Monday, February 27, 2012

I Didn't Fall Off the Face of the Earth

I'm sorry I just disappeared last week. That was not intentional. I woke up last Saturday morning with a pain in my right shoulder under the shoulder blade. It got worse instead of better and by Tuesday last week I was in extreme pain. The pain has been pestering me all week and I spent most of the time sleeping.

Anyway, I don't have a post for today, but I will get back on track this week. I can tell you that God has worked things together in unusual ways (isn't that just like him!?! I wrote about the ways God works in this post.) and I've got a new project percolating in my brain. I hope to have a clearer vision of what all is involved in that in the coming weeks and I'm excited to share it with you.

In the meantime, I pray you all have an amazing week!

Monday, February 20, 2012

47 Things To Do In My 47th Year

Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all. ~ Helen Keller
 I'm a great fan of lists. And I'm a great fan of stepping outside my box and challenging myself.  In that vein I decided to make a list of 47 things to do this, my 47th year of life.

I did something similar in 2008 when I decided to try something new every month for a year. You can read about some of those adventures by clicking the "year of living adventurously" category in the category list.

Here is what is on my list. I have left out the most personal items which is why some of the numbers are missing :o)

1. Learn to knit
2. Finish New York Times Crossword puzzle without help and without Googling anything
3.Take 1 picture everyday for 1 month
4. Run a 5K
5. Paint my bedroom
6. Memorize Psalm 139
7. Visit my Grandmother
8. Submit my novel to publishers/agents
9. Enter Operation First Novel
11. Take a road trip to Grand Junction
12. Run the Alzheimer's Memory Walk
13. Write my mom's book
15. Read Jane Austen
16. Take an art or photography class
17 Plant an herb garden
18. See the Rockies play
19. Take a cooking class
20. Raise $1,000 for Lewy Body Dementia
21. Write an ebook
22. Attend Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writer's Conference
23. Run a 5k in Hawaii
24. Write a screenplay
25. Make a movie
26. Submit short stories to contests
27. Hike the Manitou Incline
28. Climb a rockwall
29. Pursue applying to join the Daughters of the American Revolution
30. Make a quilt
31. Hike a 14er
32. Try archery
33. Go vegetarian for one week
34. Eat sushi
35. Visit one of the hot springs resorts
36. Learn to make origami cranes and make 1,000 cranes
37. Zip line
39. Take a zumba class
40. Visit the Great Sand Dunes of Colorado
41. Fly kites
42. Write one letter to my grandmother every other\ week starting 02/20/12
43. Shoot a pistol
44. Do a police ride along
45. Sew an outfit that I am actually okay with wearing in public
46. Try a food from a country I want to visit (country and food to be determined)
47. Visit Aspen, CO

and one for good measure courtesy of one of my many Amy friends....have my picture taken with a lacrosse player!

Some are very personal goals, but many are just things I have wanted to do and this seemed like a good time.

What about you? What would you put on a list of want to do things?

Friday, February 17, 2012

Unspoken by Angela Hunt

Unspoken book cover

We humans are notorious for bonding with our animals. I keep no secrets about how much I love my little Wilson and I have many friends and family who feel the same way about their pets.

Angela Hunt has taken this human desire to bond with animals and written a beautiful story in Unspoken.  I had the pleasure of attending a seminar that Angela taught last November. One of her sessions was all about evoking emotion in our readers and she used this novel as an example. I can assure you that there was much emotion being evoked that afternoon. The section she read brought many in the room to tears and I had to go home and download the book to my Nook.

Sema, the main character of Unspoken, is a gorilla and is one of those amazing fictional characters that will stick with you long after the book is done. Her story is one of love at the deepest level.  Angela has woven a tale of hope, love, sadness, joy. She has taken the depths of human emotion and infused them into a relationship between a human and a primate and when all is said and done I couldn’t help but be touched by the beauty of it.

Unspoken is the story of Glee, a woman who worked with primates at the zoo. In an act of love and compassion she nurtured a newborn gorilla named Sema when the mother gorilla wouldn’t have anything to do with her.

Glee loved Sema as a mother would love a child. She took her home and raised her as she studied her. Sema learned sign language as part of Glee’s work with her. Glee was convinced that she could teach the gorilla to read and communicate in ways that had never been done with a gorilla before.

When Sema was eight the administrator of the zoo decided that Sema needed to be reintroduced to the primates at the zoo. The previous administrator had let Glee take her home, but she was still the legal property of the zoo. Though Glee tried to fight the order to return Sema she was forced to take her back to the zoo.

As the gorilla learns to interact with other primates Glee learns a lesson every parent has to learn at some point. She has to learn to let go and allow her child to travel her own path.

Unspoken is a wonderful book that left a lasting impression with me. After the last page was turned I found myself wanting to go to the zoo and visit the primate house.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Love Sucks! Or Does It?

Image: graur codrin /
It’s that time of year again. Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day. Sadly, a day meant to celebrate love often causes grief and sadness for many.

While I was in my 20s, my friends and I often held “Love Sucks” parties on Valentine’s Day. It was a time to bemoan the fact that there was no Mr. or Miss Right in our lives. I actively participated in those parties of my youth because I wasn’t content in where God had me.

The expectations of Valentine’s Day are huge and those expectations create a lot of discomfort for many people I know. As a never-been-married person I’m here to say that it can be hard to be a single on a couple day.

Somewhere along the line I let go of the expectations and embraced the day for what it should be…a day to celebrate those we love even if it’s not a romantic love. So, I’m thumbing my nose at the Teleflora and Hallmark commercials and especially the Lifetime Channel and celebrating love, just love.

The love of my savior

For great is your love toward me…  Psalm 86:13

The love of family

God sets the lonely in families… Psalm 68:6

The love of friends

A friend loves at all times…  Psalm 17:17
Celebrate those you love today!

Friday, February 10, 2012

To Give Them Beauty for Ashes

This piece was originally posted in 2007 on the Christian Writer's Forum Blog.

To console those who mourn in Zion, To give them beauty for ashes. These words come from Isaiah in Chapter 61:3. He is proclaiming to the people of Israel that he comes at God’s command to promise these things. This verse has come to mind frequently over the last year. It is a promise I cling to.

Image: akeeris /
This morning I lay in bed with Mom while she rested and watched the trees blowing in the breeze outside the window. There is one tree at the back of the yard that has begun to change to brilliant shades of yellow and gold. As the wind blew the leaves would catch a ray of sunlight and send out a shimmering flash. The effect was that of twinkle lights on a Christmas tree. It was a beautiful sight. I was encouraged by the fact that the leaves are dying, as it is their time, but still there is beauty in that dying. As I lay there enjoying this display of God’s beauty, I was reminded of the verse in Isaiah.

My mother has a chronic illness and there is nothing beautiful about the disease process. My family mourns for her. The loss comes slowly and stealthily. It is very hard to watch her suffer. Despite this, I am able to find some beauty in this situation. This comes as a shock to some people. They don’t understand how I can say this. I won’t ever tell you that I am happy with what is happening to Mom. However, I take comfort in the fact that God is in control and I look for beauty as a reminder of His promise to give us beauty for ashes.

There is incredible beauty in my parent’s love story. Always evident, it is much more so these days. I see the love that has lasted for more than 47 years reflected in Mom and Dad’s eyes as they interact. I see how patiently and lovingly my Dad fulfills his wedding vows. He keeps going despite his own grief. There is beauty in Mom as she laughs at our silly jokes and crazy things the dog does. The changes the disease has brought cannot change the fact that Mom is a beautiful person inside and out.

I see the beauty of God’s plan for my life that has allowed me to minister to Mom and Dad in a very tangible way during this time. In January of 2007 a lay-off took my job. I met with the HR Director the day after I found out and he asked me, “How are you doing, Tamara?” I responded with the truth, “I am doing just fine.” He then asked me how I could say that considering my circumstances. The truth is I trusted that God was working in this and there was beauty in that trust.

It’s hard to lose a job through no fault of your own. Not only was I thinking about how I was going to go forward, but 22 of my coworkers were losing their jobs also. There is no beauty in having your only source of income cut off. Yet, it was this lay-off that opened the door for me to take nine months to give Mom and Dad what they needed most, time. The beauty of God’s design for my life is evident.

We all will have times of ugliness in our lives. We will have times of mourning and suffering. James tells us to expect trials in the very first chapter of his book. There is no hiding the fact that in this world there is suffering. I encourage you, though, to keep looking for the beauty in life. When you least expect it God just may give you twinkle lights on a fall tree to encourage you. He has promised He will exchange your ashes for beauty. Hold tight to that promise.

Monday, February 6, 2012

What if We Could See How Our Words Affect Others?

I know we all try to be kind and not intentionally say hurtful things. What if we could see exactly how our words affect other people?

Lauren over at One Bright Corner wrote a beautiful story called "Fount of Fonts." In this story a gift was bestowed upon a village that enabled them to see their words. The story is a thought provoking piece about the power of our words.

I encourage you to visit Lauren's One Bright Corner and read "Fount of Fonts."

Have a great week!

Friday, February 3, 2012

47 Random Facts, Part 2

25.   In the United States, 514 avalanche fatalities have been reported in 15 states from 1950 to 1997.

26.      Ground hogs whistle when they are alarmed and in the spring when they begin courting.

27.      Ground hogs are one of the few animals that actually hibernate.

      28.      The NFC has 24 super bowl wins over the AFC’s 21 wins.

29.      The New England Patriots have played in the super bowl 7 times and Sunday will make 8 times.

30.      The New York Giants first played football in October 1925.

31.      Ernest Hemingway published his first piece at 17 years old.

      32.      Stephen King met his wife, Tabitha, in the library at University of Maine at Orono. They married in January 1971.

33.      The Kings lived in Boulder, CO for less than a year in 1974 and 1975. King wrote The Shining while in Boulder.

34.  Tabitha King has published 8 novels of her own.

35.  Colorado is the 38th state and became a state on August 1, 1876.

36.  The Battle of the Bulge occurred toward the end of World War II. The dates of the battle were 12/16/44 – 01/25/45.

37.  Primitive elevators are thought to first come into use in the 3rd century BC and were powered by human, animal or water wheel.

38.  Trivial Pursuit was invented in 1979 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

39.  Benjamin Franklin was the 10th son of a soap maker.

40.  President Gerald Ford signed legislation on October 7, 1975 allowing women to attend military academies.

41.  Women first attended the Air Force Academy in June 1976.

42.  The first Thunderbird team included twin brothers, Bill and Buck Patillo, who flew left and right wing.

43.  Koko, the gorilla, has a sign language vocabulary of over 1000 signs.

44.  A single Renaissance printing press could produce 3,600 pages a day.

45.  The 57 on Heinz Ketchup bottles represents the varieties of pickle the company once had.

46.  The most money ever paid for a cow in auction was $1.3 million.

47.  This week’s randomness has been brought to you by the number 47 and the letter R.