Tuesday, January 31, 2023

He Will Direct Your Path

 And He Will Direct Your Path

Shortly after my husband died in October of 2014, my oldest daughter, Allison, had me over for dinner. My whole family was very good about taking care of me during that horrific time. After dinner, my nine-year-old grandson asked me a totally innocent question. 


“Doll, do you think you’ll get married again?” (Yes, my grandchildren call me “Doll.”)


Allison was shocked and held her breath. She tried to warn Spencer with a gentle kick under the table. My son-in-law stood by wondering what to say. My oldest grandson looked at me with the same curiosity as his brother.


It had only been a week since the funeral.

The  Grands....2013

I drew in a deep breath and answered as honestly as I could. “Spencer, I can’t imagine loving anyone as much as I loved your Pap-pap, but I don’t know what God has in store for me.”


It’s true. We simply can’t see around the corners of our lives, but God can. I understand this truth and trust God with my life. He can see around the corners. And He only wants what is best for me. 


I muddled through 2015 and 2016. 

In 2017 I moved to a single story house. That same year I moved to Kosovo to teach fourth graders. I returned to the US in 2018.


I’ve been places and done things.

I’ve written books and stories.

My social circle has doubled in size.


Yet, I knew there was more in store for me. Could it be a relationship?


Those close to me know I trust God with…well, EVERYTHING in my life. That includes that question about relationships. Ever since that innocent question posed by my grandson over eight years ago, I’ve prayed about it. 


I never prayed for a new husband. I didn’t pray for a boyfriend. My early prayers were for a sense of peace. I prayed to breathe without my heart breaking. I prayed for belonging. I never felt lonely. Alone, maybe, but not lonely.


Over time, I shared with God that if He had someone in mind for me, He would have to bring that man to me. I was NOT going to go looking. (I have noted that women who go looking for someone often find themselves in a heap of trouble.)


One night, a couple of years ago, I woke up in the middle of the night with this verse from the book of Proverbs on my mind: 


Trust in the Lord with all your heart 

And lean not on your own understanding;

in all your ways acknowledge Him, 

and He will direct your path.

Proverbs 3:5


The thought was so compelling I got up and wrote the verse down on a tablet. I placed it on my kitchen counter where I would see it every day. I gave up wondering what God had in store.


Trusting is where it’s at. 
I trust God has my back. I trust Him with my direction.


God has answered my simple prayer. I didn’t go looking, but this past year, God brought a wonderful man to me. I promise there is more to come…until then…


Lean not on your own understanding…He will direct your path.



Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Strengths and Weaknesses

Finding Strength...Embracing Weakness

I’ve considered writing this post for a number of years, but I keep putting it off.

I can be a procrastinator. 


I’m joking. Actually, the post isn’t about being a procrastinator. It is about coming face-to-face with our personal weaknesses. And our strengths. The beginning of 2023 seems to be an appropriate time for a bit of self-assessment.


I’ve long contended that what is our weakness is also our strength. As well, what is our strength may also be our weakness. 


Consider honesty. My late husband was honest. Most people consider that a strength. It is... but Tom’s honesty could be brutal. For instance, a Chinese family invited us over for dinner one evening. They prepared a treat just for us: a Japanese style baked fish complete with scales, eyes, everything. Tom took one look and stated, “I’m sorry. I can’t eat that. It looks too much like bait to me!”  


When I kicked him a warning shot under the table, he looked directly at me and said, “Why are you kicking me under the table?”


The thing is, as people came to know Tom, they came to appreciate his honesty. There was never any second guessing what he really thought. 


Here's another example: A perfectionist may drive his or her peers nuts by seemingly taking forever to get a job done, but if I ever need brain surgery, I hope the doctor is just that… A perfectionist.


The kid in school always asking questions is the one who grows up finding answers. 


I think you get the idea.


So as for me as a procrastinator? 


I consider myself more of what I call a “muller-overer.”  Don’t judge. I know that’s not a word. It simply means I tend to put a lot more thought into the choices and decisions I make than meets the eye. Yet, I don’t put off life threating decisions. I am ever mindful of time boundaries. 


But I don’t make decisions lightly or act in haste, either. I have thought about the problem, story, or situation from every angle I before I act. 


Even then, I try to wait until I am sure the time is right not only in my eyes, but in God’s eyes as well. 


While I may not write as fast as others in the writing world or finish a project as quickly, I’ve come to appreciate the notion that putting something aside, thinking it through, and waiting for the right time yields success with satisfaction. 


How about you? What is your weakness? How might you recast that weakness as a strength?









Tuesday, January 17, 2023

The Ones We Treasure

Last week I wrote about how to live a grand life: live simply, love deeply, play hard, sleep soundly, and forgive freely. You might think this week’s offering is a mere extension of that blog entry. It is not. It is about my mother. 

Quite simply, my mother has already mastered those very elements of living life fully and embracing each day with the joy I noted in last week’s post.


So, no, I’m not highlighting those pieces again. This week I am celebrating the woman who has had the most influence on my life. My mom. 

This week my mother celebrated her ninety-first trip around the sun.


Last year we had great plans for a big party. COVID reared its ugly head and that celebration had to be modified. Greatly. It turned out to be a fun and memorable day, even if most of the family was present via zoom.


We tossed around a few ideas for this year’s recognition of GG’s birthday (GG stands for great grandma…which she is eight times over.) My oldest granddaughter, Nora, who is by the way, named after my mother, came up with the perfect plan. 


Little Nora wanted to take GG to LaPinata, a
Mexican restaurant. So we all made our way to the local venue Sunday evening. The atmosphere was festive. The food was delicious. The company was excellent. 


And the guest of honor? GG reveled in it all. We laughed and shared stories and ate the evening away. The servers plopped a sombrero on Mom’s head and a bowl of ice cream big enough to serve at least four or five in front of her. They sang in Spanish and we all joined in on the final Ole! 


My mother’s story is one of faith, hope, and love.  It is the story of a woman who deeply cares for others. Hers is a life worth celebrating. And emulating. 


Happy Birthday, Mom! 


If you missed last week’s post, you can find it here: The Art of Being Grand

If you want to read how we managed to have a great quarantined celebration last year, click on this link: C is For Celebrate


Finally, take a minute today to call or text or send a note to someone you love. Don’t wait until the birthday moment to celebrate those you treasure. 






Tuesday, January 10, 2023

The Art of Being Grand

The Art of Being Grand

If you ask me, my life is pretty grand. 

I have many reasons to cite. I have a warm house in which to live, a loving family, a church I enjoy, friends, and food. I have some other exciting life changes I’ll share in another post. 


But one of the “grand” parts of my life is that of being a grandmother. I have been blessed to have five grandsons, three granddaughters, and two granddogs.


Kiwi at the window
Yes, I said granddogs. Since they are both female, I
often refer to Bailey and Kiwi as my “granddoggers.” (At least I think it sounds a bit
like “granddaughters” no matter what anyone else thinks.) 


I recently had the opportunity to dog-sit the youngest of my granddogs, Kiwi. Kiwi is part Black Labrador Retriever and part Australian Shepherd. 


Kiwi is not a lap dog. (No matter what she thinks.) This puppy is strong, energetic, and big. She also has a big heart and loves her granny deeply. And I love her. 


It’s been a long time since I entertained a pet for a sustained period of time. My last dog was Max Lightening the Wonder Dog. Max for short. I always thought he was the best dog ever. 

Kiwi is five times bigger with five times the energy. Walking that puppy on a leash? Lets just say you get a workout. But size and energy aside, Kiwi is as sweet as both Bailey and Max.


I wasn’t totally on my own, though. My fiancĂ© was available for part of Kiwi’s stay. (I told you there are some life changes I’ll share later.)


Mike loves dogs and Kiwi was no exception. The man showered her with toys. “Tuff toys” that proved to be not so tough in the mouth of a much tougher puppy. 


It snowed while Kiwi was here. I feared she wouldn’t want to go out in the cold, white stuff, but she fooled me. She not only wanted to go out…she wanted to stay out. 

She ran and bounced and played in the snow. If I managed to catch her leash, she tugged and pulled and dragged me across the yard. I couldn’t help but laugh. It turns out laughing at her antics only served to fuel the fire in her to cover every inch of my backyard with her large paw prints… with me in tow. 


All in all, though, my week with Kiwi as my houseguest was a great reminder of the power of pets…particularly dogs. 

We can learn a lot from dogs. They can teach us to be better humans. Dogs love unconditionally. Dogs live life fully when given a chance to run freely. Dogs play hard during the day and sleep soundly at night. They protect those they love. 

Dogs forgive us when we fuss at them to stop chasing their own tails barking as loud as they can…while we’re talking on the phone. (Notice I’m not mentioning any names here.)


My week with Kiwi taught me to live simply, love deeply, play hard, sleep soundly, and forgive freely. 

And that is a life that is truly grand.







Tuesday, January 3, 2023

2023: A Word for the Year

 2023: A Word for the Year


Last year, I chose "RESET" as my word for the year. The word challenged me to change, adapt, adjust, and revise. 

It meant I needed to start over and charge forward.


The onus was on me. 


After struggling to apply the word in every area of my life, I finally decided the task was too daunting. Instead I decided to hone in on my writing. I attended a wonderful writing conference and wrote a split-time short story now published in an anthology called Ohio Trail Mix. In addition, I  completed three other projects  in a pile I have called “unfinished business” for the last two years

I ended the year feeling that although I hadn’t hit the RESET button in all areas of my life, I had made great strides in understanding myself as a writer.


December was on me. I knew I needed to consider a word for 2023.  It was a struggle.


Then at church on January 1, 2023, the word “reNEWal” popped up on the screen with the word NEW in capital letters. I thought I had found my word for the year. 


I hadn’t. I prayed over the possibilities. I hesitated to choose another word for the year that began with “RE-“ For some reason, it seemed we could all benefit from any of those “R-E” words:


Renew, Rethink, Revise, Revisit…you get the idea.


I started typing the list of words beginning with the letters R-E. As I worked through the list I could see the benefit of claiming any of these, yet I resisted. And in case you wondered…RESIST could be defined as my word. Quite often.


I tend to resist change. For example, I balk at learning new technology. I refrain from shopping for a new phone. I don’t even subscribe to cable television.  


Sunday evening, after church, I started drafting the list of areas where I falter or balk. It is those places where I  try to do things my way and resist what God has planned for me.  Only as I started to look at those areas  where I resist most did I discover my word for 2023.




I grew up in a farm community. “Yield” for farmers often references the amount of produce the land can give.


Most of us think of “yield” as to “give in” or “relent.”  Or perhaps to “submit” or “give way to.” It is similar to when we come to a YIELD sign while driving. 


But for me, YIELD means something more. It means trusting God with my life. Fully. Completely. It means giving up what I want for what He intends for me.

I have a verse from the Bible I wrote out last year and placed on my kitchen counter. 


Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your path.

Proverbs 3:5


Trust. Yield. I'm giving up “my way” for  “His way.”

So YIELD is my word for the year. What is yours?