Friday, December 7, 2012

Guest Post with Fay Lamb

Please help me welcome Fay Lamb to the blog today. She is guest posting about a Christmas memory that stands out in her mind, even after several years.


My husband is the type of father Brad Paisley sings about in his song, “He Didn’t Have To Be.” Marc took my children, Corey and Ethan, into his heart at first sight. Marc was an only child. His mother’s reasoning is that he was such a good child she didn’t want to take the chance that a second child wouldn’t be as wonderful. I used to wave the comment off, but the truth is, she did raise a very good child to be a wonderful husband and father.

Not only did Marc accept my children as his own, his mother and his father embraced them as grandchildren. From the first time they met, my boys called the senior Lambs Grandma and Grandpa.

One of my favorite memories, and the lesson that came with it, is of our first Christmas together. We were all excited about our initial holiday season as a family.

On Christmas morning, the kids bounded from bed. They were ready to get to Grandma’s. They couldn’t get dressed quickly enough. Marc pulled into the driveway, and Ethan, our youngest, yelled, “Let me out of here.”

Grandma claims she could hear him from her kitchen. She met us as the door, blocking the kids’ view. She wore a Christmas apron and wiped her hands on a dishtowel. The smell of turkey and dressing filled the air. The boys tried to lean in around her to get a look. With a smile, she backed out of the way.

The kids didn’t get too far. Why? They were blocked by all of the packages, which started from beneath the tree in the corner of the living room, filled the area, and spilled, literally, to the door.

“Wow,” a collective gasp came from not only the boys but from me. I’d never seen anything like it. Yeah, as a kid, I’d always been given whatever I wanted for Christmas, put even I knew a single mother had limitations, and because my mother saved up all year for a special Christmas, I chose wisely.

I was overwhelmed. For me, Christmas wasn’t all about the gifts—not that I didn’t love receiving them, but I’d never seen so many packages in one place in my entire life.

Grandma cleared a spot and sat in the middle of the floor. She held out package after package to each individual. Of course, the boys received most of the gifts—so many in fact, that as they opened and stacked them, we eventually could not see the children behind the mountains they created.

As the packaged gifts dwindled, replaced by opened boxes of toys, clothes, electronics, you name it, I couldn’t believe the kindness that my new family had shown.

And then it happened…a little arm stretched up and placed the last of his packages onto a large stack. With a heavy sigh flowing from behind the boxes, a disappointed voice said, “Is that all?”

I was mortified. This wasn’t this child’s first Christmas, and he’d never had another where he’d been given so much. I started to reprimand him, but my in-laws’ laughter stopped me. The joy for them came in the giving. The little boy (I won’t tell you which one) was being a typical child—an ungrateful child at that moment—but nonetheless, he was an overwhelmed kid with excitement ebbing from him.

As the family looks back on that Christmas, we remember the anticipation and the excitement; I remember the halting disappointment from someone who’d received so much, and for a fleeting moment, it didn’t seem enough. That boy is now a grown man with children of his own, and I know he has always been and will always be, grateful to his Grandma and Grandpa Lamb—because they are the best kind of grandparents: the ones who “didn’t have to be.” And whether the boys received one or one hundred gifts that day, the best gift of all was the grandparental love—not shown through gifts but through their acceptance.

When I look back at the memory, I am reminded how much Christ has given to me: his acceptance of me and His sacrifice of leaving Heaven with one destination in mind—the cross, where He gave His life for my sins. And sometimes, I’m reminded that I’m much like my son had been on that one Christmas morning. I receive gift after gift from Christ. I have received the greatest gift in the world from Him, and yet, like an ungrateful child, I sometimes sigh and ask, “Is that all?”



Fay Lamb offers services as a freelance editor, and is an author of Christian romance and romantic suspense. Her emotionally charged stories remind the reader that God is always in the details. Because of Me, her debut romantic suspense novel is available at all book retailers. Her second release, Stalking Willow, is currently available for pre-order through Write Integrity Press and will be released in May 2013.

Fay has served as secretary for American Christian Fiction Writer’s operating board and as a moderator for ACFW’s critique group, Scribes. For her volunteer efforts for ACFW, she received the Service Members Award in 2010.

Fay and her husband, Marc, reside in Titusville, Florida, where multi-generations of their families have lived. The legacy continues with their two married sons and five grandchildren.


You can purchase hr book Because of Me on her website and watch the trailer.



You can pre-order her book Stalking Willow at Write Integrity Press .


Thursday, December 6, 2012

Grandy's Christmas Stories


In my job as editor I get to meet some amazing people. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE helping people see their work in print through the small publisher that I work for (Pine Haven Press) when they have no chance of being published at a bigger, less personal publishing house. Don’t get me wrong; some of those publishing house do great things. However, many of them do not take authors who do not have a ready platform or a way of selling thousands of books right of the press. To me there is no greater joy than seeing an author hold their book in their hands for the first time. Many thought of it as an impossible dream.  

That is why I want to bring to your attention one of the most recent books published by Pine Haven Press. Grandy’s Christmas Stories started years and years ago. It is just now printed for many others to enjoy. The author, Peggy Bennett, wrote a Christmas story to read to her children and grandchildren each year. This book is a compilation of those stories. Some of the stories have recurring characters such as the elves, angels, and Santa, but one of the things I enjoy most about this book is that it clearly conveys the meaning of the Christmas season. Yes, you get to enjoy traditional stories about the North Pole, but you also get to read about the Savior’s birth.  

Working with Peggy to get her book into print was such a blessing to me and I know that her writing will be a blessing to you and your family. To purchase a copy please go to www.pinehavenpress.com/store

You will not be disappointed!


 

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Christmas Tree Treasure Hunt



 

Chapter Two Part Two

By Ruth O'Neil
Not wanting to dwell on that memory, I quickly continued on the winding path through the woods. A breeze swirled around me, chilling me to the bone. I snuggled deep into my coat and remembered how Grammie had once walked down this path on a windy day, holding our two small hands in her own.
“Do you hear that?” she had asked.
“I hear the leaves in the trees,” Lauren had answered.
“That’s right. Do you know what they’re saying?”
“Grammie,” I said, “trees don’t actually talk.”
“Oh, but they do. They’re singing and praising God, their Creator.”
“Grammie, that’s silly.” Even Lauren had a hard time believing it.
“I’ll show you the verse that proves it when we get back to the house.”
At the end of the path was the hill where we used to take Grammie and Gramps on picnics when they came to visit. In the winter months, we would sled down that same hill and exhaust ourselves climbing back up, only to slide down again. We would do this over and over again.
I laughed out loud as I remembered the pricker bushes at the bottom of the hill. Somehow, Lauren always used to end up in their grasp. The briars would be stuck to her coat, her hat, and her hair, and Lauren would cry as Mom removed them. Lauren and I had raced down that rise during the other seasons of the year when no snow lay on the ground. I looked around, just to make sure no one was watching me, before throwing caution to the wind and running down—arms outstretched—like I used to do. For a moment, I felt young and carefree once again. Back at the house, I read the other note Grammie had left for me in this package. 

Dear Gracie,
I hope you have enjoyed your trek around the old home place. Sure brings back a lot of memories, doesn’t it?
Now, do you remember the tree fort you girls built in that huge maple tree in front of the house? I had a little help, so you should find a ladder to make your climb easier. I left a special gift for you there.
I love you,
Grammie

I looked to the front of the house. I had forgotten about the maple tree fort. In fact, there were two huge maples shading the house in the heat of summer. One of the trees stood closer to the road. That was the tree where Lauren and I had built our fort. The other tree was precariously close to the window of our bedroom. I took a deep breath and walked toward the tree fort, then I climbed the ladder and sat down on the dusty platform. Another memory rushed back: Lauren screaming as her hair got caught in the maple tree branches. I tried to release her tresses but eventually had to fetch Mom, who had been forced to cut Lauren’s hair free. I remember Grammie laughing on the phone and muttering something about Absalom in the Bible. It was about the only time in our lives that Lauren and I looked a little different.
A chilly breeze blew and fluttered the couple of leaves that were still hanging on for dear life. Something else moved in the breeze and caught my eye. A Christmas ornament. I reached out for it. Not just any old ornament, mind you. A “God’s eye,” just like the one Grammie had taught us to make one cold, blustery day when we couldn’t go outside. After that, we had made one every year, taking small but sturdy branches from the tree, crossing them, and then wrapping various colors of yarn around them. Some years there were three colors; one representing each of us. Some years there were only two colors, representing my sister and me.
A single tear slid down my cheek.
Clutching the God’s eye, I climbed down from the tree. I’d had enough of my visit to my childhood home. Even here, pain hovered around every corner. Driving back, the cheerful Christmas music grated on my nerves. I switched the radio off. Grammie always used to pray in the car, and for a fleeting moment I considered doing the same. Then I remembered that God and I were not exactly on speaking terms. As the miles crept past, I tried—in vain—to capture all the memories this visit had unleashed, and push them back deep into the dark recesses of my heart. Another envelope awaited. 
 

Read Chapter Three Part One by J.A. Marx on her blog today!

 

The Christmas Tree Treasure Hunt

Grace takes delivery of a package and her life is turned upside down by nine sealed mystery envelopes from her late grandmother. Grammie’s instructions require Grace to take the journey of her lifetime, not only to far off places, but also into the deepest parts of her heart. As she follows the trail laid out for her and uncovers her family’s darkest secrets, Grace is forced to confront the loss and betrayal that has scarred her past and seek the greatest Christmas Treasure of all.

  

Read More:




Learn more about this fun project at Write Integrity Press.

J.A. Marx is the Featured Author today at WIP, so drop by to read her Favorite Christmas Memory and Recipe.

Don’t forget to pop over to Magnificent Hope’s Christmas Party! We’ll see you there.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The Christmas Tree Treasure Hunt


Chapter Two Part One

By Ruth O'Neil

I dumped the contents of the envelope onto the table and they fell out with a clunk. I pushed aside the papers and smaller envelope to discover a credit card and key. Instinctively, I knew what it opened, but just in case I hadn’t known, Grammie included a tag with “Home” written on it. The key was for the old farmhouse we had lived in before our parents moved to Boston when I was eight. All the locks used skeleton keys unlike many of today’s modern locks. I took a breath before unfolding the note then looked at Grammie’s familiar handwriting.
Dear Gracie,
They say, “home is where the heart is.” For this stop in your journey, I want you to go home. I hope you can find the child’s heart you left there. I think you will be surprised at what you discover.
Love,
Grammie
P.S. I think there’s enough on the credit card for your whole trip’s expenses, as long as you don’t start dining at five-star restaurants!
The three-acre plot we had lived on would always be home. That’s where I remembered being the happiest.
Sighing I looked at my watch. Too late to do much of anything but pack for now, I went to my bedroom to pack the warmest clothes I owned. New York was cold in December. There would be much to arrange tomorrow. I’d have to talk to Bertie about taking a six-week break from work; I could just imagine his reaction to that. I’d also have to let the college admin department know I’d be back next quarter.
That night, I was too restless to sleep. I pulled out the scrapbook Grammie had made for my sixteenth birthday. I hadn’t read it in a long time. As I opened the front cover, waves of emotion assaulted me. The thought came to me that Lauren had one just like it. Had she also tucked it away, along with all the sadness of the past? I gazed at the pictures that told the story of my life from birth until then. Grammie said that we should add our own pages, but I didn’t have the heart, not after Lauren left. Who knew so much would change in our lives that next year.
It took me two days to arrange everything. Bertie initially flew into a rage, but when I told him it was for Grammie, he softened and agreed to keep my job open until after the first of the year. With that—and all the college paperwork resolved—I could catch the morning flight out of Houston to Syracuse, New York. This is a little crazy, you know that Grammie? I must have said a few hundred times along the way.
By late afternoon, I had cruised through Elbridge and was finally steering the rental car into the driveway of our old home. “For Sale”—the sign stood boldly on the lawn. It seemed wrong that this sanctuary of my childhood memories could be traded by strangers. Pushing down the irrational resentment, I looked over to where the old barn used to stand. It had been a playground for Lauren and me when we were little girls, playing house, solving mysteries, and sharing daydreams of what we would become when we grew up.
I smiled. Lauren and I had planned to live near each other forever. We figured we started this life out in the same womb, so we were going to finish it as close as possible. I was going to use the barn foundation and build a house while Lauren would live in the main house. We would always be together, always there for each other.
Of course, all that changed the day Lauren and Steve betrayed me. Pushing down the anger threatening to surface, I walked toward the house, which appeared deserted – abandoned and lonely – much like I felt since Grammie died. I couldn’t resist peeking into one of the ground floor windows. Cobwebs fluttered where curtains used to hang, and the interior was dark and empty. I tried the front door, but it was locked. Grammie’s skeleton key wouldn’t work in the modern lock, so I didn’t even try it.
I walked around the outside of the house, looking up to the second story window of the room Lauren and I had shared. One of its walls had been covered with paintings of fairies and unicorns, horses, and princesses. “Paint is cheap,” Dad used to say, and he and Mom had celebrated every picture painted by our hands as if Picasso himself had created them.
I spied the path that led through the woods. For old time’s sake, I decided to take a little hike, but ... each step further into the woods brought back more memories. I walked past the tree where we had pledged our commitment to be there for each other forever.
“Are you going to do it?” Lauren had asked.
“Why should we do that? I think it’s stupid.”
“To prove our promise to each other. We need to be blood sisters.”
“We’re already blood sisters. Everything about us is the same,” I said.
In those days, my sister, my womb mate, had been my best friend, but who could have foreseen what was to come?
 

Come back here tomorrow to read Chapter Two Part Two of The Christmas Tree Treasure Hunt.
 

 

The Christmas Tree Treasure Hunt

Grace takes delivery of a package and her life is turned upside down by nine sealed mystery envelopes from her late grandmother. Grammie’s instructions require Grace to take the journey of her lifetime, not only to far off places, but also into the deepest parts of her heart. As she follows the trail laid out for her and uncovers her family’s darkest secrets, Grace is forced to confront the loss and betrayal that has scarred her past and seek the greatest Christmas Treasure of all.

 

Read More:


Learn more about this fun project at Write Integrity Press.

Ruth is the Featured Author today at WIP, so drop by to read her Favorite Christmas Memory and Recipe.

Don’t forget to pop over to Magnificent Hope’s Christmas Party! We’ll see you there.

 

Monday, December 3, 2012

Christmas Traditions

Christmas is often a time of tradition. I know in our family there are several traditions that we continue each year. This December I thought it would be fun if you shared your family traditions or funny family holiday mishaps. If you would like to be a part of the holiday blog, please let me know via the contact page. 

Of course today starts the WIP and PNP The Christmas Tree Treasure Hunt story. Tomorrow I will post the first part of my chapter as well as links to chapter 1. Tuesday I will post the second half of my chapter along with links to chapter 3. I invite you all to take part in this story by reading each day’s posts of chapters by some amazing writers. 

Later this week I will have a guest post from a couple of writing friends and their Christmas memories. 

December is a busy month, both off and online for me. Let’s take each moment to truly celebrate the birth of Christ. If you haven’t already done so, subscribe to my blog to receive notifications of new posts. It’s going to be a fun and exciting month. You won’t want to miss it!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

The Dreaded Family Photo

Have you ever come across that website that publishes awkward family pictures? Yes, some of them are hilarious, but I do have to wonder if some of them are doctored; some can't possibly be legitimate! I laugh at these pictures because I have a collection of my own family photo bombs. Some of them are posted in this blog for your viewing pleasure. (Disclaimer: You might want to empty your bladder first.)

I was looking through some old photos the other day and came across a series of pictures of my brother and me during Christmas “a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away.” My mom thought it would be a good idea to get a shot of us looking through the Wish Book that she could use for our family Christmas card. Obviously, as you can see, there were no appropriate pictures. We couldn’t stop fooling around. Normal kids.  
 
Those pictures reminded me of family pictures since then. I am so not photogenic! There are no good pictures of me. So when we have to take a family picture, I dread it for weeks beforehand. Either someone ends up not looking in the same direction as everyone else (my husband), or someone is making a goofy face (my son), or someone just looks bad all the way around (me).  
 
(Ooops! Off-Center)

(Can I look a little grumpier?)
 
 (Umm...no.)
 
(I'm too tense, The Boy's too goofy, but that's typical.)
 
I won't even talk about the time my sisters and I had the brilliant idea of getting a picture of us done for my Dad for Father's Day. Yup. That went well, too. Those pictures have been deleted FOREVER!

So a few weeks ago my husband had the big idea to do another family Christmas photo. Yes, I realize our kids are getting older and soon they will be off on their own and won’t necessarily be available to have a picture done altogether. I still am not looking forward to it. I guess we’ll see what happens this year.

For those of you who receive Christmas cards from us, there may or may not be a family photo included. If there is not, you will know how the photo session turned out.

 

Friday, November 30, 2012

Christmas Tree Treasure Hunt

I have worked with Write Integrity Press and Pix-N-Pens on a couple of book compilations. However, this one was THE MOST FUN EVER! Several  WIP and PNP authors wrote a chapter for a Christmas novella. There was a contest for a new author to add a chapter. The winner was announced as Marji Clubine. You can read the official announcement here
http://writeintegrity.blogspot.com/2012/11/winner-of-christmas-tree-treasure-hunt.html

Stay tuned for further announcements about this book and how you can read the story.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Colorblind

Just in case you don’t already know, “The Boy” is my son. I often share stories that concern him because he can be so entertaining. He is one of those unplanned surprises where I was glad God was in charge and not me. This story is typical for him. This past weekend at church our youth had an immersion. This is where the youth camp out and immerse themselves in the Word, studying one book of the Bible. The Boy connected with one of the adult leaders, Nathaniel, and he is now The Boy’s new best friend. All his talking about the immersion included Nathaniel. 

When we were leaving church Sunday night, Nathaniel happened to be walking down the sidewalk. The Boy told me, “Slow down and roll down your window.” He pointed at Nathaniel, giving him the evil eye. I’m really not sure what that was about. The Boy is kind of scrawny looking and too goofy to be very threatening.  

The rest of the ride home revolved around Nathaniel. Then The Boy commented on the rest of the family, who also attends our church. “It’s funny that they have the three older boys and then Priscilla is so much younger.” 

“Umm, she’s adopted.” 

“She is? I didn’t know that.” 

I just looked at him. “Really? Have you not looked at her parents? Does she look anything like them?” 

You see Priscilla’s and Nathaniel’s parents are missionaries to Pohnpei in Micronesia. Priscilla is a native of the island who they adopted as a baby. The parents are white. There is an obvious difference in skin tones, among other things. 

In some ways, this makes me proud of my son that he doesn’t notice what a person looks like. He is only concerned with friendship. If only we could all be so colorblind.

On the other hand, there are a lot of times he makes me just roll my eyes and wonder.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Tomatoes, Tomatoes, and More Tomatoes



I just finished a three day canning marathon, thanks to my sister-in-law who brought me 6 crates of tomatoes and a bushel of green beans. I haven’t been able to do a lot of canning lately since I can’t have a garden. We live in the middle of the city and have more critters here than in the country. Groundhogs eat absolutely everything. Anyway, doing all that canning brought back a lot of memories of summer days when I was a child and would help my mother can tomatoes.  

There was one time in particular that stands out in my mind. We had been working for a couple of days and our antique dining room table was full of beautifully canned tomatoes and spaghetti sauce…until the table leg broke allowing many of the jars to fall crashing to the floor, breaking and leave a huge mess. Tomatoes were everywhere! My mom screamed and then she ran crying to her bedroom. I cleaned up the mess knowing she was heartbroken over the loss of time, food, and money.

When Dad came home from work I filled him in and he went to check on Mom. A few minutes later he came back and told me to fix some spaghetti for dinner. There was only one box of pasta in the pantry and it didn’t look like the usual size. I went to ask Mom how much to cook and she just told me not to bother her. I went to ask Dad how much to cook and he said, and I quote, “Just cook the whole box.” Well, I did. It was a 5-pound box of spaghetti. Now, for anyone who eats pasta knows that 5 pounds is A LOT, even for our family members that had very healthy appetites. Mom was upset about that, too. I blamed it on Dad. 

When my husband and I bought our house we inherited that old, antique table. The leg is fixed, but you can still see where it broke all those years ago. When I did all my canning this past weekend, I set NOTHING on that table and all my jars are safely stored away.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Olympic Dreams


The TV at our house has pretty much been on constantly since the Olympics began. I enjoy seeing the world come together just for fun – I wish it could happen outside of sports. The games are addicting to watch, even if what’s on isn’t my favorite sport. My favorites include volleyball and gymnastics. As I sit and watch the American women try to fulfill their dreams, I am reminded of dreams of young girls all across the world, even to a little town, that no one's ever heard of, called Jordan. 

Every four years my sisters and I would watch the Olympic gymnastics and then go outside and try to emulate them. We were not successful. In the ‘80’s we watched Mary Lou Retton and she was the one we wanted to be like. We set up a 2x4 in the yard and pretended it to be our balance beam. We would perform all our tricks and then score each other to see who would get the gold medal. Well, you know the old saying, “It’s all fun and games until someone gets hurt!”

One time in particular stands out in my mind. While doing the balance beam routine one of us, who will remain nameless, fell off the balance beam. While this gymnast may have felt like a winner, the sprained ankle was the definite loser, growing to the size of an orange as the result of the fall. Keep in mind, the 2x4 was flat on the ground so there wasn’t far to fall. How one can accomplish that feat deserves a gold medal in spite of performance!

While I don’t remember badminton being an Olympic sport when I was a child, it is now. Badminton was another one of our favorite pastimes, and still is when we get together over the summer. I think us sisters could give the Olympic competitors a run for their money in badminton…at least in my mind.  

The Summer Olympics are almost over for another four years. Enjoy them. Recall Olympic memories from your childhood. Tell them to your family and laugh over them if necessary. It’s never too late to fulfill your dreams, even if it is all in your head.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

The Graduation Gift

It’s graduation season! I’m excited about it this year as my second child finishes her high school career. She has definitely accomplished something and since I homeschool my kids, I feel that I have accomplished something as well.   

One of our local radio stations recently had people call in with the story of the most meaningful gift you ever had ever received. Perhaps it was because graduation was on my mind, I immediately thought of my graduation present from my mother. 

She and my grandmother had been out shopping and had just returned when I got home from school. My mother asked me to help get things out of the trunk. There was a surprise waiting there for me. She had bought me an electric typewriter.  

Yes, I know, that’s no big deal these days, but it was to me then. Not only had my mom scrimped and saved to buy me a gift, that gift showed that she had faith in me and in my writing. She was supporting me. It was on that typewriter that I typed out the first article I ever sold. I have been able to work (and make money) doing something that I love doing. What a blessing it was for me to have someone that wanted to see me succeed! That was a great help in getting where I am today. 

For all of those that are graduating this year – Congratulations! Just don’t give up on your dreams. Find what makes you happy in life. If you can get paid to do that you too, will truly be blessed!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Are We There Yet?

It is said that the sense of smell is the greatest factor in bringing back memories. The other night my husband brought home a surprise for all of us – a pop-up camper. I sat and watched as he and our son put it up. When I entered the smell brought me back to my childhood. This camper smelled exactly the same as the camper my family had while I was growing up.  

Sitting in that camper, pictures of memories came to my mind. Most just made me smile, but one made me laugh. On the way to one campsite we had a little problem. One of the wheels of the camper came off. I remember watching as the damaged tire rolled away. Dad pulled over and put on the spare tire before we continued on our journey. However, it wasn’t long before the other tire fell apart and we left the rubber alongside the road. 

We didn’t have another spare and no place was open where we could get a new one. So…Dad kept driving to the campsite. The absence of that tire caused a horrible scraping noise and a fireworks show as we drove down the road. You can imagine the attention we received; fortunately none by the police. I believe I remember thinking to myself, “Are we there yet?” 

When we arrived at the campgrounds one of the families we were camping with let us borrow their spare tire. But the trip home after camping was eerily similar. We lost our original spare. Being Sunday, again no place was open where we could stop. 

“We can make it home,” Dad said.  

Once again, sparks were flying as we noisily scraped down the road. Once again I found myself mentally asking, “Are we there yet?” 

And people think camping is boring!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Anniversaries

Anniversaries are a special time to reminisce and celebrate. This week I have two anniversaries. The first is my salvation birthday. Long ago, April 11, 1977, I sat on the couch with my mother and accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as my Savior. It was the Monday right after Easter and some things at church made me think. Mom patiently answered all my questions and led me to the Lord while my Dad and brother were at church and my baby sister was asleep nearby in her cradle. What a blessed time of year to get to know the Lord on a much more personal level!

The other anniversary I celebrate this week is my wedding anniversary. Our story is very unusual. I was 13 at his high school graduation. When I went through the receiving line to shake hands with all the graduates, there was something electrical happening, or maybe it was spiritual. 

Shortly after I turned 14 we started dating – not something I would suggest for most girls. By the time I was 16 we were engaged – again, not something I would suggest for most girls. Three years later we were married. I can’t tell you the amount of flack we took because of our ages and our age difference, although the age difference is not that much. Now, 21 years later, so many people that made fun of us have been married and divorced at least once. What a difference it makes when God is the center of your relationship! No, not everything is always perfect, but he is perfect for me.  

I do know how blessed I was to meet my husband at such a young age. God certainly hand-picked him just for me. God has always been at work in our lives together. It is amazing to look back over the years and be able to connect the dots to see exactly what He has been doing. I am looking forward to the next 21 years with the love of my life!

A long time ago, in a galazy far, far away...

On a completely different note; I had to change my website. Here is the new link, as well as a link to the publisher where I have published my books.
http://ruthoneil.weebly.com/
http://www.pinehavenpress.com/

Monday, March 19, 2012

Embarrassing Moments

One of the joys of being a parent is that your kids get to embarrass you. I know for a fact that I embarrassed my parents on several occasions. Just to name a couple… 

While we were visiting some Civil War sites that were absolutely full of people, I rather loudly and with a serious look on my face, asked my mom, “Was Grant a Confederate?” 

Now this might not see so embarrassing to most parents, but you have to understand mine. My parents were great history buffs, involved in Civil War Skirmishing (which is similar to re-enacting only they shoot at targets not at each other), they worked with historical societies and local schools doing various Civil War programs. THEIR child most definitely should have known that Grant was NOT a Confederate since we ate and breathed the Civil War. 

I believe it was on the same vacation where I caused my mom’s face to turn all shades of red for a second time. Due to some plumbing issues, one place we stopped to use the restroom, we were forced to use the men’s room. While we were in there, again, it was a very popular place, I just as loudly asked, “How do you tell the difference between a boy and a girl?” I’m sure there were many women behind the doors of those stalls where snickering and trying not to laugh out loud. The sad part about all this is that I remember vividly asking my mom both of these questions. It isn’t like I was three years old and didn’t know any better. 

But, there’s always payback. The tables have now turned and my own children have embarrassed me from time to time. We were in the toy store one day and one of the kids needed to use the restroom. I left the other two standing outside the door since space was cramped. When the child in the bathroom was done, we flushed the toilet and it started making the strangest noise. Then I realized that it wasn’t the toilet it was the fire alarm. 

I hurriedly opened the door to see my other two kids standing there, one pointing animatedly at the other. You know those doors that say “Do not open. Alarm will sound”? This is not a lie. An extremely loud alarm will sound. One of my kids, who will remain nameless, had opened the door “just to see what would happen.” Several employees came running over thinking someone was trying to leave the building with an armload of toys. “Yup, it was our fault and there’s no fire.”

Another time I was in the middle of acting in a play performance when one of my kids came running up on stage, followed me around, and sat on my lap when I sat down. I was never so grateful to my High School drama teacher who taught us improv! 

When you have kids, your entire life can run on improvisation. We may try to plan everything out to no avail. But truthfully, those are the moments to remember and enjoy.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Birthday Musings

It’s birthday season around here. Many of us dread birthdays simply because we are getting older. Some people are stuck at 39 for way more than one year. What’s one way we can make birthdays seem not so bad? Convince our kids that we are younger than we really are.

When my son was about four, I had him completely convinced that I was 22. He would proudly tell anyone that asked exactly how old I was. One year when my birthday fell on a Sunday, one of the leaders I was working with made a big deal out of it. He kept trying to guess my age. My son was sitting on the front row wildly waving his arm.

“Do you know how old your mom is?” the leader asked him.

Without batting an eyelash, my son responded, “22!”

The leader burst out laughing. You see, all anyone who knew me had to do was a little math. Besides my four year old, I also had a nine year old and an 11 year old. I suppose 22 seemed a little ridiculous. But I had my son trained!

Until…

The following summer when the Cuzzie-wuzzies (the cousins) came for their annual week-long visit. We were driving up the mountain to go camping. I was listening to the kids’ conversations in the back of the van. (Something I suggest every parent should just for the entertainment value.)

My son began what he thought was teasing me. “My mom is 22. She’s old!”

My nephew said, “She is? Wow!”

At first I thought he bought it. However, I should have known better. He was awful quiet back there, which was a sign of some deep thought process going on.

A few minutes later, he says, “But I thought your mom was older than my mom and my mom’s 28?”

Drat!
It was good while it lasted. I suppose my son would have eventually figured it out on his own. Now he has no trouble keeping up at all. The only thing I have going for me is that now a lot of people don’t think I look as old as I am. I guess I’ll have to take what I can get.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Imagination and Innocence

I recently had the “cuzzy-wuzzies” (that’s cousins for normal people) stay for a long weekend. They usually come and stay for a week every summer. However this past summer we decided to go on vacation together instead. Going through cousin-withdrawal and feeling as if they had missed out on something, they “needed” to come visit at another time. Even the 20, 17, and 15 year olds still look forward to visits without complaint. The younger cousins about wet their pants in anticipation. As soon as dates are set they begin planning everything that they want to do together.

Our house may be full to overflowing when the cuzzy-wuzzies come, but I love every bit of the noise and the chaos. I love seeing their imaginations at work. I love seeing their innocence in a world polluted by so many negative things.

One of the things they always enjoy doing is making movies. This is something they have done on their last several get-togethers. They make up scripts and costumes. If they are anywhere nearby all I can hear is laughter. When they are done they can’t wait to show everyone the film. How many 15 and 17 year olds do you know are willing to get caught doing that, especially with younger children?

After seeing and enjoying all this it makes me wonder something. Why do people want kids to grow up so fast? The stresses of jobs, responsibilities, and paying bills come all too quickly. They will spend the rest of their lives with these. Let them enjoy those simple things in life. Better yet, enjoy those simple things with them. When was the last time you dressed up in a silly costume for the sake of a homemade movie? When was the last time you built a blanket fort without worrying about the appearance of the house or who will clean up the mess later? When was the last time you built a Lincoln Log town that takes up the entire floor space of your living room? When was the last time you allowed your imagination to just run wild?

Maybe it’s about time.