Monday, May 31, 2010

In Flander's Field

In Flanders fields the poppies blow, Between the crosses, row on row, ~John McCrae, In Flander’s Field

Today is Memorial Day. A day for the working people to take a break. A day that signals for many the start of the summer season. Today the barbeques will be rolled out; pools will be filled. Today we will join our families and friends in celebration.

Hopefully, today we will also remember the significance of this day; the real reason for the holiday. Memorial Day began its humble life not as a harbinger of summer, but as a time to honor those who have given their lives during the battles fought in wars, both domestic and foreign. As far back as the Civil War there have been days of remembrance for the soldiers who died.

War has always been a controversial subject. As with most of life, there will be those who support and those who decry the value of war. The men and women who join the armed forces take a vow to protect our country. They don’t get a big say in what that means. The Commander in Chief and the Congress ultimately make the decision to go to war. These men and women serve in the wars because that is what their job requires. They know when they take the vow that they may be asked to do these things. They know they may sacrifice their lives or their well being. They go because they promised they would. They go because they believe in this country.

We should honor them for their desire to protect and serve. We need to recognize that they are not the ones making the decisions that lead to war. Calling them names, offering derision for their service, or protesting at funerals is just not right. I know that the vast majority of people out there do appreciate all our vets do for the country. It is a minority who take out their frustrations of the war on the wrong segment of the population. The problem is the minority is very vocal. We who support the men and women of the armed forces need to be just as vocal to make sure they know they are appreciated.

Won’t you join me today in honoring those who have died in their service to the country and saluting those who are currently serving!?! And, won’t you also continue to join me each day in remembering their sacrifices?

Copyright 2010 T M Via

Friday, May 28, 2010

100 Moments in Time - Dry

100 moments in time has come in handy in the last few weeks as I work through the transitions in my life.

This picture was taken on my grandfather's farm at the end of the growing season a couple of years ago. The corn has been harvested and the stalks have just begun to dry out. It is the end of one phase of life right before the next phase of resting and replenishing begins.

#27 - Dry

I remember visiting the farm when I was a little girl. It was such a different world for me, having spent all my
life in cities. I remember thinking that I was so different from my cousins. In some ways that is true, but as an adult I cherish the ways that my cousins and I are connected and don't focus on how different we are.

One memory I have is being up at Uncle Johnny's house (I think that's right) the summer before we went to Germany. I was about 10 years old. As the adults hung out in the house talking and reminiscing we kids found ways to amuse ourselves. There was much to explore on the old farm. The house was at the top of a hill. A forest lined one side of the gravel road that led up to the house. A corn field lined the other side. Being early in the season the corn was sweet and young. We would pull an ear off and munch on the corn. Sometimes when I take frozen corn right out of the freezer I will munch on a few frozen kernels. There is something in the taste that reminds me of that summer.

Speaking of Uncle Johnny's house, the thing I find amusing and sometimes frustrating about the area is that people have lived there for so long everyone knows things like Uncle Johnny's house or the old Fickas Farm, etc. These are the landmarks that are used to give directions. Problem for a city girl like me is you can't MapQuest or ask GPS to find the Old Fickas Farm! And, surprisingly enough, a dyed in the wool Fickas like me didn't know where the Old Fickas Farm was for many years. I do now; my uncle Randy and his family live there now. It is on the way to the Uncle Kevin's "cabin" where I have stayed when I visit. Sometime I will have to tell you about the "cabin," but that's another post. I will tell you , though, that the cabin is my idea of a perfect place to retreat from the world and write a novel.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Life on the Limb

Yesterday I was inspired by words written by the famous Mr. Whitman and shared by McNair Wilson on his blog Tea with McNair. In that short post I wrote that I felt out on a limb and that I found it a little scary. McNair read my post then was inspired to write his own response regarding being out on a limb and the opportunities that exist there. I, in turn, felt inspired to write my own post about being out on a limb.

All this inspiring has my head spinning a little right now, but that’s okay.

I used the term “out on a limb” to describe my current situation. You see I recently made changes in my life that allow me to more intently focus on the things that I believe God is calling me to – my writing and supporting caregivers. These changes weren’t something I seriously ever thought about making. I dreamed about them, but the possibility of me ever being able to do so seemed so distant. I am a girl who likes a certain amount of security and stability in her life. But, circumstances (some within my control and some beyond my control) backed me into a corner and here I am. It was a choice of continue on a path that I wasn’t happy on and that was stifling my creativity and energy or make a change. I chose to make the change and step out in faith.

I am out on a limb without my safety net which honestly was really more like Linus with his security blanket. Warm and fuzzy, but not very effective at keeping me safe. For many years I, as McNair so eloquently described the action, clung to the tree trunk to ensure my net wouldn’t fail me. The problem with this whole situation was that my security blanket was no more effective at keeping life in order than Linus’ blanket. I was building my own safety net and I can tell you I wasn’t secure in its strength. Thus I hugged the tree for dear life. Now, though, my eyes are seeing things differently.

I am seeing things through God’s eyes. God doesn’t want me to be a tree hugger. He wants me to step out onto the limb. It is there that sweet fruit of opportunity is found. It is there that I am learning to trust His safety net more than my own. It is there that I will learn to live the life He created me for. He has beckoned me to let go of the trunk, trust Him, and enjoy life on the limb.

So, here I am, on the limb, letting go of my fear and trusting God to be my safety net.

"Look at the proud! They trust in themselves, and their lives are crooked; but the righteous will live by their faith.” Hab2:4

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Song of Myself

"I sing a song of myself, as others have done for me, but none have sung a song quite like this because this one is mine, and there will never be any like me."

~Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass

I found this quote on Tea with McNair and liked it so well I had to share. If you haven't visited McNair's Tea Blog you really must take the time to stop by there soon. McNair lives his life with enthusiasm and his blog is so contagious it's hard not to want to join in. He believes that we are all created to play a role in creation and that if we don't step into that role creation is incomplete. His post on Monday, May 24 was short and sweet. It started with him sharing the words of Walt Whitman. To end this post he encourages his readers to "feel the warm embrace of your Creator who smiles each moment you are singing the song that is your life."

This post spoke straight to my heart. Recently I made changes in my life. I was pushed into these changes, but now that I am here I am choosing to step out in faith while actively pursuing my writing. It's a little scary out here on this limb, but I believe that it is time for me to sing the song of myself because this is what the Lord created me to do.

Monday, May 24, 2010

The Ever Versatile Macaroni

Last weekend I had the pleasure of traveling to Kansas to attend my nephew’s graduation from The University of Kansas. He is the first of the next generation to complete college with his sister close on his tail.

One aspect of the relationship between this nephew and me revolves around what I affectionately call the Great Macaroni War. He has jumped into the war with relish and lobbed his own bombs right back at me. I laughed at his creativity the year my Christmas package was wrapped in layers of grocery bags and duct tape. He has willingly gone along with my dumping macaroni into envelopes and supergluing presents. He had to know that a milestone as big as graduating from college wouldn’t escape the Great Macaroni War.

For several weeks before graduation I worked very hard on some kindergarten art to present to my boy. Using a picture of the famous KU Jayhawk drawn by my very talented niece I filled it in with appropriately colored acini de pepe macaroni. Once the bird was completed in all his glory I framed the art. Now my dear nephew has his years at KU commemorated for all of pasta posterity.

And, now I am on alert that at any time there may be a sneak attack in the Great Macaroni War.

Friday, May 21, 2010


My dear readers I apologize for any confusion caused by my Wednesday post for 100 Moments in Time. I am attracted to the 100 Moments project because each picture represents something different to each viewer. Our experience and current life phase colors and individualizes how we see life and what we see in the glimpses of life frozen in time.

There has not been a recent death in my life. My mom passed away two and half years ago and there are still times when the profound loss overwhelms me.

The last week was absolutely crazy and I was stymied by what to post on Wednesday. Not being in a place where I could write anything coherent, I searched for a picture to fit one of the words on my 100 Moments in Time list. I found the picture taken recently in the cemetery where my mom is buried.

For me this picture represented a large part of the path I am traveling right now. Recent occurrences in my life have me pondering loss whether it be the death of a loved one, the loss of a relationship, or the loss of a job and the ways that it shapes our spirits and our lives. I am confident that God is working out something amazing in my life through current circumstances. I am also sure that these lessons will work their way into my posts in the future.

So, thank you for your kind words and sorry for not being more clear on the picture.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

100 Moments in Time - Loss

Life happened again and so there isn't a post for today. Maybe someday I will tell my tales of the last week, but for now I just leave you with this picture signifying the loss of the presence on this earth of loved ones.

#40 - Loss

Monday, May 17, 2010

I Haven't Forgotten My Readers

I haven't forgotten my post this morning. I have been out of town for my nephew's graduation from The University of Kansas. I intended to write a post over the weekend, but just never got around to it. I will return again on Wednesday this week with some pithy words of wisdom or something like that.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Busyness and Thankfulness

Do you ever get so crazy busy that you don't know if you're coming or going? Does it sometimes feel that there just aren't enough hours or enough of you to go around? Well, if so, you are not alone. That is the way I have felt for the last few weeks. In the midst of this hectic time while I was grumbling and mumbling about life not being fun right now I decided I needed to take a break and focus on the blessings in my life. Here are some of the things on my blessings list in no particular order.

1. I have a comfortable home, a good vehicle, and the income to continue paying for them.
2. I have a wonderful family.
3. My God loves me unconditionally.
4. I am healthy.
5. The beauty of the light dusting of snow on the foothills this morning.
6. I have the most amazing tuxedo boy kitty cat that I adore.
7. I have great readers who for one reason or another want to read what I have to say :-)

What are some of the blessings in your life.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Joyful Journey

Today it has been four months since the earthquake in Haiti. In some ways it seems the time has gone so fast. But, then again I am not in David’s inner circle. I only “know” him through mutual friends. I can only imagine what the four months have been like for David’s family and close friends. Time changes in the months after the death of a loved one. It stretches and distorts and spins in crazy circles.

Today I was reminded once again just how acutely that quake really shook the world. I pray for the Hames family frequently and I am grateful they have people around them who love them; those friends who come in during the tough times and don’t go back out. One of those friends writes a blog called Joyful Journey.

Joy wrote a beautiful blog post called The Price of Friendship today. She has been called to love Renee through this loss. This is something she would have done anyway because of their friendship, but she has found out what it means to lay down her life for a friend.

I admire Joy and this post is just one of the reasons for that admiration. Joy writes from the heart. Her blog isn’t about being fancy or grabbing attention. It is about her living her life, her joyful journey.

At times like this her journey isn’t necessarily joyful, but she is faithful. She will walk this road with Renee until they reach the end. She will continue to listen to the call and do the things that are being asked of her. She will lay down her life for her friend as many times as it takes.

The second post she wrote today included the words of a song she wrote for Renee. It is a testament of Joy’s love for the Lord and her friend. She sang this song for Renee and I can only imagine how it touched Renee’s heart. It touched mine and brought tears to my eyes. I encourage you to visit Joy’s blog and read her post and the words of her song.

Monday, May 10, 2010


“When he was young, Barnaby Conrad, founder of the Santa Barbara Writer’s Conference, worked for Sinclair Lewis. Once he asked the master how best to handle flashbacks. Lewis’ reply was succinct. He said, ‘Don’t.’” Sol Stein begins chapter 14 of Stein on Writing with this story as a starting point to discuss the danger of using flashbacks in fiction because they frequently remove the reader from the experience.

Words of wisdom for any writer who wants to make a splash with their work since they desire to draw the reader into their story. Fiction writers want their readers to experience the world they have created and to lose themselves in the story. Keeping the reader engaged is a tough job. When done right, though, it is magical.

Flashback can either add to the magic or detract from it. The way it is handled is key to its contribution to the story and whether it will succeed or fail. We all have a past; the history of us that entwines around our life and shapes who we are. Sometimes in fiction it is important to know this back story to add depth to the plot. Often it is needed to clarify what is happening in the current. But if it doesn’t add anything to the story it is just wasted words and a distraction.

In the real world our past can be a distraction also. We carry our life experience with us, but what we do with it determines our future. Spending too much time in our memories of what we have been through will waylay us. It can cause us to stall and not do what needs to be done, or it can cause us to focus so much on our failures that we are afraid to move. It removes us from the now experience.

But, if we learn from our history and move forward it can help us. Knowing when to visit our past memories and reach out for those times that we learned or grew will enhance our life. It adds to our current story and helps us along. It adds to the here and now rather than detracts from it.

Everyone has a history whether we are fiction characters or real life people. What we do with our history determines the course of our future story. Don’t be afraid to flashback, but as Stein Sol cautions, use it wisely.

No, dear brothers and sisters, I am still not all I should be, but I am focusing all my energies on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead ~Philippians 3:13

Friday, May 7, 2010

100 Moments - Sweet

It's been a crazy week and I haven't had time to plan a post for today so I leave you with this thought at the end of the week.


#42 - Sweet
These wonderful cookies were made for me by my sister for Valentine's Day.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Peeps Rattling Around in my Head

Robin Lee Hatcher says, “Being a novelist means it’s okay to have characters rattling around in my head.” I love this quote and despite the fact that I am only an aspiring novelist at this point, I know exactly what she means. One of my favorite parts about fiction writing is getting to know my characters. These figments of my imagination grow and change. They become as well known to me as my own family and friends. Someday I hope they become as well known to my readers as they are to me.

I jokingly tell people they should be nice to me or they might end up in my novel. I have yet to full on create a character just like someone I know, but I am always people watching for those little things that make the people who populate my imaginary world realistic. I have always been a people watcher and I find myself looking for those little things that make them unique.

Have you ever noticed some of the things people do without thinking about it? Traits that have become so ingrained they often don’t notice they are doing them. There’s the young boy in church who constantly smoothes one area on the back of his hair. He doesn’t seem to realize it, but I do. Then there’s the lady who sways only one hip when she walks. Not quite sure how she does that, but I can see a trait like that taking root in one of my characters. I love seeing those little things that just are. It’s the little things that authors display in their characters that stick with me. They make the people feel more lifelike.

I was a little skeptical the first time I heard someone say, “I didn’t know my character was going to do that until she did.” Seriously, you created the character. But, as silly as this may sound, this actually happens. I have a character in my current work in progress who was just a young girl hanging out waiting for her mom. Little did I know that she held a secret that was slowly eating away at her peace of mind. When I realized that secret I was a little stunned. This girl has really come to life in my imagination and revealed herself a little at a time. She has grown near and dear to my heart. And, she is actually central to the story but she didn’t start out in my mind that way. And, she came to life for me as she picked up those characteristics that I witnessed during my people watching.

If the characters fall flat, so will the story. So if you ever run into me and happen to wonder what is going on in my head, it just may be that my peeps are rattling around my head showing me who they really are!

Monday, May 3, 2010

God of the Ridiculous

My visions and dreams are Ridiculous…just like God wants them! This was the status update posted by my friend today and it made me smile. The pastor at the church I went to when I lived in Oregon used to say, “We worship the God of the ridiculous.” When a person first hears this it sounds like the pastor is off his rocker, but think about it a minute.

The Bible is full of affirmations about this statement. Really, if you were God would you ask people to build ginormous boats when it hasn’t rained for a while? Would you show yourself to people in the form of a burning bush? How about promising a couple to make them the parents of nations, but wait until they are well past child bearing years to start fulfilling that promise? And then, think about His plan for salvation. He sent his son to be born of a virgin. Then to work out His plan He had the same son tortured and hung on a cross.

Seriously, it’s no wonder that non-believers are skeptical with the stories of the Bible. But, in the ridiculousness is the beauty of this plan. He knew what He was doing. Remember Lazarus? Dead in the grave for three days before Jesus showed up and raised him from the dead. There was no doubt in this situation. Lazarus was dead. His sister berated Jesus for waiting so long that He let her brother die. Then Jesus called him out of the grave and Lazarus came out. The dead returns to life. That sounds ridiculous and doesn’t happen every day, but God did it.

Sure, our God has done some really crazy things. Those crazy things just prove that our God is truly awesome. He wants for people to know that He can do what He says He can do. And he can do much more than the false gods we tend to want to worship. He wants us to have visions and dreams that are ridiculous. He wants us to trust in Him and His abilities. The gods of this world don’t do ridiculous things because they can’t. God can do anything and so we need to keep dreaming ridiculous dreams!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Things that Confuse Me

1. When people slam on their brakes whenever they see a cop on the road.

2. Why The Artist Formerly Known as Prince chose an unpronounceable symbol as his name. What do his friends call him? The? The Artist? Tafkap? Yo dude?

3. Chipotle having 1 person at the register but 5 people shoving food into bowls and burritos and herding customers through until they are all knotted up at the register breathing each other’s CO2.

4. The shows The Bachelor and The Bachelorette. Seriously do people really think they are making quality choices to last a life time under such circumstances?

5. The truck I pass frequently on my way to and from work. It is a big truck loaded with what I assume is a bunch of smashed cars. The cars at the top of the load are just a smushed up rectangle of metal, but they have all four tires sticking straight up. Why don’t they take the tires off before squashing? Better yet, how do they do this without trashing the tires?

6. Rap music….

7. Caviar. Tried it, didn’t like it. Squishy, salty, fishy goo just didn’t do it for me.

8. Why some people need to be nasty and try to make other people look bad to feel good about themselves.

9. Why I felt the need to share this, but there you have it.