Little Adventures

I confess.  I’m a workaholic.

It’s not that I don’t enjoy fun and relaxation. It’s just that when there’s work to do—and there’s always work to do—I have a hard time setting it aside. I blame both DNA and my upbringing. My parents owned their own business, and I grew up watching them often work seven days a week in order to keep up with customers’ needs. My father was the local butcher in a farming community. You may think that doesn’t require working so many hours, but if a cow goes down with a broken leg, it has to be taken care of right away or the farmer loses the meat. And when he was the only butcher around for miles, people depended on him to make sure their freezers were stocked and their families fed.

But ...  I’m trying to play more.

My husband and I have a goal to enjoy not only big events, but also little “events.” I took last weekend off from writing and editing. With comfortable temperatures and sunshine, Saturday couldn’t have been more beautiful.

We took our time driving an hour and a half to another town in order to ride a steam-powered train. The engine pulled a line of enclosed cars, as well as open cars with canopies overhead to shield people from the sun. The hour-long ride took us through the woods and countryside. Once we got to a certain place on the track, the engine moved to the rear car and pulled us back to the small station.

The journey on the train wasn’t thrilling or exciting. The scenery wasn’t breathtaking. But, I couldn’t help notice how relaxed I felt. It was also fun observing people our age and older with grandchildren—just out for an afternoon. The kids didn’t need to have “gadgets” to be entertained. They enjoyed the ride, watching the engine, and hearing the whistle blow.

I think many of us have forgotten how to enjoy life's simple pleasures.

It doesn’t always take a lot of fanfare or expensive trips for our lives to be enriched. Sometimes, just walking in a park, sitting by a lake, or eating an ice cream cone with a spouse or friend can make our day better.

Look around you. Explore. What small thing can you do this coming week to put a smile on your face?


Book Review - Husband Material by Annette M. Irby

Lara Farr is picking up a few items in the grocery store when a good-looking man catches her eye. He seems almost lost standing in the holiday aisle. Lara understands—Valentine’s Day isn’t easy for her either.

When Lara returns to her restaurant, The Blue Hyacinth, she’s a little irritated to learn that their best table is being held for a guest when there’s a line waiting at the door to get in. After all, they don’t even take reservations. But, she learns the manager agreed to giving the table to customer—a past regular—who lost his wife three years earlier. Lara relents, and is surprised when the widower who claims the table turns out to be the man she spied in the grocery store.

Wyatt Hansen believes it’s time for him to move on with his life, but wanting to honor his wife’s memory, he visits their favorite restaurant on Valentine’s Day.  He’s intrigued by the owner and invites her to sit with him. Two people casually brought together begin to share pieces of their lives. But, when Wyatt offers to help Lara’s business by using his marketing skills, she’s determined to keep it just that—business.

In only thirty-one pages, Annette M. Irby skillfully gives readers a contemporary romance with depth. She puts us in the heart and thoughts of two people who want to love and be loved, but have walls surrounding their emotions. Wyatt tries to give without expecting anything in return, while Lara struggles with trust and letting a man into her life.

Husband Material is about two people finding each other. But, it’s also a story that reminds us that God oversees the big picture, and he can use everyday situations to bring wonderful opportunities, people, and changes into our lives. We just have to be willing to walk through the doors he opens.

If you’re looking for a quick read and you enjoy contemporary Christian romance, I highly recommend Husband Material.

This book is currently available at White Rose Publishing as an e-book as part of the Dollar Download offerings.  *Note: Dollar Downloads are short inspirational stories for Kindle or e-reading on other devices.

Husband Material is also available on Amazon as a Kindle download.

Annette M. Irby has enjoyed writing since her teen years. If she's not writing, she's reading for review, or editing. She is an active member of American Christian Fiction Writers and finaled in their Genesis Contest, 2006. She gives back to writers via her co-hosted blog: Seriously Write ( Married twenty years, she lives with her husband and three children in the Northwest. Husband Material is her second book, following Love Letters. She currently works as a freelance editor, as well as editing for publishing houses. She is active in her church as a mentor and worship leader. She enjoys photography, nature, and falling deeper in love with Jesus.

Add Just a Pinch

When it comes to creating delectable—or just even edible dishes, there are two types of cooks. Those who follow a recipe. And those who don’t.

Back in the day, when I was a high school student and home ec was a required class, we were taught to not only follow recipes, but to carefully measure the ingredients. A cup of flour needed to be leveled off with a knife. Liquids were poured into a glass measuring cup and eyed at table level to get an accurate reading.

For years, those rules remained ingrained in me. When cooking or baking, I didn’t deviate from the recipe. Of course, most of the time, my dishes turned out pretty well, but I didn’t allow for any experimentation. 

Then my husband and son-in-law stirred things up in the kitchen. They’re both great cooks and neither strictly follow recipes. My husband changes this and that and may not measure ingredients, while my son-in-law enjoys creating his own dishes.

The thing is … the food not only turns out … it's often improved from the originals.

So, now I take a few risks here and there. I sometimes add in a little more or less of an ingredient. I may throw in something that’s not even listed in the recipe.

I’ve learned to apply this lesson to not only my cooking, but my life … It was pretty much the same. I stuck to a plan or a schedule and was reluctant to change course. I played it safe. 

It’s good to have a plan to follow. Without one, it’s sometimes difficult to get anything accomplished. We don’t want to wander aimlessly through our days, weeks, and years. 

If we follow our plan too closely—afraid to veer off the path for even a short amount of time—we risk missing out on something exciting. Just like food without seasoning, our life can become bland. And who wants to lead a boring life? 

Like a chief adding a pinch of seasoning here and a pinch of spice there … taking little adventures and experiencing new things adds flavor to our lives.

So what are you going to “cook up” this coming week?


The Story Isn’t Over

How many times have you wondered why? 

Like … why do bad things happen to good people? 

Why don't things always work out the way we want them to?

Why doesn’t God answer all prayers with a “yes?”

This past Thursday, my husband and I made a visit to my stepdaughter’s grave on what would have been her 28th birthday. Angie died in a freak car accident when she was only 19 years old. It devastated our family. It didn’t make sense to us why God allowed a beautiful, smart girl to die at such a young age. She didn’t do anything to deserve it. And she loved the Lord and shared her faith with those around her. We still wonder what she’d be like and doing with her life today. We've asked why many times….

I’ve watched people being frustrated over job loss or not getting the promotion they worked hard for.

I’ve listened to women cry over sweet romances gone sour, wondering why they can’t find someone to love them the way they deserve to be loved.

I’ve empathized with those questioning why some have an abundance of wealth, while others struggle to make rent.

We've heard about unwed teens getting pregnant, while married couples put themselves through expensive fertility treatments in hopes of having a child.

As I’ve grown older, I’ve questioned God less because I’ve experienced answers to some of the whys. I've learned there are sometimes good reasons behind disappointments and God saying "no" or "not now."

Heartbreak over men dated was healed when the right one came into a woman’s life. She saw and understood how God protected her from making a wrong choice.

A job that someone desperately wanted would have stood in the way of a better and more fulfilling opportunity down the road.

People who struggled financially were grateful for what they had and sometimes were more willing to share than those financially blessed.

Infertile couples provided loving homes for children who would otherwise be raised in a system that couldn’t provide the same kind of care.

First Corinthians 13:12 says, “For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.”

We don’t have all the answers as to why things happen like they do. And we may never have answers until we’re face to face with God and gain only the understanding that he can provide. I’ll always wonder why Angie died. But, I believe God used her death for good—maybe to reach people who knew her with the reality that they’re not invincible.

I do know this … 

While situations may not be what we want at any given time, we don’t know what God has in store for us in the future. While he sees the big picture, we only see what’s right in front of our eyes.

Whatever your circumstances, remember that the story isn’t over … and it won’t be over until we reach THE END.


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