Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Upheaval...In a Good Way

Photo by Mary Vee
I am getting ready for another adventure.

My suitcase is packed. I'm really hoping for no hassles from TSA, a flight with no issues, my car rental ready, and GPS in a good mood.

So, while I am doing all of that, let's talk. 

Anytime the norm is changed, upheaval happens. This is not necessarily a bad thing. Even a flat tire isn't necessarily horrible. Amazing how fast a crucial meeting could be rescheduled, eh? 

For work at home folk leaving for a trip can create a mountain of work up front--and a cavern of work when we return. Sure the family can survive on pizza, dishes mounting in the sink, fruit flies in the air from the food left out, and dirty laundry. 

We over planners like to know there is healthy food in the fridge, the kitchen is clean, all laundry folded and where it belongs, and the vacuuming done before we leave. Sticky note lists separating what needs to be purchased at the grocery store from what needs to go in the suitcase reproduce like rabbits in the days before departure. Weave in preparing and printing materials for presentations, the random solicitor phone call, the doorbell, etc and everything is soon in an upheaval.

But--that is okay. We survive and live to do it again.

Most of the reports about Florida's recovery from Hurricane Irma and Houston's recovery from Hurricane Harvey have been good to read. Men and women talk about not having power, downed trees, or other damage, but -- this is where they fill in the sentence with something positive. Something like, the storm was nowhere near as bad as they thought it would be. Neighbors are sharing and helping each other with the clean up, meals, and shelter. 

Along the border of Uganda and Sudan, the United Nations and other organizations are helping Sudanese fleeing the turmoil in their country. Uganda has opened it's doors to more needy refugees than any other nation, according to the BBC. The Sudanese are not stuffed into camps, but are given a small piece of land to build a home and plant a garden. Uganda is giving legitimate refugees a place to settle. 

Their life isn't easy. They have to build homes and find food. But they have an opportunity to begin in a safe place.

Whether the upheaval is small, like going on a trip and leaving your family at home to fend for themselves, or epic like living through a natural disaster or a threat on your life, waking the next morning to new circumstances is a chance to start a new chapter. 

We stand on our feet. 
We pick up a broom.
And sweep what we can away.
To live and breathe another day.

I hope you have a day that is rewarding. It may not be as good as you planned or hoped. Maybe it is simply a day that gives a story of survival--some hope to someone else.

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

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Surges that Topped Hurricane, Terrorism, and Fire Power

As a nation we have witnessed a lifetime of surging, explosive power the past two weeks.

Photo Courtesy

The cautious have done their best to protect themselves and their loved ones, and while destruction may have followed in the wake, there are those who lived to tell their experience.

Although we wish we could help those who are no longer with us, our nation rises to help those who have survived. 

Photo Courtesy

So, we built a reminder of those who lost their lives to terrorism in the 9/11 attack a means to honor the fallen, the heroes, the families, the co-workers, and neighbors. 

Much more, we think about where we were at that time. I stood in a school with my class of third graders. How does one tell little ones a terrorist group attack our country? That was my first question after processing the information and wondering whether this was a War of the Worlds hoax or a vicious truth.

Dollars, cards, food, water, medical, prayers and encouraging words surged into New York, Pennsylvania, and the Pentagon long after the tragedy. Songs were written inviting and proclaiming patriotism as one of the best ways to fight back.

What a truth. History cites fathomless cases proving ruthless acts serve to strengthen and unite rather than defeat and demoralize. Even events recorded in the Old Testament showed attacking armies stepped back in fear when they heard Israel's army shout their praises to God echo in the cities, valleys, and mountains.

Unity surges throughout our people this week. 

Photo Courtesy

We prove it by opening our homes for Hurricane Irma evacuees. Help clean flooded homes in the Hurricane Harvey aftermath. 

Photo Courtesy

Firefighters from all over the nation have been sent to help Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, Oregon, and more with devastating fires so powerful sparks leap across wide rivers kindling new fires.

Those of us who cannot go send what money we can, comfort those we know just by listening, and we pray. We guard the news, hungry for updates.

This week, although America has been pummeled, unity has surged. A surge that tops category 5 hurricanes, flood levels, and the strongest fire. A surge that overpowers terrorism. 

And no, this is not intended to be a sappy patriotic post. Haven't you seen...it is a proclamation of a unifying people helping in a time of need.

The theme verse from my college freshman class was so powerful, we kept it all four years and have remembered it long past our graduation:

How good and how pleasant it is 
for the brothers and sisters to live together in unity. 
Psalm 133:1 A song (Psalm) written by David.

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

We are a #NeverGiveUpStory

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Harvey Victims and the Dilemma They Faced

Rescuers have traveled to Harvey affected areas from far away. They probably never realized the tremendous impact their help has made. What happened to folks before they arrived. How very appreciative they were when the rescuers did.

A friend lives in Wharton, Texas, which is south by southwest of Houston, and very much in Harvey's path. C posted over days, keeping us updated. Notice the short posts. Notice the emotion. Notice the dilemma she faced. Notice her focus-wanting to leave but choosing to stay, asking prayer for others. 

8/30 3:40 pm C: Water is now rising in my neighborhood.  Road is flooded and closed.
8/30  4:09  PM C: Neighborhood (see pic)

8/30   5:46 pm C: Front yard (see pic) 
                        (A friend responded) Are you going to leave?
                        C:  No.

8/30 6:21 pm C: water coming through back door.
8/30 6:38 pm C: water coming through front door.
8/30 9:02 pm C: ankle deep in our living room. We are the only ones in our neighborhood
                      (A friend responded) Call 911 if you need to evacuate.
                      C: Can't get mom to leave

8/30 9:28 pm C: Living room (see pic)

8/30 10:37pm C: I'm charging my phone while there is power
(Friend respond) Do you have a place where you can stay on higher ground?
C: Mom won't leave.
(Another friend) Stay as high as you can with a flashlight and bottled water)
C: there is no high place

8/31 12:31 am C: Someone is driving a boat extremely fast through my neighborhood!

8/31  6:53 am C: The flooding is due to a broken levee
8/31  9:02 am  C: Mom and I made it through the night. Power is on. My cell phone is out. The water seems to be receding. Thank you for praying!
8/31 10:16 am C: Mom can receive calls on her cell. She can't call out.

8/31 11:01 am C: A large military vehicle is in the neighborhood. 
                       (A friend responded) Doing What? 
                        C: Picked up neighbors

8/31 3:03 pm C: Please pray! There is someone "playing" in the flood waters on Richmond Road in his jacked up truck!
8/31 3:24 pm C: Avalon, nursing home where my grandmother lives is evacuating to Galveston. Prayers appreciated!
(Responses from many) Praying
                       C: As you are praying, pray for her salvation

8/31 4:01 pm  C: Backdoor view (she showed a pic of water rising in her house at her back door
8/31 4:03 pm  C: Kitchen view (she showed a pic of her kitchen flooding.

8/31 4:14pm C: View from the side of our house.(see pic)

8/31 6:18 pm C: WE ARE EVACUATING!

8/31 8:01 pm C: We are at the Love's gas station waiting for a ride from the Red Cross

8/31: C: One of our bags got lost in transit. Please pray it's returned. Has important papers. Thank you.

8/31: We are at the Super 8

8:31: 11:47pm C: It took the National Guard to convince Mom to leave. A levee had broken
                        (A friend responded) I know you did what you had to.
                        C: Thanks for praying.

9/1: C: The bag was delivered this morning.

9/1: C: Our National Guard is AMAZING! Please pray for them and their families. Our Red Cross driver, Barry, went above and beyond the call of duty!
(note: she is referring to the New Jersey national guard)

9/2: C's friend: I'm so sad. I literally just sent you the book you won and I don't think it will get to you. Sorry. 
       C: The mail will get through eventually

I messaged C asking, when she had a moment to tell me anything more. She said, "The National Guard that helps us were from New Jersey." That was all the more she could say. In her circumstances...I can understand. 

Last I wanted to credit those NJ who are paying back a nation who helped them during hurricane Sandy by helping my friend and others. This is what we do. Help each other. 

 Gov. Chris Christie said Monday that NJ Task Force 1 has been activated as members of the National Urban Search & Rescue Response System and will be deploying to Texas to assist with the rescue and recovery efforts resulting from the unprecedented and catastrophic flooding caused by Hurricane Harvey.

“As Americans, we come together during times of crisis and today New Jersey’s heartfelt thoughts and prayers are with the people of Texas at this very difficult time,” said Christie in a statement Monday. “During Superstorm Sandy, emergency and law enforcement response contingents from around the country came to our aid. New Jersey stands ready to assist Texas with their search and rescue response to the destruction and devastation wrought by Hurricane Harvey and the recovery process begins.” Press of Atlantic City.com

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

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Lily Pad Safe Havens in Houston

Photo Courtesy

One Houston resident who left her home shortly after the storm hit said, "A drizzle can cause a flood here in Houston."

This is possibly why so many residents didn't leave. They'd lived through many floods, but never one like this.

The National Weather Service had to add a new color to charts indicating a higher level of rain fall. White has been added for 24+ inches.

Much of the Houston area is colored with this new 24+ inch color.

Photo by Mary Vee

Houston's Mayor Turner stated: "I don't care if there is no food or water there, I just need a safe place for people to go.

He asked libraries, multi-service centers, any facility to offer a lily pad haven for people who cannot flee the city.

The people need more than a lily pad.

Conflicting information funneling in downpours to the residents of Houston made decision making processes difficult. One British woman said, "Had I know this much water would rise I would have never risked the safety of my children."  

Another woman said, "I thought it would be just a drizzle." With the storms Houstonians are accustomed to, this thinking is not unheard of. 

Disaster warnings are getting better, but understanding the severity may not be. When was the last time the local siren was ignored. In my area the siren is for tornado. In Hawaii the siren is for Tsunami. These sirens are in every state, ready to warn the people of coming disaster/danger. But how do we know when one is more than we are used to experiencing?

Along this same line there is a church in every community. A place not only of worship but a place to inform people. To let them know of what was, what is, and what is to come. One warning is strongly sounded, Jesus will come back. There will be a time when it is too late to believe in the One who has provided a way of escape. 

There will be no lily pad. No 9-1-1. 

Consider speaking with your local church. They are there to answer your questions.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

The Golden Ring of 2017

What an exciting day. All you party poopers get on board! YOU ARE INVITED TO GET excited about the 2017 solar eclipse. 

I am sitting at my desk, at this very moment, with the sun in my eyes. Give me a second to slide my chair.  Good. 

I am a solar-powered person. I am a vibrant, speedy worker when the sun is up. But, when the sun goes down, seriously, I lose motivation.

Not today.

Not on the day of the eclipse. Not during that hour or so when the sun will "turn black". 

This is such an exciting day, only because we get to witness a rare event in our lifetime.

Okay, I know this post is going up on Tuesday, but I am writing it on Monday, so rewind your clock to yesterday and relive it with me.

My one daughter and her friend are driving six hours south and planning to stop at some cornfield to be in the zone.

My son is adjusting his commitments to drive north to a rest stop to be in the zone.

Friends from church are driving west instead of flying to where they want to be so they can be in the zone.

During one eclipse, I won't say which one, hubby was in the Air Force in one of those C whatever planes being transported to provide medical help in Turkey when the zone happened to be over Greece...just the time they flew in the zone. He said they crowded around the window to see.

Oh my goodness.

I had previously made a commitment for a mini writing retreat before I knew of this all important date and as a result won't be in the zone. Gack!  It's almost football season, we know how important it is to be in the zone...and I am not there! I'll be close but...yeah, close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades.

This is still the morning, and I have great hopes that the zone will actually include me. I will be outside using proper eye protection and hoping to snatch a photo of the eclipse. And if I do, I will  add any updates to this post once I have news to report. 

I would like to witness the golden ring of 2017.

Not every rare event can be witnessed in a lifetime. I wasn't there for the creation of the earth, the great flood, didn't see Jesus when He walks the earth. I didn't step on the moon, say the first words into the telephone, witness the first spark of electricity through wires, or fly in the first plane. 

How exciting to witness a big event like the solar eclipse of 2017. 

The golden ring. 

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

The Man From Africa

Photo Courtesy
I don't know which African country this twenty-something man was from. For this post, it may not matter. I would have liked to have known, though, to show him respect, and that I cared. 

He was new to the store where I shop. From first glance I'd say he was shy. At second glance, I decided he was being polite to a lady who was talking a lot. You know the polite body language: the smile, the nod, the periodic eye contact while still doing the job. 

I assumed the words he chose to say while working were the suggestions he received in training. Having sat through my fair share of those training sessions, the experience seemed to go that way. 


I decided not to talk on and on about whatever and bore him with chatter about this and that. Good grief, some customers may as well break out the 8-track tapes (now there is an old saying. That was even before my time!!)

When my turn came, this young man did a great job ringing up my order, he smiled, and I said hello. He rang up several items AND THEN said, "So what is your career?"

Wow. That was a question I did not expect. Good grief, I could have given a seminar to answer that question. But. I restrained myself. I simply said, "I am a writer."

That was when the magic happened. He stopped. Looked up at me with eyes that showed he was genuinely intrigued. "What do you write?"

Ugh! My plan! He asked questions that would spark long answers in any writer. BUT. Again I kept to my plan to not talk this man's ears off. I said, "I write mysteries."

Now this would have been a great place for him to end the conversation. He could have thought: well, I asked polite questions. My boss should be happy. I can finish this order then move on to the next.

He instead said more. "Tell my about your most recent book."

Go ahead and laugh. No way could I answer that question in only a few words. I explained the story line in about fifty words. Talk about restraint!! He looked up again and said, "So, where do you get your book ideas from. Dreams?"

Okay. That last question indicated he had heard that answer before. When I said, "No. They don't come from dreams. This particular story involves a physical problem that a family member has and it has a chef. I have a family member who is a chef. Both components could be verified using our own experiences."  He looked surprised, totally expecting the dream answer.

He said, "Do you happen to have that book with you? Could I see the  book?"

What his eyes and words communicated was a genuine respect for the writing career. Maybe once upon a time he wanted to be a writer. Maybe he likes books. Maybe...he  thought writers were people to respect. Whatever... it made me feel good.

What he didn't know was I respected him, too. I have done the work he was doing. I know how hard it is. He did the job well and was genuinely friendly to people. He is an asset to our community and we are blessed to have him.

Now that I think back, this conversation had a lot of great key components. None of them planned. He asked a question, my answer sparked his interest. The answer was not long, just enough to get his interest. He asked more questions. The responses were kept to just what he asked, which resulted in his curiosity to ask more.  This...friends...is how we tell people about a living God who loves them. No, the topic this time was not about God, but maybe another time. 

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

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

New School Rule Causes The Children to Be Hungry

With all the allergies kids have today, schools are faced with a new problem: what to do when a child forgets his or her lunch.

Even up to the 2016 year schools offered a peanut butter sandwich to a child who forgot their lunch or had no money left in their lunch account.

Unfortunately, there are children with peanut allergies. A child with a severe peanut allergy can have a serious reaction if even near anything that contains the product or has been made in a factory that makes peanut products. 

Also, there seems to be many children who are now allergic to milk products. Since the school is not sure if a child might happen to have a milk product allergy, staff cannot give one who forgot his or her lunch any milk.

The current list of food related allergies has grown quite long.

So, for the safety of the child who has forgotten their lunch, some schools in the state of Arizona no longer provide food for these children. The whole day.

Horrible, you might say?

Well, to add fuel to the problem, the schools, feeling bad about this decision, have asked teachers to donate part of their salary to fund lunches for the children who forget their lunch or who have no money left in their lunch money account. 

Four different on-line sites report starting salaries for teachers in Arizona to be $34,000 or less. 
www.teacherportal.com | www.teachingdegree.org | azcapitoltimes.com | www.12news.com

These teachers are also expected to supply their classrooms with supplemental materials. 

Arizona teachers are said to be among the lowest paid teachers in the U.S. in the sites listed above. 

So the choice has become this: the children who forget their lunches go hungry or the teachers must pony up part of their salary and have less to feed their own family because the district doesn't have the money.

Good grief. Talk about a conundrum. 

Somehow I have a feeling Arizona is not the only state with this issue.

What are your thoughts. Ideas. Suggestions.

This post has ben brought to you by UnsolvableProblems

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Ever Wonder How Today Became National Night Out Day

Have you ever wondered how one day out of the year becomes National Night Out Day or National Raspberry Cream Pie Day or any other special celebration day? By the way, today is National Night Out Day and National Raspberry Cream Pie Day, so take your special one out tonight and enjoy a piece of raspberry cream pie. Yum.

Well, near as I can figure these celebrations not only keep our economy from recession, it also helps us remember. 

Sometimes we're remembering 
something yummy
someone special
someplace we've been
a cause
someone we love
a first
a graduation

all sorts of things worthy of remembering

This week, hubby and I are remembering the day we walked down the aisle and said our wedding vows. He had the silkiest soft black hair that day. Sadly, time stole those gorgeous strands, but he still has dreamy brown eyes. 

God has blessed us over time way more than we could ask. A home. Kids. A garden. Stability. Solid marriage complete with jagged edges. Adventures to some really awesome places. Good church. Friends. 

We've had our fair share of troubles. Homeless for a time. Cancer. Theft. and more.

But even in those storms God was by our side. He has been our tower of strength. Our peace. Our comfort. Our joy.

To help hubby remember this all important day, I put a reminder on the calendar. (I put the same reminder up for the kids and my birthdays. He never misses a one.)

Now I wonder if you can figure out the color I used in my wedding. The hint is in this blog. Go ahead. Take a guess.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Individual vs Corporate, A Declaration of Independence Right in My Backyard

In search of today's topic I happened upon a book of quotes (Quotations for All Occasions, editor Catherine Frank). Inside I read:

Photo by Mary Vee
 I know of nothing that makes one feel more complacent, in these July days, than to have his vegetables from his own garden. What an effect it has on the market-man and the butcher is a kind of Declaration of Independence. Charles Dudley Warner 1829-1900

I am very happy to announce my first, big crop of raspberries grown in my back yard. I filled a quart container with raspberries this morning. Yep, a whole quart. I've been working on this raspberry patch for three years reaping token berries. This year--this year I have a quart of raspberries, next year I am expecting a heap, this of course is a clearly defined amount. 

Photo by Mary Vee

In celebration, I watched the prices at my local store...a soaring, disappointing price, then, just like Charles Dudley Warner's quote said, I didn't buy any. Instead, my family and I feasted on our own bumper crop.

Photo by Mary Vee

I've strung up the tomatoes to keep the ones changing from green to orange and soon red from weighing the plants down to the ground.

Photo by Mary Vee

This crop will be another first. I'm hoping to can 10 quarts more than last years, a time when I canned 0 home grown tomatoes. Ooo, yummy spaghetti sauce for this winter.

7/17 Photo by Mary Vee

The butternut squash is crowding the tomatoes. This is my first time growing these delectable vegetables. I have plans to make butternut squash soup. I will cook them, turn them into soup then can them for winter. For now, I'm gonna have to do something about those squash plants crowding the tomatoes.

7/17 Photo by Mary Vee
One of This Year's apples

I'm really enjoying my farmer Mary experience. I've kept it simple. Started small. Hoping for big success and look forward to enjoy eating home grown. This is my declaration...even in its smallest measure...of independence.

7/17 Photo by Mary Vee
One of this year's Pears
7/17 Photo by Mary Vee
Blackberries still thinking
about being this year's crop.

While corporations provide much of what is on my table, there is nothing better tasting than fruits and vegetables home grown. God has been so good. His blessing are new every morning and their fruit is tasty.

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

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