Home Is Where The Story Starts

Friends, Flowers, and Grandma Jones

Posted by on Mar 11, 2018 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts |

Friends, Flowers, and Grandma Jones

This morning I enjoyed a ladies event at our church. We called it Friends and Flowers and Grandma Jones would have been delighted. One of our ladies—an expert flower arranger—gathered silk flowers along with all the tools we would need and we each made a bouquet. Now, this is not one of my talents or gifts. To be honest, I am not a flower arranger. That is my older sister. My idea of decorating is to slam a rose in a vase and say, “That looks great!” Much to my surprise, I actually enjoyed myself and am incredibly pleased with my creation, if I do say so myself. But that isn’t why my Grandma would have been delighted. We had around thirty women and girls there. There were mothers and daughters. Teenagers and the elderly. There were some of us in the middle. When we were done with our arrangements we snacked on muffins and fruit, drank coffee and tea, and were challenged with a great devotional on The Flowers of the Field. It was a perfect morning all around. But, that isn’t why Grandma Jones would have been delighted. Last week, while in South Dakota I had a brilliant idea.  You see, I have African violets. I am not one of those “green thumb-ites” who can grow anything, but I can grow African violets. Here is my trick. When the plant starts looking distressed, (see picture below) I pick one of the better looking leaves, stick it in water, and when it gets roots I plant it. So, I always have an extra plant or two hanging around, just in case the original one dies on me. I am really afraid of killing my African violets. Especially the pink one, because it is a great-great-grandchild of one of Grandma Jones’ plants. She could grow them like no one else I ever met, and she always had some blooming in her kitchen window. Even in the nursing home, she had one she watered and kept by the window. For me, it is a connection to her and just one more legacy she left me. Recently I noticed that the poor neglected plant had propagated several new plants in the one pot. It was too crowded to grow. So, I separated them and ended up with five extra pink Grandma Jones violets. What on earth was I going to do with them? I couldn’t throw them away! I don’t have enough windows for that many plants and my kitchen table was being overrun with plants. Back to my brilliant South Dakota idea. I decided if this morning was about friends and flowers, I was going to take some flowers for my friends. So, I loaded the violets into the car and off they went to the ladies event. I am pleased to say that I didn’t bring a single one home. I was especially delighted to see that several of the teenage girls took a plant. I told them where...

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Be Presidential! Write a Letter!

Posted by on Feb 23, 2018 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts | 5 comments

Be Presidential! Write a Letter!

The other day I received one of those endangered things called a “letter” in the mail. It was a real, honest-to-goodness letter written on a beautiful note card. Yep. That’s right. Not just bills and ads in the mailbox that day. This is why I continue going to the mailbox every day. I was delighted. I read it with joy. I laughed. I remembered great times my friend and I shared in the past. I thought, I need to write her right back!  Have I?  Sad to say not yet, but it is on my list. Letter writing has unfortunately gone out of style. We have so many easier, faster, and more efficient ways to communicate that we have relegated letters to the “no one has time for that” status.   But, there is a danger in that.   When I visit junior and senior high school classrooms to speak on the topic, Using Your Senses in Writing, I often ask the students a question.   “So, when you get to be the President of the United States what are they going to put in your Presidential Library? After all, if you look at the Presidential Libraries, they are filled with letters, diaries, letters, documents, letters . . . Are they,” I ask, “going to find letters or journals/diaries, or other documents you have written? Or are they going to have to use emails? Or maybe Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat?” Usually I get a laugh, but I know they understand what I’m saying.   This past year I did a lot of reading. Some of the books I read were biographies or historical accounts. Three in particular were 1776 by David McCullough, George Washington on Leadership by Richard Brookhiser, and First Family: Abigail and John Adams by Joseph J. Ellis. All three of these books relied heavily on personal letters and documents for their sources. The biography of Abigail and John Adams was especially dependent on personal correspondence. This couple wrote over 1100 letters to each other during their lifetime. They spent long periods of their marriage apart due to his political career and letters was what they had. In addition, John had the foresight to realize that they were living in a pivotal time for our country, and he believed that their letters could be an important historic legacy. And, one thing I learned by reading that book is John Adams was all about his legacy. So he instructed his wife NOT to throw any of the letters out.   I’m glad she didn’t. You see, I learn history best by hearing people’s stories, and the best way to hear them is when they tell them, first hand. And, since John and Abigail are long gone from this earth, all I have to go on is their letters.   So, maybe it isn’t a bad thing I’ve saved a lot of letters people have written me. And maybe, just maybe my friend Lynn is on to something...

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I’m Back!

Posted by on Jan 2, 2018 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts | 6 comments

    As some of you may have noticed it has been over a year since I posted on my blog. I haven’t even been to my website for months, so I went today. It seemed the thing to do on January 1st. I reread the last posts and noticed something. I haven’t done any of the things I intended to. Like sell books. But, I have no regrets. Let me explain. Towards the end of summer, 2016 I began to realize that I had way over reached my ability to keep it all together. After some discussion Bruce and I decided I needed to back off the writing part and focus on the marketing. It would give me a break, and sell books! We pushed on through the launch of my most recent book, The Double Cousins and the Mystery of the Russian Jewels and it was an AWESOME launch. When I jumped off the merry-go-round I discovered I wasn’t just tired. Rather, I was empty. I couldn’t do anything more than the necessary. I couldn’t even think about writing, let alone write a blog. So I started looking at what I needed to do to rejuvenate. There were several things that God reminded me of, but one of them was reading. The truth was that Miriam, an author and lover of books was suffering from a serious book reading deficit. You see, reading doesn’t just pass the time for me. It relaxes me. It gives me new ideas. It builds me up. So, I determined to read at least 50 books in 2017. I would try for a book a week and see what happened. In addition, I would read through the Bible. Now, historically I struggled with that. No matter what read-through-the-Bible program I’ve used, it becomes an assignment. So, I hit on a new approach. I would pick whatever book in the Bible I wanted, and read that. Then I would pick another and read that! Wow! What an incredible difference it made. (I know, I know. It might or might not be a control thing.) How did I do? I’m so glad you asked! I read the entire Bible in ten months. I also read 50 other books for a total of 51 for the year. One of the interesting things that “happened” was that I found some historical Bible novels, commentaries, and other Bible based books and I read those in correlation with that section of the Bible. The Bible came alive for me in a way I had never experienced before. So, instead of waiting for January 1st, I started reading the Bible again in November. And today I spent some time sorting books on the shelves in my room. One shelf is last year’s books. Another is for the books I want to read in 2018. Yes, I am going to aim for 50 books again. I read history books, mysteries, biographies, novels, self-help, children’s (Winnie the Pooh—who doesn’t like Winnie...

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The Great Idea

Posted by on Sep 30, 2016 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts | 2 comments

The Great Idea

Tomorrow I will speak at the library in North Platte, Nebraska about Legacy. As I was preparing for this event I was reminded of a conversation my husband and I had the other day. “Sometimes I wish I could ask Grandma Jones a few questions. But I can’t. She’s gone.” “Like what,” I asked. “Well, for one thing, what was her favorite part of living in the sod house?” I may or may not have given him a look that said “Favorite part? Are you crazy?” What I said was that I didn’t remember her mentioning any particular good parts. Well, except she had a wood floor. She was right proud of her wood floor. We went on to discuss the fact that she shared little bits with different ones of us and that’s when I got the Great Idea! Yes, those words need capitalized. The Great Idea is this. What if at our next Jones Family Reunion we submitted questions that we would like to ask Grandpa and Grandma Jones? Then everyone in the room could tell what they remembered hearing from Grandpa and Grandma about those subjects. I know for a fact that our oldest cousin Gordon has more and different memories than the youngest one, Luke. Different ones of us spent time with them at different times in their lives. They probably shared things with some of us that the others have never heard. And then there is my dad’s generation. I’m sure they have even more information to add. Too bad our reunion is another two years away. How about you? Do you have a reunion or event coming up? What about Thanksgiving or Christmas? Write down your questions and bring them up when you are all together. You just might find out a lot more than you ever knew! If you do this, I would love to hear your stories about how it...

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All Must Be Well – A Legacy of Confidence

Posted by on Sep 22, 2016 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts | 2 comments

All Must Be Well – A Legacy of Confidence

The other day my cousin Elizabeth posted a video of her playing and singing a hymn. It was one I had never heard. I was immediately captivated by her voice. The clear, sweet, simple sound with the distinctive McKnight tonal qualities reminded me of another McKnight lady, my mother. I closed my eyes and listened and it was precious. I listened twice and went about my day. Today I decided to listen to Lizzie sing again. This time I listened to the words. All Must Be Well by Mary Bowley Peters  Through the love of God our Saviour, all will be well. Free and changeless is his favour, all, all is well. Precious is the blood that healed us, perfect is the grace that sealed us, strong the hand stretched forth to shield us, all must be well.  Though we pass through tribulation, all will be well. Ours is such a full salvation, all, all is well. Happy, still in God confiding, fruitful, if in Christ abiding, holy, through the Spirit’s guiding, all must be well.  We expect a bright tomorrow, all will be well. Faith can sing through days of sorrow, ‘All, all is well.’ On our Father’s love relying, Jesus every need supplying, in our living, in our dying, all must be well. “Through the love of God our Saviour, all will be well.” And this, “Though we pass through tribulation, all will be well.” As I listened for the third time memories started popping into my head. The first one was from the night my mother died. Daddy gathered his three children all together on a bed upstairs and he read us the verse from the Bible that says God holds the keys of life and death. He told us that he had “no idea why God took Mommy home, but God is good and it would be all right.” We would be alright. All will be well. Then another memory sifted to the front. I was in my mid teens and we were at a church business meeting where things were being said to and about my Daddy, the Pastor. I began to cry as he stood at the front of the church and calmly answered questions. He looked at me and said, right out loud. “Miriam, it will be all right.” All will be well. Even within the past year with his limited post-stroke speech, when another hurtful disappointment occurred, he was heard to say, “It will be all right.” All will be well. To be honest I have been experiencing a bit of overwhelm. So many stresses—good and bad—have occurred in the past year or so and we all know how that is, don’t we? But as I listened to Elizabeth sing that simple hymn I was reminded that despite losing Mommy all has been well. Even though people have hurt us, all has been well. It was just one more instance of a legacy given by God and delivered by my parents. A...

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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. ....

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The Playlist in my Brain

Posted by on Jul 26, 2016 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts |

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...

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Cowboys in the Park

Posted by on Jul 23, 2016 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts |

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...

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Found: Five Fun Facts About Historic Research!

Posted by on Jul 19, 2016 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts |

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...

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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...

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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 |

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!        ...

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Go Back In Time? If Only . . .

Posted by on Jun 1, 2016 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts |

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...

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Remember Why We Celebrate

Posted by on May 30, 2016 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts |

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)...

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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...

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Lessons from a Chewbacca Mask

Posted by on May 22, 2016 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts |

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...

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The Older Generation – Up For The Challenge

Posted by on May 18, 2016 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts |

This is a repeat, a piece I wrote a few years ago and included in my book All I Have Needed-A Legacy for Life. This month is Older Americans Month and I am starting to really look forward to our family reunion just one month from today. So, I chose to re-post this. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do! The Older Generation – Up For the Challenge I love this picture from the reunion. It might be my favorite. To someone who doesn’t know our family it looks like nothing but a picture of a group of 60-70 something adults. But for those of us who know these people, there are some things that might make us look a second time. The fifth from the left is my Dad.  He is surrounded by his wife, sisters, brothers-in-law, cousins, and their spouses. Oh, and his sister-in-law. This picture started as one of those spur of the moment, grab a group of chatting people, make them line up, and take their picture photo-ops.  I think we started with five or six. Then we started noticing more from their generation in the room and called them over. There are several pictures in the series and each has one or two more people. My dad’s brother, Jim had already left to go to the fair so he is missing, but his wife is there. My favorite part is that they are mixed up. With the exception of two couples they aren’t standing with their spouses. I love photos that give different groupings. I like the unexpected twist. Here we have a group of people who have grown up together, their spouses have been part of the family for ten to 56 years, and they are family. They have differences of opinion, differences of belief, differences of interests, but they are family. Another thing I like about this picture is the fact that none of these people have been divorced. A couple are on their second marriages, but that is due to the death of a spouse. These folks are in it for the long haul. They had a good example in my grandparents and their parents, all who stayed married until death parted them. In this day where families are so transient, ours stands out. I can truly say I have been surrounded by great examples. At a store in Broken Bow I saw a plaque. It read. . .  “a good marriage is a union of two great forgivers.” I’m thankful for this generation and their determination to stick it out and make their love grow instead of letting it die. I love you all! I understand why you aren’t quite ready to be called “the older generation” but I’m thankful for the wisdom and strength you bring and I really think you are up for the challenge. Your parents were proud of you and we are so grateful. You can buy the book by clicking here and it will take you to Amazon. Please also not that right NOW the kindle edition is...

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