Blog

Morning Musing

Posted by on Sep 1, 2016 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts | 2 comments

This morning as I was waking up I was thinking about a professor who taught with Bruce at Newberry. Yesterday we learned that Cathy Lovett died. I liked Dr. Lovett. She was honest and said what she thought. You could trust her. When I miscarried our baby she gave us facts. She was a geneticist and to a scientist and a nurse the facts were what we needed. It was a gracious gift. One fact she gave us is that up to 50% of pregnancies end in miscarriage. As I thought about that this morning I thought, THAT is a LOT of babies in heaven. What does God do with all of those babies? Well, maybe they grow up Miriam! (My author brain kicked in and I began imagining it.) Maybe as they grow up they are recorded in the heavenly perfect form of video so when their parents arrive they can watch it. Then through my mind ran pictures of my grandparents, aunts, uncles, mother and father-in-law, and Mommy each with our child. When I thought of Mommy all of a sudden it wasn’t just my child. She stood there, leading a choir of her grandchildren. All of their faces were lifted to God as they sang a worship hymn. Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty. . . And the truth is. . . heaven will be so much more glorious than we can even imagine. ....

read more

The Playlist in my Brain

Posted by on Jul 26, 2016 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts | Comments Off on The Playlist in my Brain

The Playlist in my Brain

When I left the house for my morning walk the sun still hadn’t peeked over the trees in our little valley. Oh, the sun had been up for nearly an hour, just not here! The air was cool,the morning fresh, and the birds were singing their hearts out.   Our neighborhood could be designated an aviary. We have so many old trees and the birds start chirping well before daylight,  never seeming to completely stop until the sun is down. It soothes my soul.   As I walked up the road past our house a chorus jumped out of its seat in the music repository of my brain, rushed to the microphone, and announced itself to the rest of my brain!                 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?                                 Author Unknown   I smiled. This is my life. My brain is 10% functional and 90% song lyrics. Or, that is how it seems.   It is now almost noon and I’ve been jotting down the names or first lines of songs that I find myself humming. So, here is my brain’s play-list for the morning of July 26, 2016   The Birds Upon The Treetops Praise Him, Praise Him all ye little children My God is so big, so strong and so mighty I’m on the Top of the World Moon River (when I saw a black cat) ???? Just a spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down No one ever cared for me like Jesus How much is that doggie in the window His eye is on the sparrow O God, our help in ages past I can only imagine As a deer panteth for the water (when I saw a deer on my walk) I love thy kingdom Lord Channels Only It’s Just Like His Great Love There’s a song in the air (Christmas in July?) O Safe to the rock that is higher than I Jesus Savior, Pilot Me I may have missed some, but that pretty much covers it. “No One Ever Cared For Me Like Jesus” could have been on the list about ten times. It is my current “background music”. I tend to hit on a song and it gets stuck. Other songs pop into my head, but once they are done back it goes to the background piece. This can be annoying for the people around me! So, when I realize the record is stuck, I usually try to change to another song. Both times I caught myself humming that song this morning the alternate that immediately popped into my mind was, “How much is that doggie in the window.”   That I can’t explain! And, I’m not even going to try.   Do you have a song in your heart today? What is it? Share in the comments...

read more

Cowboys in the Park

Posted by on Jul 23, 2016 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts | Comments Off on Cowboys in the Park

Cowboys in the Park

In honor of National Day of the Cowboy, I am digging out an old piece. This was written originally for the Newberry Observer as a column. Then, it made it into both of my non-fiction books. Enjoy! Cowboys in the Park It’s not like I was hurting for something to do last Friday. I had a huge list of tasks that needed accomplished and a class for work on Saturday, so I really needed to stay home and put my nose to the grindstone.   However, once I saw the notice in the paper that the concert in the park downtown was Cowboy Music I knew there was nothing on the list that couldn’t wait—or wouldn’t have to.   When I got to the park I couldn’t believe my eyes. There were cowboy hats in the town square. Cowboy hats on people wearing jeans and cowboy boots. I could feel my heart rate jump. I picked a park bench close to the microphones. I wanted to hear every word.   Oh my. For the next hour I sat and alternately resisted the urge to jump up and twirl across the grass like a child unable to contain her joy, or sit and wail because I missed my family, especially my Grandpa Jones.   They sang a lot of the old cowboy songs and the crowd sang along. I heard comments about memories from the picture show when they were children. My memories were a bit different.   I remembered helping Grandpa saddle Brownie, the horse he kept for the grandkids to ride. I remembered riding with Grandpa to get some cows in and having my glasses knocked off my face when I failed to see a branch. I remembered watching hours of the old westerns on TV on Sunday afternoons at Grandpa and Grandma’s ranch. They all paraded through my head.   When they sang a song by “Grandpa Jones” from the Hee Haw TV show I laughed because my Grandpa Jones loved watching that show. When they sang a song asking where the cowboys have gone I wanted to stand up and shout, “THEY ARE STILL THERE!”   I thought of my cousin Gordon, riding across the Sandhills of Nebraska on his horse as he works his ranch. I wished every one of those people there could see a real cowboy, on a real ranch. I felt like I knew something they didn’t know. I felt blessed.   It was cool—one of those two nice days—and there was a chilly breeze. If I closed my eyes I could imagine myself in Nebraska or South Dakota. By the middle of the concert I was shivering but I certainly wasn’t going to get up and go anywhere.   I was right where I wanted to be, enjoying an evening in Nebraska and South Dakota right here in downtown Newberry, South...

read more

Found: Five Fun Facts About Historic Research!

Posted by on Jul 19, 2016 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts | Comments Off on Found: Five Fun Facts About Historic Research!

Found: Five Fun Facts About Historic Research!

Sunday evening I visited a friend. I wanted to return some books he let me use while researching my most recent children’s mystery, The Nearly Twins and the Secret in the Mason Jar. I also wanted to give him a copy of the book. We had a great time talking about local history and I could have come home with several more books about the history of Western North Carolina. Mr. Pooch Pace is not just a respected veteran of the Korean War, but, as I have discovered, a valuable local history source. When I set out to write my first book I certainly didn’t plan to write historical fiction. In fact I chose to write in the present because I didn’t want to deal with historical research. It seemed too hard. I just wanted to tell a story about cousins at their grandparents’ ranch. The only history I really wanted to talk about was mine! But then the second book happened and in the process it became imperative and even—gasp!—interesting to find out more about the town where the mystery would be set. After all, the history would inform the plot of my book. And so it began. Now I start with learning about the history of the town then let that give me the plot. In the process I have learned several things. I thought I would share a few with you!   Sharing stories is a gift that gives both ways. People sometimes thank me for writing stories they like to read. But, the truth is I get as much, or more enjoyment from learning about the town. I had no idea that Saluda, NC, had such a varied and rich history. Now I dream of time-traveling back to Saluda for a summer. In addition, the people you meet along the way, or the friendships that are deepened, are gifts that will keep giving.   Every place has history that can add value to our current life. I learned about the power of music in the treatment of patients with dementia while researching for this most recent book. I am a nurse. My two worlds collided and I’ve actually used music in a room to help calm a patient. In addition, when you learn the history of your area it opens up opportunities for fun family activities like museums, historic sites, even just an awareness of what was on your piece of land before you arrived. What value do you suppose you could gain by learning some of your neighborhood’s history, or researching a new topic?   There is always more history under the surface. History layered on history. – As I’ve researched for my books it’s become difficult sometimes to decide which historic element will be used in my story. Saluda was like that. There was history from before the Revolutionary War, clear back when the first settlers made their way into the mountains. There was Native American history. There was Civil War history, 19th century history, transportation history, twentieth century history, medical history . . . do you get the idea? I bet you could find an historic element from your area that hits on one of your unique areas of interest. No kidding! Most communities have a written source of local history. I...

read more

Music – Don’t Waste The Gift

Posted by on Jul 13, 2016 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts | 1 comment

Sunday I had the privilege of playing the piano for church. At various times in my life I’ve played every time the church doors were open, but since we have been in transit so much the past few years my piano playing has been more of the fill-in kind. I’m thankful for every opportunity because music is therapy for me. It is how I worship best. Often when we have visited churches they happen to be in desperate need of a pianist that day. Their pianist is sick. Their pianist is on vacation. Their pianist moved. Because of the way I was raised—to jump in and help if I’m able—I volunteer. While this has been an incredible blessing for me, it brings up a troubling trend. There is a serious lack of church pianists out there. True, we come from musical people, but our parents were determined that we would have enough musical training to be able to serve in church. No, not everyone has the gift of music. No, God doesn’t want everyone to be a church pianist. But, I have a feeling there is a great untapped level of gifting and talent out there. The incredible power of music has been much on my mind lately. In my latest release the children use music to help an Alzheimer’s patient remember the answer to a critical clue. It isn’t just a made up plot element. It is solidly based in scientific studies! I am so impressed by the power of music in treatment of people with dementia. I would love for you to click on this photo and check out the website of this group who is promoting the use of music in patient’s with dementia. You see, whether we enjoy music in corporate worship at church, in the privacy of our own home, or in a concert hall, music is a gift from God. A gift that just keeps on giving. Don’t waste that...

read more

Where In The World Has She Been?–Missing in Action

Posted by on Jul 2, 2016 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts, Uncategorized | Comments Off on Where In The World Has She Been?–Missing in Action

Where In The World Has She Been?–Missing in Action

It has been far too long since I posted here. Every weekend and Wednesday it has been on my to-do list. Yet, no posts. I’ve thought of ideas that came and went. But yet, nothing. So, here in pictures is my past month!       So there you have it. A pictorial diary. Look for upcoming opportunities to get your copy of the newest book here and on my Facebook page. It is available in online stores as well!          

read more

Go Back In Time? If Only . . .

Posted by on Jun 1, 2016 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts | Comments Off on Go Back In Time? If Only . . .

Go Back In Time? If Only . . .

If you could go back in time for a few days where would you go? What time period? I have many such locations, but one place I would love to visit is Saluda, North Carolina during the early 1900’s.   Let me explain why.   The first time I visited Saluda was March 2004 when I came to North Carolina to meet my soon-to-be husband’s family. When we pulled into town Bruce pointed out which direction would take to his grandpa’s farm house and the church where some of his ancestors were buried. He also pointed out that the Saluda interchange sat on what used to be his grandpa’s corn field. I believe this may have been the first time I ever heard the phrase, “When the road took the farm.” It wasn’t the last.   As we drove down Main Street I was drawn in by the old-time small-town feel of the place. I noticed the depot and the bright yellow buildings beside it. I spotted the big Baptist Church. I love depots, yellow, and Baptist churches. I was hooked.   Over the next ten years we waved each time we passed Saluda, greeting our family—live and dead, as we rushed on our way to the place we would eventually call home on the other side of Hendersonville. There was no time for a stop in Saluda, for our home was calling us. It was a place to clean out and fix up.  A home full of memories.  A lovely place away from the noise and overpopulation of Florida. Here, despite the work I found peace. I could hear the birds sing. A rooster woke me each morning. But, it was a lot of work and even once we moved to Newberry, SC and eventually up to the house in Hendersonville, our visits to Saluda were few and far between.   A couple of times I made an unexpected stop at Saluda . . . well, at least at the interchange. Yep. My car engine blew up not once, but twice right in the middle of—you’ve got it, what used to be Grandpa Bradley’s corn field. Was it a sign?   So, when I decided it was time to start a new mystery series—this time set in the South—it was a no-brainer where the first book should take place. Saluda. After all, this is where my husband’s people come from. My other series started on my grandpa’s ranch. Why couldn’t this one start where Bruce’s grandpa farmed? So, the research began. I drove over to Saluda and wondered through town. I read a book written by some of the people in Saluda, a book that shared first person accounts of those days during the early 1900’s. I was blown away by the history Saluda can claim. I mean, not just one thing, but several.   One Sunday afternoon, armed with the book I returned to Saluda and drove around and around and around the town trying to find as many of the old hotels as I could. There were well over thirty back in the day.   You see, when the train finally came up the Saluda Grade to what was then Pace’s Gap in 1878, a whole new way of life was formed. People from the low...

read more

Remember Why We Celebrate

Posted by on May 30, 2016 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts | Comments Off on Remember Why We Celebrate

Remember Why We Celebrate

One of the many life lessons my daddy taught me was to use words properly. I was reminded of this a few minutes ago while I watched a beautiful Memorial Day video tribute.   The thought that shot through my mind was this: It is Memorial Day, not Celebrate Day. Today we stop to Memorialize, Remember, and Commemorate those who gave their lives so we can Celebrate our country, our freedom, our day off, and our family gatherings.   Let’s not allow the busyness of our celebrating cause us to forget the true meaning of the holiday, to remember and honor the ultimate sacrifice so many men and women made on our (insert your name here for a powerful reminder)...

read more

World Stroke Month – A New Perspective

Posted by on May 26, 2016 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts | 1 comment

World Stroke Month – A New Perspective

If I had written last May about World Stroke Month, as a nurse of more than thirty years, I would have been able to share many facts, signs and symptoms, treatment options, preventative measures, and even some of the struggles patients and families will face after a stroke.   If I had written it last May.   But I didn’t write it last May, as a nurse of over thirty years. Instead I am writing it this May, as a daughter of a stroke patient.   Here are some of the statistics I would have shared last year: According to the CDC at cdc.gov “Every 40 seconds, someone in the United States has a stroke. In 2008 alone, more than 133,000 Americans died from stroke—or one person every four minutes—died from stroke, making it the fourth leading cause of death in the United States. Each year, almost 800,000 strokes occur in the United States. Strokes often lead to serious, life-changing complications. . .”   Strokes don’t just happen to the elderly. It can happen to anyone. Some of the effects of stroke listed by the CDC are below: Paralysis or weakness on one side of the body. Problems with thinking, awareness, attention, learning, judgment, and memory. Problems understanding or forming speech. Difficulty controlling or expressing emotions. Numbness or strange sensations. Pain in the hands and feet. Depression So, back to my story. Last May my Daddy suffered a stroke. It was determined that it was an embolic stroke, meaning that due to atrial fibrillation in his heart, he had formed tiny clots that had traveled to his brain and caused the damage. He miraculously recovered a great deal of function, but was left with some significant challenges in how his brain processed. But, for the most part we believed God had given us a miracle and we had dodged the bullet. The doctors put him on a medication to prevent further clots and strokes and we all breathed a sigh of relief. Until autumn, when he incredibly suffered a second stroke. I say incredibly because the doctors are still befuddled by how someone on that particular medication could have a stroke. But he did. And this time, he was left with damage to his speech center. We are still thankful. Grateful. Counting our blessings. Daddy is still with us, he is still wise, loving, funny, kind, and gentle. We count each day a blessing. But, it occurred to me. I’ve learned a few things through this experience so I thought I would share them here. A stroke will change your life forever – We can’t go back. It isn’t going to go away.  Daddy has said it over and over—“My brain just doesn’t work the same.” The damage requires rehab, exercises, medications, doctor’s visits, retirement, all lifestyle changes not only for my dad, but for my mom as well. And, despite the best care and an incredibly motivated and hard-working patient, the damage is still there.   It isn’t just the patient whose life changes. Stroke changes the dynamic of the entire family. Children find themselves helping parents through the maze of post-stroke life, picking up more and more responsibility. Even grandchildren step up, taking on responsibility! This isn’t easy for anyone involved. In our family, we have discovered...

read more

Lessons from a Chewbacca Mask

Posted by on May 22, 2016 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts | Comments Off on Lessons from a Chewbacca Mask

Lessons from a Chewbacca Mask

Right up front there are a couple of things I think I should share about myself. Confessions of a sort. First, I have never seen Star Wars. Okay. Take a minute to process that. I know some of you need it. After all, I remember the look on my husband’s face when I blithely informed him of this fact. It just isn’t my genre. So, it should come as no surprise that until recent events I had zero idea what a Chewbacca is. I do now.   Yesterday morning I got up early to work on a small editing project for a friend, and as is my pattern I skimmed through social media while drinking a cup of coffee. I couldn’t help but smile when I saw the happy faced lady with the strange mask. So, I watched the video. I laughed until I cried. Such an infectious laugh. So much joy. I watched it twice.   Then, this morning (while having coffee) I found a second video. It was the same “Chewbacca Lady!” She was speaking at a Fine Arts Event, telling about the events of the past two days. I was more and more excited as lesson after lesson popped out of her mouth! She had so much to share in such a short time! Wow! Just Wow!   So, I want to give you five lessons I learned from (or was reminded of) by the “Chewbacca Lady.” 1. Joy comes from letting God use you how he made you! This woman didn’t hold back. She let her personality shine, come what may. She didn’t worry about how it looked, what people would think. She just shared her joy with others, and that joy spread. Everywhere. 2. After times of loss we can get our joy back. She spoke in the second video about what happened when she saw herself with the mask on and the Chewbacca’s head was thrown back in laughter. She realized that the Chewbacca had his joy back. After all, she said, Han Solo was dead. That was sad. But, it brought her joy to think that the Chewbacca could get his joy back. Sometimes, when slogging through grief that truth can be elusive. It is nice to have this reminder. 3. Sometimes you just have to laugh. Don’t hold back. She spoke of trying to get control and stop laughing, but she just. couldn’t. quit. Laughing. There are moments like this in life and they are really awesome stress-relievers. Enjoy them! 4. God wants more from us that a willing heart. Yes, we are all given a gift from God. Yes, he wants us to be willing and surrendered to letting him use them. But there are some other things we should be. Diligent. Patient. Obedient. We can be gifted, willing, and driven to be our best, but if we aren’t diligent, patient, or obedient He won’t be able to use us to our full capacity. Powerful stuff. 5. When God opens a door, no matter how unexpected and unusual, GO with it! Use the opportunity you have been given. And have fun while you do it. So, thank you Mrs. Chewbacca Lady. Thank you for the laughs. Thank you for the lessons. And, thank you most of all for being who God...

read more