You appeared in 2020 March,
On a crisp spring day
Bringing cancellations and reservations
Of life’s normal work and play
We got used to the drill
Mask on or mask off?
Are any vaccines safe?
Which ones are? And which ones are not?
Then came the new variant
Delta was her name
She hit the world harder and swifter
Spreading the germ of fear once again
For some this all seemed unreal
Knowing no one who had succumbed
We were them, until we were not;
My brother once healthy and retired Now sadly gone.
We got the vaccine in the midst of our grief
Hoping to prevent more heartache
In our family, at least.
A vacation was scheduled
and timely it was
We needed to process what had happened
and humbly seek God
The lakefront cottage was perfect
With no TV or WiFi
We had lots of time to explore
All the small towns nearby
We went to the market
And were surprised to find
A horse and carriage parked by our car
We discovered the Amish live nearby
They came from Pennsylvania in the 80’s, we were told
The town is called Romulus
Where the soil is as rich as gold
We fished on the lake
And hiked a trail one morning
We cooked favorites and took walks
And visited a museum in Corning
But the one thing that happened
That calmed all my fears
When God painted a reminder
We watched it slowly appear
A rainbow so bright,
It was impossible to miss
God was saying “I’m faithful
To my promises—even in this!”
Our time at the cottage was
Ironic for Tom and me.
For the small town where it is located
Is named Ovid, you see.
Ovid and Covid—two parts of this ode
The one caused much grief,
Such misery and sorrow
While the other brought peace
How can the two be so alike yet so different?
Maybe it’s like people in general;
We are human and fragile,
Yet resilient and pliable
My Ovid to Covid
Puts my heart on the page.
It’s filled with comfort and peace,
Without a trace of rage
How is this possible
To be free of rage and fear?
By God’s grace that’s available to all who draw near.
As a writer I have noticed something that concerns me. It is the affect social media is having on my limited, daily amount of creativity. All the interactions with others–their thoughts, their photos, their humorous GIFS, etc…are robbing me of my ability to write well and often.
So what do I do?
The answer is obvious, but it goes against the flow of our culture. To not be engaged on social media feels like I’m on a deserted island while everyone I know is across on another island having a party. I have never liked to miss the fun, and this is proving that to be true.
But I still have writing goals and desires.
Anything worth doing is worth doing well. If social media is taking a toll on my worthwhile goals then I must rein in my freedom in this area.
I thought being home so much would have increased my writing. But I was wrong. The only thing it increased was time playing my favorite games (Words with Friends and Design Home). I know this because I have a screen time monitor that lets me know how much time I’ve spent each week on my screens.
It all comes down to discipline and making wise choices. I also need to set goals and limits on time wasted. We all need down time. But when down times begins to rob productive time, it’s time to make needed changes. This will benefit me and hopefully those who will read what I write.
My Smart Phone has a feature under screen time that allows me to limit the amount of time I use certain apps each day. I am going to start something I’ve never done before. Hold my screen time accountable.
How is screen time robbing you of creative energy?
“Take imagination breaks…Relaxed attention is one of the most important states of mind for creativity, and sometimes it has to be learned.” – Nita Leland
I am a part of a writer’s group that has been together for the past 15 years. Every Wednesday we are given a writing prompt to help us keep our creative inspiration flowing. Today’s prompt was one that immediately got my mind thinking…
Writer’s Prompt: The girl at Starbucks who always gets a caramel macchiato orders black coffee today.
A man of quiet strength, he had been the one who kept Jo grounded when her world seemed to be spinning out of control. Her Dad was confident in her ability as a writer. This infused her with determination to meet his expectations. Even as the rejection letters mounted, it didn’t sway his belief that her voice was something special. Yet, on this day of all days, Jo was struggling to remember the sound of his voice, and it left her fraught with anxiety. What daughter forgets her Dad’s voice after only three years? If his voice faded so fast, would she forget her voice too? What if she never knew her voice? Was it all a facade visible only by her Dad’s faith in who she could be?
Tormented that his death would cause a similar death to her future, Jo decided she needed to get outside. She was hopeful the fresh air would stimulate her thoughts.
Fall was living up to its name as crisp, colorful leaves descended in cadence to the sidewalk below. Jo gathered her jacket around her neck to ward off the chill. Instinctively, she walked to the corner for her morning pick-me-up. As she waited in line she remembered the countless times she and her Dad had met here to go over her latest plot. He would smile as she read, not so much because he loved the story, but because he loved its author. A tear started to fall, which she caught with her sleeve before it had a chance to show itself to a watching world.
She discovered why she was struggling this Father’s Day. It was the reality that no one was watching her, and no one cared for her as he had. She shifted in line reading the food offered on the rack where she stood, hoping to forget. Jo realized her anxiety had followed her, and it was impossible to run fast enough to get away.
She let out a sigh when the barista asked, “What can I get for you today? Your usual?”
She recalled the countless times her Dad had answered this question. In his gentle, reserved manner she could hear him say, “I’ll have a tall, coffee. Make it black, please.”
Her memory exploded alive along with her Dad’s voice.
“No Caramel Macchiato for me today.” Jo thought to herself.
It was Father’s Day and this one was for Dad. Along with his voice came fresh inspiration. The title of what she would write next, “The Day I Ordered My Coffee Black”.
(Photo from 1962, Silver Star Pharmacy)
I am a part of a writer’s group that provides a writing prompt once a week in order to help us keep the creative juices flowing. This past week’s prompt led me down an unexpected path. The following is the prompt and what I wrote in response.
Wednesday Writer’s Prompt:
What place, or kind of place, elicits fond memories of the past?
Opening the door was an entry to my childhood. A time capsule bursting open in celebration of what once was.
The soda fountain served guests a daily special prepared by our beloved cook, Flossie. She was like a grandmother to me, always making sure I had enough food in my belly to fuel my curiosity. The clattering of dishes passing through the triple sinks to wash, rinse and sanitize were the background music of life in my Dad’s Pharmacy.
The regular customers provided a cadence call of life in our small town, beckoning us to participate together in life’s difficult moments.
But the center of it all was my dad’s caring heart. Each customer knew they had a faithful friend who would sacrifice time with his family in order to provide for their needs in crisis. He listened to their laments and carried their concerns to God in prayer.
But that was then.
Sadness cloaks me with a familiar comfort. Gone are the customers, the needs, the community of friends who called my Dad “Doc”. Gone are the rich smells of comfort food served with a smile. Gone are the days of my childhood.
Yet the memories linger as I sign the paper ending an era. Soon this building will belong to someone new.
(Photo from 2017)
We will go our separate ways to live our dreams and provide for those to whom God has given us to care and provide.
Tomorrow’s memories are being written on the walls of today. Each day matters; make them count for eternity.
I’ve always enjoyed writing poetry. In fact my first writings as a child were simple rhymes. I love the challenge of finding the right word that says what I want it to say. Dr. Seuss took license here and made up his own words and characters that rhyme. Some we’ve all grown to love like Cat in the Hat, Yertle The Turtle, Horton Hears A Who, and everyone’s beloved, Grinch.
There is a challenge for writers this month called NaPoWriMo, which stands for “National Poetry Writing Month“. Those who are participating are writing a poem every day for the entire month. That’s a bit much for my schedule, so I’m going for once a week, maybe. It depends on whether or not my creative energy is available.
I’ll heed the advice of my favorite poet…
“Think left and think right and think low and think high.
Oh, the thinks you can think up if only you try.” – Dr. Seuss
Instead of writing poems that rhyme, I’ve decided to write prose. I hope you enjoy this one.
Sweet Fragrance Of Unity
A pleasant warmth brushes my face as I inhale the morning air.
“Winter has at last fallen asleep”, tucked beneath the black dirt of the garden bed.
“Tread lightly,” it cautions.
Hope, peeking through the soil as a timid flower, is unsure of the climate.
Thunder clouds gather like opposing views bringing with it
winds of threat and cloudy accusations.
Meant to harm, yet providing something needed…
some run off rejected
a torrential flood of judgment.
deep, bringing with it gentle correction.
The solar sentinel ever present though not seen,
sends out rays of help
chasing the clouds of accusations away
like a faithful friend.
A second look and hope has emerged safe and at attention
in response to the steady cadence call of the sentinel in the Sky.
Gone are the threats.
Spring at last.
The garden has learned to embrace only words which nourish the soul,
thus filling the air with a sweet fragrance of
Do you enjoy writing poetry? Have you ever tried?
“If you never did, you should. These things are fun and fun is good.”
– Dr. Seuss
My new book that my husband and I have written is now available on Amazon
It’s been three years since I last attempted to begin my second book. When I put it on hold, I knew God would show me when the time was right to start.
My time may have arrived.
As I mentioned in my last post, I was privileged to attend a local ladies book club in Marietta, GA, where they had chosen my book to read for the month of September. I was hopeful to hear their thoughts and questions at their monthly meeting this past Tuesday night. I was not disappointed.
I was relieved and grateful to discover the atmosphere in the group was casual and friendly. The ladies seemed to really enjoy my grandmother’s story, and to sit among all this excitement and hear their questions was such an amazing honor for me, not to mention a much needed boost.
I found out things they are hoping to discover in the next book. I was surprised that there are some characters they are hoping to hear more from that I had planned to never mention again. Imagine! Some of my fictional characters stirred enough interest to make them want to find out more about them.
So it begins…as I prepare to dust off my historical/fiction writing skills, I’m as excited to see how it all turns out as much as my readers are to read about it. Knowing there are readers who really care about my grandmother and what happens to her next is quite a blessing and one that would have made my mom proud.
Special thanks to the Ladies Book Club in Marietta, GA, for blessing me with this much needed boost!
(I was so excited I failed to take a single picture! For those of you who know me that never happens!)
I’ve been thinking about how God has allowed me to see the biggest dream of my life come true–I wrote, edited, completed and published the book I had in my heart to do for 25 years. And I couldn’t have done it without my Mom, my husband and my writing group. The support of others in making a dream come true is crucial.
The quote used in my title is from the Disney movie, Cinderella. Her life was certainly one of abuse and unfulfilled dreams, yet she never stopped hoping. Her dream was to be free from her wicked step-mother’s abuse, but when it finally came true it was so much more than she ever hoped or imagined.
I’m reminded of this Scripture…(emphasis mine)
“14For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15from whom every familyc in heaven and on earth is named, 16that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
20Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us,21to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” – Ephesians 3:14-21 ESV
What dreams do you have? Have you shared your dream with those closest to you? Have you prayed about it and given your desires to God to do with as He will? I encourage you to take some time and submit all your dreams to the One who is able.
I must confess I have a new obsession.
It’s the TV show on HGTV, Fixer Upper. I’m sure you’ve probably enjoyed it longer that I have. You see, I didn’t really give them a chance–I formed a first impression opinion of Chip and Joanna that wasn’t true. It wasn’t until a good friend shared with me how amazing they are in incorporating their faith with their dreams that I discovered otherwise. I felt horrible for allowing a first impression to rob me of getting to know such an amazing couple.
I found her testimony on You Tube that is filled with encouragement to continue hoping for your dreams to come true. Listen in to what she has to say…
I love the fact that Chip played a huge part in seeing her dreams weren’t tossed aside. He not only used his words to encourage her, but he acted by giving her the space she needed to hear God speak.
If you have dreams you’ve forgotten or tossed aside. I encourage you to…
- Take a second look in 2016.
- Submit them to God.
- Tell a couple of close friends and your spouse, if you’re married.
- Seek out those you respect who have similar dreams.
- Expect God to speak.
If your dream is from Him, it’s only a matter of time for it to happen. If your dream isn’t, then know that He something even better in store. The key is to not give up looking with expectancy at what God will do. He is faithful and has promised He will return–now that’s a hope we can cling to.
(Note: In case you haven’t perused my blog much, check out the Oklahoma Recipes tab at the top. I’ve added some recipes that go with my book, and I’ve included the page where the food is mentioned. I hope you’ll give them a try. Food makes ordinary moments a celebration.)
As most of you know, all 7 of my grandchildren now live far away from me. It has been a difficult and emotional transition for me–one where I’ve shed many tears, and prayed often for God to help me see this new season from His perspective. And He has!
What I miss most as the Faraway Nana is being able to do fun things with them in my home–like baking, reading, picking flowers, going for walks around the block, watching their favorite movies while munching on hot, buttered popcorn, coloring pictures and playing Polly Pockets–to name just a few.
I was having one of those days when I was feeling particularly sorry for myself when God dropped an idea into my head.My four oldest grandchildren tell me often that they miss Nana’s House, which has always been like a jab to heart. But this time God gave me an idea, and a new tradition was born.
Nana’s House Newsletter
I told Bristol, Norah, Willow and Bradley that if they couldn’t come to Nana’s House, then Nana’s House would come to them. 🙂 I began publishing a monthly newsletter called Nana’s House. In it I put personal notes, little contests, crafts and something they can all enjoy from the 7 year olds down to the babies. When finished I stuff all the supplies needed for the crafts as well as candy treats into the Priority Mail Flat Rate small box and send it on its way. I take a picture of the receipt with the tracking number and text it to my daughters, so the kids can know when their little package will arrive.
This has helped me more that I could have ever imagined. I still get to go to the craft store and pick out something special for them to do. I still get to highlight funny things they’ve said or done. I still get to hear their voices squeal with excitement when they see another newsletter is on its way. The only thing I haven’t figured out how to do is hug their little necks and do nosies with them. Which brings me to the next thing I’ve done to help with the distance…
What fun we have had Skyping, and now using Google Hangouts (which works better when you are connecting three phones). We have colored Easter Eggs together, baked cookies and read books. I’m currently reading a series of books to the girls titled, The Doll People. They color while I read to them, and it has been wonderful. I love how they have absorbed the story and beg me, “Nana, just one more chapter–pleeeaaassssee?” We’re currently on book two, The Meanest Doll In The World. After this there are two more, so I think we’ll be able to enjoy this adventure together for quite a while.
My younger grandchildren love to talk with Nana on FaceTime because they can carry me with them to their room to see their new toys. I have had the best conversations with Stella (aged 2) all the while looking at the ceiling.
She takes the phone to her room, sets me on her kitchen set and fixes me the best cups of coffee. I’m always asking her to prop me up so I can see her face. 🙂 We are still working on that one, but I wouldn’t trade staring at her bedroom ceiling for anything. She’s precious.
I love writing. I love penmanship. I’ve heard that public schools are no longer teaching handwriting, and it makes me sad to realize this is going away. I always loved learning to write my letters. I practiced over and over again, until I like how it looked. This gave me an idea to start writing letters to my grandchildren once they learn to read. I print until they learn cursive writing. Once they do, I will write to them in cursive. The younger ones who can’t yet read, don’t like that the older ones get this special treat. But, I pray it will motivate them to learn to read for themselves. Cards are also a fun treat for the younger ones when it’s not their birthdays. Such an inexpensive way to show them how special they are to me.
Being far away from those you love is not easy, especially since they grow up so fast. For a long time I resisted finding joy in the distance, but I’m beginning to see that there is much good that happens when miles separate you from those you love. In this day and age we can still connect in ways my grandmother would have never imagined possible. When she moved away from her family to Jenks, Oklahoma, she didn’t know if she would ever see their faces or hear their voices again. Their only means of communication was through snail mail–although back then, it was delivered by horse. We are blessed that no matter how faraway you are, you can connect in so many ways as often as you like. What a small world.
Are you separated from your little people? I hope my ideas will inspire you to embrace the distance and make it something special.
I’ve started to do research again for my second book. It happened yesterday when I really didn’t have the time to do it, but I just did. Sometimes that is when I get the most work done, when it’s spontaneous and not planned.
I’m setting up a timeline of events beginning in 1907. There are many moments I am very familiar with, but I know that when I start to write her story I will relive much of the emotions Grace must have walked through. It is a privilege to document her life, her struggles and her faith in God. I am part of the story–her legacy, but I must admit that there are events she walked through that I pray I never experience.
These are the grave markers of three of Grace’s children, my Mom’s brothers. I know I’m giving away part of the story by writing this post, but as Halloween is tomorrow, I wanted to make a statement that death isn’t something to trivialize.
In our writer’s group this week, one member shared how he has been affected recently of the reality that we will all die soon. Most of us are in the second half of our lives–our children are grown, our time is more available to do the things for which we’ve dreamed, and realizing the brevity of life will help us push past the excuses of why we haven’t completed the writings God has laid on our hearts to write. We were sobered and convicted to make sure we do those things that are of most importance to us.
Time is short.
It took me 12 years to write Through The Eyes Of Grace. In 12 years I’ll be 67, if the Lord doesn’t take me home. I have no guarantees. I must DO, not talk about doing. I must write, not think about writing. It is what God has called me, as a writer, to do, so I’m starting with this post. I hope I haven’t rambled too much, but sometimes getting a rusty engine going again takes lots of puffs and sputterings. Soon my computer keyboard will run full speed into writing the rest of Grace’s story. Won’t you pray for me? Prayer is the fuel I need to keep pushing through until I discover what it is God wants me to know and the story that is of most importance for others to read. Our stories matter because they are his story–our history.
And so it begins…
Do you have an old family Bible?
I do. I found it when we were cleaning out my Mom’s house a year ago. It’s a rich treasure holding keys to my family’s history. Most of the facts I already knew, but to see birth dates and death dates penned by my Great-Grandfather’s hand is quite the experience. It’s a treasure! To think that a man I never met was holding the same Bible at one time recording information in it for a generation yet to come (me!) is awe-inspiring. It matters, and I am grateful.
I love handwritten notes. When my husband, children and now grandchildren take the time to write out their heartfelt sentiments to me on paper I have a hard time ever parting with them; My closet is proof of it. I have a small handwritten note from my grandmother that she gave to me at my bridal shower 35 years ago. When I received it, it was expected. But when she passed away only four months later in June of 1979, it suddenly became priceless to me.
I’ve heard there is a huge debate taking place about the need for teaching our children how to write in cursive. Really? They say there is no need for it anymore, since everyone communicates through a keyboard or Smart phone. How sad. If cursive goes by the wayside, it will be a permanent disconnect from our past. So many important documents are written in cursive, like the Declaration of Independence and our own Constitution, to name a few. If children can no longer read it, maybe they will no longer care. It will become as indecipherable to them as a foreign language.
Four Reasons Handwriting is Better Than Keyboards:
1. When someone takes the time to write their thoughts on paper you know they’ve purposed to slow down and think about what they want to say. It’s not the same as receiving a quick text or e-mail. I can type so much faster than I can write, so I don’t have to think as hard when I’m using a keyboard. Case in point–think of the many texts and e-mails you wish you could rescind. But a handwritten note is usually read through before it is sent on it’s way. And when it is received it is appreciated all the more.
2. One’s handwriting was also proof that it was they who said what was written. In the Bible, the Apostles often ended their letters by saying it is with my own hand that I write this to you. It was a validation. Computers are much more impersonal. They validate nothing because anyone could have typed an e-mail.
3. It is believed that creativity is inspired when one writes in cursive. It provides an expressive outlet for what we want to say. It’s not just about the words chosen, but also about how the words are written. I remember when I was in sixth grade practicing how to spell my name over and over again. I wanted to have pretty handwriting, so I worked hard on how I wanted each letter to look. I paid attention to how others wrote their letters, and if I liked it, I practice until I could do it as well. Some of my letters I still write the same today–and I’m turning 55 this year.
4. Finally, handwriting is proof that we existed. Years from now when people see something we’ve written, they’ll pause to see what it is we took the time to write–like when I found my family Bible. Think of how special each signature is on the Declaration of Independence. You knew that each man was in the room when it was signed. It was a part of the story, seeing their “John Hancock” written so beautifully. It’s not only a rich document in content, but it’s rich in artistic beauty.
I pray we won’t allow our children/grandchildren to lose the gift of handwriting. The only way they will appreciate it is if it is seen as valuable to us. Do you believe there is value in writing in cursive? Or have you stopped altogether and communicate only by way of keyboard? My 57 journals written by my own hand since 1989 are proof of my answer to this question. I pray each volume will matter to those who are growing up behind me, my three children and my seven grandchildren. It is my hope that they will read what mattered to me while I was living, and that in doing so it will have an effect on how they live.