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Author's Notes

Advice to the Lovelorn Man

by Hannah Alexander

I've always wondered what it would be like to include an advice column in one of my novels. It isn't something I'd ever consider doing in real life, because I don't want the responsibility of messing up a living person's life with the wrong advice--and I'm capable of doing just that. I'm a novelist, after all, not a psychiatrist. However, I have a fictional character in need, and I'm going to attempt to help him here. If you have words of advice for him, I'd welcome them, because he's in dire straits emotionally right now in the novel I'm writing. Prepare to suspend disbelief...

Dear Hannah,

You're my last hope. I've done practically everything wrong my whole life, and in doing so have doubled my family's wealth while hurting those most dear to me. I would give away my billions for a do-over. I realize you're not a priest-confessor, but you have the power to change my life. I'm sorry for trampling the hearts of my ex-wife and my daughter in order to rake in the money. I nearly ruined the life of the best doctor who ever worked for me by breaking her engagement with lies to get her for myself. After a recent brush with death I've taken a new look at myself, and I hate what I see. My ex-wife has found love again, my daughter is growing up with me in the periphery of her life. There is a woman I truly love, but she's so much more honorable than I. How do I make up for all the harm I've done? How do I become worthy of this woman I love?


Dear Weston,

In the Bible, Jesus told the rich young ruler to give up all his wealth to follow Him. You said you'd be willing to give away your billions for a do-over, but would you really? Can you possibly stop depending on wealth to define yourself? You've lived so long for the next high of cutting a deal, manipulating others to serve you. Can you live without that? Money is all you've known or understood. If you were to marry this worthy woman you love, would you truly love her, or would you go back to your old habits? I'm sorry, but you'll need to prove yourself by doing what you said. Let me know what you decide.



True Character

One of the things I do when writing a new novel is look for people who would make good, interesting, heroic characters in my books. That's one of the most fun things to do, and I take them from real life. Here's an example:

We have an office manager in our clinic, Bonnie, who hates germs. When she drew up the plans for the construction of the clinic and oversaw the work, she didn't realize she'd soon be working there. She hates goo, she has a very weak stomach. When the rest of the staff starts talking shop, Bonnie gags, loses her appetite, covers her ears and gets away. She's also shy. She sits in the back row at church. She'll sneak over to an elderly neighbor's house and shovel snow when they're not looking, and get away before anyone knows. How she ended up in her position is a long story, but it wasn't where she started. She wouldn't have chosen to work in a doctor's office, but due to a job switch, and the fact that I knew what a good employee she was, I kind of dragged her into it.

One evening last week I got a call from Bonnie. Her voice was shaking, but she had to tell someone. That evening, I believe Bonnie showed the world--and to her, it felt like the whole world--what she was made of. She was driving the company car behind an elderly man who was riding his small motorcycle slowly with his groceries behind him. Cars raced past him, honking their horns, yelling at him and harassing him to the point he wrecked his bike, tumbling over right there in the middle of the road, scraping blacktop as his groceries went flying.

No one stopped except our shy, germophobe office manager. Bonnie got out and ran into the middle of the road to find out if he was okay, and helped him to the side of the road, despite his protests about his eighteen broken eggs. He had an oxygen mask, and his arm was bleeding. Instead of throwing up, which she expected would happen, she ran to the back of the car and pulled out the medical kit, wrapped his bleeding arm, comforted him by sitting beside him and rubbing his back so he'd stop shaking. (She also stopped him from lighting a cigarette when she saw gasoline leaking from his motorcycle). Then she talked to him while he calmed down. She discovered he was a war veteran. Shy Bonnie tried to flag someone else down to help them because she couldn't get the motorcycle out of the middle of the road, but no one would stop and help. All her patient was worried about was his eighteen broken eggs, but she knew there could be a worse accident if she didn't do something.

She finally called 911. In minutes, an ambulance, firetrucks, highway patrol (which had sped past them earlier without stopping) came screaming toward her and this injured old man. I'm sure it was quite a spectacle, and poor Bonnie was just sitting there in the middle of it all, the center of attention with no place to retreat. Then, of course, proving her devotion to us, she pulled out a card for our clinic, and wrote her phone number on it in case the patient needed anything.

When it was all over and the road was cleared and the professionals took over, Bonnie drove to the nearest parking lot and had a mini-panic attack. She was on her way home when she passed a police car sitting beside the road. The policeman flashed his lights at her. She thought it was because he thought she was speeding, but he didn't pull out and stop her. I think he was giving her a salute for caring enough to help when no one else would stop for an old man on a motorcycle.

Funny, Bonnie has this weird idea that she's unworthy of attention. She won't listen when I disagree. But next time she tells me what a mess-up she is, I'll remind her of this day, and someday soon, she's going to see her likeness in one of my heroines. It takes more strength to do something that terrifies you and hold it together, than it does if that's your everyday job, and you're just plain good at it.

I'm proud of Bonnie. She's earned herself a place in a novel one day.

alexanderhodde | July 22, 2014 at 4:25 pm


Too Perfect by Hannah Alexander

June 24 ,2014

I'm here at ICRS enjoying old friends and meeting new ones. If you haven't heard of ICRS, it's an international Christian retailer's convention. Today I slung on all the bling I could wear to garner attention, then took my place at a signing booth. I guess the bling worked. I had an honest to goodness line! That never happens when I'm at a book signing back home, but then, people come here from all over the world to get free books. Back at the bookstores at home people are expected to buy my books. Here, the stuff is given away. It's a reader's heaven.

The signing was fun, seeing all those people who wanted to read my novel, but a problem arose that I could do nothing about. They say horses sweat, men perspire and women glow. I'm apparently a racehorse. It was horribly humiliating to drip so badly in response to the humidity that followed me from home. The bling I was wearing attracted everyone walking into the convention center, but when they got close, there was no missing the droplets coursing down my face and dripping from my hair. My eyeglasses were even steaming. Ick. I guess looks didn't matter to them. No one declined when my publicist told us to draw close for a photo shoot.

After the signing I remarked to my publicist how embarrassing it was to break into a drenching sweat in front of all those people. She said she once fell down three stair-steps of chairs in front of a huge audience. She posted online about it the next day. You know what? People like us to have flaws. Especially if we're being honored publicly in some way, tripping over our own feet or smiling with spinach on our teeth or dripping sweat lets everyone know that, even though we might be selected for something special, we're still human. It's true. I feel more comfortable with people who are as imperfect as I am.

I have a good friend who has a PhD in theology. She takes classes online and learns new things every day. Last night she helped me develop a gorgeous cover for my next novel. But she's not perfect. She doesn't figure numbers in her head. I love that about her, because being around someone too perfect can make me feel a little too flawed. I know how flawed I am, but it isn't fun to have it rubbed in. I like my friends with flaws. So maybe sometimes it's our flaws who draw people to us. You think?

This armadillo in the picture might have a hard shell on top, but he has a furry, tender underbelly. We all have a weak spot somewhere. Sometimes it helps to show those weak places to others. Not always, but sometimes.


True Love Takes Time by Hannah Alexander

a beautiful streamSee this beautiful stream? It’s peaceful to me, even romantic. The small trickle of water has made a course down the easiest path, gently moving stones and earth, reeds and brush.

Flood it with too much water all at once, however, and instead of a peaceful work of natural art, you would see destruction, such as the tree that’s fallen over the stream–it probably happened when that same stream overflowed its banks following a storm. Had it been more destructive, a large tree might have blocked the stream altogether, destroying its beauty.

I’ve seen too many relationships and hearts broken–not just in romantic love, but in friendship–because those in the relationship made judgments based on immediate gratification, when the rush of emotion overflowed natural boundaries and the individuals placed too much trust too quickly in an unknown entity.

How do I know this? From far too much experience.

Have you met anyone online lately? Has someone contacted you on Facebook or Twitter because of something you said that resonated with them? Did you quickly develop a mutual admiration for one another? In just a few weeks, or even less, did you decide you would be forever friends because of those experiences shared? I have. I’ve also seen it happen to others.

I’ve then seen too many of those relationships blow apart like a dirty bomb, damaging those who thought they’d formed a lifelong friendship, or maybe even a lifelong love. Why? Because it’s human nature to present your very best face to someone you think you might like. We hide our ugliness with sweet smiles and kind words. It’s especially easy to keep up a good front online. How many minutes a day do you spend sharing yourself with someone else via internet? All they see are your written words, nothing else. They don’t smell your morning breath or watch you eat or sleep or hear you complain when you drive in traffic.

People think they know me when they read a blog or a novel I’ve written. They don’t realize I’ve edited myself to death, and then have been edited again and again by a professional with my novels. They don’t realize I’ve deleted my first, second, third drafts, and worked hard to make my words pleasing. Some readers even think they know me through the characters in my novels. They don’t see the research that goes into developing each one. Those characters aren’t me. Sure, they might have parts of me, but my readers have no way of knowing which parts.

How many times have you watched a television show or movie and loved the actor because of the part they played? You might follow up on that actor and read more about him online and be extremely disappointed. It’s all fiction. Often, when we communicate online, it’s also fiction. We only allow our readers to see who we want them to, not who we really are.

That goes for physical, face-to-face interactions, as well. I put my best face forward when I’m in public because that’s what I’ve been taught to do.

When Mel and I went out on our first real, fourteen-hour date, sure, we got to know one another a little better, but it took many months of experiencing different situations together, difficult times, conflict, deep discussions, and meeting the families, relating with others, each seeing the other relate to mutual friends, before we truly had a concept about what to expect in a relationship of our own. If Mel had told me on our first date, or second, or third, that he loved me and wanted to marry me, or if I’d done the same to him, it would have made for a difficult relationship. It might even have destroyed what has become a beautiful marriage, not because we aren’t suited to one another, but because we needed that time of learning about one another, of gently growing closer with that slow trickle, instead of rushing forward with a torrent of premature passion. The torrent would have left our relationship damaged, possibly beyond repair. There’s a good reason the Bible tells us to delay physical gratification until after marriage.

All I’m saying is do what I have my heroes and heroines do in my novels; take your time in a new relationship of any kind. Get to know a person, allow him or her time to prove loyalty and constancy before giving them your complete faith. Once you feel you really know this person, continue to give it time. Don’t move too quickly or trust immediately. Whether we intend to or not, or realize it or not, we each wear a mask of some kind. Beware of the masks around you, and get to know the real people behind them before placing your trust there. Am I repeating myself? Yeah. And I’m not editing that out, because it needs repeating.

You can always trust God, but never take anyone else at face value. Time is your friend.

June 10, 2014, By Hannah Alexander

The Language of Romance by Hannah Alexander

This is a true incident, so some points were changed to protect identities.

I was talking with a friend lately about the language of love. He’s seeing someone who is kind, witty, and always telling him how much she enjoys his company, how attractive he is, how much fun he is. My friend–we’ll call him Walter–very much enjoys Muriel’s (I’m calling her Muriel ;-) ) company. She’s generous with her time, cooks fabulous meals for him and wants him to meet her family.

He’s holding back. I asked why. You know we often talk about battered women in broken relationships, but men can be verbally abused–even physically abused–by their wives. It’s happened. Walter, a widower, is afraid to test the waters again. Who could blame him? But he doesn’t want to live the rest of his life alone, so he started dating again, but he’s hesitant to get too close because Muriel might turn out to be like his late wife. He doesn’t believe in divorce.

Walter is uncomfortable when Muriel says sweet things to him–”You’re a wonderful man…I love your eyes…you’re so much fun…I love you…” Yeah, scary to get that close, and because the tendency for verbally abusive people is to say sweet things to their victim, then undercut them with a slice of venom–”Of course, you’re a pathetic loser”–Walter keeps waiting for the follow-up he got for nearly thirty years.

“But you don’t get the follow-up, do you?” I asked.

“No. It’s never come, I just expect it to,” he said.

“And you like Muriel, right?”

“Oh, yes. She’s a wonderful woman, and I enjoy her company so much, but it makes me uncomfortable because she’s always saying such sweet things to me, and she’s getting too serious.”

“If she truly loves you,” I said, “she’ll wait until you’re ready. Don’t let her push you. On the other hand, it sounds to me as if words of affirmation, from the Five Love Languages, are her way of showing her affection. If that’s the case, then you can encourage her friendship by speaking words of affirmation to her, even while you’re asking her to move more slowly.”

“But wouldn’t that just lead her on?” he asked.

“Not if you’re honest with her about how you feel. You can tell her the truth about how you feel about her–which is friendship and affection. From the time Mel and I met until he told me he loved me, it was almost a year and a half. I had to wait to hear those words. If I can wait, so can Muriel, but we eventually did get married, and now I hear those words every day.”

“Okay, gotcha. Say nice things to her.”

“Not just nice things,” I said. “Tell her how you feel about her beauty, her cooking, anything complimentary that is true, but also tell her the truth, that you need to move more slowly.”

I’m a firm believer in trying to speak the language of love as often as possible to my husband. I also believe that words of affirmation are helpful for any relationship–as long as they’re honest, and not being used to manipulate. If I like a friend’s novel, I’ll tell her. If I like a hairstyle, blouse, someone’s laughter or smile, if the situation calls for it, I’ll speak up about it. Everyone can use more words of affirmation. I think in a relationship, even if the other person’s love language is something else. words of affirmation can give anyone a lift and a new view of themselves, fresh encouragement, and joy.

Try it on someone today. Tell them how much you appreciate them, how you love their honesty, their kindness, or whatever else you admire about them. Done appropriately, it can make their day better.

February 4, 2014 by Hannah Alexander


Love is a Journey by Hannah Alexander

Yep, I’m still writing about romance, both in my novels and on the blogs. Why? because what beats love? There is romance between God and mankind, and girlfriends (had me some good girlfriend time this weekend, and it gave me such strength again.) There is buddy love between men who just can’t always tell their women everything, there is love of friends who will keep you straight and tell you the truth no matter what because they love you and want what’s best for you. There is painful love, and there is love with tons of laughter.

This weekend Mel and I went on a special retreat with some people we love–our clinic staff. At our last get-together, one of our staff members brought a date and announced they’ve decided to get married. I screamed–which might be why I don’t have much of a voice lately. We all hugged and loved on them–you’ve got to see our staff to believe it. God has blessed us.

So anyway, this weekend was the weekend of truth, in which our precious staff member (who is a widow at 66) and her man were thoroughly vetted to make sure he’s right for her (he’s in his early 70s) and that she’s right for him. Both have recently lost their spouses, and so we wanted to make sure they weren’t jumping into something too quickly. I’ve always thought that those who have had a good marriage before will be eager to jump right back into marriage once again. Well, these two fit. We carried Pepto Bismol in our purses because there were to kissing couples at our retreat–Mel and me, and our two new lovebirds.

The wedding is set. Their romance is right. Why do we know? Because we questioned them both thoroughly, we made sure they both were able to accept one another’s denomination, that they were taking this all to God, and that they were both givers. Mel rode down and back to the retreat with our groom in question, and is convinced. They are now fast friends. The man makes our staff member laugh. He makes all of us laugh, he is trustworthy, and he doesn’t get mad when we forget his name and call him Fred…no, Lee..no, Allen…no… Ralph…Oh, whatever, it’s your roll of the dice!
When they first announced their marriage, they were planning to wait a year to please everyone else. Now it’s going to be in July. Set date, no more waiting. I think we might have had something to do with talking them into not waiting. Ah, romance when you’ve done it all before and know what it’s like, and know better what to look for the second time around. I so totally believe in romance in all stages of life. I do, of course, believe in chastity, but since I do believe in chastity before marriage, I also can tell you not to make the engagement too long. Just sayin’…

What to watch for in a good future spouse who has lost that spouse to death: did he treat his former wife with love and respect? Will he respect your chastity before marriage? Does he put you first? Is he giving and loving? Is he willing to talk about anything? Are you open to listening to him talk and continue to grieve his loss? Can he do the same? Is he open to spending time with your friends? I’m sure others have more ideas. If you have them, want to help us lovebirds out?

January 7, 2014 by Hannah Alexander


Romance–Warts and All

Remember your first date with a guy you really liked? If you were like me, you spent days trying to figure out how to shape your eyebrows properly, how to make your hair hang just right, how to match the right clothes, and even practiced how to hold a decent conversation. I even purchased books about keeping a conversation going, and kept one in my purse the first few times I went out with Mel, because I sensed he was extremely shy, and wanted to be able to draw him out, since I was also extremely shy.

After your first date you probably returned home plagued with doubts about what you might have said or done wrong. Would he ever ask you out again? Did he like you as much as you liked him? Did he see the wart on the back of your neck? Did your breath make him sick to his stomach? Should you call him and tell him what a great time you had?

I know the feeling. Not the sick to the stomach feeling, but the lump in the pit of the stomach that agonizes over whether or not you said the right thing at the right time to entice him to ask you out again. And of course, with Mel, I was head-over-heels after our first real, planned date–not counting the multitude of dates my church staff sprang on us for three months to get us jumpstarted. (I did mention we were shy, right?)

From the time my friends (including my beloved pastor and his wife) began pushing Mel and me together, I started reading books on dating. They didn’t work well for me since I just happened to be in my late thirties, not my teens. I already knew about purity and mutual respect because I’d dated men who didn’t believe in those things. What I didn’t know was how to decide if this man was right for me. After all, I’d chosen unwisely so many times before.

The morning Mel was scheduled to pick me up for our first date (we went to the zoo and saw the dinosaur exhibit, my choice, visited friends of Mel’s in the hospital, his choice, went to see Forrest Gump, our pastor’s choice, and went hiking, my choice. Plus we ate out twice. And I insisted on paying half) I settled in my mind that this time, for the first time in my life, I was going to show my underbelly. (NO, not literally!) I was going to insist on hearing his personal experience with Christ. I was also going to address the age difference. He seemed so much younger than I.

When he finally picked me up (his wart, he’s always late for everything, but that morning it was because he was nervous, forgot if he’d closed the garage door, had to drive twenty minutes back to his house to check, ran out of gas…and on and on) I was immediately impressed because he had a four-wheel-drive Pathfinder, the kind of ride my friends told me I needed since I tend to drive to far out into the wilderness to hike. I’m hard on cars. Pretty much the first thing I told him was, “I hope this doesn’t put a damper on things, but I think I’m a whole lot older than you.”

He looked at me in surprised. “Really? You’re forty-three? Wow, you sure don’t look it.” (We actually used this scene in our book, Sacred Trust, because I based my main male character on Mel.)

“NO! I just turned 38.” And so I discovered Mel’s second wart. He was cursed with the inability to read ages correctly. But at least he was much older than I thought. My age didn’t bother him, and though he was so much like a kid that he occasionally wore me out with his energy, his age didn’t bother me.

Later during our date, I told him that I’d made a vow to God that I would never again have a close relationship with a man unless he was a rabid Christian. When I explained what I meant by that, Mel said, “Isn’t that what every Christian is supposed to be?”

Hurdle cleared, I’ve spent many hours, days, months, years with Mel, and the more willing we are to show one another our underbellies–warts and all–the more our marriage deepens.

I have a friend who found her husband on e-bay. Hmmm…no, wait, I meant eharmony. Not a huge difference, because you’ll find as many liars on eharmony as you will on e-bay, and just as many scam artists. My friend beat the system, though. She not only showed warts and all, but she weeded out the bad seed by asking them to answer questions most men out for something besides a godly relationship wouldn’t take the time to deal with. The man who did take the time was the man who was serious about the same things she was. He’s a precious treasure, and their marriage has been truly blessed, because she took the time to skim the dross, no matter how many she scared away, and go for the gold.

If I were to walk a friend through the dating process right now, I’d tell her to do the same thing. Skim the dross, weed the crop, scare them off if you can. If they’re serious about a relationship blessed by God, she’ll dig deeply enough to find the real man God intends for her.

So…got that? First date, show the warts. Show the real you. Be outspoken about what you need and will and will not do, remain pure so sex doesn’t mess up the growth of a lifelong friendship. I guarantee this will take you a long way toward finding the right kind of man in your life.

November 19, 2013 by Hannah Alexander


Miracles do Happen

Much of the country has been watching and praying as Oklahoma City and surrounding towns dig out of the debris and devastation caused by a monster tornado attack last night. Many of us prayed for a friend of mine who was stuck in the path of the twister, had no shelter, and didn’t know if her children or husband were safe. But my friend, though often attacked by disaster in her life, is also blessed by miracles. Last night, as we watched live coverage, we saw the tornado skip over her house as all around her lay devastation. This was the second time. Years ago, she had the same thing happen–a tornado jumped over her house. Her friends all rejoiced when she found her husband and children safe, though she grieves today for her church family and friends as they dig out of the debris.

My husband, Mel, was working in ER yesterday here in Missouri and preparing to come home. A tornado was sighted heading in the direction of the hospital, so he was not allowed to leave. We prayed, the tornado missed the hospital, didn’t touch down, and he just made it home a little late. Living in tornado alley sometimes becomes routine.
I just pulled up another clip in which a lonely older lady had dug her way out of the debris of her home after the twister hit. She’d been huddling in the bathroom with her little dog. She was bleeding and cut, but alive and grieving the lost of her dog when all of a sudden they heard a whimper beneath some of the debris, and saw the frightened eyes of her dog. The lady and reporter dug the pup out as the lady suppressed tears. She’d had two prayers–one was that she would live through the tornado, and the other was that her doggie companion would. Both her prayers were answered.

Amongst all the destruction and loss, miracles seem to be more prevalent than at other times. Perhaps it’s the contrast between pain and relief that makes the miracles more obvious. I’m not sure what it is.

I do know there are many miracles taking place today in Oklahoma. As I experienced here in my hometown when a tornado destroyed our main street, Salvation Army and Samaritan’s Purse were on their way as soon as they heard. Locals prepared meals daily for those working to find people who were lost and clear out the debris. In Oklahoma, huge semi trucks will be parked as close as possible to the devastation where they can reach people who need help, food, water, shelter, basics for survival.

If you want to help, please pray, and then send a check to one of these organizations that do so much good during times of disaster. Salvation Army and Samaritan’s Purse are thePiza Hut two I can personally vouch for. They send kind and caring volunteers to help heal the hearts of those with losses, and they use the money they get to do all they can to help clean up the debris and help people.

You can be a part of the miracles. What you do matters. Your love and compassion can help lives devastated by loss find hope again.


By Hannah Alexander, May 21, 2013 on Christians Read

Fashion Changes

Women in 1855Although I do appreciate the gorgeous silhouette these dresses from 1855 offered women, I'm just so doggone glad I never have to worry about being poured into one of the corsets they had to use. I like to breathe too much. It wasn't until I started researching information on my earlier historical novels that I grasped the extent of discomfort women experienced to follow the rules of fashion. In fact, compassion for the characters in my book, plus the lack of logic displayed by all the accoutrements of dress, incited me to place my characters in the country, far from city life, where they were free to dress comfortably enough to ride a horse astride.

As for me, I've never been a style maven. I don't even like to shop, so when I find myself in need of something to wear, I'll rush into a store, purchase anything that looks halfway decent and feels comfortable, and it isn't until I get home that I realize I look better in vee neck tops, not mock-turtlenecks, or that the hem doesn't come down far enough to cover the widest part of my backside, or that the color makes me look washed out. It doesn't help that I change my hair color every few weeks. Colleen is going to faint dead away next time she sees me, because now I'm blond--it was simply easier and cheaper than having it highlighted every six weeks.

As for comfort, I stopped wearing heels thirty years ago. Now everything I wear is comfortable, walkable and supportive. Now my clothing and shoes fit my lifestyle--comfy, laid-back. I figure if I'm comfortable in my clothes, I'll be more able to put those around me at ease, so Mary Janes, Sketchers and Birkenstocks are my footwear these days. My pants are so stretchy I could sleep in them if need be, and my tunics are loose enough that I don't have to suck in my stomach. Ever. My biggest nod to fashion is an occasional wide belt to emphasize that there is a feminine shape beneath that loose clothing.

I would love any tips on comfy fashion these days, since I'm scheduled to speak at least a couple of times this year, and am finally presenting my face in public after a long year of hibernation. Any helpful hints?

Labels: comfort, comfy shoes, fashion, historical dress

Hannah Alexander

Posted to the blog: A Girls Write Out on Friday, April 26, 2013

Tornadoes and Cats (by Hannah Alexander)

CatAt 2:45 a.m. one morning this week, Mel and I were getting a good night's sleep after a tornado warning the evening before. These days those warnings are barely a blip on the radar for us, since we get them all the time this season of the year (actually, most seasons of the year) and it's been a couple of years since our town was hit by one. It's been almost a decade since a tornado took out the whole downtown, so we've become a little lax about the weather.

Despite the excellent earplugs I always wear to bed, I was awakened by the low-but-annoying squall of our town's tornado alert system. Too tired to function, I pushed a loose earplug back into place and buried my face in my pillow. The siren grew louder, echoed by another down the road. I tried to block it out and go back to sleep. We live in a brick house. Tornadoes have always missed us before. Besides, Mel always said he wanted us to go together. Here was our chance--I don't always think clearly when I'm half asleep.

Of course, then my conscience kicked in while Mel snored softly beside me, oblivious. What if we were hit by a tornado and badly injured? Instead of dying and going to heaven, we'd be stuck here in damaged bodies. I hadn't even asked Mel what he wanted to do, so I was making the decision for both of us without consulting him.

With great reluctance, I slid out of bed and pulled the covers off Mel. "Honey, we need a flashlight."

"Mmmfttt-t-t" Or at least, I think that's what he said, because I still had my earplugs in.

"We can sleep with the cats the rest of the night." The basement is the cat's domain at night, because if we don't shut them down there, they'll either wander around outside and get eaten by coyotes, or try to break down the bedroom door and sleep with us. And they are NOT easy to sleep with.

"Is that a tornado siren?" Mel asked. I think. I refused to remove my earplugs because if I did, I'd wake up and never get back to sleep.

"We can sleep on the bed in the tornado room,"I told him. "It'll be fun. Something we've never done." We have a beautifully decorated room with no windows in the basement. It has a mural on one wall of a peaceful lake scene, and there's a very comfortable bed down there about half the size of our king bed. We could do this.

But we got down there and discovered that someone (Mel) had allowed the cats into the back half of the basement at some point, and now there was cat hair all over the bedding. I reached for an ever-ready cat-hair sticky roller and got to work. We live with four cats in our faces, so there's not much difference between that and sleeping in their hair. With the siren still blaring--warning us that we'd better stay down there and not go back upstairs to bed--we finally shut the door on the four wide-awake cats who were in the mood to place. I fell fast asleep.

Thank you, dear Denise, for introducing me to those silicone earplugs. They rock at blocking out caterwauling. At some point during the night, Teddy Bear, who considers herself a rock star, decided to serenade us. She has a voice like a garbage truck without a muffler, and goes around the house in search of the best places for her voice to echo. Poor Mel, who typically sleeps like a lump of lead, doesn't wear earplugs. He didn't get much sleep that night, so it's a good thing he didn't work ER the next day.

Don't get me wrong, I do appreciate our small town's desire to protect its citizens with this great alarm system for dicey weather. I even appreciate the company of our four strays on occasion. But sometimes the mix just doesn't work.

Labels: cats screeching, late night siren, tornadoes

Hannah Alexander

Posted to the blog: A Girls Write Out on Friday, April 19, 2013


GeeseThis is the time of year when the wild geese and ducks can be seen flying in formation--or in confusion--all around our town. Spring is bursting forth! Since Di was recalling a long-ago memory, I thought I'd follow along the same line of thinking. Many, many years ago, when I was single-again and staying with my mother far, far, far out in the country after my father died, I enjoyed living on the farm. I think that isolated farm, 1/2 mile from the nearest neighbor and hidden from the world behind trees, was my favorite place in the world.

Of course, the cattle were no longer our responsibility. Daddy sold them to a neighbor before he passed on, so the only animal life we had to deal with were dogs, skunks, armadillos and the occasional deer. Except for the skunks and one brainless dog who didn't know when to stop teasing the pretty black and white "kitty," it was calm on the farm.

I recall driving to work one morning during that time and watching the sky and the surrounding trees for pretty birds. We had all kinds of birds, from whippoorwills to nuthatch to bluebirds and jays. This one morning, though, I became excited when a flock of geese dove from the sky in formation and flew barely a foot above my car! Rarely have I seen ducks or geese fly this low, and I was so honored to be a part of it! I even stopped the car, mouth open in awe. How I wished someone could have been there to share it! Have you ever had that kind of moment? The life of the wild, right outside your car window? I felt so blessed.

Seconds after, however, I received yet more evidence of life flying over my car. Something plopped on the hood. I get the feeling the geese weren't as enchanted by my presence as I was with theirs.

Suitably put in my place, I continued my drive to work, but throughout the day I thought about those geese and chuckled. Sometimes you get a little bird plop in your life, but take heart, at least it's a sign of the nature that surrounds us, in all its glory.

Labels: farm life, Goose poop, nature

Hannah Alexander

Posted to the blog: A Girls Write Out on Friday, April 12, 2013

Firefly, Anyone?

SunsetMel and I have become couch potatoes this past year. It seems when everything in life comes at you at once, it kind of knocks the breath out of you, so for the first time in my life, instead of taking things outside to the hiking trail, I've taken to lying on the love seat or the exercise floor while Mel lies on the sofa, and we watch shows on Netflix. I've blogged about this before and received some great TV show tips from this blogsite. Thanks, girls. You've told me about NCIS, Criminal Minds, The Mentalist, Bones, Castle, some of the most exciting shows out there. Some gave me nightmares, granted, and I've had to get away from those at times and fall back on lighter fare, but you've given me some interesting hours of couch potato time.

Some friends of mine recently talked me into checking out Firefly--something I'd passed over before, even though it looked interesting, because it only lasted one short season. I figured the viewing public knew what they were talking about when they canceled it. After my friends did some arm twisting--these friends are of the creative persuasion, and insisted I must study the show for it's creativity--I decided to check out Firefly. Mel gave up after we were halfway through the long pilot because there wasn't nearly enough man-action while they introduced characters. I went back to my friends and complained. They continued raving about it. As a writer, I must experience it, or some such nonsense.

So while Mel was gone last weekend at a medical conference, I fired up the television, put on my exercise gear and went to work. I was going to find something to like about this show for the sake of my friends. Nathan Fillion (the star of Castle, by the way) is a funny actor. In my opinion, he has good comedic timing, which made the character work even when he was coming across as a hard-nosed jerk. I'm really slow on the uptake, but by the third or fourth episode, I realized the show was very truly a space cowboy show. In fact, the intro is played with extreme country twang and the picture shows horses running beneath a low-flying spaceship. Maybe in 500 years horses will become accustomed to spaceships and not stampede--oh, wait, come to think of it, they ARE stampeding on the intro.

Most of the settings are on western-style planets far from the center of the galaxy, and on those planets, the people live as Americans lived in the 19th century in the desert, much like the picture above. The main characters have quirks aplenty, and they talk the way we perceive hillbillies talked far out in the middle of nowhere over a century ago. I wasn't able to complete my marathon of 22 hours of Firefly before Mel got home Sunday night, so I tied him down and forced him to watch the final shows, as well as the follow-up movie, with me. He didn't complain much. We watched the movie, Serenity, tonight. I don't know that the movie would stand alone, but it does an interesting and exciting job of tying up loose ends, and there was plenty of fighting and action to keep even Mel interested.

One other perk, every time I watched it I saw our own beautiful Denise Hunter in the guise of one of the characters. If Denise had dark brown, wavy hair, she would be the spitting image of this young woman.

If you get Netflix, you might want to check out Firefly. It might not be for you, but then again, the dialogue truly is more interesting than the average fare. I fast-forwarded one scene I did not like, but I played back some scenes so I could catch the rhythm of the words.

So...anyone else have some favorite shows to share? Now that I'm done with Firefly I'm back to watching reruns.

Labels: Eugene Patterson photography, Firefly, tv shows

Hannah Alexander

Posted to the blog: A Girls Write Out on Thursday, March 07, 2013


Are You in Pain?

Dr Mel HoddeToday I didn't know what to blog about, so I called Mel at the clinic and asked him what he could tell me about pain, since I always seem to be in it. These are the highlights of our conversation:

"I'd love to help, sweetheart," he said.

"Oh, thank you, honey. Make it simple for me, okay?" I asked. And now you will see why I stressed that.

"Pain is usually a reflex arc," he said. "Every part of a pain response is a two-part. There is the afferent and there is efferent. Afferent is affect, and efferent is effect and--"

"Wait! Honey? What was it you just said?"

"The classic is you put your hand on a hot stove and you don't know it's hot. Pain is the afferent response. As a result of the brain feeling pain, it triggers you to pull your hand back, therefore it's efferent--or the effect. It's what the muscles do in response. So a reflex arc doesn't require a higher brain function."

"Um. Mel? Mel? Honey! Wait, I can't keep up! I can't type that fast--"

"--so treating pain is a process of cause and effect. You just have to remove what's causing the pain. It isn't usually as simple as taking a hand off the hot stove. The cause of most pain is not nearly as obvious. The best thing is to figure out what's causing the pain."

"Okay, wait, I have afferent and efferent. How do you spell those?"

"If you take away the cause, you take away the pain. While you're trying ot figure it out, you give pain blockers, which are narcotics--not something the doctor will willingly give you. Ultram is a newer pain med that works pretty well and doesn't have as much of an abuse potential, so the docs are more likely to give it to you. However, if you already take narcotics for pain--"

"Mel? Mel! Slow down! I have reflex arc for the second time. Is there another word for--"

"If you can't adequately block the pain, then you distract. That is how a tens unit works. It comes from the term trans cutaneous electrical nerve stimulation. It substitutes one pain for another, but the electrical stimulation distracts them from the old pain."

"Hold it. Wait. I'm trying to type this quickly, honey. What did you just--"

"Lidocaine, on the other hand, kills pain as an anesthetic. It doesn't block nerve endings, but it numbs them. It doesn't last long, so it doesn't work well for long-standing pain."

"Okay, lidocaine. Is that spelled with an e at the end, or--"

"General anesthesia puts the brain to sleep--another way of killing pain for surgery, though of course you can't use that for chronic pain. Epidurals are versions of lidocaine, going for bigger nerves to anesthetize, so it's a regional anesthesia."

"There! That's the word I want. Chronic pain. I need to know how to treat chronic pa--"

"For chronic pain, if you have a tens unit and use it daily, that could help distract from the pain. Capzacin has a distracting agent in it that burns the skin, but the burn tends to go away if you can stand it long enough."

"All right! Now we're on a roll!"

"Benzocaine is a topical lidocaine, so that's used for sunburns or toothache. Ambesol and Orajel are toothache benzocaines."

"How can that help with chronic pain?"

"A classic example for fixing pain is to liken it to a broken bone--not to gross anyone out-- that's out of place, when you reset it, lining the bone up is probably as good at pain control as blasting the patient with pain medi--"

"No, honey, please go back to the chronic pain treat--"

"It's the same with dislocations. It hurts when something is dislocated, and it hurts getting it back into place, but the body wants you to know about the problem with a lot of pain. You fix it, you're better. Like a thorn in the foot. You don't take pain meds for the thorn in the foot, you remove the thorn."

"Okay, honey." Sigh. "I love you! Thanks for helping. See you soon! Remember, I have an appointment for you to adjust my back today."

"Oh. Okay, sweetheart. Is that all you needed?"

"Yeah, once I get it sorted out."

So, girls, you got that? You slog through those brainiac words and decipher them. My job here is done.

Hannah Alexander

Posted to the blog: A Girls Write Out on Friday, February 15, 2013

Have You Crashed Lately?

Piza HutHere in Southwest Missouri we are prone to tornadoes, and though there is a specific season for that, we’ve had towns wiped out when it was totally not the season for tornadoes. Therefore we have designated shelters, lots of basements, storm watchers and wind-up weather radios. It’s a huge deal here.

One tornado sneaked in on us a couple of years ago and destroyed the local Pizza Hut and nearly missed the apartment complex where my mother lived, only three blocks away. We had no warning. Ten years ago our town was destroyed on May 4 except for four buildings on the main thoroughfare. We have our hidey-holes, believe me.

Today, however, I was caught off guard in a different way, which is why this post is later than I’d hoped. No tornadoes this time–not yet, anyway–but our internet/phone provider was apparently attacked and the main wiring was destroyed. It supplied the whole area of Southwest Missouri. Our clinic had no phones and no computers to treat patients, I had no access to internet, and no phones.

Mel and I are now discussing if we should have a backup system in place–perhaps with a different provider–so this doesn’t catch us off-guard again. I can miss posting a blog, but patients depend on their doctor to be up and running at any time, so Mel can’t afford to let his people down.

I read another blog today that impacted me, as well. I know we can’t live our lives in fear of attack, but do you take precautions when you’re driving at night to make sure no deer run out in front of you, ensure that you have working headlights and taillights, and if you stop somewhere at night, as mentioned on The Killing Zone blog, do you take precautions to protect yourself from attack? I was almost attacked once at night in the mall parking lot. I was just getting into my car when a man grabbed me and tried to shove me into my car so he could force me across the seat and he could follow. I screamed like a little girl and kept screaming, and the man ran away.

Do you have backups in place in case your primary system–any kind of system–fails you? I have only one primary source that never fails me, and that is Jesus Christ. For everything else, I need backup.

By Hannah Alexander, February 5, 2013 on Christians Read


Don’t Fence Me In…Or Should You?

FenceI’ve always been a bit of a rebel, and I’ve never understood why. It isn’t that I don’t believe in rules, because I do. Logic tells me that abiding by good rules is the smart way to live. Having discipline in our lives can make us much better people and give us abundant success, and since I’m a logical person, it would stand to reason I would abide by the rules, discipline myself, and be a success in whatever I choose to do in life. After all, this beautiful river retains its beauty because it follows the riverbed that’s been carved out over thousands of years. If not for the guidance of soil and boulders, the depth and quality of the water would be shallow, filled with sludge, useless. But do I always think about that before I rush into life headlong without a guide?

Nope. In fact, among novelists, I would be called an SOTP person–Seat of The Pants–even though I don’t typically write that way. Right now I’m baking a gluten-free, low carb blueberry-peach cobbler. I have no idea what it’ll taste like, because I didn’t first look for a recipe, I just made it up as I went with the ingredients I had at hand. My poor husband has learned to smile and say “yum” no matter what comes out of the oven. Thanks to experience and knowledge of foods and baking, I even get it right sometimes. Just not always. I tend to be spontaneous.

Do you ever find yourself doing that? Rushing into a situation without stopping to think of the consequences? Do you occasionally like to be spontaneous? Have you ever hopped into your car without the GPS turned on or a map spread across the seat, and just driven to see where the road would take you? Even more dangerous, have you ever taken a hiking trail, then veered from the main trail onto a place less traveled? Throughout my life, I have tended to take that trail less traveled. At times, I’ve been disappointed. At times, I’ve been lost (more times than I’d like to recall).Often, however, I’ve found new vistas I’d never dreamed were there, encountered fresh valleys, wild animals, trickling brooks of pure beauty I wouldn’t otherwise have seen.

Our pictured river, after all, originally made its own way through the mountains, following the path of least resistance. I’m sure the formation of the banks changed over the years, and it’s different from what it once was. So even a river, especially during flood season, enjoys some spontaneity.

I still believe in following the rules, and as I’ve matured I’ve learned to do that more consistently. Still, at heart, I love it when I give in to a spontaneous spirit and explore life, trails, roads, cooking in a new way. I encourage you to try it. Live a little more often, forget the map and wander from the road once in a while. You might be surprised at the new discoveries just around an unknown corner.Signs of Life

By Hannah Alexander, JANUARY 22, 2013 on Christian Read


Pine treeI am crazy about this picture! Not only can I look at it and conjure the scent of vanilla, pine and hazelnut that is typical of the Tahoe area, but I love the image of life bursting forth from an image of death.

We are presently in the process of refurbishing my mother's country home (built like a modified A-frame lake cabin) for future resale. It's been ignored for a few months, and everyone who drives by can tell. Some of the decorative fence posts have fallen down, and the paint has faded inside and out. The carpeted areas need to be replaced, and curtains and windows, as well. It's the middle of winter, and the place looks lifeless. In the spring, all the trees and shrubs Mom planted in the huge yard will begin to bloom and show the life she invested into it over the years of her own life. She was so proud of that yard. I want to honor her efforts.

I was talking to a friend about what to do today, and she suggested that the inside of the house needs to show some evidence of life. Pictures on the walls need to have animals in them, or bright flowers. A bowl of waxed fruit would brighten the room. Even silk flowers would be nice. Huge oak beams separate the ground floor from the cathedral ceiling, with an-oak railed loft overlooking the downstairs area. The first time my mother and I walked into that house twenty years ago, we knew that was the place for her. Now that she's gone, we need someone else to fall in love with it and treat it with respect.
I'm wondering what new life would look like to someone else walking in that front door for the first time.

Can you imagine? What would you want to see? What do you think of when you're looking for evidence of life?

Hannah Alexander

Posted to the blog: A Girls Write Out on Thursday, January 10, 2013

Hey Girls--Enjoy the Journey

This trail is a long one, wide enough for a vehicle, but I don't drive it, I walk it so I can enjoy it more completely. I have begun to take my time to listen to the birds, and for the rustle in the brush that could lead me to a live armadillo rooting for food, or the cry of an eagle overhead. I couldn't hear those things from a car with an engine running. I have met with God here so many times in the touch of the breeze and the feel of the sun and shadows sliding over my skin, even in the rain that once drenched me and had me shivering and numb all the way back home.

There are hardships on this trail. The rocks and potholes could break an ankle or sprain a knee if I'm not careful, and if I touch the wrong bush I could get poison ivy. Copperheads and rattlesnakes have greeted me on this trail from time to time, and ticks and chiggers are vile and vicious creatures that frighten me more than the snakes because there are so many more of them. I carry protection against anyone who might be guarding their marijuana harvest or meth lab.

I learned long ago that enjoyment and suffering, laughter and tears are two parts of the same package. You can't feel joy quite so exquisitely unless you've felt its opposite. In our journey through life, we will hit the proverbial potholes and rocks--some of which are dangerous boulders that can knock us sideways: illness, the loss of a beloved, a church split, rebellious children, abusive people with power over us in our jobs and homes. The more deeply we delve into life, the more easily we can be wounded, but with those wounds, we grow.

At the end of the journey, as at the end of each hike I take, I believe what matters is not so much what happened to us during the journey, but the choices we made in response. Inevitably, those choices are what will determine what we become. What choices have you made lately, or what has happened to you that will have an impact on your choices?

Hannah Alexander

Posted to the blog: A Girls Write Out on Friday, September 28, 2012

Hey Single Girls--You Rock!

Cheryl Hodde aka Hannah AlexanderI was single once when I was a senior in high school, and in college, but then I married. It would have been great had I actually tried to make a wise choice, but no, I just wanted to get married. It seemed so vital. When I decided it was time to have babies, hubby screamed like a little girl and ran for the hills. I needed a man in my life, so I remarried quickly. I got my children, though they belonged to another woman. I loved those kids. Little did I know that they would always be all I had. I eventually ended up a single woman again, and this time I was determined to stay that way. I could get away with it if I didn't spend much money, if I continued to live in the apartment in Mom's garage after Daddy died, and kept working my day job and writing at night. But along came Mel two years after my second husband screamed and ran like a little girl when I wanted to work on the marriage.

But you know what I discovered? Living single isn't for sissies. I knew a lot of other single women at that time, and many had to share apartments because they didn't make enough money to live alone. Those who did live alone--out of fear that common courtesy would not prevail and they would be labeled mean names--struggled to get by constantly. They still do. When one chooses to make it on her own, she's got a hard road. Often, women don't make the income men do, so they struggle financially more than most men. They can't do the hard work men often do to make more money.

So I'm proclaiming this Help a Single Woman Day. If you have a female friend who is single, take her out to lunch or give her a gift certificate for a mani-pedi or a new blouse or a good meal. Treasure these ladies who struggle to keep their heads above water much of their lives. Show them love and acceptance, and never let them feel like second class citizens, because they aren't. Being married doesn't make us better than single folk, it just means life is often easier financially and relationally for us. Count you blessings, and bless a single woman.

Hannah Alexander

Posted to the blog: A Girls Write Out on Friday, September 07, 2012

Journey Through the Bad Place

Last week Mel and I flew west to attend a conference for his upcoming change in career choice–from ER to private practice. We stayed at the resort where the conference was held at Lake Tahoe–one of the most beautiful places in the world, in my opinion. Our stay there was perfect, and Mel learned more than he’d ever expected to learn. He’s so excited!

The travel to and from the conference, however, was like a trip through the bad place. Had I been given a choice, I wouldn’t have gone. I was struggling with strep throat, was taking antibiotics–therefore wasn’t contagious–and had no energy. A trip anywhere, even to one of my favorite places in the world, did not excite me. I was depressed, grumpy, sick. Mel, however, insisted. That’s not like him. I didn’t want to disappoint him, because he hates traveling without me, and he knows how much I love Tahoe. So I went, and tried hard to be sweet about it. Funny, all I did was grumble to God. I didn’t think to ask Him to help me enjoy it.

Our first clue that it would not go well was when the initial flight was late. Then we were loaded quickly into the jet, taxied to the take-off area, where the pilot turned off the engines. “Folks, there’s a weather problem at our destination, so we’ll have to just sit here awhile until we’re given the go-ahead.” We were assured that we would be there in time to catch the next flight in our layover–that they would wait for us. We weren’t. They didn’t. We did have a nice meal of sushi at the San Francisco airport before catching the next flight, which was also late. We saw no signs of weather problems, so we’re not sure what caused the delays. I know I complained a lot. Worse, because we arrived late at night, there was nighttime construction taking place on the road, so what would have taken us thirty minutes took us an hour. Poor Mel couldn’t help hearing me sigh and grumble under my breath. Funny, I didn’t think to pray.

Finally we arrived! Of course, it was way past our bedtime, so we tumbled into bed without unpacking, and I slept late the next morning. The next afternoon, when Mel came back from class, he was ecstatic, I was awake, and he insisted we explore the area. He took me on a hiking trail and I hiked for the first time in almost two years. I tried to be cheerful, but I was sick, sad, stuck in depression. This was my first time back in my home state of California since my mother’s death this past winter, and grief still held me–the reason I’ve been sick for so many months. I couldn’t walk very far that day, so we only hiked about a mile, and then caught a shuttle back from the Squaw Creek Square. I crawled into bed and Mel climbed in beside me. We watched TV the rest of the night. I spent no time in my Bible or talking to God. I just grieved.

The next day, however, I emailed some friends about my struggle, and those friends started praying. My throat still hurt and I still didn’t feel well, but when Mel returned to the room he was bouncing with excitement over what he was learning, and I caught some of that excitement. We hiked much farther that day, and the scent of Squaw Valley–hazelnut and vanilla combined with pine–began it’s work on me. The sunshine dazzled me, and my spirits lifted. They never dropped quite so low again for the rest of the trip. Finally, halfway through the week, as Mel and I were hiking again, I said, “Honey, did you know how badly I didn’t want to come on this trip?” He said, “Yes, Sweetheart. I knew. I also knew that you would start to feel better once you got here. You needed to get out of that house and start to live again.” I said, “Do you know how much I love you?” He took my hand, then took me into his arms and kissed me, then held me tightly there in the middle of the forest in the Sierras. “Yes, I know.” And I thanked God for such a wonderful husband. I started speaking to God a little more, as well.

We didn’t have any more trouble until we started back home. At the airport in Reno we returned to the bad place. No flight. Engine problems. We spent the night at a local hotel and spent hours trying to contact someone to get us out of there the next day. Mel got it worked out, though we no longer trusted this airline to tell us the truth about anything. The next day we finally boarded, after yet another delay, but by then I was on better speaking terms with God, and I asked hundreds of friends online to pray. Of course, as we sat in the plane, the hostess explained that they had to fix the bathroom door. We and the rest of the folks on the jet made a pact to never fly with this airline again, but my attitude was somewhat better, even after our flight out of Denver was also delayed. I’m so glad we didn’t know until the next day that that same airline had a jet lose an engine over Newark NJ about the same time we were flying. They circled for hours before landing safely. With all the problems this airline had, it could have been us.

So I still don’t like to fly. I probably will again, though not with this airline. And not without a lot of prayer. What was I thinking, to get onto a jet without praying first? Whew. I hope I never do that again. With God as the pilot of my life, everything goes smoother.
Have you ever had a discovery like that? Come pray with us.

Hey Girls--Need a Wife?

Cheryl Hodde aka Hannah AlexanderMy overly busy editor once remarked that she needed a wife to follow along behind her and help her keep up. She's a busy woman. She runs a slick, excellent team of editors and assistants, and yet even with that kind of help, she feels the need for a wife to help her in her daily life.

Sometimes our lives become so hectic that we need help. Some husbands pitch in and help, sometimes even without throwing tantrums, crying or making us pay them back double. Mel doesn't throw tantrums, but he is still busy switching from night to day shifts. We can never keep on top of his schedule, and that was especially difficult when my mother was staying with us last year. I needed help. I needed a clone, another me to get everything done that had to be done and see to it that Mom was well cared for.

Enter Bonnie, who was looking for a job. I found out she was looking for jobs in a small city with no job openings, especially not good enough for her qualifications. I asked her to take on the job of helping me. She could be my assistant, help me care for Mom as I tried to focus on writing. The decision for both of us was a gift from God. We'd known each other for 37 years, so there was already trust established. Bonnie did anything I asked. She spent lots of time with Mom to keep her occupied as Mom's dementia worsened and sundowner's caused everyone trouble.

Mom passed on to heaven this year, and since all her sisters went ahead of her, I'm sure she's still enjoying a family reunion. But after the funeral, after family returned home. Mel and I decided to keep Bonnie. She became my personal assistant in my writing job. She's read nearly all our Hannah Alexander novels and written honest reviews of them--and get this, they didn't all earn five star ratings. She speaks her mind, tells me to stop scratching my head and stop fiddling with this mole on my arm. She shows me how to decorate. It all goes in one ear and out the other, but Bonnie will soon have a wonderful chance to decorate a new clinic for Mel. She'll not only be my assistant, she'll be the decorator of the clinic, and then she'll be office manager at the clinic, because that's what she does with my real estate here at the house, plus our household accounting. She's a treasure. I think Mel and I will be fighting to see who gets her back, but we'll try to share nicely and not overwork her.

Have you ever dreamed of having someone come into your house first thing in the morning and clean your dishes from the night before, do laundry, never invade your private space, and yet talk to you as an equal, not someone of a different class. Someone who shares your faith in Christ, and therefore can remind you when you're down that God has it under control?

Can you imagine the joy of having someone help you as you help them? Many can't afford full-time assistance, but it's good for me to know that Mel and I are helping Bonnie stay in her home, and she deserves it, because she saved my life. What I was going through with Mom knocked my feet out from under me. I'm still reeling from it, getting sick constantly--right now I have a very painful form of strep. But even when Mel's at work, I can hide in my home and heal while Bonnie takes the load off my back shopping for groceries, getting the car taken care of, drawing up plans for the new clinic.

I highly advise it. Don't take on a job that's too big for you without getting someone to help. It can forge lifelong friendships and enlarge your family with good people.

Hannah Alexander

Posted to the blog: A Girls Write Out on Friday, August 10, 2012

The AWE Moment

I had an "awe" moment today in the grocery store. A couple had brought their tiny baby shopping with them, and the daddy held her. I never got a good look at her because it always seemed busy around them. My assistant, Bonnie, was shopping with me, and she couldn't get a good look at her, either. It wasn't that busy in the store, because we were able to get to a checker right away. We didn't have any trouble getting to the items we needed--how many people shop for special diet cat food and distilled water? Still, we just got tiny glimpses of the baby.

It wasn't until I was through the checkout line and unable to get further that I realized a handsome, tough looking elderly man was stopped in front of me with the most tender and loving look on his face. He was tall enough to see over other heads to the baby, who was surrounded by at least ten people.

While I waited for him to move--I wasn't about to interrupt the joy I saw in those wise old eyes--I started watching others who entered the store. Every single person who came into view of that tiny infant was immediately caught in wonder. Many of them, like the man blocking my way, simply stopped and gawked. I had to settle for the enjoyment of watching them, and that was quite a treat.

Any of those people whose eyes lit up could have been a likable character in one of my books. Another word for that could be a "pet the dog" moment, in which a character we want our readers to care about does something that tugs at our hearts, like becoming enthralled by the sight of a tiny baby.

What enthralls you? I'm not asking whether or not you're a writer, but what moments in your life have made you stop and catch your breath in awe?

Hannah Alexander

Posted to the blog: A Girls Write Out on July 06, 2012

Hey Girls--Good Stewardship Can be Fun!!

Catalina IslandWe finally did it! Mel and I took a vacation, including sun, sand--lots of sand--beach, of course, and salt water up our noses and other orifices, sand in our ears, lots of screaming and laughter and hideous pictures of me that I can't convince Mel to delete from his underwater camera. It was an absolute delight hitting those waves every evening after the sun had lost most of its power.

Here's where the stewardship comes in, though: we didn't plan the way we should have. I mean, I love to drive to our destination, especially when we're not too far away. I hate flying. But when you have ten days to enjoy yourself and relax into a different frame of mind, don't you think you would want to spend as much time as possible at the beach, which is your main destination? But no, not me. I hate to fly, and I was positive we could drive at my usual speed and reach our chosen beach in a day and a half. It took three days. I thought we could at least gain an hour going back, especially since we took the main interstate highways back home. No. Our trip to the beach took three days. We had four full days of hitting the waves and laughing and cuddling in our warm room at night, eating out, sharing with a friend who spent the night. Then we had three days to travel back--just in time for Mel to change into his scrubs and hit the ER doors.

What is wrong with this picture? Just because I hate flying, does that give me the right to deprive Mel of still more days on the beach? No, it does not. So on our next vacation, if Mel's employer agrees, we're taking ten days and we're flying. There's a place we've never been to on Myrtle Beach, and it's a part of our timeshare, right there on the beach. I'm looking up flight info now. No more of this depriving my man of more time on the surf, rescuing me as the waves catch me and roll me over and over until I can't catch a breath and don't know which way is up. I'm sure Mel enjoys proving his masculine strength and he-man nature at times like this, when he can show his love for his wife by rescuing her over and over and over again. And I can show my love for him by slathering him with sunblock when he goes snorkeling.

Ah...the beach. Vacation. Wise use of time. We're going to have it all next time. I don't suppose anyone has any super traveling tricks that will help us be more efficient in our packing and traveling next time...?

Hannah Alexander

Posted to the blog: A Girls Write Out on Friday, June 01, 2012


Hey Girls--Dream ON!

CatalinaOne of my dreams has always been to go to the island of Catalina, but I'm not talking about that kind of dream here. I'm talking about an honest to goodness REM sleep dream in which freaky things happen and leave you confused, weirded out or just plain frightened for days afterward. Have you had dreams like that?

I had one like that last night. It was actually set in a place like one of the houses pictured above. Mel and I were moving into a different house (in the dream), but the people who had lived there left their furniture, and it was old and dusty and ugly, and the people weren't even gone yet. One might gain some insight into what's going on in our lives just by knowing that much. So why am I confused? Yes, we're having some major life changes, and being one of those creative types, I tend to make whole ranges of mountains out of anthills. So I've thought about this dream all day. It seemed to me that there were some interesting possibilities for interpreting this dream, but I'm not getting much out of it. Care to take a stab at it? Moving new furniture into a house that already has furniture, making room for sleeping comfortably and in privacy, taking the bedroom out of the living room...that kind of thing.

And how about you? Do you have a particular dream that recurs and confuses you? Oh! Oh! I have a great dream every so often in which I realize that I'm dreaming, and that I have the ability to make myself fly. I love those dreams! Anything to share? And if you would like to try to give me a hint about why my dream was so weird, give it a try. I'd love to hear it!

Hannah Alexander

Posted to the blog: A Girls Write Out on Friday, May 11, 2012


Hey Girls--Vacation Plans, Anyone?

The BeachMel and I have been told by most of our friends that we need to take a vacation. I think that sounds like a wonderful idea and would have made plans long ago if I'd had any idea about where and when. We still aren't sure. I'd love to go to the beach--and to me that means the east or west coast, preferably the west, since I was born there and have a lot of family up and down the coastline. It all depends on time. We simply won't have enough time to drive to California in the short time we're being allotted.

Right now we're trying to save as much money as possible, so flying is out. Besides, I hate flying. I think, instead, what we'll do is take a slow vacation.

To me, a slow vacation means packing a couple of bags and hopping into the car, taking a two-lane road and looking for beauty along the way. When there's no destination in mind, every turn in the road reveals something new and interesting. When we're not in a rush, we can stop when we see a pretty stream and jump out of the car to explore, even wade and splash each other if we want to.

To me, a slow vacation means putting a cd of an audio book into the player and listening to a favorite author. It means stopping whenever we see a neat place to stay, using our AAA card for a discount, and turning in early if we wish.

I love I-40 west, and there have often been places we've passed up in our rush to "get there." I'd like to find the old Route 66 my parents used to drive to get back and forth from our home in California to their hometown in eastern Missouri. Since I'm writing some historicals now, driving west into Kansas and beyond might be good research for our next novel. And then there's always been this wide open space in New Mexico where we drove for miles and miles without ever seeing another car.

Another thing I love to do is find a pretty, small town and walk around exploring it for ideas for a new series.

Right now, I just can't decide. I could use some help. Have you seen any beautiful places you'd like to share with us? Where to you like to go on vacation when funds are tight and you just need to be calm and rest for awhile? We could use some help.

Labels: destinations, family vacations, summer fun

Hannah Alexander

Posted to the blog: A Girls Write Out on Friday, March 23, 2012


Hey Girls--Kick up Your Heels!
Women at tableOne of my favorite things to do, next to spending time with Mel playing gross-out to see who can watch the bloodiest episode of NCIS or Bones and maintain an appetite, is to spend time with girlfriends.

There hasn't been a lot of time for that lately. I did get to see my girlfriends from high school, who came to Mom's funeral, but we usually like to spend more time together than that, hence this picture of some of us blowing off steam on a recent retreat.

This week, however, Mel and Bonnie, our assistant, and I were told by the grief counselor that we needed to take some time away and just play. Well, I've had God tell me that same thing on a talk on one of my hikes in the past, but the words sounded strange coming from a real, live therapist who was once a minister. So on Monday he advised Mel and me to take the rest of the afternoon off and go to Joplin to Red Lobster. Since king crab is our favorite food, and safe on our gluten free diets, we did as we were told, leaving Bonnie at home to type one of our next projects. Poor Bonnie.

The food was great, since we both love crab legs, and we relaxed as we took our time driving back home to check on Mom's gravesite. It's beautiful out there in the middle of the country, serenaded by milk cows, and we held a serious discussion about what next in our lives. Mel had promised to live where we are as long as Mom was alive. He could now choose where he wanted to go, what hospital he wanted to work in, what kind of job he might be interested in.

Yesterday, Mel had to work, so Bonnie and I decided it was her turn to take a trip with me to Springfield, eat at Outback, shop for shoes (she needed a new pair) and just have some fun. No one warned me before we went that Bonnie is a shoe freak. Even Bonnie didn't warn me until we reached Sears and I saw the gleam in her eye at the 1/2 price sale signs all over the place in the shoe department. She had five pairs tried on and replaced before I could even figure out what she was looking for. I can tell you this for sure: her taste in shoes is the exact opposite of mine.

I go for hiking boots and Birkenstocks--one pair of which I did find at deep discount in Dillards. I salivated so heavily that by the time I made up my mind about them. they were so slobbered on I no longer wanted them. Besides, they were pea green. Yes, the same color as the shoes Bonnie had just purchased and loved, but her coloring matched that color of green. Mine definitely does not. I have to return to Springfield next week with Bonnie to have one of "those" follow-up check-ups where parts of your anatomy is hideously abused, and you have to take narcotics to bear the pain. I figure the shoe sales will still be on, and we missed at least one shoe store on the mall. I have a feeling I may go back and check on that one pair of green Birks that I might be able to dye when I get them back home.

But speaking as someone who isn't a shoe freak, I can still admire from afar the sparkling, high-heeled monstrosities of ankle-breaking seduction that has obviously drawn many a woman into crutches much too early in her life. The last time I wore high heels was when the heel broke on my right shoe. I twisted and fell on my face in the gravel, and was sure I was scarred for life. When it turned out I had jumped to conclusions I decided I wouldn't take that chance again. Now I love flats. Cute sandals with darling rows of straps and chains around the ankle. Oh, my. So may shoes, so little time!

How about you? Do you have a shoe preference? If so, is it modest and comfy, or would you be willing to suffer agony to wear a beautiful pair of high heeled shoes with gold sparkles and straps and even glitter on the soles of the shoes? How far are you willing to make sure your feet are beautifully adorned?

Labels: boots or slinky heels?, Girl fun, Shoe sales, Shoe shopping

Hannah Alexander

Posted to the blog: A Girls Write Out on Thursday, March 15, 2012


What I Discovered in the Laundry Room

Sunset Nov 99, by Eugene Arthur PattersonColleen mentioned this week in her blog that my mother passed away two weeks ago. Caring for Mom in her illness has kept me focused on her for quite some time, and I've done little more. Hence, I've written few blogs to some of my favorite blog girls. I've missed y'all.

Though I'm an only child with no children of my own (except for my wonderful stepsons) I was surrounded by family from before the night Mom passed away and for a whole week afterward. Our house was packed, and those days I would otherwise have spent in grief recalling the awful last days of Mom's life, I spent instead with Mel, and cousins and my uncle and close friends keeping food in my mouth whether I wanted it or not, keeping me active and distracted, even taking me to get a massage.

The day after everyone left was the first time I had alone, and I cried all afternoon, despite the fact that Mom was a staunch believer, and I knew she was forever out of pain. I could close my eyes and see Mom's face, eyes open wide in fear when she didn't know what was happening to her in her demented state. The memories of Mom's suffering were like a haunting I could not shake, and I walked around the house devastated, sat on her bed and sobbed.

But then I received an email from yet another cousin, who is a missionary in China. She'd been trying to reach me for several days, but their systems don't always work where she lives. She'd had a dream the night before Mom died, in which she saw Mom in the arms of Jesus. Her words brushed away those awful memories that had haunted me. I don't even have to close my eyes to see that picture in my mind. Yet another cousin to the rescue. Have I mentioned that I love my cousins? So now I can attend grief counseling for six weeks and learn how to do this right--if there's really a right way to do it.

Last night I was alone again while Mel worked a late shift. I went down to the basement laundry room to check on his scrubs, and my attention caught on the row of Mom's clothing we'd hung there because we had run out of room in her small closet upstairs. For the first time, I didn't feel pain at the sight of something that reminded me of Mom. In fact, I smiled. I walked over to the first shirt and caressed it. Mom had no more use for these clothes because she is now dressed in her heavenly clothing, and she's in the arms of Jesus. There is sadness and pain in suffering, and there is a sense of loss when someone you love is no longer with you. But in truth, there is great joy with the realization that the one you love is with Christ in heaven, never again to be confused or frightened, never again to suffer pain.

Labels: Eugene Patterson photo, grief counseling, sunsets

Hannah Alexander

Posted to the blog: A Girls Write Out on Friday, March 09, 2012


Hey Girls--How do You Compete?

ElkI'll tell you right now, I hate competing, especially if the competition is against a friend I wouldn't want to hurt. And that's not to say I'd win any competition. Some, of course, are a no-brainer. I could eat my weight in maraschino cherries, and Mel can't stand them, so I'd win that contest without even a showdown.

My mother has a caretaker, Bonnie, who comes to our home every day to help us with Mom. I discovered a sad part of her character the other day--she loves sour balls, sour suckers, sour teas. That's not so bad, I don't suppose. We all have our weaknesses. I'm champion maraschino cherry eater (and cherry seed spitter, but that's a more romantic story about how I won Mel over during our courtship.) But when my husband AND Mom's caretaker compete against one another to see who can suck on a sour sucker the longest without making a face, I can't help wondering what this world has come to.

My favorite source of food competition is hot stuff. Not only hot Mexican sauces of some kind, but horseradish or wasabi sauce that can take the skull right off the top of your head and set it back in place backward.

You can take your ball games and your races and your speed writing. Give me a good ol' eating contest any day until the smoke is catching your hair on fire or your jaw is splitting from the tartness of a cherry sucker.

What's your pleasure when it comes to food competition?
Labels: Competition, men or women?, photos by Eugene Arthur Patterson, Who's better

Hannah Alexander

Posted to the blog: A Girls Write Out on Friday, January 20, 2012


Hey Girls--Don't Laugh, This is ME!
BearLook more closely. This little cutie isn't a bear. At least, I don't think it is. I think this is a sloth, and that's what I've been this month.

Typically, I rush around buying presents, buying the bags to shove them into--I haven't wrapped packages in twenty years--and even sent cards to those who sent cards to me. Due to social expectations, I made dinner, set the table, had Mel put up the tree, starting late so our company could help him finish it. So he's a sloth, too. Sue him.

Then one year we had deep snow on Christmas day. Christmas, of course, wasn't called off. In fact, the silence and peace of that day, when everyone stayed home to ponder Christ's birth in a new way, was a huge blessing to me. No one to complain because I didn't get all the meat off the turkey bone, didn't make the dressing moist enough, forgot to take the giblets out of the turkey before I placed it all, totally frozen, into the oven to bake. No one snooping through drawers in the kitchen and finding private-very private-notes I sent with Mel's lunches. Ahhh...it was pure peace.

I realize it may have been considered an insult for the innkeeper to send Joseph and Mary out to the barn, but I can imagine having the warm body of my own donkey and no noise besides a sheep bleating every so often must have been more relaxing than an inn full of people complaining about their taxes. But who am I to say? I wasn't there. I do believe it started a precedent, though, because Jesus often retreated to the wilderness when the crowds pressed too closely, wise Savior that He was. I've followed His example as often as I could. It's my favorite.

The Mexicans have a special day, January 6, when they believe the wise men visited Jesus with gifts. Since my stepson's wife, a beautiful and intelligent Mexican woman, is due to have her baby any time, they are hoping the little boy will be born on January 6 to receive a special blessing. I do know seeing that little darling--as well as my stepson, Jason, his wife Kenia, and Jason's mother, Linda--will be a special blessing for me this year.

Until I can get out there, however, I will be hiding out here at home, not attending parties or dinners or exchanging gifts, just spending special time with Mel and my mother and writing and being thankful for the special peace God has given us this Christmas.

If you had your druthers, what would your perfect Christmas be next year--what is peace to you?
Labels: next year's Christmas peace, peaceful barn. Being slothful., Perfect peace, photos by Eugene Arthur Patterson

Hannah Alexander

Posted to the blog: A Girls Write Out on Friday, December 30, 2011
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Hey Girls--How About That Baby Seal?
SealIt seems that nearly half the world was recently charmed by the photo of a baby seal in New Zealand who slipped in through the cat door and took a nap on someone's sofa. I suppose it's against the law to attempt to keep such an animal for a pet, but I'd be tempted. I wonder if they can be housebroken. Litterbox trained, perhaps? I figure if a seal at the zoo can be trained to balance a stemware glass on her nose, she can be trained to use proper facilities.

Animals fascinate me, sometimes too much for my fellow GWO bloggers. I distinctly remember Kristin's reaction when I posted a picture of a darling little armadillo snuggling against my hiking boot. And Colleen refused to even read one of my posts until I removed the picture of the spider and replaced it with something more innocuous. In fact, she screamed at me online. Honestly, Colleen, I didn't know you were terrified of spiders!

I pretty much overcame my fear of them the day a spider dropped down from the ceiling via web over the bed when Mel and I were retiring for the evening. I screamed at Mel that if that thing made it into the bedding we'd be sleeping on the floor that night, so I jumped up onto the bed and grabbed at the web far above the spider, and started pulling it back up. Mel, meanwhile, panicking as usual when it comes to spiders, ran toward the door--I thought to grab some paper towels to catch the thing. Instead, he turned out all the lights. With me standing on the bed with a spider hanging somewhere between my bare fingers and the bed. Mel, deafened by my screams, turned the lights back on and raced back to the bed with his handy dandy bug zapper. We searched half the night for that spider and never did find it. The next night, when Mel was getting comfortable in bed, I picked up a piece of black, spider-shaped lint and tossed it at him. I'm a mean, vindictive wife.

So, now that we've discussed cute, unusual pets, and even though I'm almost positive we've discussed them before but have forgotten, care to share about any unusual pets you've enjoyed, or funny, maybe even scary, stories about them?

Labels: Baby seal, Cute animals, Eugene Patterson photos, trained seals

Hannah Alexander

Posted to the blog: A Girls Write Out on Thursday, December 15, 2011
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Hey Girls--Do You Have the Gift of Giving?
Cheryl and Mel HoddeI have two words for you today. Love offering. I'd like to explore the meaning of that phrase--not just those two words separately, but what those two words mean when they're put together.

First of all, I apologize if, being Southern Baptist, I'm talking about a phrase some of you may not recognize. Perhaps in your church you use a different name for it.

In my church I have always been led to believe that a love offering is something that is given in secret through the church to someone else in the church who is in financial need. That's supposed to be secret. I mean, as in--you never tell that person you gave that money to them, and no one else is supposed to tell them, either. It's a gift of love, of compassion, something from the heart that only God--and a trusted person from the church--ever sees coming from your hand. Then when the giver arrives in heaven, God Himself will reward the giver openly.

I've seen so many people crave praise from the masses and never consider the passages in the Bible that tell us to give in secret. To me, that's what a love offering is all about. Give privately, in secret, without expectation of praise or recognition or repayment of any kind. Do good to others NOT so they will return that goodness, but simply for the joy of doing good. Let God do the rewarding later, when it will mean so much more than any praise here on earth. Don't keep score. Let God keep score.

Am I preaching today? Hmm. Maybe a little. Because this is the season for gift giving, and often there are so many hidden meanings hidden inside the gifts given. Some people give expensive gifts out of pure love, while others give the largest gifts in order to seek approval from the receiver. Others go into debt to give gifts because they feel they have to keep up with the other set of grandparents or friends. Perhaps giving a gift, for some, is simply seeking love instead of sharing it.

I remember many years ago a man in a former church went blind. Another member, out of love for that man, purchased a Bible on audio tape and trusted another member to pass it on to the blind man, making the member promise to never tell who it came from. Unfortunately, the compassionate member chose the wrong person to keep the secret, and the blind man found out who gave him the gift. He told everyone in the church, and everyone in the church praised this compassionate member who had wanted to badly to remain anonymous. Some of the joy was taken from the giving member.

A love offering is not a loan. It isn't a loud, magnanimous act for public display. In my opinion it's meant to be an act of simple love, spoken privately into your ear by God. It isn't a way to hold sway over the person who receives the gift because, remember, that person should never know who has given the gift. You know why? Because that money was never ours to begin with. It all belongs to God. When God speaks to us and tells us to give a love offering to another church member--a brother or sister in Christ, or a family in need--God is directing you, His steward, where to deliver a portion of His money. So let go of something that belongs to God in the first place. Don't expect it to return to you. Then someday when you're facing God in heaven, you may hear Him say to you, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant."

Some of us are gifted with the spiritual gift of giving. Others have different gifts. I'm curious about how easy it is for those of you gifted with the gift of giving to keep that giving secret even from the recipient. If you haven't done that yet, I urge you to try it this year, and see what a reward you will have simply with the act of anonymous giving.

Labels: Giving, keeping secrets, love offerings, secrets

Hannah Alexander

Posted to the blog: A Girls Write Out on Friday, December 1, 2011
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Hey Girls--Do You Need a Lift?
SunriseI love sunrises. Unfortunately, one reason for this is because they're so rare for me. I see sunsets much more often.

For me, a sunrise is a fresh beginning on a new opportunity to do things right that I may have missed the day before. It's funny that New Years Day doesn't do the same for me, but sunrises are rarer, even, than New Years. I get up at about ten, go to bed well after midnight, often as late as 2:00, because that is the best time to focus on writing. That, plus my poor mother having trouble sleeping at night, keeps me going into the early morning hours. That is why I love a sunset.

They can lift me in ways nothing else can. They hold promise, and such beauty. Recently I discovered a way to give myself a lift despite the lack of sunrises in my life. I surprise myself by recalling something I actually like about myself. Most of us have a bad habit of putting ourselves down and counting our faults. We can so easily keep track of our mistakes during the day. I have that tendency. But what if we were to focus on something we've done right recently?Did you allow someone to pull in front of you in traffic without muttering or honking the horn?

Have you ever smiled at someone and cheered them up? Have you helped someone out of a tough spot? Have you felt your heart go tender for someone whose heart was breaking? Think about it. Are you a kind person, do you have qualities that you appreciate in others? Do you have a creative personality?

Give yourself a sunrise today, lift yourself up. Look for the good in yourself, and not those things that the devil seems to love to whisper into your ear at every opportunity. Focus on the good in yourself, and that is the direction your heart will lean.

And then share here. I'd love to know what good things you are thinking about yourself today.

Labels: Eugene Arthur Patterson photography, helping others, losing ourselves in helping, Sunrise, relaxing

Hannah Alexander

Posted to the blog: A Girls Write Out on Friday, November 04, 2011

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Blowing Bubbles- Mel, Rich and CherylHey Girls--Share Your Memories
I'm sure you can tell by the facial hair on these three people that there aren't children in this picture. I hope you can see from the bubbles that Mel and Rich and I were having fun like children when Lissa took the shot. I'm here to remind you, once again, to take time to have fun and play no matter your age or circumstances. Laughter relieves stress. I particularly love laughing at myself, but today I'd love to laugh along with you.

Let me give you some examples:
When I was about three or four years old my cousins came to see me. Their mother was there, too, but I mostly played with my cousins. They were boys. I had a little fire engine with pedals. In an effort to impress my cousins, I jumped into my fire engine and pedaled hard down the sidewalk, mouth open wide as I screamed the siren song. Unfortunately, I choked on a fly.

When I was four we lived in a duplex on a busy street in Ventura, California. It was a long time ago, back when people didn't lock their doors as often as they do now. I overheard my parents talking about a poor little baby who lived next door. My imagination took over, even that long ago, and I decided that little baby needed to be rescued from his mean parents, and I was going to be the rescuer. So I waited outside on the front porch and peered through their screen door until I saw the baby crawling alone on the floor. I pulled open the screen door, raced into our neighbor's front room, grabbed the baby, turned back to run with the baby, and fell on him. He wasn't hurt, but can you imagine how my parents must have felt when I explained to the neighbors why I did what I did?

When I was in fourth grade I was still impulsive, and there were times when that impulsivity earned me public humiliation. I liked a guy in my class named Willy. I wasn't madly in love with him or anything, I just liked him. I was walking past his desk one day when, for no reason I could afterwards fathom, I leaned over, patted him on the cheek, asked how he was doing, and kissed him on the cheek. Willy turned red and ducked. The whole class, including the teacher, burst into laughter.

How about you? Have you ever done anything that your friends will never let you live down? Did you ever do anything so crazy and impulsive that you wonder if some UFO took over your mind for a few minutes one day? What's your most embarrassing moment? Think about your childhood today, and even if you don't come up with anything wildly memorable, I bet you'll have some fun reliving times from the past.

Labels: blowing bubbles, Childhood memories, girls having fun, Playing, relaxing

Hannah Alexander

Posted to the blog: A Girls Write Out on Friday, October 28, 2011

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Hey Girls--Let's Herd Those Details!
Cat and MiceWhat on earth can this cat be thinking? Cats eat small animals. They are carnivores. My cats would have been fighting over these little darlings and had them swallowed in one gulp. Do you suppose this cat has already had a full meal?

Do you ever feel like this poor, patient cat? Do the tiny, often appealing, details distract you from your plans for the day? You need to get a couple of loads of laundry washed and dried and ready for three different people tomorrow, but first you need to eat breakfast, but first you see a dustball in the corner and even though no one else in the family will ever notice it, someone may stop by, and then what would they say? But then of course the window in the front door needs to be washed, as well, and you need to check the porch to make sure the neighbor's little boy didn't leave his skateboard on the steps again, or dear hubby could end up back in the ER.

So you but-first your way through the day until that laundry never got done, you didn't get to the pharmacy to pick up the refill before they closed, and you have nothing in mind for dinner tonight. Your front window looks great, and the dustballs are gone, but nobody ever comes to your house to visit, anyway. What were you thinking?

Please tell me I'm not the only one with the but-first syndrome. Please? I know the distractions are appealing, but really, I don't need them. I need to NOT have them. Girls, what do you do about them? Any thoughts? Or can you commiserate?

Labels: cat and mice, funny picture, patience, scattered thoughts

Hannah Alexander

Posted to the blog: A Girls Write Out on Friday, October 14, 2011

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Hey Girls--Try Something New!
Cheryl Hodde/Hannah AlexanderI'm sure I've said this before, but I love to color my hair. It began when I wanted to go blond with all the other girls in my high school freshman class, but I get bored easily, so after I tired of blond I went red, then green--yes, that was an accident by a hair stylist. My hair is accidentally red in the picture here, but I kind of like it.

I found out, however, that since I'm going silver now, I might as well follow that natural change, so my hair stylist really hit the light blond. Yeah, really natural, huh? Then she went on maternity leave. Because I learned the hard way that I should never cut my own hair ever, ever again, I'm actually waiting until she returns before I get a cut, so now it's grown past my shoulders. The other day I was walking down the sidewalk in town and turned to see some young punk hanging out his window gawking at me. He probably wet himself after he saw my fifty-something face, but I was too busy laughing to notice. What is it about men and blond hair? Brother.

Mel is accustomed to my changes, but I knew I'd taken things a little too far one day when I went to meet him for lunch immediately after my stylist appointment, and he walked right past me in his search for me. Didn't even look my way. And I thought I looked pretty good. So I keep trying. Maybe someday I'll catch his attention.

So that's what I like to change a lot, as well as style of glasses, clothes, makeup, as most of you probably already know. But I'd love to know about you. How many colors and styles has your hair been in, say, the past five years? What's your clothing style? How do you dress up for a night on the town? Have you ever thought about making a quick change? Getting a new kind of trim? Cutting your hair short or letting grow out longer than usual? Getting a mohawk or a bowl cut? Have you ever gone to a hair studio where they actually match your bone structure and hair type to the right hair cut?

And speaking of changing hair styles, our Diann wins the award for changes and bravery. Please continue to pray for her.

Labels: Hair change, Having fun, trying new things

Hannah Alexander

Posted to the blog: A Girls Write Out on Thursday, September 23, 2011
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Hannah Alexander

How long has it been since you had a vacation? How often have you worked through your vacation instead of taking a break? Have you felt guilty about taking the time off? I know I do. Why is it we feel guilty for doing anything for ourselves? Do we think God disapproves?Bear Track

I have to admit, I’m not good at taking breaks. Few of us are. A couple of years ago,however, I went on a forced Sabbatical that lasted for two years, and though I continued to write on different projects during that time, I also did a lot more reading than I’d been able to do previously. Mel–my husband, and the other half of our Hannah Alexander writing team–just happened to find a few days off from work, and we took a quick trip to Tahoe, where we hiked around deep forest lakes, explored small towns, took pictures of bears and huge bear tracks while trying not to wet ourselves, and wet our feet, instead, by wading in the cold waters of Lake Tahoe.

As we learned to relax for those few days, we battled guilt by reminding ourselves that Jesus, Himself, took time away from the crowds in the wilderness, where He communed with His Father in silence and peace.

That’s why I love hiking. I feel the sun on my face and know that little bit of warmth was meant for me. I hear the rustle of the leaves in the trees and hear music of angels. I catch the scent of clover and see deer or wild turkey skittering at the edge of the woods, and feel that God meant those moments for me. No one else is there but His creation and me. What a beautiful experience.

You may love walking along the beach, as I do, playing in the waves. You may love skiing, or snorkeling, or taking a cruise. What is it you most love to do? I urge you to find time soon to do it. Relax and enjoy. Push work and deadlines and stress from you for a time of peace and communion with God. For me, that’ss what it’s all about.

Originally posted on http://christiansread.wordpress.com/2011/09/20/you-need-a-break/

September 20, 2011, By Hannah Alexander