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Spring is here and I am enjoying how every few days there are flowers popping up in my flower beds. Some are returning from previous years and others are new from last fall’s planting. Either way, I smile as I see how much they grow. My yard is slowly becoming a great source of joy and pride for me.

The song birds are also busy courting, fighting, defending, and creating families. It is enjoyable to watch and listen to them. I spotted my first hummingbird this evening. It darted away before I could determine whether it was a male or female, but it was interested in the feeder I just hung two days ago.

Along some of my dog walking routes I am finding interesting flora and fauna to stop and study. This maple stump was particularly fascinating.

photo(68)Maples along walking route

Doubtlessly once upon a time this was a fine big maple tree, tall and proud. Many years ago it came down and the stump has rotted away and been consumed by moss and yearly dead-fall leaves. It’s a sad and poignant reminder of how one day we will all fall.

However, upon closer inspection, I spotted two tiny maple tree saplings sprouting up from within. Determined to not let the original tree completely die away, they are making the valiant effort to start over.

I have a maple tree in my yard that is doing the same thing. The twin saplings are almost three feet tall now and a thatch of hostas nestle in the center of the old stump. I treasure these old tree stumps and the growth coming forth.

photo(69) Flower bed in my yard

At another walking location, I discovered this fern slowly unfurling and preparing for another growing season. It seems to be preforming a delicate ballet as it steadily stretches for the sun, seemingly in no hurry to reach its goal.

photo(59) Fern in ballet dance of unfurling.

And now I shall honor spring by starting over again. Last night I gave my two-week notice at a job I’ve held for 10 years. Not all 10 years have been pleasant. Some years have been a downright challenge. I’ve learned a lot about the job, people, life, and myself. And now–finally!–it is time to start over somewhere and somehow else.  It’s scary and it’s good. There is a sense of relief and excitement in the air, just like when the first bits of green perk up through the dirt to feel the sunshine and the first flowers spread their colorful blooms to the springtime breeze.

I snapped these photos of fallen dogwood petals, because they seemed so perfect when they fell. The first one makes a lovely contrast with the pure white petal against the black of the asphalt. The second looks more natural. A white blossom  lying contently against the green grass. The third is the prettiest I think. Nestled under the still-yet-to-bloom roses, and landed on a bed of brown mulch, it makes such a natural scene.

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Dogwood petals

And they all serve to remind me that we may not have a choice how or when we fall or start over, but we do have a choice how we react to it.  Our new beginnings. The dogwood blooms will wither or blow away soon, but we are capable of so much more. Our first big step is only the beginning.

 

Heavy rain and thunderstorms are hitting my area right now. My poor collie, Ty, hated to go outside this morning and now is hiding in the corner of the kitchen as he tries to escape the big booms outside.

Me, personally, I love the thunderstorms. I delight in the rain falling in sheets and the crack of thunder and streaks of lightning. It’s a symphony I never seem to tire of. As I stood at the window, enjoying the show, it brought back a long-buried memory. And it got me thinking of when more is too much.

writing

When I was young, we often grew a yearly garden to have vegetable reserves for the coming year. One spring, when I was about ten or eleven, we had a terrific thunderstorm. It was flooding our garden. I was instructed to go outside, take boards, and try to barricade the garden.

It was pouring rain. I was soaked.  I recall using the board to push the dirt back as inches-deep muddy water rushed past my ankles, washing away our seedlings. I recall my bare feet sinking into the cold mud and my hair plastered to my scalp as I tried to beat the watery surge. It seemed equivalent to holding back the tide of the great lakes.

We had hoped for steady, soft rains to water our crops. Instead we got too much: a deluge of relentless rain that destroyed a portion of our garden. And sometimes we do that in other areas of our life.

Like when we tell a little white lie, that starts innocently enough and soon turns into a flood of endless falsehoods. Or spices added to a meal that should have enhanced it and instead drown out the food’s intended flavor.

Or when we are writing a scene and once we reach the wrap-up, we keep going  and going like the Energizer Bunny. The scene is complete, the loose ends tied up, and the conclusion is satisfying. We should close and move on. Instead, we belabor points, add dialogue or narrative that isn’t needed, and in general we linger in the scene far longer than necessary.

We have all read books like that, and some of us have written books like that. Yes, me too. I call it a learning curve and a rite of passage as we grow and mature as writers.

daydreaming kitty

This is Now

I can so relate with Snoopy right now. I plowed into 2018 with three new releases under my belt and a firm resolve to take a few months to recoup from those, and then spend the spring writing two more time-travel novels for late 2018 submission. However, a new opportunity presented itself last month so I  decided to temporarily pause the novels to work on a short story, of which I am now 3,000 words into.

While I do have more than one sheet of paper, I have limited time and reserves to write when I need to be doing everything else. I’ve heard it said writing is hard work. Personally, I don’t find the real writing so hard, I find many other aspects of being a writer the hard work.

I wish ol’ Snoopy all the luck with The Cabin and his one sheet of paper. In the meantime,  please wish me luck on the literary endeavors I am writing my way through.

Snoopy one sheet of paper

Enduring Trials

 

Enduring Trials God’s Way, by Scott LaPierre is a book that’s a unique blend of Old Testament prophesies and New Testament fulfillment. This book will redirect the suffering reader’s focus from a single layer prospective to a new, uplifting outlook.

Scott’s very straight-forward approach to writing and an educational–though encouraging–delivery shows his pastoral background. The book is absolutely chock-full of solid scripture and concise examples to aid the reader through their struggles and trials.

This is an excellent resource, meant to transform the reader’s view on suffering and trials to one of encouragement. It offers undeniable proof that God is 1–in control, 2– seeing our pain, 3- alongside us during our trials, and 4– planning a good end to our trials and suffering. An entire chapter is dedicated to finding the good end God has in mind for our suffering and trials of today.

This is a book that should be highlighted and underlined. There are heavy references to Job, Joseph and other heroes of pain and trials. There are fantastic insights and a particular favorite was this: if we repent and stop a sin(s), that void now must be filled by doing something else. The intention is that one now does something positive to replace the negative (sin) of before. This seems much like saying for every negative action (or sin) that we stop, there is now an equal and positive reaction.  That sort of insight causes the reader to pause and contemplate.

There are series of questions at the end of each chapter for the reader to record personal reflections or have a discussion with a small group. This book is a resource that would be fine read alone or as a group study.

Finally, I would mention the author also has another book, entitled “Marriage God’s Way.” For anyone searching for ways to strengthen their marriage and make it how God intended holy matrimony to be, it would behoove them to check this title out as well.

Links to connect with Scott LaPierre or purchase his books are:

https://scottlapierre.org/                              Twitter @PastorWCC

 

My last ‘Been Thinking’ post had been on where we start. This morning I was reflecting more on when we stop, slow down, step away, or halt. Interestingly, I was thinking about the concept of doing that with writing.

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Now, before anyone gasps in horror, no, I am not ending my writing career. I am enjoying it way too much and have so many stories planned to write. However, what about the people that do? Therein lies my thoughts.

Like many writers, I get overwhelmed or frustrated by the required promotion time we have to invest in our books. We mostly just want to write, not stop writing in order to promote or sell ourselves. It requires a balancing act many struggle with, including me.F Factor in time spent on family, friends, other jobs, and life in general, it’s easy to sometimes ask ourselves: Is this even worth it? This can be especially true following a harsh review or disappointing sales. Just scan the Facebook pages with all the groups devoted to authors who give each other that boost to keep going when it seems insurmountable.

Now suppose someone just decided enough, they were stepping away from writing. How do they do that? Well, the obvious answer seems to be “Stop writing”. However, it’s not always that easy. Do the current work(s)in progress just go into the drawer or archived files? What about the social media presence? Do the posts just stop? And what about the books already out there? Royalties will still trickle in from future sales. The book will still be ‘alive and available’ unless it’s self-published and the author decides to remove it from all listings. Is that advisable? Contracts? Series? Sequels? All things to consider. Even harder is the story lines already dreamed up and wait their turn to be crafted into a book. Are they destined to lie in silence forever?

I would invite you to take this reflective journey with me. Imagine the one thing you secretly, deeply, totally want to stop. What is this one action? Your day job? Your hobby? Your marriage? Family or friend obligations? Social obligations? A stifling friendship?  Close your eyes and silently give it voice, say it to yourself.

Now, picture all the things that will cease as a result. The future things that will no longer be.  How does that look to you? Liberating? Terrifying? Exciting? Sad? Happy?

Sometimes, when we want so badly to stop or walk away from something but know we cannot, it can be cathartic to imagine it, to let the fantasy run while in our minds for brief flights of fancy. above-adventure-aerial-air.jpg

 

Karibou Magic cover

“Karibou Magic” is a nice Christmas fantasy.  The reason for the misspelling of Caribou is actually the name of the town used for the setting. Karibou, Wyoming.  I was given a free copy of this book through Reading Alley in exchange for an honest review.

There were several pros and cons to this story. It was a short, easy read. Eva Mars Bowman, DVM is happily settled in Karibou, working alongside elderly veterinarian, Doc Nickolas. Thank to Doc and some special reindeer, Mars’ faith in Christmas magic has been restored. She is especially looking forward to joining Doc in their annual Christmas Eve sleigh ride.

Then Doc’s estranged son, Trebeck, returns to Karibou, and brings his teen daughter, James. Yes, the names are it bit unusual, and can stumble a reader at first. I backtracked when I first encountered the daughter named James but there is a story to why she’s called that.  Trebeck does not believe in nor appreciate Christmas and immediately he and Mars at at odds. He is rude, insensitive, and pretty much a jerk.

The quick friendship between Mars and James is heartwarming and very sweet. It seems they both needed each other. Things turn bad when Doc falls gravely ill just before Christmas. Trebeck ends up in control of Doc’s vet clinic, pushing Mars even further out of the picture. She goes from initially feeling unwelcome with his arrival to ready to pack her bags since he has taken over.

The resolution is good. What I did not like about this story was the sudden romance between Mars and Trebeck. They clearly did not agree on much of anything and the almost instant attraction seemed rushed and inappropriate. Granted there was some misunderstanding in the beginning, but still one normally doesn’t go from disliking a person for several reasons to thinking he/she is hot all that quickly.  Second, there were many types, incorrect and missing words and other grammatical words that slowed down the flow of reading. More editing or proofreading would have helped greatly.

Beyond that it was a cute Christmas fantasy. James, the reindeer and a three-legged dog add much to the story. Warning, have a few tissues handy as you’ll probably need them.