Saturday, March 29, 2008

Spring Worries & Wayward Cows

Don't you just love Spring? Of course around here, we're still mostly waiting to see if Spring is ever going to spring. It has been chilly! The jonquils have bloomed and some of the trees are pushing out blooms, but we need a few warm days. We've been having plenty of water. Rain makes the flowers grow, I suppose, but it also makes the field muddy. Especially when cows are tromping around in it. Makes for some gushy walking in the pasture fields.

One of our cows found the grass greener on the other side of the fence this afternoon. My husband is up in Cincinnati getting ready to sing at a church there in the morning, so guess who got to try to put the cow back in the proper field? You got it. Me. Trouble was, I didn't know where the old girl's hole in the fence was. I kept trying to herd her back the wrong way. But she knew where it was. From the looks of the stomped up path, the whole herd has been knowing where it is over the last few days. Somebody's going to have to do some fencing come Monday morning. Until then, I may go walk in a different direction. Especially if neighbor dog Roxie, the big St. Bernard wants to walk with me. She's a really good dog, but she does like to chase the cows. So I usually take a wide berth around the herd when she's with me or hold her collar till we're past them. I didn't catch her collar fast enough today. And even when I do, I keep wondering what I think I'm going to do with a 150 pound dog if she decides to take off. The smart thing would be to let go, don't you think?

Have you ever worried about something until you were nearly sick? I know it tells us in the Bible that worrying is useless and shows lack of faith. And I also know that most all of us do some worrying at times. Our teenage son is late getting home -- we worry. Our daughter is having a baby -- we worry. We get an unexpected bill we aren't sure we'll be able to pay -- we worry. We are supposed to turn our worries into prayers, and I try to do that. But I have to admit sometimes I keep yanking those worries back, saying, "Wait a minute, Lord. I'm not quite through with that yet." As if just sitting and stewing and worrying can change a thing. Now prayer, that can change things.

At any rate, I've been doing some stewing and worrying the past few months about my just finished book that I sent off to the editor. I waited and waited and waited for news. Good news, I hoped. But then the weeks dragged on. It's been my experience over the years that good news comes relatively quickly from editors and bad news can be a little slower. So when the time passed when I thought I should have heard, I began to worry that the editor didn't like the book. I worried it wasn't a good story. That I hadn't done a good job. All that worrying messed up my head until I couldn't seem to get going on my new idea. Then I finally talk to said editor last week and she hadn't even read the book!! She'd been extra busy and had sat on it. I'd made myself sick for all the wrong reasons.

That's not to say it was good that the editor hadn't made time to read my book. But it does say that I was worrying about the wrong things. That's usually the way of it. We worry that this or that will happen and then something altogether different happens and we haven't done anything but get gray hairs and frown wrinkles from worrying. Praying is much better and I'm going to try to remember that as I start a new countdown on waiting for news. Pray. Pray. Pray. I believe in prayer. I truly do, but sometimes I don't act very much as if I do. And then I have to pray for forgiveness and start over at square one. Aren't you glad the Lord is so forgiving? That He gives us another chance and another chance and another chance if we ask for it.

Well, that's my sermon of the week. Remember -- worry is like a rocking chair. It keeps you busy, but it doesn't get you anywhere.

Hope you have a blessed week ahead. And no reason to worry.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Easter Blessings

Happy Easter, everyone! What a great day to be in church with your family around you as we remember the empty tomb! As my preacher, Br. Fred says, Easter is the highlight of our Christian worship. Br. Fred has been preaching at Goshen for twenty plus years, but I never get tired of hearing his great sermons. He should have been preaching in a big church, but life circumstances led him to our little church and we've been blessed over the years to have him teaching and preaching the Bible to us. I know I've learned a lot and it stood me in good stead when I decided to write my Hollyhill books with one of the main characters a preacher. While my preacher can't preach like Br. Fred, he does have the same love for preaching the Word.

Today was an extra nice day at church because both of my sons were there to worship with us along with their families. We packed two pews. Any of you remember back when we had revivals in the summer and the preacher would challenge the people in the church to pack a pew? I don't do it every Sunday, but we managed today. My sons have three children each ranging in age from thirteen to almost two, and so I was surrounded by beautiful grandchildren. I hope you were too. If you're old enough for grandkids. If not, I hope you were surrounded by loved ones of whatever age. Of course at our little church we claim every baby born into our church family as a church grandkid. We all take turns spoiling them.

We came home and had an Easter egg hunt out in the yard. That's not an easy accomplishment with my big old dog and the neighbor dogs wanting to get in on the hunt too. But the kids found plenty of eggs with only a few ending up in the dogs' mouths first. Those were quickly rejected by the granddaughters. Ooeuwie. (I don't know how to spell that, but you get the idea.) My grandson loved it when the eggs he picked up rattled because that meant he'd found one with some coins in it.

So tonight I'm bushed after some marathon cooking sessions and getting up for Sunrise Service (and cooking for breakfast at church, too) and having fun playing with the kids. You know they don't stay little long and a grandma has to make hay while the sun shines. And the sun was shining big time today.

I hope you had a blessed Easter too and are feeling as blessed as I am.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Memories on my Mother's Birthday

Today is my mother’s birthday. She is 88. She was the second of four sisters. No brothers. Her father was a blacksmith and her mother was a housewife when that word seemed to carry more honor. Now we’re homemakers or domestic engineers or a lot of us are wearing so many hats we don’t know what to call ourselves. Mom grew up during the Great Depression, but although she knows they never had any money to speak of, she never felt poor. She and her sisters were loved and had food on the table and books to read. Her father and mother were both readers, and I’ve heard my grandmother say she was never happier than when she and my grandfather spent an evening in companionable reading. My grandfather enjoyed reading about scientific advances and history as well as fiction. I don’t remember him very well because he died when I was young. But I can tell by the way my mother and my aunt talk about him that he loved his daughters very much. And what better gift to leave your children than the assurance of your love? That’s the gift my mother passed on to me and that I have done my best to pass on to my children.

Mom has lost two of her sisters, the oldest and the youngest. She and the other middle sister still get together at least once a week to talk about the good times when they were growing up and having fun together. I’ve been eavesdropping on some of their conversations and going back in time with them. They remember their father pulling his chair up close to the radio to listen to Joe Louis knock out whoever climbed in the ring with him. They smile when they talk about sitting on the outer edges of their father’s forge to warm up on cold winter days. They laugh about the taffy pulling parties their mother let them have when some of their friends ended up with fingers stuck together. They know where they were when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor and how that changed their lives. My aunt rode across the country on a train to spend a few weeks with her husband before he was shipped overseas. That was the first time she was ever away from home. She rode the train back home with a baby on board. So many memories.

We all have memories we treasure, but that perhaps we never share with anyone. Maybe we feel they’re not important enough to tell others. But I’ve found my grandchildren’s ears perk up when I tell them about some little thing their daddy did when he was growing up. Stories tie us together and help us realize what makes us a family. Next time you get together with your extended families, listen to each other’s stories and enjoy!

I’m going to do some remembering when I do my presentations at the Anderson County Public Library here in Lawrenceburg on Sunday April 13th at 2 p.m. and at the Paul Sawyier Library in Frankfort, KY on Thursday May 8th at 6 p.m. I’m planning to do some just for fun Sixties Trivia. Whether you lived through the Sixties or have only read about what happened back in the olden days, we can have some fun remembering. I’ll also be talking about my writing and giving away some door prizes at both events. Nothing too big since I’m only a poor struggling author, but you might win one of my books or perhaps an Elvis CD. Hope if you’re in the area, you’ll come out and join in the fun.

Finally here’s a list I came across to leave you with a smile while you think up your own additions to the list.

10 Things to show God has a Sense of Humor
1. The platypus
2. The digestive system
3. Bumblebees
4. Baby giraffes
5. The appendix
6. Solar eclipses
7. The story of Baalam and his talking donkey (Numbers 22)
8. Hammerhead sharks
9. Snowflakes
10. Oklahoma weather

I think I’d have to put Kentucky weather right in there with Oklahoma. Especially in March. And I don’t know about the snowflakes although I have wondered how anybody can be absolutely sure no two snowflakes are exactly alike since we certainly haven't inspected them all. Of course what might show the Lord’s sense of humor best is all of us.

Happy St. Paddy’s Day. Hope you have a good reason to laugh at least once every day. Laughter worketh good like a medicine. It promises us that in the Bible.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Snowy Sundays

It appears winter wasn't quite through with us. Last Sunday was balmy. This Sunday snowy. Our church didn't have services the same as about three-fourths of the churches in the area. And it just hasn't seemed like Sunday without going to church to meet and worship with my church family. Actually due to the SC Book Festival and then going to WV to my son's church last weekend, it's now been three Sundays I haven't been out to Goshen to see the "family."

We do feel like a family there. That's why I like going to a small church, and I'm really talking about a small church here. If we ever have 50, we say we had a crowd. If a big town church had 50, they'd panic. But for us 50 is good and 40 isn't bad. While I've been going there since I married, we've averaged anywhere from 20 to 80. I can only remember a few years we brought in the 80. But older members can remember when that was the norm. They used to tell me how during revivals people stood on the outside and listened in through the open windows.

The church was established in 1812. So it's been there a long time. I used my memories of Goshen as it was when I first started going there for my church in my Hollyhill books. It's a good church and it's sent out a lot of faithful members to other churches - people who grew up at Goshen and remember it fondly. At one time one of the men came early on a Sunday morning in the winter to build the fires in the two stoves on either side of the church. Now I don't remember that far back. We had a furnace when I started going.

I told everybody Wednesday at Bible Study that I'd be back this morning the Lord willing and the creek didn't rise. I guess I should have said if the snow doesn't fall. But who expects 6 inches of snow on March 8th. Snow this time of year does make for good snowman material. I was sort of wishing I had some grandkids visiting so I'd have an excuse to go out and make a snowman. But they were sledding on other hills this weekend. I settled for a walk in the snow. It was beautiful yesterday afternoon - white and smooth. Pristine fields of white. Me and the dogs made short work of that. But then by the time we came back the wind was already wiping our footprints away.

Now today the sun melted most of the snow. That is the great thing about it snowing in March. It rarely lasts long. You have the snow to enjoy and then just like that it's gone and you can start looking for crocuses again. I actually spotted some pretty yellow crocuses the other day, and the March flowers are trying to bloom. Spring is really coming. But you should have seen my bird feeder yesterday while the snow was still on. About a hundred birds were fighting for the seeds. Well, at least fifty. I counted fourteen cardinals. They look so pretty against the white snow.

I'm trying to get going on my new book. I'm still figuring out who everybody is. I want to have strong characters who readers will want to read about.

I'm planning an author event at the Anderson County Public Library on Sunday, April 13th at 2 p.m. I'm going to be talking about "Writing about Small Town, America in the Sixties." We're going to be doing some just for fun trivia about the Sixties and have some door prizes. I want it to be a fun afternoon for everybody. What trivia question would you ask about the Sixties? Even if you aren't old enough to remember those olden days, you might still be interested in what went on then.

Hope you all have a great week and that next Sunday we'll be enjoying some warmer Spring sunshine again. Next Sunday is my mom's birthday. She's the greatest and we love celebrating with her. But we'll skip the candles. No need involving the fire department. Just kidding, Mom!

Signing off for now. Ann

Monday, March 3, 2008

March Winds are Blowing

Hey, it's March, and it feels like it here today in Kentucky. Temps in the sixties and a nice strong March wind blowing. Of course, you know what they say in Kentucky. If you don't like the weather just wait a little while and it'll change. They say we'll be having snow flurries by the time the cold front moves through tomorrow. You know, whatever the weather does, we'll have to deal with it. May all the storms fly over top you.

I guess that's what we always want. For the storms to miss us, but sometimes it's in the storms of life that we grow stronger. Yet I don't know anyone who wishes for storms of trouble or heartache. But you know, if we're living in this world, those storms are going to be sure to come at times the same as we have thunderstorms and rain in our weather. The best way we can prepare for those storms is to have our lives securely anchored in our faith.

Still I shouldn't look past the great sunshine and warm temps today and this weekend to the rain and clouds ahead. I should enjoy the precious present. I had some precious moments this weekend spending time with my son and his family in WV. Darrell and his group, The Patriots sang at our son's church in WV on Sunday night and in New Matamoras, Ohio on Sunday morning. So I just jumped off the bus at my son's home and spent the night with them. I have three beautiful granddaughters there to keep me smiling. And we were blessed with the sunshine so that we got to go to the park and play outside. Ashley, who's almost five, really enjoyed riding the Patriots' big old purple bus out to eat after the concert. I think she was ready to join the group and ride along every weekend. She'd certainly dress up the stage if she did. She's got cute cornered. I think all my grandbabies do as I'm sure you do yours, too.

My website is pretty much ready to go now. I hope you find it easy to navigate and enjoy reading about my books. I'll keep the events schedule updated for your information and maybe post some things on this blog as well.

Carrie from Beattyville won my book giveaway. Thanks to everyone who entered. I'll be doing a new giveaway soon. Maybe for my new book, The Outsider, or perhaps a complete Hollyhill set now that all three books are out. Jocie was a fun character. I'm going to have an author's event at my local library on Sunday afternoon April 13th. I think we'll do some fun things about the sixties. I know some of you don't remember those days since you hadn't discovered America by then, but it's still fun to find out how things used to be in Small Town, America.

One last note -- Carrie who won my book, Summer of Joy, says her mother-in-law, Lorene, has ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease). Keep her family in your prayers as they fight against this terrible disease. They're facing some of those storms I was talking about earlier.

Hope you have lots of sunshine in your lives this week. Until next time, may you always know you are blessed.

Ann