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Writing Wins and Woes: My daddy

A girl always has a special place for her daddy. She looks to him for protection, guidance, strong hugs and affection. She crawls into his lap and feels safe. A lot of times Dad is the one who gets down on all fours to be a horsey ride.

I remember my dad getting out a guitar and singing Elvis songs to me. Now I love Elvis. My dad still sings but mostly he sings hymns now. It is so sweet to hear him sing them. In the mornings in Iowa when we were visiting Autumn it was so reassuring to hear his voice floating outside because he didn’t want to wake anyone in the house.

Growing up I didn’t really see much of my dad. He had a lot of demons to conquer, but he finally conquered them. I am so proud of him for doing that. When he re entered my life, I was the happiest daughter ever. When I see Mom and him together, I see a walking miracle, because my Mom never dreamed that she would go back with him again. But here they are supporting each other in a million ways as they grow older. They even teach Sunday School classes together.

As my children grew up, my Dad was there for them. My parents took them camping. Dad fished with them and hiked with them and now he walks with me every morning. I am so thankful to have these sweet times with my dad. Sometimes it feels like God took that big hole in my heart when I didn’t have him growing up, and He is filling it up now with every walk we take together.

When my daughter left a little more than two years ago for Iowa, it was my parents that comforted me. It was my mom and dad who cried for me. I know they hurt every bit as much as I did. Having that in common bonded us together even more.

I love my daddy. He is my hero, my friend, my handy man, and my comforter. He is the one I turn to when I need to laugh or when I want to cry. He is the one I look up to but he’s not too high to hug. No one can ever take his place. Happy birthday, Dad. May God bless you as He has blessed me with you for a Daddy.

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Writing Wins and Woes: Where do you go in a storm?

Lately there’s been a lot of talk about storms. Hurricanes Harvey and Irma and a possible Jose have saturated many of our conversations. People’s plights have delved into our hearts and minds and rightly so. But it’s given me pause to think as well. Where do you go in a storm?

Would you head to an evacuation center just to be safe? Or would you hunker down and weather it out? Would you run to family in another safer place? Would you count on prayers to carry you through? Would you say I would go but I can’t leave my belongings. I can’t leave my pets. They are my family.

How about the storms in your life? Where do you go? Do you cling to your spouse, your children? Do you hunker down and just stoically weather them out? Do you just zone out and try to pretend they’re not there? Do you run to a professional safe place, like a counselor or rehab center?

Any or all of these things can help us find solace in our storms, but they are not the solution.  Instead, I turn to the Rock that is higher than I. What does that mean? It means that God is bigger. I once told someone very special to me that God was bigger than all her changes and bigger than the whole state she lived in and I had turned her over to Him because He could care for her much better than I could. God is stronger than any storm, higher than any rock you can flee to, and kinder than any family we can cling to. He is our protector, our fortress, our deliverer. Even when we are not delivered from a situation, such as sickness or calamity, we are still delivered to His loving arms. He holds us fast and never lets us go.

I’m reminded of a story in the Bible about two men. One built his house upon a rock and one upon the sand. This is not a slur on all those living in Florida right now. Our hearts bleed for those people. The house on the sand washed away but the house on the rock stood firm. The rock is the Rock. It is our God, that we put our hope and trust in. When all else fails, when the wind blows, when the waves crash, He is our tower. He will not fall, and neither will we. Where will you go in your storm? I’m going into the arms of God.

50 Ways to Leave your Summer (Without Regrets)

Summer is almost over. Some say summer is over because the kids are going to school earlier and earlier every year. For this blog, I want to write about some things, actually a lot of things  you might want to check off your list to make sure you lived your summer to its potential.

  1. Go to the beach at least once.
  2. Tell your kids you loved them and appreciated having them around more.
  3. Take your dog to the dog park.
  4. Buy peaches.
  5. Help someone in need.
  6. Go to an outdoor concert.
  7. Go to an outdoor movie. Drive ins are my favorite but there are not so many of them around anymore.
  8. Take a hike in the woods.
  9. Go for a creek walk.
  10. Take that family vacation even if it seems you can’t afford it. You’re building memories. There are always ways to save.
  11. Have lunch with a friend.
  12. Tell your spouse you appreciate them, especially if they did the yard work.
  13. Have a cook out at a park.
  14. Go to the zoo.
  15. Go to a garden attraction.
  16. Watch birds.
  17. Watch butterflies at a butterfly house.
  18. Plant flowers
  19. Sit outside and look at flowers.
  20. Take a picnic lunch somewhere.
  21. Do a trail ride.
  22. Play a game of outdoor sports.
  23. If that’s too strenuous. Play a game of horseshoes or Croquet
  24. Read a book outside under a tree.
  25. Play miniature golf.
  26. Go out for ice cream.
  27. Have a campfire. Make Smores
  28. Go camping.
  29. Be thankful for the heat. Soon it will be cold.
  30. Go to an amusement park.
  31. Go to a nature center and learn something new.
  32. Go to a pool.
  33. Go to a historic attraction.
  34. Watch the sunrise/sunset.
  35. Have a water balloon toss.
  36. Go to a fair.
  37. Go to a farmer’s market.
  38. Buy corn on the cob and eat it with lots of melted butter.
  39. Visit a state park.
  40. Take a day trip to a place you never went before.
  41. Shop at a yard sale.
  42. Paint a painting outside.
  43. Take a field trip.
  44. Thank God for air conditioning.
  45. Take a walk in the rain.
  46. Go fishing.
  47. Get out the wading pool and splash with your kids/grandkids
  48. Play in the sandbox.
  49. Visit a petting zoo.
  50. Fly a kite.  These are just some things I thought of. Don’t be sad if you missed out because summer is almost over. Some of these things can be done into the fall. So go out and have a ball!

Writing Wins and Woes: The Happiness of Dogs

Do you ever wonder why dogs are so happy? You might say well, they don’t have to go to work. But a dog’s work is making his master happy. A dog is happy as long as you’re around and he’s fed and has a roof over his head. In short, he’s content with the little things in life.

We’d do well to imitate dogs. I always think I’ll be happy when the next thing comes along. When summer cleaning starts at my job, I switch to day shift so I said to myself I’ll sure be happier when summer cleaning comes along. Now that summer is about over, and I’m very sick of doing the extra work and getting up at 5 a. m. every day, I say I’ll sure be glad when I get back to second shift and I can have all those morning and some of the afternoon to myself.

When my kids were growing up, I said I can’t wait until they sleep through the night. I can’t wait until they’re potty trained. I can’t wait until they can talk and tell me what they want. I can’t wait until they can dress themselves. I can’t wait until I can go out and leave them without a sitter. Now that I have no kids at home, I desperately long for the sound of their laughter, to see them sitting in my house, making that same mess I used to complain about so much. You just don’t know a good thing when you have it.

The secret of life is to be content wherever you are in life because it doesn’t last. Sometimes I thought what I was going through was the biggest hassle in the world, but there are bigger hassles when you have nobody at all to share the hassles of life with.

I complain a lot about my job. Everybody does. But I need to be thankful I have a job to complain about. I complain about my house. It’s in need of a lot of repair, but I have a house to gripe about. I complain about the car, especially when it costs us over $1000 for repairs but we have a car to grumble about.  Most of all, I complain big time about my husband, but he’s here for me every day listening to my complaints. Who else wants to volunteer for that job?

The secret of life? Think like a dog. Life isn’t about all the things. If you have something to eat, somewhere to go, and someone to be close to, that’s all you really need.

Writing Wins and Woes: Breathing a Sigh

Have you ever noticed that sighs can be used for different purposes. I sigh, because I wish I hadn’t said that. Or I sigh because I am remembering something from the past I wish I could repeat. I sigh because I’m sad. I sigh because I’m wistful. I sigh because I’m relieved. I sigh because I can take a breath. There’s a change in the air and it feels good. That is the contented sigh, which in my way of thinking is the best kind.

Today I am breathing a sigh. Why? Because I wrote and submitted a story. If you want to know why I am happy about this, I will tell you. The last time I wrote and submitted a story was January 20th of this year. Although it was a good story, it wasn’t accepted. But that isn’t the reason why I haven’t written another since. I’ve been going through a period of depression. I didn’t even admit it to myself. On the outside, I was going through my routine like normal. I went to work. I did my chores at home. I enjoyed my grandson. I played with the dog when I wasn’t too tired or in too much pain. I paid my bills.  But inside I was sad. I was sad all the time. Even when I was happy, I was still sad. I know that’s hard to explain to anyone who is not gone through depression of any kind.

I told myself you should be grateful. You have a brand new grandson. You have three healthy children. You have a husband who mostly cares about you. You have wonderful parents who are still alive and thriving, despite your mother’s bout with cancer. You have God who never lets you go. You have so much to be thankful for. I knew all that in my head. But my heart kept feeling pain.

My life didn’t have meaning as it once had. I didn’t have any motivation or inspiration to write. God seemed distant, and I know the saying that if God is distant, who moved? I wanted desperately to move forward but I couldn’t. It was like the ocean. When you stand in the sand and the waves lap over your feet and the longer you stand, the more firmly your feet are entrenched in the sand, and after awhile you are buried there.

I felt buried alive. Little by little, I am digging my way out. Some days I don’t cry. Some days I don’t think about what could have been. Some days I say, this day I will take a small step in the right direction. That’s what I did this week. I took a step toward my goal of becoming a successful writer. I’m not saying everyday is going to be brighter now. Some days will still be very dim and grim for me. But at least I’ll  let the sun shine in more than I used to.

Writing Wins and Woes: What I learned from the Ocean

My mom used to say that there was no trouble in life that a walk to the river wouldn’t heal. I think natural bodies of water have that effect on us. They tend to calm our souls and make us feel at peace with everything around us. The waves lapping and the sun beating down seem to be therapeutic. All the stress and anxiety melt away and your body just seems to say, “Relax, everything is fine.”

I love the ocean. It is wide and eternal. It reminds me of God. How His love never ends for us. Just like the waves that keep coming, His love keeps rolling in. The Bible says that if we counted God’s thoughts to us they would be more numerous than the sands in the sea. And more than the mighty breakers of the sea, the Lord is mighty! So no matter how boisterous the ocean is, God is even stronger than that. The ocean can pick you up and drag you down and fling you onto the sand. God can pick us up and hold us firmly in His hands and never let us go. While the ocean will throw us away, God will never do so if we are His children.  Sometimes we may scream and kick at Him, but He still holds on tight until we calm down and accept His will.

I love the beach. I love the time I spent there with my family. I love the fun times we had, the jokes we made, the memories we shared and the long talks around the bonfire at night. But more than that, I love the fact that God has worked out all the trials and tribulations our family have faced over the years. Sometimes we wondered if we would have each other or even speak to each other again, but God is the one who calmed me and told me that we would make it through somehow. He gave me the strength to carry on, and to believe that love would prevail in the end. You rule the swelling of the sea. When the waves rise, you still them.

Writing Wins and Woes: Shut Down

This morning I opened my laptop, pressed the mouse and the screen lit up. However, the screen said, Thursday, July 6th. No matter how much I clicked the mouse, nothing happened. My password box would not appear. It was frozen. So, there was only one thing to do. Shut it down. Shutting it down didn’t solve my problem. I could sit all day in front of a blank computer screen and nothing would ever happen. I couldn’t search the web, check my email or write this blog post. I had to restart the computer. When it came back on, it was now Friday, July 7th. Everything functioned perfectly.

So it is with life. When I feel frozen, I often shut down. I’m not going anywhere, or doing anything. I’m just a blank screen. When I’m frozen, people can’t even tell that I’m different. I look the same. Except this one little thing. I’m not really functioning correctly. I’m stuck in place. Maybe I’m doing all the right things. Maybe I’m doing most of what I am supposed to do, but I’m not really at the correct time. I’m stuck in the past. Yesterday.

What do I need? I need a restart. Just a simple, “Hey, today, I’m going to think differently. Today, I’m going to let go of yesterday. Yesterday can’t be relived. I can’t go back and have a redo of things I wish hadn’t gone the way I wanted them to. But tomorrow is always a new day. I can restart. I can begin again. Nothing is ever going to be the same again. And it shouldn’t be. If we don’t change, we stagnate. Sometimes it’s easier to shut down, but is it fulfilling? Restarting is the harder choice, but it’s the necessary one.