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Home Sweet Home

Bluebirds are scoping out their new digs this morning. My friend Randy brought me a house on a pole last year with a plastic pipe around it so snakes can’t slither up. For days now the bluebird couple has patrolled the area by sitting in the crepe myrtle looking in every direction before entering their new place. Last year I had the pleasure of watching two families emerge from that house as they taught their babies how to fly. I was hoping some of them would remember their cute little starter home and return this year. It looks like they have. Thankfully they are not nearly as picky as us humans.

Is it just me or do you get sick of watching folks on television hunt for a house and turn up their noses because there’s not enough room for “entertaining?” Who are these people who entertain so often that they need a ton of space? God forbid that one would have to pull up a chair from the kitchen or sit on an ottoman. Put the kids on the floor for crying out loud or do like my mom-in-law always threatened. Bang another nail in the wall and hang the extra bodies there.

And what’s the deal with stainless steel appliances? I remember the day when my sister, God love her, had an avocado stove with a harvest gold hood, and a white refrigerator. I vaguely remember an almond colored dishwasher. Her countertops were bright sunshine yellow. Every kitchen drawer was skewed sideways and there was no rhyme or reason to finding anything. But her house was the place everyone loved to gather! Every Thanksgiving, Christmas, summertime cookout or birthday party she’d pipe up and invite, “Let’s have it at my house. No trouble!” She’d pull out the plastic tablecloths, set up little eating areas all over the house, and tell everyone to grab a plate. We’d start at one end of her galley kitchen and serve ourselves buffet style. The threat of being trampled was real, but no one ever went hungry.

For years and years my sweet mom-in-law has hosted in a similar fashion. I think there were around forty or so people at her house Christmas Eve. Everybody knows where she keeps the TV trays. The littlest kids eat at the coffee table or the fireplace hearth. Sure stuff gets spilled. That’s why she has the carpet cleaned AFTER Christmas instead of before. Maybe the difference between these dear ladies and the house hunters on television is that while some seek to entertain, others just open their doors and say, “Come on in and have a seat if you can find a place for at least half a butt cheek.” I’ve got a feeling that one of these entertaining styles is a lot more fun than the other.

I just checked the status of my bluebirds. They have moved on, probably checking out other options. Sure wish I had a way to tell them how valuable that plastic pipe will be when their babies hatch. But I’m sure they’ll figure it out. Any birdbrain knows that keeping the family together is way more important than showing off a perfect home.

 

Wedding Bells

I’m so happy to announce that the last book in the Blue Meadow Farm series is available on Amazon! Just in time for Valentine’s Day, Wedding Bells on Blue Meadow Farm ties up all the loose ends. For those of you who like to wait until a series is finished before getting involved, I completely understand. I feel the same way. I’m so weird that I seldom watch a television show which is continued until the next week.

So here you go dear readers: The ending you’ve been waiting for with several surprises along the way. I sure hope you enjoy it! As a side note, writing the series began early August of 2015. It took a full year and a half to write, change, edit, and birth this baby. I really believe the Lord blessed me with this wonderful distraction as I battled cancer. Suddenly it became very important not to die with all the words left in a laptop unread. Because of you I had a goal in front of me and a reason to keep working through the sickness. Thank you for taking this journey with me and for all your kind comments and encouragement. I truly love you all and thank you from the bottom of my heart!

To find the series, search Amazon for either Lynna Clark or Blue Meadow Farm. Or even easier, check out my Facebook Author page where with one click you can go straight to the series and see the books before you buy. For best enjoyment, read the books in order as I didn’t spend a lot of time covering old ground at the beginning of each book. You’ll get a better feel for the characters that way.

Last of all, my goal was to present the love of the Lord without preaching. I hope you can see Him especially as each character struggles with their faith. But I promise there shall be no preaching. I left that up to the people who know stuff. I just hope you can see yourself or maybe a neighbor and I hope I will lighten your load by making you laugh.

Thank you again my friends! Much love from Clarkville!

Odds are you know someone going through cancer. I thought it might be helpful to give a little insight from one who is currently in the midst of the adventure.

Part of the joyous journey was losing my hair. Emotionally that was the hardest. Finally, after seven months, it’s starting to grow back. So far it is black and silver and straight. It looks a lot like Bill Belichick’s only not as good. His bangs are longer than mine so I must confess to having bang envy. And my eyebrows are coming in all willy-nilly so I use an eyebrow pencil to give a little definition. It’s harder than you’d think. Sometimes I end up with angry eyes and have to start over, unless of course I’m having a bad day. If I get them too high I come off looking terribly confused. It’s a great look and often accurate.

When I was first diagnosed back in May, my biggest fear was losing flopsy and mopsy. Many women have bravely endured that ordeal plus gone through painful reconstructive surgery. Thankfully that was not part of my journey. The surgeon did however have to go under my armpit and into the breast to remove a good many lymph nodes as well as the cancerous tumor. Surgery was followed up with radiation. I took thirty treatments where the sun has never shined. My underarm, back and other delicate parts were scorched either brick red or deep chocolate brown; but only on one side. That’s a great look too for a former curly red-headed white chick.

One of the young ladies who administered the radiation commented on my burns. “Poor thing! And you didn’t even get to go anywhere fun to get that ‘sunburn.’” I laughed as I considered it. “If I ever come home from a trip with a sunburn like this I’m gonna have some explaining to do!”

Eating is still very tricky even though my last big chemo cocktail was in September. Frankly when they said cocktail I was expecting a better party. But it turned out to be not that much fun. Four months later I still can’t quite shake the nausea. Stuff I used to love like coffee and chocolate, tastes really funky. That’s when my confused eyebrows come in handy.

The upside of all this has been the wonderful care and kindness of so many people. By their example I’m learning to be more compassionate. I tend to be a little hard-hearted. One of my daughters explained to me that I have a very strong “Baloney Meter,” as in I don’t put up with a lot of whining. Apparently God is trying to change that about me; because now when someone says they’re going through something hard I actually stop to listen and at least pretend to care.

Something else my journey has taught is that the best gift is a one word email, card, or Facebook message which simply says “Praying.” There were times I was so low that I begged God for a mercy killing. So when you don’t know what to do for your suffering friend, just pray. It may seem small but really it’s the most thoughtful gift you can give.

The cancer journey is not for the faint of heart. But with the prayers of friends, the love of God and a little humor, maybe I’ll live to tell about it.

I may need a very special set of eyebrows for that glorious day.bell-1

My New Word

A savvy person whose blog I read recommended choosing one word to focus on for the coming year. That was January 2016. She said it would be better than a New Year’s resolution since it would be a daily reminder of that which is important. Her word was something practical like “Simplify” and worked well for her since she’s a homemaking guru. I liked her word and even have a metal sign hanging in my kitchen with it written in big red letters. But I couldn’t very well use her word. I thought on it a while and was just about to give up when the word “Flourish” came to mind. What a great word! Instead of just getting things marked off my to-do list, I would focus on flourishing. Why do things half-hearted when one can flourish?
Happily I found colored pens and wrote my word, then placed the notecards in strategic places around the house. When I looked at the fridge, my word would remind me to do things better than average. When I checked the bathroom mirror, the notecard there would encourage me for the day. Another card would mark my Bible to remind me to do all for the glory of God. As I continued to edit my book I decided to add the word to a scene since it’s not a term I use very often.
This is part of a phone conversation between a mother and her grown adopted son:

“‘Honey, talk to me. What’s going on?’
Shawn had a hard time speaking and it took a bit til he could reply. ‘I’m in a hard place Liddy. Please pray for me.’
She waited and felt her own tears rising. ‘I will honey. Where are you right now?’
A shiver went through his body so he started his truck and turned on the heater. ‘I’m up at your prayer garden but I’m sittin’ in my truck. It’s turned cold all of a sudden.’
She tried to brighten his mood. ‘Did you get to see the sunset?’
He relaxed a little remembering all the times they’d watched it together. ‘Yep. It was GLORIOUS!’ He used her word with a flourish and she laughed.
‘Glorious huh? That sounds about right. So I reckon God’s still splashing His love all over the North Carolina sky. I don’t think He much cares for Alabama. He makes them wait an hour on their sunset.’
Shawn was quiet and knew she was trying to cheer him up. He breathed another prayer about how much to tell her. Somehow it didn’t seem right to break the confidence he and Tessa shared.”

When I typed my new word, it was then I realized the problem. A red squiggly line marked it. I had spelled flourish wrong on all my notecards. I was completely disgusted with myself. How can I flourish when I can’t even spell it? Florish is not a word!

I collected my pretty cards, ripped them to shreds and tossed them in the trash.
A short five months later I learned that I have cancer. As the news got out I was suddenly overwhelmed with care packages and cards and Facebook messages and prayers. Love and kindness was showered on me and my husband. Ladies at the school where he works painted the giant rock out front and put my name on it in pink. People mailed us gift cards for groceries and meals. Flowers cheered me with happy faces and promises of better days to come.

Fast forward to New Year’s Day 2017. Our beloved pastor encouraged us with a beautiful message about becoming intentional in our walk with the Lord by prayerfully choosing one word to focus on. I bowed my weary head and prayed. I knew which word it would NOT be. Then it came, like a firm but loving reprimand.
“Lynna! Will you ever realize that you are truly loved? You’re not stupid. You are loved.”

I took a pen and wrote on the notecard “Love(d).”

Because the Lord and many others have loved me so well, I too can learn to show love. Too bad it took cancer to help me see it. But praise God for the revelation! With this new focus, who knows?

I might even flourish!

Good Luck

We don’t have a lot of traditions in our family. Most of what we established as a young couple has long fallen by the wayside as our three daughters have married and started traditions of their own. But one thing we hold tightly to is the habit of eating beans and cabbage for New Year. Everybody knows that doing so insures lots of coins and cash for the next twelve months. And anyone who knows us has been witness to how well that works for our family.
[I really need a sarcasm font.]
Therefore, in order to keep any more financial crap from hitting the fan I proceeded to cook a big pot of white beans. Hopefully the good luck fairies were not already ticked off as I waited til January 2nd to do so. I had in fact started the process on the 1st by thawing out the hambone we’d saved from Christmas and the chicken broth David had frozen at some point. Both these items make a big pot of beans taste like manna from heaven. As stated before, we use white beans, either Navy or Great Northern rather than Pintos which tend to give us gas, and not the kind that currently sells for $2.39 a gallon.
Annyyywayyy…
The beans had simmered for hours and filled the house with a great aroma. Chunks of ham fell from the aforementioned bone with promises of yumminess. David made the slaw since he prefers his cabbage with mayo, vinegar, and a touch of sugar. His bowl of beans is capped off with a helping of slaw right in the middle so that the bean to slaw ratio is perfect. This one dish wonder is further perfected with cornbread. We happened to be watching America’s Test Kitchen while the beans simmered. The cooking wizards demonstrated how to bake the perfect cornbread muffins. I did not however write down the recipe as I knew I could watch their technique then find the measurements online. Once they finished I went to my writing room, opened the laptop and noticed my email inbox was full. Plus a quick glance at Facebook revealed best wishes from friends and friends of friends as well as pictures of children of people I tried to remember; all celebrating Christmas and New Year with trips to grandmas everywhere.
David stepped into my writing nook and mentioned that the beans may need more chicken stock as they had cooked down to an occasional bubble which resembled a volcanic eruption. I hoped that wasn’t a sign of stomach issues to come. I closed the laptop, stirred the beans and praised God for keeping them from scorching. Apparently I had been sucked into the quicksand of social media for much longer than I realized. I took my beloved’s hand and asked if he was ready to eat. He knows that’s his cue to ask the blessing. He lovingly gazed at me with something akin to wonder. After forty some years of marriage I should have recognized that questioning look. What I mistook for admiration of my bean cooking skill was in fact his thinking face; as in, should he say out loud the question which swirled in his brain. Instead he prayed a sweet prayer asking God to continue to work in our lives in the coming year; for strength and healing; and a special thanks for blessing us and bringing us through one of the hardest times of our lives.
We dipped our beans, added the slaw and sat down to watch football. Something was amiss but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. Once again chemo brain gave me the feeling that I was forgetting something. Finally I asked. “Does this taste okay? I think it’s missing something.
David looked at me with a smile. “It’s great!” he said between bites. “Even without the cornbread.”
Dagnabbit! I had looked forward to cornbread all day and somehow forgot to bake it. Oh well. At least the good luck fairies only care about beans and cabbage. Hopefully they were sufficiently appeased. In fact, maybe that’s what we’ve been doing wrong all these years. Maybe it’s the cornbread that’s been nullifying the coins and cash. I’ll let you know how this year goes. Perhaps we’ve finally stumbled onto the key to financial success.
But I have to say that at some point I’m going to bake some cornbread. After all, money’s not everything.

Happy Birthday Ann! Some fun just never gets old!

Lynna's Wonderful Life

I met my friend Ann the first time as we waited to pick up our kids from school. Like me she had two in elementary and one in the car. We hit it off immediately, mostly because we shared the same warped since of humor. By summertime we piled the kids in the car and headed to Morrow Mountain for swimming lessons and pbj’s several times a week. We were at best a six ring circus on wheels. Make that eight counting the clowns in the front seat. Angels flew low surrounding her station wagon on all those trips up and down the mountain. Not one mishap! We won’t speak of the twenty-five mile per hour zone and the park ranger with nothing else to do. I’m sure he’s gone to Glory by now and is happily handing out tickets to all those flying past his little cabin doing thirty…

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The Stuff of Legends

The game was a blowout. I started to go to bed but it was only 8:30. In an effort to not be so blame old I was determined to wait until at least nine p.m. before turning in. Besides, it was the Belk Bowl in Charlotte. We were pulling for the Virginia Tech Hokies but they were down 0-24 at the half. The stadium actually began to empty.

I have no idea what their coach said to them. What would you tell a team that’s played awful for two whole quarters looking miserable on both offense and defense? Apparently he knew they were capable of more and told them so. For after the halftime break the Hokies came out like gangbusters. By the end of the third quarter they were up 27-24. And all those fans who left early were kicking themselves for giving up too soon.

The next morning I asked David the final score since I gave up the ghost before it was over. He said the commentator mentioned that it was one of those games that legends are made of. From that day forward the coach can look at his teams and say, “Remember the Belk Bowl of 2016 when we were down 0-24 at the half and came back to win 35-24? We kept Arkansas from scoring another point after the half! It’s in you to win this game too if you don’t give up!”

Have you ever been so far down that you’ve considered throwing in the towel? Finances were so terrible you had no idea how you’d make it. Or sickness consumed your life to the point where you thought you might die and wished you’d hurry up. That’s the stuff legends are made of.

Perhaps things look so bleak that you can’t imagine pulling out a win. But I’m telling you it’s possible. “Dear brothers and sisters when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your endurance is fully developed, you will be mature and complete, needing nothing. If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and He will give it to you.” –James 1:2-5

I remember a time just three years ago when I was too sick to work and David lost his job very unexpectedly. Two days later he wound up in the hospital with kidney stones. That low point in our life was overwhelming. But it was the stuff legends are made of. God provided miraculously for all our needs one day at a time as it would be a solid year and a half before he got another full time job. Now we are in a different kind of battle as I struggle through cancer treatments with David by my side. Once again the Lord is developing our endurance. I know it’s an opportunity for joy and believe me when I say I’m trying. But to be perfectly honest, I don’t skip through each day as if it’s a joy to be alive. However, something inside tells me that since God has seen us through so many other trials, surely He will remain faithful in this one too. So we ask for wisdom, and endurance and even a little joy knowing He has a purpose and a plan for our lives. He’s delivered us before. Why in the world would I throw in the towel and give up at half time? Be encouraged dear friend. Look back at how far you’ve come. There’s a wonderful victory ahead! He knows you are capable of more. It’s in you to win this time too if you don’t give up.

“So if you are suffering in a manner that pleases God, keep on doing what is right and trust your lives to the God who created you, for He will never fail you.” -1 Peter 4:19

Life is Good

Just 3 years ago