Sunday, November 25, 2018

Fascinating First Lines: Part Two


Part 2

I wrote Fascinating First Lines: Part One before Thanksgiving. My goal was a three-part series, so here is part two:

Hope is the Way to Go
My family had high hopes and a lack of money. But lack of money did not hinder my parents’ high hopes for their children. That meant my brothers and I had to learn to use manners at the dinner table. We also had to be polite to guests and learn to get along with people---all kinds of people, not just those in our social circle.

High hopes meant we had to do our share of chores---not just enough to get by, but do them well. It also meant we had to get good grades in school. Their high hopes developed character in us and prepared us for life outside our home.

At times lack of money was an issue, but love was there. They provided for us the best they could. Vacations were not fancy, but we got away. Clothes were not the latest fashion, but they were clean. Birthdays were not lavish, but they were acknowledged. College was on their hope list, too, and we all found a way to go. Their high hopes had a lasting effect.

Tiny Babies in a Big World
Everyone comes to the world on a journey of self-discovery.  It’s not long before a baby discovers if he makes enough noise, someone will pay attention. Self-discovery continues when he reaches down and touches his toes. Later he learns to gather smiles by touching and naming eyes, ears and nose. And, oh the praise he gets when he learns to use the potty!

Discovery becomes creative when playing with Legos, or crayons, or plunking on piano keys. He learns to distinguish tastes, like sweet, sour or salty. Then comes discovery at school. Perhaps he enjoys math more than language arts, or science more than history. He may not be happy to learn he has to study them all, no matter what.

It’s an important discovery, and one of life’s biggest lessons. It’s possible to do things we don’t enjoy. Life will not always go our way.

Cancer is a Challenge
I’m not a hero, even though I tried to keep from being destroyed by what happened. It’s nice to know that people admired me for facing up to cancer treatments with faith and hope. It was a challenge I never dreamed I’d have. 

I’m not by nature a quitter, but this challenge was bigger than me. God is the One who got me through it. I read His word, meditated on scripture, prayed and determined to remain positive.

I invited Him to go with me to each treatment and every appointment. I challenged myself to be thankful for small things every day. I felt that each day was important. No more taking life for granted, as if I had all the time in the world.

I hope these paragraphs have inspired you.
If so, you’ll have uplifting thoughts of your own.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

"T" is for Turkey, and More!

“T” is for Turkey, and More!

Enjoy Fall Colors Around You
Fall colors abound and Thanksgiving Day will soon be here. But people, celebrating it in a variety of ways, have given it more casual names. Turkey Day is one of them.

How about Family Day? Though it may be a challenge, relatives far and near make an effort to celebrate together.

Others consider it A Day for Hospitality and Friendship. When far from family, my husband and I appreciated many such invitations over the years. And God bless the volunteers at missions and soup kitchens who try to make this day special for people they don’t know.

In one church, we had teams who worked hard to serve a Thanksgiving dinner with all the trimmings. It was strange to observe how many men were anxious to eat and run. To them it was Game Day and no way were they going to miss the start of their favorite football game on TV.

I remember, in my younger years, how hard my minister father and mother worked to provide spiritual significance to A Day of Thanksgiving. Traditionally, it was the Sunday prior to the holiday, and scriptures and songs reminded us to thank God for the good things in our world and in our lives.

After all, we enjoy things like sunrise and sunset, all kinds of weather in four seasons, family and friends, creative abilities, five awesome senses, an extremely flexible skeletal system---I could go on, but you get the picture.

A List of Blessings Is OK, Too
Think about it. What are YOU thankful for? This year, either by yourself or with others, take time to say, “Thank you, God, (for something that means the most to you).  

I’ve had the privilege of sharing Thanksgiving over all kinds of food. I’ve enjoyed spaghetti dinners, Mexican food, and a variety of hotel buffets and potlucks. Togetherness in a spirit of thankfulness is always more important than what we eat.

A friend recently sent me a text/photo of a preschooler’s version of Thanksgiving. It was so special, I want to share it.

The format was simple. The teacher read a printed question, then wrote the child’s answer below. As a former teacher, I was pleased to see the five-year-old child had printed his own name at the bottom. I’m sure it was a proud moment for him.
Turkeys Beware!

Q: Where do you get a turkey to cook for Thanksgiving?
A: Walmart

Q: How long do you cook a turkey when you put it in the oven?
A: 10 seconds

Q: Is there something special you need to do to a turkey before you cook it?
A: Fluff it

Q: How much does a turkey weigh?
A: 10 pounds

Q: What else do you like to eat with turkey?
A: Donuts

There you have it!

Chefs, don’t forget to fluff the turkey. And if anyone knows the secret of baking a ten-pound turkey in ten seconds, be sure to let the rest of us know.
Take Time to be Thankful

Meanwhile, on Thanksgiving Day, enjoy your donuts, or pie or whatever else you like to eat with turkey. 

And don’t forget “T” is for Thanksgiving this year.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Fascinating First Lines: Part One


Part 1

Writing Down the Bones sounds like a strange title for a book, doesn’t it? But Natalie Goldberg’s goal was to help writers unleash their creativity and I  think she succeeded.

When a supportive friend gave me a copy of this book, I found it not only inspiring, but fun.

One of Goldberg’s suggestions was to take the first line from something you read, then expand it in your own way.

Though I wrote these years ago, the ideas are not outdated:
Hope Brings Joy

Age doesn’t matter in the realm of possibility. In a world full of inequity, it’s nice to know possibilities are open to all ages. The key to them is not age, but hope. A little child can hope just as easily as an aged adult. Maybe easier. Age can blunt the edges of hope until possibilities seem further away and longer in coming. But hope is related to that grain of mustard seed called faith. Plant the seed of hope, or faith, and you’ll reap a harvest of possibilities in due season.

Life is Full of Stuff
The longer I live, I know I can’t have everything. As a child I knew I couldn’t have everything because my parents said so. As a young adult I knew I couldn’t have everything because my finances said, "No way." As a mature adult I knew I couldn’t have everything because I’d already tried for many years and never had it all. The good thing is that at this age (retirement) I don’t even want it all. I accumulated a lot of STUFF over the years, and then what? I ended up downsizing and had to get rid of most of it.

Gifts Are Personal
If a person has a gift, he should open it. Have you ever handed a person a gift and heard them ask, “Should I open it now?” The answer most likely was, “Yes.” Part of the fun of giving a gift is seeing the person’s reaction when they open it. Some people get excited just because they received something. It doesn't matter if it is large or small. You thought of them---that was enough. God thought of us when He created the world. He gave us the gift of twenty-four-hour days. He waits in anticipation of our reaction upon opening His gift daily. He wonders what will they do to redeem the time today?

I read a lot, but finding a fascinating first line is like searching for gold. Perhaps that’s why I think these paragraphs still have value.

My hope is that they fascinate and inspire you, too.

Sunday, November 4, 2018

The Value of Waiting


You've probably heard don't count your chickens before they're hatched. If you grew up on a farm you learned the value of that advice. But if you were a city girl, like me, you probably considered it a nice cliché.

A Chicken Coop in the Country 
A grade school friend often invited me to share her country life. One of her jobs was to collect eggs, but I wasn’t much help. I was so skittish around the hens that my friend would just laugh as she completed her chore.

Fertilized eggs can produce baby chicks if incubated for the proper amount of time at the right temperature. 

Getting anxious and disturbing the eggs to see if anything has happened might cause disappointment twice---once when checked prematurely and later, when they have failed to hatch.

Waiting is Part of Life
Brooding hens know the value of waiting as they sit on eggs which will produce offspring. 

But humans brood, too. We call it being anxious, moody or worried as we wait for something to happen.

Goals, for example, need time to hatch. Have you ever set a goal and started working toward it only to think nothing is developing, so why am I wasting my time

Without results in your expected time frame, you begin to think your goal no longer has value.

You might be brooding over educational or career goals. Or perhaps it’s the development of a meaningful relationship. You’ve tried to allow time for it to hatch, but it seems lifeless. 

Since there’s no time chart for human relationships, you brood over it wondering what should I do?

Doctors, Treatments, Reports to Review
I once brooded over a medical diagnosis and long-term treatment plan. As friends and family prayed for me, they would ask, “How are you doing?”

While reviewing medical reports and doctors’ comments, I asked the same question. I had hope for recovery, but my expectations were premature. 

More time was needed to produce positive results.

Giving up was not an option, so I decided to hatch good health by following the advice of the Psalmist: “Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord” (Psalm 27:14).

You Are Not the Only One Waiting 
Wait was the word of the day so I took it to heart.

Farmers are not the only ones who have to wait for results. People everywhere know that fulfillment of hopes and expectations take time.

Allow yourself to learn the value of waiting.