Wednesday, February 10, 2016

NCIS explains St. Valentine's Day to a T!

NCIS, one of my favorite programs, sprinkled some St. Valentine's Day notions into their intriguing story line last night. Tim McGee and Tony DiNozzo made an enlightened observation: the pressure is always on the guys, who would be happy with "Wizard tickets," to provide a never-thought-of-before romantic scheme for their ladies. Should they write a poem, buy roses & chocolate, and/or treat the lady to a special supper at an expensive restaurant? Why isn't the gift-giving a two-way street?
 
I agree. So I buy my husband a card and ask only a card of him. We don't have to prove our love for each other with special treats or goodies. I don't want roses, or chocolates, or an expensive supper (well...maybe the chocolates can stay) to celebrate this special day. A simple "I LOVE YOU" exchanged between my beloved husband and myself will suffice to honor St. Valentine, who suffered torture and execution for his devotion to the sanctity of marriage.
 
Thank you, NCIS script writers, for giving Tony, Tim, Bishop, and Abby the right lines to slip a thought-provoking nugget into the story line of murder on the high seas.
 
(Love that series!)

Monday, December 28, 2015

Did You Have A Holiday Meltdown?

December came upon me this year; not as a walk through the park, not a pleasant trot along a pathway...but as a full gallop, jumping over high hurdles on a steep and craggy hill. Here's a partial list of the aforementioned hurdles:
  • We received some not-so-good news from the oncologist (stressful, but manageable)
  • Discovery of a purchase our late father made - and subsequently forgot about - in the 1950s sent my siblings and me on a journey with the Courts (as if I don't get enough court-time fun at work)
  • My day-job office moved its location after 14 years to an office park 10 miles further north, doubling my commute (adding to my already high stress levels)
    • Note to the Feds: The search continues. I did NOT find Jimmy Hoffa stuffed away in my old office
  • Tom finished installing the new countertops in the kitchen, then had to move all the furniture out of the kitchen to finish the trim moldings and baseboards
    • which meant my computer was not accessible during this time
    • which also meant I had boxes of stuff packed away at my office and boxes of stuff packed away at home (almost hair-ripping screaming-meemies)
  • My day-job work is time-sensitive, and several cases had briefs, petitions, and motions all due within days of each other
    • which meant I had to file and/or process these lengthy documents while packing and unpacking my essentials during the move (didn't have to rip my hair out. It began to fall out by itself)
  • That naughty little Mexican boy (the one our weather forecasters call "El NiƱo") gave us hot, humid weather - a true feeling of Christmas in July
    • which meant I came home to a hot, humid house after a 40-minute commute to work, a "hit-the-floor-running" workday, then an hour commute home
    • Tom finally agreed to turn the A/C on 12/22. Our furnishings needed time to dry out before family came for dinner on Christmas Day
  • We had an issue with the pharmacy. During the day on Christmas Eve, Tom had to go way out to the UPS facility in east Tampa to get his meds.
    • We both worked like a pair of whirling Dervishes cleaning the house, washing several loads of laundry, and sweeping up construction dust.
The festive sense of the season was not lost in all this stress. I managed to decorate the tree, set up part of my old English villages, and "pixilate" the yard with a strand of lights hurled at the jasmine minima.

I held the reins of my steed tightly during all these issues and actions, until Tom reminded me for the third time that the load in the dryer needed to come out so the load in the washer could be loaded into the dryer.
I lost control, threw my sopping wet dish rag across the room, and stomped into the laundry room to tend to that low hurdle. Those little hurdles always trip us up, don't they?

At the Christmas Eve church service (which was fraught with screaming babies - adding yet MORE stress to my already strained nerves), my friend confided with me she'd had her annual holiday meltdown. I felt comforted knowing I other people, even people I love, have meltdowns, too. We seem to hold all the tension inside, then a tiny spark makes us explode into a mini-China syndrome that drills all the way through the core of the earth.

What about you? Did you have a holiday meltdown you'd like to share?
Let's hold a "can you top this" meltdown contest. The winner gets to drink a glass of eggnog...guilt-free!

Wishing you many blessings in 2016!

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

First Place in Tapestry Writing Awards!


Tapestry Award - 1st Place
Historical Fiction
My yet-to-be published novel, “Miss Ellie’s Orange Tree,”  won First Place in the Word Weavers State-wide Tapestry Awards! Tampa Chapter President Sharron Cosby presented me with the award (one of three my writing won) at the monthly meeting, Saturday, October 17, 2015.
Here’s the synopsis:

“Three can keep a secret …if two are dead.”
– Benjamin Franklin

How deep do the roots of an orange tree grow – deep enough to sustain a sixty-six-year old secret?

In 2014, eighty-eight-year old Miss Ellie looks out the window of her empty kitchen and views the towering orange tree in her back yard. “They’re going to tear down my house, aren’t they? And my orange tree, too?” She turns to leave and with a quick glance back, whispers, “And won’t they be surprised when they do.”

While war ravages Europe in the summer of 1944, eighteen-year old Ellie Miller must fight her own battles in the peaceful city of Tampa, Florida.

Lieutenant Joey Clement declares his love to her before leaving to join his Flying Fortress. The sprig of an orange tree she and Joey planted from a seed provides the only consolation in his absence. She waits…and waits…and waits for a letter from him.

Ellie’s tendency to panic throws her into a loveless marriage. Her abusive husband resents the baby she carries. And the worst onslaught of all – knowing the only man she’ll ever love is due to return to MacDill, unaware of her unbearable situation. Worn down from her own combat, she hasn’t the courage to face him.

Will Joey forgive Ellie when he learns she married a man he despises? Will he forgive himself when he discovers that he, not Ellie’s husband, is the father of her child? Is his love deep enough to cover her buried sin?

Miss Ellie’s Orange Tree is an 80,000-word historical love story that moves from present-day to the 1940s, and back to the present.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Gearing Up for Frustrating Moments

Have you ever had one of those frustrating moments when you can't move forward because of mechanical failures?

One such moment made me late for work today. My Monday started out fairly normal. Hubby Tom prepared a nice breakfast of eggs & turkey sausage. Even my hair obeyed my hands and allowed me to wrap it in a soft bun on the top of my head. I left the driveway in plenty of time to get to work with time to spare.

My favorite parking spot near my office was still available, so I backed my van into it.
I got out and started walking toward the front door, but remembered the weather report for today: 60% chance of rain. I spun around and headed back to the van to get my umbrella. Since it was in the back seat, I opened the driver's door and pushed the button that automatically opens the back slider. The door jiggled, stuck in the "between opened and closed" position, and the "door is ajar" alarm sounded with a constant Beep-Beep-Beep.  I tried locking and unlocking all the doors, pushing the button again that should open or close the door...several times.

Frustrated, I used my key to unlock the hatchback, inadvertently locking it so I had to unlock it again. Climbing into the hatchback, I bumped my head and messed up the bun I had so easily created before dressing at home. I grabbed the umbrella and climbed back out, hearing that constant, annoying Beep-Beep-Beep.
The sliding door remained in the half and half position, so I thought, "Maybe if I start the engine, the door will let me open and close it again." I told myself this was a stupid idea, but threw my purse, lunch bag, tote bag and umbrella into the passenger seat and climbed into the driver's seat anyway. Putting the key into the ignition, I turned it to crank the engine.
Nothing.
I tried it again.
Still nothing.
Uh-oh. That sinking feeling in my stomach. The engine light had come on during the drive to work. Did I kill my Honda Van?

I blew a frustrated sigh and looked down at the dashboard. That's when I noticed the car was still in Reverse. The back doors won't open if the car is in gear. It's a safety issue.
I moved the gear shift up to Park, and the Beep-Beep-Beep stopped. The button that opened and closed the door worked, leaving the vehicle securely locked.

Today's life lesson, which I hope I learned: Before engaging in the day, make sure you are in the right gear. And heed the still, small voice that makes a seemingly irrational suggestion. There's always a solution hidden in there.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Remembering the Greatest Generation

I've seen ads on TV of groups calling for donations of WWII memorabilia. These ads state the importance of documenting "The Greatest Generation." Call me cynical, but do they really want to preserve this part of our history, or destroy anything that might show our soldiers in a positive and victorious light?

We've seen how the education system has twisted the discovery of the New World, the Mayflower passengers and the American Revolution. They've demonized Christopher Columbus, Thomas Jefferson and other signers of the Declaration of Independence, as well as removed portraits of George Washington from school buildings. The latest misconception of the Confederate flag, supported by the news media, speaks to the skewed teachings of the War Between the States. They even mislabeled it, calling it a "civil war." The word "slavery" is mistakenly associated with that war, instead of the true issues of taxation, economics, and states' rights.

For this reason, I'm hesitant to send anything without doing some research on these organizations. Who funds them? Are their workers volunteers or paid employees? Where will they store the collected items? Will the public be allowed to view the items? What will they do with faith-related letters or documents?

Fifteen years ago, I donated my late father's uniforms and some photos to the Mighty Eighth Air Force Museum. I recently found the web page for the 379th Bomb Group, my dad's unit. (379thbga.org : The 379th Bomb Group of WWII) We may have located a photo of him with his crew. I have his small Gideon Bible, in which he inscribed the words: "This Bible flew 33 missions with me."

So, before you give away precious memorabilia to an unknown source, do your research. Locate your family member's unit. Visit bona fide museums and consider donating to them instead. Preserve them and pass them on to additional generations to give them a perspective of the faith and sacrifices required to defeat a godless dictator and win a world war.

Let us never forget the Greatest Generation and the faith that brought them through to victory!

Monday, May 18, 2015

Apostasy or Rapture?

Click on the link below to receive this excellent lesson by Pastor Andy Woods of Sugarland Baptist Church. Andy is frequent guest speaker at Bayside Community Church in Tampa, Florida.
Andy Woods' Lesson on the meaning of Falling Away.

I will post more lessons from Bayside Community Church as time permits.

Monday, November 10, 2014

New Book Release - Jan. 1, 2015

Watch for your postcard announcing the release of my debut book, "Discovering God in Everyday Moments - 180 Devotions for Women." (Barbour Publishing). The release date is January 1, 2015, but friends who have ordered on-line received them in December (in time for Christmas).

You can order this book through any of the following resources:

Barnes & Noble (http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/discovering-god-in-everyday-moments),

Barbour (www.barbourbooks.com),

Amazon. If you choose to order through Amazon, please help a missions pilot by ordering through his blog site:
http://thestrattons.typepad.com/intheair/profile.html,

or ChristianBookstore.net:(http://www.christianbookstore.net/discovering-god-in-everyday-moments-jan-by/catalog-6127626/)

I've recently discovered this devotional will also be available in Spanish.
How exciting!

Pastor Tom Doyle of E3 Ministries, who has authored several books(https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/96933.Tom_Doyle), has requested a translation in Arabic and Farsi to bring hope to the Christian believers to whom he ministers in the Middle East. No word, yet, on this possibility.
Please keep this wonderful pastor and his family in your prayers, too!

Here's a gifting idea:
Although the book won't be available until after Christmas, you could print out copies of the cover to wrap up for loved ones on your gift list. They'll feel blessed to get the second gift a couple of weeks later.

Look for God, 
our creator and benefactor,
in everyday moments.
He is there...always!