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.

 

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Mini Post Monday

Finding Love

Last week, a friend of mine got engaged. It was the sweetest thing I’ve seen in awhile (via Facebook since he lives in Texas!) – he thought it out so lovingly. It’ll be his second wedding, but, I think, his first real marriage. It made me think back to when John and I were dating. We’d both been hurt pretty badly previously and it’s sometimes hard to overcome those hurts in a new relationship. But sometimes it helps to point you in the right direction. I know it did for me and my hubby, I hope it will for my friend, too. My hubs recently started doctorate schooling. It was a big step and one that we agonized over. Would our marriage hold fast? Would we be able to still connect despite the hours of studying he’d need to do? Guess what? He actually needs my help with his papers! I edit for him and it’s caused us to actually grow a little closer together. Isn’t it amazing what God can do? I know he’ll do it for my friend and his new wife, too. I’m praying for them every day.

Finding Inspiration

If you read my last post, you know I’ve been struggling a bit with writing. Sometimes it just happens, I guess. I have a lot of writer friends and they all go through these seasons, but it’s hard to be with those other writing friends when your own words just won’t flow. I’m so frustrated about my work in progress that it’s causing me some anxiety, but my friends have been so supportive and haven’t chided me for not writing or scolded me to “just do it.” I appreciate their love and support. One friend, whom I admire in her writing skills, took a long break off from writing a novel she’d been working on NON-STOP for the last several years. She finally came back to it and is just about to finish it. She gives me hope that I, too, will find that muse again soon. I’m off to another writing conference this week so I hope that the infusion of creative people around me will inspire me to keep writing. Prayers appreciated.

Finding Time for Me

I realized recently that I give a lot of time to others, but can’t seem to have any time for myself. Most days I don’t even take out my Bible to connect with the Lord. I think it’s one of the reasons I’m stuck on my novel. I simply don’t let my mind rest enough to create. In the process, I’m always thinking about editing someone else’s stuff, making dinner, taking out the dog, cleaning the house, returning that email or meeting up a friend who wants to chat for lunch. I like doing all those things, but when I sit down to write I get crickets! Chirp CHIRP! I’m too focused on my to-do list than my creative list. I’ve taken a bit more time to simply BE with myself (phone turned off) and I’m enjoying runs and walks in the morning with some Christian music every day. I pray that as I reconnect to myself, I’ll find that inner inspiration to finish my novel. I’m not far from the end… and I think it’s a good work… I just need that boost to finish it!

This week, I hope you find whatever it is you’re searching for. May God be a blessing onto your life and may you seek Him in all things.

 

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When I envisioned being a writer, I never envisioned this.

I’ve been struggling to finish my Young Adult fiction novel. I think about it constantly, but its not where it should be and my creativity is stifled when I consider how much I need to change. I seriously don’t even know where to start.

Writing conferences are terrific for meeting new people, connecting with people that think like you and even for learning, but… it can also sometimes put the brakes on your work. I listened to advice about proposals, character arc, the three act story… and I thought, “I have none of that! My story’s a mess!” It only served to continue my writer’s block.

So yesterday I found a good, simple explanation of the three act story (thank you Pinterest!) and jotted down a bunch of notes. Again, I was overwhelmed. So I put it aside again for a bit. Today, or tomorrow, I’ll sit down with the notes and my YA in hand to see how I can structure it better. I’m afraid of the outcome.

You see… as I begin to understand my own story better I made a huge realization. My character started out as a nerd, someone who didn’t fit in…and she doesn’t. But I figured out that it’s not because she’s a nerd. She’s judgmental. She claims not to be and loves her best friend “unconditionally”… except she’s trying to change her in almost every scene.

So. She has to change. I want her to realize her flaw and work to fix it. God and her faith will be involved. Somehow. Someway.

Here’s the rub… I wrote this character as a reflection of myself when I was younger. She isn’t exactly like me, but I’ve promoted (or talked about to my friends) this book for awhile now and I’ve said, “It’s based loosely on my childhood with me and my best friend as the main characters.” Yep. That’s right. Except, by writing it out, I just realized how judgy I used to be. It hurts. It’s like God used my own words to shine a light back on me… a mirror almost.

Wanna know the best part? I asked Him to do it! *smack my head* When I started writing, I knew He had some kind of plan so I asked Him to guide my work. In addition, over the last several months, I’ve been asking God to show me how He sees me. I’ve asked Him to remove bitterness from my heart. I’ve asked Him to give me compassion. I’ve asked Him to show me how to love myself.

And He’s doing it with this novel. But… you know when you have to learn those lessons from God and… you kind of don’t want to? They might hurt a bit. You know, that whole, change thing? Yeah. He doesn’t just want me to experience it… He wants me to WRITE IT. He wants me to write my own lesson.

Ugh. When I envisioned being a writer, I never envisioned this.

But… I asked for it, so here I go. Wish me luck… no better yet, pray for me.

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I’ve Never Considered Myself Racist

By now, unless you live in a cave, you’ve seen the recent gun shootings occurring across this nation. If not, I encourage you to educate yourself right now. This blog is not nearly as important as obtaining the RIGHT information about these occurrences.

What I want to discuss here today is my perspective as a white woman. A white woman who lives in the north. Married to a white male. Living in a predominately white area.

I’ve not had much interaction with African-American individuals in my lifetime. I can count on one hand the number of black students who I went to high school with. I’ve never considered myself racist. I sincerely never saw the difference.

But here’s the thing: there IS a difference, I just haven’t been paying close enough attention. But these shootings are starting to help me analyze the issues and understand the differences.

When Alton Sterling was shot in Baton Rouge last week, my husband and I started a dialogue about racial issues. I don’t typically have knee jerk reactions to this sort of thing and I read several articles and watched part of the first video before trying to form any kind of opinion.

Let’s be clear right here: I wasn’t there. You weren’t there. We cannot FULLY FORM an opinion on this matter. We did not see both sides nor the moments leading up to this horrific moment.

However, two opinions still arose in my household.

  1. The police officers were acting unjustly and without due cause.
  2. Alton was a “thug” and resisted arrest.

I am opinion one.

I want to further state that I have at least one very close friend who is a police officer. I worry for him almost every day. He’s in a dangerous profession. (Just ask the families of those Dallas police officers.) I have two good friends who are border patrol agents – an even more dangerous job. I worry about them, too. And nine times out of ten, I will stand up for law enforcement.

But not in Alton Sterling’s case.

Let me explain why. You see, Alton was on the ground. He was literally being sat on by two other men.

My husband says here, “Yes, but he was resisting arrest!”

Yep. He sure was. I think almost any black male in this society today, would be. I would have been, too, if I were black. We hear so much about how cops are out to get black males. (Even if they aren’t – it’s the societal rhetoric.) And they are getting shot at a lot, let’s be real. Racism IS still here. If you were a black male… would you be calm in that situation?

But here’s the next thing: Those cops had other means of diffusing this situation. Pepper spray, tasers, nightsticks… more cop friends. Now, from what I can tell, Alton didn’t seem to be aiming a gun. (Again, I wasn’t there.) Even if he DID have a gun, he has a right in this country to do so. (Something I think everyone should have the right to do.) So I posed this question to my husband: “If you were carrying your gun and some cops came up to you to try and arrest you, got you on the ground, and SAW your gun… would you expect to be shot?” Tweet This

Nope. As whites, we wouldn’t. Simply carrying a gun doesn’t make it right for a cop to shoot you. But does it when you’re black? As a white female… I have truly no idea, but it sure seems like it in this country lately.

I was proud of myself for supporting the black male in this situation. It was hard because I support police officers a lot. But they have failings, too. We’re all human after all.

One last thing. Let me tell you about one of my failings. Last week, I went to the grocery store and I saw a black man walking, seemingly aimlessly, around the parking lot. My first thought? He’s trying to scam someone or trying to rob someone. I got out of my car and walked into the store. I looked back once to see where he was and I noticed a black female near a car with the door open. It was only THEN that I considered he may have been seeking assistance for a broken down car. It was my SECOND thought. And I didn’t ask him what was wrong or try to help him… I had quickly walked into the store to try and avoid him.

But I’m not racist.

So why did I assume a black male walking around a parking lot was out to cause a crime? And why did I also assume that because he was probably with a black female that he was “okay”? And would I have thought the same thing if he’d been white?

I honestly don’t know. It shocked me. My own thought process shocked me.

My mom told me once, “There will always be bad people in this world…no matter their color.” That thought has stuck with me for a lot of years and, yet, I still saw a bad person when I saw his color. Somehow I assigned his personality to the color of his skin. I didn’t even realize I was doing it. I “saw no difference” remember?

And now I’m putting my failings out here for it to shock you… or make you think about your own failings in this area. Perhaps you’ll give your own opinions some extra consideration this week. For just once, let’s consider the PERSON… not the color (and begin with considering that you DO consider the color first – whether you want to claim that or not…I did).

In the meantime, let’s pray for both sides. Let’s pray for peace. Let’s pray for our own views to be that of GOD’S views. And let’s just simply pray for one another… no matter what color.

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The Benefits of Being an Auntie

As many of you know, I don’t have kids. It’s a decision that my husband and I made while we were dating. Although it was a difficult decision, it’s not one I’ve even had the chance to forget. One of the reasons is this: I’m a pretty awesome “Auntie.”

Almost eight years ago, our friends were blessed with a little girl and asked us to be “god parents.” Essentially, we were called upon to be in her life and help raise her in a loving, Godly way. I remember holding her at my wedding and thinking, “Am I sure I don’t want to be a mom?” But from that very start of my marriage, children have played a role in my life – enough that I feel God had a plan from the very beginning.

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Now, my husband and I “co-parent” for several kids and it’s so helpful to the parents in many situations. In no way are we their actual parents, but we can guide, show love and simply listen when they need it. I truly love this new concept of “parenting.” Gone are the days of two people parenting! (It’s the one thing Hillary got right when she talked about it taking a “village.”)

So over the course of the last seven years, my husband and I have found children coming into our lives. (They simply show up – I’m not sure how this happens!) This past weekend was no different, except that every day involved a child! It’s not something I ever thought I’d say I enjoyed, but I did!

First, we went to a friend’s going away party. The host’s two young boys go to our church. We don’t interact with them a whole lot, but I still try to engage them occasionally in conversation and let them know that they are not just “some kid” to me. I said, “Hi” to each of them and was happy when the oldest said, “Hi Sue” back. (I don’t know why but I’m always astounded when they know my name.) Later, both boys were trying to figure out a jump rope. It was kind of long for just one person, but two short really for Double Dutch. Nevertheless, they were attempting DD with various persons. First, the youngest tried holding one side with his grandma on the other side so the oldest could jump. Then they’d take turns. Each of them was getting the hang of it nicely, but, seeing a need for an adult-sized jump-rope holder, I jumped in (not literally) to hold one side. (After all, it was enough for them to try to figure out when to jump, let alone trying to figure out how to swing it in unison!) The youngest didn’t really want my help, but soon, with his astute knowledge, the oldest said, “No, let Sue do it!”

Oh, the swelling of pride in my breast! He had picked me to help! (I think this may stem from my lack of being picked in PE class all through school…)

I laughed at their antics (and their attempts at bravery), encouraged and gave advice until, finally, they got the hang of it enough to quit. LOL (Boys…)

The following day, we spent some time with my husband’s family. His cousin has an eight-month-old son whom I adore. She often lets me hold him in church and we’ve started to bond a bit. When she arrived at the picnic, she handed him to me (which I adore her for – it’s nice to be trusted) and the other relatives (who have not had as much time with this little cutie) admired the way he adjusted to me immediately. Again, pride surged in my chest. When we heard the coming train whistle, his little head perked up and I said, “Oh you like trains.” So we walked a bit out into the yard and, when the train rolled by in the distance, I pointed it out to him. His eyes focused and he watched as car after car rolled by. What a delight to see that connection in his face of the sound with the visual.

Oh, how I hope to stay in his life for a long time and get to participate in other such moments. Plus, he’s a charmer and smiles for my camera almost any time I ask it of him.

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Finally, yesterday, I spent some time with our youngest god daughter. Again, I can’t tell you how blessed I am to have these children in our lives. The youngest, now three, has learned that ever endearing feature: calling my name. Her sister did it, too, for awhile, and I absolutely adored it. “Sue,” they call. “Yes honey.” “Look at dis.” How special it is to just be included in that small way in their lives. They love me enough to say “Hey, Aunt Sue needs to see this.” It warms my heart every. single. time.

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She even shared some of her candy with me – without complaint – during the 4th of July parade. (And said she was going to share with her sissy, too, who hadn’t come to the festivities.) Later that same evening, we enjoyed some fireworks at their home and she couldn’t quite see so I lifted her up and pointed where she needed to look. When the first firework burst before her little eyes, she exclaimed, “Look Sue! There it is!” *heart bursting here.* Once again, I reveled in that moment of pure joy and excitement that only a child can give.

Three times this weekend I enjoyed the squeals of laughter and the concentration of imagination.

You see, God did have a plan for me. It wasn’t to be a mother, it was to be an Auntie. I don’t claim to know a thing about parenting, but I can share the love in my heart with a child, I can encourage them in small ways, I can participate in life with them and I can even share a simple smile or giggle, which some days, is more important than almost anything else.

At least it is for me.

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Happy 4th of July!

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Facts about July 4th

* July 4, 1776 is the day the Declaration of Independence was adopted by the Continental Congress. The document was officially signed on August 2, 1776.

* The names of the signers of the Declaration of Independence were withheld for 6 months. If the effort at independence had failed, the act of signing would have been treason and punishable by death.

* In July, 1776, an estimated 2.5 million citizens lived in the United States.

* On July 8, 1776, the first Independence Day was celebrated in Philadelphia. The liberty bell was rung from the tower of Independence Hall to gather the citizens to hear the first public reading of the Declaration of Independence.

The bell was ordered from a London foundry in 1751. The first two castings were rung to celebrate Independence Day, but deemed defective by the Continental Congress. The third casting, made in Philadelphia, rang on July 4th from 1778 until 1835, when it cracked. To this day, it is tapped lightly on Independence Day, but no longer rung. There was a third bell sent from England that hangs in the cupola of Independence Hall. It is attached to a clock and sounds the hours.

* July 4, 1804, was the occasion of the first public Fourth of July celebration at the White House.

* In 1805, Lewis and Clark paused in their explorations to celebrate the first Independence Day festivities west of the Mississippi.

* On June 24, 1826, Thomas Jefferson wrote a letter declining an invitation to the White House to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence. This was his last written correspondence; Thomas Jefferson died on July 4, 1826.

* In 1941, July 4, was declared a federal holiday by Congress.

* Legend says that Betsy Ross sewed the first flag, but historical research has not confirmed this. She is a recognized heroine in the fight for independence, but even the curators of Betsy Ross House have not been able to confirm she actually sewed the first flag.

* As designated by the Continental Congress, the official name of the flag is “The Flag of the United States.”

* The proper name of the statue of Liberty is “Liberty Enlightening the World.”

* Congress has designated that America’s National Independence Day Parade be held annually on July 4, at 11:45 a.m. in Washington, D.C on Constitution Avenue from 7th to 17th Streets. The purpose of the parade is to remind Americans of the true meaning of Independence Day. It is a patriotic, truly our-home-town, celebration of America’s birthday.

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Defending Myself

I mowed the lawn today. This might not seem like a big deal to you, but I could wager it’ll be huge for my husband. I haven’t told him yet – he’ll notice when he gets home and then the discussion will begin. He’ll say that I didn’t trust him to get it done or that I was pressuring him to do it sooner or that I didn’t like how it did it, but none of these reasons are the truth about why I mowed the lawn today. He won’t believe me when I tell him my truth about it, so I figured I’d write it out instead and, perhaps, he’ll believe me then.

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Creative Commons – Nina Hale

First, he was going to mow the lawn tonight when he got home, but I set up dinner with my parents because they haven’t spent much time with us in awhile and they were feeling neglected. Plus, a friend of ours needs help moving later tonight so we both decided that took higher precedence than the lawn. Neither of those things are his fault – one is mine (and the other isn’t her fault… it just is.) I trust he would have done it tomorrow night.

Second, I was feeling fat and lazy. I spent all of last week sitting down at a writing conference and I felt pretty sluggish from all the non-work I’d done. I figured mowing the lawn would be good exercise (and it was). I wasn’t pressuring him to do it sooner, I was pressuring myself to get off my fat butt and do some actual manual labor.

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Creative Commons – Kevin Doncaster

It didn’t hurt that I often don’t feel like I contribute enough in our household. Ever since I quit my office job a few years ago (and my annual salary took a huge nosedive), I’ve sometimes felt a little inadequate in my marriage duties. It feels good to contribute by helping my husband do some things around the house (even though he often sees it as an affront to his manly duties). Even though it doesn’t make up for the lack of money in the bank account, it makes me feel better.

Third, I don’t think my husband understands how much I hate mowing the lawn. It ranks right up there with cleaning the bathroom (which I haven’t done in about 8 years because my hubby – God bless him – does it.) No matter how bad the bathroom EVER gets, I won’t clean it. I H.A.T.E. cleaning the bathroom. I will pressure him to clean the bathroom when it’s needed, but I rarely have to because he gets to it before I consider the room a toxic waste dump. But based on this information, he should know that I wouldn’t mow the lawn simply because I didn’t like how he did it. Can I let others use my bathroom without embarrassment or risk of being turned in to the EPA? Yes? I’m good. Is the lawn no higher than the dog’s waist? Yes? I’m good.

I considered putting a picture about bathroom cleaning here, but was so grossed out by the pics I saw that I couldn’t do it. Imagine it for yourselves and thank me later.

The truth really is that I wanted the exercise. It didn’t hurt that I also really needed to write a blog and I couldn’t come up with a topic. The minute I made my first pass with the mower, I thought, “I’ll write about how much this will upset John.” (We learned that last week at conference, actually. Several speakers told us to step away once in awhile, get your creative, or physical, juices flowing by doing something you wouldn’t normally do. Mix it up.)

(But this doesn’t mean I’ll be cleaning the bathroom anytime soon…)

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My First Continental Congress

Two weeks ago I took a huge step out of my comfort zone and traveled with some new friends to DC for the DAR Continental Congress (see here about the first Continental Congress).

“The Daughters of the American Revolution Continental Congress is a time-honored tradition that has been held in Washington, D.C. as the annual national meeting of the DAR membership since the organization’s founding in 1890.” – DAR website

We attended the PA Luncheon only (Congress goes on for about a week with a variety of events). The luncheon was pretty impressive – a room full of like-minded genealogy buffs with the “armor” to prove it.

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Installation of new officers (including our outgoing Regent Valerie) – check out the hardware on these ladies!!

We also heard from a few very impressive young adults who had written outstanding American History essays. (The DAR holds these contests every year – check here for info and get your children involved! We also give out scholarships!) It was certainly impressive to see all these people (just from PA mind you) that were so involved in protecting and sharing the history of our great nation.

After the lunch, my new friend, Deb and I decided to walk to DAR Headquarters, Constitution Hall, to check out some shops, the museum and the library. What fun! It really wasn’t far and, in the process, we got to know each other a bit better and see a few more sites around DC. Like this one:

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Look familiar?

I can’t even describe to you DAR Headquarters. Nothing would do it justice. There are artifacts from Colonial period in their museum, period rooms, the massive hall where performances are held and the architecture and the interior… oh my. It was outstanding, overwhelming and inspiring all at once. I’ll let some pictures do the talking…

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This doesn’t even begin to show you the magnitude of this magnificent building. I’m going back soon to delve more into the history here as well as to make use of the extensive library they have on site. There were many ladies partaking in the library when we were there and I itched to picked out some books, sit down and join them. But, alas, we only were there for one day. (My next trip WILL BE longer.)

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These books will be perused by me… someday.

I can’t truly describe how much fun I had. The long trip down and back in one day was exhausting (SO thankful for the wonderful DAR member who let us borrow her van and her son as the driver!), but the camaraderie and friendship that I’ve now formed with my travel companions made it all worth it. There is a kind of peaceful joy when you step out of your comfort zone to pursue something you love and then find additional benefits along the way.

Do you have an interest in your history? Maybe you have a Patriot in your family tree. If you want to find out, contact your local DAR chapter and start researching today. It’ll open up a wealth of joy for you – I promise.

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A week of word prompts

I follow a blog called The Daily Post and they post word prompts about once a week. You all know how I feel about word prompts… but The Daily Post just does one word prompts and I thought, “Hm, I think I can do something with those.” So… here goes.

Struggle – We all struggle. I think it’s a requirement to live on this fallen planet. We struggle to be friends, lovers, mothers, fathers… decent human beings. For some of us, it’s harder than others and we struggle more. In the larger scheme of things, yes, I’ve struggled, but not as much as many others I know. I have friends who are struggling with custody battles, divorce proceedings, the death of a beloved father, the imminent death of a loved one, and cancer. How many people can you count struggling with cancer today? It’s too many for me to count.

Simplicity – Very often, in the struggles of life, we can make things a bit easier by simplifying our lives. I know I certainly take on too much and quickly become overwhelmed with the busy-ness of life. Today, I’ve left my home to write in a local coffee shop. This change of scenery takes me away from my home, which might seem like a complication, but it’s actually a simplification. There is no laundry to do, no dishes to tackle, no dust mocking me and no weeds tempting me into yard work. I can sit here and, simply, write.

Understanding – When trying to find simplicity, my biggest obstacle is understanding that I need these moments of simple reflection. I need times to simply look at the green lawn without thinking about when it’ll need mowed. I need to understand that God has placed this world around us for our enjoyment – not our busy-ness. A mother bird was stationed on her nest in my grape arbor today. At first, I thought, “Oh, bird. Please go away and don’t take my grapes.” Then I understood, she just needed a safe, quiet place for her babies. She gave me the once over, but didn’t move from her nest. She understood this was where she needed to be in that moment.

Rebuild – Once we can understand that our struggles will always be with us and that we can make a choice to simplify our lives, we can start to rebuild with this new mindset. Choosing to focus on positive, encouraging things instead of the negative struggles that weigh us down. During this rebuilding process, we can find more joy in life, more laughter with friends and a deeper sense of calm and satisfaction with our lives.

Transformation – At the end of the rebuilding process, we will be transformed. I’m still striving toward this complete transformation process in life. I believe I will not be fully transformed until I see Jesus face to face. But in the meantime, I want to find joy in my life and seek out His will in all things.

So there you see, word prompts can be good sometimes.

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