A Moment to Bask in the Joy

A couple of weeks ago three boxes of the Double Cousins and the Mystery of the Sod Schoolhouse showed up on my porch. It was an exciting day, very exciting!

But, the excitement was tempered by the fact that I was still recovering from recent foot surgery. Now, however, my mind is kicking into gear and I’m ready to get excited about this. But, I’m a little befuddled.

After all, how on earth did I go from this: 

To this?

I’m not kidding. The realization that I’ve written an entire mystery series—“kind of like Trixie Belden Mysteries, only Christian”, my lifelong dream—has me experiencing a bit of disbelief.

One day, when I was fretting about the fact that I needed to get cracking on marketing for this book, a good friend said this: “Maybe you should just take a moment and bask in the realization that you wrote an entire series.”

Indeed.

So, this morning my husband moved the three boxes of books off of the piano bench and into the guest bedroom so we could take the above photo. And I basked a little as I stood there gazing at the books.

The first book was a dream, something I honestly never thought I would finish. After all, I had a lot of dreams which I never completed.

But God.

God wouldn’t let me give up on this one. He used nieces, nephews, grandparents, writer friends, cousins, and my husband to push me ahead. And miracle of miracles, I finished it and we published it, just in time for Grandma Jones to see it before she went to heaven in 2009.

Grandma and me with the book!

By then, I realized that I would have to write another book about Max and Carly. And another. And so it happened. But getting to my goal of seven? Not sure I really saw it happening. But, idea by idea, book by book, and word by word I kept going. And here I am eleven years later with a completed series.

The Double Cousins Mystery Series.

I’ve been reading a lot while recovering from surgery. I think I’ll pick up this series and read it from beginning to end. After all, it won’t hurt to bask a little more in what God helped me do.

 

The Double Cousins Mysteries are all available through the usual sources. To order directly from the author email me at miriamjonesbradley@gmail.com

Why We Will Never Be Minimalists

 

   Three weeks ago I had foot surgery to repair a failed tendon and the damage it had done. I was ready. I’ve worn a brace for six years, so it was time.

   But, surgery is never fun and often inconvenient. After all, six weeks of non-weight bearing and a twelve week recovery wasn’t my idea of a normal fall season.

   Fortunately I have an extremely helpful and resourceful husband. “I’ll have to get that old footstool up from the basement and fix it so you can use it,” he said. I was delighted. We both pictured the small stool we knew was “somewhere” and smiled in delight that it would be used.

   But, when he went looking he didn’t find it. Instead he found another one which I think is actually a better size and didn’t need repaired. So, I started using it.

   I use it in front of my pink rocking chair in the bedroom where I’m currently sitting. I use it under the table, so I can sit and work on my computer or work puzzles without having my foot down the whole time. It has been quite a useful little stool.

   Then my husband asked this. “Do you know where I got this stool?”

   My story radar went off. I love a good story and I wasn’t disappointed. It turns out that when Bruce was in graduate school “umptyjillian years ago”, as he likes to say, he found a wooden box in the lab that was to be thrown away. He took it home. Then he found a piece of foam which he added to the stash, and finally a scrap of brown and tan material. He had all the makings of a stool, except for the castors, which he bought. Now, he just had to put it together.

   “Kay’s dad made it for me,” he continued. Kay was his neighbor and Bruce has been life-long friends with Kay and her late-husband Robin.

   “Really!” I exclaimed.

   “Yep. He asked me what that was all for and I told him. He took it home and brought the footstool back to me.”

   I looked under the table at the ragged old footstool and smiled. A great story, indeed. But Bruce wasn’t done.

   “You know, Kay’s father was a prisoner of war in WWII? And, if I remember right, he was in the Bataan Death March. He was a tough old bird.”

   So, now this rather pitiful looking old ratty footstool has a special place in my heart too.   We are story people and we are people people. And when we connect a story, a person, and an item together. . . well, it’s a very special thing.

   This, folks, is why we will never be minimalists.

This morning I called my mom and sister. But, alas, our conversation was cut short for they had a date.Turns out they were being escorted to breakfast by my oldest two nephews. When I called Mom this afternoon she reveled in their gentlemanly behavior.

A couple of days ago, I received a letter from niece number four. She shared how much she enjoyed my recent visit and expressed a desire to exchange letters with me. She wants to get to know me more.

My heart soared at these stories. Not just because it made my day to receive that letter, or it delights my mom and my sister to spend time with the nephews, but for the benefit these young adults will gain from time with their elders. You see, I know first-hand the value of time alone with other generations.

When Grandpa Jones died I ended up in Broken Bow with Grandma and her children for the two or three days before the funeral. I was the only grandchild. It was an eye-opening experience, let me tell you.

I had already been visiting my other grandparents without my parents and had experienced this phenomenon before, but it was etched forever in my heart those days in Broken Bow.  Maybe because Grandpa Jones’ death came just six weeks after my other grandparents went to heaven, but whatever the reason, it became a firm part of my psyche.

I realized then what a gift I was given. Here’s why. It is a completely different experience to visit grandparents, aunts, and uncles by yourself. You aren’t just one of a passel of grandkids. You are another adult in the room. The opportunities for deep, meaningful, life-altering conversations open up like an ocean in front of you.

I became compelled to go back every chance I had to spend time with Grandma. After all, she had so much wisdom to share and she was hilarious and interesting. And now that my grandparents are all in heaven, I do my best to spend time with aunts, uncles, and Mom.

So, yes. My heart was delighted to hear my nephews took Mom and Vonda out to breakfast today. And, I’ll be writing a letter to my niece soon.

 Tomorrow, Sunday September 13th is Grandparent’s Day! How about it? Are your grandparents or parents still living? Give them a call or stop by for a visit. Let them know how important they are and give yourself time to listen to them. You’ll most likely come away happier and a bit wiser.

So Much Green

So Much Green

I have poison ivy. Again.

I had it not three weeks ago, possibly caused by mowing the grass with culottes on. This time I was wearing a dress.

The first time, I initially thought it was mosquito bites behind my knee. But when the “bites” began spreading in a long ridgy line a voice in my head started talking, no, shouting. POISON IVY.  

When I told my husband he made a matter-of-fact statement.

You know the kind. Logical. Obvious. Really annoying if you aren’t the one making the statement.

“You’ll have to learn how to identify poison ivy.”

“But I tried,” I insisted.

And indeed I had.  One day I googled poison ivy and spent quite a bit of time reading about, and studying pictures of, poison ivy. When I finished I was confident I would be able to spot it. But, realistically, once in the great outdoors here in North Carolina there was a major obstacle and I was quick to let him know just what it was.

“There’s just so much green.” Everywhere you look. Green trees. Green grass. Green weeds. Green shrubs. Ditches full of green masses of unnamed green plants. And then there are the named ones. Like poison ivy.

He had to admit that the green seems to have exploded this year. The weeds on our property act like God has been showering them with steroid laced weed fertilizer, and we haven’t been able to keep up. We are doing good to keep the yard mowed.

So, I avoided mowing near areas where we have known growths of the bane of my existence, and Bruce sprayed as much of IT as he could find with week killer. But, yet, here I am with poison ivy again.

I guess I’ll have to go with the other obvious, logical, and possibly a wee bit annoying thing he said.

“You shouldn’t be mowing without long pants and sleeves.

 

 

 

“There’s just so much green.” Everywhere you look. Green trees. Green grass. Green weeds. Green shrubs. Ditches full of green masses of unnamed green plants. And then there are the named ones. Like poison ivy.

 

 

 

Mercy, Truth, and Minions

This morning I noticed that I am almost at the end of the journal book. WHAT? No way! I have only ever finished an entire journal book once, and that was a small one.

What typically happens is this. I can’t find it so I start another one. Or, I get bored with that one. Or I find a really beautiful/cute/awesome/inspiring one at the store and I just “have to” start using it. Or someone gives me one and I want to use it right now. You get the picture.

Anyway, I counted only seven more pages. Incredible. I thumbed back to the beginning and found that I had started this particular journal in January of 2018. As I leafed through the pages I found gaps. Gaps where I wasn’t writing in a journal with my devotions. Gaps where I had lost it and was using another one. A long gap after Daddy went to heaven.

I also found a couple of really great entries. You know how sometimes you read your Bible and you write down a couple of comments and, well, that’s all you’ve got to write? Then there are other days. Days where a truth explodes off the page and you journal two or three pages of what God just showed you. Well, there were a couple of those.

At the end of the second one I stopped and reread the verse. Wait a minute. That’s awfully familiar. Could it be? It sounds just like the verse that jumped out at me this morning.

It wasn’t the same verse, but it did say the same thing. I was so stunned I hurried into the house and shared it with Bruce. Then I took pictures and sent it to my Mom. I told a friend via Marco Polo.

Here it is. Are you ready?

Psalm 57:1-3 1To the chief Musician, Altaschith, Michtam of David, when he fled from Saul in the cave. Be merciful unto me, O God, be merciful unto me: for my soul trusteth in thee: yea, in the shadow of thy wings will I make my refuge, until these calamities be overpast. 2I will cry unto God most high; unto God that performeth all things for me. 3He shall send from heaven, and save me from the reproach of him that would swallow me up. Selah. God shall send forth his mercy and his truth.

Psalm 89:14  Justice and judgment are the habitation of thy throne: mercy and truth shall go before thy face.

When I read Psalm 57:1-3 on July 30th the thing that struck me was that the Most High God performs all things for me. He holds it all together. He maintains my cause. Then, verse three. He will send from heaven and save me. He shall send forth his mercy and truth. Here is where my imagination kind of took flight. Here’s what I wrote in my journal:

I imagine God raising his arm and shooting out LOVE like a laser, right down to me. And right behind it is his truth. Love and truth. OR, it could be little hearts dropping from the sky to bring his love. Or little minions marching in with truth and love. (Oh wait, I thought. That’s not biblical. God doesn’t have minions.) Okay. Angels flying in with the truth and love.

Anyway, you get the point. So when I saw that part about God sending mercy and truth, I couldn’t help but remember today’s verse. Justice and judgment are the habitation of thy throne. They are the foundation. You must have the home base, the foundation for mercy and truth. That is God’s justice and judgment. Not always seen. No.

What’s seen are the mercy and truth that go before his face. What a picture! And, what an explanation for those who are wondering how a loving God can judge sin and unrighteousness.

Anyway, that’s what God taught me today. What about you?

Back up and running. . . Sort of!

Hi there! My website is  changing! Same address, new site. So, watch here for blog posts and information about your favorite Double Cousins Mysteries! I am building this website myself, apparently you can teach an old gal new tricks! Anyway, be patient. I am not finished with this site yet!

You can contact me at MiriamJonesBradley@gmail.com or on facebook at Miriam Jones Bradley Author or Double Cousins Mysteries (Ages 7-13). Thanks for your patience.

 

Tips For Better Writing

Plan Your Content

laptop

If you’re considering adding a blog to your site, you’ll want to have a plan beforehand. Planning your blog will help your subject matter remain consistent over time. It’ll also help you determine whether or not there’s enough material to maintain a steady stream of posts.

One pitfall many new bloggers run into is starting a blog that isn’t posted to frequently enough. A shortage of recent posts can give your visitors a bad impression of your business. One may think “I wonder if they’re still in business” or “they may want to hire a writer.”

A blog, like any other customer facing aspect of your business, communicates your brand. If it isn’t maintained and given proper attention, people will notice. Post regularly and keep your content fresh. Give your audience a reason to visit often.

Read more >

Basic Taxonomies

Categories and Tags

desktop

If you write about a variety of subjects, categories can help your readers find the posts that are most relevant to them. For instance, if you run a consulting business, you may want some of your posts to reflect work you’ve done with previous clients, while having other posts act as informational resources. In this particular case, you can set up 2 categories: one labeled Projects and another labeled Resources. You’d then place your posts in their respective categories.

Read more >

Blogging 101

Pages vs. Posts

clock

If you’re new to WordPress you may be wondering what’s the big deal behind Pages and Posts. At first glance they appear to be one and the same: if you were to create either a new page or a new post you’d be presented with nearly identical interfaces and in many cases the public appearance of pages and posts will look the same.

Don’t let this fool you. There’s a very fundamental difference between the two and that difference is what makes CMSs, like WordPress, great platforms for integrating blogs with traditional websites.

Pages

Think about the kind of pages that make up a typical website. Most often you’ll see pages like “Home”, “About Us”, “Services”, “Contact Us”, etc. Within WordPress these are often treated as Pages; documents that have no particular regard for the time they were posted.

For example, when you visit the “About Us” page of your favorite company’s website you don’t expect the content to be very different from what was available there a week ago.

Read more >

She Lived. . . Stitch by Stitch. . .

Last night I was exhausted; mentally, emotionally, and physically. Wednesdays are always difficult for me since I work the previous two nights, but despite extra sleep yesterday afternoon I was pretty pitiful. So, I put myself to bed. I snuggled under my Grandma quilt and drifted off to sleep.

Today is the 98th anniversary of the day my Grandma Jones was born. This marks the first birthday we won’t be celebrating with her. She is celebrating it in heaven and I don’t regret that. I miss her. A lot. But, I know she was ready in every sense of the word and I’m thankful she is there. However, I couldn’t help but think of the impact she had on the lives of so many people in this world. She wasn’t famous. She wasn’t rich. She wasn’t a huge success by today’s standards. Yet, in every way that really counts she was famous, rich, and successful. And she did it stitch by stitch.

You see, my Grandma was a wife, mother, grandma, sister, friend, daughter. She took her relationships and responsibilities seriously. One way she showed her care was by providing for her family. She made quilts. Lots of quilts. When her children were at home she made quilts to keep them warm. They weren’t for show, although she loved to make them beautiful. As her family expanded, so did her quilt making.

For each new grandchild she made a baby quilt. There were 23. For each grandchild’s high-school graduation she made a tie-quilt. There were 23. Then she went on to make each of us a quilt for a double bed. When she came to a wedding, she brought a quilt and Grandpa brought money. A few years ago, when it became apparent even to her that she wouldn’t be able to keep her house much longer, she gave out he quilts to those who weren’t yet married. I put mine away for awhile but then decided I wanted to use it, married or not.

Since getting married I have kept the quilt folded at the bottom of my bed. When I am cold I pull it up. I can see different pieces of material in it that I recognize. They were the remnants of things Grandma made for us when we were younger. I know that Grandma put a lot of love into each of the quilts she made, just like she put a lot of love into each of our lives. She wasn’t a woman of many words. She wasn’t managerial. She was just a woman who loved her family and provided for them.

Even though I don’t have children I can learn a lot from her. I need to use the talents I have to provide for, and bless those God puts in my life. That’s all He asks. I don’t need to do it all at once, either. I can do it like my Grandma, stitch by stitch, over a life-time.