Tuesday, December 28, 2021

 “Allow Enough Prep Time”

You’ve likely heard or read those words. They often show up in the kitchen. They are indeed words of wisdom if you plan to bake homemade bread from scratch for dinner or serve a roasted turkey at Christmas or Thanksgiving. But those words are good reminders for other areas of life as well. 


As we come to the end of 2021, we begin to set new goals for the upcoming year. Goals are great. Perhaps you may want to lose a few pounds, organize the closet…or your life, or perhaps learn a new skill or language. Even goals that appear a bit lofty to some may be attainable if you plan them out and allow enough prep time. 


Here’s an example. Let’s say you want to lose twenty pounds. Some people will argue that is a lofty goal. But with planning and patience, you can map out a plan to lose two pounds a month between eating right and bumping up your physical activity. Two pounds is doable and in ten months you’ve reached your goal. 


Perhaps, like me, you want to complete a new novel this year. The planning (aka: prep time) includes carving out time to write, mapping out my storyline, assembling my main characters, and doing a bit of research about my subject.  If I pour myself into the prep time, I’ll be able to complete the task in the time allotted. Oh, sure, I’ll change things along the way and need to “spice” the story up a bit as I go. (See how I brought that back to the kitchen?)  I’ll continue my research and go through numerous rewrites, but the prep time I am doing now will serve me through my season of writing the book. 


Although it is well documented, I already know from life experiences that exercise and weight loss usually hit numbers 1 and 2 on the “goals for next year” list. Getting organized, learning something new, and money management also show up in the top ten. If any of these resonate with you, know you are not alone.


The point is simple. Any and every goal you set requires some prep time.

This is the time to do it. 




Think of your life as a garden. 

1) Clear the garden plot. Make room for your seeds to be planted. Clear your calendar or secure materials you need to reach your goal.

2) Plant the seeds. Start with a little self-talk about your goal and why you want to do it. Write it down and post it where you will see it on a regular basis. The dream is the seed. Nurture the dream.

3) Keep the weeds at bay. That is, push aside the negative talk you sometimes allow to cloud your thinking. Don’t become distracted with things that really don’t matter. You get the idea.

4) Water your dream garden frequently. Read, study, practice, whatever your dream needs to grow and produce fruit from your labor.

5) Get excited for small increments of growth/success. Those dreams, like the beans, take time to grow and produce. Celebrate the little victories along the way.


Those are my words of encouragement for this week. “Allow enough prep time”and by doing so, this time next year, you will likely have accomplished more than you can imagine without becoming discouraged.


Be sure to share your goals here or with others. Sharing your goals with others increases your chance of attaining them.


Tuesday, December 21, 2021

I Hope You Dance

Music. Music not only touches our heart, music tells the story of our lives.


Music has been a huge part of shaping me into the person I am today. I grew up with everything from hymns to show tunes. I gained knowledge and appreciation for all music. I learned to appreciate the richness of bluegrass as well as the nuances of classical music.


I cannot remember a single car trip from my childhood that wasn’t filled with singing. As a matter of fact, I’m sure my own three daughters will likely say the same thing about their growing up years. The autumn my husband died, we had planned to record a collection of the car songs for our children and grandchildren for Christmas. 


Music provides a way to connect with people across generations. And cultures.


My parents loved musicals. They enjoyed Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Oklahoma so much they bought the album. I played it over and over. When I came into the Waters family, my mother-in-law delighted in my one-person rendition of the musical Oklahoma. She had me perform it more than once in her living room. 


My late husband sang in the choir. My oldest daughter took up the flute for marching band, my middle daughter plays the French horn, and my youngest still “fiddles around” with her violin.


The old hymns were at the core of my maternal grandmother’s being. They remained untouched by the dementia that stole so much of her memory. All we needed to do was to begin to sing one of those hymns and grandma would join in. 


Music is powerful.


This last week, friends and family gathered at my house for a Christmas caroling party. It is the way I have recognized my wedding anniversary these past seven years. This year would have marked my fiftieth anniversary of marriage to Tom Waters. 


The music filled my house. (Now I know why they are called cathedral ceilings. The sound was amazingly beautiful as we sang our way through the Christmas story.) The songs and story warmed my heart.


Only eight days earlier, we had buried my Uncle Noah. That day, as the story of his life unfolded both through words and song, I thought about the theme song of my own life. 


Many people who know me might think I would choose a beloved hymn or something I enjoy from the contemporary Christian music genre.


I like that music. I sing it all the time. I listen to it on my Alexa and in the car. It fills me up.


But the song I would choose to pass on to my loved ones may surprise you. It is Ronan Keating’s version of I Hope You Dance. I’m including the YouTube link below.


Here is a sample. I find myself in these verses.


I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean

Whenever one door closes, I hope one more opens

Promise me that you’ll give faith a fighting chance

And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance…

I hope you dance.


I hope you never fear those mountains in the distance,

Never settle for the path of least resistance,

Living life might mean taking chances, but they’re worth taking,

Loving might be a mistake, but it’s worth making.


Yeah…I hope you dance. And for the whole song, CLICK HERE.


What is the music of your life?

Tuesday, December 14, 2021

Antidote for Despair

 Christmas Caroling... an Antidote for Despair


Through the years I have learned enough about myself to know when I need help. It isn’t always easy to ask others to step in and assist. Especially when you are a person who works hard to be self-sufficient. That would be me. Or at least it used to be.


When my husband died seven years ago, I had to lean on others to get me through the simple tasks of everyday life. Especially during those first several months. My mother and my children pitched in to help. I could count on my mom to buoy my spirits and keep me fed. My kiddos kept me busy and quite frankly became my first line of tech support. Tom had always done that sort of thing.


Those first few months were hard. The first few weeks, the hardest.


Seven weeks after Tom died was our anniversary. December 18th. Ours had been a beautiful Christmas wedding, but facing our 43rdanniversary alone was daunting. I knew this was not something I could hand over to someone else to bear. 


I considered several options. For example, I thought about spending the day in bed eating chocolates. That idea, like many others, didn’t appear to be a healthy choice. I thought about fixing one of Tom’s favorite meals and lighting our wedding candle. Eat alone? No, that didn’t work either. 


I knew my family would do whatever was needed. I simply didn’t know what that looked like. 


So I prayed about it.


A plan took shape. I called members of my family first and asked them to join me for Christmas caroling at my house the evening of the eighteenth. I then called several of our closest friends and asked them to come as well. My children readily recognized the date and understood the purpose. It didn’t hit my friends until the evening arrived. 


Everyone brought finger foods. I ran the vacuum and made a pot of coffee.


Tom loved to sing. He loved to go caroling. The evening was a perfect way to recognize our anniversary. My family and friends rescued me through song and love and care.


I have continued that tradition. It looked a bit different the year I lived in Kosovo, but there, too, friends came to my apartment. We sang Christmas carols and celebrated the birth of Jesus and my anniversary all in one.


Last year, due to COVID, my mother, children, and grandchildren walked through my neighborhood singing carols with me. Though I usually hand out poinsettias, that year I made little cakes instead. We even caroled one song in French for the sweet family from Paris down the street.


I started the tradition to keep me from falling down a deep hole of despair. Now I find the event one of showing others how much they are loved. 


It has been seven years now. December 18, 2021 is the 50thanniversary of my marriage to Tom Waters. Friends gather. We share stories and food and song. I don’t know if I will continue the caroling party next year. At least not for the reason I started it.


But I will continue to sing and shout that God loved me so much, he came to earth as a human and suffered the same sorts of difficulties I often face. 


And when the time was complete, he suffered a death so horrific I cannot imagine it. But he then did what only he could do…he came back to life. 


Heaven is real. And somewhere in its realms, I trust Tom is singing right there with me. 

Tuesday, December 7, 2021

The BB Gun

Uncle Noah and the BB Gun

It was a BB gun. I was sure. It was in a long slender package wrapped in red paper with my name on it. If I tilted it on end, I could actually hear the BB’s roll from one end to the other. 

My grandparent’s house was in a hollow nestled between the mountains in rural Kentucky. We lived in Ohio. It took us hours to drive down Old 25 and through the southern Kentucky town of Barbourville. Several miles outside of town we turned onto a narrow, rutted dirt road that hugged the side of the mountains as it wound its way through the hollow to their house.

We didn’t often travel in the winter to see them. That is part of what made this Christmas so special. That and the fact that a box in the trunk of our car held an assortment of brightly wrapped presents, including the one I had already concluded was my very own BB gun.

The hour was late by the time we turned on the dark, snow covered, dirt road. My dad drove carefully, his way lit only by the lights on our car. We reached the midpoint of the Stony Fork road at a place my aunt called “the deep holler.” Suddenly we came to a complete stop, stuck in the heavy snow. We had passed a few houses, lit only by the kerosene lamps within. There was no telephone service in the area at the time, so how help arrived, how anyone knew of our plight, I still don’t know. All I know is that soon one neighbor and then another came to help my dad get the car out of the snow. And more important to me, my uncle, ten years my senior, arrived on my grandfather’s mule. 
Uncle Noah and my dad
 the summer before my BB gun.
Yep, that's me between them. 
Ten years older, but my uncle was
 always a giant in my eyes.

Uncle Noah reached down from his perch on the animal and lifted me up to sit in front of him. He turned the mule around and we started plodding through the deep snow toward the safety and warmth of my grandparent’s farmhouse. Along the way, Uncle Noah talked with me as if I were a grown-up. He taught me how to guide the mule. “Gee for turning right and haw to turn left,” he instructed. I told him about my secret desire for a BB gun. He didn’t laugh at me. He acted as though a five-year-old girl wanting a BB gun for Christmas was the most natural thing in the world. 

The journey on the mule was long, but the animal was warm.
Uncle Noah’s stories and conversation made the time pass quickly. 
Grandma and Grandpa welcomed me with hugs and kisses. I was happy to see my parents arrive later, the car and its cargo intact.  Soon I was snuggled under the colorful quilt my grandmother had made, sinking deep in the warmth of the feather bed.
The smell of the wood burning in the stove, warm biscuits, hot coffee, and bacon sizzling in the pan ushered in my Christmas morning.

“Presents can wait until after breakfast,” my mother said. Soon though, I was  excited to help in the handing out of gifts to each member of the family. Happy to open the packages with my name on them. There was a coloring book, a Cinderella doll, and finally, the mysterious long slender package with the rattling sound when turned on its end.
I opened the package with great care so as not to shoot anyone. I don’t think my parents recognized the initial disappointment on my face when I pulled out the blue baton. Only Uncle Noah knew I harbored the wish for a BB gun. He didn’t laugh or make me regret taking him into my confidence.

The day turned out fine as I played with my doll and colored several pictures. I managed to not break anything in the house as I attempted to twirl the shiny blue baton.
That was over sixty Christmases ago and the only one I ever spent with my grandparents in Kentucky. I realize now that on that ride through the snow, my uncle gave me gifts greater than my much hoped for BB gun.

He taught me to be available to help people in need,
     share with others what you have learned, and
            treat people with respect no matter their age. 

On Friday, December 3, 2021, my Uncle Noah left this earth for a heavenly home prepared ahead of time for him. He lived his life serving others. He was a highly decorated Marine who served in the Vietnam War. He loved people and did anything he could to help others. He was talented musically and had a great eye for design. He was a good and caring man to the end. 
Rest in peace, Uncle Noah.


Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Deep Thirst and Living Water

Deep Thirst and Living Water

Last week I shared how I became dehydrated and wound up in the emergency room. You can find that post HERE if you missed it. 


Thank you for your comments of support. Also, a big thank you to those of you able to laugh with me through that crazy experience. 


I was sure I would wind up with a black eye or two for Thanksgiving, but my face cleared up and few people could tell anything had happened at all. I am happy my “hair stylist” trimmed my bangs exactly where they would need to fall to cover the protruding knots on my forehead. (Yep, I know how to use a pair of scissors.)


Unquenched thirst can lead to dehydration. Dehydration is dangerous. There are different kinds of thirst. There are serious consequences to dehydration.


Most of my readers know I am a believer… a follower of Jesus Christ. My experience at the Emergency Room reminded me of a story in the Bible. 


The account takes place when Jesus is traveling through Samaria. Most Jews avoided that part of the country like the plague. Jews simply did not associate with Samaritans. But here is Jesus going right into that off limits countryside. It is just another piece of God saying, “I’m here for everybody not just a few select people.”


I digress. Back to the story.


Jesus stops to rest. A Samaritan woman comes to draw water at the well where Jesus is seated. Jesus asks her for a drink. She is shocked he would ask her for anything since she is a Samaritan. He tells her that if she knew who he was she would ask him for “living water.”


Of course, the living water he speaks of is eternal life. 


You can read the story in its entirety in chapter 4 of the Book of John.


I love this story on so many levels. We often only see what we think we need or, as is usually the case, what we want. Our thirst. But once that thirst is quenched, we go about our daily routines until we get thirsty again. Living a life to only meet our wants and needs as humans leaves us thirsting for more and never able to fill up. 


That kind of life may keep us going physically, but leads to spiritual dehydration. Much like the woman at the well.


Dehydration,  as I demonstrated with my face plant into the door and onto the floor last week, leaves us feeling weak and inadequate. Useless. Fearful. Bruised. This is true both physically and spiritually. 


Perhaps you left the Thanksgiving table feeling full and satisfied physically. You may have even spent these last few days scanning the ads, the Black Friday deals, and trying to put together a list of “things” you hope will bring you and your family to a place of feeling good about life. 


Adding more stuff to your cluttered house will not quench that thirst. Having the biggest light show in your neighborhood won’t satisfy your heart’s desire. Going in debt to buy the kids the newest electronic gizmo won’t provide that fullness you crave, either.


Instead, this season, I challenge you to seek the living water


Here's what you can do: Spend a few minutes each day in December reading one of the four Gospels in the Bible: Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John. Your choice.


Don’t have a Bible at home? No problem, these books of the Bible can be found online. I would recommend the New International Version (NIV), the New King James Version (NKJV) or the English Standard Version (ESV). They are all reliable and readable translations.


That’s the challenge. Read one book of the Bible to finish out 2021. Can’t hurt. But fair warning: You may develop a thirst to read more…and to seek the Living Water.



Tuesday, November 23, 2021

A Knot Head for Thanksgiving

A Knot Head For Thanksgiving 

“She had big blue eyes and dark wavy hair…

And a knot on her head, but we didn’t care.”


Yep, that was me. It is part of a poem my mother wrote about me the year I was born. I was born with a knot on the crown of my head. It didn’t bother my parents. They loved me anyway. 


I am sporting a new knot or two on my forehead this Thanksgiving. I was a bit dehydrated and passed out. Oh, how I hate to type those words. It makes me feel like a klutz… an “old” klutz. 


But there were some good things to ponder; Some “Thanks-Giving” to be had. For instance:


·      I didn’t damage the door jamb I thumped with my noggin.

·     The blood and subsequent vomit were all in one tidy puddle on the tile floor making for easy cleanup.

·     My daughter was a phone call away.

·     My good friend drove me to the hospital.

·     The hospital was not at all busy, so they took me in immediately.

·     My stay lasted only about four hours.

·     They did a CAT scan and found my brain was fine…no cats.

·     They did an EKG and my heart is good.

·     They drew blood…left me enough to keep going and determined my blood is good. (Good enough, I guess. I don’t actually do “medi-speak” so I trust them when they gave me these reports.)

·     My mom spent the night with me and cared for me…like old times.


By the way, the knot on the back of my head as a baby vanished and I trust the one on my forehead will as well. Here is that part of the poem:


“A few months later, those blue eyes were brown,

The knot had vanished and she was the cutest baby in town.”


Yeah, well, remember it was written by my mama…

Tuesday, November 16, 2021




Making your way in the world today
Takes everything you've got
Taking a break from all your worries
Sure would help a lot
Wouldn't you like to get away?


Sometimes you want to go
Where everybody knows your name
And they're always glad you came
You want to be where you can see
Our troubles are all the same
You want to be where everybody knows your name.


Remember these lyrics from the television sitcom CheersCheers was more than a bar in Boston. It was a gathering place for a wide variety of people. It was in the bar where they found a sense of community.


My husband used to say the theme song from this show would make a great song for church. The elders would likely have voted that one down, but he was right.


Tom and I found a sense of community at church. We were among a group of people whose values were similar to ours. We found people who enjoyed the same activities. We always felt welcomed


And church was a place we could take a break from our troubles and worries. People actually cared about us. When Tom died in 2014, it was our church family that wrapped their arms around me…and my family…both figuratively and physically. They held us up.


I am seven years older now. My children and grandchildren are growing up. They lead busy, productive lives of their own. Me? I’m part of a group for people over fifty-five years old. We meet once a month at church and enjoy each other’s company. We play games and bring in musical entertainers and programs. Sometimes we have a guest speaker. It’s fun, but maybe not enough.


I suppose that’s why when a friend invited me to the community center activities for seniors, I accepted. Mind you, I don’t actually think of myself as a senior citizen even if I qualified for the membership.


Every Tuesday evening I play Euchre there. It’s fun and I’ve met a lot of good people. One of the women there I also know from my weekly Bible study. I knew she was going to visit her daughter in California. She spoke of leaving this Thursday. I assumed she was spending Thanksgiving with her daughter.


Then I learned she is returning on the Monday before Thanksgiving. So this past Tuesday evening at the senior center I asked her if she wanted to spend Thanksgiving with us. She declined. It turns out another daughter is coming to spend Thanksgiving with her. Good.


But what struck me was her reaction to my invitation. She took hold of my arm and gushed a huge “Thank you! Thank you!” She went on to say, “You have no idea how wonderful it is to be asked!”


Maybe I do. 


Sometimes you want to go
Where everybody knows your name
And they're always glad you came
You want to be where you can see
Our troubles are all the same
You want to be where everybody knows your name.


This Thanksgiving we would do well to open our doors to those around us who have no place to go. People without family members nearby. Older people. Younger people.  So that’s my challenge to my readers. 


There is still time to pull another chair up to your table and throw another potato in the pot. 


I’m guessing many will say no, but be grateful to be included.

And if they say yes? Remember this: your home is so much better than that bar in Boston.





Tuesday, November 9, 2021

Bring Home the Bacon

 Bring Home the Bacon


I often look to my own life and experiences as topics for this blog. Sometimes my life events strike a chord with my readers. Other times, I imagine they click on the link, yawn, and go their merry way. Bloggers want to write meaningful, enlightening posts. 


But it doesn’t always happen. 


Take this week.


I had several topics in mind, but I kept coming back to…are you ready? Bacon. Yes, I said bacon. B-A-C-O-N.


I had this craving for bacon. I don’t eat it often. In fact, I buy it so rarely, I’ve taken to frying it all at one time, eating a bit, and freezing the rest to zap in the microwave and eat later. Not this time. 


At the store this week, I tried my best to pass the bin of bacon in the meat section. I told myself I didn’t need it. I walked on to grab the butter and milk on my list before circling back to the bacon. I picked up a package and examined it. “Too fatty.” I put it down and studied my list. I needed some frozen veggies for a recipe so I headed that direction.


The veggies in the cart and there I was, standing again at the cooler with all the varieties of bacon staring up at me. “Just one package,” I told myself. (Wearing a mask makes it much easier to talk to yourself without strange looks from fellow shoppers. Hey, it’s a plus…take them where you find them.)


Of course I did finally fall to the temptation of the bacon, muttering something about life being short. That time it was spoken a bit too loud I guess, since the man next to me agreed as he put a second package of the Hickory Smoked variety in his cart.


I made it home with one package. And…I have limited myself to two slices each morning. Then there were those two slices yesterday afternoon. And the four slices this evening. I am totally out of control!




The answer is fairly simple: Bacon tastes good. I have some great bacon memories. 

·     Buying bacon in Greece since it wasn’t available in Kosovo.

·     The time my friend Christopher and I raced across Prishtina after church for an English breakfast that included bacon.

·     Bacon wrapped appetizers.

·     Bacon sandwiches.

·     Bacon on baked potatoes


I could go on, but you get the idea. 

I generally like to leave my readers with something of value so today I offer one of my favorite recipes. Try this one for Thanksgiving. It is a fresh and delicious broccoli salad. What makes it special? You guessed it…bacon. Enjoy!


Broccoli Salad

Chop two heads of broccoli into a large bowl. 


·     a thinly sliced small red onion

·     ½ lb. of bacon, fried and crumbled

·     ¾ C. of raisins

·     ¾ C. sliced almonds

Toss together and add the dressing.


Mix together the following

·     1C. Mayo

·     ½ Sugar

·     2 T. White wine vinegar or Rice Vinegar


Chill the salad before serving. It is delicious, fresh tasting, and compliments any main dish. You know it’s good. It has bacon in it.


Tuesday, November 2, 2021

The Marathon

 The Marathon:

Finish the Race


The last Sunday in October, my youngest daughter completed her first full marathon. She’s been training for months. Her goal was to run/walk the 26+ miles in five hours. She finished it in 4 hours and 53 minutes. Wow. I would still be running. No, make that crawling to the finish line. 


Several friends said, “You must be so proud of her!” 


I am. But there is more. I am challenged by her tenacity. Oh, I doubt I will ever run a marathon. I may attempt to walk the half marathon, but run? Not likely. 


Kendall set a goal, developed a plan, trained for the event, engaged others in her quest, and pushed her way to the finish line. 


I needed that “shot in the arm” reminder. Maybe you do, too.


I’ve certainly set goals and seen them to fruition in the past. It is how I managed to complete college and go on to earn my advanced degrees. It’s how I took charge of projects when I was a classroom teacher. It’s the mindset my team used to create an award winning teacher licensure program at the university when I was a professor there. It’s the structure I employed in writing my first novel. And second. 


Set a goal, learn what needs to be done to complete the goal, bring others along side you, and press on until you accomplish what you set out to do.


I don’t know about you, but sometimes I get so caught up in the vision of the end product or goal, I fudge on the process. Before I know it, the race has started and I’m still fiddling with my shoelaces. Figuratively speaking of course. 


Here’s an example. (You probably have one of your own.) I’ve been working on a suspense novel. I started crafting the book the last week of October in 2014. When Tom died, I could barely breathe, much less write. Last year I picked the manuscript up again as my focus for November. I was determined to complete the story. 


And I did. I was pleased to put the task behind me. It had been looming over me for six years. I handed it over to a few beta readers, incorporated their suggestions and called the book done. I submitted the to manuscript to a publisher and waited. 


The publisher said they like my writing. They seemed to see some value in what I gave them. They are willing to work with me to get the book where it needs to be. 


That is huge. Trust me. The suggestions they made are intense. This will take time. However, the fact they are willing to invest time in me is insanely generous. (Remember the part about engaging others?)


I’ll do it. As I said, it will take time. It will take a slowing down of the process. I have clear goals. I need more training. I need to stick to my writing schedule with the same diligence my daughter gave to her marathon preparation. 


I feel good. I’m not at the start of the race. I’m not at the end. I’m somewhere in the middle where the cheering crowds are thinner, the hills steeper, and the water stations farther apart. 


If you’ve followed my blog you know I often say, “The things we leave undone are the things that make us tired.”


But here is a new one for you. “It is finishing that long run that gives us energy.”

I’m in for the writing marathon. 


As soon as I tie my shoes.

How about you? What goal do you need to meet? I'm here to cheer.