Turning Corners

Many jokes and yes, even sermons, have been told since we entered the year 2020. Seeing clearly, having greater focus, and the most common, 20/20 vision, permeates conversations everywhere in regard to goals for the coming months. My journal is no different because I have discussions with God written down where I’ve asked for those very things. We all want to move ahead being able to get a glimpse around the corner of our future days, months and years. We’d like to put things in order, dispose of some, and enjoy our journey.

I couldn’t sleep tonight because my mind reflected on how January has started my year and the shift my life is taking. It seems my corners keep moving. I’m no different from you in watching the kids become adults and their kids growing, then another generation begins. All mine are grown and have adult children of their own, and some have babies as well. As I tried to fall asleep I kept seeing each of their households as a corner of my life. Part of me lives in each corner and will carry on when I’m gone. I suddenly realized while tossing and turning, that they are busy taking care of their todays, trying to focus on their futures just as I did when they were young.

They each are turning their own corners; putting kids through college, building a life, seeing babies being born, and excitedly praying for a glimpse of what’s ahead. I can watch and offer guidance if/when needed, but I must leave them to making their own decisions, setting their lives on a journey they must live. They will be fine because they have the Lord leading them. I believe they are ready.

I look at my corner; my marriage, writing, ministry and where I’m headed. I think about my husband’s and my health, my next book (plus future ones), and how God wants to use me in my church. I’m ready as well. Time doesn’t stand still and we shouldn’t allow ourselves to either. Whatever is around my corner of life will come with God’s approval. Whatever it might look like, God will be there with me. When I’m no longer here I will have left part of me behind.

Are you approaching a corner of life ready for what’s around it? Trust God to guide and help you move ahead.

My Busy Brain

I’ve never understood why great ideas and word treasures come to me when my brain is dealing with business, crisis, and a myriad of things which have to be handled, NOW! It happens when I have no place to jot down notes or I’m exhausted and too worn out to deal with even one more thing.

My brain stays in overdrive far too long during holiday bustle. Parties, planning, and people I want to spend time with fill my calendar. Business, bills and boring paperwork make me weary. My brain gets to a point where it hoards things, filling every nook and cranny of my little gray cells. Those ideas for a great scene in my next book get stuffed behind the reminder to send thank-you cards. A new character gets trapped among the service repair appointments I scheduled. People ask about book three and I respond by pointing to my head and utter, “Next month I’ll get it out of here and onto the page.” I mean it. That’s my plan.

My busy brain really has been working on character development, plot, and scenes. I know how the story begins. Before the holidays hit I listened to the messages I felt were coming from God concerning the next book. I know what He wants me to share with readers concerning legacy, love, and letting Him guide us. I just need to quiet my brain and allow the Holy Spirit to lead me as I create and bring characters to life, and continue down the path He has them on.

Busy brains aren’t always the most productive ones. Occasionally we need to slow things down in order to hear from God. If we don’t do it voluntarily, God may step in and place us in a position where we are forced to look upward. The other day I began feeling like either a cold or allergy attack (drat that cedar), was coming on. Immediately my thought was, I don’t have time to be sick. I took an allergy pill and cut out a few things I had planned. As I write this I’m feeling better. I do believe the Holy Spirit is sorting through my brain and bringing forward, the ideas and character scenes I need to be working on. My cup of tea is at hand and my brain has quieted.

Is your brain racing, trying to juggle everything you throw at it? Maybe you need to slow it down and allow the Holy Spirit to organize things.

Circle of Friends

In past years I have sent Christmas cards by the armful, painstakingly writing a short, personal note in each one. Our family also received lovely, meaningful cards from many friends, family, and business associates. Through the years, mostly due to the rise in postage, email and other speedy ways of communicating, the number of Christmas cards has dwindled considerably. It’s not that friends have disappeared, but simply because they found better ways to say Merry Christmas.

One group of people still sends me cards with personal messages, and I call them my “circle of friends.” They surround me with love and encouragement throughout the year and take time during the holidays to write heartfelt thoughts in a card, affix a stamp and mail it. You see, they know how much I enjoy receiving cards. They know me! They encircle me with support, lift me up when I’m down, and become my cheerleaders as I plunge into writing another book. This intimate circle of caring hearts commits to pray for me. My first book would not have been finished without their support, and the second one would not have gotten started.

Having a circle of friends means I am part of their lives too. I commit to being there for them as they are for me! How about you? Do you have a circle of special friends in your life? It doesn’t just happen, you must cultivate those friendships. Be the friend to them you want them to be to you.

A circle doesn’t have a stopping point or corner. It keeps going around and around, touching each person. I once used a hoola hoop to demonstrate how a circle of connected people can help and support one another. We joined hands after I placed the hoop over one arm. I told the circle to pass the hoop around without letting go of their hands. The hoop then made its way around the circle as each person maneuvered it over their body, aided by the person next to them. Joined hands manipulated the hoop and one by one, we moved it full circle. We stayed connected even when some had difficulty and thought they couldn’t do it. We finished and held our joined hands high with the hoop dangling on my other arm, having made it successfully around the circle.

We can do the same in our journey through life as we walk the path God has for each of us. Legacy’s Path!

MERRY CHRISTMAS

Gold Nuggets

A delightful lady approached me at a book signing and asked where I found the idea for writing “The Estate Sale.” I shared my short version of how I’d always enjoyed attending such sales, and being a writer, my creative juices took it from there. We laughed and then I realized she wanted the real story.

Everyday experiences provide a stream where I pan for nuggets to build a story. When I journal I take note of certain experiences of each day or week and mark them as possible story nuggets. I also jotted down words I felt were attached to the sale. When I journaled about a particular estate sale I enjoyed visiting, I added inheritance, legacy, tragedy, and love, to the entry. These became nuggets I needed to form my story many years later.

People I’ve met through the years become character nuggets. One person’s appearance or mannerisms, another’s quirks or temperament, may show up in a future story. I pay attention to how people react (myself included), in circumstances of life. I tend to jot down these things lest I lose them in the current of life.

The “Estate Sale” formed gradually, beginning as a short story and then sat in my file drawer several years. When I joined my small critique group, I needed something to read and have critiqued, so I pulled it out. I knew then this was going to become a story with purpose. One year later it was published.

Book 2, Legacy’s Path, continues exploring paths of the original characters, while bringing them in contact with new personalities who will be transformed by the legacy of Mary Ludwig. I pull more nuggets from my journal and God gives me the purpose and message He wants people to have. The real nugget I hope to share through my writing is that of God’s Truth. It shines brightly in “The Estate Sale,” as it does in “Legacy’s Path.” You see, it’s not simply my idea. It’s God’s.

A Blend of Emotions

Book Two of my Legacy Series is finished! YAY! It was a joy to write, although I must admit to bouts of obstacles and setbacks during the process. My muse became frustrated with me I’m sure, when I became distracted and avoided putting myself in front of the computer. Isn’t life like that? We often know what to do but we avoid placing ourselves in the place we need to in order to do it.

I’m such a blend of emotions when I write. I begin with high enthusiasm, pouring myself into story, ignoring housework and unpleasant tasks. My muse prods easily, filling my creative spirit with scenes and solutions. Then life happens!

A friend has life-threatening strokes and story stops. All attention is turned toward standing in the gap for someone you care deeply about. Hours pass in the hospital waiting room, bedside, and prayer. Story doesn’t matter.

My husband develops a heart condition which may be corrected through shocking his heart, and then is hit with a serious skin infection turned septic. Either situation could have taken him. Days pass commuting to and from the hospital three times a day for eight days. Story stops. He is all that matters.

My friend is making progress as she receives several different therapies several times a week. Story resumed with renewed passion only to have those emotions poured into lives of the characters. My muse collects bits and pieces of what I experienced and saved them for when I returned to story.

My husband’s heart shock was successful, returning his rhythm to normal. The antibiotics did their job as prayers were answered and healed his body. The blend of emotions I experienced flowed from my heart onto paper into story.

This book is finished and hopefully will be in readers hands soon. It’s in the editing phase for now, I wish sometimes I could put my life in an editing phase, preventing errors, reworking scenes, and taking out unnecessary words.

The truth is; life happens in real time and the errors, clumsy scenes and unnecessary words are how we mature, and become better equipped for future trials. I pray the ending of Legacy’s Path illustrates this truth.

Laughter Truly is Good Medicine

Months have passed since serious situations have entered my life and I’m still keeping vigilance over a couple. My dear friend, Patsy, whose I recently wrote about, was released from the hospital only to be re-admitted soon after. Progress yes, but then more complications. At this writing she is home once again beginning several therapies to help her function better. I realize the life she enjoyed has changed and I’m trying to help her adapt. It weighs on me.

My husband was released after eight agonizing days in the hospital. The cardioversion performed on him successfully put his heart back in rhythm, and the cellulitis which turned septic in his leg, has finally cleared. His follow-up with the cardiologist yielded a good report, but came with a caution concerning his blood pressure. If it rises over 140 he is to go back on one of his meds. Two days ago the reading crept up to over 160 so yesterday he restarted the pill which has since brought it back down. We are more vigilant in monitoring his vitals.

In all of this I began feeling the stress in my back and neck. Then one morning it happened. My precious puppy wanted to play, although I wasn’t in the mood. He curled up on a furry coverlet I found for him. I threw it over him and he was still. I called his name. He didn’t move. Finally I pulled one edge back and said, “peek-a-boo.” That started the game. He’d grab the edge and pull it over him with me calling him. As we played, laughter welled up inside me until it spilled from my eyes. He was able to wiggle his way into my anxiousness and find the button to push and lighten my load.

I realized that morning, laughter really is the best medicine for relieving stress. Chai makes sure there’s unlimited amounts of it for me to tap into. I’m fully aware that God has everything under control. He knows the outcome of the circumstances going on in my life. While I am still concerned, I’m not obsessed. I know my prayers are heard, so I continue to pray. I tend to the everyday details of living, but laughter has brought a delight to my days.

I hope if you are facing serious situations or undergoing difficult days you will find moments to laugh and let the weight fall away for a time. I pray this for you.

Back Burners

Last month I wrote about the time I spent learning under my daughter’s tutorship, the art of paper-piecing a quilt block. I was excited to begin the next block after she left on August 29th. Little did I know the drama waiting to unfold in my family would descend the very next day.

Scary symptoms were present when my husband awoke from a nap. I thought he had a stroke. I rushed him to the hospital ten minutes away and once in the ER he was triaged immediately. Thankfully it was not a stroke, but scary and life threatening nonetheless. With a heart rate of 160 (an irregular one as well), and a WBC in excess of 33,000, (indicating infection somewhere in his body), he was immediately put on antibiotics and heart medication, as well as oxygen. He remained in the ER four hours and was then transferred to ICU where he stayed for six days.

During that time, two procedures were performed. The first was a TEE, where a camera was inserted down his esophagus to see if any blood clots were present. None were seen so they went ahead with the second procedure called a cardioversion (they shock the heart), to reset his heart rhythm. It was successful.

He could have gone home the next day except he developed cellulitis in his right leg from the ankle to the knee. Each day it was progressively worse. They did more bloodwork and a CT scan, finally deciding on a single antibiotic which targeted skin infections. It worked. The following day we saw improvement but they wanted to keep him one more night to be sure it was working. On the eighth day of his hospitalization, he was released with prescriptions prepared to continue keeping his heart working properly and his leg healing.

During this season of our life, I was forced to put many things on the back burner as I made Nick the central focus of my attention. His health was more important than anything I was involved in. The paper-piecing I had excitedly looked forward to was set aside. The final chapters of Legacy’s Path, Book Two in my Legacy Series, went unwritten. My newly acquired puppy was forced to spend many hours alone in between my back and forth daily hospital visits. I prayed, cried, hoped, and longed for Nick to be back home. One night I had a nightmare and he wasn’t here to wake me before it became terrifying.

I realize now it’s okay to put important projects on the back burner. It’s a way to triage the situation and focus on the urgent. Then slowly, as things improve, those back burner items which beckon me can be brought forward once again. Since my hubby came home I’ve written four pages of chapter 19 (with more to come), and spent many hours being entertained by my adorable Shih Tzu, Chai. Nick is still not fully strengthened, so other things will resume at a later time.

Life is seasonal and back burners can provide the safety net we need as God walks us through troubled times. I was fully aware of all the prayers offered for Nick and I by our family, friends, and even people we don’t know personally. God was with us the entire time and continues to uplift and strengthen me and heal my husband.