Category Archives: General

It’s been four and a half weeks since I purchased my big black boot (B3) as my latest fashion accessory. Four and a half weeks since my adventures began. (You can read about it in my blog The beauty of friendship.) I had planned to wear my new red boots as a fall statement. Instead I took a detour through one red and B3. Fortunately, only another week and a half and I can wean myself into TWO red boots. Yippee.

big black boot B3

big black boot B3

During these B3 weeks, I’ve moved through many shades of purple, yellow, and green on my foot.  My twice-daily application of arnica gel (the injured person’s best friend) quickened its improvement. There’s still a purple line around the breaking point of my big toe that looks like something bit me. I anticipate it will eventually disappear too.

I learned quickly that my poor uninjured heel couldn’t take the constant pounding on it as I clobbered it in that hard, hard B3. Not to worry, Dr. Scholl’s heel pads were the answer. I’m glad I got them. My heels would probably resemble ground beef by this point.

Now, Velcro is a fabulous invention. It helps young mothers get their children properly and quickly shod. But it also comes with challenges. I discovered the one connected to B3 in the middle of the night. Since I have to wear the boot to bed, I’ve slept covered by the afghan made by my grandmother (see blog Hugs.) A nice enough arrangement. Until the night I rolled over too many times and found myself in a velcroed afghan burrito. I couldn’t move. Good ole B3 had affixed itself to the yarn’s fibers and sealed me inside. David had to come to my rescue. Midnight burritoectomy.

Another way B3 has taken over my life—I can’t drive. There’s no way I can put that clunky thing anywhere near only one pedal with any accuracy. So I’ve been at David’s mercy to drive me (thank you very much). That arrangement ignores the fact I might want to run away from home. Imagine the scenario. “David I’d like to runaway at 2:30. Can you take me?” Not that good, huh? The upside? He’s taken me places and helped me settle into a chair with my mocha (chocolate is definitely required when wearing B3) and gotten whatever else I’ve wanted.

As helpful as B3 has been and as grateful as I am for having it, I look forward to taking it off permanently. Currently I’m allowed to take it off for hours at home with my toe buddy wrapped to the one next to it. In a week and a half, I get to venture out of the house B3 free. Red boots, here I come.

To reassure me I’m not the only doofus out there, please share your adventures with big black boots, casts, slings, bandages, splinters, etc. I can’t wait to hear them.

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October 7, 2013 · 10:08 pm

The beauty of friendship

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My broken toe

All I had scheduled Thursday was lunch with my friend Bettye and my small group meeting that evening. Until I hit the curb, that is. With my big toe. Plans disappeared along with any ability to think straight, stand, or care about their disappearance.

Rejoicing over the phone in my pocket, I called my husband, who was inside the house, to come out and help me. Nausea and the possibility of passing out joined me on the ground. Eventually, my stomach settled enough so I could lie on the grass.

I heard a car approach. “Is that Bettye?” David said “yes.” “Good. Is she parking?” Another “yes.” “Good.”

Soon Bettye joined us and stroked my hand. David held my other hand. Surrounded by my support system, I felt loved, safe, and comforted. I didn’t have to worry about what to do. Help was here.

Since David had an appointment, Bettye soon had me loaded in her car and over to the urgent care clinic. Within an hour of falling, I saw the doctor with Bettye by my side. What a great friend. I knew she’d take care of me and be my brain during the appointment.

After an exam and four x-rays, the verdict was a broken toe. A beautiful straight line across the toe between the joint and the foot. A good scenario. Followed by the clunky black boot for four to six weeks.

Bettye and I still made it to lunch—I needed food. Then we waited for my pain prescription. Finally, home where it all began.

I didn’t start out wanting proof of a good friendship. I already knew I had it. Still, what a blessing to know I have a friend who is calm, caring, and competent. I’m extremely grateful.

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What can I learn about God from a talking gorilla?

 

Sema, an eight-year-old, 250-pound gorilla, communicates through sign language. Glee Granger trained Sema since birth. Now, the zoo wants her back.

 

ImageIn her novel Unspoken, Angela Hunt relates Glee’s battle to remain Sema’s caregiver, researcher, trainer, and family. The gorilla-human relationship depends upon the bond between the two, but the zoo’s demand threatens to destroy the connection.

 

No one else knows the signs Glee has specifically created for Sema. No one else knows Sema’s heart and personality. No one else will listen when Sema talks. And talk Sema does. She communicates love, concern, fear, needs, and happiness. 

 

What will happen when her lines of communication are broken? If they are broken? Hunt covers all this and more in a novel that made me fall in love with Sema and her honest communication. I wanted to talk with her, learn from her.

 

Have you ever wondered what animals think? What they’d say if they could talk?

 

Sema’s desire to talk is similar to God’s desire to talk with me, to hear me. He knows the signs for me, my personal code. He talks, but do I listen? To do so, I must make myself available, slow down, and pay attention. Not easy to do when the world’s fighting to steal me away, but the benefits are worth the effort. When I do, God shares his love and care for me. I only have to listen.

Do you struggle to listen? What benefits have you received from doing so?

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Rivers of thought

Whenever I’m in the midst of a slower activity (showering, waiting in traffic, daydreaming, going to sleep) my brain plucks random bits from my memory. I’ve paid attention to them recently to see where they come from, why they’ve formed such a deep trench. My memory’s captured them from songs, movies, and books. The depth of the memory comes from the amount of repetition, but that repetition hasn’t necessarily been intentional. The stronger the impact of the words or the music, the more I’ve repeated them. It’s interesting noticing the patterns. Here’s some of the thoughts that pop into my head, the soundtrack of my mind:

“We will dance on the streets that are golden. The glorious bride and the great Son of Man.” Travis Cottrell singing We Will Dance.

“Jesus loves me this I know for the Bible tells me so.” Jesus Loves Me hymn.

“Be bold as your sauce.” Facts of Life Goes to Paris. Great line in the movie. It’s encouragement to be yourself.

“Give thanks to the Lord our God and king. His love endures forever.” Forever by Chris Tomlin.

“Oh, Susanna.” Oh! Susanna by Stephen Foster. My middle name’s Suzanne. My dad would sing this to me.

“The summer I turned thirteen I thought I killed a man.” Fireflies in December by Jennifer Erin Valent. This first line of the novel gripped me immediately.

“If I thought I was gonna get shot I wouldn’t go.” El Dorado. My favorite line by my uncle Arthur Hunnicutt playing Bull.

“I could have danced all night.” My Fair Lady.

“My chains are gone, I’ve been set free. My God, my Savior has ransomed me.” Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone) by Chris Tomlin.

The collection goes on. What about you? What plays in your mind in the slow moments?

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I’d rather have God’s guidance than GPS

Recently I used my GPS to plot my route to a new location. Easy enough. Enter the destination, pick from the selections, and watch the machine plan my trip. Well, not so fast. Sometimes the GPS gives me totally unrelated choices. It doesn’t have a mind of its own and does its best to interpret my data. I entered Inca for Inca Mexican Restaurant and among my options were the correct one plus Insulation Services Inc A Div, Ross Dress For Less, and Crop Production Svc Inc. Huh? Good thing I have control over which map I get. FYI, Red Lobster came up as the top choice because it was a paid ad.

GPS search results

GPS search results

Still, I pick my restaurant and take off. In this case, I basically know where it is anyway, but choose to let GPS direct me. Immediately it dislikes my approach to the starting point and starts “rerouting.” I ignore it, knowing it will catch up with me.

Cruising along, I hear, “In .3 miles, turn left on Columbia.” Good enough, but by the time I check my mileage and look up, I’ve passed the street. I whip into a parking lot and try again while the GPS tries to steer me back on course.

Then I hear, “Turn left on College Avenue.” Sure, that’d get me there, but I know the restaurant is in the parking lot straight ahead and I can approach from the back. I reach Inca, turn off the GPS, and we’re both happy. Destination achieved.

How does that compare to trusting God for guidance? I enter my destination. Again, not so fast. God might have other plans. Maybe he wants me to go to Ross Dress For Less. I hope he doesn’t choose Crop Production Svc Inc because I have no idea what I’d do there. With GPS, I can cheat and look at the entire route before traveling. With God, I see just far enough ahead to keep moving. Or waiting until he tells me to move.

Once I’m on my way, God keeps me on course until he tells me to change direction. There may not be an “in .3 miles” warning at all. So I remain flexible and trusting. Like GPS, when I make a wrong turn, God recalculates, but he doesn’t squawk at me saying, “recalculating” or anything else that I interpret as “you’re an idiot, why didn’t you listen?” That keeps me calm and trusting.

There may not be any familiar landmarks when traveling with God. He wants me to rely on him. That’s so much harder to do. I want to look for a McDonald’s or even that advertised Red Lobster. Still, he’s God, he has a plan, and he cares where I go. I’m much better off sticking with him as my guide than relying upon my instincts.

Eventually, I end up where God wants me. I don’t always know where it’ll be or when. But he’s a lot smarter than a machine, and I plan to choose him every time.

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV

What about you? What experiences have you had with GPS and with God? What’s been better?

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Party till you drop

photo-22We’ve finished the major holiday season and plunged into the new year. My visit with my family went well. Not as expected, but well. On Christmas day, we all gathered at my mom’s house and enjoyed a great meal and gave gifts to each other.  Nothing unusual about any of that. It began snowing and sleeting in the afternoon, so we all headed to our homes and hotel rooms. Just it time it turned out.

The next morning, we awoke to ten inches of snow and ice. All of us were stranded, with and without power at varying times, across the Arkansas capital area. My sister Sherri created our indoor exercise program—we climbed all nine floors of our hotel, walking the halls on every floor on the way up and down. She, David, and I talked all the way. What a great time from a situation we couldn’t do anything about.

Over the next couple days, we dug ourselves out, and the whole family shopped, ate, and visited the Clinton Presidential Library (http://www.clintonlibrary.gov). The snow and power outages took away any pressure to do anything other than enjoy the opportunities we had. Before leaving town, we met at IHOP and feasted on pancakes and other breakfast goodies.

David and I drove home on a new route so we could visit with one of my critique partners and her husband. It was delightful to finally meet Lora and Bill, and we chatted for hours.

The second day of our drive, we played tourist. We checked out the Great Wolf Lodge in Kansas City, Kansas (http://www.greatwolf.com), the Great Overland Station in Topeka (http://www.greatoverlandstation.com), and ended the day with the Eisenhower Presidential Library in Abilene, Kansas (http://www.eisenhower.archives.gov). I highly recommend stopping for any of these if you get the chance. All our sightseeing took up the bulk of the day, and we stayed another night on the road.

The next day, we woke to more snow and drove slowly through limited visibility in Kansas then reached clear weather in Colorado. We finally made it home in the late afternoon.

Our Westie, Daisy, stayed with our friend Cathy and her dogs, Emma and Katie. The three girls played like crazy the entire time we were gone. Daisy slept for two days after we picked her up. This picture of her sums up what happens when you have a good time over the holidays hanging out with family and friends.

I hope your holidays were just as fun. What did you do and how are you recovering?

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Writer’s Enthusiasm is Contagious. http

Writer’s Enthusiasm is Contagious. http://wp.me/p1oo4x-G #amwriting #writers #fiction

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Writing Critique Group

“As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” Proverbs 27:17 NIV

I belong to a fabulous critique group. There are five members and everyone brings something different to the mix. That’s one of the benefits of the group–multiple eyes viewing the writing through filters created by varying life experiences. Our differences include age, occupation, education, and location. Those differences influence our critiques. One member may focus on dialogue, another on credibility, and another on description. I need and appreciate the suggestions these focuses produce.

We submit our work to each other every Wednesday and have a week to critique the submission. These are not flip reviews with minor comments. No, our group members kindly, but honestly, sift through the document and return detailed suggestions. Fortunately, these are not dictates and each author may do what she will with them. Everyone is professional and supportive and knows her markings are for the author to consider. Ultimately, the author decides what to change and learns from the critique what a reader’s experience might be with that particular writing. That’s valuable information. I’ve been amazed how many times what I meant and what I conveyed didn’t match. Without my group, I wouldn’t have realized that someone from the East Coast would have a different reaction to what I thought made perfect sense. It’s great to have the opportunity to give it another try.

Collectively, we support each other and yes, sharpen each other as iron sharpens iron. It’s a beautiful relationship and one I’m grateful to have. Thanks, ladies.

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Character Voice Journal

Recently I used James Scott Bell’s voice journal idea to help me know my protagonist better. Joan talked to me and told me her joys, history, and attitude. She provided flesh for the factual bones I’d created and gave me a richer view of her personality and life.

I never had imaginary friends, but now I’m creating characters from thin air to populate my novels. The voice journal is a good technique. Each character gets a chance to chat with me. When Joan talked, I typed her words and her voice became clearer as I listened. This exercise let me hear what she sounds like, her cadence. She’s a fascinating character and will be fun to work with in my journey through Dying to Change.

This process made me wonder what God thought when he created me. Did he think “she’s going to love music, vivid colors and patterns, and dogs–especially Westies, and her heart’s going to dance every time she sees the Colorado mountains?” Did he talk with us as he chose our physical appearance, personality, and abilities? He loves all of us and created us as unique representations of his image. I think he had as much fun as I’m having.

For more about voice journals, check out James Scott Bell’s The Art of War for Writers.

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Engraved in God’s Hands

13 Shout for joy, O heavens; rejoice, O earth; burst into song, O mountains! For the LORD comforts his people and will have compassion on his afflicted ones. 14 But Zion said, “The LORD has forsaken me, the Lord has forgotten me.” 15 “Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! 16 See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me.”  Isaiah 49:13-16 NIV

People may have short memories or loyalties, but God never forgets me. I am engraved on the palms of his hands. God’s hands are huge, and they have millions of names engraved on them. One of those names is mine. I am important enough to God that he put my name permanently in front of him. He knows who I am, and I am of value to him. Engraved is a conscious, selective act. God made that act while he thought of me.

This is reassuring. On a difficult day, I prayed for God’s guidance and protection. When everything was over and all was well, I saw God put his hands in front of me and point to his palm. “See, I’ve got you right here.” It doesn’t get any better than that.

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