If It’s Not Right, Change It

Sometimes I write a blog and I don’t send it out because it doesn’t seem right, which I’ve done more than once lately. So, last night I left one behind, picked up my pen and legal pad and started over again.

I went to the library last evening to get a book I asked the librarian to buy, and it came and got processed in less than a week! I asked for two. “The second one is from another warehouse,” she said, “so it’ll be delivered later.”

I called to thank her because at first, I didn’t realize it was new. I took out a book some years ago on cleaning and organizing. It was a brand-new hard cover edition and six months later I decided to reference it. By then, the tome was smelly, dirty and food stuck the pages together. This too is a book on organizing, so I was a little disappointed to receive a used book-until I checked which library owned it. It looked too good to be used. It belonged to our library, yay!

9780785278412: Mid-Course Correction: Re-Ordering Your Private World for the Second Half of Life
https://www.abebooks.com/products/isbn/9780785278412?cm_mmc=ggl-_-COM_DSAETAFEED_Trade-_-naa-_-naa&gclid=CjwKCAjw3pWDBhB3EiwAV1c5rLAb_BqdZWWKq5V5AOyWcxXLOWYeXCA2h1KiN5XO5ycDDx_62prLuhoCckEQAvD_BwE

The second non-fiction book I requested was written by Gordon MacDonald, Mid-Course Correction: Re-Ordering Your Private World for the Next Part of Your Journey, copyright 2000, published by Thomas Nelson, Inc., Nashville, TN, because author/agent David E. Fessenden recommends it in his book, Writing the Christian Non-Fiction Book: Concept to Contract, published by Sonfire Media, Galax, VA, copyright 2011.

http://Amazon.com

I ordered A Resilient Life: You Can Move Ahead No Matter What by Gordon MacDonald, copyright 2004, and published by Thomas Nelson, Inc., Nashville, TN from another library. I thought if David Fessenden says authors will learn from studying Gordon MacDonald’s style for certain kinds of writing, any of his books in our library system may help.

Front Cover - A Resilient Life
https://www.christianbook.com/a-resilient-life-gordon-macdonald/9780785287919/pd/87914?en=google&event=SHOP&kw=books-0-20%7C87914&p=1179710&dv=c&gclid=CjwKCAjw3pWDBhB3EiwAV1c5rLksDY6ooIu8345ricFM2pV6T1WynnJf19ZPMEgCv8oC6pHy5pQEmxoCqlkQAvD_BwE

At the very beginning of this tome, I realized being a year into a global pandemic, it’ll help to read about persevering during tough times. Pastor Gordon MacDonald learned many life lessons from his track coach, Marvin W. Goldberg at Stony Brook School, a college preparatory school on the north shore of Long Island, New York. At the time, he thought he was learning about running techniques and conditioning the body for success. Over the years, when facing difficult situations, he tells the reader he learned many life skills that he applied to his relationships, business decisions, and to pastoring people from advice from Coach Marvin W. Goldberg.

If you like sports, encouragement, and some good insights perhaps you’d like to read A Resilient Life: You Can Move Ahead No Matter What. When I read books, I’m often surprised at how they speak to me. Not as deeply as the Word of God speaks, but I’m enjoying this hardback that entertains and tells of hard-earned wisdom. Gordon MacDonald learned to stick to difficult tasks.

Even if you must start over again, as I have over the years, there is a learning curve that comes from experience that helps you stay the course in trying times, and that brings satisfaction.

May God bless you!

Despite the Odds

When COVID-19 hit the news in March of 2020, the predictions of two million or more people dying from the disease staggered my imagination. Scary thought. The idea of healthy folks quarantining felt surreal. Acquiring masks became a reality I didn’t look forward to. Some individuals refuse to wear them for their health’s sake or because they don’t want their children to think mask-wearing is the norm.

I remember going into a grocery store early on, and I didn’t have a mask on since it wasn’t required by the governor of NYS yet. Another man didn’t have a mask on either and he looked at me and smiled and then pointed his finger at me as if he were shooting an imaginary gun. We both nodded our heads. Mask wearers usually connotate someone ready to rob a store or a bank. After he smiled again and then left, I felt a little uneasy.

As COVID-19 continues to impact our lives, I wonder if our former reality will return quickly or are we as lambs being led to the slaughter? I remember as a young girl reading a comic square in the back of the newspaper, entitled “Pogo.” In my memory, it repeated itself often and I developed the habit of looking for it. The caption said, “We have met the enemy and he is us,” written by Walt Kelly, a former Disney cartoonist.

36. “We Have Met the Enemy and He Is Us” – Tales from the Vault: 40 Years /  40 Stories
library.osu.edu

I pondered it with my young mind. Does that mean that someday people in our country will turn on each other?

It didn’t occur to me to ask an adult. I looked up the information for Pogo on http://www.Britannica.com and found more information on the http://www.library.osu.edu site on a page after clicking on the image. That indicates it’s about pollution.

I wonder if I had the beginnings of the gift of prophecy, because I’ve never seen so much division in our country over all of my years. I’ve never seen a president blamed for so many things outside of any human being’s control.

All I can do is pray and try and take care of myself and others in my immediate circle of influence where it’s appropriate to my role in life. I’ve been reading the book of Jeremiah and Lamentations in my daily Bible reading lately. Not uplifting books, but they do show a side of God when He finally gets fed up with the lifestyle of His chosen people. He sends judgment with the promise of future redemption, because He loves His children. Their actions and God’s responses are eerily familiar.

God warns the nation of Israel through the prophets and they resist the message and keep acting in ways that upset their Maker. Burning their babies in the fire to false gods. Lots of flagrant sin. Finally, Babylon comes along, as prophesied and captures them, kills some, robs them, blinds the king, etc. Awful stuff. And at the end, God promises that after 70 years, the nation will come back to Israel and He will be their God and they will be His people.

God is not a respecter of persons. He loves to bless people, especially those that commit their lives to Him. With all the unrest in America, I’m doing fairly well, only because I hold on to the promises of God in His Word. And I’m praying and seeing answers to prayer!

In the confusion of life, I’ve lost some of my zest for writing and talking on the telephone until just lately because I’ve been spending more time in the Word of God in the last week or so. Holding on to the promises in Psalm 91.

May God bless you and keep you in the palm of His loving and protective right hand, despite the odds.

Stressing Over Books-What’s Up with That?

I’m writing in the library lately to help avoid distractions at home. Because I’m working on a children’s project, I’ve been taking out research materials; too many actually and it’s causing me stress. So, I returned an armful of children’s books, and a writers’ market guide. Then, I checked out picture books that came in from other libraries that were recommended by Ann Whitford Paul in her Writing Picture Books: A Hands-On Guide From Story Creation to Publication, copyrighted 2009. Writer’s Digest Books published her book; they are an imprint of F & W Media, Inc., of Cincinnati, OH.

I ended up with six less than I started with, so it’s a beginning. I needed about six of them renewed last week including two young adult novels and the man gave me one week. One week! I thought, he obviously doesn’t realize the library director likes people to take out books to boost her circulation numbers.

So, I scanned two young adult novels and returned them. I read one as soon as I could and returned it four days early. I will be returning magazines today and on the seventh, so that will help as well.

I don’t know why I overdo with books and food and chocolate on occasion, but now I’m reigning them all in. I don’t need self-induced stress. I hope this finds you well!

May God bless you!

Hindrances or Appointments

 

I’ve been north helping with my grandchildren. They all contracted fevers days apart from each other, so time stretched out.

Two nights ago, I asked my daughter if I could borrow her computer so I could blog. It wouldn’t work.

Then, I used my old computer which she has for a back up for her job. That didn’t work either. So much for blogging while I was away.

When I got home, I went straight to a meeting. In the morning, I arose early so my sister could get to the hospital for an operation which got delayed for three hours.

I’ve been reading a book on and off for over a year now. Today worked perfectly to finish it up. Now, I’m highlighting the significant parts of this non-fiction book and working the exercises.

One suggestion the motivational writer said that I read today, “Take care of yourself.”

I’ve noticed that the older I get, when I’m busy writing or babysitting or cleaning, whatever I’m doing, I may not pay attention to changing my position, or using correct posture, drinking enough water, exercising, or grabbing a healthy meal. I appreciated the reminder.

(I found this photo at http://www.barnesandnoble.com/p/thinking-for-a-change-john-c-maxwell with more letters and symbols for the address on Google.)

Years ago, I read a John Maxwell book entitled, Thinking for a Change, copyrighted in 2003, which I bought. Warner Books, Inc., New York, NY published it.

I thought my husband may like it as well, because he’s studied management principles and applied them to his life for years.

I don’t know if he read it, but I remember John Maxwell saying that he worked hard to achieve goals throughout his life so he neglected taking care of himself.

At that time, he realized he needed to work on his well-being or he’d be sorry. So, he too, recommended paying attention to one’s health.

I love spending time with my grandchildren and my children, but after almost twelve full days together I told my son I hadn’t done any writing and sometimes I feel like time is slipping away. He asked me, “Don’t you think this week with the kids is the best use of your time?”

That stopped me longing for working computers. I began the first book I mentioned while the children slept. So, I did do something else besides cooking, washing dishes, babysitting and laundry. Also, we played games and read books and I got to understand the rhythms of their lives in a way I didn’t comprehend before.

Plus, extended time with my grown children is a rarity, which I thoroughly enjoyed as well.

It’s amazing how a well framed question can turn my thoughts in another direction.

My sister’s surgery went well today and she is recovering for a day here unless New York weather gets so bad that the roads get closed down tomorrow. Then she’ll be here for two days. I don’t remember such crazy weather. February had been so warm. I wonder if that’s why so many folks have been sick. Warm spells and then a few days of cold and back to balmy weather. A few years back, we had a warm winter, but it was consistent.

Well, God knows what He’s doing in regards to the climate. He knows what He’s doing in regards to my schedule. I’d been feeling like I needed to play some games and relax. I got to do that with the children.

May God bless you and watch over you and protect you.

A Plan Set in Motion

The rain drops sit on my husband’s windshield as if they’re glued droplets of glass.

I’m in the car waiting for him so we can catch a new action movie at the theater. Of course, I just made a cup of Rooibos tea, so I put it in a travel mug and I’m determined to wait long enough so I don’t burn myself on it.

Even the side windows’ rain drops are defying gravity. Hmm.

Anyway, I set my Life Plan from Michael Hyatt & Daniel Harkavy’s book, Living Forward: A Proven Plan to Stop Drifting and Get the Life You Want on paper today. The tome is published by Baker Books, Grand Rapids, MI and copyrighted by the authors in 2016.

Living Forward: A Proven Plan to Stop Drifting and Get the Life You Want  -     By: Michael Hyatt, Daniel Harkavy

(photo from https://www.christianbook.com/living-forward-proven-drifting-life-want/michael-hyatt/9780801018824/pd/018820?product_redirect=1&Ntt=9780801018824&item_code=&Ntk=keywords&event=ESRCG )

I copied the author’s empty ideal week template with Monday – Sunday across the top and time from 5:00 a.m. – 9:30 p.m. on the left column. I looked in their book at an executive’s schedule which didn’t match my lifestyle. He started about that early. I’ve heard my husband say I don’t even know there’s a 5:30 in the morning. Which I deny vigorously. I’ve been on vacation or headed to a meeting that required me to be in the car by 5:30 a.m. probably three times in my life. 🙂

I digress.

I copied the light green weekly sheet and started to put in my meetings and schedule for work and exercise, etc. My Sunday ended up on a second page and I just realized I never filled that one out, so after I blog I’ll go back to that sheet of paper.

The evening hours suggested family time, reading, planning and I grabbed that idea for me. I’m tired of blogging at 11:00 p.m. and then reading others’ blogs which gets my brain charged up and then I get to bed at 1:00 a.m.

So today, I figured 5:00 p.m. to start preparing a meal, then eating, and then cleanup. Time with family & reading & an early bedtime sounded great. When my husband asked if I wanted to go to a movie, I looked at my plan. Family time, etc. beginning at 5:00. So I said, “Sure.”

I read my Bible earlier in the day, ran some errands. I usually mark my calendar for shopping and stuff on Friday but today I realized that I really do my running around on Tuesdays. So, my ideal week reflected that.

I want more time to write than I planned, but if I’m consistent with what I chose, the words should add up. If my husband has meetings, I can grab pen and legal pad or sit at the computer when he’s away during family time.

I’m looking forward to a more structured life. Even if curveballs come my way, I have a reference point for decision making.

I forgot to schedule hobbies in, my lowest priority. I may have to sneak some time on the weekend.

I’ve been praying for wisdom and today I felt as if God’s Spirit whispered to me, Ask and you shall receive, seek and you shall find, and knock and the door will be opened for you.

What a wonderful God He is!

May God bless you.

What’s Going On?

 

It amazes me what God does for me and for others. I’ve seen so many answers to prayer.

Yet, sometimes it’s the little things that capture my attention and appreciation. There are times when I write or sew at night because I’ve been busy throughout the day. Last night I started to put the stitching across the top of a curtain. I added extra stitches to the end to reinforce it on one side. As I continued, the thread broke. No matter what I tried, the thread kept breaking.

Finally I remembered how I’d had manuscript submissions get stuck because the e-mail account wouldn’t send. After trying everything I knew to do, including getting help from others, I’d give up. Then, I’d notice a typo or realize the article was missing pertinent information. Once I fixed it, I’d attach the piece and then hit send. Off it went to the editor!

So last night I looked closely at the second section of the curtain set. I needed to flip the curtain over to sew the top on the other side. I tore out the stitches that had made it half way across. Then I pinned the fabric the correct way and decided to quit for the night. Somehow I knew my machine would work perfectly today. And so it did.

I moved on to the next window’s fabric and worked on it until I started losing energy. My husband asked a good question, “Isn’t it when you’re tired that you start making mistakes?”

I’d been debating over doing one inch side hems around the circle of the valance and then sewing the top seams for the ruffle and the rod pocket. I may need to remove a few stitches so it lays flat, now that I think about it. Anyway, I decided tomorrow is another day.

If someone doesn’t believe in God, they may think good things happening are only a coincidence. I believe it’s God because in the book of James it says all good things and perfect things come from heaven above, from the Father of lights. (James 1:17)

I believe in God because as a young girl when I first learned of God, it resonated deep within.

Some people believe Jesus was God because others walked and talked with Him and saw Him perform miracles. These “others” went to their deaths instead of recanting their eye witness accounts. Why would anyone die to support a lie?

More Christians are being persecuted for their faith today than ever before.

I believe Satan knows his time is short and he’s fulfilling what Jesus said about him in John 10:10: “The thief comes only to steal, kill and destroy but I have come to give life and that abundantly.”

When life gets hard on earth, I find comfort in the Bible with its many promises. My mother-in-law’s favorite Bible verses were in Psalm 91 and I have a friend that tells me she prayed Psalm 91 over me today. That always makes me smile.

Psalm 91 (Webster):

Psa 91:1  He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.

Psa 91:2  I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust.

Psa 91:3  Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence.

Psa 91:4  He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler.

Psa 91:5  Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day;

Psa 91:6  Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noon-day.

Psa 91:7  A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee.

Psa 91:8  Only with thy eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked.

Psa 91:9  Because thou hast made the LORD who is my refuge, even the Most High, thy habitation;

Psa 91:10  There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling.

Psa 91:11  For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.

Psa 91:12  They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone.

Psa 91:13  Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder: the young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under feet.

Psa 91:14  Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known my name.

Psa 91:15  He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honor him.

Psa 91:16  With long life will I satisfy him, and show him my salvation.

May God bless you!

Read a Book or Watch a Game

To Darkness Fled

I finished reading the second book in The Blood of Kings trilogy by Jill Williamson entitled To Darkness Fled. Enclave Publishing, Phoenix, AZ published it in 2010, and Jill Williamson copyrighted it in 2010.

 

Our family got together for Memorial Day Weekend, so I really didn’t get started until Monday night.

 

The twists and turns in that book kept my interest to the very end. Now I’m awaiting Book Three, From Darkness Won.

From Darkness Won

I’ve been doing dishes, getting rid of unimportant papers, doing laundry and making meals.

 

I’m working on a short story for the fiction writing contest “The Christian Communicator” is providing. The June 15 deadline approaches and two stories missed the mark so far. So I brainstormed as I waited for an appointment this morning.

 

Kind of hard to do with the television blaring. America was quieter when I was a kid. In my early years, all television shows were black & white. Offices provided magazines and sometimes a Bible, but never a television set.

 

In eighth grade I went to baseball games with a friend and her family often. Other than the announcer giving facts about the teams and the game, and an occasional organ music song, we sat and listened to the players chatter or a fan may have had the radio tuned to the sports channel and we heard snippets of the same game played out before us.

 

I got so bored sometimes, waiting for some action. We looked at the scoreboard and bought peanuts from the vendor. Sometimes we climbed high up in the bleachers or went to the concession stands. That was the only place televisions showed the game, away from the actual grassy diamond.

 

In recent times I attended a ball game. If there stood any chance of a lull in the game, songs blared from the sound system. Advertisements flashed from the huge digital screens.

 

I don’t remember any stretches of quiet. Not any. It’s almost as if people are afraid to be quiet and to think.

 

Sitting in the midst of all that stimulation rattled me. Maybe because I wasn’t expecting it or maybe it’s because I’m no longer a teenager.

 

Anyway, I’d rather read a book than sit in a crowd of people with all my senses on overload, hoping the decibels aren’t ruining my hearing.

 

Some changes bring joy and convenience. Other changes promise benefits but fail to deliver; it turns into empty noise. I want to be a person that embraces new things and ideas, but discerns the wrong changes for change sake that erodes the quality of life.

 

God bless.

Does TV Make Your Mind Mush?

I visited my son this week and he said he thought he might have lived life a little fuller if he hadn’t watched so many tv shows. I reminded him that I limited his viewing. Then he spouted some statistics which went right over my head.

My husband and I took coaching classes. At one of our first
classes the instructor told us that the brain gets stimulated by the shows and sucks the person right into the viewing mode.

Have you ever thought, “I’ll just watch one more show and then I’ll do the dishes or write for two hours or whatever
pressing need you have to accomplish and then you realize you’ve watched two more programs than you ever intended to do.

What do you do then? Do you rush back to your previous plans? Or do you find yourself all relaxed and find your creativity or work ethic is put on hold?

Any thoughts?

Montrose Christian Writers Conference

Montrose Bible Conference hosts Montrose Christian Writers Conference in July. This year I made my way there with the intent to seek God and then concentrate on writing. Last year, it was all about me. Am I a good writer or great writer, or not?

I asked Cec Murphey something about a piece I crafted and he said, “Oh, you’re looking for affirmation,” in an understanding tone. I nodded my head, almost ready to cry. I don’t remember what he said after that. He’s a nice guy. A best seller and a nice guy.

This year, Monday morning, the new director, Marsha Hubler read part of my essay to the assembled throng and told them to listen to this, it’s very good.

Image result for Marsha Hubler, author

I sat there very still and could almost feel the blood rushing through my veins. It’s amazing to me that when people who love God let go of stuff and agendas and people, God gives back more than they expect. I love God because He drew me to Him. 1 John 4:19 (KJV) says, ” We love him, because he first loved us.”

Patti Souder stepped away from the directorship at Montrose so she could have more time to write. She chose the order of the readers for the Thursday night theater presentation. She had me go first. I almost missed it, because I’m usually somewhere in the middle and I arrived less than ten minutes before the start. As my peers clapped after hearing the three hundred word essay on “Equipping Writers for Eternal Significance,” I felt humbled.

I often feel humbled after God blesses me in little ways and big ways. When I sing the lyrics to the song, “I am a Friend of God,” which starts out, “Who am I that You are mindful of me, that You love me, who am I?” I truly mean it. God is all powerful; all knowing; merciful; gracious; our healer; our provider; our protector; our creator; Jesus, God the Son is our intercessor when we’re in trouble, the perfect parent and so much more. He’s just and tells us to leave vengeance up to Him. He gives us peace beyond our comprehension.

I’ve experienced that lately, especially in the car during a severe rain storm with lightning so close, I felt a bit traumatized after the fact. During the drive I was enveloped in a bubble of calm and sat quietly, for me, as my friend drove the car.

If you think God is distant and uncaring, pick up the Word of God and ask Him to reveal Himself to you in all His many facets. I think You’ll stand amazed at God as so many millions have over the centuries.

Harriet Beecher Stowe: an Unforgettable American

I’m reading a book called, “Harriet Beecher Stowe and the Beecher Preachers” by Jean Fritz, copyright 1994 by Jean Fritz, and published by Penguin Putnam Books for Young Readers.

Harriet Beecher Stowe’s always liked to write. So she started as a young girl. Later in life, when her best friend died, she decided to console the grief-stricken husband. His looks didn’t appeal to her, but she thought highly of him. He was a professor of Biblical Literature.

After many months of trying to get him out of his despondency, they began to enjoy each other’s company. Friendship turned to romance and then they got married without much fuss.

I like to read stories of writers and to read of their choices as they become wordsmiths.  She wrote because she felt a compulsion to write. She wrote to become published when her family needed the money to survive. It’s interesting to note that she was an adept marketer. She sent essays to every magazine she could think of, and she found success enough that she hired a housekeeper for three hours a day so she could write.

When her passion for ending slavery arose, she wrote to influence the nation. People accused her of never having seen slavery, but she knew many people because of her famous father, Lyman Beecher. He preached to thousands of people about their need for a Savior to get into heaven and to avoid the torments of hell. So many people sought their family out, and she would listen to conversations from politicians, Southerners, New Englanders, people from Ohio, New York State, preachers and teachers.

When she heard of slaves being mistreated, her compassion stirred up her emotions, which found release in her pen. She met families that opened their homes to the “Underground Railroad.”

She wanted the country to wake up and see that there were no rights for slaves. She felt outrage. Women didn’t have much influence in her life time. So, writing a novel was the only way she could get her point across. She never expected her book to sell like it did.

I sat with a renowned pastor/teacher at a conference I attended one year for our church body. He wrote a book because he looked for one on his topic of interest and there wasn’t one. So he did a ton of research on the subject and wrote it himself. 🙂

It’s amazing how life can turn around with the right incentives, in a way that a person may never anticipate. I’ll bet if anyone told Harriet Beecher Stowe at age sixteen that some day she would write a book that impacted the world, she probably would have marveled at the idea. She was often overlooked at home and bossed around by her older sister. Yet, the fire in her spirit and the joy of writing, combined to create a life beyond her imagination.