Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Part Two

And the continuation of “Christmas at Martha's House”

Three Sundays before Christmas: Practice was canceled due to the stomach bug.

My sister Jennifer calls and guess what she has to say! “I just can’t have Grandma this year. My kids all work and I have to plan around them. Not to mention the rest of the family. But I do hope to see all of you sometime during the holidays.” I hope Grandma spares us her nostalgia about how they had to improvise during the Depression. There may not be a Depression going on in my house, but improvisation is still very much in style. I must remember to warn Tom not to call Grandma the Ghost of Christmas Past. At least not in front of Cindy. She repeats too much! I can hear it now, “Grandma, do you know what Tom calls you?”

Monday: I find the roll of tape under Karen’s bed and wrap my gold boxes. What IS all that junk she has stashed under there? I hope none of it is food.

Cindy’s teacher calls. “Candy canes for Kindergarten? Sure. I still have some other shopping to do. I’ll pick them up and send them in as soon as she’s back to school. And yes, her stomach seems a little better today.” While she’s home sick, Cindy helps me by putting stamps on envelopes for Christmas cards. So what if they’re upside down? It’s a good thing I only have three kids. There shouldn’t be any other teachers that call me with something they need.

Tuesday: Lord, I really feel pressure now. I want all this to be done well. I want it to honor You. But my house is a mess and the kids keep whining, “Why don’t you have the decorations up yet.” I can’t have hamburgers or instant chicken again tonight. They deserve a decent meal for a change.

My husband asks if he can help by addressing cards. “I wish you had asked two days ago.” I tell him. “They went out in the mail yesterday.” On his way out of the room he adds, “I sure hope you included letters to the out-of-town relatives.” It’s a good thing he left the room and didn’t hear my response, which was a resounding, “NO!”

The phone rings again. We are becoming enemies. And I was wrong about no more teachers calling with requests. “Pizza for the Youth Group tree trimming party? I guess so. How many are coming?” The answer surprises me. “You’re kidding!” Where did they find all those kids?

Two Sundays before Christmas: Dress rehearsal for the play. All costumes are supposedly in readiness. As I’m wondering if anyone has told the “angel” that she isn’t the star of this production, the Shepherds inform me, “We are not going out in front of everybody barefooted.” I sarcastically tell them, “I apologize for not finding appropriate sandals in December, but you are not wearing sneakers.” I am insistent. They pout.

Mary and Joseph look fine. They seem to enjoy helping each other adjust and smooth out their outfits. I hope someone keeps an eye on those two. Cindy brings Baby Wanna and gives instruction for her care.

Eric, the Wise Guy with the kimono, refuses to take off his jeans and hunting boots. We finally threaten him, we think sufficiently, but he retaliates by finding an abandoned umbrella in the coatroom and dancing down the aisle with it over his shoulder. Since everyone else seems to be ignoring his antics, I holler, “You are not a bit funny! Put that thing away!” But he remains convinced that he does have an audience, possibly because the rest of the Magi are laughing out loud.

A Shepherd approaches me and asks, “Where is my sling?” “You’re cute, but there is no way is you are getting a weapon that would pop ornaments off that tree! If you really want something to carry, I have this very nice stuffed lamb.” The lamb baa's loudly as I hand it to him. “I am not carrying a baby toy!” He informs me and stalks off, making as much noise as he can in sneakers.

The Three Wise Guys run through their part again. They don’t seem to understand that this is a stately procession. They look like they’re going to the Gunfight at OK Corral. “Do we have anymore bubble bath?” Tom turns around and hollers to me. The bubble bath that is supposed to look like frankincense “accidentally” spills into the manger, and the boys are dismissed to the room behind the stage. “Lord, how long till this is over?” I think I prayed out loud.

We try going over some of the music. Claire interrupts the piano to tell the boys, “If you guys must discuss football, at least do it in a whisper.” The Director or Religious Education, who hasn’t been to a rehearsal before today, wants the order changed if the program isn’t already typed. “It is.” I tell him in a tone of voice that is not so nice. He pats me on the shoulder and says, “I’m sure you can make the time to retype it. I have faith in you.”

We hear a swish and look up to see Baby Wanna flying across the stage. Cindy lets out a screech that could melt the candles on the windowsills. Tom is very proud of himself, and so is Eric, who returns the throw. Tom, the would-be wide receiver, trips over his own sash, and starts to stumble. He gabs for something to hold onto, but lands in the baptistry. After groaning he achingly stands up, soaking wet, and asks rather sheepishly, “Is there any bubble bath left?”

We go home.

Monday: I wash up Tom’s costume and fix the hay in the manger. It doesn’t look too bad. I refill the bubble bath bottle with colored water.

Tuesday: I call Claire and apologize for the way the boys acted. She understands, and to make me feel better, shares several stories about when her son was in his teens. I could have made better use of the time we spent of the phone.

One Sunday before Christmas: It’s not a bad play, all things considered. I wish I could have sat and watched it, but someone had to stay backstage to keep the children quiet. The music sounded fine, and everyone remembered their lines, or so they told me later. I wonder if anyone took pictures. I forgot my camera in all the commotion. I suppose I pay too much attention to details. I wish my mother had come, but the driving really was slippery. Still, there were some unfamiliar faces in the audience, and a few we haven’t seen in a long time.

My name wasn’t in the program. I sincerely don’t care. I’m too tired to care. I know I should wash up Karen’s and Cindy’s red velvet dresses, but laundry will wait until morning. As the kids try to sneak upstairs I announce, “Nobody is going to bed until the stuffing bread is broken up.”

As I do the supper dishes, Cindy asks me, “Can you pick the weeds off my orange.” I explain as patiently as I can, “Honey, those white things are not weeds and it won’t hurt to eat them.” She leaves the orange and stalks off to bed.

It’s after eleven o’clock and I’m still wrapping gifts. The house is quiet for the first time in weeks. I think of my sister in her well ordered home, everything in readiness for a relaxing holiday with her two quiet children and no Grandma. I catch myself becoming a little envious. It’s common knowledge that she is more spiritual than I and that she can find her way through the minor prophets, and I can’t even find my way through my laundry room.

I take off my shoes and decide to spend some time in prayer. I feel like Martha, cumbered about much serving. I think the world is full of Marthas aching to be Marys. “Lord, what a luxury that would be to sit at Your feet and listen to Your words and not have all these Martha jobs to do. Won’t I ever have that kind of peace and tranquility?”
Maybe, someday. When the kids are grown and can’t make it home for Christmas. Someday the youth leaders and room mothers will stop calling. Someday someone else will bake the cookies and dress the shepherds and wash the red velvet laundry.

But this year someone heard the Christmas story for the first time, or maybe in a fresh new way. That makes it worth the effort. Someone really did care about all the little things that were done to the best of my ability. “Even if no one else notices, Lord, You knew. It’s all I have to give You for Christmas, Lord. It’s what I do.”

Call me Martha. Call me anytime.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

"Christmas At Martha's House"

In honor of Christmas I wanted to post a story that my mom wrote. She labeled it as fiction, but there are A LOT of events in this story that really happened. It is rather long so I will post half of the story this week and the other half next week. Enjoy!

Christmas at Martha’s House

by Jeri Doner

Call me Martha. Better yet, don’t call me at all until at least the middle of January. I thought I had all the preparations for Christmas under control, until the meeting that Sunday after church.

Five Sundays before Christmas: Claire, the Sunday school secretary, says, “We’re doing a play this year and I apologize for not getting together before now.” It seems the Sunday School Superintendent put her in charge and gave her a copy of the play he had chosen. It took her three weeks to convince him that it just wasn’t right for us, and to come up with another script. I’m surprised she convinced him at all. But now we’ll have to work extra hard to get it ready, if we think we can, if we aren’t too wrapped up in our own little interests, if we really have enough faith that the Lord will enable us. And my kids think their generation invented peer pressure!

Our friend Ron says he’ll build the scenery. I never even knew he could do that. Bonnie will play the piano, as usual. The boys would rather stay home and watch football. I inform my fourteen-year-old son, “If the rest of the family can get involved, Tom, you’re going to do the same. It’s not going to hurt you one bit.”

My husband and two girls are asked to sing. How nice! Oh, great! They’ll all need decent clothes. Maybe Karen can wear her outfit from school chorus, and Karen’s red velvet from last year should fit Cindy if I can hem it up and locate the belt.

At the first rehearsal I offer to be in charge of costumes, partly because I love to sew and partly so everyone will understand that I am NOT singing. Suddenly everyone in the cast seems more interested in the whole project. The Superintendent told me I have to dress, “Mary, Joseph, three Wise Men, three shepherds, and an angel.”

“Who’s the angel?” I ask. Then he tells me. “She’s some angel!” I accidentally let slip out of my mouth. Maybe she can get by with a choir robe and some tinsel in her hair. One down, eight to go.

Mary, played by Claire’s favorite niece, comes to me and says how she would like her outfit to look. I really appreciate her enthusiasm and willingness to help. “I want a simple blue gown and white veil,” she says. Mary always wears something like that. I wonder what would happen if some year she showed up in brown and orange?

Monday: “If I’m going to do this, Lord, I’m going to give it my best effort. You deserve nothing less. Maybe it’s not important to anyone else, but it’s for You.” I glance through a book on historical costumes, and begin envisioning the three Wise Men. We don’t know how many there really were, of course, but I’m glad we decided to stick with tradition on this point. I couldn’t handle any more unruly teenage boys. They have become the Three Wise Guys.

I refuse to throw bathrobes on those boys and call them costumes. One will be a Mede. He can wear the long white gown I made out of old drapes for Trick or Treat. With the addition of a colorful yoke, a sword sash borrowed from a Civil War uniform, and a cardboard crown, he’ll be fine.

The next will be an Indian or African looking person. He’ll have a red and green floral tunic and matching turban. I’ll ignore the cracks about Aunt Jemima. Maybe we can borrow Mr. Halsey’s oriental kimono for the third. It is a bathrobe, but at least it’s not chenille.
Tuesday: The mother of one of the shepherds telephones to say, “I have a costume for him that my older son once used in a school play.” I thank her, thinking it probably looks like a bathrobe, but how do I say no without being rude? I quickly make some rather respectable looking costumes for the other two out of old sheets. No one uses white sheets on their beds anymore. I wonder what the next generation of shepherds will wear. Details like a rawhide shoelace for the front of the tunic and a rope from a plant hanger to secure head covering add a lot. The plant died anyway.

Joseph’s outfit is similar, though larger. He has a brown thing over top that a Mexican would call a serape. I’m not sure what a Hebrew would call it, and I don’t have time to look it up. When people know you sew they give you all sorts of fabric you can’t use. This is one chance to get rid of some of it. I wonder how we can hide Joseph’s blond curls.

Mary’s gown goes together easily. She can hem it herself. Her veil looks pretty good. It’s a strip of linen from an old tablecloth that had been chewed by mice. I might as well use it for something.

Halfway through my sewing, Tom’s teacher calls with a request and I agree, “Yes, I’d be happy to make popcorn balls for the high school class party.”

Four Sundays before Christmas: Today I learn I am responsible for props as well as costumes. No problem! Some boxes wrapped in gold foil will look a little like gold bars if I can find the tape to wrap them. I’ll see if I have a fancy bottle of bubble bath. It can pass for frankincense. Maybe we can get an alabaster jewelry box and pretend it’s full of myrrh. I hope those smart alec boys are careful with other people's breakables.

Monday: Now for the hard part. I have to convince my five-year-old daughter Cindy, that her favorite doll, Baby Wanna, is needed to play Baby Jesus. She isn’t enthusiastic.

Tuesday: Karen’s room mother calls and of course I can’t say no. “Yes, I can provide cutout cookies for the fifth grade class party.” I must be out of my mind. “Please, Lord, don’t let anything else come up.”

...Continued next week.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

The Haunted House

Yes, I know, it's been a while since my last entry. My life has been interrupted by...well, life.

Not that I am necessarily a big promoter of Halloween, but I thought this next entry would be appropriate for this time of year.

It is said that the experiences we have in our lives shape the people we become. I do not like scary things, especially movies! I bought a Christian scary movie once to watch with my husband one night. Afterward, I wouldn't even go to the bathroom by myself. Pathetic, I know. However, I do think I know the cause of my issues with all things scary: my brother.

There was always a Haunted House at the New York State Fair. My brother went through that haunted house so many times he knew the path like the back of his hand. Well, one year I thought I was old enough to follow my big brother through. Mom and Dad waited outside for us.

I was so excited at first and felt that I was now all grown up and ready to handle scary things. Then I looked up and noticed my brother was gone.

“That's okay.” I thought to myself. “I can do this.”

Well, I couldn't do it. I got stuck in one dark room and didn't know where to go next. I couldn't find the exit. Then, as if matters weren't bad enough, Dracula opened the lid of his coffin where an eerie light glowed. Add to the ambiance his loud “Wahahahaha!” and I was about to pee my pants.

Dracula lifted the lid of his coffin two more times, although no one new had entered the room. On the third time Dracula sat up, stopped before the “Wahaha,” and looked right at me. He was probably thinking, (keep in mind, I'm using a little poetic license here) “This is still the same kid and she looks petrified.”

Dracula then got out of his coffin, walked over to me, and smiled. I don't know if that smile made matters better or worse. Then Dracula took my hand and led me the rest of the way through the haunted house, out into the bright sunshine where my parents were waiting and my brother was smirking.

That, People, is why I do not enjoy scary movies or haunted houses. I do, however, have a warm place in my heart for Dracula.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Summer is definitely upon us! While I thought things would slow down a little bit since we don’t have school over the summer, I was sadly mistaken. I keep telling myself, “It will slow down after next week’s events.” However, the following week has events of its own.

It makes me long for the relaxed days of my childhood summers. Us kids would spend all of our hours riding bikes, swimming at the pool, and playing badminton. These are all things I still very much enjoy doing – although I get a little more winded, a little more quickly now!

Last weekend I was able to spend some time with my sisters, nieces, and nephews. My one nephew, Nikolas, had looked forward to my arrival because he wanted to play badminton with me. In fact, that was the first thing out of his mouth when I saw him.

After dinner I finally gave in to his requests.

“We’ll just practice a little bit first.” Nikolas said.

After a few minutes of trying to get a volley going, Nikolas commented, “You’re challenging.”

Keep in mind, he did not mean this in a good way. Believe me when I say it wasn’t that my badminton skills were so great that I actually challenged him to be better. After a few more minutes, he sarcastically said, “I had heard you were really good.”

“Am I not living up to my reputation?”

“Not really.”

I couldn’t help but smile. We will never be able to re-live our childhood, but we can smile when we think of those precious memories and we can certainly laugh at our attempts to be a kid again.

Be young at heart. Smile. Laugh. Enjoy the lazy (or the not so lazy) days of summer.

Friday, May 28, 2010

The Fridge Fiasco

Have you ever heard the phrase “opposites attract?” Sure, we all have. Have you ever given it much thought or compared it to your own relationship? Sometimes my husband and I both wonder how we ever got ourselves together in the first place. We may be opposites, but that only helps us react differently to different situations.


We had an episode that I like to call our “fridge fiasco.” We had bought a brand new refrigerator along with an extended warranty because it was the first brand new appliance we had ever bought and we figured that with three kids getting in and out of it regularly, it was a good investment. It turns out it was only a good investment in gray hair! After only about six months, our refrigerator began to fall apart. The drawers broke and the supports that held the drawers broke. The fridge had not been misused at all.

I called the store where we had bought the fridge to see if they carried the parts we needed.

“No, ma’am, you need to call the factory.”

So I did. The costs were astronomical.

Next, I called the people with whom we had bought the extended warranty. They told me it wasn’t their responsibility; it was the store’s. So, I called the store back. They gave the number for the manufacturer. The manufacturer sent me back to the people with the extended warranty and they told me I had to call...

I’m sure you get the picture. This went on for three days. No one wanted to take responsibility for our stupid refrigerator! I was so angry for constantly getting the run around.

When my husband came home from work the third day, I filled him in on all that I had been through. My heart was pounding and my pulse was racing I was so furious. I even had to say a quick prayer for forgiveness one time after hanging up the phone. I was not at all nice. In fact, I had become the person that customer service representative’s hate! They knew me by the sound of my voice. They would not ask for all my information, they just answered the phone with, “Is this Mrs. O’Neil?”

Anyway, do you ever feel like your spouse is not listening to you and that they really couldn’t care less what you’re talking about. I told my husband some of the things these people had said to me. I hoped he would get angry that someone had dared disrespect his wife. His exact response was, “Did you do your hair today? It looks kind of funny.” I wanted him to be mad about the situation, but he wasn’t. He was calm. He was cool. He was collected. That evening he called all the same people I had been calling for the last three days, only he was nice. He got results.

So, next time your spouse makes you angry because they don’t think like you do, look at it as a blessing. Living happily ever after only happens in fairy tales. Be thankful for the things you don’t have in common. And if you want your marriage to last forever, don’t buy the extended warranty on any appliance!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

It’s been several weeks since my last entry. It’s been crazy around here! There are some days when life is threatening to run me over. There are some days I think it has. It makes me long for the days of childhood when there wasn’t a care in the world more than what mom was fixing for dinner that night.

My family lived way out in the country. There were not a lot of people around and us kids were forced to entertain ourselves. I would often spend my days playing in the woods with my imaginary friends and those heroes I wished were my friends.

As far as super heroes go, us girls did not have as many options as the boys. We pretty much had Wonder Woman, but she was all I needed in a hero. I would watch the television show each week and then go out into the woods to re-enact the episode along with Wonder Woman’s glorious feats. I pretended to hear of danger and then I would spin around and around until, at least in my mind, I turned into Wonder Woman.

Then there was the time when the spinning didn’t go so well. I spun myself dizzy and ran head on into a tree. Thank goodness my faced was there to stop me or I could really have gotten hurt! The black eye I received lasted about two months. Words cannot express how embarrassed I was to tell my parents what had happened! After all these years, I have often wondered if Wonder Woman ever spun herself dizzy.

The next entry is all about communication in a marriage. If you are married or are contemplating marriage, this is one you won’t want to miss!



Just a little announcement: I will be hosting a Writer’s Forum on May 1, 2010. This is mainly for beginning writers who want to get published, but don’t have a clue how to start. If you are interested, please send me an email (oneilruth@gmail.com) and I will send you all the information you need.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

9-1-1

Do you ever wonder if the police are on top of things? Have you ever been tempted to call 9-1-1 just to see what would happen?

Well, I actually did it one time, although it was an accident.

My sisters are my best friends and I like to talk to them as much as I can, especially since we live in different states. One day I tried to give one of them a call. I pressed in her area code, which should have been 9-1-9.

Unfortunately, our phone was on its way out and the 1 button would almost always stick, as it did this day. I growled at the phone and hung up to start all over again, not giving the numbers I had dialed any more thought.

My sister didn’t answer, so I just left a message and hung up the phone to get on with my day. I checked on my son, who was playing video games. Then the phone rang. I answered, thinking that maybe it was my sister and she just had not been able to reach the phone in time.

“This is the 9-1-1 operator and we just received a hang up call from this number. Is everything okay?”

It was then that it dawned on me that I had inadvertently dialed 9-1-1. I explained as much to the nice young man.
“Are you sure?” He didn’t sound convinced of my story.

“Yes.” I answered as cheerfully as I could.

My son chose that moment to let out a blood-curdling scream, which he often did while he played video games.
“Ma’am, what was that?”

I could feel my face turning red.

Again, I explained the situation to him.

“Do you need me to send a car over?” He still didn’t believe me.

“You can if you want, but there really is no problem.” I responded. Then we hung up.

Although I fully expected to see a police car driving by my house within the next few minutes, one never came.

If my son’s hollering wasn’t at the perfectly, absolutely, wrong time… However, it is good to know that if I ever need the police, the 9-1-1 operators are right on top of things!

Next time, it’s all about my favorite Super Hero – Wonder Woman!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Conversations With Kids - Part 1

You can have the most amazing conversations with your kids. Sometimes those conversations make you proud because of their attitude or show you that they are thinking about something very deeply. They can make you laugh hysterically till you are about to pee your pants. They can laugh at you until you hope they pee their own pants. That is the way most of the conversations in the sit-com I call life, happen around our house.

In the middle of a spelling test one day, my son randomly asked if I could do a full split.

“No.” I answered and gave the next spelling word.

“Did you used to be able to?”

“Yes. Back in the day.”

“What? When you were two?”

“No. When I was a cheerleader.”

This brought about a fit of laughter so bad that we could not continue with the spelling test. I just sat there and smiled, waiting for the moment to pass.

“I’m sorry. I just can’t imagine you being a cheerleader!” Again, followed by hysterical fits of laughter, only this time with tears.

Finally, he was able to get out, “Am I hurting your feelings?” Still laughing, but maybe trying to conceal it a little bit, at least until he snorted and started all over again.

Okay, I know it’s hard for your kids to imagine parents being younger and doing some things, but is me being a cheerleader that funny? Yes, I have gained some weight since then, but I did trade the ½-inch thick glasses for contacts. That at least has to help a little bit with the nerd effect…right?

I guess I’m just being paid back for all the times I made fun of and teased my own parents.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Big Mouths

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you mumbled to yourself, “Me and my big mouth!” I know I have more often than I really care to admit. One time was when a couple of friends and I were printing our first book. It was a devotional and as it was coming together, we couldn’t help but hold it and flip the pages. It had been a lot of work and it was so cool to see it come to fruition.

The other two ladies I worked with had done some speaking before and up until this point I had not. We had high hopes that we would be invited to speak at retreats and conferences and sell hundreds, if not thousands of books – at least that was what was going on in my mind.

I told them, “When you guys are scheduled for your events, I’ll just sit at the book table and collect money. That way you can be free to talk to your fans.”

This is the part where I later said, “Me and my big mouth!”

I believe God heard me when I said that, and I’ve been told He has a sense of humor. One week after printing our devotional, I get a phone call, “Have you ever done any speaking?”

I was thinking two things at exactly the same time: “How exciting! My first speaking engagement!” and, “Oh, foo! What did I get myself into?” I’m not quite sure what I was thinking when I agreed, but agree I did. I figured I stood in front of people enough at my day job and had embarrassed myself enough times in public throughout my life time – how bad could it be?

Coming up with the topic was easy. Preparing my speech was easy. Even showing up was easy. The problem: my voice. I had lost my voice. I was not sick, but I was doing a lot of coughing. I chalked it up to Satan trying to make me back out, but I was stubborn. I was not backing out. I did very little talking at home the week prior to the event, which I’m sure everyone appreciated.

On my way to the event, I stopped to get some cough medicine to help get me through the speech. Yeah, I wish I could say it worked and in a way it did, I didn’t cough. However, I did not count on the medicine throwing me for a loop.

I took a dose right before we ate lunch so it wouldn’t be on an empty stomach, like any obedient patient would do. By the time lunch was over, the room was spinning. My knees were shaking even though I was sitting down. You see, normally I only take half a dose of medicine. This time, when I took it I was busy talking and not paying attention to what I was doing. Big mistake!

I leaned over to my friend who had come to lend moral support, “If you see me falling, you’re going to catch me, right?” She assured me she would, but she was also smirking at my predicament, so I wasn’t sure I could truly depend on her.

When I stood up to speak, the room spun faster. This was not good. The whole time I was speaking, I was gripping the podium and I was sure I was slurring my words. At least my mind was alert enough to be praying really hard, “Lord, help me get through this!”

In the end, it didn’t turn out too bad. I didn’t fall over. I didn’t appear to be drunk to the attendees. I was even told that I looked like I had been doing it for years, of course, that was a relative and she had to say something nice, and after all, this had been her big idea in the first place!

Since then, I have learned that whenever I speak, I do not take any medication of any kind beforehand. So, if I ever speak at en event that you are attending, I may be sick, but at least my mind won’t be cloudy and I will be coherent!

The next entry will be one in a continuing series of conversations with my kids. I promise, you will laugh, if not at me, you will at yourself!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Falling Trees

Every summer the cuzzy-wuzzies come to visit. (That’s my nephew’s term for the cousins.) We always enjoy the week together and it has become tradition that we go camping for a couple of nights during that week.

We always have some sort of excitement of these camping trips. One time my nephew got burned in the face by a lantern. One time my niece made a “fishing pole” with a string and a clothespin she found lying around and caught a copperhead! Another time my daughter and two of her friends came upon a rather large copperhead. They screamed loud enough to bring nearby fishermen to their rescue.

Then there was last summer. It was our first night and we were all sleeping soundly. All of a sudden we were awakened to the scariest sound I have ever heard in my life. It was a tree falling! It sounded close by and there was a mad scramble in the adult tent to find eyewear. The younger kids were all in another tent and I didn’t know if they were okay or not.

We all piled out of our tent in our half-sleep stupor to find that the other tent was still standing. We were relieved, yet my heart was pounding out of my chest.

My husband got a flashlight and was trying to find the tree that had fallen. Of course, it was 2:00 in the morning and in the woods, so it was pitch black. We heard other campers moving around as well. We saw a lot of flashlights moving around across the creek from us and heard someone yell, “Here it is. It’s just a small one.”
We tried to follow his light to where it pointed. However, what we saw was no small tree. What he saw was a small tree that the big tree knocked down in its wake. The bigger tree used to stand only about two feet from the corner of the kids’ tent. It fell across the creek and into the neighbor’s site. They opened the door of their tent to find the tree landed about five feet from their tent, taking their screen tent down with it.

How no one was hurt, is amazing. It was God. He had His hand of protection on all of us. The kids had been playing underneath that tree in the creek all day long. If it had fallen any sooner, one of them would have been seriously hurt, or worse. If it had fallen at dinnertime, the other family would have been in their screen tent eating and been hurt. God had chosen an appointed time for that tree to fall, when no one would be in its path.

We may not know of all the times when God protects us from harm, but this was one time my husband pointed out to the kids that we had prayed for protection while we were camping and God had answered that prayer. Thank God for all of the times He protects you and you are unaware.
We were all a little jumpy for a few days after that. After we got home, some neighbors set off some firecrackers, which is a very similar sound to tearing wood. The dog and I both jumped up, startled. He ran behind the couch and I went to investigate and then laughed at myself for being so paranoid.





In the next blog, my first speaking engagement. I may have looked confident, but my knees were knocking and I was dizzier than I have ever been in my life, of course, the cough medicine I took beforehand may have had something to do with that…

Monday, January 18, 2010

I should probably put a disclaimer in here – I do write about real life. If you happen to find yourself in some of my blog posts (don’t worry, I won’t mention any names) that just means you’ve been a memorable (and probably humorous) part of my life. You should feel blessed.




I’m borrowing a statement one lady once said to me, “If I become famous and anyone asks me if my house was clean, you tell them it was lived in.” That is probably a pretty fair assessment of my own house. It isn’t perfect, but it’s healthy.
At least it appears healthy enough for people to feel comfortable enough to stop by, unannounced to use my bathroom. I know, you think I’m kidding, but I’m not. Apparently my bathroom is a hot spot in our town.

Years ago, one person would stop to use my bathroom on regular basis. I didn’t think too much of it. Then a couple more people started to stop by my house to, yep, you guessed it, to use my bathroom. Apparently the word was getting out that I have some awesome bathroom. Maybe it was my choice of toilet paper, but I don’t really know for sure. Next thing I know there are people stopping to use my bathroom just because they think it’s funny!

Here’s one you probably won’t believe – a friend stopped by one hot summer day to use my shower because she was overheated! Yes, you read it right – my shower. The funny thing was that both my showers were out of commission. She probably thought I was just making up an excuse. The previous week our downstairs shower began leaking, right before company came for four days, convenient! While company was visiting, the upstairs bathroom sent a torrent of water downstairs into my dining room. When my friend stopped to use my shower, it was the next day, which did not allow my husband enough time to fix either bathroom. She had to make do with a cool washcloth.

One summer, we went to the beach with some friends, however, we ended up staying in different hotels. One night while they were out perusing on the boardwalk, we received a phone call. “We have to go to the bathroom and your hotel is closer. Do you mind if we stop?” People want to use my bathroom even when I’m on vacation!

The lesson here? There isn’t one. It just goes to show that real life is better than fiction.

Next time, I’ll answer the question: “Does a tree make any noise when it falls if no one is there to hear it?”

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Welcome to my blog! I’ve thought about starting one for a long time and now here it is. For as long as I can remember I have wanted to be a writer. One of the first things would-be writers are taught is to “write what you know.” And I do.


Many of the stories and articles I write are based on my real-life, even if they are labeled as fiction. When I was in high school, I found a pen pal who promised to critique my writing. We wrote back and forth for quite a while and she almost always gave me good advice. However, there was one time when I wrote a story about an incredibly horrible day I’d had. This woman happened to be an English teacher. She made copies of my story and had her classroom critique my story as well.

As I looked through the comments, one idea was repeated over and over again. “This is too far-fetched to be real!” Even the teacher had written some comment to the effect that fiction must be believable.

There was only one problem with what she said. Everything in my story had really happened and all in one day! I guess that means the old adage is, true: “real life is better than fiction.” Sometimes our lives are so unbelievable. They can be good or bad or happy or sad.

This blog will chronicle some of the absolutely ridiculous events that happen in life and how I relate them to or somehow fit them into my writing. I may even do a book review once in a while, so if you are a writer and would like a little promotion for your book, feel free to contact me.

There certainly are a lot of crazy and almost unbelievable things that happen to me. For example, my bathroom seems to be a hot spot in our town, but…more about that next time.