Mini Post Monday

That guy named Job

I am in the middle of reading the Book of Job in my Bible. I’ve never been a big fan of this book, but I’ve fought hard to understand it. This time around I’m using a journal (my JOT) and a commentary by J. Vernon McGee. At first, I was just as upset about God and Satan having a little discussion about Job as I’ve been in the past. It seems as if they are just the puppet masters of our lives. Job hasn’t done anything wrong and, yet, he gets dinged. But now I’m on chapter 32 and Job is waxing on and on about how awesome he is. At one point, he sounds like Mother Theresa. “I made the widow’s heart sing,” (vs. 13) and “I was eyes to the blind and feet to the lame.” (vs. 15) Gees, Job… prideful much? The book started to finally make sense to me. Job wasn’t all he was cracked up to be.

You see, we can go about our lives doing good for others, tithing the appropriate amount (and more), and we can do everything (works-wise) that we think God wants us to do. But what if we have pride, bitterness or anger in our hearts? That’s what happened to Job. Yes, he was “doing” everything “right,” but God wanted more from him. He wanted him to be humble and contrite – to truly trust in the Lord and not on his own understandings, pride and material possessions.

It’s hard for us to be that way… I know it is for me. Especially in America, we have this sense of entitlement. (Heck, both presidential nominees are neck and neck because of it!) But God wants us to humble ourselves before Him, to clean out our house so there is only room for Him. One way I do this is by being real. I pray for God to remove bitterness from my heart, to show me ways to be humble and to remove any items that I’m relying on more than Him. Those are big, scary prayers… but the only way to really let God lead.

My Old Blog

Some of you may have seen a new tab on my site: “My First Blog.” I worked hard a few days ago to transfer all my original blog posts to this WordPress site (from Blogger) and now you can read (or re-read) them all by clicking on that tab. I’ll probably repost a few of them over the next few months and try to expound on my original thoughts. When I first starting writing this blog, I thought my writing was pretty crappy. When I look back on them now, I see that maybe the thoughts weren’t well defined, but God has had a plan all along. I’m thankful and hope that I may have made the difference in someone’s life with at least one of my posts. I’m grateful to have followers and I pray that God will continue to lead me on this path. If you read one of the old ones and liked it or would like me to revisit it – be sure and let me know!

A Break in the Action

My hubby just finished his second class of his doctorate and we spent some time this weekend in DC with his sister to celebrate and relax. I’m sure I’ll write more about it in a future post, but, since we frequent the DC area, I’d love to know what my readers would like me to check out there or what you’ve seen and think I need to check out in a future trip. I’m open to most suggestions including places to dine and things to visit. We’ve done most of the monuments and a lot of the museums. This past trip we visited the DAR Library (a book and history nerd’s dream!) We’ve also traveled a bit out of the area and done some local wineries. I’ve also been to a Nationals game – Go Nats! But what do YOU love to do in DC? Share in the comments below!

Have A Great Week!

I’m off to do a bit of writing and more editing for clients with deadlines. I pray you have an awesome week and look for all of God’s blessings in everything you encounter. Happy Monday!

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God’s Temple Within Us

In Monday’s blog, we discussed how it’s important to not put yourself last in your own life. How, all too often, it can lead to depression and health issues. We always need to put God first, of course, but after that we need to strike a balance between helping ourselves and helping others.

Let’s look at 1 Corinthians 3:16-17. I’m using The Message translation here because I think it’s VERY clear.

“You realize, don’t you, that you are the temple of God, and God himself is present in you? No one will get by with vandalizing God’s temple, you can be sure of that. God’s temple is sacred—and you, remember, are the temple.”

So here is what that verse is saying: When you accept Christ as your Lord and Savior, He lives IN you. You are His temple. Your body is His dwelling place.

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Another good verse…

Now… look down at your body. What do you see? If you’re like me,  you see a gut that’s bigger than it should be and maybe thighs that rub together. I haven’t, in the past, taken care of my body. I let myself be lulled into selfish eating habits and unhealthy ways – the ways of the world. My personal trainer has been encouraging me to see my body in a different light. To see it in the form of a temple for God.

You see, if I’m overweight, I tend to lack energy. I can’t do as much as I’d like to because of the excess pounds. The weight can put stress on my joints and crappy food causes gastrointestinal issues. My mind cannot focus properly without the right nutrition in my body. Every single thing I do can be a struggle.

So… now… how can we minister to others when our bodies are breaking down? How can we be a light onto God’s word if we can’t get out of the house? How can we be His temple if we can’t get off the couch?

This is why I’ve recently started to work out more, I found a personal trainer (a Christian), and I’ve even started running again (I’m working my way up to being a “runner.”) Because I was tired, run down and couldn’t focus on the everyday things I needed to and I felt like I was letting God down. I wasn’t able to be his dwelling place… I could barely get the dwelling place out of bed!

Now, I feel stronger and can daily see His presence in me. We must keep ourselves healthy first in order to truly serve Him and His purposes. This might mean eating healthier things or taking more time to connect to Him and His word. It might mean finding a space to meditate on His teachings or to exercise more.

James Sanford says this on his website: “No child of God lives to gratify fleshly inclinations or appetites. Motivated by the love for his Savior and strengthened by the Holy Spirit he sets his mind on the things above and not on the things of the world; he makes it his aim to do the will of God; to subordinate all his desires to God’s Law.”

Let’s set our mind on things above instead of chicken wings, fast food junk, that extra piece of pie and all the earthly inclinations that we’re faced with every day. We can do it! Let God be glorified!

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From “Powerhouse Ministry” website

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Seek Ye First…

I came across a particularly odd, and slightly disturbing, meme on Facebook the other day that I thought I’d share with you all.

You might think… well, why is this odd? But, to me, it bordered on the offensive. Why? you ask again.

It’s that “yourself last” thing that I don’t like. Now, I’m sure there are many out there who could argue with me about this. God does ask his disciples to give up their own ways, to die to themselves, in order to follow him (Mark 8:34-35). And I do think that we need to put Jesus first – there is no doubt about that. “Seek ye first the kingdom of God” (Matt. 6:33) after all.

But let me say this: I think all too often, we don’t take care of ourselves enough to help others. (Also, the word “others” above should not have an apostrophe unless it means “other’s needs.” If it does mean other’s needs, that means all our needs come last.)

 

Have you ever flown on an airplane? When they give the little instruction drill about the potential of a crash… who do they tell you to give oxygen to first? That’s right, YOU. You can’t help others if you’re not able to breathe. You can’t serve others and let them know about the Lord our God if you do not take care of yourself and be kind to yourself FIRST. (Or second… after the Lord.)

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I’ve met so many people lately who are tired, run down and simply… exhausted. Do you know why? Many of them are doing SO much for others that they have no time left for themselves. The problem with graphics like the “JOY” one above is that it’s overly simplified. Basically, that can be the order, although I doubt you’ll find joy by doing it that way, but when is doing for others enough? When do your needs come in? How do you know you’ve done enough and can move on to give to yourself? Too many people today are caught in this never ending cycle of doing for others… so much so that they lose all sense of themselves and lose all time left for themselves. This leads to depression, listlessness and heartache. They can feel disconnected from the world… and even from God.

One really bad problem I see arising from this (I’ve experienced it in my own life and know others who have, too) is that when we do, do, do for others… our relationship with God suffers. Do you know why? Although we’re putting Him first, we put ourselves last and that connection with God seems… selfish. (Can I get an Amen?) So we put it aside to help yet another person in their walk, but ours suffers.

I like this graphic a bit better:

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The key is loving. Loving everyone – in any order that works (although God should really come first in order to get your priorities straight…) God wants us to be healthy, strong and vibrant individuals. In order to do that, we need to take care of ourselves.

In this Friday’s blog, I’ll talk about how God tells us to care for ourselves and how important it is to take care of our bodies. I hope to see you all back here then. In the meantime, give some thought to how you’ve been structuring your life and if you’ve been putting yourself last.

God bless and have a great week!

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Oh, That Old Blog

I met a new writing friend the other day and we starting talking about our blogs. She asked me why I started and I had to really think back on it. I’d originally, in 2011, starting writing a blog called “The Rural Spoon and Dish.” The concept was about reviewing small town eateries – kind of like the Urban Spoon, but from the rural perspective. I had a few followers, and only wrote about ten blogs in this vein.

Soon, God started to creep into my blogs and then the frustrations of my life and eventually, my writing “career.” The blog evolved and so did I. So, I changed it to “Fair Maiden’s Journey” (feel free to check it out as it’s still on the web, but don’t follow it or judge me on the content there…) My last name begins with “Fair” and a friend wrote me a poem for my wedding calling me a Fair Maiden so I went with it.

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Anyway, I went back to that blog site the other day and realized there have been a few good posts along the way. I can see my evolution in those posts and can see how I’ve arrived at this spot now in my life. (By the way – this one – about my 10 favorite things… still holds true.)

As I look back on those posts I see scribblings about finding joy, watching my weight, feeling loss of friends and family and even some decisions I had to make. You see, that’s why I changed this blog to “Sue’s Simple Snippets” – they are snippets of my life. The everything that makes me… me.

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We all struggle. We all search for our way in life. We all want to be heard in some way. This is my way. And I’m so glad you’re listening (most of the time.) For those who’ve been with me from the beginning – thank you. For new folks – thank you, too and welcome.

I’m going to try and find a way to move all those posts to this blog soon so they can be read more easily. I had thought previously that most of them were junk… but after reading some today, I realize they are still me… still part of me and I don’t want to lose them. I’m proud of my evolution and excited to keep going.

God bless and have a great Friday!

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5 Tips for Starting a Writing Critique Group

As some of you know, I belong to an awesome writing critique group. So often, our group is asked about how we started and what makes ours so special. I wasn’t around when it was founded back in 1980 by our beloved Eileen Berger (See our website for all the details.), but I’m grateful to be part of it now and hope I can shed some light for any of you who would like to start your own group.

  1. Find A Space – Since our group is Christian, we meet in local churches. We have members who provide the space for us, but you could ask local churches if they have space. Libraries often will have a small space for cheap or no cost. In addition, I know some groups who meet at places like Panera Bread or other local cafes. If you meet in places like that, be sure to patronize the business and buy lunch or some drinks to pay for your space. Members’ homes could be an option, too, but some new people who don’t know you may not like to come to a stranger’s home. Whatever space you use, be sure to be respectful and put the space back together as it was before you arrived.
  2. Put Together Guidelines – Is there any kind of literature you don’t wish to critique? Again, our group is Christian so we do not allow any foul language or explicit sexual material. Otherwise, anything goes for our group. You may wish to be solely a poetry group or only fiction, make sure you specify in order to find the right members for your particular group. In addition, we (and most others I know) define how many pages or words can be brought to the critique session. This limits the time spent on any one piece and gives everyone a chance for their work to be read. You can check out all our guidelines here.
  3. Decide The Structure of Your Group – Our group does not give each other their pieces beforehand. We each bring multiple copies of our piece to the meeting and then each writer gets a turn to have their piece read out loud. The writer never reads their own piece. This gives the writer a chance to hear their piece as it’s written (you’d be surprised how many mistakes are found this way!) After the piece is read, each member will mark their copy with grammar, punctuation or word choice issues and then a short discussion will ensue, asking the writing what was meant or what they intended. We also discuss where the piece is going to be submitted. Suggestions are given. When all the discussion has ended, the pieces, with their marks, are given back to the writer so they can make changes as they see fit once they return home.                   Some groups distribute the pieces for critique beforehand and members come to group with the already marked up piece. While this seems like it might be also a worthwhile idea, I prefer doing it at the meeting. This way I can directly ask the writer what was intended and the piece is seen organically and without too much overthinking on my part. Check out how other groups structure their meetings and decide what you think will work best for your group.
  4. Find Members – This seems pretty obvious, right? Well, we’ve had many writers come to us and say, “We can’t find a group!” or “I’ve been searching forever!” If you have a group, but no one is coming, maybe you need to advertise. Get your social media presence going, start a website and post on Facebook about your meeting dates and times. Check with local libraries to see if anyone has inquired about writing groups and leave flyers for future interest. Also, seek out English professors or teachers who could give credibility to your meetings and draw in potential members. If you don’t have any English majors in your group, invest in style manuals and dictionaries for your group to use in order to make sure proper writing technique is being utilized. Advertise in local colleges and schools, ask your kids’ teachers, or ask local radio stations or newspapers for a free plug (as a service to the community sort of thing.)
  5. Hold Your First Meeting – If you are the founding member of your group, you will be expected to lead. If this intimidates you, find a partner or friend who can assist you. Leading could mean that you start with prayer, or you keep track of the time. Which brings up another good point: Start on time and don’t waste time. Make the best use of every person’s time so that they will want to come again and continue to partake in the group activities. Remember to keep to your guidelines, be constructive (not mean or condescending) in your critique and have fun!

In the end, if you’ve been successful in starting your own group,  you will find these new people an invaluable part of your writing career. Our group has had many writing successes and we have several published authors among us. We celebrate each other’s accomplishments and pray for each other during down times. My group has been not only encouraged me, but has also improved my writing and my confidence.

Good luck in your writing endeavors!

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One Page A Day

Recently, I saw a post from Authors Publish about pledging to write one page a day for every day in August. I’m desperately trying to finish my Young Adult novel and I thought, Maybe this will encourage me to really write every day.

onepageaday

The meme posted by Authors Publish on Facebook

Too often, I let so many other things get in the way of my writing. One is my freelance editing business. It’s easy to let that one get in the way because it helps pay the bills and I have deadlines. But, in the end, it isn’t my true passion. Writing is. Plus, how much is one page? It didn’t seem like a lot and I reasoned that I could accomplish this seemingly small goal. (By the way, one friend posted that it takes about 250 words, double-spaced, to fill one page.)

So I re-posted the meme that Authors Publish had posted and I asked my friends, “Who’s with me?” (One thing I’ve learned is that you must let others know what you’re doing in order to receive encouragement and accountability. It’s why I often write about my struggles with writing here on this blog.)

I wasn’t all that surprised by the responses (except from a friend who is working on academic papers and needed a boost, too!) The responses were so much in favor of this endeavor that one friend suggested we create a Facebook group to help keep each other accountable. What a great idea! Because, truly, if we don’t have someone to hold us accountable, would we really do it?

I started a Facebook group and invited the interested parties, as well as some writing friends who I thought could benefit from this idea.

Today, on August 1 (when I’m writing this), I diligently decided to start off the day (after my Bible study and devotions) with writing. Guess what? I wrote 1,211 words! I’m off to a great start. (FYI – Over the weekend, I had handwritten out a few scene topics I still wanted to cover in the novel. This helped me to get writing right out of the gate.)

Don't worry that you haven't written enough yet. You have plenty of time to catch up! (1)

I’m very excited about this idea. If I can write merely 500 words a day for all of August, I’ll be over my 50,000 word count! That means the book will more than likely be finished and ready for editing! I can’t tell you how this encourages me.

If you’d like to take part in this, simply gather a few accountability partners around you and set out to encourage each other, and write, daily.  One caveat some of our group has agreed upon is that we won’t write on the weekends. Many of us are work-from-home folks and the weekends are usually times when we don’t work – in any capacity – but choose to spend that time, instead, with our family and friends. It helps with the burn out that I talked about in an earlier post.

Now I’m off to do the job that pays the bills. I hope you have a good Friday and keep writing!

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20 Snippets of Randomness

I’ve been adding to my “tribe” as the kids like to say and I thought, “Maybe my new people would like to know a little bit more about me.” In addition, I’d love to my readers to answer some of these questions, too – let’s determine to make this social thing actually… social. So I looked up a bunch of random questions on the interwebs and came up with this list of 20 that I thought were interesting, fun or both. Let me know what you think!

Would you rather…

  1. Watch Star Wars or Star Trek? Why? I’m bigger on Star Wars than Star Trek, but I’ve watched both. The Next Generation is my favorite incarnation of the ST franchise (Patrick Stewart – hullo….), and I hate Star Wars I, II and III (Jar Jar Binks… that’s all I need to say). I prefer the originals with Han Solo and Luke. The latest one was pretty awesome as well.
  2. Read on a Kindle or paperback book? I feel like if I answer this, half of my audience will abruptly leave me. I prefer a Kindle but I have the original one – does that make it better? Mine isn’t even backlit or anything. I do still have plenty of books around and I love reading classics in paper form – the smell just isn’t the same with a Kindle.
  3. Drink a glass of Guinness or Fat Tire? So sludge or not sludge… I’ve never had Fat Tire, but I tend not to like all these new microbrew type beers. When I do drink beer, which isn’t often, it’d be something light with a smooth taste.
  4. Go skiing or snowshoeing? I’d go to the beach. I don’t want to be anywhere near snow unless I don’t have to drive it in and I can sit in the lodge by the fire with a good book all day.
  5. Travel by plane, train, or automobile? Auto. Planes frighten me and I avoid them when I can. I’ve never been on a proper cross-country train, but the DC metro frightens me, too. Can you say GERMS. At least inside my own car, I know what’s been in there.
  6. Enjoy a houseboat or speed boat? Pretty much any conveyance on warm water is fine by me.
  7. Have a night out or evening in? In. I’m really old. I don’t even leave my house for my job…
  8. Watch TV or read a book? Depends on my mood and how tired my brain is. I love reading, but if I’ve done a lot of editing all day long then I’ll probably just want to zone out to some Housewives.
  9. Camp in an RV or stay in a tent? Why would anyone do that? God made hotels for a reason.
  10. Is there anything sparkly in the room you’re in right now. My personality.
  11. What words upset me the most. Misspelled ones.
  12. Music on shuffle – list the first 5 that pop up. At Your Feet – Casting Crowns; Judas – Lady Gaga; Fancy – Iggy Azalea; Crystal Ball – Pink; NO – Meghan Trainor
  13. Phone call or video chat? Ugh. Peopling is hard. I hate phone calls. No, I loathe talking on the phone. So… video chat it is.
  14. What relaxes you? Medication. No, seriously… alcohol. No wait, I know this one… Define “relax”?
  15. Do you have any relatives in jail? Not that I know of… right now.
  16. What’s your most embarrassing childhood memory? I peed on the floor of a local drug store once when I was little. My dad had taken me and I told him I had to pee, but he needed to check out so he told me to hold it. I had a tiny bladder.
  17. If you could have dinner with anyone from history, who would it be? Someone that can cook.
  18. What’s one great book you’ve read recently? One? You have to be kidding. Here’s three: The Mermaid’s Sister, Night Circus, The Red Letter Prayer Life.
  19. If you won the lottery (over 1 million), what’s the very first thing you would do? Confirm my winnings.
  20. Where do you think you’ll be in 10 years? Still married to my hubby, living somewhere warmer (a girl can dream), and enjoying success as a multi-published author and speaker.

There you have it. A little fun randomness for your Monday. Feel free to answer your favorite in the comments below if you like – I’d love to get to know all my quirky, fun readers!

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Finding Balance

It’ll soon be almost two years (!) since I quit my office job for the life of a freelance editor. Prior to that fateful moment, I had asked friends who had also taken the dive, “What is the hardest part about working from home?” Almost all of them told me, “Balance.”

Each friend told me they had found that balancing life and work was a challenge. Too often, freelancers feel the need to always be working. Since we work from home, it’s all too easy to just say, “I’ll just do that edit quick,” or “It’ll only take me a minute to write them back” and soon we find time has vanished right before our eyes.

In addition, working all the time can lead to larger amounts of stress, lack of sleep and a general feeling of malaise. Over the past year and a half, I thought I’d found the balance. I almost never worked on weekends and I always quit when my hubby came home so we could spend time together.

But then, the hubs started online schooling. Soon, I found myself doing a bit of work at night while he studied and using the free time on weekends to work, too. I figured, “Well, he’s working and I don’t have anything to do, so I might as well work!”

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Courtesy of David Mulder on Flickr

Guess what I discovered?

It left me feeling lethargic. Soon, I realized that the amount of work I was doing for others had zapped all my creative zeal. I couldn’t write a single sentence for anything other than this blog (and many of those posts were a challenge – thanks for not noticing!) Then it hit me: I wasn’t doing anything to pump those creative juices. Instead, by doing work, I’d sucked all those juices dry.

I decided I needed to find balance again like my friends had so wisely warned me about. One night, while the hubs went to study, I broke out a coloring book. I plugged in my earbuds and listened to a variety of music while coloring to my heart’s content. The time passed and I felt lighter, brighter and relaxed.

The next night, I took out a book to read. I still was struggling a bit with truly relaxing though and I fought the urge to get to work.

I to Facebook last week and asked: How do you achieve balance in your day?

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These ladies know about balance.

My friend Linda simply said, “Balance! Ha ha ha! You crack me up.”

Another friend, Angela, mentioned both physical activity and physical rest. She also talked about spending time with her husband and even making sure she got lots of liquids. (I agreed. Water keeps me going during the day.)

Then my friend, Luke, (who is quite a wonderful young man. He serves in the Air Force and is the relatively new father of Leo) wrote this, “I try to divide my week evenly between work, school, volunteer activities, church, and family time. I find work to be physically stimulating but mentally relaxing, and school to be mentally stimulating but physically relaxing. Finding a variety of activities to be differently stimulating and relaxing at the same time and varying my times to do them keep me balanced in both stimulation and relaxation.”

I thought to myself, “Wow. We all do it differently!” So even though I had sought advice from friends, I really needed to simply find what helped me relax. I needed the kind of balance that Luke described that was stimulating and relaxing at the same time. It was as if a weight had been lifted. It wasn’t about how others found balance – I needed to find it for myself.

My husband loves lawn mowing. He finds it, and other kinds of manual labor, relaxing. He says it’s because he can let his brain relax and not think about it. I don’t find manual labor relaxing AT ALL. Even while mowing the lawn my brain is thinking, “Okay, now where should I go? Did I get that patch? I’m bored with this pattern.” (That’s an artist for ya…)

Instead, I love music. I often even dance around when no one is watching. I can’t even begin to describe to you how relaxing it is for me to just let my body flow and move to the music.

As a result of my findings (and putting them into practice), I used an entire day to work on my work in progress. I didn’t even feel guilty for not using the time to work on someone else’s stuff. (And I have deadlines, people.) I’ve not felt this alive and fresh in a long while. It’s a breath of wonderful spring air to my lungs.

So this week, I encourage you, especially if you’re feeling drained, run down, lethargic or general blah,  to find something that truly relaxes you and do it for at least an hour. Turn off every other “noise” in your life and simply do that thing.

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Maybe this is your idea of balance.

I’d love to hear what you learned about balance in your life. Please share in the comments below!

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Mini Post Monday: What I’m Reading

Happy Monday all. I hope your weekend was fun and not too stressful. My hubby and I have entered into a new Saturday routine that consists of exercise, study, work and quiet time. Although he thinks I’m upset because he’s studying so much it’s actually giving me more time to write and read.

Right now, I’m reading a book called “Murphy’s Luck” by Benjamin Laskin. Although the story is decent and quirky, the head hopping and other proofreading issues have my head spinning. I’m ready to finish it out and start on something more classic.

A couple of weeks ago, my in-laws brought a stack of books from Nebraska that used to be my hubby’s (or his sister’s… Kathy, if you’re reading this, you can have them when I’m done!) I was intrigued by the titles and can’t wait to dig into some of them.

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(Do you like the sunspot I added to this pic? Shouldn’t all books glow like that? Can you hear the angels singing?)

On top is a work containing “Great American Short Stories.” They are terrific for someone short on time. One day last week while hubby was studying, I took that one out on the porch and started to read. I immediately became immersed in Rip Van Winkle and Young Goodman Brown. Oh, how writing has changed! Even though I knew the story of Rip Van Winkle, I still got lost in the magical story. (By the way, if you like this kind of story, check out my friend, Carrie’s book The Mermaid’s Sister. You WON’T be disappointed.) And I had forgotten how hard Nathaniel Hawthorne can be to read! And, too, how much sin and depravity factor into his works. (The Scarlet Letter is still one of my favorites.)

I plan on continuing through that tome soon. The Fall of the House of Usher is up next in that one. I’m hoping the weather will lighten up enough this weekend for a few minutes on the porch again. (Although the forecast doesn’t look promising…summer in PA and all that. Guess I’ll have to just sink down into my comfy club chair in the coolness of the AC instead.)

The other books on this pile are a bit…political and history-minded for me, but still look interesting. I plan on delving into each of them as the days go forward. Notice Art of War in the background? I tried reading that one once…yikes. But you can get a good idea of what my hubby likes to read from that picture. History. And then more history. And then… history. He keeps claiming that many of them are written in such a good way that I would like them, but I usually prefer to escape reality when reading.

In addition, I just returned from a short stint at a local writing conference and actually added almost 300 words to my YA today. Keep up your prayers… I’m still struggling to get it out. I can think of things in my head to add but when I open the program it’s like my body just doesn’t want to do the work. I’m sure there is a deeper, psychological meaning to it all and covet your prayers. I’ll never live up to the likes of Hawthorne or Irving, but I want to at least give it a try.

What great works are you reading this summer? Pass along your all-time favorites (or current favs) in the comments below so we can all check them out!

Happy Monday!

 

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Hold On To Me

She wasn’t sure she could hold on much longer.

If she could just… get… her finger… into that other crevice above…maybe she could get a better foothold. It was out of sight, but she knew it was there. She fumbled around, grasping the rocky area…looking for a better hold.

A jagged piece of rock cut through her right index finger and she winced in pain. A warm sensation gathered around her finger… blood most likely. Her fingers were so numb from hanging on – trying to grip the rock a little tighter – she wasn’t sure there would be any finger left soon. She glanced up. The sun beat down, causing more sweat to trickle down past her hairline and into her ear. She fought the urge to wipe it away. It wouldn’t do good to let go now. She was so close – she could feel it.

Her toe caught hold of a small ledge below her and she worked hard to maintain a balance while straining to still reach ahead. She needed this victory today. Her last one had been too long ago – what felt like weeks – and she had little strength to move forward without the hope of progress.

Her clothes were dirty, stained with red dust from the mountain, and torn from places she’d snagged them on the rocks. She couldn’t remember when she’d felt properly clean and longed for a cold drop of water – her bottle having dried up long ago. Licking her parched lips, she groped again for a hold, straining her shoulder in the process.

Squinting, she willed her fingers to inch forward onto the crevice, grasping for a better hold. She glanced at the other people making their way around her on the rock wall. They moved more steadily – using alternative routes to climb past her – as if they knew something she didn’t know. She shook her head to rid herself of the jealousy she felt at their progress. Why couldn’t she get ahead, too? What was she doing wrong? They seemed to ascend effortlessly beside her, leaving her in their wake.

Pebbles from their ascent scattered over her, much of the dust on her clothes had come from their climbing and not her own. She looked up again and a small fleck of rock found its way into her right eye. Her eye slammed shut and her left hand instinctively went to rub out the stone.

She fell.

Wind fluttered her hair as she fell, shielding her view of the top of the mountain – a place she’d never reach. The breeze cooled her sweat-soaked clothes and provided a moment of relief before her senses recovered.

Before a scream could pass her lips, a strong arm reached out and grabbed her by the arm. Her descent stopped abruptly, and pain seared through her shoulder as if ripped from its socket. But she was grateful – she was alive.

She looked up into the eyes of a man in white, his clothes bearing no evidence of the climb. He seemed to hold her without effort with his right hand, and reached out for her with his left.

“How was he holding on?” she wondered before grasping his hand with hers, and relieving some of the pressure on her aching shoulder.

“You’ve had a rough climb,” he said, holding her close to the wall and giving her a chance to catch her breath.

“You could say that,” she said, wiping sweat from her brow and looking again at his eyes.

She felt a peace come over her then and she relaxed into his arms. She wondered who he was and how he was still holding both her and himself on the side of this mountain. But then… they weren’t on the mountain anymore, but, instead, in a quiet meadow with a babbling brook. They sat in the shadow of a large tree, its leaves blowing slightly in the warm breeze.

“Come to me and rest,” he said.

She rested her head on his shoulder and let her worries subside, drifting off into the wind. She would need all her strength to face the mountain again tomorrow.

 

Posted in Life and Happiness, Religion, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments