Turning 50!

Today is my birthday.

I’m 50 years old.


There it is.

It actually looks worse in black and white than it feels.

It’s not so bad turning fifty.
After all, fifty is the new thirty, isn’t it?

Today’s “older” women are different from the “older” women I knew as a child. Back then, women in their fifties dressed in polyester, wore rollers in their hair (wrapped in a colorful scarf) while they went to the grocery store, and showed up at potlucks with red jello.

Among other differences, today’s “older” women dress in leather jackets, wear chic haircuts, and cook gourmet.

Things I’ve learned with age…

You can disagree with your friends.
They’ll still love you.

Time with family and friends is more important than anything else.

You need to be true to yourself, no matter what other people think.

It’s okay not to clean the house from top to bottom “every” week.

You don’t need to be embarrassed about liking Gummie Bears.

It’s never too late to discover your gifts and talents.

There will always be new things to learn and experience.

Age is relative to your state of mind.

Here’s to being young at heart,

A Bit of Light

The wind is a powerful force.

It can be disruptive, destructive, and dangerous.

On Thursday, December 14th, the Seattle area was hit by fierce winds gusting to about 70 mph. More than a million homes and businesses experienced power outages. During the overnight hours, the temperatures dipped below freezing.

The power to our home kicked in the following Monday…but as I write this, a week later…thousands of people are still without electricity.

While we lacked power, we were fortunate enough to still have hot water and a wood stove that provided some heat, but many people had neither. Around four thirty in the afternoon the sun set. For the rest of the day and night, we maneuvered around our frigid home by using a Coleman lantern, flashlights, and candles.

No Internet. No television. In order to conserve remaining energy on our cell phones, we only turned them on to make important calls and to hear messages left for us.

Directly, just behind our home, a small cluster of homes never lost power. Throughout the storm and after, they proudly displayed colorful Christmas lights on their homes and yards. From the outside looking in, the people spared seemed oblivious to the surrounding community struggling to keep warm in freezing temperatures.

Were the people in the homes with power more deserving of light and heat?

I wonder if I experienced a small piece of what the “have nots” feel at times toward the people who “have”. There must be times when the poor who work hard, but have little, struggle with watching the rich appear oblivious to the people around them and the tough situations they live in.

Yet, I knew my situation of living without some comfort or conveniences would evidentially end. That’s not reality for everyone.

I’ve been hit with a bit of light…illuminating my heart with a little more compassion and understanding…

May we all grow to be more compassionate.

Big Things Come in Small Packages

Do you ever struggle with desiring something bigger, thinking it must be better?

I do...and then a lesson I learned as a child encourages me to let go...

The relatives gathered to celebrate Christmas at my aunt and uncle’s large Wisconsin farmhouse. The children were called together to play the game, Bingo, and were shown a display of gifts ranging from small to larger packages. Sensitive to feelings, my aunt made sure there were enough presents for each of the thirteen children to receive one after their first win.

Younger than most of my cousins, and quieter by nature, I was still just as excited about the prospect of being able to choose from the pile of colorful packages.

But, as we played, one child after another won the game before I managed to get my circular pieces in the required straight line. Packages were eliminated from the pile, and as the supply dwindled, my heart began to sink as the larger gifts disappeared.

It seemed to take forever, but finally it happened. I shouted, “Bingo!”

It was my turn to pick from the remaining few packages. I tried to guess what could be hidden inside each one. I made my decision and reached for a large gift, wrapped in bright red paper. There had to be something wonderful inside.

“Big things come in small packages,” my aunt whispered in my ear. She pointed to a gift, barely noticeable, wrapped in plain white tissue paper.

I trusted her and picked the smaller gift. I carefully unfolded the delicate tissue and discovered the silver ring that had been hidden inside. The setting held a round, cut piece of glass that reflected all the colors of the rainbow. The ring had to be inexpensive, but to me it was the most beautiful thing I’d every seen. In my eyes and heart, I held a treasure in the palm of my hand.

In our pursuit for what we think may be better, it’s so easy to overlook anything that might appear insignificant. But, what are we missing? What are the blessings, or everyday gifts, that we take for granted?

I don’t ever want to lose appreciation for a cool breeze blowing through the window on a hot afternoon, a comfortable bed after a tiring day, or a beautiful sunrise reminding me of God’s presence.

Wonderful, exciting, beautiful…and even life-changing things can be found in small packages. After all…didn’t the greatest gift bestowed upon us come in the gift of a small baby by the name of Jesus? And He gave the biggest gift of all. He gave us the gift of eternal life.

May you find great blessings in the small things,

So Much to Do and So Little Time

I can’t relate to people who complain about being bored. There are never enough hours in the day for me to do all that I want to. Maybe that’s why I smiled when I read the following quote. This describes how I feel some days.

“God put me on this earth to accomplish a certain number of things. I’m so far behind, at this rate I’ll NEVER DIE!” ~ Unknown

Time is precious and I don’t believe in wasting it. But, I also know that it’s unhealthy to let my life get out of balance. My husband continues to remind me that’s it’s okay to take time out. With his help, I’ve gotten better at it.

Where does this need come from to be productive almost every waking minute? Is it genetic? Is it a product of my environment? Or some inner need to prove myself?

God has put me on earth for a purpose and I don’t want to miss the mark. But, I also know that He loves me regardless of how productive I am. He doesn’t require that I prove anything.

God also has blessed “time out” and told us to set time aside for rest.

May we all learn to slow down.

Life Defined By Coffee

The following is a "forwarded" email I received from a friend. I searched for the author, but was unsuccessful, so I'll have to give credit to "Anonymous." Whoever the person is, they have great insight...

A group of alumni, highly established in their careers, got together to
visit their old university professor. Conversation soon turned into complaints about stress in work and life.

Offering his guests coffee, the professor went to the kitchen and returned with a large pot of coffee and an assortment of cups - porcelain, plastic, glass, crystal, some plain looking, some expensive, some exquisite - telling them to help themselves to the coffee.

When all the students had a cup of coffee in hand, the professor said: "If you noticed, all the nice looking expensive cups were taken up, leaving behind the plain and cheap ones. While it is normal for you to want only the best for yourselves, that is the source of your problems and stress.

Be assured that the cup itself adds no quality to the coffee. In most cases it is just more expensive and in some cases even hides what we drink.

What all of you really wanted was coffee, not the cup, but you consciously went for the best cups ... And then you began eyeing each others cups.

Now consider this: Life is the coffee...it's the jobs, money and position in society that are the cups. They are just tools to hold and contain Life, and the type of cup we have does not define, nor change the quality of Life we live.

Sometimes, by concentrating only on the cup, we fail to enjoy the coffee.

You brew the coffee, not the cups.......... Enjoy your coffee!

The happiest people don't have the best of everything.
They make the best of everything!"

Here's to great coffee!

Cynthia Ruchti - Writer, Speaker, and Friend

Let me introduce you to another friend in my writing world.

I met Cynthia Ruchti through the American Christian Fiction Writer’s organization. Cynthia lives in Wisconsin, my home state. Although most of our interaction has been via email, we’ve been able to spend time together at several ACFW national conferences.

How can I describe her? Cynthia is like Starbucks coffee to a caffeine addict – like chocolate to a woman with PMS – like a day of sunshine after a week of rain.

To know her is to love her. A person feels good…and cared for…just being in her presence.

Cynthia is pursuing publication in Christian fiction. Her short pieces are known for containing a message wrapped in humor. She can make readers smile while encouraging them to look at life’s daily lessons.

Cynthia is also a co-writer / producer for the radio program, The Heartbeat of the Home. This radio ministry, heard on 26 stations across the United States, presents a spiritual lesson through gripping, poignant, and sometime humorous stories acted out. Each presentation concludes with a short, non-preachy teaching segment. I’ve been privileged to have scripts that I’ve written be accepted and broadcast through this ministry. Click on the link to learn more. http://www.heartbeatofthehome.org

You can also enjoy Cynthia’s wit by visiting her blog at www.splashinginthedeepend.blogspot.com, or by clicking on the link for Cynthia’s Humorous Insights on the side bar of this site.

Check it out!

Seattle Snow Storm

What is up with the weather?

The Seattle area has been so drenched in rain all month, records have been broken.

Today I stayed home from work. But, it wasn’t because I was sick. The reason? SNOW.

Come on, people! This is supposed to be an area where temperatures are moderate and winters come and go without being noticed.

I grew up in the Midwest, so I’ve lived the majority of my life with cold winters accompanied by a lot snow. I was used to driving in blizzards and didn’t think much of it.

The year I moved to this area I was shocked to learn that with a “dusting” of snow, schools were closed and people were abandoning their cars in the streets to walk to their destinations. I questioned as to whether I had moved to a state where the inhabitants were much weaker than the hardy Scandinavians back in Wisconsin and Minnesota.

Hmmm…lesson learned here? One should not be too quick to judge. I quickly discovered that snow wasn’t the cause of people reacting in ways that had made me snicker. The real culprit was BLACK ICE. This tricky ice, hard to discern whether it’s really ice or just water on the pavement, is the cause of many nightmares. Add steep hills to the mix and…well, you get the picture. It isn’t pretty.

Last night as I drove home from work, I experienced the worst snow storm I can remember. Large hail changed into snow, accompanied by thunder and lightening. Traffic on the busy three lane highway came to a halt because of a major accident ahead of us. Once we maneuvered three lanes down to one and wove our way through the mess, we drove in a single line down the highway at twenty miles an hour. I may never experience that again. It felt surreal…

I got off the highway, drove the rest of the way on dark country roads, and was relieved when I reached home safely.

Today we woke to news reports of roads being covered with sheets of ice and encouragement to stay home. I took the advice... It was great.

It's easy to fall into the pattern of running through life. Until something out of our control – like a snow storm – stops us in our tracks. Then it doesn’t matter what we THINK needs to be done, it’s not going to happen.

But, we can decide if we’re going to become anxious about it, or sit back and enjoy the ride, however brief it may be.

God? This snow storm…
Were you trying to tell us something?

Wondering if the roads will be icy enough to stay home again tomorrow,

A Dream Sent from Heaven

I believe God speaks to us in a variety of ways.

Sometimes He speaks through doors closing, the counsel of other people, gut feelings, or by an inner voice that whispers in our ear.

I even believe that God uses dreams.

Four years ago we lost my nineteen-year old stepdaughter in a tragic car accident. Angela had a strong faith and we knew she’d find rest in the arms of a God who loved her even more than we could. But, that didn’t stop the pain and grief that followed.

With time the pain has become more tolerable, but it never leaves. Her absence is even more difficult during the holidays when the rest of the family gathers together and she’s not here with us.

But, today my husband shared a dream with me. A dream that felt incredibly real. A dream he didn’t want to keep to himself…

Sonny was at work when his cell phone rang. Part of the conversation went something like this…

“Hi, Dad!”


“It’s me, Dad.” Her voice was as clear as could be.

“Where are you?”

“ I’m surrounded by gold.”

“Ang, have you seen Jesus?”

“Yeah, I talk to Him all the time.”

By the time the conversation ended and Sonny woke up, he had a renewed sense of peace.

God knew my husband missed his youngest daughter. We believe God sent a dream from heaven to reassure Sonny that she’s okay and in good hands.

Sweet dreams,

A Control Freak Deals with Thanksgiving

I’m kind of a control freak.

My family would say that statement is not quite acurate. They'd tell you that I am a control freak. I never try to control people. But, when it comes to various situations and how they play out? Well...that's a different scenerio.

Take Thanksgiving, for example. I normally spend several weeks preparing for this holiday. The house needs to be pristine, the table set with holiday décor, and the food available in abundance. All has to be accomplished by my own two hands. Except when I let my husband set a foot into the kitchen. I want everything to be perfect.

We'd hoped our remodel / addition would be completed prior to Thanksgiving and we’d be able to celebrate in our beautiful new space. But, due to a variety of things out of my control, it won't be ready to inhabit until the week following Thanksgiving. That means no kitchen and no holiday dinner cooked at our house.

We dealt with our disappointment and informed our children, only to find out that other relatives they'd usually spend part of the day with had all decided to go out of town for the holiday.

The kids rallied. My twenty-two year old daughter, with some excitement, offered to host the dinner at her home if we'd bring and help with the turkey. My other daughter and her husband expressed a desire to bake pies. My stepdaughter and her fiancé offered to provide anything else needed.

Before I knew it, the family had decided to cook together. They became enthused about the prospect of everyone being responsible for contributing to the day's feast and being able to just spend a liesurely day with each other.

It's been a good reminder of what Thanksgiving should be. Everyone sharing a meal with the purpose of celebrating and giving thanks for all we've been given. Family members coming together because they enjoy each other, not out of obligation or someone else's expectation.

Maybe every once in a while, it’s not such a bad thing to be out of control.

Happy Thanksgiving!
Turkey Wave

Just for Laughs

I love to laugh. I need to laugh. Doesn’t everyone?

My personality tends to be more on the serious side. Maybe it’s due to being the responsible firstborn in my family. Or maybe it’s the ethic instilled in me as a child that work needs to be finished before one can play.

I’ve learned to surround myself with people who have a good sense of humor. People who make me laugh... and help me laugh at myself. My husband, my closest friends, and my kids can all bring me out of a funk. They help me to not take life or myself quite so seriously. I appreciate that, and once in a while, I can even surprise them with a little wit of my own.

Mondays tend to be the most difficult day in the week for me and today was no different. From the moment I approached the desk at my “day job,” I was buried under paperwork that needed to be completed. My stress level began to rise.

A manager, realizing that I’d had a taxing morning, came to my desk to read a list of one-liners and puns he’d enjoyed reading. Chuckling over them brought a light moment in the midst of a busy day.

The ability to laugh is one of God’s richest gifts to us. I can only imagine how awesome it will be to someday hear a rich belly laugh errupt from His own lips.

So, just for laughs…

1. Two antennas met on a roof, fell in love and got married. The ceremony wasn't much, but the reception was excellent.

2. An invisible man married an invisible woman. The kids were nothing to look at either.

3. I went to buy some camouflage trousers the other day but I couldn't find any.

4. A woman had twins and gave them up for adoption. One of them went to a family in Egypt
and was named "Ahmal." The other went to a family in Spain ; they named him "Juan."
Years later, Juan sent a picture of himself to his birth mother. Upon receiving the picture, she
told her husband that she wished she also had a picture of Ahmal. Her husband responded,
"They're twins! If you've seen Juan, you've seen Ahmal."

Keep laughing,

People Are Like Stained Glass Windows

I like the following quote so much I included it on my website's home page.

“People are like stained glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within.”
Elizabeth Kubler Ross

Isn’t that so true?

A person's true character is displayed when life gets a little tough. How do they respond in the midst of adversity? Do they handle it with anger, blame, and bitterness? Or do they face the tough situation with a positive attitude, determined to emerge from the dark tunnel into the light?

My friend, Kjersten, has been an example of a person who truly shines from within. Kjersten has been suffering from Lyme disease for several years. Some of the effects are severe flu like symptoms, muscle weakness, brain fog, her eyesight is being affected, and there is constant pain throughout her body.

Though she daily battles this disease, Kjersten continues to have an unwavering faith and a delightful sense of humor.

I hope I would have such courage.

Striving to be a like a stained glass window that shines from within,

Healing Rain

The rain is pouring down. I can hear it beating against the window. And when I say pouring, I don't mean drizzling, coming down in a light shower, or even descending at a reasonable pace. I mean pouring.

Okay...so the Seattle area is known for receiving a lot of rain. We're used to it. But even for us, enough is enough.

Today, the words of a song I learned as a child came to mind. "Rain, rain, go away. Come again another day."

A song I've learned as an adult speaks of a different type of rain. Healing rain. The kind that God showers on us when we need forgiveness, healing from painful relationships, or other hurts we've hidden in our hearts.

The ending to the song was written by Michael Farren and the words go like this...

Healing rain is falling down
Healing rain is falling down
I'm not afraid.
I'm not afraid.

Let it rain, let it rain
Open the flood gates of heaven
Let it rain...

We can never get enough of experiencing God's love raining down on us.

Hoping you feel soaked!

Michelle Sutton, Book Reviewer & Friend

There’s a world of fun and interesting Christian novels to entertain and inspire you. Stories that include comedy, romance, mystery, suspense, history, chick-lit, science fiction, fantasy, and the supernatural.

Some of them can be found in "Barnes & Noble," "Borders Books," and your local Christian bookstores. But, due to limited shelf space, there isn’t room for the majority of good books available. Because of that, Amazon.com has become my friend.

My affiliation with American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) puts me in the loop as to what is new and hot in the market.

But, how do you find out these books exist if you don’t have that kind of connection? Or decide if a particular book might even be suited for you?


Let me introduce you to a friend of mine.

Michelle Sutton is a dedicated social worker who lives in Arizona with her husband and two teenage sons. She’s a voracious reader and a prolific writer.

I met Michelle through ACFW and we immediately became friends. Over the last three years we’ve critiqued each other’s work and have supported each other through the ups and downs of writing and daily life. Michelle has been instrumental in my growth as a writer. While writing my novel, “With a Trusting Heart,” I was able to use her first hand experience as a social worker.

Michelle has developed a great reputation for reviewing books, not only by authors and their readers, but by publishing companies, as well.

Michelle has become so popular as a book reviewer in the Christian market, authors are sending her more books than what she can keep up with. Sensitive to writers, she won’t post a review of any book she can’t honestly endorse. Michelle will tell you that she "prefers books that are cutting edge and push the enevelop a wee bit" in the Christian market.

I encourage you to check out her book review site by clicking on Michelle’s Book Reviews on the side bar of this blog, or by going to www.edgyinspirationalauthor.blogspot.com

Let Michelle introduce you to something new.
She won't steer you wrong.

Here’s to finding great books!

Personalized Licensed Plates - What Do They Say About Us?

Personalized licensed plates and frames are great. They tell so much about a person’s personality, their sense of humor, or what’s important to them.

A friend of mine has a frame around her license plate that reads, “Drive Only as Fast as Your Angels Can Fly.” Another friend’s reads, “My Other Car is a Broom.”

I recently saw a personalized frame that said, “Make God Laugh, Tell Him Your Plans.”

Maybe I'm being too analytical, but what does that mean???

Has the driver become cynical? Did he once ask for God’s help with his dreams and aspirations, but failing to accomplish them, now blames God? Does he believe that God sits on His throne, laughing at us while He thinks of ways to thwart our plans?

Or…does the driver believe that God delights in our hopes, dreams, and plans so much, that it sets Him to laughing from pure joy at our willingness to share them?

What would your license frame say?

Happy driving,

The Garden

This past summer we “remodeled” our landscaping. The gate in the photo leads from the front of the house to the backyard. With the arrival of spring, the shrubs along the pathway will burst with crimson blossoms.

One of my favorite books as a child was, “The Secret Garden.” In the story, a young girl and boy find a secret garden hidden behind a door. Due to neglect, the garden appears to have withered away and died. But, the children discover the roots of many plants to still be viable. With loving, tender care they bring the garden back to life.

A friend told me years ago that my soul is like a garden. That visual has stayed with me. Maybe because it gives me a sense of peace to be close to nature and anything blooming. I can’t wait to load up my car in the spring – more than once – with flowers to plant.

We all have bad days, bad weeks…and some of us even have bad years. We all know people who suck the life out of us and we know people who make us feel good just to be around them. It’s easy to get wrapped up in the demands of work, family, and daily living and forget that we need time to regroup.

If you’ve gone through deep hurt or tough times and you feel dried up or dead inside, believe that the roots in your soul can bring forth new life.

What brings nourishment to my soul?

Foremost is my relationship with God. But also a husband who loves me, daughters who enjoy spending time with me…and friends who not only make me laugh, but who are there when I need them, day or night.

Add to that…creative outlet through writing, a good book, a great movie, a fire in the fireplace, and chocolate!

We all need to take care of the garden place in our souls.

What do you do to take care of yours?


Under Construction

After several years of dreaming and planning, my husband and I are soon going to see the completion of a remodel/addition project to our sixteen year-old home. The family room and kitchen have been expanded and another room has been built on to be used as an office.

When I married my husband four years ago and moved into his home, we merged furniture and house wares. It didn’t take long to discover that when our grown children came to hang out with us, or we invited a group of friends over, our comfy home became a bit tight.

Not only did we desire more space, the remodel was another way to make the house “our” home.

Although the end result is going to be awesome and a wonderful blessing in our lives, we first had to be willing to live in a mess. Both of us need “order” and to have our home turned upside down has been a bit of a challenge to our psyche.

Walls have been torn down and walls have been built up. The kitchen has been gutted. Furniture has been given away to make room for new. The walls will be given fresh coats of paint, the wood floors a new finish, and the windows will be made sparkling clean.

As I’ve watched this amazing transformation take place, I’ve wondered…

Is what I’m experiencing a small piece of what God feels when He’s working to change and “remodel” my heart to be more like He desires?

Does He ever grow weary and frustrated on days when it looks like there will never be any headway made with me?

Just as I take great delight in envisioning the finished changes to our home, I believe He delights in knowing that I’m still working on being all that He desires me to be.

Even on those many days when I don’t make any progress.

Hmmmm…what do I need to purge from my heart and thoughts today?

And by the way…there are benefits to not having a kitchen.

Neither of us has to cook! Perfecto


Something New

Every day brings with it an opportunity to try something new.

Today my "first" is taking one giant leap into cyber space. Today I'm posting my first Blog.

Blogging. It’s the “in” thing. People of all ages are sharing their interests, their daily lives, and helpful pieces of information. Next to text messaging, it seems to be one of the most popular ways to communicate with the world through the written word. I don’t have a clue as to how to text message, but typing words on to a computer screen? That I can do.

I hope to share snippets about my life, but more importantly thoughts or questions that will spur us to not only be challenged, but also encouraged. Who doesn’t need encouragement now and then? I sure do!

I’ll be introducing you to other writers who I think you’ll enjoy meeting. You’ll also find short messages to brighten your day and put a smile on your face.

Oh...You're wondering how the photo fits into this? Well, aside from just enjoying sharing pics, it happens to be one of the first photos I shot after learning how to use a digital camera earlier this summer. Another interesting learning experience for this non-techy person. Not bad, though, eh?

Have you tried something new today?

See you around…

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