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 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 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 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!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

An Aborted Trip & Dream Clarification (Dream Save Do, week 27)

I had planned to attend a tiny home manufacturer's open house last Saturday but decided on Thursday not to attend after all. Two wonderful events (having a house guest and a quick, 1-day visit from my daughter) and one not-so-good issue (my hurt knee) led me to cancel my trip to Tennessee.

I would still like to attend one of this business' open homes, and if I understand correctly, this wasn't a one-time event. More importantly, while I was a bit disappointed not to attend, canceling caused me to face the fact that I have much to learn about even the possibility of tiny home living.

As a result, I plan to visit City Hall to see what my options are as far as having a tiny home in the community in which I live and will almost surely eventually retire to. I would much prefer to live within walking distance of the public library, gym, city park in the heart of town, etc. Therein lie a few problems including zoning laws, availability of a suitable lot, and the price of a lot even if one becomes available. Those are just a few of the things I need to educate myself on.

I may have to keep an eye out for a very small traditional home. That may be a big task in itself, as homes with only 2 small bedrooms are difficult to come by, and a home with only 1 will likely be impossible to find. As a result, I plan to schedule an appointment with my favorite realtor to discuss what I'm looking for and get feedback from her.

Of course, another option is to purchase a small parcel of land outside town. However, both the purchase price of land and the necessity to drive almost everywhere I would want to go are major issues I'd rather not deal with.

I have about a year to find something; my son will finish his medical residency next June 30 and will be moving into this house (which he bought in February), and I will move elsewhere. If nothing has materialized, I can simply move back to the metro area and live there until I retire, so I'm not without options. However, I'm ready and eager to start living my dream.

So while I didn't hit the road to the Memphis area this past weekend, I had a lovely time with my daughter and my friend, and I was able to determine some very definite issues I need to address as I move forward in creating my dream lifestyle.