To Brighten Your Day

I rang in the New Year sick in bed with the flu. Basically, I spent the entire first week of January of 2014, in my pajamas, tucked between burgundy flannel sheets, with a tissue box on my nightstand, and copious mugs of hot water with Manuka honey and a cinnamon stick for stirring. The flu bug brought friends ~ fever, chills, nausea, exhaustion, and eventually, dehydration.

The second week of the month, I sipped broth, and nibbled on crackers. I ventured out of bed for short periods of time to walk down the hallway, let the dogs out, and sit on the sofa in the living room to gaze out the picture window and watch other people riding bicycles, jogging, and taking down outside Christmas lights. My home was still fully decorated and I now had a jolting cough.

Editing my manuscript was not in the picture. Critiquing my group’s latest chapters was not going to happen either. I missed all the first writer meetings of the year.

In the stillness of illness, I did have hours and hours of prayer time. And somehow when I read by Bible, my eyes did not ache in the back of the sockets like when I tried to read books to review.

I was offline for a week and it seemed I had fallen off the planet earth. When I got back on the for the first time, I was way behind with all the news, comments, and had more messages than I could answer.

So I prayed for more people. Read more scripture, and prayed again, and again.
It was joy. Slowing down was refreshing for my soul. I prayed for the people that rode those bicycles, jogged, and cleaned their houses and yards. Some I knew personally, some were strangers.

My perspective changed. The way I spent my time changed too.

Today I am cough-free, clear-headed, down ten pounds I was struggling to lose, and starting to catch up with all the writing.

Here in California we are experiencing a terrible drought. Today it was 74 degrees on January 24th. I drove out of town to buy groceries, had a meeting with another writer, edited some of the last chapters of my second novel, and was treated to a prime rib dinner here in town. Back to life as usual. No, I am keeping my revived prayer-first life. The new year brought a shortage of water, but God offered me an abundance that is still overflowing to nourish and hydrate me. I am choosing the best, everyday, early in the morning and all day long.

There was a box on my doorstep two days ago. A surprise delivery from an old friend in Colorado. The envelope inside read, to brighten your day. I have been sharing this delightful and thoughtful assortment of my favorite teas, honey and treats with my family and friends.

What perfect timing.

What a loving act of sweetness.

2014 is now a week away from going into the month of February. I see more what I have learned and been blessed by, than time I lost. There is joy to share and lots of time to pray. Another gift sent in love to brighten my day.

Perfect timing.

Perfect gift.

Autumn Leaves of Gratefulness

As Thanksgiving draws near, the bounty of blessings poured out is spoken of with grateful hearts and joyful mouths.
Thanksgiving is my favorite celebration. It is the one holiday a year my family of seven sisters tries to gather and families together. Over the years our children have flown the nest and some live on the opposite coast. There are two soldiers that are stationed on the east and west coast also.
This year I am the hostess. For weeks my husband and I have been spring cleaning and preparing to serve. Joe ordered a 30 lb turkey. He likes leftovers.
We are a smaller group of fifteen this year. Everyone brings something to share. Traditionally we play board games, mix martinis in memory of my father ( I don’t drink them, but I do eat the olives), and put out a spread of about half a dozen homemade pies. There were years in the past that a dozen pies delighted all the brothers-in-law.
I look forward to filling our little home with laughter, nieces and nephews, college students, flashing cameras, and mother’s special sausage bread stuffing.
There have been mishaps. One year a brother-in-law ended up in the emergency room at a local hospital after he carved more than the turkey, (he recovered fine) some years the children outnumbered the adults, and my first Thanksgiving cooking, I didn’t shut the oven door tight and forgot to remove the bag of extra parts from inside the bird. That was an exciting year. My jello salad had molded cottage cheese but it was green Jell-o so who knew?
I was only eighteen. Thankfully, no one got ill because they really should have.

What are you most thankful for? Some of our best years were the ones you might have considered to be the worst. My mother has Alzheimers and won’t be with us, and my dad died a long time ago. My sisters and I are now the grandparents. I expect in the next few years a first great-grandchildren will arrive. What a year that will be!
May God’s bounty of blessings bring joy and laughter to the home you share with loved ones this Thanksgiving. Whether you are a small or large gathering, at home or eating in a restaurant, visiting your parent in a rest home, or volunteering to feed the hungry at your church or local food bank, I hope you get the chance to share beyond your inner circle of love.


Heroes Series #3

ScannedImage-3Today I thought about my dad and all his friends that served beside him in WWII. I have a few old black and white photographs of them, teenagers in crisp uniforms that shipped out into the great unknown on distant shores. The boys never came back – those that lived to return, came home men.

Everywhere I went today I saw veterans from the wars we honored our soldiers for fighting in and from the war we never did. I always ask a Viet Nam Vet if I can hug them or shake their hand. I have yet to be told, “No.” Usually they tear up. I tell them I am sorry for the loss of their brothers-in-arms that served with them. It is ten times more emotional for them than it is for me. A deep wound remains, a hurt that has yet to heal in their hearts. They are the aging warriors that we must never forget.

Last year I watched a WWII vet comfort a weeping VN vet. It was at our rural town’s Fallen Warriors celebration. The bond between the two strangers was one of the most intense, pure expressions of compassion I have ever seen. There were no words exchanged. One soldier wrapped his arms around another who had fallen to his knees. He wept with him until they stood together.

My freedom came at a great price to them and so many others. I have not had to fight for what I have, someone else did.

I pray for all our soldiers. At the same time, I pray that our children see and learn what the true difference is between the heroes on TV, in the movies, and molded out of plastic to be sold on the shelves of toy stores.

Days like today, Veteran’s Day, are important, lest we should forget. But tomorrow the same people we acknowledged for a few hours today, live with the same memories, losses, and forever altered lives because of their willingness to serve their country when called to duty.

Write to a soldier for a year, not just at the holidays. Visit a wounded warrior in the hospital in your community. Take your children with you to a rest home and ask if there are any vets that nobody visits anymore. I guarantee you they are there, alone. Heroes that have been forgotten. They will not all be as old as you think either. Pull up a chair and listen, pack a lunch to share, and your children will see that freedom isn’t free, but a hero is worth their time even though he or she may look quite different than the packaging on an electronic game, and may wear a prosthetic limb in stead of a cape.

<a href=”Harvest of Gold (Harvest #2)Harvest of Gold by Tessa Afshar
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Harvest of Gold by Tessa Afshar was an answer to prayer for me.

This is the first book I have read by Tessa and it won’t be the last. The story is powerful and entering the world of these characters without having read the first book, Harvest of Rubies, I had no difficulties following the beautifully woven tale of Sarah and Darius. It is a stand alone book. Having done in-depth studies the Book of Nehemiah, one of my favorite books in the Bible, I was captivated by the way Afshar related the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem to the tearing down of walls of the hardened heart of a husband, and the rebuilding of a marriage.

The focus on Nehemiah, his perseverance, faith, life of prayer and fasting, service to a Persian king and to the Jewish people, reliance on God in the worst of circumstances, and sense of true justice, so convicted me in every area of my current personal walk.

After twenty-eight years in an unequally-yoked marriage this story stirred embers to flame again in my own heart to renew my prayers for my husband with fervency.

There is a thread of prayer woven throughout the book, an invisible spiritual refined gold that ties lives together. One man believes his God will help his repenting people do the impossible, and they do in fifty-two days. One women believes her prayers will outlive her time of earth for her son to know God. One wife prays that her husband will forgive her mistake, know God, and come to truly love her. One soldier finds his true self and strength in surrender to a God he can not see without faith, and cannot know without brokenness. One people unite under extreme hardship to rebuild, stone by stone, side by side, and prayer by prayer. And what about those who witness these changes?

A mystery surrounding a planned attempt to kill King Artaxerxes adds an intriguing twist and introduces new characters into play that bring the fictional part of the story to vibrant life. Lysander and Roxanna begin a story of their own that makes me wonder if there isn’t a future harvest ahead for them.

This is a timely book, well-researched and crafted for people of all faiths in the modern world.

If there is but a flicker burning in your heart for a story of true value that offers hope, then read the aptly titled ~ Harvest of Gold.

*The author sent me this book to read and give an honest review.*

View all my reviews” title=”Review ~ Harvest of Gold By Tessa Afshar”>Review ~ Harvest of Gold By Tessa Afshar

<a href=”Mistaken: First Impressions Are Never What They SeemMistaken: First Impressions Are Never What They Seem by Karen Barnett
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Debut novelist Karen Barnett’s book, Mistaken offers a step back in time to the 1920’s and all the dangers that period of Prohibition brought to America.

Skillfully blending historical romance and suspense, Barnett parallels protagonist, Laurie Burke’s relationships with the two family men in her life, her drunken father and bootlegging brother, with two love interests, Federal agent Samuel Brown and handsome recently returned hometown boy Daniel Shepherd.

The story deals in stark reality with alcoholism, the resulting physical abuse, and the shame that alters the lives of those the bottle destroys.

As the reader experiences Laurie’s mistakes, judgmental misconceptions, and mounting struggles, the people and problems of Port Angeles draw you into the story and lives of well-crafted characters that keep you guessing if first impressions aren’t always what they seem.

I recommend this story if you are interested in plot twists, tension peaks and valleys, and hope that springs eternal for a young woman desiring to be loved by an honorable man during a time when honor was lacking and crime seemed to rule the land.

Excellent Christian message that God is in control at all times, to keep your eyes on Him and not your circumstances, and the grace gift of salvation is offered to anyone that is willing to change and receive it.

View all my reviews” title=”Review of debut novelist Karen Barnett’s book ~ Mistaken.”>Review of debut novelist Karen Barnett’s book ~ Mistaken.

Lake Tahoe Baby Boomer Series # 8

As a Lake Tahoe lifer, I thought I’d seen it all, as if that could ever really happen. While I was up for my early dose of autumn crimson and gold the first week of October, a client that sells my children’s books mentioned groves of Aspen trees to explore. Thank you very much, Barb Van Maren of Sugar Pine Gifts in Kings Beach!
Off I ventured, Nikon strapped around my neck, hubby behind the wheel so I could hang out the passenger window and shoot away. HWY 287 to Truckee was on the list after a dash along the north shore of Tahoe. And what did my wandering eyes spy ~ the goldmine of Aspen groves, fluttering in an alpine breeze, beckoning.
It was perfect weather for a shoot, overcast skies hovered above the amber fairy-like trees pirouetting in an autumn ballet, toe shoes turning before the first snow fall. In the center grove, tucked obscurely behind the troupe of dancers, stood a dilapidated one room home. Worn red paint had all but been absorbed by the warped wooden planks that were still standing. A creaking, sagging roof offered sanctuary to the remaining framework and hollow interior. The Aspens surrounded the lone dwelling, on the edge of the evergreen forest.
I shot over two hundred pictures of fallen dusty white tree trunks, branches bare, butterfly leaves already carpeting the ground under my feet.
The stark scent of pine mingled in the air with a crisp snap of earth and wind, tingling the inside of my nostrils.
When the sun broke though at noon, we hiked back to the car and drove into to Truckee for lunch. My husband and I ordered bowls of homemade chili at the Wagon Train Coffee Shop and sat outside to relish the warming temperature. I reviewed each frame I’d shot between spoonfuls of spicy beans, diced onion, and shredded cheddar cheese.
The cloud cover moved in again and we headed back to the Tahoe cabin to toss a few logs on the fireplace grate, brew some coffee, stretch out on the sofa together and snuggle under quilts.
If you haven’t given Tahoe a try in the autumn months, think about it. There is more than summer swimming and winter skiing in those majestic mountains. A slower paced Fall fans her gown of many colors far and wide to delight the senses with an invitation to join the repertoire.

This summer I’ve been thinking about the people who have influenced my life. I’m half a century old, born in the mid-nineteen fifties. It’s not that I possess any special wisdom or am of the opinion that my life is of such great significance that you should listen to my words. Many times though, I’ve been keenly aware of quiet blessings. I would like to share one with you.

As a military wife for most of my husband’s twenty year service in the United States Air Force, people and circumstances crossed my path that I otherwise never would have met. The littlest warriors during times of war are the children. The ones who do not understand why their parents are sent to far away, unfamiliar locations, some never to return.

We lived in off base, Capehart Military Housing at McClellan AFB, during the first Gulf War. All our neighbors sent loved ones ~  fathers, mothers, brother, sisters, sons, daughters, aunts, uncles, and grandchildren, to different middle eastern countries to fight in the war. My four children were no different. Their dad was deployed to Saudi Arabia and traveled to other counties during that time. And if someone had told me then that my oldest son would later grow up to fight in both the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars, and leave his three daughters behind, I most likely would not have believed them.

I learned about true courage from these young people. Many times I overheard conversations while walking my children to school, volunteering in the classrooms, and when friends congregated at our home. Children are open, honest people until they learn to be otherwise. The tenderness of their hurting hearts and questioning souls are bared in innocence and trust to each other, and to adults they seek answers from to make sense of what makes no sense to them.

At the elementary school attended by most McClellan AFB Gulf War soldiers’ children, there was a garden planted and nurtured by the students. Yellow ribbons were tied throughout to remember the absent warriors. At first it was a great encouragement, then a trial as other classmates got to take their bows down upon the safe return to the states of their beloved. Many ribbons continued to flap, weathered and frayed, through the change of a season. To look into the eyes of a child who visited that garden was an unforgettable experience. The wide-eyed wonder present at the ribbon ceremony had long since been replaced with an aged wisdom exceeding their years of life. Even if the relative they’d tied the ribbon for had returned, many came home forever altered, both physically and mentally. These realities were etched in the children’s haunted expressions that pierced me to the core of my being. But it was their words of hope and embraces of love that imprinted my soul.

“Don’t worry daddy, I still love you.”

I can still hear the quiet voice of a first grade girl as she wrapped her arms around her kneeling father and listened to him weep. The deeper his knees sank into the forgiving earth, the stronger her embrace grew. She never let go until he was able to compose himself and she helped him to stand.  I later learned though he made it home, several of his band of brothers hadn’t.

That day, his daughter was his hero. Together they untied one yellow ribbon, he slipped it in his pocket, and they walked home holding hands.

I don’t believe either of them ever saw or noticed me at the far end of the garden. I pray I never forget the gift of being in that background.

Authors, Writers, Books, and Beyond TSPN TV Show

Kathy Boyd Fellure with my guests for the July 31st Show:

Amy Smith, Eddy Walsh, and Indigo Moor.

Round table discussion about creative non-fiction, screenwriting, plays, novels, and writers.

Authors Writers, Books and Beyond Tv Show

With my guests ~ Betty, Tami, and Helen.

Click on the link above to view the show!


July 3rd reshoot at TSPN TV Station

Life isn’t perfect. Sometimes strange surprises pop up in unusual ways, places, times, and well, situations. This recently happened to three guests on the June episode of my Authors, Writers, Books, and Beyond, TV Show. And it occurred during a three-digit heat wave.

These gracious authors, Tami Travaskis, Betty Weatherby, and Helen Bonner, returned to the studio to film a second LIVE show about hopping through the different genres we write.
The station had the air-conditioner cranked up up and the upstairs studio where we film was cool in complete contrast to the 108 degree weather sizzling outside at 4:30 pm.

I think the second show was better than the first we had filmed the end of June. We were more relaxed having run through it once already and my guests were more animated. Two of the ladies had been on either my show or the morning talk show before. Tami was our first-timer, and she was a natural.
The books we shared ranged from historical fiction, memoir, contemporary women’s fiction, and children’s books. All three of my guests had recently released novels or novellas out in all the local bookstores, online, and available from their publishers.

Tami Trevaskis ~ My Mercedes ~ Friesen Press
Helen Bonner ~ MsDemeanors ~ Lulu Press, Inc.
Betty Weatherby ~ Shingi,The Wind Blows Free  ~ Crossroads/Lifeway

I always love our off-camera banter the best and so wish the audience was able to join us for that informal portion too. We cover subjects that might not make it on air, and share openly in ways a person tends to hold back on LIVE television.

As you can see in the photograph, we dressed for a hot summer day in casual shorts and capris, and lots of 100% cotton.

We talked about life in a new country for a young African woman, dolphins, the Women’s Movement of the 1970’s, a Yorkie named Pepper and his adventures in six children’s books, bears at Lake Tahoe, families vacations at California state parks, quality family time, raising a troubled teen, a woman and her daughter in Hawaii, forgiveness and remarriage after fifty years of divorce that reunited a father with two grown sons he never knew, and missionaries leaving WWII torn Africa behind and voyaging back home to the states on Mercy ships.

Quite a variety of plots for stories!

We shared a little from our personal lives, and discussed the covers for our books, always an important final outcome for an author. You either love it or hate it, rarely is it a nonchalant nod of the head.

The link will be up on YouTube by now if you’d like to click on over. Enjoy!

Join me the last Wednesday of July for the Screenwriting, Plays, and Creative Non-Fiction Show with my guests ~ Amy Smith, Indigo Moor, and Eddie Walsh.