Saturday, December 27, 2014

The Remains of the Day

Why is it a surprise to wake up the day after Christmas and be a little overwhelmed by the remains of the day? So much effort and preparation has gone into making a holiday to remember, the ordinary things of life have been neglected. Now it’s time to “face the music.” I have yet to figure out how people have enough time and energy to rush to the after Christmas sales. I've seen enough malls and stores to last awhile. However, I am tempted to visit online stores and spend my gift cards. But first I must deal with household clutter, leftover food, and paperwork. I tell myself it will be easier to tackle the unpleasant if I dwell on all the joyful and fun events of the past few weeks.

Then I remember, there are only five days left in the month of December and the beginning of the New Year. Writing my last blog post of the year suddenly seems much more important that cleaning up all the clutter. So I back away from the broom and mop and try to get my creative juices flowing.

The lead up to the holidays started on Veteran’s Day weekend when Frieda’s son and family came from Toronto, Canada for a pre-Thanksgiving visit. Since the Canadian school holidays are different than ours, we had to celebrate earlier than usual. Did you know that the Veteran’s Day sales are as good as Black Friday sales? We ate and shopped until I dropped. During the next few weekends we had visits from my nieces and grandchildren from Charles’ side of the family. At Thanksgiving, Frieda’s college-age granddaughter came to visit. More shopping, cooking, and eating concluded with the realization there were only 28 days until Christmas. And you know the rest of the story – four more weeks of shopping, cooking, and eating. 

The remains of the day are looking pretty good right now. The leftovers mean I have at least a two day reprieve from cooking; the household clutter will eventually be put in order and I have a warm, comfortable house to keep it in. The receipts will get organized and there is enough money to pay the bills. Soon all of that will be history, but the warm glow from being with family and friends will last long after the ball drops on New Year’s Eve.

Thanks for following my blog “Two Late Bloomers” this past year. As I enter my third year of posting, I continue to be challenged to write fresh and interesting material. Your feedback is always appreciated. My goal is to do more writing in 2015. What’s on your agenda for the New Year?

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

A Christmas Tree Lesson

Childhood Christmas memories make us feel nostalgic this time of year. My childhood memory was traumatic and triumphant at the same time. I didn't really appreciate its value until later in life. It proves to me that God wastes nothing in our lives if we allow Him to work His will in us.

A Christmas Tree Lesson

I stood on the shore of Gull Pond watching the last hurrah of summer. The trees in this picturesque place were bathed in the glorious fall colors of red, orange, and gold. A perfect mirror image reflected in the sparkling waters. My eyes fixated on a beautiful sugar maple and a tear trickled down my cheek. It occurred to me that this might be my last time to see this beautiful place. One by one I watched the red leaves float on the autumn breeze and skim the surface of the water. My life was ebbing away just like the life in that tree. 

I had survived a rough year, with numerous hospitalizations and near death experiences and there were more challenges to overcome. I had come to my family’s camp in the mountains for a time of recuperation. Soon I would be added to the national organ transplant waiting list. There was no guarantee I would receive a liver transplant in time to save my life. I wanted to be optimistic about my chances, but I was having a pity party. My prayer was short and to the point, “God show me your will and your plan for what remains of my life.”

Immediately my mind flashed back forty years. I stood in our living room looking at our Christmas tree. Like any ten-year old child, I awaited Christmas with great anticipation. All my hopes and dreams were wrapped and ready under the tree, but the tree itself was unwrapped and almost naked. 

The bitter cold winds and lake effect snows had blasted my town on the shores of Lake Ontario. It was an unusually cold winter and the old oil furnace in our upstairs apartment worked overtime. My mother’s asthma and my dry skin suffered that year and the Christmas tree didn't like it either. My bedroom was next to the living room and at night I could hear the steady drip, drip of needles falling from our newly decorated tree. By Christmas morning dead needles and shattered ornaments covered the presents. 

I was devastated since our family tradition was for the tree to stay decorated and on display until well after New Year. Our naked tree just wouldn't do since I couldn't show off my tree and gifts to my friends. I carried on so that my father agreed to go look for a new tree. He drove the old car around town until we saw several trees at a roadside stand. A farmer saw us coming and probably wondered about folks out looking for a Christmas tree on Christmas morning. It was my job to explain why we were there and only had five dollars to spend. “No charge!” the farmer said as he loaded the tree into the trunk of the car. My father sputtered and fumed as he dragged the tree up the stairs and mounted it to the tree stand. I didn’t dare complain as I swept up piles of dead needles, strung the lights, and hung the unbroken ornaments on the tree.

A squawking flock of geese diving into Gull Pond brought me back to reality. I suddenly realized that like that tree so long ago; I too was on life support. Just as my earthy Father had saved my Christmas by helping find a new tree, I believed that my heavenly Father would spare my life long enough to get a new liver. I left the peaceful setting of Gull Pond with renewed hope and a confident faith in God’s provision.

Two years later when the springtime trees were in full bloom, I received my donor liver and a second chance at life.

My memoir:  Born three Times—A New Life, A New Liver, A New Love tells this story and many others from my life. You can purchase my book from in either paperback or e-book format. It is an inspirational Christmas gift for anyone on your list.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Count Your Many Blessings

During this Thanksgiving week a song has been stuck in my head.  It was written by Rev. Johnson Oatman in 1897, but it is still very relevant today. All of us have so much to be thankful for.

From time to time I have shared an update on our new Towne View Baptist church building. Our congregation finally moved in the first week of November and shared our first Thanksgiving meal in our new facility last Sunday. We were all asked to contribute to a Thanksgiving Tree. Scattered on each table were colorful leaves and markers. Everyone was asked to write something they were thankful for on each leaf—not just generic stuff like food or family, but something specific. 

The children gathered the leaves and taped them on the tree as a reminder of all our many blessings. I wrote on my leaf “organ transplants and donors.”  I wouldn’t be here without that second chance at life.

So my challenge to you is to find something specific in your life that is a unique blessing to you and take time to thank God for that blessing not only at Thanksgiving but all year long. Here are a few words from the song chorus that inspired this blog and a UTube link if you would like to sing along.

“Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your blessings, see what God hath done!
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
 And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.”

Here are photos of our new church building and our Blessings Tree. Have a wonderful and blessed Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Our Far Flung Family

It’s the time of year when many families are planning large family gatherings and times of celebration. Since Charles and I have only a few family members who live close by, our holiday events are usually small. This year Christmas came early and all before Thanksgiving! Frieda’s son, Stuart and his family visited from Toronto, Canada on Veterans’ Day weekend.  His wife, Ruth, along with granddaughters Rose and Belle, really enjoyed the Atlanta area shopping and filled their suitcases to the limit of their customs’ allotment. Then they filled their bellies with Chick-Fil-A, barbecue, and Mexican food which are not available in Toronto. They safely flew home before the first major blast of winter hit their area. 

Four days later my niece Sally, from Rochester, New York, came for a visit since her husband was in Atlanta for a convention. We had lunch with my other niece, Sandy, and enjoyed travelling down memory lane. They left Monday just as the lake effect blizzard was crossing the Great Lakes. They have been stranded in a Motel 6 ever since with their car buried under massive mounds of snow. They are staying warm, but food for two days was limited to the contents of a vending machine. I just received word that a McDonald's in the area opened with walking distance of the motel. With no winter clothes between them it was a very cold trek, but at least they got some hot food. It’s probably two more days before they can travel.

Today Charles’ grandson, Jesse, flies in from Hawaii to join his wife and three girls. He was able to get leave from the Air Force and, hopefully, can stay through Thanksgiving. They are staying elsewhere, but will visit with us this weekend.

Then Frieda’s college-age granddaughter, Marcella, takes a break from her studies at Texas A&M and arrives here a week from today. We will have a great time catching up with her life and doing some Black Friday shopping. 

It’s an exciting time for us to be ground zero for so many family members. This is one year I will sail through the Christmas season very thankful to have been so blessed by the presence of our far flung family.

During the holidays there is a special joy in sharing with those who hold a special place in our hearts.  Psalm 128:5 (TLB) “May the Lord continually bless you with heaven’s blessings as well as with human joys.”

                                    Nieces Sandy DuVall, Sally Weidert, and Frieda enjoying lunch

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The Pumpkin Patch Gospel

Several years ago I saw this devotional that gives new meaning to the annual tradition of carving pumpkins. This story appeals to me since I would much rather celebrate life and the harvest season instead of celebrating death and the ghouls, ghosts, and witches of the season. This parable is much like the stories that Jesus told when he took common items and gave them spiritual meaning.
“First, God picks you from the pumpkin patch and brings you in from the field. The Bible says He selects us out of the world. We are in the world, but no longer of the world.

He then washes all the “dirt” off the outside that we received from being around all the other pumpkins. All the outside influences of our former life must be cleaned up. Old things are passed away and all things are become new.

Then, He carefully removes all the “yucky stuff” called “sin” out from the inside. Look at this! Yuk! Sin will not have such internal power. He then changes us from the inside out by the Power of His Word. That’s why it is important to go the church and learn about God’s Word.

He carefully removes all those seeds of doubt, hate, greed, and fear. He replaces them with the seeds of faith, hope and love. After Jesus is invited inside, you begin to experience the changing power of God’s love in your life.

Then He carves a new smiling face. Our countenance is changed by the power of His presence in our life. We then become so grateful. It can even show on our face!

Now we are going to light this candle inside. Look! This pumpkin now reflects the light from inside out. So too, when Jesus, who is called the Son of Light, lives inside of us, He shines through our life for all to see. We can let His light reflect through us to reveal His presence. “Let your light so shine before men that they may be able to see your good works and glorify your Father, who is in heaven.”

So you see, we Christians are really like this pumpkin! We will never be the same with Jesus inside of us. We can say like this jack-o-lantern, “Thy presence, my light!”

Now that Halloween is almost over, I can't wait for the annual Thanksgiving tradition of eating pumpkin pie!

Friday, October 17, 2014

It's a Scary Month

October is turning out to be a very scary month on a number of fronts. When I visit my local drugstore, there is a ghoulish figure dressed in a shroud carrying a scythe standing by the front door. In addition, there is a whole rack of freakish rubber masks. The place supposedly devoted to my health tries to scare me to death. Yup! Halloween is just around the corner.
The spooky stuff connected to Halloween, is not nearly as frightening as the real news I see on TV and online websites. Who doesn't get freaked over the gruesome images of ISIS soldiers inflicting terror on everyone who doesn't agree with their interpretation of the Koran? It’s hard to comprehend how humans can be so cruel to their fellow countrymen, especially innocent women and children.

The deadly Ebola virus ravishing West Africa is now in the US and proving to be more difficult to control than first expected. Granted many other viruses, like the flu, have proven to be much more deadly. But I’ll take my chances with flu any day of the week. Mel Robbins, a CNN commentator, has invented a name for a new virus “Fear-bola.” The irrational fear of coming in contact with someone who has been around someone with Ebola is becoming the real October scary event.
Then there is the Stock Market. I do NOT like roller coasters—the real kind or the financial kind. For those of us who are in our senior years without a lot of time to recoup losses when the markets crash, it can be particularly painful. It’s not just because we want to “tear down our barns and build bigger ones,” but because we want to have funds to contribute to our church’s building fund or other charitable causes as well as provide for ourselves financially.

So where do we turn and what can we do when life gets SCARY! Many words of consolation can be found in the Bible. Here are some of my favorites from the Old and New Testament.

When I am afraid, I will trust in you. Psalms. 56:3

For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, do not fear; I will help you. (Isaiah 41:13)

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Phil.4:6-7

Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. (John 14:27)

We can choose fear or faith to get us through life. Faith is my best option. What about you?

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

An Endangered Species

While we were California, Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law a bill that makes illegal the words “husband & wife” in referring to marriage partners.  Those words will be replaced with the gender neutral word “spouse” in order to accommodate those who enter into an alternative lifestyle or “same-sex marriage.” Maybe it’s just me, but “I now pronounce you spouse and spouse,” doesn't have the same ring to it.  Will the terms “male & female “or “man & woman” be the next words to be deleted and termed politically incorrect? Why should thousands of years of terminology be thrown away to accommodate less than 2% of the population?  Let them come up with new words to describe the two partners in their relationships and leave the rest of us to be a husband or wife if we so choose. You say that’s just California, but whatever originates there soon makes its way over the rest of the country. There are times that I feel like I am living on an alternative planet and am an endangered species.

One thing I always enjoy doing whenever I visit a new city is to check out the types of places of worship.  As we rode on the upper level of a tour bus in San Francisco I saw many mosques and temples, but very few churches in that area. A large banner on one prominent structure announced its name as That aroused my curiosity and I had to learn more. This group brands itself as “A Liturgy of the Feminine.” According to their beliefs, the traditional maleness of God and Jesus as revealed in the Bible, is outdated and insulting to women. Instead of worshiping the God of the Universe, Her Church members worship the goddess that lies within the individual. I copied the following mission statement from their website. The misspelling is theirs.

“The liturgy, community and ministry of the congregation reflects diverse thealogical works and voices hoping to be a part of the prophetic voice of the divine feminine that will deconstruct Christianity and other patriarchal religions so that both a new paradigm and worldview may emerge that truly creates egalitarian just society and eco-sensitivities that tend to mending the web of life. “

The goddess movement celebrates and worships the pantheon of female deities found in all world religions, including Wiccan deities, the pagan Old Testament goddess, Asherah, and the Egyptian goddess, Isis.This “church” claims to be claims to bean offshoot of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.  I can imagine Martin Luther is rolling over in his grave. 

It is not my job to sit in judgment of those who choose a different lifestyle or belief system. It is my challenge to love those with whom I disagree, speak the truth in love, and pray for the work of God’s Spirit in each of our lives. It is easier for me to live in my own comfortable world than to venture out of my comfort zone and see the world as it really is. Open eyes will help me pray more effectively and be a better witness to those around me. 

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Shake, Bake, & Burn

Californians and others often refer to their beloved state as “Shake, Bake, & Burn.” We didn't feel any earthquakes during our recent two week visit, but a flurry of small earthquakes rumbling near the Mammoth Mountain Volcano was categorized by the Geological Survey as volcanic unrest.  However, we couldn't ignore the evidences of a long-standing drought and the resulting wildfires in every corner of the state.  Everything was brown-grass, hillsides, and trees-that were already shedding their brown leaves.  Because water for irrigation is in such short supply, the only green we saw was in the Sacramento Valley where fields of fruit trees and vegetables were abundant.  We visited a local farmer’s market and took delight at the colorful display of produce grown by small farmers who struggle to stay afloat.  I wanted to take all the veggies home and cook up a big pot of vegetable soup. Since I couldn't do that very well in a hotel room, the soup was put on the back burner-so to speak.

We visited Sacramento, the state capitol, Sutter’s Fort, and the spot where gold was discovered. Sutter’s Fort depicted the life of the early settlers that came to California while it was still a part of Mexico. It was in a creek on Sutter’s property that gold nuggets were found. The gold rush literally transformed California overnight and it wasn't long before the former Mexican territory became the 31st state in 1850. We kicked up lots of dust during our visit to Sutter’s property, but none of it was gold.

The sunny blue skies of Sacramento were marred by white billowing clouds of smoke from a massive wildfire close to the California-Nevada border. The tinder dry conditions and no rain since April make it hard to stop a fire once it starts.  I remember the drought conditions we had in Georgia three years back, and this is so much worse. The fire was far away, and we were not in any danger, but I thought about the people who live in the fire zone who were losing their homes and businesses. In the future, I will be more appreciative of Georgia’s humidity and abundant rain.

We were glad it didn't rain when we took our bus tour through San Francisco since we were on the top deck of a double-decker. The highlight of the tour was crossing the Golden Gate Bridge and visiting Sausalito.  We enjoyed a delightful lunch and visiting the local shops before heading back over the GGB and stopping for a great photo op of the San Francisco skyline, Alcatraz, and Angel Islands.

We finished our trip in the Silicon Valley where Charles was involved in a wind tunnel test of his drag reduction devices. His successful test means there will be a flight test next summer back at Edwards Air Force Base in the California Desert.  More Shake, Bake, and Burn is on the horizon.  We pray for strong minds and bodies and the ability to meet whatever challenges lie ahead.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Rocks in My Head

It’s six hours and counting until September 1st and I am down to the deadline for writing my second blog post for August. When I started my blog 50+ posts ago, I made it my goal to write two posts each month. So in spite of the vertigo that hit five days ago, this dizzy dame is going to post her second writing for August. I just realized that this is my first bout of vertigo since I started writing my blog. Now that is something to be thankful for since I used to get hit with it quite often.

The ear specialist I see for this condition tells me it is because I have “rocks in my head.”  I always suspected that was the case, but when a doctor tells you, it must be true. Actually, the condition is called “positional vertigo”, meaning that whenever I change position, I get dizzy.  Do you know how many times you change position in a typical day?  It seems that the inner ear has a small canal filled with fluid and tiny crystals (rocks in the head) and sometimes the crystals migrate outside the canal and make you feel disoriented and “dizzy.”

A treatment called “Vestibular Rehabilitation” works to coax the crystals back into the ear canal where they belong. It consists of certain eye movements and exercises that can make you feel nauseous when you do them, but it you grin and bear it long enough, will help to restore balance. So on this absolutely picture perfect Labor Day weekend, when the whole world is enjoying the last hurrah of summer, I am stuck inside trying to regain my balance. 

The good news is that since I can’t cook, I am enjoying lots of carry out items from local eateries. Yup, I still have an appetite for fast food. So this post will be short and sweet, so that I go back to my recliner and not move. Better days are ahead—and I pray they arrive soon.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Watching Paint Dry

When a person says “that’s like watching paint dry” – they mean some activity is very boring.  After an incredibly hectic month of having to be somewhere early every day, I am relishing the opportunity to be bored. And yes I am watching paint dry.

The finished basement of our condo is being repaired and painted. After three years of living in this house, we finally decided to turn our downstairs from a giant storage room into usable space. Somebody has to be home during the process, and since Charles is traveling—tag I’m it!!! 

This whole summer has been anything but relaxing and I have spent my time rushing from one activity to another and juggling a lot of balls. The good news is that I have been able to keep up the pace, and at my age                                                        and stage that is something to celebrate.

In approximately six weeks, our church will move into its new building. Since selling our former church to a student housing developer, our congregation has been meeting in an abandoned school. Everything has been packed away and stored except the basic necessities. And a lot of the church programs have been on hold.  I was asked to head the Organization Team with the responsibility of reactivating the church programs and ordering classroom furniture that we will need in the new building. So I feel like I am helping renovate the church while I watch my basement paint dry. When we began the basement renovation about six months ago, we had no idea that the effort would coincide with the church project. So there has been a lot of prayer for physical and mental strength to get it all done.
This past weekend, I attended a local Christian writers’ conference. It was a very welcome change of pace, and a reminder that everything in life has a purpose. I have put my book writing efforts on hold for now, but I am sure that at some point the events of this summer will become fodder for new stories.Writing this blog post reminded me of an account in the Bible when Jesus and his disciples were overwhelmed by the crowds that were pressing them for attention. And He said to them, "Come away by yourselves to a secluded place and rest a while. For there were many people coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat.” (Mark 6:31)

Sometimes being secluded and watching “paint dry” is the best therapy there is.


Thursday, July 31, 2014

Our Visual Diaries

My high school scrapbooks filled with memories of dances, clubs, trips, and other special events barely made it to my 40th high school reunion. I recalled some things I wanted to share with my old classmates, but what had been important years ago had crumbled into shreds and faded into faint blue writing. The last time I worked on a scrapbook was ten years ago. Charles surprised me with a birthday party that included many family members and friends. It was such a special event; I immediately wanted to record the memories and made an attractive scrapbook that I still enjoy today.

Blue - Alexa
Red - Frieda
Yesterday my ten-year-old granddaughter announced she wanted to make a scrapbook. My plans for her three day visit included playing dolls and Disney video games. Her changing interests show how quickly she is growing up. So the money I planned to give her was spent at the craft store instead of on back-to-school clothes.

Just for fun, I decided to research the subject of scrap-booking. I discovered the concept has been practiced for at least 500 years. In the 15th century young ladies, compiled Commonplace Books which were collections of recipes, quotes, letters, and poems. By the 16th century, Friendship Albums were all the rage. Girls wrote notes in other girls’ albums and decorated them with artwork that signified their friendship. Creating a photo album was the next wave after the development of photography in the 1830’s. Collectors identified the photos by describing the people and the location of the picture. The 20th century saw the advent of the School Year Book. Collecting signatures and notes in the yearbook was a sign of the owner’s popularity. Hardcover and digital scrapbooks have taken the lead as the preferred methods for storing today’s memories. Scrapbooks made today will last much longer because the quality of the paper and computer storage options.

Today scrap-booking is a big business that reached its peak in 2006. Specialty stores are dedicated to the craft and hobby stores contain aisles of stickers, colorful papers, ribbons, and other embellishments. Alexa and I spent an hour figuring out how much stuff she could buy for the money I gave her. We brought the supplies home so she could begin her project entitled “My First Ten Years.” It was fun watching her creativity bloom and a reminder to me that I need to get busy again storing my memories. Then it occurred to me that my blog is a visual scrapbook–an online diary–that records my life events and thoughts not just for a few, but for all to see. 

No matter what form we choose, all of us should find a way to preserve our memories for future generations. Our efforts will provide us a sense of accomplishment and will inspire others for years to come.

Friday, July 18, 2014

In With the NEW

This summer season resembles the beginning of a new year. Out with the old and in with the NEW.  Change lurks around every corner. The picture of Charles and me in our hard hats standing in our NEW church building is just one example of how things are changing. Two years ago our church property was purchased for student housing at Kennesaw State University. Our congregation moved to an old school building and was grateful to have a place to meet with classroom space and a large gymnasium for worship. However, we have been away from our community and in a less than desirable location. The church also endured problems with freezing pipes last winter and no air conditioning during this hot Georgia summer. Most Christians in third world countries would be glad to have what we consider an inconvenience—so we try not to complain even though it is taking a toll on nerves and attendance. We will occupy the NEW building sometime in October but there is a lot to do between now and then to get ready to reach our community with the Good News of Jesus Christ.

Charles and I decided we needed to find personal providers closer to home. We will soon see our NEW dentist and are still looking for NEW doctors. I thought I was all set with my family physician until I received notice he was moving to a new position in the hospital. Charles visited the replacement doctor and was not happy with his advice, so now we are both searching again. I finally found a NEW hairdresser five minutes from home after driving a long distance to see the same person for thirty years. Now I am looking for a NEW massage therapist to treat my fibromyalgia. She had the nerve to get married again and is closing her practice.

Speaking of marriage, two of my 64 years old friends found NEW loves and got married during the past two weeks. I am excited for both of them and remember that exciting time when Charles and I remarried later in life. New adventures are good for us when we are senior adults. Old patterns are changed and we have to move out of our comfort zone to embrace the new opportunities. 

Out with the old and in with the NEW.  We shouldn't be surprised by change. The Bible always is challenging us to do new things. “Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” Isaiah 43:19.  We need to remain flexible and trust our future to Him and then be prepared for whatever NEW doors open for us. 

Monday, June 30, 2014

All in the Family

Family connections are important and I eagerly anticipate times of reunion with my scattered kin. This past week we gathered together to remember my brother-in-law, Curt Whaley, who died after a short battle with cancer. The funeral was held in Pensacola, Florida at the Naval Chapel and National Cemetery. Afterwards we gathered at the Officer’s Club to share remembrances and to reconnect with one another. 

I became reacquainted with great nephews and nieces who I haven’t seen in years and was pleased to discover how mature they have become. I was also surprised to discover how much we had in common. I had heard rumors there was a multi-generational interest in writing on my sister’s side of the family. Much to my delight, I spoke to a great-niece and a great-nephew who are pursuing careers in writing. Tommy just graduated from college and will teach research writing to high school seniors. Kathryn studies journalism in college and wants to pursue a career writing for newspapers and magazines.

In recent months, my youngest son Michael shared with me his renewed interest in writing. I have yet to read any of his work, but he wants to attend my writers’ group with me. His daughter, 10-year old Alexa, also likes to write and puts her skills in practice creating notes and cards.

Writing is at times a very solitary pursuit. It’s just you and your notepad or computer. At times you feel inspired and creative and at other times, it’s an effort to find the right combination of words for that blog or story. My family members have an advantage over me. They found their passion to write much earlier in life and will have many more opportunities to learn the craft and put pen to paper and hand to computer. But just maybe my writing experiences will encourage them to not waste the days God has given them. They didn't ask me for words of wisdom or advice about writing.  But if they did, I would be tempted to share the words of the Apostle Paul from Colossians 3:23, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters…”

British author, Neil Gaiman put it another way,

“This is how you do it: you sit down at the keyboard and you put one word after
another until it’s done. It's that easy, and that hard.”

Knowing that other family members share my passion and struggle provides great motivation to get busy writing my next book.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Round & Round She Goes ...

And where she stops, nobody knows. I've never been one who enjoys going around in circles. For one thing it doesn't take me where I want to go and I always get clobbered with motion sickness. During my childhood I avoided spinning tea cups, flying swings, and merry-go-rounds or else I paid the price. These days I still have problems riding on hilly roads and spinning around on the dance floor.

So why was a nice girl like me driving on a winding mountain road in Colorado? It was not on my vacation agenda to get behind the wheel of a car I’d never driven before and descend 3,000 feet into the valley and not have a clue as to where I was going. But Charles had just been loaded into an ambulance near Rocky Mountain National Park and was headed to the hospital down in the valley. I had no choice but to navigate the mountainous terrain on my own. I couldn't enjoy the beautiful
Colorado Rockies with my eyes fixed on the road in front of me with its fading yellow lines and almost non-existent gravel shoulder. That was the most prayed over thirty-five miles of asphalt in the Wild West. Over an hour later, I pulled into the hospital parking lot and found him relaxing comfortably in his hospital bed. His blood pressure was normal but mine was through the roof. He was breathing oxygen through his nose, but I needed to blow into a paper bag to keep from hyperventilating.
I finally calmed down when I realized that he was in the hands of good doctors and that his severe altitude sickness could be treated with medication and lots of oxygen. The doctors explained that they would be monitoring him for several days and I needed to find a place to stay. The concierge at the hospital helped me find a motel about two miles from the hospital. She gave me directions and drew a map with circles on it. Between the hospital and motel, I was expected to navigate six roundabouts in two miles. My anxiety level started climbing again as I entered and exited the first three circles. The traffic was building and coming at me from all directions and I had no clue how to get to my destination. The last roundabout was the worst with north and south exits to Interstate 25. I took the wrong exit and ended up heading in the wrong direction.
God and I had a lot more conversations before I found the motel and collapsed on the bed in my room. By this time my head was spinning and I needed several hours of peace and quiet to calm down. I was very thankful that Charles was going to be OK and that God had been with me on my journey.

Now that we are safely home, I can laugh about my big adventure and can pass along the following words of wisdom from an anonymous quote.

If you find yourself going in circles, maybe you're cutting
too many corners.”

Monday, May 26, 2014

Rocky Mountain Highs & Lows

Estes Park, Colorado 8,200 Feet
Our trip to the Colorado Christian Writers Conference in the Rocky Mountains turned out to be quite an adventure. Your prayers for my altitude adjustment were answered since I only had a slight case of nausea for about 24 hours after arrival. However, Charles suffered enough for both of us. Because he was so sick, we decided to cut the final day from the conference schedule and head back down to a lower 5,200 feet in Denver in the hopes he would feel better. Instead we ended up in the Estes Park Emergency Room with a doctor prescribing a forty mile ambulance ride down the mountain. Charles oxygen levels were dangerously low and his lungs were filling with fluid. The decision was made to admit him to the Cardiac care unit at the Medical Center of the Rockies in Loveland, CO. After three days and numerous tests of his heart and lungs, the doctors determined he had no serious problems. Lots of oxygen and diuretics helped to stabilize him. We were both so exhausted after his release we stayed an extra day at a motel to rest up before catching a plane on Wednesday for Atlanta. 

Charles' Hospital Feet
It’s scary being so far away from home when there is a medical emergency. We are so thankful for the kind folks at the writers’ conference who helped pack our suitcases, got Charles into the car, and led us to the ER. The medical attention at the ER and hospital was top notch and the folks at the motel were also very helpful. 

I was able to attend the better part of two days of workshops. The classes on the art and craft of writing fiction were excellent. All my notes and handouts will be just what I need if and when I write the novel that is in my head. I met with three acquisition editors and they gave me some good pointers on how to get started on my book. At least 75,000 words will have to be written before I can present a book proposal for consideration. That sounds like a daunting task. Another highlight of my week was meeting novelist, Tracie Peterson. I've probably read a dozen of her books. She writes the kind of historical fiction that I wish I could write. Charles, on the other hand, never dropped his fishing line in the water. 

Life has a way of throwing us curve balls when we least expect them. I was so concerned about getting sick, I didn't even think about Charles having an issue. Last fall after our vacation in Florida, I was admitted to the hospital with cellulitis. We have decided that vacations are highly overrated. We are ready to get back to work and normal living at least until the next vacation bug bites. My pastor reminded me that our “adventurous” trips provide  fuel for future blog posts. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

An Altitude Adjustment

The title of this blog post does not contain a typo; although I admit my attitude sometimes needs an adjustment too.

My biggest concern right now is for an altitude adjustment. In the near future, Charles and I will be heading to the Rocky Mountains. I will be attending the Colorado Christian Writers Conference while my adventuresome husband hikes and casts his fly fishing rod in the sparkling waters in Estes Park. Who do you think will have the most fun?

The atmospheric pressure changes and the higher altitudes of the mountainous west have been known to precipitate my headaches and nausea. So why did I make the decision to take a chance and go anyway? The outstanding faculty of writers, agents, and editors at the Colorado conference was hard to resist and Charles dearly loves being in the mountains. I also hear that Estes Park is a very picturesque place—although a bit chilly this time of year.
Years ago, I spent part of my visit to the Grand Canyon at the medical clinic getting medication for nausea. But another time, I was able to climb the lower portion of Mt. Rainier with no problems. Our plan is to spend a couple of days in Denver so that I can adjust to the lower altitude before we make our way into the Rockies. And this time I am going prepared with a sack full of pills.

As much as I hate to admit it, I am not a good traveler. My high-maintenance body tends to rebel when it is away from the comforts of home and hearth. I am praying that this time will be different. My inspiration for this trip comes from one of the Psalms of David:

I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
    where does my help come from?
 My help comes from the Lord,
    the Maker of heaven and earth.
Psalm 121:1-2 (NIV)

When I write my next blog post sometime before the end of May, I will update you on our exciting trip. In the meantime, say a prayer for our safe travels and my ability to conquer those mountains.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Lose If You Snooze

I always thought naps were good for you—especially in your older years. Not so says Live Science magazine. “Middle–age and older adults who take daytime naps may be at increased risk of dying, a new study from England suggests.” (April 22, 2014) The logic behind that statement seems to be linked to sleep apnea and the need to sleep during the day because of not getting quality sleep at night. A few years ago, a sleep doctor told me that my daytime napping habit had to go if I ever planned to get a good night’s sleep again. It took a while, but I finally kicked the nap habit. A rainy Sunday afternoon snooze is definitely the exception. 

So what’s the alternative to wanting to nap—staying busy says a recent article on the FOX Business network.  For many older Americans, that means staying in the work force longer than age 65. Seniors are working longer for the financial benefit, but also for the social satisfaction that comes from interacting with people. It’s more challenging to keep or find a job in our later years, but many employers find value in hiring the more dependable seniors who have a strong work ethic. Some folks have even started new careers during their retirement years. You may recognize some of the names below as examples of seniors who hit their stride later in life.
Susan Boyle – Her singing career took off after she was 50.
Colonel Sanders – He invented “finger lickin good” chicken at age 70.
Laura Ingalls Wilder – She first published the Little House on the Prairie series at age 64.
Henry Ford – He built the first car assembly line at age 60.

Today Charles and I talked with his sister, Marion, who is celebrating her 85th birthday. She’s not slowing down one bit. In fact, she was just promoted in her job as head of her local senior center. Charles—the other half of the dynamic duo—goes to work every day determined to sell his devices for reducing aircraft drag to military and commercial operators. 2014 just might be the year.

The best Biblical example of productive old age is the Apostle Paul who was executed close to age 60. (old in Biblical times). He writes to younger Timothy (2 Tim.4:7) “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” That’s a worthy goal for our later years.

Writing this blog has made me sleepy. I think I will go take a nap.  

Sunday, April 13, 2014

No Greater Love

During this month of April, I want to recognize all the heroic families who donate life. Sixteen years ago my sister, Audrey, and I received transplanted livers from unknown donors. We have each been blessed with  additional years to celebrate life with family and friends. Not everyone is so fortunate. I recently joined an international Facebook support group for people with liver disease called “Live, Laugh, and Love Your Liver.” Reading about the triumphs and struggles of others who are so sick pre-transplant and, in many cases, post-transplant I am amazed that we have done so well. 

Heart of Gold Rose
honors donor families
Many ground breaking scientific advances are being made in the field of organ donation. Two recent articles on caught my attention. There is an increase in living donor transplants where the donor gives a portion of their liver to the recipient. The risk of organ failure for both the donor and the recipient can be very high and long-term complications are possible. For this reason the living donors must go through three days of intensive physical and mental screening before being accepted.  If all goes as planned, a half of the healthy liver replaces the diseased liver. Within four to six weeks the donor’s liver will regenerate to 80 to 90 percent of its original size and the donated half will increase in size and restore liver function in the recipient. Except for some ugly scars and livelong immune suppressing drugs for the recipient, both persons have the potential to live normal lives.

I am also excited to learn that scientists are now transforming human skin cells into mature, fully functioning liver cells. The skin cells are regenerated, using a specific cocktail of reprogramming genes and chemical compounds. The hope for the future is that these healthy cells can be inserted into livers to grow and crowd out the diseased cells. Perhaps in future generations, scientists can grow fully functioning livers, thus completely eliminating the need for donor transplants. 

Medical science has come a long way in the sixteen years since my transplant. I continue to pray for the family who made my organ donation possible. A Bible verse from John 15:13 sums it up for me. “Greater love hath no man than this that a man lay down his life for his friends.” (NIV translation)

I am also reminded during this Easter week of an even greater gift—the ultimate life giving gift—when Jesus the Christ lay down His life for our salvation. No greater love!!

My book "Born Three Times: A New Life, A New Liver, A New Love" recounts how I received three amazing gifts and a second chance at life.  It's available from in print and ebook formats.

My book "Born Three Times: A New Life, A New Liver, A New Love" tells how I received three amazing gifts and a second chance at life.  Available at in soft and ebook

Sunday, March 30, 2014

So Much To Do . . . .

. . . .So little time.  Revelation~ to be an author, blogger, and speaker is hard work, with little pay but much reward.  And since I started later in life, I have a lot of catching up to do. If I want to write another book, I need to perfect my craft. That means writer’s workshops and conferences. At conferences you get to rub elbows with other authors, editors, publishers, agents and lots of other folks in the writing industry. In many ways it’s like boot camp–long days and hard work– if you are to get the most for your money. At writer’s conferences, I learn the art and craft of writing and also how to market what I write. That’s the hard part. I am not good at self-promotion and marketing so I usually find someone to help me and that generates more work on my part. Like everything else in life, you get out of something what you put into it. I am trying to look at this full-blown hobby of mine as a ministry—it ministers to me and hopefully to others as well.

I have three speaking opportunities in the next two weeks and an Author Meet & Greet at a local book store. Each one requires advance preparation, especially the class I am presenting at a nearby senior center. My topic is “Write Your Memories” and I will be showing my peers some of the many ways to preserve their legacy for the younger generation. I will tell them it’s not necessary to be a computer geek to use lo-tech and mid-tech writing tools. Then I will share more complex computer software packages that can be helpful to the more technologically advanced. I hope they don’t ask me too many techie-type questions. 

Making a new friend at a book signing
I am gradually learning more effective ways to use social media such as Twitter and Pinterest.  But I don’t want to spend all my time in front of a computer or with my head scrolling a smart phone. I understand how easy it is to get addicted to always being “social.” In addition, I am in the process of launching my website:  I am maintaining my present blog site, but there will be a link on my new website that will also connect you to this blog.

Then there are days like today when I am totally unmotivated to do anything connected to writing. However, I am determined to complete this blog so that I can post it before the end of March. I set myself a goal two years ago when I started blogging that I would post two times each month. Those dedicated folks who post twice each week or more are to be greatly admired. Writing presents so many opportunities, I will never be bored and for that I am very grateful. 

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Persistent Pansies

My containers filled with pansies are teaching me a lesson about persistence this spring. Like so many things in life, they started healthy and full of promise. I remember when we planted them last fall when there was a nip in the air and the days were getting shorter. Since those hardy plants are known for being tough, I just knew we would be rewarded with purple, yellow, and blue flowers all winter long. I didn't count on the Polar Vortex and nights of single digit temperatures, followed by inches of snow and ice. My frozen and battered flowers stayed hunkered down in their containers and produced only a few pitiful small blossoms. 

“Those early bloomers look dead,” I told my late bloomer husband. I just knew we would have to dig up the plants and redo the flower containers if we hoped for any spring color. My pansies had other ideas and must have adopted the motto: “Hope spring eternal in the human breast.” (Alexander Pope–An Essay on Man)  As soon as the first few days of 60 degree sunshine warmed those hibernating plants, they raised their heads and started to grow again. Now I am awarded with an abundance of colorful flowers with happy faces that provide color and joy to my front porch and back deck.
The persistence of my pansies is not just about the flowers, but a picture of life. Our days start out so full of hope and promise, but seem to be sabotaged by difficulties and challenges that knock us down for a while. Broken relationships, chronic illnesses, job loss, financial difficulties, prodigal children, and family deaths intrude and we find it difficult to raise our heads and bloom.

The expectation of our time is for a quick and easy fix to our latest dilemma. Chris Tiegreen in one of his devotional books wrote that we live in a “microwave world.”  Today we could add we live in a “Google world” that provides us fast answers to everything.  (Did you know the Internet celebrated its 25th anniversary this week? How did we ever live without it?)  The challenge of our day is to learn persistence and perseverance in the midst of difficulties with no fast fix.  The Bible admonishes us in Romans 12:12 “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.” Good advice for me to follow and share with my fellow readers. 

I really like the way comedian Jim Carrey put it:,“Flowers don't worry about how they're going to bloom. They just open up and turn toward the light and that makes them beautiful.”

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Climate Change Reflections

February was definitely a month of climate change in Georgia. First we had SnowJam 2014 when every interstate and side road in Greater Atlanta area was locked up in a massive traffic snarl. And snarling is exactly what people did as they spent hours and even nights in their cars. The salting trucks couldn’t even get around the mess. Two weeks later IceJam 2014 closed down schools, offices, and stores. Everyone had to stay home until the ice melted. 
As soon as we defrosted, Charles headed to Ottawa, Canada for a wind tunnel test. Now that was one cold and snow packed city. But he dressed for it and actually enjoyed seeing all the ice sculptures in the park across from his hotel.

Less than one week later, we spotted a gorgeous pink Eastern Redbud on the road to our office. It only took a few days— with temperatures in the 20’s to temps in the 60’s— and that tree burst into full bloom.

I have a real issue with the climate change scientists who declare that humankind is solely responsible for warming up our planet to the point where catastrophe is awaiting around the corner. During the coldest winter in decades, people have been left helpless before the onslaught of plunging temperatures and mounting snow. I choose to believe that the natural forces put in place by our Creator are the deciding factor when it comes to climate change. Yes, we should all be responsible citizens and not pollute the air and water, but we don’t need to destroy jobs and our economy to do it.

To all my friends and family in the northeast and other colder climates, I know you are so over winter and are counting the days until March 21-the first official day of spring. In the meantime we have March 9 and the return of Daylight Savings Time. How did that get here so fast? I much prefer more daylight in the morning and less at night. But, once again, nobody asked my opinion.
I defer to the wise words found in the Bible. Genesis 8:22 says it all. "As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease."  
Stay bundled up and look forward to warmer days ahead.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

The Importance of Milestones

A friend recently shared with me the following quote from baseball great Satchel Paige:

 “How old would you be if you didn't know how old you are?”

Since I've just celebrated a milestone birthday, I decided to ponder that question. I concluded that since I wouldn't have known then, what I know now—this is my best age. I've had the opportunity to do many wonderful things in my life, but nothing compares to the peace I feel today of being comfortable in my own skin. That doesn't mean that there isn't room for improvement—there definitely is. There are many lessons I've learned over the years that contribute to my contentment at this stage of life. But there are areas of life that I want to work on in the next decade. And they all start with the letter “C.” With help from the definitions found in and the New International Version of the Bible, here is my list:

•   Courage - To face difficulty without fear, and to not flinch in the midst of criticism.
I don’t want to be debilitated by my fears, but I want to face them and overcome them. I am reminded of the Bible verse in 1 John 4:18 “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear…”  To me, this means I should not rely on my own strength when faced with life’s challenges, but on the perfect love of God. 
 •   Compassion – To deeply feel for someone dealing with misfortune, with a strong desire to help their suffering.
It’s all too human to turn a blind eye to human suffering and to think its someone else’s problem and not mine. I want my eyes to be open and to be aware of those persons whose lives I can impact. Gal. 6:2 “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”

•   Creativity – To be inspired to generate new ideas and ways of expressing myself.
I am finding that in my “older years” I have more time to dream, be creative, and share those thoughts with others. If the Lord gives me time and the ability, there is an historical novel deep down inside waiting to be written.  “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10).

•   Connectedness – To develop new relationships and nurture existing ones with friends, family, and acquaintances. 
I want to see each person as having been placed in my life for a reason and a season. “Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help.” Ecclesiastes 4:9–12.   It’s my goal to connect and be connected with as many interesting and inspiring people as possible.

Please comment below if you would like to join me on my journey.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Make Friends with a Book

Joseph Brodsky—named United States Poet Laureate in 1991—wrote, “There are worse crimes than burning books. One of them is not reading them.”  Brodsky was speaking from personal experience since he was raised in Russia during the Stalin era and was not allowed the freedom to distribute his writings.
A post on Facebook called “Surprising Book Facts” gives the following statistics:
  • 33% of high school graduates never read another book during their lives.
  • 70% of US adults have not been in a bookstore in the last five years.
  • 42% of college grads never read another book after college.
  • 80% of US families did not buy or read a book last year.
Do you think that explains why graduation rates and test scores are at an all-time low?

Contrast those stats with another article I saw on the Internet with the headline Sandvoort, Guyana. The closest library to this South American village was a long two mile walk away. Most school age children had never read a book and the teachers used the “chalk and talk” method for their teaching. In a village where most families can barely afford toothpaste, the desire for learning is so great that villagers are using sweat equity to build a local library. Everyone is pitching in by donating their spare time to construct the building, shelve donated books, and cook meals for the workers. The children in that village will now be exposed to a whole new world of opportunities through their reading. 

I know the ways we receive information in the U.S. is changing due to the technology revolution, but we need to encourage our families to read. All authors, including me, want to know that people will read the words that we are inspired to write. An unknown author has said, “A good book on your shelf is a friend that turns its back on you and remains a friend.”  So pick up a good book and read.
ere’s a suggestion:  Born Three Times-A New Life, A New Liver, A New Love.