Blog

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...

read more

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....

read more

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...

read more

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 (www.hymnal.net) 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...

read more

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...

read more

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...

read more

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...

read more

That One Little Mug-Celebrating our Uniqueness

Posted by on Jun 5, 2014 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts | Comments Off on That One Little Mug-Celebrating our Uniqueness

That One Little Mug-Celebrating our Uniqueness

Have you ever noticed someone who just doesn’t fit into the crowd? Maybe they are taller than everyone else, a different color from the rest, have an unusual stance, or maybe they have an attitude. Maybe they are too chatty. Maybe they make people uncomfortable with their truthfulness.   Or maybe they just march to a different drumbeat; heading the opposite direction from the rest. Like the mug in this photo.   My husband and I both love symmetry. He is a bit more predictable in his symmetrical tastes than I am, but then he’s more predictable than I am, period. So, when we arrange the mugs on our mug wall we always put them facing the same way. It just looks better.   But there is this one mug we found in an old china cabinet the other day. It was his mother’s. It’s a grandma mug and it is cute and cheerful. But, when I went to hang it on the mug wall there was a problem. If I put it facing the “proper” way its good side was in. Yes, you heard me right. The side that was out just had blue writing that said, “I love Grandma.” No bright red, yellow, green, pink, and blue. Just blue.   Now, I couldn’t have that, could I? How sad it would be to put the mug so its uncreative, non-happy side was hidden.   But that is what we do when we insist that a child—or an adult conform and hide their GOD-GIVEN idiosyncrasies. Yes, they do need to learn to function in the real world and sometimes that necessitates learning that there is a place for quirky and a place for conformity.   But, maybe our “real-world” isn’t so real anymore. Maybe by making everyone act “normal” we are stifling the creativity and variety that God wants us to have. We need a balance!   Oh, I know. Sometimes there are areas of our personality that can get extreme.  Like my dad told me when I tried to use God as an excuse for talking too much. “But that’s just the way God made me,” I spouted.   “But, does that mean He wants you to stay that way?” was his reply. There is the verse that says we are new creations when we become a child of God. But, that doesn’t change the underlying personality and gifts God gave us. Instead it gives us the new nature and the Holy Spirit to help direct those  quirks.   I’m talking about personality issues here, folks. Let’s celebrate all of our quirks and different drum beats. Let’s look for ways they can glorify God. Let’s be who God made us to be! If that means going against the flow, so be it.   My husband reminded me of an example. I once knew a little girl—about five or six years old—who came to church one Sunday with three pony tails, one on each side and one in the middle of her head—like a unicorn. Her mom simply smiled and said, “She did her own hair.” It didn’t hurt anyone. It fit this little girl’s personality. It put smiles on the faces of the adults around her. Win-Win!   At our house we are working on it by...

read more

Treasures in the Cedar Chest

Posted by on May 29, 2014 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts | 1 comment

Treasures in the Cedar Chest

One day last week I cleared the clutter off the cedar chest and carefully laid aside the hand crocheted tablecloth “made especially for you by Juanita Bradley”—Bruce’s aunt. I lifted the lid. I was on a mission.   I pulled out the blankets that were tucked on top of the treasures and started poking through the years of mementoes. First I discovered a pink dress, the one I wore forty years ago today when my daddy married Dortha Onstott and we were no longer a motherless family. It was a good day. I had been carefully measured just a few weeks before the wedding. But, as is apt to happen with a young girl somewhere right around my twelfth birthday, just four weeks before the wedding I grew an inch or two. Oh well. I loved the dress anyway!   “There’s my nursing cap.” I pointed to the flattened white hat, unbuttoned for easy storage. I first wore it thirty years ago this coming December. It doesn’t seem possible that I have been a nurse for almost thirty years. Where did those years go?   “What is that?” Bruce pointed to a piece of oriental material.   “My kimono”, I said. I explained that when we were little a young Japanese lady who lived with my parents for a time gave them to Cheryl and me as a gift. I don’t remember Yoko, and I don’t remember wearing the kimono, but I’ve always treasured the little gift because my mother did.   Finally, I discovered what I was searching for, a bright flowered piece of material. A sun bonnet, Laura Ingalls Wilder style.   One summer, when we lived in North Platte, Nebraska my mother had sun bonnets made for my sister and me. I think she got one too. There was a big event in town, something to do with Nebraskaland Days I believe, and she wanted us to have them to wear. The great thing about them is that unbuttoned they make a little apron. I was so excited about mine I could hardly wait. I loved the colors. But then, the day arrived and we had to wear them. The shine wore off my excitement right quick. You see, I’m kind of like Laura I guess. I didn’t like feeling hot. I didn’t like having something tied under my chin. I felt trapped. Before long the thing was hanging on my back, much to my mother’s dismay.   So, why did I unearth the bonnet? Well, it’s like this. On June 7th the curb market, a local hand-made craft and produce fair here in Hendersonville, NC is having their semi-annual “Old-Timey Day.” I have been invited to bring my books and set up a table. So, I thought to myself, why not? I’ll dig out that old bonnet and iron it up. I’ll put it on and then I can look the part.   I’m delighted to have something that my mother bought for me to wear to this event. But, I’m wondering. . . how long do you think it will stay on my...

read more

Of Landmarks and Air Mail

Posted by on May 12, 2014 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts | Comments Off on Of Landmarks and Air Mail

Of Landmarks and Air Mail

I am a landmark driven person. If someone gives me directions, I’ll do a lot better if they include a few landmarks. When we travel I watch the signs, calling out the names of side streets and roads. We notice buildings that have seen better days, pretty homes, businesses, and churches. We really like to read church signs and we love the architecture of churches. Maybe it is a sudden valley, a lone tree, a peaceful creek running beside the car. We watch and comment on the things we see along the way.   One thing I love about the fact that we have two places between which we split our time is the familiarity which develops in the drive. All along the way from Hendersonville to Banner Elk there are landmarks.   There are the mundane places, for instance where we merge onto a different interstate. There’s the McDonalds where we sometimes stop for coffee or sweet tea. We pass Ridgecrest and The Cove where I have wonderful memories of fellowship with other writers and speakers. Some places are spectacularly beautiful, like our favorite valley—the place we day dream of living someday.   And then, there is “Air Mail”.   At the base of the mountain, immediately before the climb up what is called the “Winding Staircase,” is a mailbox. The first time we drove this road my husband told me to watch for it and then told me this story. Years ago, when he and his mother were driving up to Boone she spotted the mailbox and it tickled her funny bone. He hoped it was still there. It was a landmark of a happy time with his mother.   When we spotted it we almost felt like Mama was there with us. Sure enough, high on a pole above the real mail box was a second one with a little airplane perched on top. It was labeled “Air Mail.”   I laughed out loud. It tickled my funny bone too. So, the highlight of the trip whether we are coming up the mountain or going down is spotting the Air Mail Box. It reminds Bruce of a special experience with his mother. It gives me another connection with the mother-in-law I never got to meet. And, we either know we’ve made it down the winding staircase safely, or we need to pay attention to the curves because we are heading up!   Silly?  Maybe. But I was thinking about this the other day. I was in a conversation online about the value—or lack thereof—of sorrowing for the “good old days.” In the conversation we agreed that there is little value in that. My grandma used to say, “The good old days weren’t so good.” And it is true.   But, wait a minute. Let’s be careful not to react too quickly and bounce too far to the other side. There is value in looking at the past. There is value in noticing the landmarks, those points along the way that meant something to us! What’s wrong with keeping the good while letting the bad go? Sometimes we can even learn from the past!   Maybe the landmark is a literal place, like the site of the sod house where my daddy was born. Visiting that site...

read more