Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Fishing Blind


Photo by Mary Vee
 
I was surprised to see a fisherman out this morning. 

Thick fog hung over us and the lake. I looked out my window and barely saw the water. A small object came into view....this fisherman.

I wondered how he saw the narrow steep dirt path used by boaters to launch rowboats and canoes onto the lake. And how he chose this spot to settle.

He must feel chilled. The moist fog gives a sticky, cold feel to the skin. And he is out there alone.

At least an hour or more would have to go by before the sun warmed the air and dissipated the cloud.

Threading the worm on the hook had to be a challenge. Tracking the bobber after casting would be nearly impossible. He'd have to go by feel.

Not by sight.

Then again, a good fisherman doesn't need to see with physical eyes. Knowing when the fish bite, where they are likely to be, the temperature of the water, etc, is far more important. Based on knowledge and desire to do what is needed, the fisherman uses an inner sense to bring in a good catch. 

Oddly enough, when the mosquitoes are biting and the sun is low in the sky, that is a good time to fish. That is when there are row boats and canoes on our lake.

~~

The Apostle Peter was a great fisherman. His catches brought in enough money to support his family and mother-in-law. One night, he and his fishing buddies sailed to all the right places, dropped their lines like always, and caught absolutely nothing. Not one fish. They rowed back to shore the next morning a bit bothered.

They didn't have hardly any work since the boat was empty. No lines to mend. No fish to sell. 

Off to the side a small crowd stood listening to a man speak. Peter had nothing else to do so, he walked closer and saw the man was Jesus. Jesus eyed Peter and asked him to push his boat into the water.

Peter waited for Jesus to climb in then shoved off a short ways. The water amplified Jesus' voice helping him to speak to more people. At the end of the talk, Jesus asked Peter to row out to deep waters and drop his nets.

As a professional fisherman, Peter knew the conditions weren't right for catching fish. He knew the idea was crazy, BUT "because You have told me to, I will." 

Within seconds of dropping the nets in the deep water, they weighed heavy, pulling on the side of the boat. Peter called his friends, "Come close. Help us! We're going to tip over!" The friends came. Amazingly, the catch filled both boats to capacity.


Sometimes things happen in our day that don't make any sense. We can't see the reasons, but as long as we follow God's instructions, the end result will be good.


This post has been brought to you by the one word: NotBySight








Tuesday, July 11, 2017

So...No GPS


Photo by Mary Vee
Somewhere out west.

Summertime is a great time for road trips. Maybe it's time to slip in a visit to those far away family members just to say hey and 'sup? 

Those of you who have read my past posts know I am one who is easily distracted by a-mazing views. In my defense the distractions aren't always mountains and flowers, sometimes unique city buildings yank my attention. 

The time I visited my sister in, O, say, six or seven states west of my home depending on the route Google set up, I arrived in a huge city that sprouted out of the desert sands. Toll roads. Expressways giving birth to more expressways. 

One-way streets leapt out of dark corners with masked signs. I knew they'd steal every drop of gas in my car before setting me free on a road heading the direction I needed.

You might say, "Funny story. Where was your GPS?"

Well, yes, I have a smart phone with a great camera feature that I use for many photos. Our family is on a strict budget, which means a tiny data plan for emergencies only. So no GPS.

I wasn't foolish. I asked Google my route before I left home, printed out pages, and had screen shots. Theoretically, I was set. 

Until I hit construction.

And the detour.

And some crazy road that indicated west when it really went south. Who writes these things?

The point of surrender came. I got off the west road heading south and landed on some random road that pleased my car's compass. Good grief, I only wanted a western suburb of this mega city. It couldn't be that hard to find.

The hour was late.

Thinking my far-away family member might wonder if I changed my mind about visiting, I called. I chose the husband because he was a former truck driver, which meant he could figure out where I was based on my obscure description of the surroundings and help me find my way.

"You're where?" His country laughter turned into snorting. "How did you do that?" 

Good grief.

The repair to my wrong turn took another forty-five minutes before reaching their neighborhood.   

Dotting the scraggly grass along the winding driveway were nieces, nephews, a pet or two, the latest tractor,  my sister and her husband. Little did I know, the whole gang, several extended family members included, had planned to spend the evening with me. Supper had miraculously kept warm on the stove all that time. The kids looked hungry.

They opened my car door and swarmed me with hugs and smiles. Without missing a beat, we flowed into their home and straight to the dining room table, talking and laughing as we stepped on creaky floorboards and over pets.

Rewind a few minutes. As the car maneuvered the last turn onto their dirt road, I thought maybe they would be upset with me for getting lost. I wasn't sure how I would be received. I thought about all my mistakes that caused the problem in the first place...that put me in the pickle of being late a good two hours later than planned. Sigh. If I had received the silent or cold treatment, I would have felt deserving.

But they didn't. 

The reception was as far opposite as could be.

And you know what? 

This true event is so much like our journey here on earth...and our reception in heaven. God knows we are taking crazy life turns. He has a great map system call the Bible. Life, though throws ridiculous detours at us and make us feel stupid or disappointed in ourselves, etc.  

But guess what? 

God loves us so much. He is always ready to greet us with a warm smile, a hug, a sweet song, and acceptance. He loves to see us.

If you've been snagged by a detour, feeling lost, maybe scared and unsure, talk to God. He WILL listen. He WILL show you the way.


This post has been brought to you by the one-word: LostAndHugged

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

The Most Unique Fireworks



We stumbled upon these unique fireworks.

In my book, yah couldn't get closer to the intent of this holiday than this show.

To the south of us is a lake. It's a long lake with cottages and houses on nearly every inch of shore. Behind postage stamp-sized properties, are more houses. Roads leading to each residence are twined like a mouse trap. Be careful or you may not find the way out!



Anyway, my family heard the boom booms from our house. We hopped in the car in search for what we hoped was a fantastic show. AND IT WAS!!

In route to a little park, big enough for four cars, fireworks burst overhead. Boom. Boom. One after another exploding brilliant blues, reds, yellows, and more. Popping as fast as pop corn. Then the sound stopped. The air filled with smoke. Car horns blared. People cheered. Toy horns honked. 

We looked for a place to turn around, thinking the show was over. But it wasn't.

A series of new fireworks burst overhead then cheers, horns, and sparklers. What was this? 

We drove through the narrow streets to a tiny park, stepped out of our car and nestled on the rocky shore ready to see a spectacular show. 

To our left fireworks burst into the sky and reflected on the lake. Cheers rang. Fireworks burst from the right. Cheers. Fireworks from behind us, up the hill. Cheers rang. 

The best I could figure, any cottage owner who wanted to purchase an arsenal of fireworks did. When one show stopped, another started. In-between the mini productions, those who only had a few to display, set off one or two fireworks. 

It was a concert. Orchestrated by none. 

Unified by all. Cooperation. 

Cheering as loud as the fireworks. The lake echoing she sound like an amphitheater. 

Hundreds of lawn chairs lined the shore. Wet towels on clothes line. Kids with wet hair huddled in sweatshirts and lit sparklers in their hands. 

Oh, my. 

What a difference from the show where people passively gather in large masses and watch one show put on by one company. Yes these professional shows are very impressive. They really are. Coordinated music, announcers, huge displays.

But this all community participating show...the one where everyone joins in with whatever they can, (and some did big time) ...this was exhilarating. Inspirational. Moving.

I like the idea that everyone gave what they could and participated. This is what the pilgrims did to form our country. No one expecting. Everyone giving.


This post has been brought to you by the one word-
AllForOneAndOneForAll



Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Even His Laughter Was Funny


Photo by Mary Vee
a lovely restaurant in Venice, Italy
not the location of today's post, though
I sat with a group of friends at a restaurant and because of the angle of my chair, I saw an interesting situation play out.

An older man and woman sat across from each other at a table. He told her a lengthy story during their meal, animating his words with his hands. He was so engaged in this tale he even laughed and snorted. I wish I could have heard what he said.

Anyway, the woman kept her eyes on him but barely responded. I thought, why isn't she laughing with him? Even if what he said wasn't funny, his laughter was funny. But she didn't say a word or laugh the entire time I watched. 

At the end of the meal she excused herself to the ladies room.

He paid the bill, and the waiter brought Styrofoam boxes holding what I assumed was the food they couldn't eat. He looked back toward the ladies room. Ah, the body language was clear. He had to use the men's room, she wasn't back, and the Styrofoam containers were on the table. He shrugged, left the containers, and went to the men's room.

While he was gone, she returned to the dining room. A look of panic/where is he/ why did he leave was on her face. She looked to the left and right as she walked back to the table. Once she saw the containers her look changed to judgement. Like, why did he leave these things unattended? She folded and unfolded her hands, keeping her eye on the back hall where the men's room was.

When he returned to the table, her stoic look did not change a bit. He warmly smiled and place a hand on her shoulder. 

Then they left.

Wow. 

They only other detail I haven't given was neither wore a wedding ring.

So. Maybe this was a blind date. I don't know. I was just taken with his efforts to engage her, to share things he enjoyed, to get her to smile.

Isn't that like what God does for us? Sometimes we are such stick in the muds not seeing his artistry in nature, the songs of creatures, His goodness all around us. I'm guilty.

Let me share this a-mazing verse. It's a top ten one for memorizing. Say it when you wake every morning because God is so happy about you, He loves you SO much, He is singing!!
Talk about a reason to smile!! 

Zephaniah 3:17


The Lord your God in the midst of you is mighty
He will save 
He will rejoice over you with gladness
He will rest in his love
He will joy over you with singing


This post has been brought to you by the one word: GodSongs

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Sometimes Technology Makes Me Scream



Photo by Mary Vee, Arizona

Today's late post is brought to you by a Mary Vee who has only seconds ago taken a BIG chill pill.

Good grief.

I opened the site to write today's post...whatever that topic was is long gone--wiped out by epic frustration.

Although I could open my blog's schedule and examine settings and other details, I could not get to the composition page. 



That's when I discovered my blog had been shut down.
That's when I discovered my blog had "expired".
That's when I discovered my blog did not revert to the failsafe address. The dorky one with blogspot.com in the address.

That's when I slipped into dysfunctional mode.

Okay, I am not a dork when it comes to technology. I have taught myself HTML survival and can modify mostly any code to look the way I want. I can find help desks. Follow directions. Sheesh I set up this blog with my own domain.

But today I wasn't expecting a spiraling demise. The system had breached my problem solving fortress before I had coffee.

I made one wrong turn after another slipping down so many rabbit trails.

I'm not going to lie, I had over twenty tabs open, hopping from one to the next trying to solve this problem that was NOT as easy as it should have been.

Thanks be to God, I still have a teen in the house. She took pity on me. I gave her thirty minutes to solve the problem and get this blog back on line or .... confession... I said I would just close down this blog even though technically, it already was.

I have my coffee. My yogurt. The domain is restored. And I am happy.

So...

Let's talk about the good technology that detected temperatures too high for air travel, cancelling flights from Phoenix. Did you know that smaller planes can not get the lift they need when the heat is 118 degrees and above? While those customers were inconvenienced they are alive to tell the story.


Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Celebrating





It's rare to have post day fall on my birthday. This year it did.

Having a summer birthday had some interesting advantages. All my siblings, and there were several, had fall or winter birthdays. Since my parents didn't have much money, anything expensive for the family was given as a birthday present. Made sense, right? Yep.

So, when summer came and the brood needed an inflatable pool out in the backyard, it appeared as my gift. Too awesome. Well, we all couldn't fit in the smaller pool at one time, but we managed to have a ton of fun.




There was also a few other perks given to the birthday person in our family. The honored one could choose one place to celebrate, pick what was served for the family dinner, and they got out of chores. 

I usually chose to either go miniature golfing with Dad, he always beat me, or have the whole family visit Aunt Betty. She is a funny, make you feel-good-to-be-around-her person. Her personality is one I still aspire to reflect.

Is there one person that God has put in your life, even for a day who impressed you so much you just wanted to be around them, visit them, talk with them, do things with them, hear them laugh, see them smile?

These treasures are reminders for us of God's goodness and what life is like with Him.The closer our relationship is with God, the more we want to be around Him, visit with Him, talk with Him, do things with Him, hear Him laugh (yes, God laughs), smile with Him, etc. because we just have a good and memorable time.

We are blessed.

And today I am so happy to celebrate my birthday with you. Because today you are the special person who reminds me of God's goodness.


Usually I give away books from other authors at this celebration. This time, I want to share with you my first junior fiction book.  It is a mystery, has a spry boy character who has to solve a mystery, and includes veterans.

With summer time coming there are sure to be moments when the kids need something to do while traveling or inside due to weather. Here is an excuse to turn the TV and devices off to read a good story. Join the fun with William Worthington Watkins the III. Great for grandkids, nieces  nephews, etc., too. Prepare to laugh. Only $5.99 in paperback, also available for Kindle.


  

Someone took cookies from the church kitchen platter, and William wanted to know--no, he needed to know who did it. He and Grampa had spent all afternoon making those cookies for the shut-ins and now the plate was half empty. That night, a wounded war veteran living at the home for shut-ins bit into William's cookie then told a story about the guys in his unit. In that story, Willam heard something that glued all the clues together. Themes: truth and forgiveness Juvenile Fiction - Mystery - Humor - Veterans

Hope your day is filled with great weather, fun, laughter and maybe a bit of spunk ;)

This post has been brought to you by the one word-Celebrate

Friday, June 9, 2017

God's Timing




I didn't know what I was getting in to when I met Ruth Logan Herne. From the first moment I said hi, she cracked a joke. She has an amazing ability to make anyone smile and appreciate life. Need proof? Read her words today:



God's Timing

Mary Vee, thank you so much for inviting me over today! I brought coffee… and an old-fashioned “Angel Pie” from a garden club cookbook I found at an antique co-op… 

I first want to say, God gives us the power to create our own path no matter where our journey begins. 

My little urchins (I watch a small herd of diaper-clad local monsters with chronically runny noses)  love Candyland, but you never know when the turn of a card might send you back to the rainbow bridge or the peanut brittle swamp!!! And that’s life, isn’t it, the whole fly on the wheel, sometimes up… often down…

My life began in poverty, but I refuse to dwell there or revisit often. When God handed out opportunities, I clung to them. When he put gentle folk in my path, I accepted their wisdom. When he sent me six amazing children, I realized my first job was to them…. And I put my writing on hold until they were raised. 

I tried writing a few times, but first there were those children…Who knew they’d be so stinkin’ demanding???

And then we fell on tough financial times that meant I needed a second job (and sometimes a third) to make ends meet. But always in the back of my head was the knowledge of what God planned for me: to be a writer, an author. 

And with each new hairnet –nametag-job, I gained insight into businesses, restaurants, the wedding industry, private schools, industrial and commercial baking, sales, special education, raising youngsters to reach for the stars. Every one of those jobs was the baseline for research I use in my stories today. 

My mother was a brilliant woman, a shining light of intelligence, but she also bore the strain of depression and addiction. I never knew her sober until I was in my thirties. She attempted suicide several times, and spent months locked in a small, dark upstairs room during my adolescence.

I didn’t get to know the pure light within her until I had a houseful of children of my own, but I see that later time with her as a blessing. She was funny, bright, and delightful (with no small bit of drama) and her writing talent made mine look minimal by comparison, but… and this is a huge BUT… she allowed the darkness to enter and then take over her life.

God lays out choices. 

He offers us paths. We might choose the one less taken or the one well-trod, and that’s not the point. It’s what we do on that path, the hands we touch, the faces we wash, the hugs we give and receive that make the difference.

I won’t argue with folks who say “works” aren’t important. In my life, those “works” were crucial, path-bending, Heart-forging. 

I’m a believer in letting Christ’s light shine through smiling eyes and a good handshake. Some might call my faith simple, but that’s the highest praise. Like someone saying your book made them CRY. Simple faith. The faith of a child, freely given, unexplained. That’s my kind of club!


At one point (after receiving WAY MORE REJECTIONS THAN JULIE LESSMAN EVER THOUGHT OF RECEIVING!!!!) one of my sons asked why I didn’t talk about my writing anymore. I said, “I can see that my rejections make you guys sad, and I don’t want to disappoint you.”

To which he said, “The only thing that would disappoint me is if you quit.”

That made me smile, because he’d thrown my own words back at me. And now with more than nine books out, more contracted, eleven grandchildren, and  a husband who still puts up with me after decades of marriage, I see God’s work coming to fruition. 

Way back when Sr. Mariel and Mrs. Bagley told me I had what it takes to be an author, I knew they were seeding a pot that might not grow for years and years, but that, given God’s time and my effort, the seed would flourish.

And I couldn’t be happier! (Well, except when I’m making fun of folks. Nicely, of course!)


You can find Ruthy hanging out at these sites:
Ruthy's Place
Seekerville
Yankee-Belle Cafe
Facebook
Twitter


Wow! I am touched by Ruth's testimony, as you probably are. She mentioned some ways to let Christ's light shine, handshake, smiling eyes, etc. What other ways can you let Christ's light shine?

Thank you, Ruth Logan Herne for Joining us This Weekend!

This post has been brought to you by the one-word: Christ'sLightShines


Tuesday, June 6, 2017

An Abandoned Wycliffe Compound



Location: 
A Remote Village in the Mountains of Honduras
An Abandoned Wycliffe Compound
Miles from any road bigger than a two-track.




There he sat. 

A boy about eight years old.

At the top of the hill overlooking a Wycliffe compound.

He pulled at the grass and fiddled with the earth while watching us, and, I think unknown to him, in my view. 



About thirty of us sat in an early morning meeting huddled on benches set in a circle. 

Doctors, nurses, child ministry workers, and teen translators gathered that morning first for Scripture reading, a devotion, songs of praise, then to divide into teams and head out to villages beyond the two tracks. According to officials, medical workers rarely came to this boy's village and the ones beyond.


The boy probably couldn't understand the mixture of Honduran, Guatemalan, Nicaraguan, American, and Canadian languages spoken by our blended medical team sent to help him and others. 

But he watched and appeared to listen.

Early each morning, the teams sat on benches arranged in a rectangle on a veranda made of broken cement. My chair leaned against the building giving me the view of a mountain to my right, the hospital center, and the hill where this boy sat.

Our leaders took turns giving the devotions, patiently waiting for their words to be translated into the three needed languages by two teen translators. The Nicaraguan leader spoke one day, another translated his words into Honduran, and the teens translated Honduran to English. Even prayers were translated three times so that everyone in the group could understand.

Each morning the boy came.
Each morning he moved farther down the hill, closer to our group until the last day when he sat at the edge of the broken cement. 

He ran his hands through the grass and plucked a few blades. 

Looking up every so often.

We sang praises to God. That morning each member prayed in his/her own language. We listened to the day's instructions: break into teams, go to a designated village tucked in the mountains far away from...anywhere, open a day clinic, and be a witness to the the people.

After the instructions, an American leader closed the meeting. 

What intrigued the boy to move from the top of the hill toward our group? I'm not sure. We didn't have games, movies, toys, gifts, or food. What drove him to sit only a foot away from the group the last morning and listen to the worship meeting? Well, at least the Honduran portion. I don't know.

I opened my eyes after the closing prayer and didn't see the boy.

I can't help but wonder how much he heard. What he understood. What he told his friends or family about the people who stayed at the abandoned Wycliffe Compound for ten days.

Who knows. Maybe I'll see him in heaven.

This post has been brought to you by the one-word: EarsThatHeard




Friday, June 2, 2017

Suzanne Woods Fisher - Overcoming the Fear of Failure


We've all had something fail. Maybe a school assignment, baking a cake, changing a car tire. Well that was my shortlist confession. There really is a mile long list that you don't want to hear. 

Talk about a quick drive to the blues. Even one negative comment in a barrel full of praises can take us down. Sigh. Why oh why do we remember the one negative one and forget the positives. 

You are not alone. We all do this. But there is a way of escape. Today, Suzanne Woods Fisher is going to share her story.

The Fear of Failure



“For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you. Do not fear; I will help you” (Isaiah 41:13, niv).

            
Years ago, before I received my first book contract, an editor returned a manuscript to me with the comment that the writing wasn’t up to her publishing house’s “caliber.” 

Ouch! 

That was a tough remark to swallow. But I did. I gulped down my pride, asked her for editorial comments about the manuscript, and she gave them to me. I read them carefully, incorporated what I could, and then I moved on.

I didn’t wallow. I didn’t stop writing. In fact, truthfully, I didn’t agree with her assessment. Instead, I kept improving the manuscript, sent it out to other publishers and, eventually, received a book contract. Since then, I’ve developed a very thick skin, taking rejection in stride so it doesn’t derail me as it has in the past. And trust me, it did! 

What changed?

It started when my youngest daughter ran for class treasurer of her high school freshman class. The night of the election, she received news that she had lost. I found her sobbing on her bed and sat down next to her, not saying anything for a while. 

After her sobs drizzled to sniffles, I told her how proud I was of her for trying. Just for trying. For being willing to take a risk. She did something that ninety-nine percent of her class couldn’t or wouldn’t do. I couldn’t have been prouder of her if she had won or not; I only cared that she was willing to try.

It dawned on me that God was rooting for me in the same way I was rooting for my daughter. He wasn’t waiting to be proud of me until I was successful. He already was proud. By continuing to write, I was willing to face my fear of failure, trust Him, and just keep trying. 

Little by little, failure became less of a big fear. If the worst thing I faced in life was a ton of rejection letters, well, I could handle that. My confidence rests in God alone.

By the way, my daughter ran for sophomore class treasurer and lost. She ran again in her junior year and, this time, she won! But I think she really won in that first election—maybe not with votes, but with something far more important.

About Suzanne Woods Fisher: She is an author of bestselling fiction and non-fiction books for Revell about the Old Order Amish. Learn more about Suzanne, her books, and her weekly radio show by stopping by www.suzannewoodsfisher.com. Download the free app, Amish Wisdom, to receive a daily Amish proverb. A moment of peace and calm in a busy day.



Suzanne lives in California with her family. When she isn’t writing, she raises puppies for Guide Dogs for the Blind. To Suzanne’s way of thinking, you can’t take life too seriously when a puppy is running through your house with someone’s underwear in its mouth. 




Thank you Suzanne for joining us this weekend!


This post has been brought to you by the one words: TrustGod and KeepTrying 


Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Kudos to the Turks


Let's talk about Turkey. The country, not the bird or the food.

Turkey happens to be the bridge county between Syria and European nations. 

You've probably heard about the Syrian refugees who've fled their country. Syrian men, women, boys and girls generally have fled their war torn country and headed north into Turkey with the goal of reaching Europe.

A while ago we talked about the Olympic swimmer who escaped Syria and saved the lives of those on her boat, also fleeing Syria, by pushing the raft many miles to shore. 

Today's thoughts go to the people of Turkey who have spent may liras helping the Syrians. If you could imagine a national budget that did not expect this need. Not only did this cost liras (the Turkish unit of money), but man power, education, water, food, the list is very long. Humanitarian aid was important to the Turkish people, but their pockets were only so deep.

YET

In recent news, the Turks have magnanimously stepped up, beyond any expectation. They have built a new city for the war orphans. Over 900 children will be aided. Given a place to stay. Have schools to attend. Receive food and water.

Photo Courtesy: from BBC article
Four schools have been built in Orphan City, which means about 250 boys and girls per school.

Two story buildings built. Each unit will house 18 children plus a caregiver.

Okay, our minds hop to possible issues. Little Orphan Annie issues. I don't know the quality of care.

What I know is the children will have a roof over their head, a bed to sleep on, food and water, and education. They will have stability. Be able to make friends. 

And have a chance at a future.

Hopefully have a chance to understand that someone cared enough to help.

Hopefully ...well...I can hope...have a chance to know that there is a living God loves them.

If you want to read more about this here is the article: BBC News World in the Middle East


I am happy for the children.

Kudos to the Turks.

It's easy to give a few dollars here to help someone in need. It's difficult to give our time and space to the extent of a 24/7 aid. 

Aid isn't just food or water. Sometimes it's more than that. Sometimes it's assuring someone there is hope and a way of escape.

This post has been brought to you by the one word-BeyondHumanitarian