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Hey Gang!

And I mean that in the nicest possible way…

Thank YOU for all the love and support last night! Your comments and purchases of my new book were so encouraging. Of course it is still available if you didn’t get a chance to order it yet. PLEASE be sure to tell me what you think of it by leaving a review. You help me to be a better writer!

My goal when I began writing was to represent the Lord in a new and creative way. That continues to be my prayer. I really appreciate your help!

I don’t know how many books sold last night, but I received a lot of positive feedback. I think it takes a while for Amazon to tally best seller status, maybe a month or so. But any news I receive I’ll be sure to pass on.

Again, thank you! May the Lord sweetly bless each of you!

It’s Time!

Hello Sweet Readers! It’s time! Go now and pull up my book on Amazon:

Too Far Gone, the journey of a good man who lost it all.

Get ready to click the button and buy at 7pm Eastern.

Thank you for your support and kind comments along the way! Much love from Clarkville!Product Details

 

 

New Book

 

 

 

My new book titled Too Far Gone is available on Amazon. BUT I’d love for you to wait to order it on Cyber Monday, November 27th at 7pm eastern time. If everyone orders at the same time [all seven of us 😉 ] I might hit the best seller list. Below is a little video, only five minutes and 37 seconds, with a little preview of the book. Sure hope the book brings you joy. Thank you sweet readers! Much love from Clarkville!

 

I’m So Thankful!

September 29th, 2016 was my last big chemo treatment… the kind that makes a person instantly old. After that came the “lesser” chemo every three weeks; surgery to remove a cancerous tumor and eleven lymph nodes; then thirty radiation treatments. All that was completed this past June followed up by hormone therapy. Hopefully those drugs will keep the devilish disease from returning.

Praise God I lived to tell about it! Now I have sense enough to really be thankful for things I missed while going through treatment; Simple things like sleep. I rest so well now that I’m back to snoring loud enough to rattle the windows. In fact, I’m so loud that I may be responsible for the zombie movement since I surely wake the dead.

I’m thankful for food that I used to love but couldn’t stand the taste of while taking chemo. Things like coffee, chocolate and fried chicken that David makes in his mom’s old electric frying pan. Oh how wonderful. He skins it then soaks it in milk, rolls it in flour and the crust is to die for! I even love the wonderful aroma of it cooking. Last year I would hurl at the thought. David literally lost twenty pounds while I was sick because he tried not to eat in front of me. Well, that and a boatload of worry when I prayed stupid stuff like, “Lord Jesus! Just take me home!”

Bless his heart.

I’m thankful for friends and family. Though I loved these folks before, something about a friend stopping by with a new nightgown she happened upon at Marshall’s’; brown sugar bagels from Panera’s; a new hat and a funny story… it felt a lot like love. One day I found a bright red picnic basket outside the door filled with lotion, lip balm, a funny coffee mug, garden clogs and flip flops. Just thinking about being strong enough to walk outside and have a picnic or work in the yard felt a lot like hope.

I’m thankful most of all for so many prayers and messages telling me often that folks were praying for me. In a time when I couldn’t process the words of Scripture, though I knew they were true, others lifted me up. A pastor friend stopped by and I told him of my struggles. Having been with many folks going through chemo he related that one of them said his brain was so foggy that reading the Bible was like reading a can of soup. It meant nothing. The pastor’s kind words helped me past the guilt I was experiencing to an understanding that God had not left my side. It felt a lot like faith.

I’m thankful for David. I knew to be thankful before I got cancer. But something about having a husband who cleans up behind a grown woman who is too sick to make it to the bathroom in time really shows what a man is made of. Again, bless his sweet heart. His kind example of faith, hope and love felt a lot like grace.

And lest I spiritualize things too much, I have to admit that I’m thankful for hair. Apparently God looked down at the curly bob I’ve worn since the eighties and said, “Enough of that girl! You need a new doo!” He grew it back, curled it not quite as tight and even gave me a few sprigs to pull toward my ample forehead. I imagine He smiled at His work and said, “Not bad for an old chick.” I know it’s vain, but I can’t even tell you how happy I am to finally have hair. It feels a lot like joy.

I have to say, I think I owe my life to you. Remember the story in the Bible of the men who carried their friend on a cot to Jesus? The place was so crowded they lifted him onto the roof. I reckon they had a pulley system of some sort. They removed the roof tiles and let him down right in front of Jesus. Luke 5:20 says that Jesus healed the man and forgave his sins when he saw the faith of his friends.

When I was so weak I had to be carried, you my friends lifted me up to the Lord in prayer. You faithfully asked Him to heal me. Praise God He did! It feels like faith, hope, love and grace rolled into a great big bundle of joy!

Yes! I’m so thankful!

Similar Yet Different

I love the beach, especially during off-season. My autumn love affair began when our daughters were young. David’s vacation days landed in October and the weather co-operated enough to enjoy the surf. Apparently kids don’t realize how cold the water is when they’re having fun.

Fast forward about thirty years. Our firstborn lives in Illinois and her youngest daughter Kianna happens to love the beach too. However, they seldom get to visit there since it’s at least a fifteen hour drive. Kianna turned sixteen on Halloween so her parents surprised her with a long weekend at the coast. She is such a great kid and was thrilled with the gift even though it included me [her Grammy], her mom Stephanie, and Stephanie’s sisters Amanda and Hannah. Together the five of us stayed in a beachfront condo on Ocean Isle for three days. The Lord graciously blessed us with gorgeous weather: sunshine and mid-seventies; a beautiful harvest moon shining down over the sparkling water; and breathtaking sunrises and sunsets. Watching the waves lap at the shoreline was the best therapy of all.

We capped off Saturday night with a Bob Ross painting party. Stephanie collected the supplies we needed beforehand plus a YouTube video on how to paint a seascape. Though all of us watched the same recording, listened to the same instructions, and by the end of the day even had similar hairstyles as our teacher Bob, our paintings are very different. It is actually rather surprising how different they are. As the mother/grandmother it reminded me of an important truth. No matter how similar the parenting, our kids are going to grow up to do their own thing. Just as we were given freewill by our heavenly Father, so also were our children. With each personality, set of circumstances and choices made, our character is developed. It seems the best Parent of all loves variety.

I wonder why we struggle with that. We look at others and wish we were like them. They always know where they put their keys. When they pull off their shoes, their toes aren’t poking through their socks. They never take their kids to the grocery store with jelly on their faces. Their purse is not hiding last week’s banana and their credit cards are never declined.

Maybe it’s time we cut ourselves a little slack. Maybe those of us who march to a different beat are the very ones the Lord will use to make others laugh. Perhaps we’ll lighten a load and make the world a better place.

So to you who live on a continual guilt trip over your imperfect kids and your crazy life, I recommend jumping off that train. Lick your thumb and wipe the jelly from your kid’s face… or not. Relax and be glad that your offspring are different. At some point they’ll probably wonder why fruit flies are hovering around their purses and you’ll know the answer.

Paint the scenes of your life to suit yourself and the Lord. It just so happens, He loves variety.

Mama’s House

We lost her last May. Our lives will never be the same. She fiercely loved her family, her home and her yard. In fact, my beautiful mom-in-law had a LOT of interests. Crafts, ceramics, decorations, gifts from a multitude of loved ones; it all had to go somewhere. We spent the summer cleaning out her house. Merciful heavens at the junk treasure! That old saying was never more true.

“No kid ever says when their parents die, ‘I wish they’d had more stuff!’”

Though we got the inside sorted, the outside would certainly not meet her standards. The woman would have surely cut back her giant snowball bush by now. Like all true southern women, she swept her patio every day. And even though she could hardly drag her bad leg, she would have already raked leaves several times. Yard work was her passion. When the pile of leaves got too large to push any further, she’d rake them onto an old blue sheet then pull them to the ditch. Then she would haul the hosepipe there so she could soak them down. That way they would stay put until the city crew came by to vacuum them up. Mama had a system. God forbid that anyone suggest otherwise.

We live across the road from her house. Currently her yard is covered with autumn leaves accompanied by a wreath in pink spring flowers on the door. Mama would not be pleased. She changed her wreaths religiously with each season. It comforts me however to imagine her in her new home. She made it clear that she loved the Lord so it’s easy to picture her in Gloryland visiting with my own mama. The two of them probably have more important things to chat about than leaves in the yard or wreaths on the door.

Man I hope so.

While I write this, an appraiser and a potential buyer are inspecting her house. Before they came, I removed the pink wreath. I left it as long as possible since it was the last one she hung before she died. Hopefully they’ll be able to see past the leaves to the lovely home Mama kept for over fifty years.

I know it’s crazy. Though I hope it sells, my heart hurts at the possibility. I keep thinking about taking her a loaf of cranberry pumpkin bread. It was her favorite and I have cranberries in the freezer that she bought me. My husband commented that we won’t know which yahoos to vote for this year since Mama’s not here to give us the scoop. His sister Gail still picks up the phone to call her as they were used to talking several times a day. His other sister Jo stops by sometimes just to sweep the patio.

Christmas will be the hardest I think. She would have turned ninety-two on Christmas Day. The whole family always met at her house on Christmas Eve for steaks with a side of mayhem. This year someone else’s family will likely fill the space. When they move in I hope they’ll love and appreciate the house as much as Mama did.

Maybe I’ll take them a loaf of cranberry pumpkin bread to welcome them home.

I’m sure Mama would be pleased.

A New Season

Don’t you love the turning of one season to another? Currently our fridge holds watermelon on one shelf and carrot muffins with cream cheese icing on the other. Okay… so I ate the last muffin yesterday but you get the point. While I enjoyed it with a steaming mug of coffee, David ate the juicy remains of the last watermelon of the summer.

He’s dressed in shorts and a t-shirt while I’m wrapped in a soft throw looking out the window at golden leaves. One by one they carpet our yard and seem glad for the cooler weather.

So am I.

We haven’t seen our hummingbirds for a couple weeks so David washed the feeder and put it away. Apparently those little guys have gone wherever it is they go in anticipation of colder days ahead.

Personally we’re going through a new season too. Back in the spring of our lives we were busy birthing babies and enjoying all things small. Our house was small, our budget was small, our kids were small. But our dreams were big. Expectations for the future included large: a larger house with plenty of room for grandchildren and extended family; a large budget for big vacations and bigger gifts. As we anticipated our future together we expected our needs to be little and our life to be big.

As we entered the summer of our marriage, the house got big and the family got bigger. Oh how we loved it. So much activity and laughter! Our babies brought their babies and renewed our joy with each visit.

Now suddenly we find ourselves in the midst of autumn. Our house is small again since it’s just the two of us. When the family piles in we stack them up like loaf bread and love every minute. However, when they leave we collapse in our respective recliners and praise God. Our strength is completely spent. As my friend Ann says, “Tail lights are a beautiful thing.”

We never saw it coming.

Unlike the hummingbirds, I think I always expected it to be summer; to be strong and full of life.  Now suddenly here it is fall and my hip hurts. I can get down on the floor to build castles, but I’m never sure what it might take to get me back up. Though my husband is a burly man he struggles with kidney stones. He has always been the strong one. Now he finds it hard to do ordinary tasks lest he activate an attack. I hate to admit it, but we might be closer to winter than fall.

At times I feel we’re on a sled going down an icy hill so fast that we must hold on for dear life lest we take a tumble and break a hip. What used to be adventurous now feels kinda scary.

When did this happen?

For breakfast we poured our Aldi-O’s, split a banana, and thanked God. As we enter this next season at least there are still two in our little house. When I sneeze I still hear someone say “Bless you!” And if I dare to build a castle on the floor with the grandkids, there is somebody near to help me up.

Perhaps I should celebrate this new season. Too bad I ate the last muffin. So here’s to all my aging friends. I toast you with half a banana lifted high in hopes that you will take joy in the small things: like golden leaves floating gracefully to earth; companionship; lifelong friends; and hummingbirds which will return again next year.

And may your coming season be filled with more thankfulness than fear.