It's (Simply) A Wonderful Life

>> Tuesday, December 31, 2013

 I'm posting at The Barn Door today. Pop over there or read on. And...
Happy New Year to all!

Most everybody has seen the movie, "It's a Wonderful Life." Frequently repeated throughout the month of December, it's one of those classics you never get tired of.

In the movie, we meet George Bailey, a man whose dreams of getting out of small town USA are dashed at every turn by circumstances, coincidences, and just plain bad luck. George decides the world might be better off without him, but his guardian angel, Clarence, steps up to prove otherwise.

He takes George on a journey through time and helps the distraught man realize just how important he is to those who love him.

Through the ordinary, everyday, and mundane, George begins to see the light.

Which leads me to consider my world and the end of 2013. Not in a discontented manner-quite the opposite. I have a terrific life in my own little small town USA.

It's a simple existence, just the way I like it. I prefer my daily routine uncomplicated. Easy-going. The less drama, the better. Some may term it dull and boring. Even monotonous. Often I would even agree with that assessment. But for the most part, it's all good.

I've learned to appreciate the simple. The little things. The routine.

Like winter.

I'm not a fan. Totally detest it and look forward to snowbird status in the future. But even I can appreciate the beauty of a Michigan blizzard as long as it's from my easy chair wrapped in fuzzy jammies.

As a kid, I didn't indulge in outdoor winter activities much. I tried, but it just wasn't my thing. My mother figured that out after spending large amounts of time bundling me up and being annoyed when I reappeared very shortly after going outside. Was probably a big relief when I opted to skip the whole thing and stay inside with a book.

Not too long ago, I sat and pondered winter while being stuck inside during an almost-blizzard. I was antsy and bored, wishing there was something to do besides stare at the swirling snow as it piled up out my back door. Eventually I worked myself into a a state of near-whining

Something needed to be done.

So I forced myself to look for the positives. Think about the importance of every season in regards to the workings of the earth--instead of just the ones I like.

I also tried to find the beauty out my window instead of being depressed. Fluffy snowdrifts and fluttery flakes in the sunshine were enough to bring a smile even to this grumpy hater of winter.

And then there's the wildlife. This picture by my friend Cari was taken somewhere in Michigan. Isn't it gorgeous? (Despite the pile of white stuff.)

Photo by Cari Povenz
So I learned a few lessons from good old George Bailey: Be grateful for what you have instead of whining about what you don't. Find beauty in the ordinary, the simple, the everyday. Watch the attitude. Be quick to love those around you. Be willing to try something different.

I'm excited about 2014. A new year always gives us a chance to start over. Right the wrongs in our world. Hope for the better. See what adventures lay ahead.

Time to go for it.

What about you?

Do you (simply) have a wonderful life?

I do.


Glad I Figured It Out

>> Thursday, December 12, 2013

This week I join the Holly Jolly Blog Hop. Be sure to check out some of the other blogs and link up below.

Usually my Christmas season is filled with shopping, activities, and general mayhem like most people.

This year is different. There's still some of that stuff on my plate, but something else as well. I have an underlying feeling of excitement that has had me looking beyond this month.

Beyond the carols, gifts, and gatherings.

And right past Christmas.

My gaze has been glued to January 2, to the exclusion of everything else. Why? Because that's the day I get on a plane to Cozumel.

This is a momentous trip for me as I've never really been on an all-enjoyment type vacation. I don't have the opportunity to travel often and usually it's for family events, visiting friends, etc. But this? This has only one purpose: FUN.

So yeah, I’ve been a bit pre-occupied. I didn’t purposely set out to ignore Christmas. Just have had other things on my mind. No Christmas carols have rang through my home and I’d decided to skip the whole tree and decorations thing. Why bother? I was busy with packing lists, summer clothes, and dreams of beaches instead of snow drifts.

But even though I figured I’d just kind of opt out of the holidays, somewhere along the way I pulled up short. What was I thinking? In my haste to push past it all, I’d also shoved out the real reason for Christmas: The birth of Christ.

I’ve always detested the commercialism that plagues our society in regards to Christmas, yet I’d lost sight in much the same way. My excitement over a “once-in-a-lifetime” trip had lead me to sidestep and I almost missed out on celebrating. Glad I figured it out.

I loaded Pandora with carols and put up a tree. The nativity set now graces the mantel of my fake fireplace. Christmassy candles flicker and the smell of evergreen floats through the house. Nothing like a dark living room with twinkly lights and music to help you gain perspective.

Christmas isn’t presents, decorations, or trips to sunny, faraway places. It’s about the greatest gift of all and God’s kindness when he sent us that baby. 

It’s all about him.

And that’s enough.


A New Thing

>> Thursday, October 31, 2013

I've been a part of ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) for about six months. Time doesn't allow me to get involved as much as I'd like, but I do receive their email loop on a regular basis, which keeps me in the know.

So when I got an email about a contributor opening at The Barn Door, my interest was piqued.

The Barn Door is made up of a conglomeration of writers that have an assigned posting day each month. The overall theme is life in the mid-west, and the writers are from far and wide. Being a part of such a popular blog would be an honor and privilege. And pretty frightening.

My own blog has gone a bit by the wayside of late. I've been concentrating solely on the revamping process of Photo Finish and there's never enough hours in the day to do everything plus squeeze in writing time. Life tends to get in the way.

But it was time to quit whining: Blogging must go on.

I know it's important to establish a presence on the web to keep my name out there. Do I sometimes wonder why I bother? Yup. But it's what I'm supposed to do.

Yet I hesitated, my insecurities rearing their ugly heads. I hemmed and hawed. I fought my fear. Then I finally hit "reply" and made an offer.

After interacting with Barn Door gate-keeper and published author, Lisa Lickel, we struck a deal.  The 31st of every month was now mine. It felt perfect. I wouldn't stress over a monthly commitment and could gently ease into a deadlined submission to keep me in the blogging world. There aren't that many months that have a 31st so I'd have plenty of time to prepare posts. I was feeling pretty good until...OMGosh...

October 31 was just around the corner. *gulp*

So I kicked it into gear, pulled some thoughts together that had been running around in my brain, and came up with a post. Boy was I rusty. Such a feeling of accomplishment. Yay me.

Please take a trip on over to the Barn Door and check out my debut. Leave a comment.

Show me a little bloggy love, will ya?


An Update

>> Monday, September 23, 2013

A few weeks ago, I posted "A Call for Help" about the community fund raiser I'm participating in on October 19.

Now it's time for an update.

The event is the Branch County Out of the Darkness Community Walk sponsored by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. It is being organized by my step-children who lost their father a year ago. By raising funds to fight the battle against suicide, their hope is to help others avoid the loss and pain they have suffered. In addition, miracles are taking place.

I've seen healing. I've seen hope. I've seen determination like never before.They've sold bracelets, acquired sponsors, made videos, and beat on doors for donations.

I couldn't be prouder of them.

As of today, they've received over $5700 in pledges and 138 people have signed up to walk. Donations have poured in, food provided, and free advertisement extended. There will be music, event booths, and remembrances of loved ones. Goodie bags, hugs, and tears.

This thing has taken off and has a life of its own. Everywhere I go, I hear people talking about it. Here's a link to the event page at AFSP.

It's a sad subject and it will be a hard day, I have no doubt. But it is also a celebration of accomplishment, hard work, and a way to help.

Take a minute and watch these videos. The first part is all the reasons why a person should not consider suicide an option and the second is about why we're walking.

We'll never know what impact the walk will have, but if even one person reconsiders taking their life because of this event, all the efforts will be worth it.

Thanks to all those that have sponsored me and if you'd like to help out with a donation, it would be greatly appreciated.


"H" Is for Happy-Dancin'

>> Friday, September 13, 2013

 I'm tickled pink to share my Happy-dancin' "H" post for Patty's A-Z Meme with newly-published author, Sarah Grimm. We recently met at an ACFW event; however, we barely spoke. (The one-sheet projects we were working on kept us pretty busy.) Apparently hers did the trick because shortly after that, she was contracted through Solstice Publishing for her debut novella. 

Make sure you hop on the blog train at the end and check out some other "H" posts on the meme.


A few words from Sarah... 
"First of all, I want to thank Kim for being gracious enough to let me post on her blog today. I am so Happy about the release of my novella, BREATHLESS."

A few words about BREATHLESS... 
What if one touch could unlock a thousand memories?

Eighteen year old Claire Summers has a rare gift she must keep secret, she's a Breather—someone who can see other people’s memories by touching an object they’ve touched. When she stumbles across a memory of her friend in danger, she'll do anything to help rescue him. The problem is, her secret will be revealed. If the wrong people find out about her ability, they’ll hunt her because 

Breathers are powerful weapons.

Who's Sarah Grimm?
I started writing when I was … well I actually can’t remember not writing. It’s kinda my thing. I love fantasy—epic, urban, sword and sorcery, all of it—so that’s what I write.

The way I look at it, God blesses us with talents and makes us passionate about them so we’ll use our talents. 

You can learn more about me and what I’m writing on my website:                                                    

Breathless is an urban fantasy. For those of you unfamiliar with whatever that is, it’s fantasy set in a city, sometimes it’s in the future, sometimes present.

(Photo credit Geoff Lefarth)

The story takes place in a few cities—Podunk towns actually. Yup, there’s a road trip involved, and it’s in this awesome, awesome ride.

Yeah, I know.

And for your reading pleasure, 
an excerpt from BREATHLESS
My shoes crushed the thick grass. Thunder rumbled in the distance. Damp, summer air swirled around me unable to cut through the heavy fog. Headstones, cracked and crooked, spread across the grassy hill. I’d been here before. My dreams often brought me to this cemetery. The full moon lit my way down a familiar path. Even though I was dreaming, I was chilly in my tank top and shorts.

I headed toward the tallest headstone on the hill’s crest. No flowers or American flags decorated this soul’s final resting place. I reached out, like I had the other times I’d dreamed this, and I knew what to expect. Before I could touch the stone, my subconscious would pull me back and I’d wake on my bouncing bed feeling like I’d fallen from somewhere high.

The rough stone was cool beneath my fingers.

Three translucent figures walked away from me, passing through the untouched fog. Two men, one held a young boy’s hand, the other followed them. The boy looked so familiar. They walked through the headstones littering the hillside as if they were insubstantial, and then flickered out.

My hand jerked back. A chill skittered across my chest and spread over my whole body leaving me with goose bumps. Heart racing, I willed myself to wake.

I didn’t.

My chest tightened. Was I dreaming or not?  Thunder rolled closer. I backed away from the creepy headstone and stepped on something slippery. Arms flailing, I lost my balance. I landed in the moist grass. Pain shot up my elbow as it connected with rock.

“Back here. Quick.” The whisper turned my blood to ice.

“I’m dreaming,” I said aloud since this was too freaky to be real.

“Dream? No, sweetheart, you’re in a trance. Snap out of it or whatever it is you Breathers do.” The stranger’s voice rasped.

I froze, watching him inch closer. Breather? What was he talking about? My head cleared like a fan turned on and blew the fog from my brain, and I realized my situation. I so wasn’t dreaming. This was real. This was real?

I faced the stranger hiding behind a headstone and caught a glimpse of his rifle. Oh holy night.

Leave a comment for a chance to win a PDF.
Don't forget the blog hop.


A Call For Help

>> Friday, August 30, 2013

2012 was a hard year.

A few things happened to me personally, but more so to people I love. A close friend lost her husband to suicide. Ten days later, my step-children lost their father the same way.

I'd never been exposed to such a tragedy before and all I could do was watch in horror. So many questions. How do people process such a thing? Will it ever make sense? Would my loved ones eventually be okay?

Standing by those suffering tremendous heartbreak was one of the hardest things I've ever done. I felt helpless to fix it. I wanted to make their pain go away. I wanted to do SOMETHING.

But there was nothing I could do but be there as they were forever changed.

One year has passed. Their sadness may be just a bit less, yet the shadows still lurk behind brave smiles. They've tried to pick up the pieces and move forward. Life must go on but it is...different.

My step-kids are trying to do something positive as a result of their loss by becoming involved in the fight to prevent suicide. They've partnered with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. The AFSP are the sponsors of community walks called, "Out of the Darkness." Walkers collect funds to honor their loved ones and raise funds for the battle to prevent suicide. Through educational programs and awareness, the AFSP is winning the war against suicide.

I'm so proud of my kids. They've stepped up and are holding a walk in our local community on October 19. Funds are coming in and they are working hard to make the event a success. To  honor their dad. To help families avoid the tragedy that they've suffered. To make a difference.

The employee club at my job has become a bronze sponsor of the event and I've formed Team LCF to walk in the event.

And now I'm gonna beg:  Will you help?

Giving is easy, tax deductible, and you'll get a receipt.

Thanks for your consideration!


I'm Soooooooo Excited....

>> Friday, August 23, 2013

A to Z blog hop at Patterings.

 Patty Wysong's "A to Z" Meme: 
This Week is all about "E"...
(Be sure and visit the other stops on the blog hop below.)

Okay, so I can’t sing like one of the Pointer Sisters. And as far as looks, not even in the same stratosphere. But if I could or did, I’d be on the rooftop shoutin’…


(Check it out on YouTube)

What am I all fired up about?

I’m going on vacation!

Stay with me and don't roll your eyes. It may not seem like a big deal, but I don’t get out much. I've traveled some, visited friends and family, and even been to Mexico four times--on mission trips. (Not exactly luxury accommodations.)

My life (which I adore, by the way) is pretty calm, sedate, and basically dull. There’s not a lot of extra cash in the stash and I’m a bit of a lone wolf when it comes to socializing.

But the last few years, I've been trying to up my game in regards to the enjoyment factor. This time, I hit the jackpot.

My niece and her husband booked a trip to Cozumel and invited anyone interested to come along. My immediate reaction was, “Nah, can’t do it.”

Didn’t give it much of a second thought until one of my friends said, “What are you thinking? This is perfect.”

And I realized she was right. The fact that there would be a group of people in the area, but we’d all be doing our own thing, made this absolutely ideal for me. 

The trip is in January (Hmmm….sun and beaches in the middle of the winter. Can you say AWESOME?) and is all-inclusive. This means that for one price, airfare, hotel, and even food are paid in advance so there is no cash outlay unless you go on excursions or buy lots of trinkets. (I’m not the touristy type, but I do hear Cozumel is famous for amethyst, which happens to be my birthstone.)

I can't swim so snorkeling is probably out of the question, but I'm up for trying it in a life jacket. Will probably look pretty silly, but who cares?
Visions of me lying by on a beach, Kindle in hand, sipping some non- alcoholic, fruity drink occupies my thoughts often these days.

Could it possibly get any better?

Actually yes: Delayed billing until next summer. *cha-ching* Only thing I need to do is get a new passport because mine expired a couple of months ago. And stay away from the stores because all their summer/beachy type stuff is on clearance right now. Woo hoo!

I’ve always said that my retirement venue in a few years would be a shack, Wifi, and a nine-hole golf course. This trip could be a trial-run. Who knows? Maybe I’ll put a down payment on a hut, and secure my future.
Then I'll really be happy-dancing on the beach to my favorite Pointer Sister song.

Don't worry:  I'll send pix.


Grandma, You Were Right

>> Monday, August 12, 2013

I've jumped back into Patty Wysong's "A to Z" Meme- Yay!
A to Z blog hop at Patterings.

This week is the letter "D".
 Be sure to hop on over to some other "D" posts through the linky tool below.

Mother's Day, 1995

My Grandma Friend was an awesome lady.

She spoiled me rotten. She loved ferociously. She was “that” Grandma.

One of my fondest memories is when my card shuffling skills were displayed during her pinochle games. Bragged me up like I was really special.

To her, I was.

She built her home many years ago overlooking the lake, and fully intended to live out her days there. At 92, she passed away, drinking in the scenery from her chair in that same house.

One of my favorite Grandma-isms was when she’d tout,“Gettin’old’s not so bad, but it’s Darned inconvenient.”

And now I’m there.

Never one to be bothered by my age, the number is quite irrelevant. Most days I forget my half-century (plus) status and just chug through life.

Yet lately, it seems that the age train has started to roar down the tracks. It squeals into the next stop and I hear echoes of “All Aboard”. Try as I might, I cannot ignore the faint cry in the distance.

A lot of it is mindset. I feel good, and don’t act my age. Yet occasionally, reality pays a visit. My hands and knees ache just a little more and I have to face the fact that I'm probably in the early stages of arthritis.

My hearing has always been an issue and I’ve worn hearing aids since I was 25. This has nothing to do with age, but from a chronic condition in childhood. Yet I suffer the stigma of an “old people” thing.

I struggle with low blood sugar and have to eat often. It’s annoying, but the alternative of raging headaches and temper tantrums are not worth it. The positive is that when I keep it in check, weight control is a bonus.

The latest thing? I’ve got sleep apnea. I’ve snored my whole life, but was still blown away when diagnosed in the severe category.

No wonder I was so tired!

So now I’ve been outfitted with this “cute” little machine with a mask that straps on my face at night. This ensures that my airway stays open and I don’t stop breathing. And die. (Small comfort.) Note: Don’t even consider asking for a pix—not gonna happen.

So here I am, at 52, a hearing impaired, hypoglycemic, that looks like an alien at bedtime.

I feel better every day as my machine and I become BFFs. I’m in the best shape of my life and continuing the quest to stay that way. Most important, I’m happy.

Yeah, Gram, you were right: Getting old is Darned inconvenient.

But really, it’s not so bad.


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