I Believe In Miracles

I believe in miracles. When I say the word miracle the thought that comes to mind first is a big life changing happening such as what we Christians celebrate on Easter Sunday with Jesus resurrection.

As Holy Week for Christians is being celebrated I ponder what we believe today. When I was a child it was easier for me to believe in the miracle of Easter and miracles in real life. Although as a child I can’t name one miracle I believe happened. Again–think big–life changing–someone coming alive again–miracle thoughts. But I still believed they could happen. I didn’t have anyone anywhere proving to me miracles couldn’t happen. I had faith as a small child does.

Lent and Holy Week as a child still have impact. I knew what Lent, Holy Week and Easter was, and I held it in reverence. There was no debate on whether I would attend the Stations of the Cross and Holy Week services. Even though I protested the length of the Saturday Evening services, which went on for hours, I had to attend the service.

Good Friday afternoons was also a given for services with stores closing for two hours so churches could hold Good Friday services. There was nowhere to go during that time so you went to church. At home we also made Lent a special time and I had no doubt what Easter meant and yes, I had Easter eggs and Easter bunnies but the main focus was on the religious part of the holiday.

These practices remained with me through most of my adult life but this year I feel them failing. I haven’t attended religious services as much as I usually do. Wednesday evening Lenten Services were missed. The outside world intruded on my life, not for any good reason but the fact I let it. In the world we live in my Christian holiday practices are not front and center and it makes it harder to stay true to the things I was taught so many years ago. I must say I feel Easter this year has almost become just a blip on my radar and I don’t like feeling that way.

As I ponder my reaction this year I look around me and wonder what is going to happen years down the road. Will the religious holiday of Easter disappear from our lives? I look around at children and even my grandchildren, and wonder if they truly know anymore the meaning of the reason we celebrate Holy Week and Easter Sunday. Even though children are being raised in the churches, is the little time they now spend in church going to make an impact on their lives?

It used to be communities made accommodations for people to practice their religion. Communities adjusted their schedule for the churches. Now the churches adjust their schedule for the communities so people will come to church. Sunday School and activities adjust to shorter times to accommodate sports schedules and more. If churches didn’t adjust schedules, would anyone attend? Yes we have more diversity in religions but I suspect all religions might be having the same problem.

And so we are back to the question–will Easter eventually just fade away? Will the miracle at the tomb no longer be remembered? Since that was one of the first miracles I was awed by as a child, will my and others beliefs be changed, especially when it comes to miracles? If my recognition of Easter changed this year because of society’s influence on me will my recognition and belief in miracles be changed too? Has it already? I have never seen someone be raised from the dead. Is that perhaps why my celebration of Easter has fell by the way side? Is it too hard to believe the story of Easter? Is it too easy to get mired down by the rhetoric of the politicians, the hate groups, the naysayers and so our belief’s crumble from what we believed as a child. Or if those beliefs were never there or never taught then why would we believe the story about crucifixion and resurrection?

I will tell you why I believe in miracles. I pray for a friend to be healed from a twenty-two year battle with cancer. I ask for a miracle of healing and my friend tells me she already has many miracles because she is still here and still fighting. She has lived to see her grandchildren. She feels she has had her miracle even if she is not healed.

A baby of a relative is born early and has many health problems. The parents consider it a miracle that the doctors were able to save him and he will live a good life. The doctors and modern medicine being brought into their life were their miracle.

I see my Christmas Cactus grow and flower and I see a miracle because I haven’t killed it yet. I see miracles every day. They may not be the earth shattering miracles that we expect but they are in itself a miracle. Had I not been brought up to hear the Easter Story, the way I look at things might be different. Our journey starts with the impressions of our childhood. Will the Easter Story be part of the childhood of the children of today?

Do You Have A Junk Drawer or Two?

jiunkEvery household has a junk drawer — don’t they? My house holds furniture that has many drawers. I would have to say that most of those drawers probably hold a little junk. My husband would say they hold a lot of junk.

Because I had to conveniently rearrange some of my furniture this week I decided perhaps I could do without a small stand by my bed that is comprised of three drawers. I converted part of an old vanity to a nightstand, but it wasn’t quite what I wanted in my bedroom/office.

I have a hodgepodge of furniture moved from other houses, inherited from family and kept by me during remodeling because it was too good to throw away. The bedside table is in the last category.

I took out the first drawer and began muddling through all the tiny pieces of this n’ that residing in the drawer. I had my “to keep” pile, my “to toss” pile and my “giveaway” pile. In the keep pile were items I didn’t know I had, and of course, they were valuable, and I certainly would use them now that I found them.

The toss pile remained empty as I sorted items, deciding that some items were too good to throw and someone could use them. They landed in the giveaway pile.

Did I need all the different types of glue that were in one drawer? You never know when you need super glue or just sticky-it-up-for-a-little-while glue. Did I need my old glasses from eighth grade? I didn’t know I still had them, but I now like the frames. Perhaps I should keep them and take them along when I get new glasses so I can match frames — they are back in style.

I finally found the snowman hanger I had been looking for at Christmas. I should put it with the Christmas decorations. How many nightlights do I need? The grandkids don’t need them anymore.

I would toss something in the giveaway pile only to pick it back up. Those pieces seemed to stick to my fingers and I didn’t even need all the glue that had been in the bottom drawer for the items to stick. I had sticky fingers caused by a sticky mind. Memories stuck in my mind kept items stuck to my fingers.

Finally I picked everything up and neatly organized it back in the drawers, put the old vanity-nightstand back in my bedroom/office and decorated it with a green piece of cloth that gave my room a more finished look. I could not part with any of it.

I have more junk drawers I must tackle, but if it is like the nightstand drawers, I won’t get rid of anything. I have too much sentimentality in me along with the you-might-need-that-someday emotion.

On another note — I did tackle all the old cleaning supplies under my basement steps. The plan was to take them to the recycling and waste day. I thought most of the cans were empty and old and out dated. What I found was they were full and in date, and because we didn’t take the time to look for them, we bought more. We probably won’t need cleaning supplies for years. The key is to organize them and put them in a place where we know where they are.

I live a scatterbrained life. I toss things in drawers instead of having a place for everything and putting everything in its place. I waste time looking for things I can’t find but know I have. I always vow to do better, but I get busy and stressed and because I multi-task, I toss things where it is convenient. It drives my other half crazy, but he does the same thing on a smaller scale in that what he tosses isn’t needed for another year or so.

Will I ever change? I don’t know. I want to, but to accomplish that I have to be able to let go of the junk in the drawer. It is hard work. Not only physical but at times emotional.

It is the same with the junk in our lives that isn’t material junk. How often do we hold on to hurts, anger, resentment, sadness and hatred that get in the way of living our lives, and affect the quality of our life and our relationships? We think we let go and then we pull it back to save it for another day.

Will the tug of war ever end? Only we can decide.

Junk is the ideal product — the ultimate merchandise. No sales talk necessary. The client will crawl through a sewer and beg to buy. — William S. Burroughs


The Easy Life of an Author

I want this hat.

I want this hat.

Who would think the life of a writer would cause aches and pains all over one’s body? My fingers are moving slowly over my keyboard this morning because I have spent 12 to 14 hours at my computer the last few days finishing my next book.

When I am in finish mode I barely notice anything that is happening around me. In fact, when I took a break to stretch I noticed my house was empty of the man I share my life with. I checked all the rooms, peeked out the window and could see that he was not in the yard or in the garage. I vaguely remembered that he might have said something to me while I was concentrating. I had to call to see where he was and what I had missed when he was telling me where he was going.

I am a small cog in a big wheel of authors. Being a small cog does not diminish the work it takes to write a book, edit what I wrote and get it off to my publisher. Once it is at the publisher you might think that the work is done, but it is only the beginning.

When I am in finish mode it means that I neglected writing this column, writing my blog, my Facebook page, my Twitter page and promotion for my other books. It means I neglected the calls from friends and preparing for the time I need to spend at writer’s meetings and book fairs. Also there will be more edits for the book sent to the publisher as they read it and offer suggestions on how to make it better, since I am comma challenged.

My author friends work long hours and into the night so they can create and weave their stories. As much as we love what we do there is stress involved with deadlines and expectations. If our first books were a success, can our new ones measure up to what our reader’s expect? Usually authors work on more than one project at a time.

Recently I have been working with a graphic artist who is creating a Granny image for my publishing company that is all ours. Add to the fact that my books will soon be out in audio. To make that happen there were interviews with a producer to find the right person to project the image of my books.

As I wait for the new book to come out I must work on either taking the time myself to create a book trailer or finding someone to create my vision.

Authors write because for them it is breath. It is the same way for me. Authors, unless you are very famous, do not make a great deal of money. On any month it is feast or famine, but authors write because they like to tell the story.

We go on blog tours; we have our own touring company that sets up the tours. We visit book stores and sign books. We speak at libraries, churches and wherever people love books.

Each author has his or her own way of getting a book to the stage where it is ready to send to their publisher. Some outline, and some wing it. Whatever works for each author still requires time and effort.

A blogger and reviewer that features the type of cozy mysteries that I write, recently had a reader chastise her because the reader thought what the blogger does is easy. The blogger let her readers know how much time it takes to promote, read and review to keep her blog fresh. What may look easy to an onlooker looks that way because it required a lot of work.

I love what I do but I have to write when the creativity spins in my mind. That may be at 4 a.m. after waking up from a dream. It may be at 10:30 p.m. when I can’t get to sleep because an idea forms in my mind. Or, it may be forcing myself to sit down at my computer every day for a little while; whether I feel like writing or not, hoping something that I write has a spark of creativity.

What I do, when I write, is no different than every man and woman who go to work every single day to put food on their table and make a living. It is another career just like the ones my readers have. It takes dedication and perseverance. It takes long work days to achieve the vision that is in our heads.

When you read a book by your favorite author, remember the work that it took to get that book on the shelf by authors, editors and publishers.

Authors love their readers, and in today’s world it is easier to get to know our readers on social media. The favorite parts of my job are meeting authors whose books I have read and being able to now call them my friends. It is meeting new friends and meeting my readers and finding out who they are and caring about them as people, not some number on a spreadsheet.

Perhaps a quote by Harlan Ellison says it best. “People on the outside think there’s something magical about writing, that you go up in the attic at midnight and cast the bones and come down in the morning with a story, but it isn’t like that. You sit in back of the typewriter and you work, and that’s all there is to it.”

It’s been fun taking a break, but it’s time to edit.