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Change. I've learned to embrace it, ride it out til the end. Sometimes I'm kicking and screaming, other times weeping with my eyes clinched tight. Once in awhile I ride like a dog in a car, head out the window snorting what life has to offer. Mother to young adult children, a marriage of thirty years, and a desert to mountain to valley waltz with God have shaped me into someone I never imagined I'd be. Life is short and I want to live it. Tears, sighs, laughter and change. Every morsel granted to me. Scrambled, shaken or stirred.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ Hurricanes Dissected.


In order to understand today's post, you need to scroll down and read The Winds Will Blow below.

This Hurricane situation is an interesting study in human nature.

First. The lengths many of us will go to to make peace or find solutions is fascinating. The majority of our Hurricane smoothie think tank was willing to compromise the original intention of the design. The Hurricane was an ice cream based fruit smoothie. But in order to avoid some work, or discomfort we were willing to call something else "The Hurricane." I don't like the idea of taking this into the spiritual realm (because it's convicting), but we do this with huge spiritual matters and life and death decisions as well, don't we?

Then there was the "my way or the highway" kind of thinking. "I won't bend over and make this drink" and the "if it's on the board, it better be available" mindset. Hmmm. Do we ever have those attitudes within our families or church?

Yikes.

The next thing that jumps out at me...reactive vs. proactive thinking. Reactive...not my job... "Someone needs to erase The Hurricane." Someday and someone else. Until it's done just keep covering up the issue with whatever sounds the best.

Proactive. When the drink is a dud, erase it.

But then what would we debate?

Finally, and maybe the most interesting. The loss of The Hurricane as an option suddenly made The Hurricane a focal point, an item that made our mouths water, something we never knew we needed now gone from our lives, and something we all of a sudden miss or need.

Why is it we sometimes want only items not available to us? Grass is greener syndrome? Grass smoothie? Hmmm. I wonder if I should run that through the think tank?

Here's to a hurricane-free day. In all senses of the word. Unless someone comes up with a brilliant Hurricane idea and then climbs up on the ladder and writes it back on the board. Don't see that happening any time soon. Seeing that the erasure of The Hurricane era took nearly three years.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ The Winds Will Blow



23 works in a coffee shop and an old menu item has become a hot signature object for a handful of people.

The shop offers delicious smoothies of various flavors and combinations. On the artistic and eye catching sign board there was a simple statement that the new Hurricane flavor was now available.

But that was then and this is now. The Hurricane started out being an ice cream smoothie. But the shop began making homemade ice creams and The Hurricane just wasn't a big seller. So when people came into the shop and looked at the smoothie sign, they were told, "Don't order The Hurricane. It's not available." That's when the questions begin and the occasional hankering for The Hurricane.

Then came the recent flashpoint. The Hurricane must have been catching more eyes and causing more hankerings than ever before and this story of the legendary but unavailable Hurricane had been told a few too many times. The sign could simply be erased but no one took the time to erase The Hurricane off the menu board. They just redirected. One new customer, though, took it upon himself to push the issue. He didn't want a Hurricane but insisted that it really needed to be a real and available drink if it was indeed on the sign.

A brainstorming session consisting of two employees, Mr. Customer and myself took place. I insisted that they just make up a drink and call it The Hurricane. How about multiple fruit stripes drizzled down the sides of the clear cup and a splash of tropical flavoring like coconut and macadamia nut or pineapple. Voila. A Hurricane. 23 told an innocent and uninvolved customer, the day before the big Hurricane think tank, that The Hurricane was all fruit flavors blended into one delicious drink. He bought it, she made it and the solution was almost found. Mr. Customer was a bit cynical and made a few snide comments as he sipped his strawberry smoothie. But the other barrista said she'd flat out refuse to make a Hurricane with all the fruit flavors. She's very tall and the fruit purees are kept at the bottom of a small refrigerator and her complaint was that she "hates to bend over."

Imagine my surprise when I received this picture today. A sign without The Hurricane. Situation resolved. Mr. Customer got it, too. 23 took care of the problem.

And this whole situation has me thinking....but there's not room for it here and now. Come back.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ haiku? Gesundheit

A friend sent me a link to Plinky which provides a questions/prompts to write about. Some are lame. But this was one I thought I could make lame magic with so here you go.

Write a haiku about the last meal you ate.





French toast, omelet, fruit
dinner party, under vent
air cold, dinner fine.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ Of Barking Dogs



Sometimes I wish people were as easy to figure out as canines.

Canines are so out there.

Example. 23 is dog-sitting a little black Pomeranian. Now. This little guy is cute...looks a little like a bow-legged bat, actually. And he's sweet. He'll come out of nowhere to curl up next to me and maybe give some exposed skin a little lick. Cute.

However, he does bark. And I mean bark. As little as he is you'd think it would be a tiny bark. Oh no. It is NOT. It is intense. And it sounds often. Rob has been going in and out of the house frequently while working on a project. Every time the door opens and closes our little temporary burglar system sounds. But that's beside the point.

Last night we went on a group walk. 4 dogs, a toddler and 7 women. Lily decided that she was going to dominate poor, timid Riley who is exactly her size. 23 had to make sure she watched Lily's body language so Riley could have a good time.

But that's what I love about dogs. Their body language tells the truth. If something has happened while we are gone, something that might make a human unhappy, we will not be greeted at the door. When they are happy to see us, we know it, our calves and shins are bruised by their happiness. When they don't feel well, well, it's written all over their faces. And when they have an issue with someone or something, they let that ring loud and clear. Fear? Broadcast for the world to hear.

Humans are just so much more involved. Maybe that's why dogs are man's best friend. You never have to play games. Okay, beyond the tug of war, fetch and chase the dog.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Serials and Scenarios ~ I Am Hutterite





My Review:

Even though I've got a stack of books that I have got to get read and reviewed and I really have no business agreeing to read others I had to make an exception. The story of the Hutterites is new to me. I had never heard of this people group so I agreed to add it to my pile. When I saw the mini-documentary about them, glimpsed the black and white polka-dotted kerchiefs on the women, I moved the book to the top of the stack.

Those of you who love religious memoirs or the idea of a simplier life really need to get your hands on a copy of this fascinating, poignant and rich memoir. This is a story of a unique journey. Mary Ann Kirkby knew only life in the colony until days before her tenth birthday when her world drastically changed.

My family spends many hours a week with our church family and we consider them an extension of our natural families. In the Hutterite colonies this concept is carried to the extreme. The Hutterites model their lives after Acts 2: 42-47 where scripture states that personal possessions were shared or sold for the good of the community and communal meals/togetherness was the rule and the life of the early New Testament church. The Hutterites share everything and live in a small village of people who care for one another. As idealic as that sounds, and there were passages in the book that sounded almost like paradise and made me wistfully want to find my own group of Hutterites and beg to join the community. But as with most things good and all things tinged with humanity and its inherent selfishness, the heaven on earth of living with loved ones and sharing life with them became torturous for the parents of Mary Ann and their family. A stubborn family member, old grudges, unforgiveness, and a rules trump people mindset became too much and Mary Ann's family fled.The story wends through a fascinating, though utilitarianly written, account that dips into poignancy many times throughout the decades of Mary Ann's life as a Hutterite and one who is on the outside looking it.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ Yes, Virginia, the Midwest is Beautiful Country

These are pieces of Iowa, Nebraska and Minnesota as seen from my camera.

Walgreens just offered a free 8 x 10 collage (if picked up at the store) and I decided to put together these collages. I'll be sure to let you know next time Walgreens offers it. It was easy and I've decided that it's kind of a cool looking way to use up all those pictures I like but don't want to display via a 5X7 or scrapbook.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ Reaching


This is not a view from my world right now. Instead I feel like I'm in the tropics with cut-through-it-with-a-knife humidity and heat. The vibrant rainbows of flower gardens and the monochromatic greens are intense and the trees are full of life.

But I guess I'm in a pensive mood and while zooming through pictures this one captured my thoughts.

I want my life to look like this tree. When naked and vulnerable, when I'm unprotected and laid bare, when I feel as if I stand alone and without, I want to be one who stands tall with my arms outstretched to the heavens. I want to be one who says the Lord gives and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ More Pictures Worth a Grand O Words









These made me feel happy this morning. So I'm sharing them with you. Don't know why they make me happy. Peaceful scenes for sure...texture...memories behind the snapping of the picture. Maybe because they are pictures of snakeless grass.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ What Lurks Upon



So. When I said I was looking for something worth writing about. Something exciting worth posting, an attempt to offer up a story that makes the dearth of stuff last week simply fade away into nothingness, I didn't expect this.

SHUDDER.

Last night while having a delightful conversation with Rob, while looking around our lovely gardens, admiring the growth, the baby veggies, the blueberries that are turning delicate shades of green-blue to almost blue...we each grabbed weeds now and again. The rain has guaranteed lushness and that includes weeds. We talked about getting out the organic "bug" spray, how to keep the blueberry harvest for our enjoyment and not for wildlife consumption, we talked about all sorts of things.

While talking, we pulled those weeds. You'd think there wouldn't be a lot because we have garden cloth. Long black strips that we've laid out over the whole garden and then punctured for our plants. But weeds are hardy and determined. They have sprouted in dirt that is maybe a half inch thick on top of the fabric, and they've taken up residence in the areas set apart for our plants.

While plucking and talking I didn't do much more than glance at where my hand went. But one handful of weeds caused a slight rippling of the landscape fabrics right behind the plant where I was plucking. Oh my!!!! Within a millisecond I saw and registered that the fabric wasn't moving at all, that something laid on top of the fabric and it had yellow stripes along its sides and it wasn't simply moving but it was undulating and slithering. SNAKE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

And. I. ALMOST. TOUCHED. IT. AUGH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

In case you haven't figured it out I am the girliest, jump on a chair, scream my brains out, completely creeped-out wimp when it comes to snakes. Spiders, mice, blood. Not my favorites but they don't reduce me to pure adrenaline powered instinct. I screamed all the way to the house, the dogs hot on my heels, a man driving down the street with his window down, slowing to a crawl at my show. In my defense the snake was nearly two feet long. SHUDDER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Was inches from my hand. GULP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And it behaved completely snakelike. SOB!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Snakes are silent, blend in, and are still until you are right on top of them. EWWWWWWWWWW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Now that my heart rate is back to normal I can laugh about it. The type of laughter you might hear in a room with nice padding on the walls and restraints on the bed. Needless to say. I won't be plucking weeds in a distracted state of mind again. EVER. SHUDDER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Thanks go to my hero, Rob, who has made my garden snake-free for the moment. But those sneaky little reptiles obviously know where I live now.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Scribble and Scrambles ~ Blink, Blink


So. I had every intention of blogging yesterday and producing something amazing. Alas, the only thing I was producing is unmentionable and accompanied by chills and a headache like none other. But I believe it was a virus because I am upright, able to remain so and can walk in a straight line...well almost....haven't really ever mastered that skill.

Look elsewhere for amazing and great profundity today. Yesterday I will call lost. However, I did get lots of sleep so my sleep bank will stop sending me overdraft notices!

Tomorrow. Who knows. Maybe I'll be slapped upside the head with inspiration that births something worth reading. Til then. I will enter the world a day late, a dollar short and sleep rich.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Scribble and Scrambles ~ Mid-Late Week Check-In


Sorry for the lack of posts this week.

I appreciate the kind comments.

I don't recommend a week that includes a family funeral and Bible school following closely on the heels of a graduation party and a road trip. Oh, I also don't recommend adding a touchy computer charger to the mix.

However. Life goes on. Sleep can be temporarily set aside. Work can pile up along with dishes. The important (and sometimes unimportant and annoying) things still get done.

I think this is the least I've blogged in three years. It feels weird to be so away from the computer, freeing, but weird.

Above everything else. This week has revealed even more to me about the important people in my life. Whether I have had a chance to tell them or not, people have blessed my week.

I'll be back Monday. Peace to you and yours. Give someone you love a hug.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ My Other Dad


My father-in-law went home early Sunday morning. Too early, but in God's perfect time. I said good-bye on Wednesday evening before I left town for a few days. But I didn't know that good-bye was my final earthly good-bye. He had been on hospice for just over a week and we never expected that he would go so quickly.

I have a great relationship with my own dad. I love him so much and no one could ever replace him in my heart. But, over the years, I've grown to love my father-in-law more than I ever thought possible.

He has been so good to me. And he has been a rock in some really rough times. As a matter of fact, he managed to be Jesus to me a time or two. I am so glad he is in heaven and I wouldn't wish him back for even a second. And as he taught me in his life, and through his death, I imagine he will have a few things to teach me when I see him again.

To Bob Klepfer a man who helped shape my husband into the amazing man his is, and to a man who colored my life with many memories and moments, it was a pleasure to know you, and I will see you again. I rejoice in your life and what you've meant to so many.


The House Our Dad Built


Our Dad built a house.

His foundation of choice was faith in Christ. Dad then carefully chose the building materials.

He framed it with straight and sturdy 2 x 6's of love, acceptance, forgiveness and truth.

The layout was generous, giving room for each unique person and offering safe shelter and a quiet place to belong.

Protective bricks of discipline, work ethic, loyalty and righteousness shored up the foundation.

The home was decorated with laughter, kindness, shared memories and good times.

Dad covered the house with a roof made of grace and prayer.

And then Dad signed the house over to us and gave each of us keys to all the doors.

All the while Dad built his house for us -- Jesus was building one for him.

When I see him again, I expect Dad to offer me keys to the new house and show me around, offering advice and helpful hints about my new surroundings.

Friday, June 04, 2010

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ Steep Thoughts.





















At our recent ladies High Tea at church I had the opportunity to squeeze a spiritual application from tea bags.

I looked up tea facts and found out some fascinating tea tidbits. All types of tea (except herbal) come from one plant, the Camellia Sinensis. Even though teas are classified as white, green, oolong and black, they come from the same source. What differs is when they are picked and how they are processed.

I decided that all humans have at least two things in common and both of those things are key ingredients for a nice cup of tea. From the every-second-counts picking of the tiny “white” tea leaves to the multiprocessed and fully caffeinated black tea, they all come from the same plant.

Tea/human connection number one. Each of us are a human version of a tea bag.

As there are thousands of varieties of tea, there are unique and variable human combinations. Like the white, green, oolong, black and herbal teas, and the many combinations of those, we humans have bits of leaves and fragments that go into our personal “tea bag.” Things like personality-type, family/culture and experiences are harvested and cured and become part of who we are. Call it nurture and nature crumbled up into a bag full of color and flavor that we use to impact the world around us, and as a filter on how we deal with life. Some of us offer soothing brews like chamomile to others, some are more Earl Gray and then there are the zingers in life. (Obviously, this might explain why we encounter people who just aren't our cup of tea.)

So onto point two. We are all unique little mixes of flavor and spice. What else do we all have in common?

Hot water, of course. The second most important ingredient in a cup of tea is the water.

In tea, hot water releases the flavors, the blends, and the antioxidant properties.

What is the hot water in our lives? Difficulties, challenges, experiences and trials.

The situations God allows into our lives cause us to bloom. The colors, scents and properties of our lives are made apparent to us, and to others, when hot water is applied. Now, that's not always pretty. Sometimes we end up with a nasty taste in our mouths or leave one with others. True life example of tea gone bad: we bought a lovely loose leaf blend at a tea shop. Dehydrated berries were mixed into the leaves and it was tasty...until we somehow found a strawberry that apparently had a rotten spot before dehydration and when it had steeped in hot water....ewwww.

Often when we react to the hot water in our lives with less than tasty results we are surprised and shocked. But...God's grace is available to us to make some changes within the tea we become. As we grow and mature in our relationship with Him He adds and subtracts seasonings and bits. And the milk and honey of the Word and our growing maturity can soften, change and sweeten the end product...one that can nurture, bring healing and nourish another weary or hurting soul.

No matter what process we are in at the moment, if we are IN Jesus Christ, hooked onto His vine, we are from the same plant. And what we've done, what we've experienced, the broken parts of us, the pain that we've endured, all of those bits and pieces are going into the brew. The brew is in God's hands and in His perfect timing and watchfulness. Our odd bits will be useful and valuable to Him. We are at different stages, we will have different antioxidants and properties, different futures, different pasts and processing that may look unlike any one else's, but we are His and we are being made into His perfect cup of tea.

When looking up tea terminology I think I found the perfect statement to describe the process of becoming uniquely us and valuable to the lives of others. It is a term used to describe “well-made” whole leaf tea grades – WELL TWISTED.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Serials and Scenarios ~ Deceit ~ Brandilyn Collins

This week, the


Christian Fiction Blog Alliance


is introducing


Deceit


Zondervan (June 18, 2010)


by


Brandilyn Collins






ABOUT THE AUTHOR:





Brandilyn Collins is an award-winning and best-selling novelist known for her trademark Seatbelt Suspense®. These harrowing crime thrillers have earned her the tagline "Don't forget to b r e a t h e..."® Brandilyn's first book, A Question of Innocence, was a true crime published by Avon in 1995. Its promotion landed her on local and national TV and radio, including the Phil Donahue and Leeza talk shows. Brandilyn is also known for her distinctive book on fiction-writing techniques, Getting Into Character: Seven Secrets a Novelist Can Learn From Actors (John Wiley & Sons). She is now working on her 20th book.



In addition, Brandilyn’s other latest release is Final Touch, third in The Rayne Tour series—young adult suspense co-written with her daughter, Amberly. The Rayne Tour series features Shaley O’Connor, daughter of a rock star, who just may have it all—until murder crashes her world.

ABOUT THE BOOK


Skip Tracer Joanne Weeks knows Baxter Jackson killed his second wife---and Joanne's best friend---seven years ago. But Jackson, a church elder and beloved member of the town, walks the streets a free man.

The police tell Joanne to leave well enough alone, but Joanne is determined to bring Jackson down. Using her skip tracing skills, she sets out to locate Melissa Harkoff, now twenty-two, who lived in the Jackson home at the time of Linda Jackson's disappearance.

As Joanne drives home on a rainy winter night, a hooded figure darts in front of her car. In her headlight beams she glimpses the half-concealed face of a man, a rivulet of blood jagging down his cheek. She squeals to a stop but clips him with her right fender. Shaking, she gets out of her car in the pouring rain. The man will not let her see his face. Before he limps off into the night he warns her not to talk to police.

As Joanne tries to find Melissa, someone seems to be after her. Who was the man she hit on the road. Is Baxter Jackson out to silence her? Or is some other skip she's traced in the past now out for revenge?

"
If you would like to read the first chapter of Deceit, go HERE

Read more reviews of Collins's books and an interview HERE.

My Review of Deceit:


Brandilyn Collins twists and turns her way through yet another page turner. Joanne Weeks knows Baxter Jackson killed her best friend. But she doesn't have any proof. After voicing her opinion of the investigation's early death, shortly after the demise of Jackson's second wife, her comments are plastered on the front page of the small town newspaper. A town that is pretty much owned by, or at least in the back pocket of, Jackson.

A series of events unfolds at a break-neck pace that definitely tossed me against my seatbelt restraint a time or two. Collins strength in writing page-turning events is strong and I found myself whipping through them. A few similarities to previous novels, a very strong female lead for starters, and a back and forth parallel but different time frame telling of two enjoined stories will delight Collins fans. The twists may keep said fans on their toes. Chickens might be able to read this one without pulling the blankets over their heads, however, Collins tackles some interesting subject matter. This isn't a tame "Christian" read...rather something closer to what you might see in headlines.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Serials and Scenarios ~ The Last Christian ~ David Gregory


I was a bad, bad blogger. I agreed to read and review this book and post it last week. And I did none of the above. However, I do have the book and it looks very intriguing. I've read Gregory's previous books...Dinner with a Perfect Stranger, Day with a Perfect Stranger and the Next Level and was impressed with the message and storytelling skills. So. I'm looking forward to reading The Last Christian and I'll be back with a review. Soonish. In the meantime, here's Nora's review.


THE LAST CHRISTIAN
By David Gregory
Published by: WaterBrook
ISBN# 978-1-4000-7497-6
407 Pages

Back Cover:

When missionary Abigail Caldwell emerges from her jungle village in A.D. 2088, she arrives in America to find Christianity has disappeared---and brain transplants promise eternal life! Determined to restore the nation to God, Abby joins forces with historian Creighton Daniels. What will they do when a powerful conspiracy threatens humanity's spiritual future---and their own lives?


REVIEW:

I’ve read Dinner with a Perfect Stranger, Day with a Perfect Stranger and The Next Level by David Gregory and jumped at the chance for a review copy of his newest book. I had a feeling it would be something special. I wasn’t disappointed.

After reading the prologue, dated April 2088, I knew I was on a completely fresh, incredible, serious journey with David as he whisked me into this Sci/Fi thriller. I buckled up, regrouped and tuned into this high-tech scenario. David reveals amazing computer gadgets, a mainstream super highway, and the absence of the Christian influence in the world.

I could imagine this incredible high tech world with the help of seeing movies like the Star Trek and The Matrix. This author shows how technology can change the world and do great things, but along with the benefits there are serious ethical and moral consequences. Neuron implants are put into people in the form of a chip that allow them to surf the grid (much like the web-but more remarkable) so they can spend most of their lives in VR (a virtual reality world of their making).

This is not a comfortable, warm fuzzy read with a happily ever after ending. It’s a book that made me think about life, in relationship to Christ and the people around me. I knew that after I finished the last page of The Last Christian, I would keep whirling the characters dilemma and the deep message David gave over and over in my mind, heart and soul. David’s books do that to me. .

Abigail Caldwell was the only one to survivor a virus that wiped out her whole village. She’s an American Missionary trying to make sense of a sixteen year old message recently received from her Grandfather in America.

When Abby arrives in the USA she discovers Christianity is gone. Not because the government stripped it from society but humanity had changed. Science and technology became more important to them. It replaced the need for God and Christianity. Abbey thought, Could one person make a difference? She soon found out people weren’t interested in the message of forgiveness through Christ in this foreign land.

Someone says to Abbey, “I found that out long ago. That’s because they no longer sense their need to be forgiven. People didn’t believe in absolutes anymore, in right and wrong. So what is there to be forgiven for?”

This author challenges everyone to evaluate how they are living this Christian life and how they share Jesus. I have to say I was pierced by the Holy Spirit to re-evaluate some things in my own life. Wow, what a story. You’ll definitely have to check this one out!

Reviewed by: Nora St. Laurent
ACFW Book Club Coordinator