Refreshing Hearts One Sentence At A Time
Walker Memorial Library is pleased to host a homecoming author's breakfast Saturday morning starting at 8am! Have a muffin and visit with HPU alumni and friends, books will be available for purchase, and archival displays will be set up throughout the library featuring these authors and our timeless traditions at HPU.
This Saturday, Howard Payne's homecoming offers a new and unique event and I hope you will join me! I will be there with copies of Sara's Lemonade Stand. Soft cover books will be available for $15. If you already have a book, feel free to stop on by to say hi and grab a muffin....because, muffins. And I'd love to see a friendly face!
Kadee Carder is an up-and-coming author I discovered at National University. Take a look at her delightful new blog, a mix of fiction and inspirational writing. She is just getting started, so I wanted to share her work to help get the word out. Feel free to follow on Twitter and Facebook, and sign up to receive updates on her blog!
Below is a the beginning and a link to an intriguing piece called, "Karen Gillespie's Ordinary Day."
Karen Gillespie was non-descript and usually very chilly. Her brown hair fell in a limp ponytail, and the looser skin around her thin jowls bore those signs of weary surmises, bored frowns, and lackluster people-watching. Perhaps Karen’s most interesting feature was her ability to be somebody different every day. She would flip aside the dainty, lace curtains in her cozy, yellow-walled apartment, and glance at the weather blowing by her window. On the days when trails of sunshine drifted down through the cement and brick walls of the surrounding city elements, she would pick up those wooden pencils labeled, “Karen,” in black permanent marker, and squiggle what seemed to be letters or numbers in some semblance of order in vertical lines upon crisp white papers. She always stacked the papers neatly afterward. On the drearier days when faded, ashen clouds filled the ether surrounding the sidewalks, she would pull out a gray pan and mix a batch of gray elements in a gray bowl to create some sort of buttery-smelling baked goods.
The uneasy queasiness of a Monday morning stirred her to look even closer out of the window, for possibly five seconds longer than she would normally glance. The air outside was clear and crisp, one which the skin did not find too hot or too cold, but Karen tucked her brown knit sweater around her arms tighter. She carried a tray of cookies and muffins upon her arms, a brisk pace to her steps, as she rounded the corner, avoiding the horde of soles and cracks filling the pavement. At one crowded crosswalk she glanced up, with a murmur only any friendly neighboring ears might hear, that, “We ought visit the Empire State Building tomorrow. There’s a chance for rain today.”
Pandering along the walk, a rainbow of shirts and shoes clattered by, and she offered a simple nod or smile to any who might notice. She paused too long in several doorways, stopped to ask several tourists for directions, and slid quarters in expired parking meters, red flags catching her hazel eyes. Pedestrians waited behind her, sighing, lingering slower in their tasks, and tarrying for moments more.
Karen delivered the tray to the gritty back door of a small bakery. A slumped man grabbed the tray with only a short pause and a flick of his brown eyes toward hers. “For this evening,” she stated firmly.
“Are you sure?” his thick hands and accent hesitated.
“Before the day is over. ‘Tis high importance.”
A delivery truck rumbled up behind her, cutting off the sky and effecting a period for Karen to glide by with a ducked head and closed ears. The baker did not prefer her deliveries, but he more often than not allowed them with a sullen nod. He knew she had been leaving a trail behind her today, for tomorrow would change the world.
See the rest at: http://www.kadeecarder.com/2015/10/karen-gillespies-ordinary-day.html
I slept on my head funny last night. I’m not sure how or why or for how long, but today my neck is as stiff as a broomstick and the inside feels like the rough, thick trunk of an old, dead tree. And the kids keep talking, and the tummy keeps gurgling, and the chocolates keep whispering from the cabinet.
When the challenge becomes overbearing, distraction is the key.
If the task seems impossible, you may be looking at the wrong side of it. The art of illusion is a seriously under-discussed ability. Publicists do it all the time, along with magicians, media writers, and politicians. I was recently introduced to this mastermind TV show called The Carbonaro Effect. In it, magician Michael Carbonaro assumes roles in normal jobs and performs the impossible before his unsuspecting audience. He can pull a bowling ball out of a pizza box, create a living being from a 3D printer, fill a whole juice carafe from one orange, pull gluten out of bread, and freeze-dry a dog. He performs these tricks in front of an everyday person, and he or she entirely believes the trick. Seeing is believing, I guess. You and I know that a toilet cannot be pulled out of a flat box, but the moving guy just saw it happen. Carbonaro shipped a kid from Germany to some small-town children’s play eatery, and the delivery guy almost passed out. The toy store clerk ran in terror as the bear she just stuffed began to chase her around the room. I guess I would too. We know it is impossible. But it happened. We saw it happen.
Watching this show has really boggled my mind. What else happens that is impossible, but we believe it because we saw it?
And what do you think we could actually accomplish if we believed in the impossible?
Work smarter, not harder.
I’m all for working smarter and not harder, by golly. When you face that moment where your goal seems too far away, too hard, or just plain impossible, do two things:
Magicians and illusionists languish in distraction to make their tricks a reality. Behind the curtain, somebody is squished into a very small space, someone is moving very fast with precision and skill, and somebody else is getting all the attention. When the going gets tough, put down science and feeling and hope and those gut-twisting nerves, and pick up the illusion that possibly This Thing Can Work.
Illusions occur in many steps, such as: creation, learning, practice, and implementation.
One Is The Loneliest Number: Creation Of The Idea
We’ve started with our goals. We have created the idea and decided to throw ourselves toward it, so we are on the right track! Woo hoo! Holla at ya! High Five! Mic drop!
Pick up the mic, though, cause we aren’t done yet. So.
Take A Look, It’s In A Book: Learning
The harder part comes next, where you have to learn about what you are doing. This helps with distraction, though. If you are changing your eating habits, read up on Why You Are Doing This, and What Can Help. If you are learning a new skill, read up on it, watch videos, flip through picture books, and talk to someone else who knows how to do it. Learn. Use that glorious gray matter! Take some Gingko! Yay for herbs!
Practice, Practice, Practice
Now act. Use that knowledge. This is the even HARDER part! Ugh! Take more Gingko! And like maybe a big swig of……water. Yeah. Water. What was I saying?
Oh yes. You may be wondering, “Hey, she just said that there was a harder part, and then a HARDER part, so where’s the downhill?”
Friend, my friend, o captain, my captain, I’m not sure there’s a downhill or easy part. Life is hard. It’s all hard. What a great fact that we have these other fabulous human beings around us to help distract from it, right? And God knew, he just knew, that we would be challenged, so that’s why he gave us the ability to learn, to appreciate all of the good, and to experience the joy in the success. So take that joy when you make it through another moment, and appreciate that you can retain knowledge, spark creativity in your mind, and implement these abilities. And also, be grateful for illusion. Be grateful you can only see one side of the trick at a time. We might not want to see the other side.
So back to it. We have learned and are moving forward. Now it’s lunch time, and you’re hungry, and you want a flippin’ cheeseburger. But you know you should have a salad and a chicken breast. Buuuuuut.
Illusion. Look past the challenge and instead do the opposite. Here’s where personality adds flavor. Some people can power through. Some can be like, “Psh. I like salad. I think it’s awesome and I can eat it every meal every day, no big deal, yo.” I am not that person. I love muffins. I am short-sighted. I love cheeseburgers. I blame my second child on the cheeseburger thing. When I was recovering in the hospital after that C-Section, I craved like no tomorrow a bacon cheeseburger from Whataburger and the feeling has not let up since. I can always eat a bacon cheeseburger from Whataburger. Nom nom.
Hence and therefore, I am not a power-through-er. Some people can reason and use logic: “I know that this fat bomb is a fat bomb, and therefore I decide to do what is best for myself. And that makes it an easy choice.”
Sometimes I can do this, but I’m somewhat of a wishy-washy person who is highly susceptible to advertising. And cheese. So I need distraction. I need the illusion! Sometimes I need to have someone to shove food at, and then run around the yard twice, and then slug down a cup of water, and then maybe take a shower, before I can sit down and say, “I am totally happy with this chicken breast.” And while I eat it, I watch my favorite TV show or read a fabulous book or write some ridiculous blog about magicians and unicorns.
But I’ve also noticed that while I am distracting myself, I’m not sitting there thinking about how hungry I am, how much I don’t think that I can change, and how much I doubt my abilities. Instead of looking at the challenge, I’m allowing the illusion to work its magic.
Now that we know we can make a choice to put our feelings aside for the moment, then we work on making the skills click. This takes time and patience. This takes meal after meal of choosing what is right. This takes hours of whittling, flossing, painting, writing, twisting, cutting, clipping, running, stretching, or whatever it is that you are trying to do.
I like commas. Commas give us the ability to do a little bit more while we are in the sentence that we are in.
If You’ll Look Over Here At This Hand: The Implementation
Glorying in the illusion also means letting someone or something else take credit for the accomplishment. This part is hard, too, yo! So often I want to get the thumbs up or the high five, but making better decisions for nourishing my body or changing my life to fight against cancer won’t get me melodious applause. Cancer won’t just randomly walk up to me on the street and say with a begrudging arm-cross, “Well, I’ve heard about you." He looks me up and down, fire in his black eyes. "I want nothing to do with you, ma’am, you’re infamous in my town.”
And the road to getting published is not fancy or all that fun. It’s work. It is gritty, and nail-biting, and sweaty, and tear-filled, and late nights and jitters, and heartbreak.
Getting that ideal job, being That Person you want to be, well, the behind-the-scenes work is what makes all the difference. And very often, even when you achieve those goals, The Work itself gets the glory. And that is okay.
It Really Is Like a Box Of Chocolates
I kind of hope you are struggling a little bit today, because I am. I like to struggle with other people, because when we overcome together, we can glory in the strength together as well. And then at the end of our 30 days together, we will have this story that we have woven and can see that even though every moment was not perfect or ideal, it was a part of the story.
And also, I hope you will consider the magic of illusion. Good or bad, necessary or not, it exists because we are too limited to fully see the other side of the trick. But consider that what you hear from others, or even yourself, might not be the entire story.
Then again, what do I know? I slept on my head funny last night.
Her body slackened, the skin crinkling and creasing under the weight of care, absolution, and deciding whether or not she should get up and refill her coffee cup for the third time that morning.
Those green eyes flickered wider, a glimmer of hope sparkling like sugar glitter on the top of a cream cheese frosted cupcake. Yes. Just. Coffee.
Why is the world filled with violence and hate?
See there, some light and easy reading for a Friday morning! Why do people begin their mornings with mumbles and fumbles, with slamming doors and cold feet?
Because of sweeping generalizations.
Happy Fragment Sentence Friday, everybody!
What are sweeping generalizations? Sweeping generalizations are statements that cover a blanket of people without faces, names, specifics, or facts. Sweeping generalizations disregard the singular person and shove her into a crowd of tired clichés. The world is filled with hate! People these days! Why are conservatives so boring, and why are liberals against humanity? Everything is going to burn!
Those statements above are sweeping generalizations, and sweeping generalizations make my blood boil. Sweeping generalizations are often incorrect. I keep repeating the phrase so that you can remember it better and think about it through the day. Many of my students use sweeping generalizations in their writing. Many media outlets and social media platforms unknowingly encourage sweeping generalizations. I quite often find myself thinking in sweeping generalizations. Usually those sweeping generalizations are statements of lost hope, anger, or depression. Sweeping generalizations can be obliterated by using specific facts supported by truthful, unbiased opinion, and detailed discussion.
All truth and hope is found in God, our maker and creator, the great shepherd and keeper, the knower of hearts, the fabulous finder of lost souls. God knows who you are; he made you, he discovered you, he placed you together piece by piece, and knows your deepest, darkest wishes, hopes, and talents. He sees YOU, as well as the masses. He sees YOU, maybe even more than the masses. Maybe there are no such things as masses. Maybe that idea is something mankind has created so we can stand ourselves because we are so limited. Just like time. And lightbulbs. And Jamberry nail wraps.
I sell Jamberry nail wraps. Hey, keep reading. I love ‘em. I love my pretty nails and I love the company. Home Office sends out encouragement emails with a theme for the month. This month is “Find Your Inner Unicorn.”
“We love that our Jamberry Consultants have coined the word "unicorn" to mean their favorite wrap. We decided to play off this word to encourage you to find your inner "unicorn" or your own unique self. Find what makes you unique and use it to set yourself apart or make yourself memorable… Challenge yourself — use this month to find your inner unicorn and embrace it — you never know how memorable it might be to someone” (JamGram, October 2015).
Today I have an answer for all of those questions about the negativity. Forget about everybody else. Put down the remote control, the phone, and yes, even the coffee cup, and embrace The One who sees each person and soul. He is Love, He is Truth, and He is greater than you or I can imagine. He sees you as his unicorn. Maybe that sounds silly. But He made you. So that means something! Because He made you and put you where you are, He can make it awesome. Use that knowledge to embrace individuals you meet, share the gift of love, and your unicorny gift that God has given you. God is bigger than gun control, government conspiracies, mental illness, alcohol, lostness, and stubborn pride.
So on Day Two of our thirty days together, forget about failing, fumbling, falling, or thinking you can’t do this; forget about fear of disillusioned disappointment, and instead look up.
“For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
How precious to me are your thoughts, God!
How vast is the sum of them!
Were I to count them,
they would outnumber the grains of sand--
when I awake, I am still with you…
Search me, God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.
Psalm 139:13-18; 23-24
The way everlasting is a long journey. So we need tools sharpened and at the ready. Do not forget about the masses, do not forget about sweeping generalizations, but for now, focus on The One.
Today we focus on how God can use that unicorn. Go rock it.
Day One of this journey began by waffling between lethargy, doubt, overwhelmed determination, and a pizza.
Day one is supposed to be the first day of a fitness program.
So Day Two.
See, I have all sorts of excuses for why I wanted that pizza. Mainly I was lazy, worn out, tired, and hungry. My HEC was not in check. Hunger kept running around the house, chasing the two little kids, tossing toys about one after the other, pulling the birthday decorations off the walls. Energy twisted her ankle earlier and pulled every muscle in her legs when we were doing jump squats with twenty pounds weights and the instructor asked why she was flopping around on the floor. Cravings kept standing in front of the pantry, seeing if the graham crackers had gone stale yet, and shoving chocolates down her throat because she wasn’t sure how many rejection emails she could take.
And that is why my HEC was out of check, and why we move forward with a kiss into the air and a half-hearted shrug.
You see, I am one self-doubting little person. (Or not so little, as some recent pictures would whisper and nudge, nudge.) I am very shy and have almost zero percent faith in my abilities to do anything more than making a cup of coffee in the morning. I can push a button on the Keurig. So far, I haven’t messed that up.
So when I set off, throwing my pink polka dotted satchel over my shoulder and attempting to whistle any kind of tune, I am very aware of the crowd that is not watching. I’d like to be Someone Respected. I’d like to be Somebody Who Makes A Difference. I’m super awesome at being Someone In The Background. Not sure if that last one can get me where I can to go. But it’s written on a certificate somewhere, so it has to mean something.
This 30 Days that I am starting will be ups and downs, and I know I can do it because I have mostly done it before. Writing about it and inspiring others, well, that is the trick, isn’t it? Because “writing” and the characteristics of it do not seem to be an all-too-respected career. Anybody can write, right? I mean, if you can tweet, then you can write. Waa waa.
I’ve written millions of words in my life but I don’t know if they are doing anything that matters. So what matters? What will ignite a person to hit the “I like that” button or share it? Because I don’t seem to have that figured out. Am I too self-involved? Probably. Do people not share because they think I’m too big for my britches? (I am on the verge, guys, I know, that’s why I wear yoga pants all the time!) Do people not share because they know I’m just a silly old soul who is quirky and awkward at short conversations and says the absolute wrong thing at the wrong time? Am I just not cool enough? Am I not nice enough? Am I not memorable enough?
That’s what the thought process goes like.
Apparently many people have these thoughts, because there are books and books about it. Dang it. Stop it, people!
No, I’m kidding. Just joshing ya. Keep on writing. If you have a talent, pursue it. If you have a goal, lunge toward it. If you have a restless yearning, seek the source.
If the plans are not working out, make different plans.
Perhaps your greatest fault is your beauty, nestled securely beneath your doubts. You have a uniqueness, a gift, which is a source of joy for you. May you claw your way into the dirt and mire to recapture that treasure, and with sweat dripping down your temple, glisten beneath the scathing sun. That gift can only be used by your precious hands and others need to see it. You need to appreciate it. You need to feel connected to your Maker by using that gift.
Maybe you haven’t found it yet, or maybe you are too afraid to seek it, or even think about finding the time to use it.
But when you use that gift, the voices in the background grow dimmer, the light above grows brighter, and the ether begins to tilt in your direction.
Day Two begins tomorrow. We have no guarantee that the journey will last any longer than today, so please, let’s explore the path while we still have time. My daughter will often say, “I’ll do it next time,” like when we were indoor skydiving and she was petrified to enter the chamber for the second whirling ride. Honey, there may not be another time. Sweetpea, this is all we have.
Waffle with me a little bit this evening, and I hope you will check back tomorrow. We can travel together, sharing those last bites of birthday chocolates, and giggle about how stinking delicious Cinnabon coffee creamer tastes. Stand in the light with me. This is what we got, this is what we gain, and these little moments strip away the darkness.
“What you can do, or dream you can, begin it.
Courage has genius, power and magic in it;
Only engage, and then the mind grows heated.
Begin it and the work will be completed.”
~ Apples of Gold
The last two months I have had the great honor of acting in Brownwood’s Lyric Theatre’s production of Steel Magnolias. The days were long and wonderful and exhausting. On opening night I came down with a stomach bug that lasted twenty-four hours, thus meaning I had to perform our second night to a full house, with less than zero in my stomach and less than zero feel-goods. But I gave it my all and threw myself on stage with a hope and a lot of prayers. The performance went well, the show went well, and after many tears, laughs, and sweat, we bowed and clapped and had a little party with lots of yummy fried food.
So exciting for you to read about, I know.
But when all is said and done, and birthday week is over and football season has begun, and all the Christmas shops are open and in full swing, I’m ready to take on a new challenge. For thirty days I am going to work towards a goal that I have set, and I would love if you want to join me.
You see, in the strength of the Lord, I can do all things. I stepped into the bright lights with enthusiasm and hopefully few people in the audience could tell that my brain was mostly mush and my energy was entirely false. While I bounced around as the energetic and aloof Annelle, my gut moaned in anguish. But I did it.
So then, what else can we do?
Courage has genius, and power, and magic in it. Let’s be brave.
What can you do for thirty days that will make you better? Do you want to floss consistently every night? Begin walking daily? Do you want to learn Farsi or Spanish or how to be an illusionist or just begin making the bed every day? Do you want to write a novel, master the haiku, learn how to paint, whittle, or drive a motorcycle, or want to learn some new activity, hobby, or skill?
Then please join me. Let’s see what we can do to become A Little Better. I will try to post something encouraging, if not every day, then most days this month. Tomorrow is October 2nd and we will finish on the 31st. Spend the rest of the day picking through your options. Let’s learn together, stay accountable, and track progress!
Please let me know if you are up for the challenge by sharing, liking, or commenting.
Strap on that seatbelt! It’s going to be a fabulous ride!
But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. (1 Corinthians 1:9)
Sara's Lemonade Stand