invite her to your home for lunch afterward. The young college student who interns part-time in your office? Take her out to lunch this week. The middle-aged empty-nesters that moved in down the street this summer? You know -- the ones you kept intending to take cookies to but now it's too late. Build a fire in your outdoor fire pit and invite them over for hot chocolate or a glass of wine one evening. Whoever you reach out to, make them a part of your family, of your life.

I can't guarantee that the elderly widow or the college intern or the new neighbors will be the blessing to you that PB has been to me.

But I can guarantee you that reaching out to others will in itself enrich and bless your life.

So while I'm not participating in a Facebook gratitude challenge this year, if I were, my list would start like this:

  1. my son and daughter

  2. my pen pal -- PB


 

I'm also very, very thankful for you. I know how busy you are and that you have so many blogs you could visit. I do not take your being here lightly. I am thankful every day that I have the opportunity to write here and that others choose to read what I've shared. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!!

 

 

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Friends on Paper

Although I had friends and even a best friend as a child, my closest friends weren't flesh and blood, nor were they imaginary. Instead, talented and gifted writers created the girls that I, a young girl who lacked self-confidence and never seemed to master all the social dos and don'ts the other girls were so adept at, was comfortable with.

Some of those friendships were fleeting; Cherry Ames, for example, was a dear friend until I realized there was no way I could draw blood or empty bed pans.  But there were other girls, girls who were longtime pals. There was Nancy, an intrepid and confident teenage sleuth who drove a convertible, and Anne, a young red-head orphan whose fiery temper masked a heard that was tender and easily bruised, and Trixie, who was always getting herself involved in all sorts of mysteries and was a member of a girls' club.

I grew up and left Nancy and Anne and Trixie behind. I continued to read voraciously, but until recently, the characters in books were just that -- interesting protagonists who entertained me for awhile and who, other than Kinsey Millhone, existed on the pages of only one book.

And then, in 2006 or so, I discovered Rainey Valentine, who led me to her sister Charlene and a wonderful group of people who live in Valentine, Oklahoma, and finally to Marilee. In the pages of her "Valentine, Oklahoma" books, author Curtiss Ann Matlock has created women who struggle with the same things we real-life women struggle with, whose parents age and pass on, whose hearts get broken, who have endearing quirks, who work hard and love much and have faith. Women who are sometimes strong and other times not so sure of themselves, women who are are busy raising young children and women who are navigating the middle or even latter years of their life with vibrant intention. Matlock quickly became my favorite author.

Last year, I discovered Paul Osborne, a retired dentist and avid fisherman living in a small town on a Milwaukee lake, My acquaintance with Paul was almost very short-lived; I've rarely been all that captivated by male protagonists, but there was something about the writing of Victoria Houston that made me want to read just one more page . . . and then another. Before I knew it, Paul and I were sharing lunch -- well, I was eating a sandwich while Paul was helping his new friend and eventual love interest, Sheriff Lewellyn Ferris, solve mysteries and fishing at day's end. Houston creates such an enticing picture of Wisconsin in her "Loon Lake" series that I, a die-hard winter-hater, am even a bit tempted to head north. And a real-life Paul Osborne? Well, if anyone could tempt me to be interested in dating again . . .

Just recently, through a free e-book, I found another friend I almost walked away from after a very brief introduction. Rose Brownlee lives in the 1800's, and (other than a few mysteries and a book here and there over the years) I've never been all that fond of historical fiction. But like Victoria Houston, Vikki Kestell created characters and a story that kept me reading. And reading. Through, so far, six "Prairie Heritage" books and the companion "Girls from the Mountain" series. I've followed Rose and her husband Jan and then their daughter Joy through various trials and triumphs and have enjoyed the journey immensely. The Prairie Heritage books have not only captured my interest, they've enriched my spiritual life in a way novels usually do not.

If you are sitting there, brow furrowed, concerned about my sanity, you aren't a Reader (yes, the R is capital on purpose -- there's a difference between a reader and a Reader). You don't open the pages of a book and fall into the story told on its pages. You don't wonder about what happened to the characters after that last chapter comes to a close. You haven't wished the characters lived next door to you. You don't have favorite books that you read over and over. Books that you can pick up, open to any random page, and read for a few minutes while you take a quick lunch break.

These characters -- and a few more I'll write about soon -- have helped make lonely evenings less lonely. The lovely folks of Valentine, Oklahoma, even helped me move through the weeks and months in the first few years after I lost my husband. I can't explain it -- I just know it's true. And if you're a Reader, you don't need me to explain it. You know exactly what I mean.

These writers -- Curtiss Ann Matlock and Victoria Houston and Vikki Kestell -- are who I want to be when I grow up. Heck, I want to be their personal assistant!

Instead, I'll read their books and enter the worlds they've created, and I'll enjoy every single moment I'm there.

If you haven't yet read any books by these 3 very talented writers, you can find get them through your local bookstore or, of course, at amazon.com. I didn't even begin to do them justice here -- trust me, I could talk for hours about each series I wrote about here. You'll just have to read -- and enjoy -- them for yourself, and I hope you do!

I also want to add that I received absolutely no compensation, not even any a single book, from these authors or from amazon.com in exchange for this post. These authors don't even know I've written and posted this. :)   

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Neither Hate nor Fear

In recent days, I (and those who share at least one of my convictions) have been accused of being "haters"; others have accused me of being consumed by or motivated by fear.

Why? Because I believe that the laws of this land are exactly that -- laws. I believe that our elected officials and our judicial system (those who rule on laws and determine their constitutionality) have put into place a system of immigration laws that are fair to those attempting to enter the United States *and* that serves to help safeguard the safety of those living here.

When I stated that yesterday, someone not-so-nicely reminded me that the current immigration policies haven't always been in place. My response is three-fold:

  1. I know that! And I don't care what the laws used to be. We don't enforce laws that are no longer "on the books", nor should we. But we must enforce those laws we currently have. If we're not going to follow these laws, there's a few I don't want to follow, too. (No more federal income tax bites for me!)

  2. There's a reason the laws today aren't the same as they've always been. Laws change -- as necessary -- as society and its needs and the context change.

  3. If you do not like the current immigration laws, get off Facebook and other social media and work through the proper channels to bring about the change you would like to see.


More importantly, though, I want to respond to those accusations that I am a "hater", acting out of fear.

First, I do not hate the Syrian refugees. In fact, I feel great compassion for them and pray for them (and not just once a day out of habit). BUT, and this is important, no person, no country can fix every problem. The US already takes in 70% of immigrants taken in world-wide. We've hardly turned our backs on those in dire straights. But just as we should and must welcome with open arms those who enter legally, we must protect those who already reside here. I know I've said that last part before, but it bears repeating because some of you seem to be missing (or perhaps conveniently ignoring it for some reason?) that point.

Secondly, I don't fear a terrorist or terrorism. I know Who is in charge, and I know that I will die someday. I'd prefer to go peacefully -- preferably in my sleep after close to 100 years of vibrant living, but if that's not the plan, so be it. But I'm not going to worry about death between now and when it comes knocking at the door. Oh, I'll eat right and exercise, to maintain a good quality of life, but that's about it.

In fact, on Thanksgiving Day, I'll be attending what is, according to the experts, an event that is every terrorist's dream -- an NFL game in Dallas, Texas. If I were really afraid, I'd stay home. And I'd be keeping my beloved son and daughter home with me. Trust me!

Do I sound grumpy? Just a tad? Well, I am. I'm tired of people ignoring the facts, conveniently ignoring what is actually said, and taking it upon themselves to tell me what I think and feel. Those people overstep their bounds and common sense.

They are also hypocrites.

They accuse those of us who want immigrants vetted as the law requires of stereotyping, of lumping all Syrians immigrants together into one big lump and labelling them all "terrorists". And while I've already explained that that isn't true, the greater point for this paragraph is that they do this while at the same time lumping together all of us who advocate vetting all immigrants as the law requires into one large lump and calling us "haters" and even racist.

Definitely hypocritical!

And please, don't tell me what God wants me to do. I read the same Bible you do. Yes, we're to love our neighbors as ourselves.

But Luke 10:19 says, "Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you."

According to every concordance I've consulted, "serpents" and "scorpions" refer to those who do evil.

If individuals who burn other humans alive while watching and laughing and filming the act are not evil, I don't know who is.

If individuals who put a group of people in a cage, submerge it in water while watching on underwater cameras so that, when it appears their victims are almost dead, they can pull the cage out of the water, let their captives get their breath for a few minutes and then submerge the cage again . . . and again . . . and again aren't evil, then who is?

If individuals who rape and torture and maim and kill women and young girls, who torture and maim and kill little boys, young men, and the elderly aren't evil in your eyes, I'd like to know how *you* define evil.

So stop it! Stop the second-guessing and the name-calling. Contact the immigration folks and tell them you are more than willing to sponsor a houseful of Syrian immigrants. Fix up the basement; better yet, put a couple of extra beds in each of your bedrooms. Bunking parties are so much fun!

What? You can't do that? You don't have the financial resources? You don't have room?

Well, neither does this country!

Oh, it's not that? What is it? You don't know these folks and don't want to invite into your home and the home of your kids people you don't know, whose backgrounds you don't know, and whose intentions you don't know?

Hey! What are you afraid of?

Saturday, November 14, 2015

What's a Person to Do?

I try to avoid controversial topics here for several reasons. Today, though, I'm going to broach an issue that I've struggled with from time to time over the years. You may well disagree with what I say here, and of course, that's fine and natural. I hope though, that no matter how vehemently you oppose my view, you will treat me with grace. Remember that I am only a human trying to muddle her way through this very sensitive issue. If you share your opposition via a comment, please disagree respectfully. Thank you so much!

In recent days, controversy regarding the infamous "red cups" has dominated social media; yesterday, the cups became unimportant in the wake of the terrorist attacks in Paris.

As different as the two events seem, as trivial as the first is in comparison to the other, a very definite, very troubling connection exists between the two. At least, it exists in my mind. :)

Early in the red cup discussion, I began seeing posts connecting that issue with the issue of fostering and adopting children. As best I could tell, the premise behind those comments, posted by those who are (and rightfully so) very passionate about fostering and adopting children in need of homes, goes along the lines of "why are we arguing about something as trivial as the color of coffee cups when there are desperately hurting children in need of our love and a home?"  That's a good point and one I definitely agree with. Until Starbucks puts a truly offensive symbol or message (a swastika, for example) on their cups, I'm not going to get even slightly riled up.

The pro-fostering & adopting posts went further, though. They quickly went from "this is more important than red cups" to comments in which those who haven't fostered or adopted were chastised -- sometimes gently so, other times more strongly -- for not fostering or adopting a child.

And that's where, to me at least, the connection comes between the red cup controversy and the tragic events in Paris yesterday.

You see, when I was younger, I planned to foster children and eventually even adopt a child. I wanted children of my own (and was blessed with two), but I hoped that, God willing, to open my home to children in need of one.

When I shared my dream with my then-new husband, he was adamant that he would never foster or adopt a child. I was aghast that the man that I had known to be a loving, Christian man was so heartless. I tried to explain to him that he was wrong. But I finally closed my mouth, opened my ears, and listened to why he felt as he did.

Long story short, in the case of every fostering or adoption situation he was aware of (and granted, his experience was relatively limited), the foster/adoptive family had endured tremendous difficulty -- physical, emotional, financial -- as a result of taking in a child (or children in need). In all honesty, I had to admit that I could think of only a few situations, of the many I was aware of both in my extended family and as a teacher, that contradicted his experience.

I know my experience and that of my husband was limited -- and mine still is. But in all honesty, I have to admit that I can think of only a few foster/adoptive families that have not experienced significant damage of some sort because they opened their homes and hearts. Yes, I know more than a few people who have faced similar issues with their biologically-born children, but by nowhere near the frequency or severity.

In fact, one woman in the small community my husband and I lived in for several years (the one he grew up in) was murdered in her kitchen by the 2 boys she and her husband had fostered and were in the process of adopting. The more I observed, the more I understood my husband's concerns.

Yet, Jesus tells us to love our brother, to feed His sheep, to practice hospitality to the orphans and the needy. He also calls on me to follow Him and trust Him for all the rest. But the pragmatic side of me shuddered at the thought of exposing my children to the risk of true harm.

So what does that have to do with Paris? Many are now speculating (perhaps prematurely) that yesterday's attack is a result of the influx of middle-Eastern refugees. That may prove to be true. And it raises a moral dilemma.

How do we, as compassionate human beings who care about their fellow man, balance that compassion with other issues such as physical safety, financial issues, etc?

How does a family, already struggling to make ends meet perhaps, add more children to the mix? Similarly, how does a country already under a heavy financial burden that comes from providing health care and a wide range of assistance to thousands, perhaps millions, of people already, take in hundreds of thousand, perhaps millions, more who will need those same services?

How does a couple that rightfully makes every effort to provide a physically and emotionally safe environment for their children bring in children that may well put their safety at risk? How does a government that has an obligation to protect the public welcome immigrants that pose a very real potential threat to the citizenry?

There are other considerations, of course. And it's not a black-white, right-wrong issue. Far from it.

It's an issue we grapple with all the time, even on a smaller, more daily scale. Bear with me for just one example.

You see a person by the side of the road, holding a sign saying they are homeless and have a wife and 5 hungry children. Do you stop? You lost your job and your husband's hours have been cut; you've cancelled cable and other luxuries and are still living paycheck to paycheck. Do you give away money your family needs to someone who might be a scam artist? Do you roll down your window and expose yourself to the risk of violence? Doing so has result in injury and even death to some Good Samaritans.

I struggle daily with the balance between compassion and prudence on a personal level and in my job.

I don't have the answers. Oh, how I wish I did.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Weary . . . of Weariness

I'm very excited again this week to join a talented group of women bloggers in an online, unedited flash mob free write. This week, the word-prompt given to us by our fearless leader Kate Motaung (whose wonderful blog can be found at katemotaung.com) is "weary". My timer is set for 5 minutes; ready, set,

Once again, the word Kate has chosen is, for me, ironic. You see, I haven't written on my blog (or participated in FMF) for over a month. Not because I don't love the FMF group or love to write. I've just been so darned weary.

You see, 2 months and 4 days ago, I entered my 7th year of widowhood. The first year was rough; the second year was actually worse; the third year was almost as bad as the 2nd. But I've moved on from the sharp grief, with it's ragged edges that scraped relentlessly at my heart and soul.

Somewhere in the past 3 years, that sharp grief faded away, although it comes back to life from time to time, like a horrible phoenix. I noticed it's lessening; I noticed something else as well.

My soul, my heart are proof of what a very smart person (probably a scientist) determined long ago -- nature abhors a vacuum. You see, when the gut-wrenching, mind-numbing grief departed, something moved right on in to the space left behind.

Like water dripping on a stone, weariness began to erode my spirit and my heart.

Oh, I put a good face on it. I go to work and even a social event from time to time. I smile and laugh and converse as if all is well. I'm really good at it. Heck, if I had a dollar for every time in the past 6+ years someone has told me how "strong" I am, how impressed at how I've soldiered on . . . well, I'm not sure how many dollars I would have collected, but it would be quite a few.

I even pretend that my days are filled with productive activity. When asked, and that rarely happens when you live alone, what I did all day, I can recite a list of activities that make me sound like a dynamo. But between you and me . . . my recitation is fabricated. Things are not getting knitted, the kids' scrapbooks are not being created (really? look at all those reminders of what is no more?), books are not being written.

But enough is enough. I'm tired of being weary. I'm tired of just getting by. I want to wake up every day invigorated and excited to see what the day will bring. I want to go to bed every night, tired in a good way, in a way that speaks of a well-lived day, a day not just survived, but lived.

How do I get to that point? Sheer determination, one moment at a time.

Can I do it? I sure hope so.

Thank you for reading. I realize this wasn't the uplifting, inspirational post you would prefer to read, but you stuck with me to the end. I hope I haven't scared you off, that you'll come back to see how my journey continues. 

 

 

 

 

 

Friday, October 16, 2015

Green? Not a Huge Fan

I'm very excited again this week to join a talented group of women bloggers in an online, unedited flash mob free write. This week, the word-prompt given to us by our fearless leader Kate Motaung (whose wonderful blog can be found at katemotaung.com) is "green". My timer is set for 5 minutes; ready, set,

It's been a long, rough week. Every day was long, with time out for only one rushed meal each evening (and one of those evenings that meal was Instant Breakfast). I won't bore you with details; trust me when I say it was stressful.

I was a bit cranky at the end of every day. I'll admit that. However, I am over it. I'm not cranky now, and you need to know that before you read on. Let me set the mood. It's Friday. I don't work on Friday. I have been up for a few hours, doing my devotion, puttering around the house contentedly. I am in a wonderful mood. Now, read on.

I strongly dislike green.

I would say I hate green, but there are a few green things I like, so green gets a "strongly dislike" rating from me.

Let's get those things I do like out of the way first.

I like: asparagus, broccoli, grass, emeralds (my birthstone) and the cute little outfits the Keebler elves wear. (That last one was a stretch, I know.)

The list of what I don't like is about as long, but I'd like to explain.

I don't like the so-called "green" movement. There's no time to go into a lengthy explanation here, so don't blast me based on this very, very limited explanation. While I do think all of us, myself included, should be more caring of the beautiful world our Lord gave us, I am disgusted that many individuals and groups have: lied, shoved their agenda down the throats of Americans, appropriated funds that I believe should go elsewhere (funding cancer research comes to mind and so does taking care of our veterans), acted hypocritically, taken facts/information out of context, and . . . .

Other than the above-mentioned asparagus and broccoli, I am not a big fan of green vegetables. Green beans are okay, but I don't particularly *like* them. I eat them; I don't seek them out. If given as a choice on a restaurant menu, I don't order them. Lettuce? No taste unless accompanied by salad dressing. I'd rather just enjoy my Ranch dressing on -- you got it -- fresh broccoli (and cauliflower, which isn't green, so I put it in parenthesis). The other greens -- kale, chard, mustard greens, collard, and the like? Sorry, Vegetarians, but I really, really don't like them. Not a bit.

Green clothes. Green does not in any way complement my hair color or skin tone. Nor does it bring out the blue in my eyes, although my mother always said it did. In other words, green does not look good on me. More accurately and honestly, it's me that doesn't look good in green.

I can't even say I like green money. I appreciate what I can do with it and the security that it gives me, but I don't like the stress that comes with acquiring it. I don't like the importance that it has. Okay, I can be and should be honest here. I don't like the importance *I've allowed it to have*.

I can't think of any other green things and the timer is about to run out. Oh, green apples. I don't care for them, either. Too tart.

Green. I'm not a huge fan.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Working on that Trust Thing

I'm very excited again this week to join a talented group of women bloggers in an online, unedited flash mob free write. This week, the word-prompt given to us by our fearless leader Kate Motaung (whose wonderful blog can be found at katemotaung.com) is "trust". My timer is set for 5 minutes; ready, set,

I have no trouble trusting others. In fact, I demonstrate my blind trust in individuals about whom I know absolutely nothing every single day.

Several days a week, I jump in my car and drive to the City, where I drive 60 mph busy highways, blithely trusting other drivers on the road to stay in their own lanes.

On those same days, I go to my community college job, implicitly trusting those that share the campus with me not to resort to the violence that has tragically erupted on college campuses with increasing frequency.

I trust all numbers and kinds of people. My doctors -- I have never asked for a transcript of their medical school grades. The folks at McDonalds -- despite the fact that I've read Fast Food Nation several times.

I think you get the idea. I go about the business of my life every day, blindly trusting the people I come into contact with.

As a human, I have no problem trusting other humans. But what about as a Christian. Do I have a problem trusting God?

I know I'm supposed to trust Him. Stories illustrating that point fill the Bible. Remember Abraham? God told Abraham to trust him and to obey him, even to the point of sacrificing his beloved son Isaac. Abraham trusted God to the point of raising the knife over his son to plunge it into his body. We all know how that story ends (if not, you can find it in Genesis 22).

Of course, I can't forget the story of Moses leading the Israelites out Egypt (Exodus 14). The parting of the Red Sea? If that doesn't illustrate that I'm to trust God, I don't know what does.

Yes, the Bible is filled with accounts that prove God can be trusted.

And I've been raised in the church. I even attended parochial school; for 9 years, I began every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday morning with 30 minutes of Bible study and every Wednesday with chapel. I attended Sunday School and church faithfully.

know I'm supposed to trust God.

Yet for the vast majority of my life here on earth, I have done exactly the opposite. I've prayed the right prayers, said the right words, but then I've gone on about my business, making decisions as see fit and as they fit my plans because I know my plans are the right ones.

But I've realized lately that I still haven't fully put my trust in him. I'm at a crossroads in my life, and I'm finding that as I make decisions, I am still holding back from trusting God without reservation.

What if He calls me to leave where I currently live? What if God sends me to Alaska? Not only is it far away from where my daughter lives and from where my son will be living as of next summer, but it's cold there, and God knows (literally) that I do not like Winter!

What if God calls me to work with people I'd really rather avoid? You know what I mean. People who are dirty and smell. Or people who . . .

Oh my, my timer is about to ding and tell me my time is up.

Trust. God tells me time and again to trust Him. To follow Him.

Whenever. Whatever. Wherever. However.

I've come to learn -- finally -- that the key to trusting Him is, for me at least, doing so one day, one hour, even one minute at a time. I can't look ahead and ask "what if".

Simple, isn't it?

Simple, but not easy. At least not for me. Not yet.

I'm a work in progress.

 

 

 

Friday, September 18, 2015

Five Minute Friday: Celebrate

I'm very excited again this week to join a talented group of women bloggers in an online, unedited flash mob free write. This week, the word-prompt given to us by our fearless leader Kate Motaung (whose wonderful blog can be found at katemotaung.com) is "celebrate". My timer is set for 5 minutes; ready, set,

What a wonderful word for today!

While I was sitting at the dining room table this morning, working out the plot of the novel I plan to write, my attention was caught by something fluttering outside the window. I got up to take a closer look and saw that it was a lovely green leaf that was caught in the act of, I presume, falling from the tree branch about 20' above.

What was so interesting is that it was truly caught. It hovered about 3' off the ground, dancing lightly in a space of about 8" square. It didn't fall to the ground; it didn't blow sideways. It simply danced.

I went back to my writing and, after about 15 minutes, I glanced up. The leaf was still there, fluttering lightly, mischievously, if you will. Teasing me as it dropped just a few inches and then darted upward again. Over and over.

I smiled, took a sip of my tea, and turned back to the computer.

30 minutes later, the leaf still dances.

Logic says the leaf must certainly be caught in a spiderweb, but one can't be seen from the window or even from the deck. I checked.

I could go closer. I could walk out into the yard and solve the mystery of how, for almost an hour now, one small leaf has frolicked unconnected to a branch without finally succumbing to gravity's draw.

But I don't want to check. I don't want logic to win and the mystery to be solved.

Instead, I want to live in wonder. I want to embrace the illogical.

I want to celebrate the mystery of the dance.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Stop It!

Perhaps you're like me, and books (perhaps more recently, the internet) are your go-to guides for learning about things you are interested in or for finding ways to address an issue you're struggling with.

If you are, perhaps you also share my frustration with many current writers whose books are lauded on various blogs, Facebook, and Amazon.com reviews even before the book has been released to the general public. These reviewers have received an advance copy in exchange for an unbiased review but, unsurprisingly, all of the reviews are suspiciously the same and read like inside-cover endorsements from the author's fans and friends in the writing and speaking world.

As I read some of these books, I wonder if the reviewers and I have even read the same book. Perhaps, I think for just a second, major edits were made post advance- and pre-published copies were released. I know, though, that isn't the case.

Then I wonder if it's me! Am I the one who is always missing the point? Am I the one who is blind to the wonderful, life-changing, very practical insights that supposedly fill the pages of the book in question?

I don't think so. You see, I'm a good reader and have been since I was a little girl. I can find the main idea and supporting points and understand language with the best of them.

What I can't understand, and what is causing my frustration is the abundance of Christian-speak and the lack of true practical insight that both the professional and volunteers claim fills these books.

And if it frustrates me, a long-time Christian, I can only imagine how many new Christians or open-minded non-Christians have walked away totally lost, ready to give up on the whole "Christian walk" thing.

Now, I'm not saying that Christian-speak is something new to present-day writers (and speakers, for that matter). For decades, phrases such as "let go and let God" and "carry your cross" have been tossed around as if everyone knows exactly what they mean. And perhaps many people do.

BUT, and this is the point, many -- maybe even most -- of the people reading these types of books are reading them because they have heard these phrases uttered by Christians, don't know what in the world they mean, and have come to this book -- this book that promised a clear, practical explanation of whatever is the topic under discussion -- for answers.

Only to find more of the same Christian-speak.

Take me, for example. In recent months and years, I've noticed a lack of joy in my life. I've now carefully studied 3 of the most-praised, highest Amazon-rated and Good Reads-rated Christian books on the topic and am currently reading a 4th.

The first 3 were page after page of generalities and Christian-speak. I walked away disappointed. Then I began a year-long study of finding joy. I'm 8-weeks in, and still waiting for the author to explain the many phrases that pepper the text.

What, for example, is meant by "join my Savior in joy". How does a person "choose joy"?

Part of me thinks the author means by that 2nd phrase that the reader is to put away negative thoughts and think only positive, joy-filled thoughts and attitudes. That would make sense to me and, I think, many of the books' readers.

Except that the author repeatedly claims we as humans do not "have to figure this [finding joy] out". In fact, she says we cannot figure out how to find or manufacture joy!

Wait a minute. If we can't figure out how to find joy and don't have to anyway, what is the purpose of a 52-week on choosing it? Isn't that "figuring it out"?

Perhaps I sound cranky. Maybe I'm being unfair. But before you jump on the author/book-praising bandwagon, stop and think for a few minutes. Do you know, on a gut-level, do-it in the trenches level, what these 2 phrases I mention mean?

If you do, great. I applaud you, and I admire and even envy you your ability to cut through the platitudes. But me? They frustrate me. I long for plain-spoken language.

So I plead with Christian authors out there to stop it! Stop using Christian-speak.

Stop churning out books and speeches in which you string together trite phrases that you can't explain -- clearly and concisely -- to the seekers who buy your books and sit in the seats in churches and lecture halls.

Please. Just stop it.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Five Minute Friday: Same

I'm very excited again this week to join a talented group of women bloggers in an online, unedited flash mob free write. This week, the word-prompt given to us by our fearless leader Kate Motaung (whose wonderful blog can be found at katemotaung.com) is "same". My timer is set for 5 minutes; ready, set,

Same? Really, Kate? When I opened my email this morning and saw that Kate had chosen this word, I groaned. Well, not literally, but inwardly. I didn't have a clue what to write on that topic.

Oh, I could write about how we humans are the same but not really the same. Or I could share how my life was never the same . . . after I got married, had a child, had a 2nd one, was widowed . . . I'm sure you get my drift.

But none of those options spoke to me. For inspiration, I checked the dictionary definition of the word to see if there was a meaning I wasn't thinking of that would spark some sort of response.

The dictionary didn't let me down!

According to Mr. Webster, "same" can be either an adjective or an adverb (I knew that, of course -- I'm not an English teacher for nothing!). But it was his definitions that caught my eye.

As an adjective, this word means "identical".

As an adverb, the exact same (used as an adjective there, so you know what that means) word means "similarly".

Now that's interesting! In case you missed the distinction, the meaning for the word is not the same when it changes form. Let me reiterate: the same word has a distinctly different meaning depending on what other type of word it modifies*. :)

Now, if that isn't irony, I don't know what is!

 

*Note for the non-grammarians out there. An adjective modifies a noun or a pronoun. An adverb modifies a verb, adjective or another adverb.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

I'd Like to Wring Technology's Neck!

I've mentioned before -- and because I tend to forget to whom I've already told what, I'm sure I'll mention it again -- I dislike clutter and "stuff'. As a result, I'm almost always in "streamline" mode.

Technology provides me various ways to reduce the amount of tangible stuff. I no longer own any CD's, for example; all my music is stored on my iPhone (and if I can figure out how, it will also be stored on an SD storage card for use in my computer and SUV). I have also begun scanning important papers and storing them on my computer (and external hard drive). I've already had about 30 VHS and Hi-8 tapes digitalized and, if I ever get my act together, I'll reduce more boxes of photos and memorabilia than I am willing to admit to having to digital images and sleek, bound memory books for my son and daughter.

Yes, technology can be the friend of  simplicity-seeking folks like myself. It can even, on occasion, be our hero.

Until it fails us. And then, things turn ugly. Gut-wrenchingly, anxiety-inducingly, tear-threateningly ugly.

This morning I opened "Notes" on my iPad, planning to enter an account number and password (in code -- I'm very careful) for a series of online digital scrapbooking classes I recently signed up for. I have all of my online and real-life account numbers and passwords (in code -- remember, I'm very careful) in a "note" titled "Grocery List".

On a side note, I chose "Grocery List" as my note title because several online sources advised against naming it "Passwords" in the event that someone would find my iPad, somehow bypass the password required to log on, and then easily find all my account numbers and passwords. 

Imagine my shock when "Notes" informed me that I have no notes!

At first, I thought it was just a glitch. I hit the back button and tried again. "No Notes" appeared on my screen.

I remained calm, but I'll admit I was getting a bit concerned. I turned off my iPad and turned it back on -- rebooting often works with computers, so why not with my iPad, I reasoned.

I hesitantly and with great hope opened "Notes" again. It again informed me I have not a single note.

I began talking to and bargaining with "Notes", trying to somehow talk it into making my notes reappear. No dice.

My notes are gone.

I'm sure someone out there is saying, "Well, just get out your paper back-up copy, you silly goose!" And I had a paper back-up copy.

The operative word there is had. Yes, I had a mini black composition book (it was so cute) with all of my account numbers and passwords (in code) entered in alphabetic order with plenty of space for additions. I searched my home office. You guessed it -- no mini black composition book!

One of two things must have happened. Option 1: When I moved here and unpacked things, I didn't unpack the box holding my mini black composition book (and in-need-of-repair left hearing aid, which is also missing). Unfortunately, I've unpacked everything except for the Christmas decorations, and I'm 99.9% sure I didn't open one of those bins and toss in my mini black composition book (and left hearing aid).

Option 2: In sheer delight at how well technology was working for me and utmost confidence that it would continue to do so, coupled with my desire to rid myself of (supposedly) superfluous stuff, I threw away (shredded, because I'm careful that way) the pages of my mini black composition book.

So here I sit, thinking of my various accounts and passwords. Realizing how desperately I'm going to need them when it's time to log on to something I don't use daily or renew a service/subscription or talk to a company representative for some reason or . . .

I'm not panicking. Instead, I'm one part numb and the other part incredulous.

How could "Notes" do this to me?! How can I get "Notes" to make my note show up again?! How can I even talk to "Notes" to resolve this issue?!

Grrrrrrrrr . . . it's times like this that I want to grab technology by the shoulders and shake it until it squeals for mercy and then . . . yes, I'd like to wring it's scrawny electronic neck!

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

It's Not About Me

These "anniversaries" come around, and I don't know quite what to say here on my blog or on Facebook. Of course, I could saying nothing at all, but that seems so wrong. How can I let this day go unnoticed, unmarked?

You see, six years ago, just a few weeks after turning 48 and just 6 weeks and 1 day after learning he had cancer, my husband passed away.

A wonderful man, husband, father, son, brother, friend . . . he was all those things and more . . . was gone.

But he is never forgotten by those who loved him, and that is what prompts me to log on to Facebook every July 25 (his birthday), September 2, and September 15 (our anniversary). There's this need, this mission if you will, to ensure that others don't forget him, either. That his time here on earth, the man that he was, the impact that he had on others, is remembered and that he is honored.

My post here isn't enough, and a Facebook update certainly isn't enough to honor a man who consistently sacrificed his own wants for his family; he drove the old pick-up while the kids and I had the newer vehicles. He would regularly work a 12-hour shift and then go to our son's baseball game or our daughter's recital or other activity; even though his body desperately longed to find a bed and get some sleep, his heart was determined to spend every possible moment with our son and daughter, to be there for every event, every milestone.

There isn't space enough to share the kind of man he was. The man who loved amusement parks  and roller-coasters and those huge water slides. The man who loved to hunt and fish and simply enjoy the great outdoors God has blessed us with. The man who loved to play card games and board games and who loved to win and, although he hated to lose, usually did so graciously.

There are no words to describe his absolute love for me and his family, his bone-deep, all-encompassing love for our son and daughter.

There are so many memories, some big but most so very tiny, tucked away in my heart. I share some of them with my children. In fact, I probably share them too often, repeating a favorite time and again. And I appreciate that my son and daughter never roll their eyes or sigh; no, they listen and smile and add their own recollections.

They, like me, don't want his memory to fade away.

And that is why, on these "anniversaries", we post on Facebook and I share about my husband here on my blog.

It isn't about me, and I don't want it to be about me.

No, it's about him -- a wonderful husband, an absolutely fantastic father, and a son, brother, relative, and friend whose presence in our lives was an absolute blessing.

He is so sorely missed. May that always be so.

 

Monday, August 31, 2015

That Stone in Your Hand

Lately, no matter where I go, the scene is the same.

When I turn on the television and flip through the few channels I get, when I open a newspaper or magazine, when I visit a local coffee shop, when I read blogs, and (especially) when I log onto social media sites, I encounter one person after another, all doing the same thing.

Throwing rocks.

Yes, throwing rocks. In fact, it seems to me that rock-throwing has replaced baseball as our national pastime.

Unlike rock-skipping, where the goal is to flip your wrist just so, causing the flattest rock you could find to bounce lightly across a body of water to create a series of slight ripples, rock-throwing involves the heaving of written or verbal rocks at a human target in an effort to inflict harm on that person.

Let me give you two recent examples of the human targets I'm referring to: Bruce Jenner and Josh Duggar.

I'm sure I don't need to explain who these two individuals are or why people are throwing stones at them. I'm also sure I don't need to clarify the nature of the verbal rocks that have been chucked at the two.

Before your indignation rises and you give in to the urge to quit reading, go elsewhere, and never return, let me explain one thing. There's a significant difference between opposing an action and throwing a rock, and I am most definitely not defending the actions of either of these individuals.

That said, my own hand has itched a time or two these past weeks. I, too, have thought about stooping down, picking up a rock, and giving it the hold heave-ho.

And while we're on the subject of my own behavior, let me assure you that in the past, I have been a champion rock-thrower. But 6 1/2 years ago, God jerked a knot in my tail (I love this expression of my late mother-in-law's), bringing me down more than a peg or two and teaching me some much-needed humility.

And even though I was humbled greatly back then, my old nature still rises time and again, and I still long to pick up a rock. Sometimes, to my great regret, I do.

When I do . . . when any of us does . . . we demonstrate our arrogance, our sense of "your wrong is greater than my wrong".

And if you want to rank wrong-doing, you might (theoretically, at least) be right.

But it doesn't matter. Why? Because, with one exception*, all wrong -- all sin -- is forgivable. At least by the Person whose forgiveness really counts.

More importantly, it's forgivable by the same Person who clearly told you and I that to judge others isn't our job in the first place.

Simply put, we weren't designed to be rock-throwers. We aren't supposed to be rock-throwers.

So . . . that rock in your hand? Put it down.

 

*See Mark 3 and/or Matthew 12

Sunday, August 30, 2015

An Exciting Personal Challenge

I participated in a month-long spending freeze this past June and, despite an occasional challenging moment and a bit of internal whining now and then, I enjoyed the experience.

Not only did that challenge bring some growth to my savings account, it also taught or reminded me of a few things about myself:

  • I fret about money and my financial future more than I thought I did. Such fretting is emotionally and, more importantly, spiritually unhealthy.

  • I love a challenge.

  • As much as I love a very detailed, organized system of documenting my behavior, my initial enthusiasm wanes about 1/2-way through a challenge, and I begin to chafe against the tedious accountability system that was initially quite motivating.

  • However, a challenge with a definite end-date seems somewhat "negative" to me; my mind sees the challenge, whether it be a "do more of" or a "do less of", as a temporary negative I need to endure and then all will be back to my more comfortable normal.


It's that last realization that has had me thinking the past 61 days, and two very simple principles have framed my pondering. First, I want to minimize my spending to necessities only and a very-limited amount of "fun money". Additionally, I want to change my mindset and see this change in spending not as something to get through, but as a normal, doable lifestyle.

But how to do that eluded me. Until last night, or I should say, this morning.

At 1:30 this morning, 3 1/2 long hours after I went to bed, I was still wide awake. I had foolishly consumed a jumbo glass of iced sweet tea late in the evening while reading, and I was paying the price for consuming all that sugar, something I normally avoid.

My brain was racing 90 miles per hour, something it is not really accustomed to, and I was despairing of getting any sleep at all, when one random, very rational thought popped into my head.

"Instead of a no-spending time period to endure, how about an open-ended challenge to see how long I can go?"

My delighted (and very tired) brain paused, and I reflected on this idea for awhile before finally falling asleep. One of the last thoughts I remember having was, "Sounds really good, but we'll see how I feel about it in the morning."

It's morning, and I've been thinking about this idea since I woke up.

I shared the idea with God this morning, and I thought about it as I did my morning session of physical therapy. I examined it more as I fixed breakfast and tossed it around a bit more as I sorted laundry and straightened the kitchen.

The more I thought about it, the more I liked the idea. And then, just as I was sitting down to share my new challenge with you, I had one last thought. An idea for tweaking this challenge just a bit in order to meet my goal of creating a new, normal, doable lifestyle.

Ta-da! Here's my new, exciting personal financial challenge:

I commit to an essentials-only spending plan with a monthly "fun" stipend of $80. This challenge will not end when (because, let's be honest, it will happen) I slip up; instead, I will learn from any deviations and move forward. 

This new challenge commences with the new month tomorrow.

I'll update from time to time, and I promise to be transparent and honest with you.

What do you think? Crazy idea? Would you like to join me?

Let me know what you think by commenting below or on my Facebook page (Patti Lincecum Miinch).

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Five Minute Friday: Alone

I'm very excited again this week to join a talented group of women bloggers in an online, unedited flash mob free write. This week, the word-prompt given to us by our fearless leader Kate Motaung (whose wonderful blog can be found at katemotaung.com) is "alone". My timer is set for 5 minutes; ready, set,

Alone. The concept has weighed heavily on my mind and heart for some time now.

As a widow and an empty nester, I spend a vast amount of time alone.

In fact, just the other day, it dawned on me that, except for two periods of only a couple of months each in the past couple of years, I haven't lived alone since I got married 30 years, 11 1/2 months ago!

Now don't get me wrong. I love having some alone time. I don't love being alone most of the time.

And I know that I'm not really alone, that God is always with me, and I appreciate that. I really do.

But I long for the companionship -- on a consistent basis -- of loved ones with whom I share a common history, who I know well and who know me equally well.

I miss the days when the fabric of my life was woven from 4 strands that were diverse, that often went their merry way, but that regularly came together to create a tapestry of love and laughter, of shared joys and sorrows, of inside jokes and gentle teasing, of shared experiences.

 

Oh, how I miss those days.

 

 

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Television

I curled up on the couch last night with Dazey and, after knitting for an hour or so, decided to watch television.

I turned it on and began surfing through the channels to see if there was anything on that interested me. In less than a minute, I was finished and the television was back off. You see, it doesn't take long to check the offerings on 9 channels.

Disgusted by the almost-nightly interruptions of service (on gorgeous evenings with nary a cloud in the sky) and the counter-intuitive and customer-unfriendly on-screen channel and program search system, last month I unhooked the Charter television box from my TV and returned it to the local office. I'd been a DirecTV customer for almost 20 years and loved it, but when I moved into this house, the installer (mistakenly) told me I couldn't get service at this location, so I had to sign on with Charter. I quickly learned, though, that it wasn't a good fit for me.

My son went with me to Best Buy to purchase an in-home antennae, and he hooked it up for me. My channel line-up is unlike anything I've had before; it's even different than what I had in this same town pre-cable/satellite TV. Back then, we could watch 3, 6, or 12 -- ABC out of Harrisburg, Illinois; NBC out of Paducah, Kentucky; or CBS from my hometown.

I can't pick up channel 3 now. Instead, I have 6-1, which appears to be "regular" NBC, 6-2, and 6-3, along with 12-1, which is "regular" CBS, 12-2, and 12-3, which is Grit. From what I can tell, Grit is the home of more "manly" programs -- westerns, James Bond movies, cop dramas, etc.

Manly or not, I've watched it a few times. The other night, in fact, I turned on mid-way through the movie "Billy Jack" -- the original starring Tom Laughlin, not the Joe Don Baker version. I sat back and watched the final 45 minutes of the movie that more than a few years ago stirred my then-13-year-old's righteous indignation at the prejudice of small-minded people and caused me to consider becoming a teacher on a Native American reservation. As it did over 40 years ago, the ending made me sob.

Along with the 3 channel 6's and the 3 channel 12's, I get 3 Fox channels; alas, neither of the 3 are Fox Sports Midwest, which would allow me to watch my beloved St. Louis Cardinals.

In truth, only 6-1, 12-1, and 23-1 show programs that are new; the rest are filled with reruns of old favorites like "Newhart", Bob Newhart's show that took place in an inn in Vermont (not to be confused with the show in which he was a dentist in New York) and "Perry Mason", as well as old programs I didn't care for back then and don't care for now ("The Dukes of Hazard", for example).

Oh, and I should explain that the 3 channel 6's have, for some reason, only been available about 1/2 of the evenings I've bothered to turn on the television.

And that's an interesting thing -- interesting to me, at least. I, a person who for the majority of my adult years turned on the television almost immediately upon waking up and left it on virtually all the time I was home (except for when I went to bed), rarely even think to turn on the television now.

You might think that the lack of program variety has caused me to change my viewing habits so drastically, but as I've been writing this post, I've realized that isn't the case at all.

I don't know why or how it happened, but my desire to watch -- or even just listen to -- television all the time disappeared when I carried the cable box out to the car that June morning over a month ago.

Don't get me wrong -- I still watch television. But I only watch when I have absolutely nothing else to do or am tired of doing everything else I have to do.

I know there are programs I will miss and times I will feel lost, even deprived. I'm already anticipating and trying to prepare myself for college and professional football season. No longer will I sit on the couch, surrounded by papers that need to be graded and snack food, every Sunday afternoon until bedtime, every Monday and Thursday night, and Saturday afternoons and evenings.

And the Olympics! A prolific Olympic-watcher, I soak up every event, staying up far later than I should to watch competitions live if need be.

It's very possible that I will sign on for pay-television again. Who knows? I may not even make it through football season.

But for now, at least, I'm going to relax and enjoy the peace and tranquility that come when I turn off the tv.

 

 

 

Saturday, August 15, 2015

All Good Things Must Come to an End

In a few hours, this week will come to an end. It's not just the end of any old week; it's the end of the last week of my summer break. On Monday, I'll return to work, and a week later a new semester will begin.

Before I turn my attention to the coming school year, though, I thought I'd reflect just a bit on a few things I've learned these past couple of months.

1. My body is not immune to the affects of time. Of course, I already knew I was (gosh, but I hate this word) aging, but until this summer, I hadn't had to face that reality to any great degree. This summer, though, I discovered flab & sags that I'm fairly sure didn't exist this time last year. More significantly, I faced my first surgery (other than a tonsillectomy when I was 6 and wisdom teeth removal when I was 23). My orthopedic surgeon assured me that a torn meniscus can and does happen to people of all ages; however, he also informed me that "as we age" . . .

2. My "hotter is better" motto isn't working for me anymore. I've always loved summer and welcomed temperatures in the mid-high 90's, even with the high humidity that my part of the country is infamous for. This summer, though, I didn't enjoy it quite as much as in days gone by and {gasp!} a few times I even found myself looking forward -- just a bit -- to Autumn and the cooler temps it will bring.

3. I may never have a chick-lit type best friend or circle of friends. For a myriad of reasons, I've never been part of a small circle of best friends that meet regularly for lunch or to knit together or to do some other type of best-friends activities. Finally, just a few weeks ago, I came to the realization that such a thing might never be in the cards for me, and I'm coming to terms with that.

4. My teen-age perceptions of my peers was, at least in some cases, pretty wide of the mark. This summer I learned that a high school classmate that I admired from afar and thought was popular really wasn't after all and that she struggled with the same insecurities, feelings of not fitting in, etc., that I did. Conversely, I learned that some other classmates that I thought were rule-followers and law-abiders like myself, were not. Until this summer, I've never had even the slightest desire to go back and relive my high school years. Now, though, the idea holds some appeal. I would make an effort to befriend some people I didn't have the confidence to approach 40 years ago, and I wouldn't be as awed by a few others.

5. I like Martinis. Thank you, Michelle, for introducing me to these wonderful little adult deserts! I've also learned they taste better when in the company of dear friends.

I also relearned or remembered things I already knew.

1. When I give of myself, I get far more in return. Near the beginning of the summer, I had the opportunity to visit in a local nursing facility the 90+ year old father of a former classmate who now lives hundreds of miles away. I plan to write more about this soon, so I'll just say now that my visits with this very intelligent, interesting gentleman were a highlight of my summer, and when I said goodbye to him when he moved to live closer to his daughters, the feeling of loss was far stronger than I expected.

2. I love getting mail. When I open the mailbox and see an envelope with a typed (yes, on a typewriter) address with corrections (XX's and ---'s covering typos), I'm taken back to the days when, as a pre-teen, I received letters from my Swiss pen pal. I no longer race through the house and into my room to devour the letter like a correspondence-starved person; instead, I pour myself a glass of iced mint tea, relax on the deck, and savor the wisdom and wit of my new, very dear 90+ year old friend. The outward reaction may have changed, but the inward pleasure remains the same.

 

This summer didn't turn out as I had hoped; my knee injury, surgery, and recovery kept me from doing many of the things I had hoped to do.

That's okay. It was a good . . . no, a fantastic summer just the way it was.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Five Minute Friday: Try

I'm very excited again this week to join a talented group of women bloggers in an online, unedited flash mob free write. This week, the word-prompt given to us by our fearless leader Kate Motaung (whose wonderful blog can be found at katemotaung.com) is "turn". My timer is set for 5 minutes; ready, set,

Try! I have to wonder if Kate has been peaking into my head a bit this week as she chose this word, because the issue of trying has been on my mind.

The truth is, I'm not very consistent in my trying. In some areas, I try too hard; in others, I don't try nearly enough. In both cases, the results aren't satisfactory.

Trying too hard has negative outcomes:

  • I try too hard to understand what is, to me at least, illogical --> frustration

  • I try too hard to make friends and develop a social circle --> hurt


Not trying hard enough also produces undesirable results:

  • I don't try hard enough to get into shape --> still-flabby upper arms

  • I don't try hard enough to get projects done around the house --> guilt & hidden clutter

  • I don't try hard enough to get my novel written --> aggravation with myself


Sometimes, my efforts aren't too much or too little; at times, they are inconsistent. My spiritual life is a perfect example. Some days, I'm a spiritual trooper. Morning devotions, check. Morning quiet time, check. Jotting several things in my gratitude journal throughout the day, check. Evening Bible study, check. Evening prayer, check.

Other days? Well, suffice it to say no devotions are read, the Bible isn't opened, I'm too whiny to be grateful, and the only prayer I can utter is "I'm tired, Lord!"

I know I'm not alone. I'm just one member of an imperfect group of people who try too hard or too little or without consistency.

I try to savor and celebrate the days when I get it right.

I try to learn from the days I don't, forgive myself, and do better the next day.

I try . . . really, I do.

 

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Come on . . . I Dare You!

In recent weeks and months, our country and our world has undergone significant turmoil.

In the U.S. alone, social unrest has repeatedly erupted in violence, same-sex marriage has been deemed by the U.S. Supreme Court to be legal throughout all 50 States, and the Supreme Court has upheld key provisions of the Affordable Health Care Act.

Beyond our borders, the world is witness to changing relationships between the U.S. and countries such as Cuba, Israel, and Iran, and in just the past few days we have witnessed an historical shift in the arena of nuclear armament.

These and other significant political and cultural events have caused tongues to wag unceasingly and fingers to fly frantically across computer keyboards and tablet screens as we all race to share our elation, fear, anger, disappointment, relief . . . . whatever emotion it is that the individual event has sparked within us.

We're all entitled to those emotions, of course. What we are not entitled to is point the finger of blame at "them" when we are disappointed, distressed, or even angry at the latest decision.

One common scapegoat is our leaders -- elected and otherwise. Those unhappy with their vote or decision declare they have made a terrible mistake, that what they have done is wrong, insanely-so according to their detractors. Facebook posts and Twitter tweets rail against the politicians, and the unhappy ones heap 100% of the blame on those politicians.

Similarly, blame is placed on mainstream media sources (MSM). Those displeased by some action reiterate the oft-heard claim that MSM is biased and presents a very skewed vision of what is happening; others point out that MSM outlets completely ignore any or most stories that don't fit their agenda.

I'm certainly not going to say that elected and appointed officials and the mainstream media are perfect, or even that they're doing a stellar job. They do deserve some blame -- and some credit, if you're happy with a key decision -- for events that occur. After all, politicians make decisions, and the media is in the job of informing, which naturally leads to influencing.

What I will say is that much of the blame also lies on those of us who are unhappy with the current state of affairs but who have done and continue to do nothing more than talk and type about it!

Grab a pen and pencil. Now, jot down a conservative estimate of the amount of time you have spent in the past week complaining (let's call it what it is, okay) about any and all current events. Now, reflect back and jot down a liberal estimate of the amount of time you have spent in one of the following activities in regard to those same current events: prayer, educating yourself through credible and reliable sources (Facebook does not count -- sorry), composing letters to the appropriate elected official(s), and contacting mainstream media outlets to share your concerns (if you have any) about possible bias, misinformation, or lack of information.

What did you come up with? Have you been a good steward of your time and resources in affecting positive change in your world? Or have you merely stirred the pot, adding nothing constructive to the mix?

Here's my challenge. Commit to spending at least as much time proactively as you spend reactively.

Commit to one day at a time if that's all you're prepared to do. Just today, for the next 24 hours, stop talking and start doing.

What should you do? Here are some suggestions:

1. Pray. Every step of the way.

2. Create a contact list of your elected officials and contact people within the mainstream media. These might included your Congressmen, station managers, etc. Include their phone numbers, email addresses, and snail mail addresses. This information can easily be found on the internet.

3. If you are on Facebook and Twitter, begin following those people. Listen to what they are saying so you are prepared to respond in an appropriate and respectful manner.

4. EDUCATE yourself on the issues that interest you most, that you feel most impact the world in the most significant ways. Consult a variety of credible and reliable sources, even those you typically disagree with. Learn any necessary background information and stay on top of current developments.

5. Pay attention to obvious bias, misinformation, and lack of appropriate coverage, and contact mainstream media outlets to let them know you are concerned about their coverage. You might even want to contact the advertisers who support outlets that are irresponsible or unethical.

6. Pay attention to when decisions -- even those that seem minor at the time -- are being contemplated and note who will be involved in making those decisions.

7. Contact those decision-makers. Call their offices and send emails and write letters. You might want to create (and save) a general template for both email and snail mail correspondence; that will save time and effort.

8. Encourage those around you to follow these same steps. Be careful, of course, not to offend others or to approach them in an off-putting way.

9. Don't give up!

 

I know that doing these things will take time. But if you're not complaining on Facebook or around the proverbial water cooler you will have some newly-freed time at your disposal!

You'll also be going against the popular "gripe like crazy but don't do a thing" mindset so prevalent today. Family members and friends may even talk about you behind your back, noting how radical you've become.

That's okay. Difference-makers are always talked about and often misunderstood.

Be one of those people who makes a positive difference, who is willing to invest of themselves and of their time for the betterment of the world in which they live.

Come on . . . I dare you!

 

I hope you'll share your thoughts and experiences as a positive difference-maker on my Facebook page or via a comment below. Join me on Facebook at www.facebook.com/pattimiinch58. You can also follow me on Twitter -- @PattiMiinch

Monday, July 6, 2015

I Make God Laugh (5 Trunks and a Tote)

According to Woody Allen, "If you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans." About 5 weeks ago, I set my to-do goals for this summer: sort through my various bins and boxes, scan photos and memorabilia, plan and prep for all of my classes this Fall, etc. Here it is, the middle of summer, and somehow I've only made headway on a few of my summer goals, and I've completed none of them.

I guess I should feel bad about this and disappointed in myself, but for several reasons, I don't.

First, last school year was a challenging one. On a larger, outside-myself scale and on a more personal level, both Fall and Spring semesters presented situations that were draining, sometimes depressing, and often daunting. Of course, I learned quite a bit from these situations, but by the time mid-May rolled around, I was more than ready for the opportunity to rest and replenish. As a result, I've spent time every day reading and relaxing, and I don't regret that at all.

Having house guests 2 of the 5 weeks also affected what I was able to accomplish. I'm no different from anyone else; when I have guests, I happily focus on them and on spending time with them, not on my to-do list. Truth be told, I'd gladly put aside my entire summer goal list for the privilege of having guests all summer long!

I also added a major project to my list about 3 weeks ago, and that project has taken up a considerable amount of my time and attention.

Lastly, my knee injury has at least to some degree affected my productivity. I probably could -- and should -- have been more productive even when I was relegated to the couch with an ice pack on top of and a pillow beneath my knee. But I wasn't, and I'm not going to beat myself over the head about it.

I pulled out some past journals, curious to see if my suspicions were correct, and they were. This pattern of setting summer goals, goofing off quite a bit the 1st half of the summer, and then getting everything (or most everything) done the 2nd half is one I've followed for years.

This year may be different, though, as I'll be having knee surgery this Thursday, and I have no idea as to the length of recovery time and the limits of my physical capabilities during that time period. With that in mind, this morning before church, I overhauled my summer goals list.

Instead of a 5 or 6-item list, I've pared it down to 1:  revising my course plans for the classes I'll be teaching this Fall and then prepping for all 30 class meetings for each class. I'll stack my resource texts and materials and my laptop within reach of the couch before I leave for the surgery center Thursday morning, and I'll be able to work on course revisions and lesson plans while I'm laid up after the procedure.

This is the only task that really needs to be accomplished before the end of Summer Break, and it's a complex and labor-intensive task in and of itself. Completing it now will allow me to focus on the other projects -- those without a real calendar-related deadline -- over the winter months.

So what does this have to do with 5 Trunks and a Tote? Well, it means I won't be focusing as intensely on paring down my possessions and on scanning memorabilia as I'd hoped to the remainder of this summer. But fear not! I've put those two tasks at the top of my Fall Goals list.

I just love making God laugh!

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Five Minute Friday: Favorite

I'm very excited again this week to join a talented group of women bloggers in an online, unedited flash mob free write. This week, the word-prompt given to us by our fearless leader Kate Motaung (whose wonderful blog can be found at katemotaung.com) is "turn". My timer is set for 5 minutes; ready, set,

Still-hot, just-cool-enough-to-eat chocolate pudding.

John Wayne.

Quiet mornings on the deck with a cup of hot tea & two Girl Scout Thin Mint cookies, my journal, and a favorite pen.

The feel of silky soft yarn and the smoothness with which it slides on and off my Addi knitting needles.

Cardinals. Both the St. Louis (baseball) variety and those God created on the 5th day.

Spring. Crisp, cool mornings that usher in days filled with sunshine, light breezes, and temperatures that allow the heavy coats of wintertime to be packed away once again.

{Psst! Hey, Fall. Don't tell Spring, but if it weren't for the fact that you signal that Winter is just around the corner, ou'd be my favorite.}

"Go Rest High on That Mountain".

Rock n Roller Coaster on a hot summer day.

Sipping a Route 44 Strawberry Limeade while watching the local wooden-bat team play on a midwestern Summer evening.

A book. Any book. Well, as long as it isn't science fiction, doesn't have vampires or un-dead characters, or doesn't revolve around kids killing other kids in order to survive in some post-apocalyptic civilization. Or involve more than 49 shades of gray.

Mama Mia -- the stage production, the movie, the soundtrack. It doesn't matter which version it is. Cranking up the volume and dancing & singing along to the CD.

The old Disney movies from back when there were dogs and little boys or optimistic orphan nieces.

Walking along the beach or simply sitting on the beach. Hands down . . . the beach.

Going barefooted for days on end.

Sunday church services that include an infant baptism.

So many more favorites to share but none, not even when all put together, come close to time spent with my son and daughter.

 

"Maria" does a lovely job here . . . enjoy!

https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=my+favorite+things+sound+of+music&FORM=VIRE5#view=detail&mid=7D7D1BE5F06C32B9D8127D7D1BE5F06C32B9D812