Posts Tagged ‘joy’

Packing Light

The last time I packed to go to the beach I included clothes and provisions for every possible scenario. If it turned chilly I had a jacket. If it was hot I had sundresses… plural.  If the apocalypse broke loose, no problem. We took plenty of water. If they had no grocery stores on Ocean Isle, we certainly would not go hungry. Good gracious at the food we packed! I mean really. One should not go traipsing off to the far reaches of the state all willy-nilly. What if we got a late night hankering for Chex Mix? We made a foot tub of that just in case. After all… we were staying for three whole days.

Why did I do that? I ended up wearing the same thing I wear at home all week: Black capris, white top. David calls it my uniform.

This time we are going with two of our daughters’ families. My goal is to be a fun grandmother. I will play with them until I collapse in my beach chair. It won’t take long. I’m not a spring chicken anymore. It’s hard to admit that. But at least I won’t be worn out from lugging a bunch of stuff I don’t need up the stairs at the beach house. I can’t help but wonder though…

What will I wear if we go out to eat… which we will if I don’t pack food.

What if it turns cold… which it will if I don’t take a jacket.

What if all my hair falls out again because of my new medicine… which it will if I don’t take a hat.

What if my toenail polish gets raggedy in the surf?  Who in their right mind would wear flip flops with unkempt nails?

Oh! And we need a fan for optimal sleeping comfort. Plus our bucket o’ drugs because we can’t let our poor ol’ bodies get any more out of whack. Maybe I should pack our blood pressure cuff to make sure David’s doesn’t bottom out in the heat. And my favorite blanket in case the rest of the crew turns the A/C to subzero; Of course I need my own pillow… and cosmetics. Holy cow it takes a lot to keep me this lovely.

Beach chairs… we can’t forget the beach chairs. And the good frying pan; and ginger-ale in case I get fainty-fied. Of course I will need my insulated cup with the lid…

Toilet paper. Those places never have good toilet paper.

Sunscreen! I almost forgot the SPF one hundred forty seven. And an umbrella or maybe a pop-up tent. One cannot be too careful out in the sun these days.

OH! And chocolate milk! We always take chocolate milk on the trip down. It’s our special tradition signifying the beginning of vacation. No need breaking tradition just yet.

While I list the things we need so as not to forget anything vital, David packs a bag. Singular. It holds two pairs of shorts, underwear, swim trunks, a couple t-shirts, flip-flops. Period.

He zipped his bag shut though there was still plenty of room in it. I do not understand the man.

All I’m saying is that if his hair falls out, he is not getting my hat.3grands

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He shouted and danced and hugged everyone in the room. Our five year old grandson Able had just opened a present from his cousin Marie. You would’ve thought he’d been given the keys to the kingdom. Instead it was a pack of gray socks with colorful heels and toes.

“These are the awesomest socks ever!” he shouted. He hugged them to his chest and made his rounds so everyone could see his fabulous gift. Marie beamed with happiness that he loved them so much. Her mama had taken her and her brother Jesse to Five Below, a discount store, to let them pick anything they wanted to give to their cousin. Though she had questioned the gift, she deferred to Marie’s wisdom. It turned out to be a good move.

Oh that we could all be that thankful!

Some people are born with a natural thankfulness. Others of us have to be taught. After a period of fighting cancer and another mystery illness, I am more thankful now than I’ve ever been. In fact, this was the happiest Christmas I can remember. I had strength to bake, and host, and enjoy the family. My mind was clear enough to remember where I wrote my passwords so I could shop online. My sweetheart has recovered from two surgeries due to kidney stones and I no longer worry that he might keel over before he can help me clean up this mess. We have two local daughters and sons-in-law with their three five year old children who poured out more joy than our tiny house could contain. And though our other daughter’s family lives far away, they are in such a great place and the people there love them like family. My life is so full.

As I write this it’s two days after Christmas and I’m still smiling. Our family theme for years has been “Simplify.” Either that or “If a little cheese is good, a lot of cheese is better.” I love it when I see that lived out in our children. [the simplify theme… not the cheese one.]

Our middle daughter’s family gave everyone homemade apple butter. So yesterday for breakfast I stirred up an easy biscuit recipe that I haven’t made in years. We slathered that hot bread in butter and sampled different jams and jellies until our eyeballs nearly popped out. I felt a lot like Able and wanted to dance and shout.

You see, last year at Christmas, food was not pleasant to me, nor the smell of it… or even the thought. But now! Oh happy day!

Maybe your Christmas wasn’t so jolly.

Guess what. It’s not too late. I’m going to share my easy biscuit recipe. If I can do it, anyone can. Bake a batch and enjoy the simple pleasure.

Like many wonderful things, thankfulness is a choice. Choose it today lest like me and Ebeneezer Scrooge you have to learn it the hard way. Take sweet Able’s attitude and declare, “This is the awesomest day ever!”

And here, free of charge, is my recipe for easy biscuits with a side of thankfulness. May God bless us everyone!

Easy Biscuits

  • 2 cups self-rising flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • ½ cup mayonnaise

Stir until smooth; dip into a greased muffin tin; bake at 400 degrees til golden [about 15 minutes.] Makes 12; If you use plain flour, add 1 Tablespoon baking powder + 1 teaspoon salt. Serve hot slathered with butter.

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What Joy is Mine!

David’s mother was born on Christmas day and loved the holiday with all her heart. The first year I was part of the family I was struck with wonder at all the decorations… as in I wondered where in the world she kept all that stuff. It was like Santa had thrown up. Every shelf, door knob, corner, and countertop had something festive on it. The toilet lid had Santa with mittens over his eyes. Even the family dog sported a jingle bell collar. My beloved mom-in-law adored all things Christmas.

I hate to sound like Scrooge, but unlike Nina, decorating for me is a chore. I mean, why turn the whole house upside down for a month just when every long lost cousin on the planet will be dropping by?

Bah stinkin’ humbug.

Getting merry at my house involves taking the summer wreath off the door and hanging something green. If it has a splash of red, then call me jolly.

This year, I got kind of festive. We gathered our three local grandchildren who are all five, and decorated a twenty dollar tree from Big Lots. Since I love seashells and have them scattered throughout the house, we turned them into ornaments. The kids painted pinecones white while we figured out how to hang corks on the tree to add to our nautical theme. I have no idea where all those corks came from. Anyway, the tree turned out beautiful. Every time I look at it I get this crazy feeling inside. It feels like… joy. Nina would be proud.

This will be our first year celebrating Christmas without her. We lost sweet Nina in May to cancer. Her things were divided amongst the family. There was plenty to share with the “thundering herd” as she used to refer to us when we piled in for Sunday lunch. Her beautiful collection of handmade ceramic décor was enough to fill the homes of her three off-spring, their kids, grandkids, great-grands, and five great-great grands.

That’s a lot of Christmas.

But it won’t be the same.

Nina is not with us.

The joyous holiday was not about the beautiful things. It was about the beautiful person.

As usual, I will keep decorating to a minimum. The hand painted ceramic manger scene that Nina made for me years ago will be brought out. The wise men and camels will be placed at a distance in order to symbolize that they were on their way and didn’t arrive until baby Jesus had moved to a house.

I’m Biblical like that.

But this year I feel more inclined to focus on the joy. What joy Nina brought to her family for so many years! What fun it was to have our grandchildren over to make homemade ornaments. For the first time in a quite a while, I have the strength to enjoy family and friends.

And at the risk of sounding over spiritual, I must say that going through cancer this past year has taught me to have an abundant joy in the Lord. When I was so low that I begged Him to take me home, He graciously declined my request. With Him by my side, holding me up, I have lived to see another Christmas.

And I’ve learned. Christmas is not about the beautiful things. It’s about the beautiful One.

What joy is mine!

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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!

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Adventures at Sea

It’s been right at a year since the cancer diagnosis. Thankfully my strength has gradually returned. I decided to give it a try. We hadn’t been sailing since last June and the sparkling water beckoned. The Captain charted our course pulling out a map that made little sense to me. It hardly mattered. I was content with a comfortable place to rest where I could soak in the day. The first mate loaded all the gear. After tossing life jackets, fishing rods, extra towels and a picnic on board, she untied the boat and off we went.

The sun hit my face along with a stiff breeze and a gentle spray. I was glad to finally be over the sickness of chemo and able to enjoy one of my favorite pastimes. Just as I was beginning to relax the water became a little choppy. The first mate offered me a snack and looked at me with concern. I assured her I was fine. Nothing was going to spoil our day.

Suddenly the sky darkened and the seas became quite rough. The Captain assured me he knew a shortcut to our destination and took a hard right into the waves. I held on for dear life as the boat climbed each wave and landed with a monstrous splash. It seemed to me we were taking on an awful lot of water. The first mate advised me to put my life jacket on instead of just holding it in my lap. My heart pounded as I followed her instructions. Up and down we went over wave after wave. I tried not to think about it as my tummy reminded me of the omelet I had for breakfast.

Suddenly the Captain shouted, “There’s too much water coming in! I think we have a leak! I’m going to check it out!” Overboard he went.

“You stay here! I’m going to help!” With that the first mate abandoned ship as well. The two seasoned sailors disappeared under the boat.

Alone I waited.

There was no sign of either of them.

I closed my eyes trying not to panic as I wondered about the sharks they had spotted earlier.

A voice broke into my thoughts.

“Mom? Are you sick or just playing boat?” My daughter asked as she stood looking at my bed full of pillows and blankets and snacks. “Where are the kids?”

I clutched the pillow I was using as a flotation device and smiled. “They’re under the boat making repairs. But don’t worry. They can hold their breath a really long time. Besides, Jesse knows a shortcut to California and Marie brought lots of snacks.”

While my daughter peeked under the bed at her giggling four year olds, I rested against one of the extra life jackets. It felt so good to be back in the land of the living. After a year of cancer treatments, playing “boat on the bed” was way more fun than I remembered.

I’m just glad Jesse can read a map better than I can.

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Stop the presses! I did it! NO WAIT! Don’t stop the presses. Keep rolling because ALL my books are now in print! Check them out on Amazon. Search books by Lynna Clark. I am NOT that other Lynna with the big bosomed women on the covers… obviously. So be sure to look for the Blue Meadow Farm series of five. And if you like them, please spread the word for me. I do not have a marketing guru so I’m counting on you. Thank you my friends!

Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks?

To view the series click here. Blue Meadow Farm Series

The series starts and ends with a dogwood tree.

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Book Review

Typically when an author releases a new book they will ask a famous person to endorse it or write a nice review. The most famous person I know happens to be my daughter Stephanie. She speaks at women’s retreats all over the country; seriously cool places like Las Vegas Nevada, Nashville Tennessee, and Ramsey Illinois. She’s a little bit amazing so maybe it’s not too big a stretch to call her famous. Besides, she has to say nice things. I’m her mother.

Here’s what she thought of book two, Autumn on Blue Meadow Farm:

Enter Stephanie~steph

I am so excited to announce that Blue Meadow Farm Book #2 is now available for purchase on Amazon Kindle! The first Blue Meadow Farm book was a joy to read, so when I got the privilege of being the first to read the second book, I was thrilled! Autumn on Blue Meadow Farm picks up the story of Jack and Lydia without wasting any time, and you immediately remember why you loved that first book so much.

I don’t want to write any spoilers in this review, so I will just say this: everything you loved about Blue Meadow Farm in the summer is multiplied in the fall! You’ll laugh with Lydia as she watches her boys grow into their own unique persons, you’ll cry as she continues to struggle with the memory of the stranger’s attack, you’ll search for truth with her as she sits on the porch swing, and you’ll beg to know her recipe for those cookies she’s always baking for people.

There are a lot of Christian fiction books out there, and the Blue Meadow Farm series is at the top of my favorites list. They are full of all the things I love best: romance, real people, practical life, humor & truth. This book doesn’t leave you hanging, it leaves you wanting more! I can’t wait to read the future books to find out the rest of the story. But for now I think I will re-read the books I have just so I can spend time with my friends within the pages.

Get your copy of Blue Meadow Farm Books 1 & 2 here: Blue Meadow Farm Series

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