The Power of Another Big Person

Posted by on Oct 14, 2014 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts | Comments Off on The Power of Another Big Person

It is no secret that my husband and I love children. They are some of our favorite people. But we don’t have any at our house.   Over the years we each developed friendships where we were able to invest time and love in the lives of children. It just came naturally. Now some of those children are grown up with children of their own.   That investment can reap great dividends.   Recently we attended the funeral of one of Bruce’s long-time friends. I knew they were close, way back when. I knew they valued their friendship. I also knew that their now-adult daughter valued her relationship with “Uncle Bruce.” The story goes that back in grad school if her Mama couldn’t find her, all she had to do was go over to Uncle Bruce’s and she would find them reading a book or making cookies. So I knew all of this.   But when we arrived at the funeral and Bruce greeted mother and daughter, it was obvious that this friendship meant more than I realized. This was a young woman who knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that Uncle Bruce’s love would help during this trying time. She counted on it.   Last Spring I had the privilege of speaking to a group of ladies at a church in Nebraska. Much to my surprise, many of the girls were from a Jr./Sr. High Sunday School class which I had taught were there. It was one of those full-circle moments. Here I was standing in front of them again. But this time they were all grown up, some with junior/senior high girls of their own! Then, this summer I was able to see another of their group and we keep in contact through Facebook. I love seeing them post messages about what God is doing in their lives.                     It all reminds me of a conversation I had with a professor in college many years ago. He shared with me just how much he and his wife depended on some of the single people who—as he put it—came along side and helped influence their children for God.   That’s what we are. Come-Along-Siders. Influencers. And we aren’t stopping.   There’s an entire new generation out there who need an Uncle Bruce and Aunt Miriam too!...

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Reading The End First

Posted by on Oct 10, 2014 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts | Comments Off on Reading The End First

A not so well-known fact about this author is that I read the end of books first. Well, at least after the first or second chapter. When I begin to connect with the characters I start worrying that it won’t turn out well for them. So I just have to read the end to make sure they are still all alive.   I am a happily ever after reader.  If an author betrays my trust by killing off a main character, or leaving things unfinished I am unlikely to read more books by that author. I don’t trust them anymore.   So, when my Bible reading took me to Psalm 77 it left me a little unsettled. The passage reminded me of America today. In verses 7-9 the following questions are posed. Will the Lord cast off for ever? and will he be favourable no more?                          Is his mercy clean gone for ever? doth his promise fail for evermore?                         Hath God forgotten to be gracious? hath he in anger shut up his tender mercies? Selah. The Psalmist was in agony over this question, “Has God written us off?”   Since I’ve often wondered this about America, I read on in hopes of finding good news.   Here’s what I found. In verses 10-20 we see what our responses should be. The Psalmist says in verse 10,   This is my infirmity: but I will remember the years of the right hand of the most High.   This sets the stage for the rest of the chapter. The Psalmist, in the midst of uncertainty over God’s blessing on his world would remember the goodness and past blessing of the Lord.   Then it ends. Yep, that’s right. Read it for yourself.   The Psalmist never answers the question posed in verses seven to nine. It just ends.   ARGHHHH! Sigh.   My husband likes to tease that he is going to remove the last chapter from my next new book and hide it until I’ve read the rest of the book. I like to tell him that I’m pretty sure he is too smart to do that. If he really did that I would probably have to find the book elsewhere to read the end, or find somebody who knows the end of the story. I might even do a web search for a synopsis of the plot and read the end there. I would find a way!   But, in this case there is a difference.  The author of this Psalm is ultimately God. He inspired the Psalmist. So, in this situation I need to relax, remember who God is, follow the leader, and trust the author. But, then maybe that’s exactly what the Psalmist was saying in the last verse of the chapter.   Thou leddest thy people like a flock by the hand of Moses and Aaron. Psalm 77:20   I can follow the Good Shepherd with confidence, no matter the outcome. And THAT, my friends is a satisfactory ending!      ...

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Chocolate Chip Cookie and Coffee Friendships

Posted by on Oct 7, 2014 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts | Comments Off on Chocolate Chip Cookie and Coffee Friendships

I often laugh and tell people that the way to find out my life story is to give me chocolate chip cookies and coffee. It’s guaranteed to work.   I’m not kidding.   Back in the dark ages—well, the late 1980’s—I spent a year in Sheridan, Wyoming in nursing school. It was a grand adventure for me but the real value of the year wasn’t fully realized for years to come.   The first week I was there was kind of lonely. The older couple I was living with was gone on vacation and school hadn’t started. So, when the Pastor’s wife invited me to ride with their family up into the mountains for the annual church picnic I jumped at the opportunity. “Just come to the house and we’ll go from there,” she said.   When I arrived Donna had just brewed a fresh pot of coffee and was making chocolate chip cookies. While she finished the cookies and packed food for the picnic I drank a cup of coffee and ate a couple of cookies. Fast forward ten minutes. (That’s how long it takes coffee to kick in.)   I started talking and within thirty minutes she knew my life story. Now, I maintain that it wasn’t just the coffee and cookies. Donna is one of those people who invite confidence with a couple of simple questions. She is just sincerely interested.   That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!   Anyway, we have laughed about it over the years as our friendship grew.  During the year in Sheridan I babysat their children and spent many hours at their table visiting and seeking advice. Once I graduated and moved home I returned as frequently as I could. Over the years I attended graduations and weddings, we shared sorrows, joys, successes, and failures. I remember many conversations around their table with me seeking advice from this dear friend and her husband. And most of those times included coffee and sometimes chocolate chip cookies too!   For years Donna prayed diligently for me that God would send me a husband. I learned the precious truth of the value of a praying friend. Finally, God answered.   Since the wedding we had not seen each other. It had been nine years. That is a long time! But often, the mug I would pick from my mug wall was one of the two that Donna had given me. We occasionally spoke by phone, Donna always remembered my birthday and our anniversary, and I kept in contact with their children online.   This summer, when we were out in South Dakota we made the extra little trip over to Sheridan. I showed my husband around this town that I love. We went to church and I was able to introduce him to the people and church that have meant so much to me through the years. I had pictures taken with my friends and their children and their children’s children. Yes, it made me feel old, but so blessed.   One of the most precious moments though came the next morning when Donna made me coffee. Then she reached into the freezer, pulled out chocolate chip cookies and popped them in the microwave. Voila, there was our moment in time.  ...

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The Choir in the Pool

Posted by on Sep 27, 2014 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts | Comments Off on The Choir in the Pool

  The other morning I went to the YMCA to do my water aerobics. It seems this is the best exercise for someone with a pitiful tendon. Besides, I actually enjoy it and I read somewhere recently that “The best exercise is the one you will do!” My floatie belt securely in place I bobbed around the deep end and performed my interval  exercises. Between watching the second-hand on the clock I observed the class at the shallow end. There were approximately twenty people doing what looked like a senior synchronized routine. The leader, a cheerful lady who enjoys verbal class participation, had them motivated. All of a sudden I heard singing. Now, if you have ever tried to talk in a large pool you know what the acoustics can do. It can be really hard to hear what anyone is saying, but guess what? I learned that it is an incredible place to sing. As the seniors marched underwater they held floatie noodles over their heads like a rainbow. With each step they raised and lowered the noodles. And they sang. Somewhere over the rainbow skies are blue. . . The sound swelled and filled the pool area. The beauty of the voices all joined in this classic song took my breath away. It was incredible. Almost like those videos where acapella  groups stand in a vast cathedral and sing. A few minutes  later they started singing “Oo” and “Ah” up intervals on the scale. They harmonized. Then I really felt like I was in a cathedral. Well, except for the water part. Suffice it to say that you never know when a moment of beauty might float into your day. And I bet you can’t guess which song I hummed all...

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A Sweet Legacy of Apples

Posted by on Sep 22, 2014 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts | Comments Off on A Sweet Legacy of Apples

It is apple season here in the mountains of North Carolina. The apple festival took place Labor Day Weekend and ever since there are apples everywhere. We have two apple trees on our property but we’ve had trouble the past couple of years. Something was eating all of the apples before they were even ripe. I mean ALL of the apples. There weren’t even any leftovers on the ground. The apples just vanished. We suspect coons or deer, but we weren’t sure. This year, with the trees loaded with blossoms followed by tiny apples I decided enough was enough. Someone suggested hanging blank CD’s on the tree with string. Evidently the critters don’t like the shiny things and will stay away! Well, it was worth a try. Out to the tree we went and up went the CD’s. All summer I watched the shiny discs twirl gently in the breeze flashing their glare all over the yard. I also watched the apples grow and ripen. Wahoo! We won! Finally, they were ripe and we picked them. About the same time we stopped by our favorite fruit stand to see if there might be some peaches left. There weren’t, but they had apples! So, we bought some. Then my husband noticed bags of “seconds” on sale. So he bought more. Fortunately, Bruce’s Aunt Alva showed up soon thereafter. I knew Aunt Alva had just what I needed, the recipe for her Apple Honey. It is an incredible treat on toast, pancakes, ice cream, or biscuits. I think it would even make rice cakes edible! After all, I had to do something with all of the apples. So, we did. We made apple honey. We’ve also dried some apples in a dehydrator we got from Bruce’s brother and sister-in-law. I’ve made apple crisp twice using a recipe from a book my aunt gave me. We’ll be working on the apples for awhile. But, I’ll enjoy thinking about the apples from the trees Bruce’s daddy planted and the recipe from his aunt. Kind of cool isn’t it, the way legacy can sneak into your day? Then there are the tomatoes Aunt Alva discovered. Four bushel boxes. . .   Aunt Alva’s Apple Honey Peel, core, and slice ½ bushel of golden apples Put in a PLASTIC tub. Add:     2 large (20 ounce) cans crushed pineapple 5-7 pounds of sugar 2 Tablespoons lemon juice Stir and cover with a towel overnight. In the morning put the mixture in a canner and cook until the apples turn clear. Put in sterilized jars and seal....

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Of Failed Tendons and the Body of Christ

Posted by on Sep 10, 2014 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts | 1 comment

The past few weeks I have been dealing with a betrayal. A betrayal of my posterior tibial tendon. Yep, that’s right. The posterior tibial tendon in my left foot is failing. No biggy, you say? The rest of the foot can pick up the slack?   I don’t think so!   I’ve always walked flat-footed and my feet are flat—the arches are practically non-existent. My parents shelled out good money for my first pair of special orthotics when I was in my early teens. With the orthotics and avoidance of too many hours barefoot or in non-supportive shoes I’ve managed just fine. I’ve never had what could be called a graceful gait, but that didn’t really bother me. I am me and that’s who I am.   But, over the past few months I’ve developed a problem. First my left foot grew from an 8 ½ to a 10. Go figure. No wonder all my shoes hurt and my left great toe nail is bruised.   But that wasn’t all. “Miriam, your ankle has turned in. Look at it,” my husband said. “The right one is straight up and down; the left is completely laying inward.”   Yikes. Something I had noticed in passing but had failed to absorb into the problem-solving part of my brain suddenly shoved its way front and center.   So, after two weeks of vacation during which I let my little toesies be happy and free in flat sandals, I went to the store and bought size ten supportive running shoes for work. Wide-toed shoes that I find ugly. After all, I have to be able to walk/run for 12 hours and I had no work shoes that didn’t cause severe pain in my toe.   Oh boy. By the end of that first 12 hour shift in good shoes I had pulled/strained/sprained all of the muscles in that ankle. Suddenly forced into a semblance of alignment my foot rebelled. So started my odyssey.   After a visit to the doctor and a referral to the orthotics people I was presented with the diagnosis. Posterior Tibial Tendon Dysfunction. It won’t go away. It is progressive. Orthotics should help for awhile.   After two more weeks of x-rays, icing, ibuprofen, elevating, and painful 12 hour shifts, I finally got my orthotics. But they weren’t the end all. They helped relieve the pain, but by now my foot was hopelessly out of sync. My toe spasmed under with each step. All the other toes seized in response.   Add physical therapy where I was shown on a human skeleton what is happening with my foot! Wow, who knew all of those bones were so interdependent? Not me! I just went along assuming what had always worked would continue to do its thing. With the new information and the tools I need I am learning a new gait, one that puts the weight on the outside of my foot where it belongs. Changing how you walk at 52 is not for wimps.   I’m amazed at how much disruption the failure of one little tendon can cause in my life.   I can’t think because I have to focus on walking and multi-tasking at 52 isn’t what it used to be. I am stressed. I fight worry...

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Why shouldn’t I? Why Shouldn’t You? Praise!

Posted by on Aug 18, 2014 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts | Comments Off on Why shouldn’t I? Why Shouldn’t You? Praise!

A few days ago I drove to work with my window down. I like doing that whenever it is warm enough. Somehow hearing all of the chirping birds that fill the neighborhoods between my house and the hospital makes me happy. And honestly, anything that can make me happy to be going to work at 6:30 in the morning is a good thing! I’ve always loved hearing chirping birds. They are so happy. Somehow, it lifts my soul. As I waited at the highway for traffic, a song from my childhood popped into my head.   The birds upon the treetops sing their song, The angels chant their chorus all day long. The flowers in the garden blend their hue, So why shouldn’t I, why shouldn’t you praise Him too?   It’s a simple song. At first I couldn’t remember where I learned it. It seems like one of those songs I’ve always known. It wouldn’t surprise me to hear that my mommy and Grandma McKnight used to sing it to me.  But then I remembered it was on one of our childhood records. I wondered if the birds are chirping because it is morning and they are so glad the dark night is over? I wondered if they are saying good morning to each other? I wondered if they are thanking God for everything they have? Today I started looking online to find the author and copyright information for the song. I couldn’t find anything on the original author but I did find a site ( that played a clip of the song and then there were comments after the clip. I was amazed by the number of people who remembered learning this song fifty plus years ago. But, one comment caught my attention. “This was a favorite of mine about 50 years ago as well. I am now doing research and writing on ecotheology and a number of theologians stress the fact that all of creation praises God just by being what it is, a witness to God’s creativity. Whenever we worship, we are joining our voices to an unceasing universal praise. Indeed, this little chorus sums up this profound idea in such a simple way!” Allan Effa  Then I realized another message of this song. It is one that resonates greatly with me. It is this: the birds, the angels, and the flowers were all doing what God created them to do. That’s all. Nothing more, nothing less. That’s what God wants from me. I am to do what He created me to do, nothing more, nothing less. And, if I listen He will be glad to let me know what that is! WOW. So, tomorrow when I drive to work I’ll roll down my windows and sing this song. Then I’ll proceed through the day surrendering to be used how God made me! To glorify...

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Family Time Brings Inspiration~An Announcement

Posted by on Aug 13, 2014 in Blog, Double Cousins | Comments Off on Family Time Brings Inspiration~An Announcement

The past month has been a mad dash culminating in a two week, four-thousand mile road trip as far west as Wyoming. Now we are home and getting back in a routine. Well, routine for us.   We have visited with a lot of people in the past few weeks and everywhere I go I get this question. “Are you working on your next book?”   Up until a couple of weeks ago my answer was a short laugh, eye rolling, or a big sigh. “Not yet,” I admitted.   My next book in the Double Cousins Mystery series was set to be in Denver. However, I was a bit stymied by the need to do a research trip which never seems to fit into our schedule. I knew I could start it and then visit, like I did with the second book but, I just couldn’t get excited.   In addition, I have been contemplating a second series, one set in the South. I had the beginnings of an idea for characters but was trying to figure out how to connect it to the Double Cousins.   Then Nemo happened. Yep, Nemo.   My sister lives in Nemo, SD with her family and 40 other people. More or less. My sister and her children clean the Nemo Guest Ranch. So, when my parents said that they just wanted to get together for some family time for their 40th anniversary, we plotted a family get-away at the Guest Ranch which is comprised of several large historic houses.   We took over one house for two days and played games, picked berries, put together puzzles, helped my sister with some cleaning, and visited. Oh, some people had to work and came and went but there were always some of us there.   The highlight for me was the fact that I was able to reconnect with my family, especially my nieces and nephews-the real double cousins. And lo and behold, inspiration struck!   It turns out there is a LOT of history in Nemo. History that would make a GREAT mystery book! And guess what? I have nieces and nephews who are close to the age of my characters.   So. . .we called it a research trip. We plotted. We took pictures that could even show up on a book cover. (Try getting plausible looking photos when it is August and the book will take place at Christmas!) We even discovered a way to connect the next book to the potential second series!   So, I guess I am announcing that the next book in the Double Cousins Mystery series will NOT be in Denver, CO but rather in Nemo, SD. And it might have some history relating to General Custer. And I might introduce a whole new series, The Nearly Twins Mysteries.   Wow! I guess I have a better answer than eye rolling or sighing now, huh?   Just beware. If you ask me what I’m working on you might want to make sure you have plenty of time for...

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Treasure in the Midst of Tumult

Posted by on Jul 22, 2014 in Blog, Uncategorized | 1 comment

Treasure in the Midst of Tumult

To say that our house is in an upheaval is an understatement. This summer we are combining the remnants of three residences into one. I am incredibly excited about the prospect of having all of our stuff in one house. Well, one house and a temporary storage unit. There is still some serious sorting and organizing that needs to be accomplished, but we are on the cusp of success here! Wonderful.   But, the process is overwhelming at times. There are boxes everywhere. Projects. It is sometimes mind numbing.   But the other night I found a treasure under the bed.   You know how it is. You pull off the mattress and box spring and. . . WHOA! There is an entire colony of dust bunnies, shoes, lost socks, chapstick, and if you are really blessed, a treasure.   There right at the top near my bedside table was a little red notebook. A lightbulb went off in my head. I opened the book and remembered. This was a gift from a conference. At the end our mentors gave us little notebooks. They told us to write down things we want to remember in the notebook. Moments we want to keep alive forever.   I started reading. There were only three entries—after all it did fall under the bed—but they took my breath away. The first was the memory of a special moment with my sister-in-law. The second was the memory of a major breakthrough in my life—the one where I learned I could trust God completely.   The third was a miracle. The entry read, “Today I want to remember that Cheryl is back!” Even as I type this I’m getting choked up. The miracle of my sister’s comeback from Parkinson’s is one that will undoubtedly take my breath away for the rest of my life.   I needed this notebook tonight. It is daunting to follow God’s direction when you are following blind. But, then if we weren’t following blind it wouldn’t really be trust would it!   I believe with all of my heart God wants us to remember. Over and over in the Bible God placed passages where the acts of God were reviewed. He did it so we can remember. So when we are in the dark part of the tunnel and we can’t quite see the light at the end, we can think back to the many times God provided for us.   So tonight I think I’ll add an entry to my little red notebook.   “July 18, 2014—I want to remember finding this notebook under the bed.”   Today I am honored to be interviewed on Vonda Skelton’s blog. The first time I heard Vonda speak I realized she had traveled the path I was on. There were many similarities in our stories. I determined that she would be an awesome person to choose as a mentor. So I did. It was Vonda and Carolyn Knefely who gave me the notebook pictured above. Please click on the photo below to see the interview...

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The Key of Change – Guest Blogger on Christian Communicator

Posted by on Jun 18, 2014 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts | Comments Off on The Key of Change – Guest Blogger on Christian Communicator

Have you ever thought you’ve FINALLY learned an important lesson and NOW you are done with it? Me too. But, the truth is that it isn’t that simple. We learn best by repetition. Case in point. I am honored today to be the guest blogger on the Christian Communicator site. Go to this link to read my post. Those of you who have read my book, All I Have Needed-A Legacy for Life will recognize it. This seems to be something God has been teaching me over and over the past few years, and I can’t say this summer is any different. He peels away more and more layers. Every time I think I have ARRIVED I learn that there is yet a deeper level of trust to gain in our wonderful God. I expect I’ll be working on this subject the rest of my life! So, click on the little link below and enjoy the piece. Then if you want more pieces similar to this one check out the above mentioned book either here on my site or go to your favorite local or online bookstore and order one for yourself! The Key of...

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