Change is In the Air

Happy 2019!  I took a couple weeks off through the holidays.  It was a difficult Christmas with one less at the table, and Alma’s birthday January 1st came as a double whammy.  We gathered to share his favorite foods and tell stories in remembrance of him…it was a good day.

alma's handsThis is one of my favorite stories, Alma describing how he built a breakfast bar for their home.  “OK, so you start with a pile of scrap 2x6s from building the house. You put them through the table saw twice to make them more square, then through the planer twice, then through the drum sander several times per side. Then you cut both ends off to make the ends square, then you put them in your homemade Taylor press with some glue and a few screws. At this point you have a plank, that you now have to run through the planer 4 times, then through the drum sander 6 times. Cut it to size and shape, add some trim, some stain and lots of lacquer an, Wammo, you have a butcher block breakfast

I am beyond thankful to friends and family who have gotten us this far, and look forward to a year of adaptation, change and joy!  Yes, change is in the air.  Blessings to all.  I’m back!

Odd Numbers and When to Celebrate

ann347. It’s an odd number, isn’t it? Not quite golden, but close. Very close.

We opted for a big shindig on our 40th, never realizing a third of our family would be missing at our 50th–so glad we didn’t wait! I always thought I’d die young, so I’ve tried to squeeze a lifetime into each moment. Now I find the unthinkable has become my new reality. I live, yet the bones of my bones lies dead. I didn’t ask for this. I wanted it the other way around.

Being real, this is my story. My life. And 47 is a great number, because it symbolizes 47 years of learning to be one, surviving our ups and downs, trials and blessings. In this arid desert we tend to grieve better separately, at the same time, but each in our own way. We’ve learned to give space and to seek solace, and our advice to our friends is simple–celebrate now. Never wait. Loss can strike viciously, suddenly, with never a chance to say goodbye. Celebrate life every chance you get.ann1

Here’s the important point: We celebrate together. We celebrate life. We celebrate the family we have, both here and beyond the veil. Bill, I love you. I loved our evening out. Here’s to another 3, anyway. Let’s be golden!

 

Always Find Time to Smile

The world gets whacko sometimes, doesn’t it? We thought road rage was bad, but that devolved into interpersonal aggression in every corner of the country. Between wars, threats of terrorism, Facebook bullying and politics in general, life gets grim…but look at that as all the more reason to smile.

I mean this from the bottom of my heart: The simplest antidote to all this pent up rage is the application of a smile. Paste it on if you have to, but find it. Wear it. Share it. This is the time and the place to do just that!

As a guest columnist, I’d like to share with you one of the things that makes me smile. My second book has just been released, and writing has brought me more pleasure than you can imagine. I started writing the books because I cherish five granddaughters and certain life lessons needed learning without preaching. What I didn’t expect was to fall in love with my heroine.

Christine is a girl, every girl, your girl. Perhaps she is you. Born a commoner, she finds herself a princess being trained for royal duties. Doesn’t that just describe each gal on the planet? We do the mundane. We sweep. We cook. We fold laundry. Yet in our hearts we know we wear invisible crowns. We know those simple acts serve a greater good and to the little minions we treasure, we are heroines.

Living vicariously through Christine and her adventures draws me from the sad notes in life and restores my joy. Seeing my granddaughters enjoying the books puts a sparkle in my soul. Do I see myself writing more books? Of course!

And that is my challenge to you, dear readers. Find those grace notes that bring a smile to your face, and put them consciously, intentionally into your life. When you share your smiles, you’ll find others smiling back, and who can be spewing rage when faced with a smile bubbling up and overflowing?  We exercise no control over the world at large, but we each influence a small corner of the world where we hang our hats. So smile and clean up your corner of the world.

The Common Princess 005 book 2 cover aaron

 

How To Save Time & Money with the Q.O.D. Meal Plan

As adults, certain chores get repetitive, don’t they?  Chores like meal planning and cooking 3 squares a day just burn my grits..  Eating occurs a little too predictably at our house, but I learned a secret.  The Q.O.D. meal plan saves me time and money, so it’s a win/win.

What is it you ask?  You didn’t take Greek or Latin in high school?  I did, but darned if I can give it to you in any particular language, just medical-ese.  Any nurse will tell you it refers to a medication administered every other day.  Yes, Q.O.D. means every other day.

When applied to my kitchen, it’s a prescription I find quite appealing.

  • Cook Monday, enough for two meals.
  • Cook Tuesday, enough for two meals.
  • Wednesday eat Monday leftovers.
  • Thursday eat Tuesday leftovers.
  • Friday date night go out for a bite.
  • Saturday eat light while prepping Sunday dinner

Bgrey and black pen on calendar bookoom! I cooked three times, stretched my meat, and saved money on my grocery bill in the process.  Adapt my Q.O.D. meal plan to any variance of days in the week and it still works.  Cook Sunday/Monday, reheat Tuesday/Wednesday, cook Thursday, date night Friday, reheat Saturday…it adapts to any schedule.

I know, I’m fortunate my husband likes leftovers.  As a matter of fact, he thinks they taste better the second time around. (His momma trained him well.)  I live in the fast lane on a fixed income.  Saving time and money ranks right up there with winning the lottery.  Remember: Q.O.D. and score big!

How to Avoid a Moldy Life

The choice is yours:  A moldy life or living instant in season.  The Bible offers this one short phrase as an injunction for all of life.  At first I wondered what it could possibly mean, but I learned its lesson the hard way.  I now base much of my life upon it…but what does that mean to you?

Nike says it succinctly: Just do it.  I add the now.

I like this wry explanation. “Someday is not a day of the week.”  Penned by Denise Brennan-Nelson, her tongue-in-cheek view of the antithesis makes me smile.

Defined by action, being instant in season requires immediacy.  Thinking of someone?  Call or pen a note.  Yes, I’m old school.  Our children text or email, but the result remains the same.  The lifeline you toss to another may be just that.  Solomon talked about it:  “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.”  A prayer into the universe gets directed to you and what? You procrastinate? You choose not to answer?  Whose hope, whose life drowns because you chose to do it someday?  Lifelines save lives and heal hearts, as I’ve learned so poignantly these last few months.  Instead, be instant in season.

We once lived in an over-sized garage. We never redecorated or made it our own because, of course, it was just temporary.  Why pour money into something we’d be leaving behind?  Four years later it looked exactly the same as when we moved in, and I learned my lesson.  Make your life your own today.  Live in the now. Embrace the tangible and make it real.

The basis of living in season is falling in love with your life.  Create a life beyond mere existence, a life of passion.  Yes, goals may be long term, but actionable steps make the promise real today, not tomorrow.  Distilled down into the nitty-gritty, it requires taking responsibility for your hopes and your dreams, being the architect of your own future.

neverWhat happens when we fail to live our lives instant and in season?  Ever have to clean moldy food out of the refrigerator?  Your hopes and dreams become diseased and unhealthy when harbored past a designated shelf life.  Turned in upon themselves, you create your own desert of depression.  The cure?  Toss out the old and dream up some new.  My planner for 2018 reminds me of a favorite C.S. Lewis quote: “You are never too old to set another goal or dream another dream.”  I look at it and read it several times a day.  Yes, I believe that.  With all my heart.

Are You a Bible Wrecker?

bible 4I know people with pristine Bibles.  I am not one of them.  I am an inveterate Bible wrecker and it makes the Word of God come alive for me.  Worse yet for all you pristine Bible lovers, I plan on never mending my ways.

Of course I bean with underlining my favorite passages as a child. I then proceeded on to color coding.  I chose word topics and using colored pencils and highlighters, colored verses with or about those words.  That very soon led to personal indexing.bible 2

Threading ranks as my second favorite form of Bible wrecking.  I find a topic of study, and cross reference one verse to the next and so on throughout the Book.  I found I needed to add the starting and closing verses to the Bible’s concordance in the back to be sure I could find it at a moment’s notice.  Indexing is key for me, because nothing is more frustrating than knowing I have a scripture somewhere in a book of 66 books.  I started running out of space for indexing, and had to get creative.

bible-1-55894952-1539785010836.jpgThen I started adding quotes and reference material by way of inserts.  I began with typing them onto thin tracing paper, but with the advent of computers, quickly resorted to using regular copier papaer.  I learned the hard way not to use rubber cement as a medium for insertion.  It eventually dries out and the insert becomes a nuisance.  Worse, it discolors the margin as it dries.  I now favor a high quality paper crafting glue.bible-5.jpg

I finally starting adding Washi tape to highlight books since my Bible had no tabs.  Word of warning: Don’t wait to do this.  It’s hard to cover over notes in the margin.  Since my Bible is starting to fall apart, my next new Bible will have Washi tape inserted at the start.

I do enjoy Bible journaling and art journaling, but I use other versions for that pleasure.  When Alma died I found it hard to hold thoughts in my head, and focusing on short phrases kept me in the Word.  I had a wide-margin version of the Bible I already used for that form of meditation and worship, and focused on that medium of study.  I am not an artist, but the whole point is that you don’t have to be.  It’s a form of personal meditation, and I am chagrined to share my simple artwork…but it illustrates the point.  Just do it and stop worrying about perfection.

Being a Bible wrecker offers me a creative outlet and a way to express what the Word means to me.  It also prepares me for sharing intentionally at a moment’s notice.  I hope it makes me a warrior for the Word, not to use it as a weapon, but as a way of zealously defending the King.  Last but not least, it seasons my life with all the benefits of a life with Christ.  Peace, joy, and strength keep me going through this season of loss and change.  The Rock and His Word never fail.  Yup.  I plan on being a Bible wrecker ’till the day I die.  #noregrets

 

Flame the Fire of Joy

After a full week of algebra and schoolwork with pedal to the metal, we enjoyed an afternoon of bowling yesterday. Yes, we left mowing undone. We left a small mountain of wood unsplit and unstacked.  My work area held a manuscript for book three needing to be imagined and a blog post to write. Yes, we were out an out slugs. Instead, we chose to follow Grand Poppy’s sage advice: “We keep the fun,” and loved seeing the joy explode out of the hearts of our two scholars.

Children grow up. I know, it’s hard to believe since it happens one baby step at a time. When parents turn around and suddenly realize the children have grown up without them, a ginormous opportunity remains forever lost. Enjoy time with them now to avoid the bitter ashes of feeling cheated later.

Living in the moment doesn’t mean we work less. We work faster, with more focus.  We love intentionally. We create pockets of time from which we extract these memories to cache away as joy for another day. Here’s the thing: It doesn’t always happen at a bowling alley. Amazing, right? Share popcorn over a movie, snuggled in an afghan. Play a rousing game of Mexican trains and for goodness sake, let the silly train whistle drive you crazy. Bake some cookies. I’m full of these little ideas. I could go on all day long, but I think you got my drift already.

We country folk who heat with wood like to say it’s the only form of energy that heats you twice: once when you cut it and again when you burn it.  These romps from routine hold the same promise: warm the heart in play, and remember the warmth for years to come when the eagles have flown the nest. Best of all, the flames of joy burn clean with no ashes to sweep from the hearth. Boy, howdy! That’s a win/win for ya’! What price joy? I have no answer for that.

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Are You a NonSleeper? Read This

I think it’s time we review sleep, or the lack of thereof, once again.  I promised you further chapters in my ongoing dilemma of to sleep or not to sleep and how it might translate to your life.  The lack of sleep affects you and everyone around you.

Of course, the symptoms of sleeplessness live on your face: bloodshot eyes, raccoon circles that belie every pleasant expression.  It also seeps out in unintended crankiness when least expected.  I find those effects less disturbing than these: 33% of all people everywhere suffer from missed sleep.  That’s how many billion of us?  And are these the ones mucking up our Facebook news feeds with angry chatter?  All of these billions of us have a 13% higher mortality risk.  Yup, say goodbye now, because numbers never lie, lol.  Last but least, 77% of us cranky non-sleepers become addicted to medications.  Not okay.

Remedies abound.  To recap an earlier post: Yes, I take melatonin, employ a nightly ritual, practice slower breathing, wear lavender like it’s my new fashion accessory.  If a simple one-size-fits-all remedy existed, its billionaire owner would have just bought the island of Shangri La.  That said, I confess I am intrigued by claims that DoDow users fall asleep 2.5x faster.  My first thought: faster than what?  Their perceived prior insomniac versions of themselves?  After researching claims, I headed over to Amazon to see what the battery-driven gizmo runs.  A hefty $59.  Wowsers!!! Realizing its effectiveness relies on my ability to breathe on the command of a blinking light and that I am hopelessly uncoordinated, I am reluctant to drop that large a chunk of change.  I mean, I can’t even clap in rhythm to a song, so how am I ever to learn how to breathe like that?Middle aged woman in the night with insomnia

I really am hoping some friendly reader will try it out and personally let me know how it works.  Perhaps I need one of those ubiquitous GoFundMe accounts to finance its purchase.  Either way, gentle reader, take heart.  I am still one of you non-sleepers and I feel your pain.

Togetherness. Extreme Togetherness.

It’s been an extremely big day for me.  When Bill retired, he became my chauffeur and wanted to ferry me places. We started spending a LOT of time together, so much so that I hardly drive and rarely spend a day without him. Togetherness. Extreme togetherness.

But a glorious new day has arrived! When he departed for a weekend retreat without me, suddenly I am driving myself. Yay! I remember how! I get the bed to myself. I had no idea what that felt like. And I get to have a girlie night. Woo hoo!!

Having these two munchkins for a night brought extreme joy. We played with play dough. We watched a movie. We made dinner and dessert together. We made jewelry. Crimp beads were a challenge, but they caught on quickly. Pawing through my stash was more than than raiding a cookie jar. And my, how they giggled.

Something tells me Bill has a ministry here, and I should explore other opportunities for him.  As a mother of three sons, I waited my whole life for this night, and it did not disappoint.  So so thankful for these two little girls!

This easy recipe is great for girls.  Spray a muffin tin.  Lay crescent roll into the tins.  Add 1 tsp crushed pineapple and 1 Tbsp cherry pie filling.  Pinch the tops together.  Bake at 375 until  browned and done.

How to Improve Your Life in 30 Days

Ever want to embark on self-improvement?  Take a stroll through the Word.  I find no better path in life than one made by following the footprints of the Master-.  Digging deep into the Word fills my soul and sharpens my mind.  Thus I begin a 30-day challenge for the month of October.  Join me if you wish!

Begin with Jeremiah 10: 12-13.  I will be sending these daily meditations via email to each person who asks to be included, but not posting daily on the blog, so let me show you how this works for me.  Begin by reading the verses:  He made the earth by his power, he hath established the world y his wisdom, and hath stretched out the heavens by his discretion.  When he uttereth his voice, there is a multitude of waters in the heavens, and he causeth vapors to ascend from the ends of the earth; he maketh lightnings with rain, and bringeth forth the wind out of his treasures. 

Then I hone in on whatever captures my imagination.  I love the sound of His voice.  Imagine a super hero who can speak and rain fills a thirsty land (Psalms 84:6).  Imagine a voice so soft and sweet that you hold it close to hear its every word (1 Kings 19: 12-13).  Imagine a voice so dear that it never ceases to call for you and you run toward it each and every time you hear your name called (John 10: 27-28).  These images deepen my love and soften my heart.

Next I read an amplified version of the same passage, because it helps me personalize its message.  Read two verses before the passage and four verses past the passage.  Realize its context and find God speaking to the heart. But the Lord is the true God; he is the living God, the eternal King.  Jeremiah goes on to describe the makers of idols as being senseless and without knowledge, making worthless objects of mockery, and concludes by saying, “He who is the Portion of Jacob is not like these, for he is the Master of all things, including Saraleethe daughter of His inheritance….  See what I did there?  I inserted my name in the generic spot of a noun for a person or group of persons, making the passage personal for me.30 days

Thus I am called along the path my Savior walks, ever by my side.  He leads me, calls me, loves me, and I lean in close to hear His every whisper.  Care to join me for 30 days of self-improvement?  Leave a comment and I’ll get with you!

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