Merry Christmas...

>> Saturday, December 24, 2011

From The Russell Family

     Enjoy your loved ones...

       ...Be in awe...




    ....Eat yourself stupid...

...And remember the reason for the season.

Have a wonderful Christmas!


Kaleidoscope of Hope.

>> Monday, December 19, 2011

I'd like to wish all my friends and family a very Merry Christmas. 

During this busy time of year, it's easy to forget what it's all about--be sure to take the time to reflect on the true meaning.

This fictional piece is a FaithWriters Challenge entry from two years ago. I hope you enjoy it.

Krista flopped on the couch. Exhaustion had crept up on her like a cat stalks a mouse. Then it pounced, leaving her throbbing with fatigue.

The process had been a whole lot harder than expected, but the end result wasn’t too bad.  Her mom would probably be pleased that she had “not wasted the day away for a change.”


Her mother wasn’t pleased about much of anything these days. But decorating the house couldn’t hurt.

The Christmas tree glowed, reflecting off the window as daylight gave way to evening. Darkness slowly enveloped the room, but she made no move to turn on the lights. It was way more pleasant to sit and soak up twinkling holiday cheer. Although her present circumstances hardly qualified as “cheerful.”

Tears blurred her vision, casting red, blue, and green splotches on the nativity scene she had painstakingly placed on the mantle.

Oh holy night, the stars are brightly shining…

Silver flashes cut like lightning across the top of the stable, Mary, Joseph, and the baby Jesus tucked inside.  Krista paused to consider Mary, musing at the irony.

Supposedly Mary was a young girl. Just fourteen or so, she had found herself unmarried and pregnant. That must have rocked good old Nazareth.

It is the night of our dear savior’s birth…

Red dollops that could have been on a fuzzy receiving blanket spotted the Christ child in the manger. But according to the story, he didn’t even have a blanket. Let alone anything else. No Onesies, diapers, or pacifiers. Not even a snowsuit to keep out the December chill. Nothing but a few tattered cloths. Poor Mary must have been beside herself.

And what about the unsanitary conditions? She eyed the inhabitants of the stable, wondering if the worried new parents fretted about the dirt, animals, and freezing temperatures. Bet they were freaking out. 

Long lay the world, in sin and error pining
Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth…
Sprinkles of gold fell across the shepherds and wise men that had come seeking the savior.  Were they disappointed to find their “king” was nothing more than a mere mortal?

She knew the story of Christ. He was sent by God for a purpose--a destiny that would be fulfilled on the cross. But that night, he was just a baby like any other. Unique yet so ordinary, the hope the world had been waiting for.
A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices
For yonder breaks, a new and glorious morn...
Krista had been dragged to church when she was little. She listened to her mom talk about Jesus and how he offered the same hope to everyone if only people would accept him as lord and savior.
But she hadn’t paid much attention. 

As a teen, she’d taken a stand. Advised her mother that she was just fine and a “savior” was the last thing she wanted or needed.  The whole “hope” thing was fine for other people—she could take care of herself. Obviously she had been wrong.

Fall on your knees, oh hear the angels’ voices…

Krista cradled her expanding waistline, the baby bump somersaulting in response. “Oh little one, I’m so sorry I messed up my life and you'll suffer because of it. You deserve better…” A sob escaped as tears returned.

Guilt and shame slid down her cheeks like a dam unleashed. “I should have listened--made better choices. But I wanted my own way. No one was going to tell me what to do.  And now look at the mess I’m in…”

“Oh God, I need you…”

Oh night divine, oh night when Christ was born…

*Lyrics to "Oh Holy Night" composed by Adlophe Adam*


Never Give Up...

>> Sunday, December 11, 2011

Never Give Up On Something 
You Can't Go A Day Without Thinking About

I saw this quote on FaceBook. It struck me like a thunderbolt and jolted me to the tips of my toes. Unable to get it out of my mind, it niggled my brain to distraction.

So I made a list.

Coming up with all the things I think about on a given day wasn't all that hard. That being said, I'm a simple woman with a pretty straight-foward outlook on life so there wasn't that much to choose from.

Here's my list, in no particular order (except for #1.)
1. God
2. Friends & Family
3. Electronics
4. Writing
5. My job
6. Pets
7. My home
8. Golf (summer months only)
9. Coffee
10. The Civic
11. My hair (it has to be on the list; however, it actually belongs in the 'addiction' category.)
It's not all that astounding and those that know me well probably could have pin-pointed most of them. But when I started to mull the list over in light of the first half of the quote, it begged a question:

Do I give up on the important things?
Life can be difficult. And everyone feels like giving up sometimes. But how often do I throw up my hands and toss in the towel?

Some of my items are just normal things that can be annoying on occasion. Surely I would never give up on my home, car, or pets. Golf? I've considered it after a really bad round. Until the next time I step up to the tee.

Electronics can frustrate even the most saintly, but I wouldn't dream of living without them. My hair? I've learned to get past that one.

Writing is my passion and isn't going anywhere. When my brain turns to mush and I want to chuck it all, I just save and close the file, easy-peasy. It will be there another day.

Relationships can be hard. And messy. They're complicated and can make us crazy. But to do without? Not an option. You just learn to fight through the bad stuff: it always passes.
So maybe I don't give up on things. Do I take a break? Umm...yeah...probably more than I should. And eventually wander back.

It should be noted that God is in the top spot for a reason. I can honestly say I don't give up on him. Why? Because he NEVER gives up on me. I'm sure I frustrate him on occasion. And I totally know that my antics must amuse him.

There are times I whine at him and can be a bit of a complainer. I can lapse into victimhood in one dramatic heartbeat. His broad shoulders probably take me with a grain of salt, even at my worst. 

And when I get distracted, he welcomes me back with a hug. After I figure out I don't have to do it all on my own. 

Thank goodness he's always there.

Leads me to believe that he can't go a day without thinking about me.

Which means he'll never give up on me either.

That's a relief.


Another November Has Come and Gone...

>> Tuesday, December 6, 2011

November totally rocked!

It flew by at warp speed and now that it's over, I'm looking back to reflect on what I learned and figure out where I go from here.

As I'm sure you all know, I was wrapped up in the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo for short)

I typed my fingers to nubbins, striving to reach the 50,000 word goal by the 30th. It was fast and furious fun and just the same as the last two years, it was a learning experience too.

Here's a few of this year's insights:

1.  Getting words on a page isn't that hard for me. I was able to spit out an average of 2-3,000 per day so I ended up over word count and ahead of schedule most of the time.

2.  The quality of said words? Not so great. But it didn't matter: Just getting the storyline down created a framework to expand, revise, and tighten up.

3.  There's a competitive streak in me that serves as a catalyst for my motivation. Deadlines really can be our friend!

4.  I love to win! Enough said.

The end result of NaNo was that yes, I reached the 50,000 (55,659, to be exact) and more important, I was able to complete the rough draft of the manuscript I started two years ago.

Photo Finish is now safely tucked into a notebook (and backed up several different ways) so that the editing process can begin. I have test readers lined up, pre-editing phase done up to chapter 19 (of 50) and hope to move it into editing by the first of the year.

I'm also ready to get back to blogging. I made a choice to put my blog on the back burner because I was busy burning midnight oil on NaNo. Thanks for hanging in there. I hope you haven't grown weary of waiting for me to show up again and I appreciate your patience.

I plan on making a commitment to weekly posts (at least) and will bring in some of my fiction, devotionals, and of course, now that I let Miranda DailyLife have a crack at it, I'm sure I won't be able to get rid of her. (Note to self: change phone number.)

November may be a distant memory, but I have a constant reminder in the form of the winner's certificates.

They grace my wall as a reminder of the last three Novembers and are a visual what I can accomplish when I set my mind (and fingers) to it.

If I need encouragement when I feel like giving up, all I have to do is look up from my writing chair: instant gratification. (Who doesn't love that?)

And yes, there's room for more: I've already got a storyline bouncing around in my head for next November...


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