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 didnt 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 happena
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
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, didnt
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. Shed 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. Shed had two prayersone 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 its the
contrast between pain and relief that makes the miracles more
obvious. Im 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 Samaritans 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 Samaritans Purse are
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
By Hannah Alexander, May 21, 2013 on Christians Read
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
Posted to the blog: A
Girls Write Out on Friday, April 26, 2013
Tornadoes and Cats (by Hannah Alexander)
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
Posted to the blog: A
Girls Write Out on Friday, April 19, 2013
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
Posted to the blog: A
Girls Write Out on Friday, April 12, 2013
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
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
Posted to the blog: A
Girls Write Out on Thursday, March 07, 2013
Are You in Pain?
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
"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
"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,
"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
"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
"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.
Posted to the blog: A
Girls Write Out on Friday, February 15, 2013
Have You Crashed Lately?
in Southwest Missouri we are prone to tornadoes, and though
there is a specific season for that, weve 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. Its a huge
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 Id hoped. No tornadoes
this timenot yet, anywaybut 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 placeperhaps with
a different providerso this doesnt 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 cant
afford to let his people down.
I read another blog today that
impacted me, as well. I know we cant live our lives
in fear of attack, but do you take precautions when youre
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 systemany
kind of systemfails 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
Dont Fence Me In
always been a bit of a rebel, and Ive never understood
why. It isnt that I dont 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 Im
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 thats 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
personSeat of The Pantseven though I dont
typically write that way. Right now Im baking a gluten-free,
low carb blueberry-peach cobbler. I have no idea what itll
taste like, because I didnt 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, Ive been disappointed. At times, Ive been
lost (more times than Id like to recall).Often, however,
Ive found new vistas Id never dreamed were there,
encountered fresh valleys, wild animals, trickling brooks
of pure beauty I wouldnt otherwise have seen.
Our pictured river, after all, originally made its own way
through the mountains, following the path of least resistance.
Im sure the formation of the banks changed over the
years, and its 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 Ive matured
Ive 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
By Hannah Alexander, JANUARY
22, 2013 on Christian
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
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?
Posted to the blog: A
Girls Write Out on Thursday, January 10, 2013
Hey Girls--Enjoy the Journey
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?
to the blog: A
Girls Write Out on Friday, September 28, 2012
Hey Single Girls--You Rock!
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
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 choicefrom ER to private practice.
We stayed at the resort where the conference was held at Lake
Tahoeone of the most beautiful places in the world,
in my opinion. Our stay there was perfect, and Mel learned
more than hed ever expected to learn. Hes 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 wouldnt
have gone. I was struggling with strep throat, was taking
antibioticstherefore wasnt contagiousand
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. Thats not like him. I
didnt 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 didnt think to ask Him to help me
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, theres a weather problem at our
destination, so well have to just sit here awhile until
were given the go-ahead. We were assured that
we would be there in time to catch the next flight in our
layoverthat they would wait for us. We werent.
They didnt. 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 were
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 couldnt
help hearing me sigh and grumble under my breath. Funny, I
didnt 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 mothers
death this past winter, and grief still held methe reason
Ive been sick for so many months. I couldnt 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 didnt 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 Valleyhazelnut and
vanilla combined with pinebegan its 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 didnt
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 didnt 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. Im so glad we didnt
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 dont 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?
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
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.
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?
to the blog: A
Girls Write Out on July 06, 2012
Hey Girls--Good Stewardship Can be Fun!!
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
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...?
to the blog: A
Girls Write Out on Friday, June 01, 2012
Hey Girls--Dream ON!
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
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!
to the blog: A
Girls Write Out on Friday, May 11, 2012
Hey Girls--Vacation Plans, Anyone?
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
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
to the blog: A
Girls Write Out on Friday, March 23, 2012
Hey Girls--Kick up Your Heels!
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
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
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
to the blog: A
Girls Write Out on Thursday, March 15, 2012
What I Discovered in the Laundry Room
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,
to the blog: A
Girls Write Out on Friday, March 09, 2012
Hey Girls--How do You Compete?
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
to the blog: A
Girls Write Out on Friday, January 20, 2012
Hey Girls--Don't Laugh, This
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
to the blog: A
Girls Write Out on Friday, December 30, 2011
Come, Check Us Out
Hey Girls--How About That Baby
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
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
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
to the blog: A
Girls Write Out on Thursday, December 15, 2011
Come, Check Us Out
Hey Girls--Do You Have the Gift
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
Labels: Giving, keeping secrets, love offerings, secrets
to the blog: A
Girls Write Out on Friday, December 1, 2011
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You Need a Lift?
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,
to the blog: A
Girls Write Out on Friday, November 04, 2011
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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
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
Labels: blowing bubbles, Childhood memories, girls having
fun, Playing, relaxing
to the blog: A
Girls Write Out on Friday, October 28, 2011
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Hey Girls--Let's Herd Those
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
Posted to the blog: A
Girls Write Out on Friday, October 14, 2011
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Hey Girls--Try Something New!
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
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
Posted to the blog: A
Girls Write Out on Thursday, September 23, 2011
Come, Check Us Out
YOU NEED A BREAK
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?
I have to admit, Im 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 Id been able
to do previously. Melmy husband, and the other half
of our Hannah Alexander writing teamjust 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.
Thats 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, thatss what its
Originally posted on http://christiansread.wordpress.com/2011/09/20/you-need-a-break/
September 20, 2011, By Hannah