Wednesday, December 10, 2014

A personal encounter with the supernatural will move you from a spectator to a participant....


Since hearing those words, “What made them bow before a toddler?” I have been turning it over and over in my mind and heart and my only answer is that the famous shepherds and the royal wise men must have had some kind of major encounter that caused them to bow before a baby, a toddler who looked like any other in the world.....
READ MORE at 5 Minutes for Faith.
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Friday, December 5, 2014

Happy Journaling!!! Random Journal Day Featured Writer!!



I tried, I really did, I promise. It is Random Journal Day and even though I am honored to be the Featured Writer this month over at Enthusiastically Dawn, I am not posting a randomly chosen journal entry today. Nothing resonated with me as I kept opening one journal after another to use as inspiration for a post. (Hop on over there and read my piece, ok?)

So I am going to cheat and will just continue with my observations of the impact that journaling has had on my life. 

My habit of journal keeping has turned into a pretty accurate and colorful chronicle of my life so far. I never meant for it to be that. I was just doing my best to capture my every day life with words instead of photos. But I did realize that the important moments of our lives are very often the bland and ordinary moments. The phases of life that move from single to married to chasing little ones around to badgering teenagers and then into the odd years of empty nest and now the beginnings of grand-parenting. (Wow, there's a whole life in one sentence! Sheesh!)

With that in mind, one of my little journal habits was what I called "Klein Shots". I would open my journal and then literally look around me and describe what I saw in that moment.Today I honestly treasure those journal entries so much, because they are so clear and precise at grabbing whatever the current phase of life I was in at the moment. (Keep in mind, this was in the days before, long before, today's instant iPhone photo-capturing a million times a day!) 

For instance, one of those Klein Shots included these words..."Three neat stacks of white athletic socks on the kitchen table, tiny-medium-large....A green dinosaur is hiding behind the bananas in our fruit bowl...Sesame Street is blaring in the other room...There are Cheerios squished between the cushions of this chair."

Another captured moment a few years later..."Son #1 is hunched over the computer, writing A Day in the Life of Me...Son #2 is across the street arranging action figures on his buddy's woodpile next to the house...Hubs is due home any minute."

These random moments captured-in-words reveal the ever changing shape of our lives. If I were to write a Klein Shot right now it would look like this..."My feet are on our chicken crate coffee table while I blog on my beloved Mac....Layla is snoring as her warm doggy snout rests against me....Hubs is on the other end of the couch playing a game on his computer as the TV news tells us abut Texas weather....Son #1 is in his home caring for his wife and our first grandson, Max...Son #2 is 2,000 miles away on a Friday night, really don't want to imagine what he is doing! But can't wait to see him in only 8 more days!!:) "

I am thankful for the moments caught in my journals. They take me back to my mood and life-style when written. I'll admit that on some Random Journal Days I open a journal and the words I see pull me into an unhappy time. I have to be careful not to dwell there and allow myself to keep reading until my current happiness is lost in past sadness. But this is why keeping a journal is so helpful and empowering. It reveals that the difficult times never last forever. There is always another page a little farther on that records a happy time and changes that moved me from despair to contentment or overwhelming joy. 

My message at the end of this wandering post is to encourage you to scribble your thoughts, hopes, dreams and doubts in a journal. Writing can bring great clarity and self-revelation just by bringing your inner-most thoughts out and onto paper. You will find like I have that sometimes you do not even know what you really think until you read what you wrote! :) Hmm, that's kinda tweetable!

Happy Journaling!
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Friday, November 28, 2014

Using Tinsel Without Ruining your Vacuum Cleaner...You Are Welcome




I seem to express more creativity when I know what I want and cannot find or afford it. Today that manifested in this glorious idea. I have a bigger Christmas tree this year than I have ever had before. So instead of a 5 foot tree smothered in lights and ornaments, I have a 7 foot tree that looks a little sparse.

I already have gold balls so I wanted to add silver to make it look even prettier. I walked all over our local store and the only christmas balls they had in boxes of just silver with no other colors were plastic non-breakable ones. I wanted the old fashioned fragile glass balls in a box of only silver. I came home disappointed and empty handed.


But then BRILLIANCE arrived! There on the table right in front of me was a pile of tinsel I did not plan to use this year and my empty clear glass balls that sometimes hold strands of red or green ribbon. I simply stuffed each glass ball with tinsel and now I am strutting around feeling like a Christmas genius!



I really LOVE how they sparkle next to the tree lights! And best of all? NO evil GLITTER involved at all! 


Now that Thanksgiving is over, I can legally wish you a very Merry Christmas and may your creativity over flow this year!
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Thursday, November 20, 2014

Do Not Look to Me for Gallant Bravery



I WILL NEVER BE ONE OF THOSE HEROIC SICK PEOPLE who inspire everyone with their lofty goals and cheerful outlook. You know the ones I mean. After a terrible health scare they live life to the fullest and begin to take more risks because YOLO and all that. They take up surfing and high mountain skiing and jump from airplanes. 

On May 1st of this year I spent a few hours in an emergency room following a Mini Stroke or TIA-Transient Ischemic Attack. I then went home and read everything I could find online about this fun episode I had experienced. We do need to do our own research in this day of questionable medical procedures and such, but it can also be extremely scary and overwhelming to read online medical information. 

The main sentences that I saw several times jumped out at me as if highlighted in bright yellow;
  • Average annual incidence of MI (Full Heart Attack) after TIA (Mini stroke) was 0.95%.

  • The average length of time between a first TIA and an MI was 5 years.

  • The risk of having MI after TIA was double compared to the general population (Relative Risk RR was 2.09, with 95% confidence 
The internet was telling me that I was a ticking time bomb!! Did I decide to live life to the fullest and "get out there" and make the most of what I had left? NO, I hunkered down and just wanted to hide under my covers and "never leave my house again." I could see a terrible follow-up heart attack in every day ahead of me. I printed out the address of the hospital I should be taken to and posted it on my refrigerator for future paramedics and family to see. I included important phone numbers and insurance details. (I am good, the "big one" has not happened and most likely will not ever happen. I am fine!)

Not exactly plans to climb Mt. Everest.

Always smiling!
Green antiseptic.
 I do not have the inner optimisms and strength that I saw so clearly in Rocker Son in 2011 when he had to have a steel rod placed in his femur after a terrible motorcycle accident.

He was amazing! He turned his hospital room into a big old party. He joked about having room service, sponge baths and drugs any time he wanted them!

I would have been a blubbering mess.

I KNOW THIS BECAUSE after a few weeks of a bad cough, I am a blubbering, weeping mess who cannot see any light at the end of this cough drop-lemon water-honey tea-Nyquil tunnel daze of days. I am angry at no insurance or doctor. I am grumpy and snarly to my dear Hubs. To top it off, I have not seen my new grandson since November 3rd because I don't want him to get my germs.

Do not look to me for gallant bravery and lofty goals when I get sick. You will not find a broad smile and can-do spirit. You will find a tissue strewn couch and a pity party in full force. You are not invited to this party, you would not like it. Don't feel sorry for me please. That is one thing I CAN-DO on my own.

   

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Sunday, November 9, 2014

The Good, the Bad and the Scared!

My amazing haul today!!!

Have you ever had a real roller-coaster day? The kind of day when your stomach swirls from a quick adrenaline surge of sheer happy-happy-joy-joy and then an equally deep adrenaline surge in the negative direction? And then up and down once again? 

That is my TODAY and it is only 4:45 pm! 

At this moment, my dog, Layla and I are barricaded in my bedroom...and we just might be staying here until the Hubs gets home around 9:30 tonight. I've got water, my laptop, cell phone and a TV...I'm good. (Thankfully my 5-day flu seems to be finished at this point. Yay!)

The coaster ups and downs that brought us to this predicament began with a morning on the couch trying to write an article while ignoring some left-over flu symptoms. I went outside to take a picture of our color-changing trees for my article and I noticed that there seemed to be more wasps than usual.

We fought them off all summer, always checking for them every time we went outside. In recent weeks they've been gone and I thought that maybe we would not see them again until next summer. It was so nice to be able to truly relax in our backyard. 

So now I was wondering why they were back and I googled the question. Yowza! That is as bad as googling a medical symptom! By they time I found the information, my skin was crawling with the heebie-jeebies and my eyes were darting every which way. 

I learned that the FALL is actually their strongest and most aggressive time of year! These are RED WASPS if you want look it up and join me in my freakidom. Horrible creatures!!

While I am reading this info, Layla jumps after a RED WASP IN MY HOUSE! She ran away and rubbed her nose on the floor, but there is still no swelling so she may be fine. I battled the thing, which is not easy with just a flimsy broom. They are big and strong and AGGRESSIVE. I thought I killed it and bragged about it on Facebook. It was smashed between the runners of the sliding glass door, for pete's sake. 

So there's the BAD part of the roller-coaster. (Though in reality, for me, there is no good part of a roller-coaster.) My heart was pounding and I was hugging the dog, looking for any sign of injury. 

I had set up an appointment the other day to go see a fake Christmas tree that someone was selling, so the next plan was to keep that appointment even though I wasn't feeling like leaving the house today at all. I made myself do it though.

Carefully writing out the directions, I went to get some cash first and then made my way to the lady's house not too far from here. We had a lovely chat and I loved the 7 1/2 foot tree that came with white lights and tiny pine cones. She was moving out of state and her garage was full of other Christmas decorations that she did not want to pack. My eyes lit up and I asked what she wanted for the two GRAPEVINE wreaths (with lights) and an artificial wreath and long garland. (Original price of the tree alone: $400.00!!)

Oh me oh my! I packed it all into the back of my sweet yellow truck for $35!!! When I got home I was literally singing to Layla about my great deal as I looked it all over. Definitely an upswing adrenaline rush was happening. The GOOD.

Then I heard Layla whine again. That stupid wasp had resurrected!! The broom is really useless against it, so I sprayed it with some bad stuff and now Layla and I are waiting it out in the bedroom for who knows how long. The BAD IS BACK! 

So here I am, hiding in my bedroom. 

I do not like roller-coasters. Did I already say that? The first (and last) time I rode one, I did it to impress my crush. I sat on my purse to keep it from falling out, not realizing that when the coaster takes a steep drop downward, my body would go upward and my purse would fly to the ground far below. Everything spilled out and I had to watch a guy get a golf cart down into the steep terrain to find all of my silly belongings and bring them back to my very embarrassed little self. (My crush married me, so that's a definite upswing on the GOOD side.)

Still hiding in my bedroom. Hubs just called and said to get some shoes on and stomp on it.   Kind of hard to do while it is bonking itself against the ceiling. When I get my nerve up again, Layla and I will venture out of this room and hunt the intruder down. 

At some point.



UPDATE: After hiding in my room for about 1 1/2 hours, writing this post, Layla and I started to get hungry. So at 6:30pm I tucked my sweatpants into my socks, put on some shoes and a long sleeve shirt and went out to do battle with the stupid Red Wasp. We found it shriveled up, dead, near the back door and I stomped on it to be sure it would not rise again.

Yay! Now let's get off this roller coaster, ok? 


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Thursday, November 6, 2014

Random Journal Day | 1988, Power And Love Are a Great Combo


My son and his son.

(I am linking up with the world famous Random Journal Day movement that is sweeping the Internet lately. Haven't heard of it? Well, whatever...it's a BIG DEAL! :) Go here to get the details, then jump right in ok?)

My oldest son was five years old and we were all basking in the fun that is being five! The journal page written in early 1988 has hearts on it and a funny story about something he said that made us all laugh. 

The journal entry just before that one ends with a prayer that will be familiar to many parents...

"Again my Lord, I give my Benjamin to you. I've done that many times, but you always give his care and nurturing and molding back to me! So I say Lord, please HELP me with this priceless gift. Don't let me break it or abuse it. I am unable to shape this sweet life without you.
Together Lord, we will raise this little one. Together we will point him to God the Father. Thank you for Benjamin
and for your power and love that came with him."

Today that goofy little five year old is over 30 and probably whispering a very similar prayer about his own newborn son. 

My eyes keep going back to the final words of that journal page..."your power and love that came with him."

I remember being overwhelmed with the magnitude of love that washed over me while holding my babies. The journal entry also talks about how surprised I was at my ability to sacrifice my needs for his. I no longer saw myself as a selfish person because he was bringing out the best in me. Being a mom revealed the worst in me at times too. That is why the prayer was important. 

The power to shape a new life is daunting and scary. But the love that came with it is the real gift. Power without love is the stuff of a true-life horror movie. Again, that is why the prayer is important.

CLICK to see more RJD writers!

The funny story across the page? 

""Hubs" and I were getting ready to go out to Graziano's for dinner. I told "Writer Son" that Daddy and I were going out on a date because we love each other. He said, "I hate that!".

I asked him why he hated that and he replied that "Going on a date, it's SO romantic!" and he made a terrible face.

We laughed so hard at him that he then added, "Well, I never thought YOU GUYS would do THAT!" 


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Friday, October 31, 2014

31 ? Letters to God | Day 31 - Happy Place Ruined

To read all Letters to God Click HERE 
Dear God,

During this month long writing challenge I have learned a few things about my writerly self. 

  1. This blog is my Happy Place.
  2. I do not like restrictions around my Happy Place.
  3. I do not like feeling guilty about my Happy Place.
  4. I do not like feeling obligated to write in my Happy Place.
  5. I like freedom.
  6. I enjoy spontaneous writing.
  7. My paid writing jobs are not spontaneous or without restrictions.
  8. This blog is my Happy Place.
  9. This blog is about freedom.
  10. This blog is about loving You without restriction, obligation or guilt.
  11. I am glad this writing challenge is OVER!
I will still be chatting with You God....but it will be just between us, pretty much.
I love you,

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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

31 Letters to God | Day 29 - Make That 18 or So Letters

See Full List HERE

Dear God,

So I pretty much failed at this blog challenge to write every day for the month of October. My promise to write You 31 Letters has turned out to be 19 letters, I think. 

Reminds me of the time I promised to read one chapter of Proverbs every day of every month. And the times  I told You I would pray for someone in Walmart while shopping, and did not. Or the bajillion times I knelt at an altar and made a list of things I would change about myself, and did not. Remember that time in high school when I wrote one of the Fruits of The Spirit on each week of my calendar so that in 2 months I would be a perfect person to reflect your perfection?

I can see You shaking your head and smiling as you chuckle at Your daughter. But You love my desire and my effort even though neither really makes a difference in how MUCH You love me. 

You love me when I am Queen of the World and when I am Queen of the Fail. I have Your Big Love no matter what I produce or what I destroy. You love me completely when I make money or when I waste it. When I am sugar-sweet to my family or when I am nasty sour to them. 

Your love for us is not about measurements, striving, competition or reputation.

It's just LOVE. You are offering it. We are accepting it....or.....working REALLY hard to get it. When we ALREADY have it. Silly rabbits. 

I love You too Father God.

Hopefully I will write again tomorrow, but I am not promising.

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Friday, October 24, 2014

31 Letters to God | Day 24 - You Did Good

CLICK HERE for full list of Letters to God






Dear God,

You did really really well on this one! 

Thank You, 
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31 Letters to God | Day 23 - Not-So-Fancy




Dear God,

I also thank you for the not-so-fancy parts of my new life in this house. Because I never want to be the kind of person who has a "Living Room" that is never lived in. We both know that that is really not a problem for me though, right? 

So today I am looking at a few of the not-so-fancy things around here...


I found some spare paint cans in the closet and assumed
it would match the walls, so I touched up some bad spots....
Why did I keep painting, because I thought it would dry a different color I guess.


Layla's dog bones are most often found under foot in the screened porch.
I try not to look at them too closely. Gross.


Former owners left this desk chair which we don't like.
So here it sits on the porch, guarding the Noodles.

I love the weird things about this place too. Well "love" is too strong of a word. I accept the odd bits of living here. Like the fact that this neighborhood does not have big garbage totes that you can fill up all week with stinky garbage then wheel it to the curb for garbage day! We have to use plastic bags and set them on the curb twice a week. This means that stinky stuff has to sit in the garage or in the kitchen garbage can waiting for garbage day. I have even kept awful left-overs in the fridge beyond its usefulness because it was not garbage day yet. Another gross!!

Still, I love this place and You. Today we get to spend some time with our grandson Max!!! No complaining from me!!!


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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

31 Letters To God | Day 22 - So Fancy!



Dear God,

This morning when I opened this dog food bag to feed Layla, I suddenly felt SO FANCY. I mean the bag has a super nifty heavy duty re-closeable zipper opening!! It's not one of those thin bags that you have to cut open and then it rips the wrong way and dog food flies out and under the washer and dryer never to be found again. (Except by an army of ants who think they've hit a gold mine.)

My life right now is full of these tiny treasures that reveal the change in our lifestyle. The changes are really not huge (unless I remind myself that a few years ago we had several months of food stamps to assist us.) We are not wealthy or wasteful at all. But the small upgrades that came with our relocation make me smile and look up at You and whisper a heartfelt "Thank you God." 

A fridge that gives me ice and water
without opening the door!

I have one of THESE!!
My closet is big enough to require its very own light switch!!
Thank you Father for my "fancy" life! These are only objects. But their presence is evidence of small blessings and gifts from You. I do not take them for granted. I treasure them. I know how quickly they can all go away. But You are my most prized treasure and You will not disappear or leave me stranded.

You were there when we filled out one form after another to get financial help. You held us together as we walked into a tiny, cluttered social workers office and explained our situation. You were there as she smiled a warm and understanding smile towards us and agreed that lots of people were needing help now who never had before and it would all work out. 

Thank you, Father God. Even on the days when I refused to talk to You because I just did not get it, You were still close. You accepted my sighs as prayers. My complaints and questions did not cause You to turn Your face away from me. Even when I truly thought You had. 

My God, thank you for the small fancies in my life today. I will humbly take care of them as the sweet gifts they are. Thank you God for being close in the good and in the bad. In abundance and in scarcity You are still the greatest treasure. The only true necessity. 

CLICK HERE FOR FULL LIST OF LETTERS TO GOD

I love you God, 
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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

31 Letters to God | Day 21 - Treasure

CLICK HERE for the full list of Letters to God

Dear Father God,

It's late in this day. I thought that I would be writing these not-so-private letters to You each morning, but that isn't happening. I mumble and whisper to You during my morning meanderings around this lovely house. We talk, just not exactly sitting down together as I had hoped to do. 

Instead, I am finding myself  grabbing a big cup of coffee, releasing Layla from her crate and joining the Hubs out on the screened porch a bit before he heads to work. He is usually reading, smoking his pipe and enjoying the morning sky. He looks up from his book, gives the dog a scratch and says good morning.

We often sit in silence....I am not terribly sociable before my first cup of coffee. Then we talk about small things, big things, our plans for the evening or his next days off. We are still in awe of the big leap we took to move here, still shaking our heads at the sweet life we have right now. 

These moments are treasures, aren't they Father? 

I am not taking them for granted God, I promise. 




I love You so...
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Sunday, October 19, 2014

31 Letters to God | Day 19 - Why God?


The stuff of nightmares, I tell you! (Near my exit.)
 Dear God,

I love my new city, you know I do. I have been babbling on and on about how thankful I am for my gorgeous new home, swimming pool, beautiful scenery and of course my delight at being close to my new grandson. 

Have you and my blog readers been waiting for the complaints to begin? It couldn't ALL be good, could it? 

Since You asked, I am pretty confused about one aspect of this big move we have made to a new state and new city. WHY am I now living in a crazy-busy traffic area when I have always been a fearful driver?

Back in California we lived in a small town with a population of  18,660. I worked in the next biggest town over with a population of 93,899. Sadly, even in those towns I avoided the freeway and always drove on the back roads to get back and forth. If  I had to use the freeway, I prayed for easy merging on and off. 

I'm in the middle of this mess.
 NOW I find myself in a city with a population of  183,372!!! 

The main adjustments that have been tough for me have not been the difference between California and Texas....it has been the HUGE change from RURAL to URBAN living. This is not a big city as in sky scrapers and such, (though we are only 15 minutes from Dallas and sky scrapers and such) but 183,372 is a LOT OF PEOPLE and a ton of traffic. Shopping is very different, crowds and long lines and even longer drives every where. So not used to this!!

My current exit for home. AACK!!
What am I doing here? Why am I living in my driving nightmare?  You have helped me overcome many deep rooted fears in my life. And I hate to admit that this move has set me back in the driving fear. The normal roads around here seem to suddenly become a freeway with 8 lanes and turns every which way! There is no way to pull over and gather my nerves when I get stressed and panicky. The drivers are very aggressive and fast with no patience for confused newcomers. 

My former exit for home. So simple!
I need You God. I am thankful that my community around my neighborhood provides all I need for food or clothing shopping, libraries, hair salons and even movie theaters. So I can do what I need to do without getting on the dreaded freeways. But I cannot go see my kids and my grandchild by myself. I feel silly and foolish about that, but there it is. At some point I know that I will make myself  take that 30 minute drive on the freeway. It will happen. But for now....nope. Not yet. I know that the visit would be a tense one because I would be conscious of having to make the return trip home. (Really don't know if I am going to hit publish on this vulnerable post.) I wish I were braver.....


CLICK HERE for the full list of Letters to God
I love you Father,
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Friday, October 17, 2014

31 Letters to God | Day 17 - Creative Creator

Bodega Bay, CA

Mendocino, CA

Winters, CA

Dixon, CA

Our CA Valley

My current Happy Place

Amazing Texas
Dear God,

Today all I want to say is thank you for your glorious creation. All of the places You have allowed me to live and spend time have been full of your beauty. I haven't even included photos of the extravagantly gorgeous places You have let us visit! 

Thank you Father, Your enjoyment of color, variety and beauty tell me so much about You and Your character. You could have designed the world to be orderly and full of straight lines and matching colors. But no, you like curves and crazy squiggles and blazing colors! I love that about You. Thanks for being such a creative creator!
I love You,

CLICK HERE for all the Letters to God




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