Monday, October 31, 2011

1,000 Gifts - November is a Month for Thanksgiving

October has slipped by and November has arrived on a breath of wind. Harvest has been accomplished and the world is settling in for winter.

November is a time for thankfulness as we remember all that we have. It is an acknowledging of that hard first year as the pilgrims started their life again in this new country.

For the past 2 years I have devoted November to gratitude here on the mountain. This year, as I once again focus on my gifts, I have been reading Ann Voskamp’s 1,000 Gifts. This beautiful little book has helped me to capture in my heart the many things I have to be thankful for.

Ann recounts her journey of listing the everyday gifts she has been given. She daily jots down these gifts in a notebook from 1 to 1,000.

In her book she offers this quote from Sara Ban Breathnach:

Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter
Everyday epiphanies, those transcendent moments of awe
That change forever how we experience life and the world.

I love this idea of everyday epiphanies and moments of awe. These are the moments that fill our lives and give us something to hand on. I don’t know about you, but sometimes I get so caught up in the big that I lose sight of the small.

This month I will be counting my own gifts here on the mountain. Each day I will be posting and adding to my list.

I would love to have you join me by posting some of your 1,000 gifts in the comments each day

A Daughter's Tribute

Four years have flown by
And yet they crawl
It seems just yesterday
I held your hand and sang to you

I miss you so much more
Than I can find words inside me
To express the feelings
You gave me life and filled it with love

I think of you every day and I pray
That each day the world sees more of you
In me because you were everything to me
And I am proud to be your daughter

The words don’t rhyme and the meter
Is off in this little verse of mine
But the love that flows with these words
Will never end

Doris Fickas
My Mommy
1942 - 2007

Friday, October 28, 2011

Rocky Mountain High

This Rocky Mountain Writer loves the mountains. They tower over the city and are always such an amazing sight. This time of year morning commutes are often beautiful as the mountains are lit from the sun rising east of them and bathing them in purples and pinks.

This morning the snow capped mountains greeted me as I drove to work. This was my morning welcome...

My sad little camera phone doesn't do it justice, but I think you can get the idea.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

I'm Guest Posting at Soar with Eagles Today

Hi Readers!

Today I've joined my friend, Cynthia Howerter over at Soar with Eagles as I talk about my experience with unemployment.

Hop on over to check out her series Happy Endings Do Not Only Exist in Fairy Tales for my story of A Hard and Beautiful Year.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Can You Tell a Story in 78 Words?

Flash fiction is a form of fiction where you tell a story with a very small amount of words. The word count can vary depending on the circumstances.

I recently saw a call for entries for flash fiction stories of exactly 78 words. It was a challenge and I decided to give it a try. I wrote my tiny little story and submitted it to the contest. I have not been chosen as one of the 10 finalists. I did make a very rookie mistake on the submission. The entry was online and required that the story be submitted in a Word file. Silly me forgot to put my name and contact info on my Word file. Oh well, live and learn.

Anyway, today I want to share with you Harley's Story told in 78 words.

There once was a pig named Harley who lived in a house with a family. He had his own bed and a basket full of toys. Harley thrilled the family with oinks and wagging his curly little tail.

Harley especially loved his human mom and wanted to be near her all the day long. So much so he one day ate the drywall to get into her office.

Now Harley is on his way to the slaughter house.
There you have it folks. Based on a true story although I took liberties with the ending...Harley found a nice home on a farm and not at the slaughterhouse.

Any of my readers game enough to try writing a very short story? I would love to see your stories, please feel free to post them in the comments.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Crazy Life

So, you know, my life is perfect. My house is always trendy, comfortable, and neat. I’m uber organized.

Always on time. The appliances all work like they’re supposed to.

Yep, MY toilets never get backed up and MY lawn always looks perfect.

The car tires never lose air. The projects I start always get finished and look fabulous to boot.

You will never see me with a hair out of place. I always look like I stepped off the pages of Vogue Magazine.

Perfect and unchaotic, that is me…

My perfect kitchen cabinet with one missing door. Trendy!?!

Bwahahaha! If you believed me, I’ve got some lovely ocean front property…

Last week a friend posted on Facebook about all these seemingly tough things happening in his life. He followed it with the words, “I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

His post got me thinking that about my own life and my sometimes lack of gratitude for what I have. This was my own post about life:

Up since 4am this morning after taking my daddy to the airport, hours cut at work and potential layoffs in the future, a wild cat chasing his tail, more things on the weekend to-do list than hours in the weekend, clicker on car still doesn't work, went to work this morning with a black sock hanging out of my sleeve because of static cling. Life is a crazy ride and God is squeezing me out of my comfort zone, but I love my life. Thanks Dan for reminding me to relish the life God has given me no matter how out of control it sometimes seems.
This friend’s post reminded me that though my life isn’t perfect it’s the one God has given me. It’s the one He will use if I let. I am right where I’m supposed to be and there is a lot to be said for living my own life even if it isn’t perfect.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Book Review - Kisses from Katie: a Story of Relentless Love and Redemption by Katie Davis

She’s just 22 years old and she has given up an easy life here in the United States. She traded college, a yellow convertible, and a boyfriend she loved for hard work, a 15 passenger van, and life as a single mom of 14 children in a foreign country.

Kisses from Katie: A Story of Relentless Love and Redemption is so much more than Katie Davis’ story. It is the story of a country ravaged by poverty and war that needs a bit of hope. It is the story of a God who calls us to love one another because He first loves us. It is the story of a girl who knows the value of God’s love and knows that she can’t swoop in and tell the Ugandans that God loves them. Many of them have never been truly loved before. She can only demonstrate that love by loving them just as they are. It is truly a story of relentless love and redemption.

As an 18 year old senior in high school Katie went with her mom to Uganda for a three week mission trip. During that trip she was overwhelmed with what she saw and her desire to help. When she was asked to come back and teach kindergarten after high school she promised she would try. With much talking, she convinced her parents to allow her to go back and make good on that promise. After graduation she set off for a year long stay in a foreign country with the additional promise of coming home and going to college at the end of that year.

During that year the Ugandan people stole their way into Katie’s heart. When presented with children who had no one else Katie began the process of legally adopting the girls. She never asked for the children and she made heroic attempts to find blood relatives when children showed up on her doorstep in need.

Still, God brought her 14 children who needed her. She became mom to the girls. She struggled with the idea of going back to her world of comfort but leaving her heart behind. She’s young but she knows how to love. And it is with that knowledge that she has given her life to these beautiful girls and this beautiful country.

Kisses from Katie is an amazing story. It’s all the more so amazing because this isn’t about Katie. She’s a main character, but this is God’s story. She knows that she can’t do this without Him. She believes that everyone should know the love she does and she knows the only way they will is if she lets God’s love shine through her.

I’ve been following Katie’s story through her blog and on Facebook for some time now but this book brought me to tears. Tears of sadness at the tragedy that some people live each day. Tears of joy as I looked at the pictures of children being loved and nurtured. And, tears of repentance as I realized that though I love the Lord I still struggle to live a life of surrender. After reading this book my prayer is that I not hold back, that I would allow God to infuse my life and that I would be able to love as unconditionally as Katie.

You can purchase Katie's Book through the 147 Million Orphans web site or from other booksellers. If you purchase the book through the 147 Million web site 50% of the proceeds will go to Amazima Ministries which helps support the children Katie works with in Uganda.

Monday, October 10, 2011

It's Just Like Riding a Bike

Alone on the gravel, curving, downhill driveway with the sun shining brightly on her purple bike with the banana seat the young girl decided to ride without hands for the first time. Her brother did it, why couldn’t she?

She pedaled hard to get moving and then released the handlebars and clapped her hands. The front wheel hit a small rock and turned sideways. The bike toppled and the little girl flew into the gravel on her bare knees and hands.

After being bandaged up by her mother the girl got back on her bike a little older and a lot wiser. She would save the riding with no hands practice for a flat, smooth surface.

This is me on my first big girl bike circa 1970 something. I loved that bike. It was purple with a real banana seat and later a white basket with flowers on the handlebars.

Throughout my childhood riding bikes was fun and everyone did it. I rode this bike for many years. I did eventually learn to ride with no hands on this bike. In my teen years I traded my purple bike for a blue 10-speed and then 4-wheeled vehicles starting striking my fancy.

The 10-speed traveled with me to several apartments and then was relegated to live under the sundeck at my parent’s house and was eventually given away or donated. I moved on and for years never missed my bikes.

Last week, though, I was in Michigan visiting my sister. On a crisp, sunny Monday morning we pulled hers and her daughter’s bikes out of the garage. It had been 30 years since I had been on a bike that wasn’t stationary. Excited and a little nervous I took the bike helmet when offered.

I found that riding a bike really is just like riding a bike. It’s not a skill that’s easily forgotten. We took off through the neighborhood and then 1 block “in the city” as my nephew call’s riding on the sidewalk down one of the main roads to the park near their house.

After finishing our ride and returning home I felt thrilled all day. It was a feeling I haven’t felt in 30 years. It made me feel like a child again, living freely and enjoying life. It’s a feeling I should strive to find in my life more often. Being a grown-up is something I can’t change, but remembering to let my inner child have fun is something I can change.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Will You Deny Me?

Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you that this night, before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.”

Peter said to Him, “Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You!”

And so said all the disciples.

Matthew 26: 34 – 35

Peter was a good man. Jesus declared him the rock of the church. But like so many other great people of the Bible, Peter had his faults.

When confronted with the idea that he would ever deny Jesus he was vehement that it would never happen. Before the day was out Christ’s words had come true and Peter was forced to acknowledge he was not as strong as he believed.

Tonight I came face to face with my own weakness. I was driven to my knees by the desire for my life to be more than it is, for God to use me in whatever ways He chooses.

In the next moment when confronted with what I might have to sacrifice I dissolved in tears. I found I couldn’t say the words. I struggled with the knowledge that I hold tight to things more than I do to God.

They are worthy things, but when anything comes before God it becomes an idol. These worthy things become stumbling blocks in my path.

I wept bitterly at the knowledge of these idols. I imagine Peter did also when he realized what he had done by denying his Lord. He didn’t back off and give up. He kept going knowing that Christ loved him and would continue to do so. He was open to God’s plan and God was able to use him despite his failings.

Monday, October 3, 2011

October is Lewy Body Dementia Awareness Month

This is a repost, but I thought it was appropriate since October is Lewy Body Dementia Awareness month.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month and everywhere I look I see pink. I picked up a sales circular for an office supply store from the Sunday paper and was blasted with a jolt of pink. These days you can buy pink phones or bikes or yogurt and a portion of the proceeds support breast cancer research and awareness. The pink items are part of the fundraising done by Susan G. Komen for the Cure. In the last few years Komen and breast cancer have become closely associated with the color pink.

Don’t get me wrong, I am all for breast cancer awareness and research, but I have often wondered at how this happened. It’s amazing, really; the color pink on a product immediately brings to mind the fight against this deadly disease.

Today, Nancy G. Brinker, the founder of Susan G. Komen for the Cure was on the Oprah show. This was the first time I have really heard the story of Susan G. Komen. She was 33 years old when diagnosed with breast cancer in the 70s. Before she died she made her sister Nancy promise she would do everything in her power to fight the disease. Out of that promise grew the amazing organization that has done so much for beginning to tame this disease.

As I listened to Nancy talk about what it was like for Susan and her family as she was struggling with the disease in the 70s it struck me how much it mirrored what my family went through when Mom was diagnosed with Lewy Body Dementia (LBD.) Nancy talked about the lack of support groups, information, and understanding at the time. That is what it is like for LBD patients and their families now.

Today breast cancer is well known. Information is more abundant and because of the work of Nancy Brinker women don’t have to feel so alone when the diagnosis comes. Pink has succeeded in giving a face to this illness.

When Mom was diagnosed with LBD we found the Lewy Body Dementia Association. This young organization is working to increase research and raise awareness of the disease but we still have a long way to go. As with so many causes these days the LBD as well as the Alzheimer’s Association has taken a color to signify their fight. For the groups fighting dementia that color is purple. During recent Memory Walks for the Alzheimer’s Association purple balloons, t-shirts and banners were everywhere. For years I have been curious about how to get people to know purple like they do pink.

Today I learned how Nancy took her family's fight and turned it into a nationwide initiative. It’s a lofty thought, but as I watched I formulated ways of moving our fight into the same type of nationwide initiative. I don’t want to draw attention from breast cancer, but I do want to draw attention to the plight of dementia sufferers. In a perfect world this wouldn’t be necessary. I live in an imperfect world and so I have decided to wave my purple banner high.

Someday people will see purple and know that dementia is a horrendous disease. People will be able to purchase a purple phone or bike or yogurt and know that their money is supporting something important. They will understand that their jokes about having Alzheimer’s really aren’t that funny. They will understand and the stigma associated with dementia will begin to disappear. They will understand that others have walked this road and they don’t have to walk alone.

For more information about Lewy Body Dementia please visit the LBDA website