The Purpose of This Blog

Life and Happiness, Religion, Social Media

Recently, I’ve been going to a personal trainer. It’s helped me get in better physical shape (I’ve lost over four inches around my waist!), but it’s also had a more lasting impact on my spiritual shape.

You see, my trainer is also a Christian. I go to her twice a week for about a half hour each time. She puts me through a series of full body weight-lifting exercises while we chat about our lives. I never anticipated that this relationship would delve so quickly into deeper topics about God, Christianity and our walk for Him. I only wanted to lose a few pounds, but God had other ideas.

Yesterday, she asked me about my writing – which she usually does – and I mentioned I had been trying to catch up on my blogging. She asked, “What is the main purpose of your blog?”

I had to think about it.

What is the main purpose of this blog?

Well, when I started, it was about trying to find a place to eat in our little rural area. We’d pick a new place, go eat and I’d write a blog about it. I envisioned a kind of “Urban Spoon” for rural folks. It worked out well, but I soon tired of that concept so I started writing about my life, my struggles and my faith. It began to morph into a space for me to express my feelings as well as a place to connect with others. I wrote about my depression, my anxieties and my fears. Soon, I connected with people who shared my struggles. Then, encouraged by others, I began to seek God and eventually, I began to share His word with others.

Sometimes, this blog is really just about me getting out my feelings. Other times, it’s a need to answer God’s call. I feel Him pushing me to write to you – my readers (there is more than one…) – and to shed light on Him. He wants me to share my experiences with Him and how to know Him – to understand who He is – and to get closer. As I thought about how this has all evolved over time, I realized that I haven’t done this for any kind of fame or fortune. Some people do – it’s some people’s full-time job. I’ve done it for my own sanity, for a connection to something bigger and to spread God’s love in any way I can.

When my trainer said she was overwhelmed because people keep telling her she needs to blog every day and she needs to promote her blog endlessly…I’ve heard so many people say that. But it doesn’t have to be that way. (Unless, of course, you want to blog as your full-time job or you’re trying to use your blog to sell something.) For me, that would take the joy right out of this. I don’t do this for you, dear reader… I do it for Him and a little bit for me.

Here’s the thing: when called upon to share the love of Christ, do you know that you don’t have to reach the masses? You really only need to reach ONE. Yes, masses are always nice, but… don’t you see that might mean that then YOU become the center of attention and not HIM?

I said this today to my trainer, “Yes, Jesus reached the masses, but he started with twelve.”

So I don’t blog every day and I don’t always blog about Him. I blog about being human and what it means to still be able to know, and be loved by, God. I reach out, as best I can, to others who are struggling and might not feel like He can love them.

And, today, if I’ve reached just one person with this message – I’ve done my job for Him. Will you reach out to just ONE person today? Tell just ONE person you love them, care for them, that God loves them or that they are special? Will you tell His message to simply ONE person today? Will you live your life in a way according to His plan and will so that ONE other person might look at it and say, “Wow. I want to know more.”?

I’ve been striving to do it every day for almost five years now on this blog. And whatever way that God has planned for you – you can reach someone, too.

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Walking the Tightrope

Life and Happiness, Religion

During group study the other night we were discussing how to pray effectively (We’re using The Red Letter Prayer Life by Bob Hostetler as a guide – I highly recommend it.) and the subject came up about praying for ourselves.

In the book, Hostetler quotes Bill Hybels:

“God is interested in your prayers because he is interested in you. Whatever matters to you is a priority for his attention. Nothing in the universe matters as much to him as to what is going on in your life this day.”

Now, that passage spoke to me because I all too often don’t pray for myself. Praying for others is easy, praying for myself – not so much. But what if God really is interested in what I need? No matter how infinitesimal?

Well, the group didn’t think so. It was presumptuous of course to say that God sets aside all things for MY stuff. It’s a little narcissistic. BUT it goes back to that fine balance the entire Bible touches on – Love thy neighbor, but also correct him gently. You are my child and there is nothing more important, but my will is the rule. It’s a balance. A tightrope walk.

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Flickr image courtesy of kevint3141

Yes, God loves us and wants to talk with us and wants to hear the desires of our heart… but sometimes He has to say, “Oh child. That’s wonderful. But it isn’t what you need!”

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Flickr image courtesy of tonystl

Then my good friend Roberta pointed out that we can, indeed, talk to Him about anything. Why would we think otherwise? Our needs ARE important – when we’re not healthy, it’s okay to ask for healing; when we’re distressed, it’s okay to say, “Lord help” and when our day simply isn’t going according to plan we can ask, “Why?” But, like me, so many people tend to NOT do the asking for themselves. Roberta mentioned that it’s much like what we do in life – the needs of others supersede our own needs. Her words spoke to me too.

I’m very quick to pray for others. If I see a request online or hear of someone in need, I will stop what I’m doing and pray for that person and the situation. But when I’m suffering myself (as I have been with a sinus thing for WEEKS) I tend to just let it go. It’ll heal. God doesn’t need me to speak it out. I’ll survive. (Oh the martyrdom!) (Or the good Jewish mother like my friend Roberta likes to say, “The light bulb died. Oh that’s okay. I’ll sit in the dark.”)

And in life, I’ve let others supersede my desires and needs too. In fact, for the past year I did a LOT of things for a LOT of people (a lot who did not even offer a thank you) before my own things. My work in progress (both of them actually) came to a standstill because I simply didn’t have time to work on them. Why? The needs of others.

Now don’t get me wrong. Of course God wants us to also help others! But our needs are also important! BALANCE.

In this new year I’m trying to find balance. The desire of my heart is to finish one of my novels this year. But, like many resolutions, that is a vague one. So I’ve defined it further. Tuesdays and Thursdays of my weeks are devoted to writing. This doesn’t mean I shackle myself to my laptop and write even when nothing is there to write, but it does mean that writing comes FIRST. As I’m writing this it’s actually a Thursday. So there. I’m writing. But even more importantly when I’m done with this post, I’m going to ALSO work on my WIP. There will be no editing today. Tomorrow there will be editing. Not today.

And I’m going to go one step further. Something I also rarely do. I’m going to ask you to pray for me. Pray that I can maintain this schedule. Pray that I occasionally put my own needs first. Pray that God will lead me with discernment in my writing. Pray that I can find balance. Pray that I can write.

And also – what can I pray for you today?

W is for Writing

Life and Happiness, Writing

Only four more posts for our revised A to Z Challenge. I’m not sure what I’ll write for Fridays now once this is over. Anyone have some suggestions?

W was a hard one for me to contemplate. Although “Writing” seems like the easy answer – and maybe it is – I felt like I couldn’t really do it justice. You see, I don’t see myself as a “writer.” I have writer friends who claim they “must write” or their souls may die. I have some friends who say “it’s just in me to write!” But I struggle to write. It doesn’t really come naturally for me. Each of these posts are well thought out and carefully considered before they are written. I sometimes mull over a topic for days before writing it down. It doesn’t just “spew onto the paper.”

Some of this hesitancy is my low self-esteem. Why would anyone want to read what I write? And yet, you do. Many do actually. I’d love for their to be more readers, but frankly, that’s a lot of pressure. I sometimes feel like it’s a big joke on you for reading what I have to say. I write more than I share on here too. It’s tucked away for someone in the future to discover. That person will probably think I’m a little bit “off” and will also consider that I needed a therapist.

But writing is my therapy. Getting it down on paper (or screen) is where I find my solace. It seems…less… when I write it down. It’s not so…terrible when it’s out on the page. Today, on the advice of another blogger, I wrote a prayer out to God. My soul has been weary this week. A dear friend passed away and I just felt it sink into my soul – the weariness. I know I’m blessed by all that I have… she is blessed too because she is free from pain and suffering now. I will see her again, but… it’s still tough. So I write it down. I put it out on paper. Maybe no one will ever read it. That’s okay. I got it out of my soul and onto the page. I expressed it to God.

Writing can bring us so much satisfaction – even when it isn’t the “next big novel” or a New York Times bestseller. Sometimes it’s just about getting it out. Isn’t that what these blogs are about? I don’t do this for the fame and glory – I have less than 200 followers! I do it to get it out. Just to write. I don’t worry about plot and pacing and all that… someday as I continue to write the YA I’m working on, I’ll make sure it has all that, but truly to just write for writing’s sake… is to just get it out. For me, it’s getting it out of my soul in order for me to move on.

One day, maybe it’ll help someone to read what I write. Maybe my words will strike some kind of chord with someone. Perhaps I’ll find a kindred soul that is longing to get it out too… and I can help by showing them how to put it on to the page. One word at a time.

Do you write? Tell me about what you write – why you write it – what keeps you writing. Don’t just say “I have to write” – WHY?

Sorry is not the hardest word…it’s goodbye

Fears, Life and Happiness, Writing

Okay, well I’m not saying goodbye… only changing it up a bit. For the past two years or so, I’ve been writing three blogs a week. Now I know some bloggers who would say, “Oh my! That’s a lot!” and others that would say, “What? Only three?” I think it’s up to the individual person really and three was working for me for a long time. It was my pattern.

BUT. It seems to be zapping my creative energies to come up with three posts a week. Truly, I struggle. In an effort to 1) make my content more enticing, scintillating and worth reading and 2) to, hopefully, leave behind some creative juices for other writing, I am cutting back on my average blog posts per week.

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I’m not leaving! (And please don’t be this girl…) I’m just cutting back. I will still post Fridays – especially until my A to Z Challenge is finished. (Once I start something, I finish it.) However, I will only be posting one other day of the week. More than likely that day will be Monday for now. I may switch it off and on to Wednesdays – especially if I have a “Wisdom from the Word” post to share because that alliteration demands that I use Wednesday’s for those.

I pray you will all still stick with me and, perhaps, find that my posts are better. Maybe you’ll even share them with your friends (please share them with your friends).

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In the meantime, I want to make you a promise that I am going to write my book. I’m going to spend this extra time working on putting pen to paper and publishing an inspirational book that I pray you’ll love. I’ve found that I need to not only make promises to myself, but to others (I tend to keep the ones to others better than I do to myself) and I need a deadline. But with the demands of three posts a week… I’ve been failing to write anything else and not a stitch has been written.

Thanks for understanding and your prayers and encouragements are deeply appreciated.

Stay tuned for book updates!

And Now For My Next Trick!

Life and Happiness, Writing

Here’s a little flashback post that I wrote June of 2013. Yes, I’ve been at this blog writing thing for about four years now! (Started in 2011) I decided to dig back into these archives (from a blog entitled “Rural Spoon and Dish” that I use to run before this one) and repost a few that I thought were worthy. This one actually spoke to me and helped me to dig out of a funk I’ve been in. I hope it does the same for you. Let me know what you think!

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“And now for my next trick…” the skateboarder says to his friend.

“Here I can record it!” his friend replies.

We’ve all seen these videos and the moment AFTER these comments. They typically don’t end well.

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They typically end up on some kind of video show or YouTube where people can laugh at it over and over again. And yet, people keep making these videos. 

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Maybe it’s perseverance (and not stupidity) that they possess. They keep having faith that there will be a different outcome. Hope that they can achieve all that they dream with just one more try

THIS time it’s going to be epic.

And this time it turns out okay. The skateboarder finishes his trick without blood or mishap, but it wasn’t anything grand. He did it, but they move on without comment. Maybe it wasn’t ALL they dreamed it could be even though he lived to tell about it. But they keep riding their skateboards and documenting their attempts. It’s a work in progress. They strive for something even grander, even more challenging to video and share. They continue to push themselves for something more.

And why don’t we all have this mindset? Do we all strive for more of ourselves? Could we push a little more to achieve our dreams? Or do we just let them fade away because it became too much work?
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What if we recorded all our attempts at greatness? Would we want to share them or would we want to give it another go to make it more epic? Would you want others to see how you’ve given up – or would you rather they saw how you persisted?

Maybe the trick today is to write 100 more words than you wrote yesterday so you can get that book deal. Or to even get an article, poem, devotional or short story published.

Maybe the trick today is to get that garden planted, the lawn mowed, or to read the kids just one more story. Because it’s what you love to do.

Maybe it’s to make someone smile.

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Maybe the trick today is to say “I love you” to someone you’ve been meaning to say it to. And who might not be here tomorrow.

Or maybe it’s to say “I love you” to yourself today. Because no one has said it in a long time.

Whatever it is – don’t you want to look back and say: Yeah. Maybe I didn’t achieve it all. But I didn’t give up. I didn’t settle for just the simple tricks. I went all out.

I do. And today my trick was to just get this blog idea out to you. Guess what? I did it.

M is for Mindless Musings

Life and Happiness, Writing

Once again I’m working on my A to Z Challenge for the week and trying to discern the best use of an “M” word for my readers to enjoy.

I thought about doing Marriage – I’ve written about it many times before though and I think my mind is bereft of ideas in that area. I have a great marriage. I love my husband. We fight and disagree, but, in the end, he’s my best friend and I could not live another day without him.

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I considered Megan – my God daughter – as a topic, but I just wrote about her and Naomi last Friday so I didn’t want to bore you although I spent almost all of yesterday with her. (You know me though – I’m writing this ahead of time. I sometimes feel like it’s a weird rip in the space time continuum. But since the day hasn’t really actually occurred it’s hard to write about it… let your mind process that one!) Plus, I COULD write about Naomi for “N,” but I decided against it in favor of this more random post instead.

I also considered writing about my pooch, Max. But there isn’t much to tell. He hurt himself the other night, but he’s better now. He tried, as he does every night, to chase some bunnies in our backyard, but his leash got the better of him and he became tangled. His horrifying yelps broke my heart and I feared he had broken his neck or leg. It was the worst ten minutes of my life. He limped for awhile, but I could not discern any broken bones so I let him sleep it off (but I did not sleep much that night). In the morning his limp was less pronounced and now it is gone completely. I am relieved and snuggle him in gratitude every chance I get.

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He looks like a pointer here. Ever on watch.

I considered writing a book review of “Mercy’s Rain” I just finished. I can give a small one here: read it. There are some tough parts, the main character is raised by an abusive and evil man – who is also a preacher – but the story is mainly about how she deals with this life that is now in her past and how she finds mercy and grace. The writing is so well done that I am recommending it to everyone I meet. I met Cindy Sproles at St. Davids Writers Conference in June and she is such a sweet, kind and giving soul, but her writing in this book just sealed the deal for me on this author. Be forewarned: there are some vivid and graphic scenes, but it’s worth the read.

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Finally I could tell you about the two town’s that I grew up in: Milton and Montandon. I was raised out in the country a bit and it was in-between both towns. We had a Milton address, but were closer to Montandon. Milton is home to a Chef Boyardee plant that my dad worked in for over 40 years. My uncle worked there too (along with almost everyone we know) and even met Hector Boyardee back in the day. The only story I have about Montandon is that when my parents were dating Dad told Mom he’d like to take her there on a date (to a restaurant maybe, I’m not sure) and she said, “I can’t go to Montana!” She thought he wanted to take her to another STATE, not just a little town down the road.

Or I could tell you about my maiden name too, but I won’t. Those of you that know me know it, but I don’t want to share it right now in this post. We have some famous chips named after us – distant relatives – and I’m proud of the name. Right now I’m working on getting into the Daughter’s of the American Revolution because one of my ancestors served and I’m proud of it.

So there you have it – a few little musings about the “M” things in my life. I hope you’re writing your A to Z Challenge too and enjoying reading! If you want to read more check out the hashtag #atozchallenge on Twitter and Facebook – I’m sure you’ll run across other great blogs!

L is for Letter Writing

Life and Happiness, Writing

As part of my #atozchallenge, I’m writing a letter to my God daughters. They say the art of letter writing is outdated…I don’t agree. We just don’t use paper and fancy pens anymore.

Dear Megan and Naomi,

You may never get a letter such as this. You’re used to Tweets and texts and who knows what else (you’re only 6 and 2 now so it’s hard to say how things will change in the next few years.) But when I was young and when you parents were young, we wrote letters to one another. We used paper and pens – sometimes in fancy colors – and wrote to friends or relatives who lived out of state. It was a place to tell the person what was going on in your life and to keep them up to date on the latest news. (There was no internet then!)

I’m using this space to write to you about things that have gone on this year in your lives and to tell you how much you both mean to me and your Uncle John.

In June, we went with you and your parents to Cape May. It was our first vacation with kids and we weren’t sure what to expect. Although there were some ups and downs, we had a blast with you and hope it is not our last trip together. I’d like to share a few moments that meant a lot to me.

Megan – I will never forget cuddling up together on my hotel bed and reading a Jack and Annie (Magic Tree House series) story with you. It was super special to me because up until this point, John and I had always read to you. But this time you read to me! (Well, we shared the duties…) My heart burst with pride as you read aloud to me. I love books immensely and am so pleased that you do too. It’s a passion I hope we both share for years to come.

We also took you to see the lighthouse (just John and I) and played some mini golf. I hope you remember. I enjoyed your enthusiasm for the mini golf – even though you weren’t doing well. You didn’t give up and you were simply happy to spend time with us. It meant so much.

When we spent time on the beach and you trusted me enough to hold your hands while the waves crashed near us – it touched me deep inside. I never want to lose that trust from you. And feeling your giggles against my legs as the waves lapped your feet is something I will never forget.

Naomi – you probably will not remember a thing about this vacation because you were too small, but you had some trouble adjusting. It’s hard for someone as young as you to understand being away from home, but there were still moments that we will always cherish. When we went to the zoo, you asked Uncle John to carry you for a bit – you had barely given him the time of day up until that moment – and he couldn’t have been more thrilled.

Although John was less than thrilled with your shrill screams at most meal times, we both enjoyed your maniacal laughter and your fearless spirit. And I’m still laughing at how both you and your sister love lemons! You would think you’d both be more sour!

But the absolute best moments were when you cried out, “Bald eagle!” …and there were no bald eagles. Birds, yes… but not bald eagles. One thing is for certain – you will not be a ornithologist.

It’s hard to capture every moment that you’ve affected our lives, but I want to get as much of it written down as I can so you’ll always have these letters. I hope to write more for you as you grow and hope to experience so many more happy memories with you.

Love,

(Aunt) Sue

 

 

K is for Kvetchings

Life and Happiness, Writing

Herein lies a list of kvetchings from my writing group this week (challenging my inner Jewish mama):

Oy! Why doesn’t paper tear on the perforated line?

Why do people wait until the last minute to do everything. It’s bupkes.

Airlines that don’t refund your money when you need to cancel – airline travel isn’t fun anymore. It’s crowded when you do travel and they don’t offer food anymore. I could add a lot of mileage out of airline kvetching. Feh!

Don’t call me a klutz – I don’t fall down a lot. I just often check gravity.

Why does the boss always get away without doing any work? Why do they all have to be schmucks?

Don’t plotz, but many of our group is registered Democrats, but we don’t often vote that way.

I like meeting with my group, but it’s difficult to schlep my laptop, books and all my worldly belongings to our meeting place.

What’s for lunch? Bell pepper soup? I’m not sure that’s kosher?

Don’t worry – this is all just a bunch of kibbitzing and we’ll get over it. If you want to shmooze along with us (we mainly just sit on our tuches) and you’re in our area – send me a note and I’ll send you an invite! Mazel Tov.

DISCLAIMER: I’m not Jewish and this post isn’t meant to offend. My pretend mother-in-law (Roberta B) IS Jewish and she helped with this post!

J is for…

Life and Happiness, Writing

Jane jumped up as the jig was about to start.

Julie jiggled past John to join the jockeying for position, jostling Jane in the process.

Just as Jane jumped aside, Joseph jogged past her in pursuit of Julie.

Judy was already jiving with the jock who had jowls bigger than her joints.

It was an all out jig-fest!

How would Julie fit in with this jive?

Would she be a jinx to their group or get jilted in the process?

Could she jostle her way into their Jazz circle?

Would the jiggling and jazz hands turn her legs into jelly?

John motioned for her to join them and she jauntily jumped into his arms.

Jazz was just the beginning.

The joyful group met for Judo, Jacks and even jury duty!

Now Julie has a job hauling junk in the back of John’s Jeep

and they are jubilant to have little Joey on the way!

And that’s the story of the letter “J.”

H is for Hatred of Halloween

Fears, Writing

I was having trouble coming up with my “H” for the A to Z Challenge this week (Check out my original post here and let me know if you’ve accepted the challenge in the comments below so I can read your stuff!) so I thought I’d do a repost of this blog I wrote awhile ago about my hatred of Halloween. I know it’s not quite fall yet and no one wants to be thinking about those holidays, but… well, here goes anyway.

Originally posted 11/01/14

I hate Halloween.

I know many of you would think “Well, that makes sense since she’s a Christian and it isn’t really a Christian holiday”, but that’s not it.

It’s the masks.

I remember when I was younger, after a hardy night of my own trick-or-treating (which I also really didn’t enjoy. A suffocating mask, wigs that itched, and always wearing a coat due to the cold so you couldn’t see my costume anyway. Plus, my Dad always “checked” the candy for “razor blades” – in my adult years I understood it was just so he could have first pick of my candy…), these two ADULT people came into our home with masks on. My parents LET them into the house without knowing who they were. What other time does this occur except on Halloween? I mean, come on. Here were these two complete strangers standing in our kitchen while my parents tried to guess who they were. I thought they had gone insane, but they were getting a total kick out of it. The masked weirdos didn’t say a word – they would just shake their heads yes or no.

“Do we know you?” Yes nod.
“Are you friends?” Yes nod. (THANK GOD)
“Are you related?” No nod.

On and on it went until my Dad finally guessed Larry and Gerry – our next door neighbors – and he was right. They laughed about it as they stripped off their creepy masks.

What the heck!?! My little ten-year-old mind couldn’t wrap itself around this odd tradition. Totally creepy.

Today scores of young people invade our town begging for candy in their ghastly costumes and I hide in my house. It’s just not right. When we first got married my husband couldn’t wait to hand out candy to all the little beggars. I sat mutely beside him on the porch with a scowl better than any mask could create. I mean, this people could be scoping out our home for a late night invasion and I wouldn’t even be able to identify them! And we gave them candy to boot!!

I’m sure I scared quite a few youngsters with my tight-faced frown, but they have no shame. Some came back around for seconds.

“Hey. Didn’t you come by here about 20 minutes ago? No? Hmm…”

It’s the single weirdest holiday out there in my opinion. Some people think it’s weird for a bunny to lay eggs… I think it’s weird to give candy to masked children who’s parents will later come back to rob you.

But that’s just me.