Wednesday, March 25, 2020

A Cup Full of "Thankful"

Early in the 1970’s, my husband took me to the computer lab on the University of South Florida campus. He carried his stack of punched cards to a woman at the desk to run through the computer. He pointed to what looked to me to be a huge bank of metal cabinets.

“Look at that, Bec,” he said. “One day we’ll have a computer in our house. Can you imagine that?”

I couldn’t.  

But Tom was right. We had several computers through the years. None were as big as the monstrosity in that computer lab. In fact, my current computer is smaller than the spiral notebook I carried with me to any of my university classes.   

Where is this going? 

During my March Mug Month I’ve been reflecting on the messages my collection of coffee mugs convey. Last week I shared my “You’ll Get Through This” mug. It seemed appropriate for the pandemic sweeping the world. 

Self-isolation may well be the watchword for the long haul. 

I’ve embraced the time to paint, clean, write, organize, and do all those things I say I wish I had time to do. So far, so good. I’m fully aware that for some people, self-isolation may foster feelings of anxiety, loneliness, or even depression. 

One psychologist recommended that during this time everyone should write down three things for which they are thankful every night. Not a bad idea. Anytime.

It made me realize how thankful I am for my cell phone, computer, and the internet. During this time of uncertainty, I’ve missed my friends and family, but I’ve enjoyed daily conversations on the phone and playing a game of Farkle with my mother and two of my daughters via a Face Time conference call. Last night my youngest granddaughter called to read me a bedtime story. She’s in first grade.

I’m keeping up with friends on Facebook. Through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, I’m celebrating the birth of new babies and birthdays, and laughing at the creative memes my circle of friends share on a regular basis. I can choose how much news I want to watch and when I want to see it. 

I can attend church online. More than one if I choose. My Tuesday morning Bible study group is going to an online platform for our new study. Seeing and hearing my friends on my computer screen was refreshing. (I will admit though, the GoToMeeting platform, with our faces posted in rows across the screen made me feel as though I were part of The Brady Bunch.)

Although as a young bride, I couldn’t imagine having a computer in my home, I am thankful for that technology. For such a time as this.

Last Christmas, my daughter Danielle gave me this Thankful mug. It is so appropriate for my March Mug Month lineup. But it begs the question: What are you thankful for during this crazy time in our world?

And don’t forget to send me a picture of your favorite mug. Tell me why you like it. You’ll be entered into the drawing for a $10 Amazon gift card.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

You'll Get Through This...Even This

Several years ago I participated in a Bible study by Max Lucado called You’ll Get Through This. In it, he highlighted the story of Joseph (of the Old Testament…not to be confused with Mary’s husband). At one point Joseph is thrown into a deep pit by his brothers. He can only “look up.” That’s the point. Bad things happen to good people, but with God’s help we get through it.

My husband Tom died a year after that particular Bible study ended. I copied the words from Max Lucado’s text and tucked the paper in my pocket for the visitation.

You’ll get through this.
It won’t be painless. It won’t be quick.
But God will use this mess for good.
Don’t be foolish or na├»ve.
But don’t despair either.
With God’s help, you’ll get through this.

After the funeral, my friend, Lina, found a mug with the words on it from the Lucado study. It is one of my favorites. It’s a reminder. God loves us, cares for us, is there for us, died for us, and sees us through…everything. 

My trust and hope during all difficulties in life rests in God. My faith clings to the promise of Jesus and what He did for me on that cross. My hope is found in that empty tomb.

As I write this post, the world is facing a pandemic. The coronavirus is spreading through every nation. Every country. Touching nearly every community. I’m not troubled. I am not living in fear. If I get the virus I will either recover or die. That doesn’t worry me.

Joseph was thrown into a pit, sold into slavery, imprisoned, and forgotten. His journey wasn’t without pain and suffering. It wasn’t quickly resolved. But God used the mess Joseph was in and all he encountered to make something good happen for His people.

So what good might come from this viral threat? I don’t know, but I see people engaging in more family time. People are cooking at home and sharing meals as a family. I see people looking out for their neighbors. 

And maybe, just maybe, in this very divisive time of American history, we will come together as a nation. Problem solving and working together for the common good is in our national DNA. In the words of Max Lucado “It won’t be painless and it won’t be quick. But God will use this mess for good.”

Don’t forget to share a picture of your favorite mug and why you treasure it. At the end of this series, I’ll post those stories shared and randomly select one person to receive a $10 Amazon gift card.

And if you want to know more about Joseph, you’ll find his story in the Old Testament portion of the Bible beginning in Genesis 37. If you are interested in Max Lucado’s book, You’ll Get Through This, CLICK HERE.

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Happy Camper

Last week I declared March as Mug Month. If you missed that post, you can read about it by clicking HERE.

Like many of my readers, I have a large collection of coffee mugs. Several of them I’ve received as gifts, a few I’ve purchased. Some mugs I’ve received as part of a business or conference promotion. Then there are those mugs popping up from who knows where. They simply seem to appear in my cabinet. As a result, I must cull through them from time-to-time, donating the excess to my local charity store.

Of the many mugs I have, I actually use only a few. Favorites. Ones that hold more than coffee. They hold memories. 

For today’s post, I selected one such mug. I call it one of my Adventure Mugs

Happy Camper
The summer before my husband died in a bicycle accident, we purchased a fifth wheel camper. We planned to spend a few months in the camper in Naples, Florida during the winter of 2014-2015. Tom left this earth three days before our scheduled departure for the Sunshine State. 

Over the next year I had to make decisions about…everything. I knew how to drive Tom’s truck, but I wouldn’t dare attempt to pull the camper. I joked I could only drive it if I never had to make a right turn or back up. Tom’s brother bought the truck and I attempted to sell the camper. With no luck. 

I did the only thing I know to do with decisions in my life. I prayed about it. 

A little over a year later, I located a beautiful seasonal campground about an hour away from home. A driver took my camper to Pine Cove Campground. Once the  campground opened in the spring, I found the camper to be an ideal writing retreat. My fellow campers were fun and the owners of the campground worked hard to make it a safe and enjoyable experience. 

Furthermore, I knew Tom would have loved it.

My youngest daughter gave me two “Happy Camper” mugs. Hot coffee on crisp mornings with the sounds of others stirring about? Perfect. Restful. Camping by myself was something totally different from anything I had ever done. It was my first adventure without Tom. Through that experience I learned to be self-reliant. I was totally independent yet never really alone.

I no longer have the camper. I still have the mug. It holds memories of a season in my life when walks in the woods and breakfast with the birds chirping in the trees brought healing to my heart.  
What is the story behind your favorite mug? Send me a picture and a brief description of why you treasure that particular mug. I’ll be sharing those stories in a post here and putting the names of everyone who shares in a hat. One lucky winner will receive a $10 gift card from Amazon.

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

March: Mug Month

I decided to declare March as Mug Month.

I have two reasons. 

Reason #1: This month is the one-year anniversary of the release of Libby’s Cuppa Joe. Libby’s is a coffee shop in Door County, Wisconsin. No, it isn’t a real place even though I’ve had several readers report they looked for it when visiting the small town of Fish Creek.

When the new proprietor of Libby’s Cuppa Joe arrives on the scene, she cleans everything out of the store’s kitchen. Including a random collection of mugs from area businesses and such. 

Reason #2: In my first novel, Breathing on Her Own, there is a scene where the main character, Molly, is moving the contents of her daughter’s closet to a new room. She remembers her daughter as a toddler clomping around in Molly’s high-heeled shoes. She thinks of her daughter growing up and the way shoes mark time. There’s a line in the book that reads –“Shoes tell the story of our lives.

I always liked that scene…and the line. 

Recently however, I hosted some friends for breakfast. I pulled three of my favorite mugs from the cabinet for our coffee. I told them the significance of each mug. 

Mugs Tell the Story of My LifeInteresting. I had never made that connection before. Sure, I have the random souvenir mug from my travels or the one someone gave me as a gift. I have mugs that bring back wonderful memories and a few that simply feel good in my hands. 

After my friends left, I pulled a few more mugs from the cabinet and lined them up. Each mug has a story of its own. For the next few weeks I am sharing a few of my “mug stories.” I know I’m not alone in this.

Your turn. What is your favorite mug? What do you drink in it? Where did you get it? Why do you like it so much? Please send me a picture of your mug…with or without you in it. Include a brief description of your connection to the mug. A few sentences is all I require.

Let’s have fun with this. 

My final post in the series will feature your stories. Illustrated with your pictures.  

And did I mention I have a $10 Amazon Gift Card for one lucky reader who sends me their mug story?