Life at its Best is a Continual Uproar

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“Peace Plants and red geraniums line our walkway.”

We finally managed to obtain an offer on our Villa. The down side is that it’s a contingency deal pending the sale of the buyer’s own large home (downsizing). This may mean that we must make a contingency offer of our own or wait to see if theirs sells first. Sounds like an “iffy” proposition in either case which means we’re still living in limbo until things become certain

For those of you who may not know. We’ve been boxing, arranging furniture and getting rid of clutter for months; including putting a new roof on our home and installing stainless steel appliances in our newly remodeled kitchen. My paintings and tools are boxed, so I haven’t been able to do any artwork for months. I’ve also been dealing with health issues and my writing has been stalled on the back burner because of shoulder pain. I’m hoping it’s not another rotator cuff tear. I experienced that a few years ago. When I use my keyboard, it feels like a vice clamps down on my upper arm.

The x-rays did show that a tear is present. I had my first physical therapy session and will find out if I’m able to regain the strength and use of my arm without surgery. Cross your fingers!

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During this period of transition, I’ve been surprised by how easy it is to “forget” possessions once they are packed away.  Things that I once thought absolutely necessary are not even missed. Sometimes less is more.

I’ve always been a saver. I’m still wearing clothes that my daughters left after they went off to college. Now they are mothers and one is a grandmother. And shoes; I had a shoe fetish for years and moved them all over the country during job and personal changes. I learned the hard way that Florida’s humidity is very hard on shoes. Glues, synthetics and sometimes leather disintegrates. Many of my shoes simply rotted and fell apart.

Repaired china and glued knick knacks crumble in the heat and humidity as did my collection of German nutcrackers. Rubber water bottles used in healing and for warmth sprouted leaks. I learned this when I tried to use them for ice packs and heat compresses on my painful shoulder.

When we first moved here, I had stored an old silk Christmas tree in the garage only to discover later that it smelled of mildew and mold. Recent trees have rectified this problem and are now not only fire-retardant, but mildew resistant as well. Oh, the joys of modern science.

Our lives change over time. We experience and appreciate those things that are lasting and eternal, and recognize those traits and gifts that are corruptible and temporal. I’m finding that the older I get the easier it becomes to “let things go.” Meaningless trivia ages with the years, frays at the edges and is soon forgotten in the dust heap of life. “If you haven’t used it in six months or less, you probably never will” is a timely axiom.

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“Egrets and Mangroves” acrylic on canvas FOR SALE

What you Tolerate and Endure can Destroy you!

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I want to remember the beautiful Bromeliad plants in our neighborhood.

Things get pretty “discombobulated” when you’re completing needed repairs on your home and preparing to sell and move across country. As a result, my blogs have been sorely neglected!

We all go through these “shake ups” periodically in our lives. For instance I knew the very hour and minute that I decided to divorce my children’s father. I had come to the proverbial end of my rope and I couldn’t go even a step further.

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All week, I was ill with a severe bronchitis, yet I still got up each day to fix breakfast for the family and pack lunches before I stumbled back to bed. My husband came in the bedroom after work and then proceeded to leave again to help someone else in our church.

He never asked how I was; never even looked at me except with disgust. One day I asked if he could get me a drink of water. He didn’t reply nor did I see the water.

The morning of my decision, I was kneeling on the kitchen floor, coughing the loosened bronchial debris into a small wastebasket. I was still in my robe and floppy slippers feeling like hell. I heard my husband call to the children “Hurry up kids we’re going to be late!”

He barreled into the kitchen with the children in tow and looked down at me. Then they all sailed out the backdoor without a word. No one asked if I was going to be all right. No one said goodbye.

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A purple orchid hanging from a neighbor’s tree.

At that moment something snapped in my brain. I thought to myself, “What if I choked on my sputum, or God forbid breathed my last? I realized then that most people treat their dogs better than I was treated in that home. I couldn’t live with so little respect and affection.

The sad thing was that my children were so used to seeing this that even many years later when we’re all together, I feel like I’m back in that lonely and God forsaken place. Oh, sure there were “Nursery Rhyme” prayers and a semblance of religion, but the love and joy were missing.

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Today my dear husband held the door open on our garbage drawer for me. He could see my hands were full of table scraps. That small gesture warmed my heart. A successful marriage is made up of small and countless gestures each day that say “I love you,” and “You are special in my eyes.”

In a good marriage respect is felt and experienced daily. Sure there are differences that come, but they are forgiven and ignored rather than punished with silence or the withholding of affection.

Some spouses make public displays of attention and warmth. They laugh in a pretense of happiness like an actor on a stage.

But when their backs are turned or they are in secret behind closed doors, their actions and words tell a different story. Their body language expresses contempt and their intimidation causes fear and self-loathing.

I once heard from a marriage counselor “Never go to bed angry” and “always find a way to kiss goodnight.”  But back “home on the ranch” those words were ignored. Each night I received the rebuff of an indifferent back and silence; not even a “goodnight.”

Far different from the kisses and snuggles I’ve cherished from my current husband for the last almost 17 years.

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A rubber tree with luxurious trunk and bark!

Don’t allow your life or your existence to become meaningless. Either take a stand or leave. Healthy wonderful years may be ahead of you. Don’t allow others to wipe their feet on your soul. You deserve more than the crumbs that fall from other people’s plates.

When your value and significance is struggling for air, reach up and reach out for help. God did not want me to commit suicide so he lifted me up and out of an unhealthy relationship. Once I developed a closeness with Him, I found a reason to live and to thrive.

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I thought this was a (silk) Momosa tree, but the leaves are wrong.

God is not just a figment of someone’s imagination. He is real. The healing power of Jesus Christ can help you find your way to a better place.

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This lovely plant, keeps producing blooms!

The Real Spirit of Christmas Resides in the Heart

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As a parent, I was a reluctant Santa. Lying to my children didn’t set well with me; but like everyone else, I got caught up in the pressures of tradition and commercialism. The excitement in their eyes also prevented me from “leveling” with them about Santa.

But still I wanted them to know why we celebrated Christmas in the first place. When we put the tiny crèche beneath the tree, I wanted them to understand that Christmas was a celebration of the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ.

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The packages, the wish lists, the goodies and fun seemed to overshadow the sacredness and meaning of why we commemorate the birth of the Savior at Christmas time. On the cross, Jesus gave up His life to give us the gift of salvation. His sacrifice inspired our practice of the giving of gifts. But it didn’t take long for the secular world to introduce a giving Santa to blur the lines between Biblical truths and worldly pleasures, between wants and needs.

Our family did have our “reading of the Word” on Christmas Eve. After dinner, we’d don our bathrobes and towel turbans to re-create the birth of the Savior in a stable in Bethlehem. But still, it seemed like we were merely slowing down the momentum and anticipation of the morning ahead.

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I remember as a child when I first doubted the existence of Santa. I was about five or six years of age at the time. My gut instincts told me my parents were not being honest with me, and that they were trying to fool me into believing.

I was so determined to prove I was right that I went on a hunt to unearth the truth.  Lo and behold, I opened a bottom drawer in my parent’s bedroom chest and there it was — the proof. Fabric and lace that had been turned into a dress for my new baby doll seemed to taunt me. As did flannel scraps, neatly folded, that looked just like my new doll’s pajamas.

My guilty heart reminded me that my mother had lovingly made these clothes on her sewing machine, staying up late at night to keep me from finding out. It was all there; evidence that there was no Santa!

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Now the tables were turned. As a mother, I worried that my own children’s discoveries would turn me into a liar before their eyes. Even though I felt guilty, I still tried to turn our Christmas festivities into simple fun, all the while worrying that my children would forget the true meaning of what for us was a sacred observance.

In spite of me, each of them in their own way discovered the truth. I saw the disappointment in their eyes one by one over the years. I knew the excitement had worn off when they slept a little later on Christmas morning and slowly opened the gifts marked “from Santa.”

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The wonder no longer sparkled in their eyes. Their new-found maturity forced them to confront reality. They held their peace and played the game with their younger brothers and sisters. But we and they knew that something precious had been lost.

When breakfast was on the table, the joy returned as we munched our traditional home-made doughnuts and drank our fresh-made eggnog. It was then I knew that the traditions which bound us together would last forever, long after they had left home.

The magic of Christmas is held in our hearts. The gifts we give each other have deeper meaning as the years pass. Surprising others with something we purchase or make gives us a deeper understanding of what it means to “give of self.” Maturity brings selfish wants to a higher level of making others happy for the sheer joy of seeing their reaction.

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However you celebrate Christmas, lasting happiness comes from remembering the good times and sharing your love with others. Knowing that a Savior has come to the earth to save us from ourselves is the icing on the cake. Merry Christmas everyone!

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Celebrating Spiritual Holidays in Non-Traditional Ways

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The joy of Christmas is that it is meant to be shared. Through years of tradition, we celebrate the “gift of God’s Son to the earth” through gift giving. But there are many ways to share this happiness besides through the exchange of presents and gifts. In fact, most of today’s practices are self-centered starting with the making of lists for a generous benefactor known as Saint Nicholas.

Our secular culture has pivoted from a Holy holiday in celebration of the birth of Christ our Savior and Redeemer to a festive giving and receiving of gifts for ourselves and others. If we don’t like what we get, we exchange it for something we do like, blowing off the giver’s generosity and forethought.

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Through centuries of change and to the forgetting of God, people are slowly transforming our once Holy and spiritual rejoicing into one of indulgence, over spending and indebtedness. Instead of joy we are sated with exhaustion and bills; far cries from joy and praise for our newborn King.

Some have managed to save and revere His Holy presence in spite of the commercialization. Many are finding gladness and purpose by serving in local “soup kitchens” and pantries or through donations of gifts and toys to the needy.

But as one local family, on the receiving end, lamented “We are surrounded with gifts and food during the Christmas Season, but the rest of the year we really struggle!”

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Perhaps extending your well-placed joy into the New Year would make your efforts more lasting and meaningful. Everyone wants to give when the spirit touches them, but thoughtfulness and giving throughout the year could make a real difference in someone’s life.

Shut-ins receive visits and gifts during December; but the other 365 days, they may spend a lot of lonely hours when the phone doesn’t ring or visitors are few and far between. Commitment and remembrances could warm these empty days and months and remind those who weep that they are loved and needed. Even those we don’t know can benefit from a hug or an extended hand when it is least expected.

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“He Lives” 20 x 16 Oil on canvas

One year our family had a child from a local boy’s home share two weeks of the Christmas Season with us. The home was closing for the holidays and needed places for these boys to go. We enjoyed his time with us, but I felt guilty when he left, and wondered if there was something more we could do? I had four children younger than he, one of them a newborn, and the timing wasn’t right for us. There is more need in this world than any of us can stop alone or together.

Our oldest son painted someone’s house as an Eagle Scout project with his fellow scouts. The mother had recently been in an accident, and the family was greatly in need. Their project was a welcome treat for the family, even though it didn’t come at Christmas time. Imagine what this kind of giving could mean as a Christmas gift; better yet that it came as a surprise when it was most needed.

We often invited widows and widowers into our home, not only on special occasions, but during the holidays. Not able to cook for themselves, these invitations meant a great deal to alleviate their loneliness. A short ride to see Christmas lights and decorations on the way home was a special delight.

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We also used to take widows out to lunch or dinner with us. It was a special treat for them to get out and mingle. They especially loved holding on to my husband’s arm and the feeling of being escorted by a man. I used to place them in the front seat of our car, while I slipped into the back just so they could feel special for that one day. Sometimes we’d go on an excursion and take them to places they hadn’t been in a long, long while.

It is also important not only to be a gracious giver, but a gracious receiver. Some of these elderly sweethearts wanted to reciprocate because the attention meant so much to them. Declining on our part seemed that we looked on our gift as “charity.”  When we allowed them to give in return, you could see by the gleam in their eyes that this was as important to them as our gift had been.

Many days, we returned home with a fresh baked loaf of bread, some cookies, a special treasure from their home in remembrance of time spent in our company. Some of these widows are gone now, but the memories linger on. In hind sight, they still warm our hearts today.

Going beyond and engaging in the unusual or unexpected can create the kind of Christmas that goes on forever in the minds and souls of the people you surprise. Who knows, perhaps you’re entertaining angels unawares?

Join the Conversation – Free Speech for all, not just the Few

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When I was 12, my older sister and I were constantly quarreling. She was five-and-a-half years older than me and was already earning money working at a local newspaper. That year, she won the Dairy Princess contest so I was jealous of her popular status and her closet full of clothes.

Once designated as my sister’s “tag-along,” she had now surpassed me leaving me in the dust. Now she was never around when I needed her.

After she left in the mornings, I’d search through her closet and find something to wear to school. Since I returned in the afternoons before she did, I could put the clothes back. I got away with this for weeks. Bless my mum’s heart, she never squealed on me knowing I’d get caught sooner or later.

The discovery came a few weeks later after I’d soiled one of my sister’s sweaters. First I stood accused, and then admitted my guilt. After that, we barely spoke to each other. She refused to listen to my reasons and excuses. I remained accused and unforgiven.

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It wasn’t until after she married that we became close again. She had finally moved on and I had grown up. The teenage bickering and sibling rivalry was behind us. I discovered that conversation doesn’t work unless both parties contribute.

I told my husband about this on one of our daily walks. He likes to talk and threads his words together with ands and buts which makes it difficult to jump in. I reminded him that conversation is a two-way street. When he is the only talker my mind drifts because I feel I’m being lectured to. He’s a slow learner, but finally he’s getting the hang of it.

When the Broadway play “Hamilton” was attended by Vice Pres. Elect Pence and his daughter, they received a “piece of Aaron Burr’s mind.” He addressed Pence with the cast’s doubts that he or Pres. Elect Trump could serve all the people. The diatribe lasted several minutes followed by clapping and cheers from the New York Liberal audience. Burr said he simply wanted their feelings to be “part of the conversation,” yet Pence had no chance to respond.download-1

That, my friends, is the Progressive definition of free speech: a one-sided argument where only one party gets to have their voice heard.

A college student clarified this for me when she told a reporter, “I hate free speech. People shouldn’t be able to oppose or offend someone else.”

Of course she proceeded to tell the columnist that they were protesting a conservative that was coming on campus to speak to the students.” In other words, a conservative was not allowed free speech on their campus because they only wanted to hear one political point of view – theirs!

We usually choose friends that are similar to us and have many of the same opinions. If you were to shut your friend up when their ideas and preferences differed from yours, you would have no friends.

If Liberals truly wanted to be a part of the national conversation, they would be willing to listen to the other side; but they’re not. Instead, they are whining and throwing a tantrum because they’re side lost.

They are upset because their candidate won the popular vote, but you see that doesn’t matter. The Constitution created the Electoral College so that everyone, even the smallest communities could be heard and their votes counted. If the popular votes won, then the same state or states and party would win every year.

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Some also want to amend the Constitution and change some of its rights and privileges so that it favors only a few. They want to take away the 2nd amendment (right to bear arms) so the people would be defenseless if a tyrant or dictator took control and chose to take away the people’s rights and freedoms.

The Constitution is an inspired document that never gets old. Its wisdom preserves liberty and justice for all. Don’t think for a moment that the people of this great land want to change the very thing which has protected them for hundreds of years.

As you partake of your Thanksgiving meal, offer up a prayer of thanks that you are still able to call upon your God and feel safe in your community. If Liberals had their way, we’d be inundated by the people who are flooding our land with illegal aliens and radical minorities intent on taking away what we have and replacing it with their own idioms and values.

When Liberals stop killing cops, stop detesting the Military and label rioting and destruction as a protest perhaps I’ll believe that they really want a national conversation. But if they refuse to listen or to allow another point of view to be heard, I’ll still insist that Liberals are sore losers.

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Work for Free until you Gain Experience

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“Skudeneshavn Norway”  20 x 16 Oil on canvas; SOLD, Prints available!

The economy goes up and down, depending on the world’s financial health and our own. The stock market rises and falls with the state of business and who the decision makers are in Washington.

My first husband thought my writing was a waste of time until I started getting paid for it. When I could pay for my own dental bills, contact lenses and clothes the time I spent at the typewriter and computer was suddenly valued.

“Money is the root of all evil” until it digs us out of a hole or provides for our wants and needs. Money is power and a necessity in today’s society.

But I have to sound off about all those hours and days I volunteered my time and talents to organizations such as “Kansas Right to Life, Pro-Family, Neighborhood Watch, and the churches I’ve been a part of throughout the years.

Practicing my craft writing plays, skits, and stories for local groups helped me develop the skills I needed to write for profit. I also met many artistic types and those who only needed them. I learned how to solve problems, reduce costs and persevere to the end.

In the fall issue of Guideposts magazine, a young single mother was asked to paint something patriotic on the tailgate of a truck. She had never painted something like that before, but she took the challenge. Her beautiful work was noticed and other jobs appeared. She enjoyed it so much that she began painting these scenes for nothing for the many veterans who admired her work.

When I moved to Florida 13 years ago, I ended up painting on the outdoor Nativity scenes with another member of my church for our mini Christmas pageant. I had to improvise, create in my mind, and use up gallons of acrylic paints when up to that point, I had only used oils. After this there were so many outlets to express myself and participate.  I became involved in a totally new genre’ of art leagues, artists and shows.

Great things can come from the giving of your time and talents for a good cause. What can happen?

  • Recognition. People get a glimpse of your artwork or read an article they enjoy and they remember your work and your name. Soon you’re in one of their contact lists and the rest is history.
  • Opportunities. Your work may be admired by an Interior Decorator, a buyer or an agent. Your skills may be wanted by a business or a corporation. I was able to write for an airline, an insurance company, a rehabilitation center and many other health and education institutes.
  • Connections. Getting work is all about networking and getting to know people in many walks of life. By word of mouth, I was able to connect with the heads of many companies. Sometimes other people who were working on a project found out that I’d been on a similar project with a photographer at another company. I would get a call for a meeting, and then I’d be off and running at another place, using the skills I loved.

Don’t give up. Your generous heart may eventually be rewarded!

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“Arabesque” 18 x 14 Oil on canvas; Egrets taking off (framed)

This Generation is Floundering against all Odds

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When I was growing up we knew right from wrong, at least in our own household. Our “standards” were expected to be kept even when we were away from home. These values were black and white. You didn’t steal other people’s property. You worked hard to get what you wanted. You didn’t cheat on a test or in a game. You told the truth or you suffered the consequences. Your word was your bond. My sisters and I headed into the future grounded by a strong foundation and internal principles.

By the time my own children were in public school, these absolute truths were changed and disavowed. All of a sudden values were different for different folks. What one person valued may be another person’s nemesis. Truth became personal and more difficult to define. There were flexible rules and a stigma placed upon thousands of years of proven behavior. There was no foundation to rest upon except in the empty churches that were diminishing in number.

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Traditions were frowned upon, unless they were just for fun or to draw people together. History was mocked, defamed, and changed. The people of the past were no longer revered and remembered. Their principles were considered out of date and old fashioned. Documents and books that had served us well in the past were now ignored and efforts were made to alter them or abolish them altogether.

People who in former days would have turned to God for strength began to turn to substance abuse and addiction to get them through. The unprincipled and the unbelievers hearkened to the loudest and most popular voices for information and guidance. What happened was a total upheaval of the infrastructure that had kept society in check.

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The educational system celebrated their new-found freedom to bend and manipulate young minds. What they reaped we now experience as we watch America’s value system and Constitutional principles crumble around us. The future is unknown and terrifying. Those who believe in the Bible, the Word of God, see it as fulfillment of Prophecy. Every chapter, every verse leads up to these perilous and predicted times.

The hand writing is on the wall. When you ignore your past moorings, you are doomed to failure. God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. His unchanging Word speaks to our hearts in this present day. Without faith we can do nothing.

We are living in a time of confusion and apostasy. By trusting in our own made up priorities and values, we cut off the source of all truth. In our arrogance, we figuratively trust in the arm of weak flesh. We put our faith in dead idols that can neither hear us nor see us. We light candles to unknown Gods and are consumed with our own lusts. We have become a degenerate nation filled with our own self-importance and intellectual prowess.

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I for one like the winds of change I see ahead of us. There is still hope in America if we turn our hearts away from vain pride and evil corruption. Let us open our hearts and minds to things eternal. Our choices define us. Our choices will also condemn us if we fall from the Grace that is offered to us freely and lovingly. It is never too late to come home to the Father and God who made us all.

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