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Thankful Thoughts - May 31st

Ten Things of Thankful
Today I'm linking up with Lizzi  for the Ten Things of Thankful - Birthday Celebration where there's cake, candles, a contest, and a colossal collection of blessings being counted!

1. I want to start my list off today with how very thankful I am for the efforts of Lizzi and her wonderful group of co-hosts in bringing this best-of-the-best blog hop to life!  Participating in TTOT is one of the most uplifting activities one can take part in.  By sharing with each other there, so much encouragement is taking place!  Together we learn that not all weeks are great weeks and sometimes we all hit the wall, but we have the ability and the resilience to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, laugh at our troubles, count the  blessings we do have,  and get moving on with life again.  If you only participate in one blog hop... TTOT is the one to choose.  I am thankful for the opportunity  to be a part of it!

2. I am thankful beyond sufficient words to express it, for being able to spend three whole days with my two grown children last weekend, as we met up near Memphis to share some time and love.  It had been eight months since I last saw them. The four of us took a boat ride on the Mississippi, went to the zoo, rode a downtown trolley, spent some time at the casino, feasted on all-you-can-eat crab legs and prime rib, shared lots of laughter, and totally enjoyed just being together.  Many precious memories made!  I only wish that they lived closer so we could do it more often, or better yet - that we lived closer to them, it is so heavenly green in that part of the country!

3. I am extremely thankful that once again God was watching over us as our truck decided to spew transmission fluid over the entire undercarriage as we headed down the road on our first night of the trip.  We made it as far as Fort Worth before we became aware of the problem, and what a blessing to have mechanical issues there, rather than some out-back town in the middle of Arkansas!  After further inspection we ended up at a Ford Dealership Service Center with folks who couldn't have been any nicer. Since the repair was going to take a day or two, we transferred our belonging to a rental car and headed off once again, a few hours later than planned, arriving safely in Mississippi shortly after midnight.

4.  I am thankful that Papa Bear had the wisdom and foresight to purchase an extended warranty on his truck.  Not only were the repairs - replacing the pump and seal - entirely paid for, but so was the rental car that we used the entire week.  (We are talking mucho expensive repairs had they come out of pocket!)  As an added blessing - we put over 1000 miles on the rental car instead of on our truck, and got better gas mileage too, though I must admit we missed the riding comfort of the truck.

5.  I am thankful that my kids grew up to be so kind, generous, and amazing. As my 60th birthday gift they paid for most of our food and activities, and even gave me spending money!  My daughter delivered breakfast to our motel room every morning, and braided my hair.  My son did all the chauffeuring, so we got to sit back and enjoy the ride.  Best bonus of the trip... the two of them drove from Nashville together, and were able to spend a bunch of quality time together. I got such a kick out of seeing them banter back and forth just like they did twenty some years ago!

6.  I am thankful that we got to enjoy play time at the casinos each night without emptying our pockets, we had such a good time!  My son taught us how to play roulette, my daughter excels at card games, and we enjoy the penny slots. Papa Bear and I managed to walk out the final night with more money than when we walked in.  It was a great way to end the trip... take the money and run! :-)

7.  I am thankful that we got to attend our grandson's graduation in Arkansas.  Alll three of John's daughter's children have grown up to be so friendly and well-mannered.  The added bonus was that I finally got to meet the eldest's delightful wife (a fellow Aquarian that I adore), and our two wonderful great-grandsons who are one and four.  They live in Ohio now, and I think we need to plan a future roadtrip in that direction! The little one is the spitting image of his daddy, and it gave Papa Bear a ton of pleasure to be part of four generations coming together. 

8.  I am thankful that Papa Bear got to spend the day after graduation helping our grandson install the chrome grill guard and LED light bar we gave him for his truck.  He brought all the needed tools along and was able to share his expertise at installation, earning due respect from his grandson and making a good memory that will last a lifetime.  Needless to say, grandson thought our gifts were the very coolest! :-)

9. I am thankful that the caretaker for our beloved furkids did an awesome job in our absence so we didn't need to worry, and that little Sophie (who is gradually fading away with cancer) held her own and joined the other three at the door to greet us when we arrived home.  I am thankful that they held no grudges for our abandonment, and quickly settled into our laps to make up for lost snuggle time. Anyone who has furkids understands how hard it is to go on vacation and leave them behind.

10. I am very thankful that my co-workers did a great job of coping with my absence, and my desk wasn't too covered up with paper piles when I returned.  Because we are short-handed there already, having someone missing makes it so much harder for the two who remain. They were gracious and saw to it that things kept moving, and when it's their turn to be away, I will do the same.

Our whole vacation was a total blessing.  It's not so much about what we did, but who I got to spend the time with. Thank you Lord for making it possible, and letting it all work out so well!
check out some of the awesome posts you'll find there, and add a list of your own!
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If you enjoy creative writing and want a place to share your efforts,
 join me for Two Shoes Tuesday this week!

Friday Four Fill-In Fun - May 30th

Feeling Beachie
I'm joining Hilary at Feeling Beachie for Follow Friday Four Fill-In Fun.  Hilary provides four statements with blanks for us to fill in and share on her blog-hop. Come join the fun!

The Statements:
  1. I drink _____ in the AM
  2. I read ____
  3. Sometimes I wonder _____ but then _____
  4. Given the choice between ____ and ____ I’d pick ____
My Answers:
  1. I drink iced tea in the AM, and the afternoon, and the evening too.
  2. I read e-books and magazines, I like non-fiction real-life stories best.
  3. Sometimes I wonder if Papa Bear and I will ever be able to work less than we do nowbut then I remember that the future is in God's hands, and whatever happens we will be ok.
  4. Given the choice between love and money, I'd pick love.  Stuff is just stuff, and most of us have far more stuff than we really need. 

The Perfect Match

Today I'm linking up with Brenda at BYG Adventures where the word we are Pondering this week is "match"...

It was plain to see that they belonged together... the ideal couple... the perfect match; and they agreed that the match was made in Heaven.  They were so very much alike in what they liked and what they didn't, what they believed was right and thought was wrong.

Still, he didn't share her love for sushi, which he jokingly referred to as bait; nor did she share his love for hunting critters, though he taught the former hippie child to handle firearms, and both took pride in her being a surprisingly good marksman.

Nearly all their off-work time was spent together, they wouldn't have it any other way.  He made her laugh,  like she did him, and he held her close on the rare times that she cried. She loved him more than he had ever been loved before.  Together they faced the days and ups and downs of life, and couldn't imagine doing it without each other.

It felt so comfortable for both of them; they fit just right, like a pair of worn blue jeans. There were no cross words like relationships of the past, no quibbling over silly things like toilet seats or folding towels.  They both knew life was too short for spending it upset and angry, when you didn't know from one day to the next how much time that God was going to give you.

But the best part, they agreed, was that they'd found their way to each other later, after each living several chapters of  life on their own.  They often joked about how long they would have lasted if they had they met and married early when she was stubborn and often angry,  and he was not the mellow guy that she knew now. 

They figured God knew exactly what He was doing when He chose to first refine them by fire and the tests of time, so that when He finally brought them both together they would indeed be the perfect match.
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Head on over to Brenda's place and see what others are Pondering today!

Two Shoes Tuesday #80 - Walk or Winner

Two Shoes Tuesdsay
Welcome to Two Shoes Tuesday...  a place for those who love to write!

There are two word prompts to choose from... you can use whichever one inspires you. You are not required to include them both. You do not have to include the prompt word, but please use it as the theme for your post. You are welcome to write a post for each prompt word, if you like. Posts unrelated to either word prompt will be deleted from the link list.

Your contribution must be in the form of an original poem, essay, or short story (fiction or non-fiction), and it must be a new piece - not something drawn from your other writings or archives.

Your link must go directly to your post for Two Shoes Tuesday, and somewhere in the post you must provide a link to Two Shoes Tuesday.  It doesn't need to be big or fancy, just a text or logo link at the end of your post will be fine. You can add a link anytime through Saturday night. 

Please take some time to visit as many of the other TST participants as possible during the week, we all love feedback on our efforts!  Feel free to email me at jts.2000@yahoo.com if you have any questions.

The May 27th writing themes to choose from are walk and winner

Help Wanted

Help Wanted signs can be seen everywhere in our city.  With the current oil boom the city has grown tremendously, as has the need for amenities like restaurants and stores.  Unfortunately, there seems to be a lack of qualified people interesting in applying for those positions, leaving managers operating short-handed, with their only option being to hire whatever walks through the door.  Obviously, this doesn't work out well.  Businesses end up with employees that are less than qualified, and less than willing to do the job to the best of their ability.  New staff realize that the manager is pretty much at their mercy, and that not showing up for a shift or  showing up late will not get you fired.   This lack of professional conduct permeates all facets of the service industry in our city.  It's a miserable situation for employers, and not great for customers either; more often than not, customer service is poor.   

Trying to attract qualified employees to our city isn't easy.  Apartment rents have skyrocketed and, that's only if you can find a place to rent.  Papa Bear and I thank God that our little house in the country is paid for, even with both salaries combined we could not afford to rent a one-bedroom apartment in the city.  If you earn minimum wage or even $10-15 an hour, or are trying to get by on Social Security, there is no way you will be able to live here on your own. 

Our law office has gone through multiple employees in the past two years.  We need four support staff  and are currently functioning one short yet again.  No suitable applications have been submitted.  A trainee with a good deal of experience was recently hired, but she came with an attitude, and in less than three weeks time she had taken multiple days off for personal reasons, and felt no qualms about doing so.  She often arrived late, or returned from lunch late, too.  Once she called in saying that she would be in late due to a flat tire, yet told a coworker that she had been at an interview for another job!

Our attorney/supervisor came to the realization that we were spending a great deal of time training someone that wasn't invested in the job and wasn't worth our time and effort.  I was glad to see her go, we all were.  But it wasn't for her lack of work ethics alone. She failed to exhibit what I consider to be a primary requirement for anyone working with individuals who have disabling medical or mental conditions... compassion.  She commented proudly that their sob stories didn't get to her.

Certainly one has to have some amount of emotional neutrality to function in a job with a great deal of personal upheaval, but there is a difference between maintaining a professional distance and being downright cold.  On one occasion she actually made a client cry from frustration due to her direct, insensitive line of questioning.  The client's husband was just a tiny bit short of enraged and I don't blame him, there is always a means to obtain information without being insensitive and intimidating.  Yet our new employee didn't feel that she had done anything wrong.  That was pretty much the last straw for me.

So here we are, back to functioning short-staffed again until a new person can be found and hired.  We go home weary at night, and our desks are piled high, but the three of us who remain all work together well and do our best to stay on top of things' and when a client calls or walks through the door, we make sure they are treated with kindness, patience, and respect.  After all, if it weren't for them, where would our jobs be?

As for me, I'm headed out on a week of vacation right after work today.  I've earned it, and I can't wait, but I do feel bad for my two coworkers left behind to cover in my absence.  Of course when it's their turn, I'll do the same for them.  If you know of any responsible, hard working, compassionate individuals looking for long-term employment... please send them our way! :-)

~*~*~*~*~*~*~
This post was written for Two Shoes Tuesday
where the theme choices this week are help and heavy.
If you enjoy writing, come and join us!
Two Shoes Tuesday

Two Shoes Tuesday #79 - Help or Heavy

Two Shoes Tuesdsay
Welcome to Two Shoes Tuesday...  a place for those who love to write!

There are two word prompts to choose from... you can use whichever one inspires you. You are not required to include them both. You do not have to include the prompt word, but please use it as the theme for your post. You are welcome to write a post for each prompt word, if you like. Posts unrelated to either word prompt will be deleted from the link list.

Your contribution must be in the form of an original poem, essay, or short story (fiction or non-fiction), and it must be a new piece - not something drawn from your other writings or archives.

Your link must go directly to your post for Two Shoes Tuesday, and somewhere in the post you must provide a link to Two Shoes Tuesday.  It doesn't need to be big or fancy, just a text or logo link at the end of your post will be fine. You can add a link anytime through Saturday night. 

Please take some time to visit as many of the other TST participants as possible during the week, we all love feedback on our efforts!  Feel free to email me at jts.2000@yahoo.com if you have any questions.

The May 20th writing themes to choose from are help and heavy

God Bless You Mr. B

One day this week I had an experience that reached deep into my soul..

 A man came into our office, a potential client seeking assistance.  He was sixty, humble, and soft-spoken, his arms covered in tattoos.  He told me that he'd been "locked-up" for the past twenty years, and was just  released two months ago.  He wanted to work and had tried to rejoin his brother in the welding business, but the arthritis crippling his back and hands was making that impossible.

I was struck immediately by the reality of spending twenty years in prison during the prime of your life.  Obviously, a sentence of that length wasn't handed out for stealing hubcaps, yet I found myself feeling no curiosity as to what he had done.  Instead, I was overcome with compassion for the man sitting across from me.  I wasn't terribly busy at the moment so I didn't need to rush in obtaining the necessary information, and was able to spend some time with him in conversation. I asked what it was like being on the outside after so long.

He talked about how much the city had grown in the past twenty years; he hardly recognized it and found it easy to get lost.  I told him that my husband frequently reminisces about various locations and the way things used to be.  The city has experienced tremendous growth because of the booming oil business, and has changed dramatically in just the six years I have lived here; I can imagine that returning after an absence of twenty years would feel like you stepped into some kind of time machine.

He told me that being out in public is the hardest...  interacting with people, adapting to different situations, how noise bothers him, and how he jumps if he is accidentally bumped or touched.  He said that being in crowds, and sometimes even being in large open spaces, is unsettling, and that he often has trouble sleeping at night.

He has a large extended family here in the city - siblings, children, and grandchildren he is just now getting to know.  Although he may feel like a stranger to them, I am sure they are grateful to have him home.

I do not know what kind of man Mr. B was when he went to prison; I do know that people change a lot over twenty years, whether they are locked-up or living free.  The man who sat before me was not hardened or intimidating, as some of the ex-cons we deal with tend to be; he was simply an old man trying to restart his life on the outside, wanting to live his remaining years in peace.

After we visited for awhile, I scheduled the appointment he requested.  As he got  up to leave he asked my name, and I told him it was Josie.  He looked at me and said  "Thank you, Josie. You are the first person that has treated me like a human being."  When he left I cried for him, and for all the people so badly in need of someone taking a  moment to be kind.

May God keep you safe and bless the remaining years of your life, Mr. B, as abundantly as He's blessed mine.  

Two Shoes Tuesday Prompts for the Coming Week

~TWO SHOES TUESDAY~
Stories, poems and essays - original fiction and non-fiction 
 Your choice of themes for Tuesday, May 20th are: 
heavy or help
Find out more about Two Shoes Tuesday here
Put your thinking cap on and come and join us! 

Monitored

Today I'm linking up with Brenda at BYG Adventures where the word we are Pondering this week is "monitor".

In my family the word monitor means just one thing, the thing you see pictured up there... a blood glucose monitor.  My daughter's been using one since she was twelve; my niece started at seven.  My father was in his 70's when one became a part of his daily life. I have many friends, co-workers and other loved ones that use them too.  They are all diabetic, either Type I or Type II, and that handy little device up there tells them the level of glucose (sugar) in their blood. 

Keeping blood glucose levels within near-normal range makes all the difference, not only in the quality of their lives but the length of their lives as well.  Blood sugar too low can result in insulin shock that will ultimately lead to  death.  Blood sugar too high can cause a host of physical problems... like blindness, kidney failure, and decreased circulation in extremities which can lead to amputation. Very high blood glucose levels lead to diabetic coma that could also result in death.  Serious business -  scary stuff. 

Blood sugar can usually be controlled by medication (either oral or injection), diet, exercise, adequate sleep, and stress control. Frequent monitoring, often more than once a day, helps diabetics keep their blood sugar levels in a safe range.  That all sounds simple enough, but in reality it's a lifetime of vigilance... testing, medicating, regulating what you eat and when, and always being prepared for unexpected incidences of low blood sugar or high blood sugar.  Being diabetic means knowing that if you cheat on your diet, and because your human you sometimes will, that you will pay for that indiscretion by having a reaction or just plain feeling crappy.  This doesn't leave a lot of room for living off the cuff.

When you have a family member or close friend that is diabetic you learn to know the indications that they are experiencing low blood sugar or high blood sugar.  You can tell by the way they look and they way they act.  This means that you are always observant, trying to avoid potentially dangerous and life-threatening situations.  It also means being able to keep your composure during diabetic reactions... knowing what to do and what not to do, and when you need to call for medical assistance.

I've been through it all with my daughter, the lows, the highs, the fears, the tears, the embarrassment, the hospitalizations, the depression, the frustration, and the anger at having your entire life revolve around the number on that little monitor up there.

Over 8% of the U.S. population has been diagnosed as diabetic, and millions more suffer from it but are not yet diagnosed.  One would think that they could find a cure, but despite massive amounts of research and nation-wide annual funding campaigns, that's not going to happen anytime soon.  Why? Diabetic medical care, medications, and supplies comprise a billion dollar industry, and they are not willing to go down without a fight.  For those of us who have loved ones living with diabetes, that is a harsh reality that really stinks.
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Head on over to Brenda's place and see what others are Pondering today!


Haunted Hollow

Trail of the Spirits - Sica Hollow
There is a place in the northeast corner of South Dakota, about 35 miles from where I grew up, called Sica Hollow. I wrote this about it in a post from September 2012...
 " a beautiful small hollow carved out by nature, abundant with flora and fauna, streams waterfalls and walking trails, trees ablaze with the colors of Fall, a place shrouded in mystery, replete with tales of spirits from the native Sioux who proclaimed it "sica" (pronounced she-cha) meaning evil or bad."
If you Google it, you will discover that it is a place of legends, both past and present... tales of burning campfires seen from a distance, and native drums heard in the dark of night;  stories of a creature large and hairy; whispers of encounters with spirits, and an eerie silence enshrouding all. 

I have been to Sica Hollow in daytime and early evening, and felt the presence of things unseen.  I would not choose to be there at night.
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This story was written for Two Shoes Tuesday
where the theme choices this week are legend and lightning.
If you enjoy writing, come and join us!
Two Shoes Tuesday

Two Shoes Tuesday #78 - Legend or Lightning

Two Shoes Tuesdsay
Welcome to Two Shoes Tuesday...  a place for those who love to write!

There are two word prompts to choose from... you can use whichever one inspires you. You are not required to include them both. You do not have to include the prompt word, but please use it as the theme for your post. You are welcome to write a post for each prompt word, if you like. Posts unrelated to either word prompt will be deleted from the link list.

Your contribution must be in the form of an original poem, essay, or short story (fiction or non-fiction), and it must be a new piece - not something drawn from your other writings or archives.

Your link must go directly to your post for Two Shoes Tuesday, and somewhere in the post you must provide a link to Two Shoes Tuesday.  It doesn't need to be big or fancy, just a text or logo link at the end of your post will be fine. You can add a link anytime through Saturday night. 

Please take some time to visit as many of the other TST participants as possible during the week, we all love feedback on our efforts!  Feel free to email me at jts.2000@yahoo.com if you have any questions.

The May 13th writing themes to choose from are legend and lightning

From My Daughter

~1983~
Mother's Day is hard for me.  My own mother passed over to the spirit world many years ago, and my children live 1000 miles away. They both call me and send wonderful gifts, but  I will spend the day with Papa Bear and the furkids.  This year it's a little easier, since we will be meeting up with my son and daughter in Memphis in less than two weeks, to spend a long weekend together having fun. 
 
I woke up this morning feeling like it was "just another Sunday", and missing my own mom.  Then I found this text sent by my daughter early today.  She isn't typically a writer, and I've never know her to write a poem before.  I had to share this with you, it is the most precious gift she could have given.

                                 When I feel I am alone in a crowd,
                                 When I think no one understands me,
                                 When my love is rejected again by another,
                                 And when I hate my life,
                                 I close my eyes, and hear your words,
                                 From someone who loves me no matter what,
                                 Who cares for me in my loneliness,
                                 And hurts when I cry.
                                 You are number one in my life
                                 And I will love you always.
                                 Thank You Mom for being there,
                                 Keeping me strong, holding me up,
                                 And giving so much of your heart.

                                                     ~*~*~*~

Friday Four Fill-In Fun - May 9th


Feeling Beachie
I'm joining Hilary at Feeling Beachie for Follow Friday Four Fill-In Fun.  Hilary provides four statements with blanks for us to fill in and share on her blog-hop. Come join the fun! 

Today's Statements:
  1. Did you know that ____ are _____
  2. I feel like _____
  3. I get _____ at _____
  4. ____ is my favorite ______
My Answers:
  1. Did you know that approximately 10% of humans are left-handed, while approximately 50% of cats are left-pawed?  :-)
  2. I feel like my husband and I don't get to spend enough time having fun, but we treasure the time that we share.
  3. I get annoyed at people who treat other people like doormats!
  4. A kaftan is my favorite at-home attire.

Shrinking Violet


Today I'm Pondering with Brenda at BYG Adventures.  Here's a short story that came to mind while I pondered this week's word... "shrink."

Violet, both scared and excited, headed off for her first day of big city school.  Her family had just moved from rural Kentucky with dreams of a much better life.  The school Violet came from was tiny; they all knew each other, most were kin of some kind.  Violet had always been timid, but had gotten along fine in that close-knit environment. She wasn't prepared for the street-savvy kids she'd encounter at Birmingham Heights Junior High. 

Wearing her best go-to-church dress the first day, her mama had said that she looked real nice.  But the kids at her new school wore tight jeans and torn t-shirts, and were quick to take note when she walked through the door.  She was greeted with cat calls and laughter.  Others pointed and whispered, and she saw many rolling their eyes.  Violet wanted so badly to crawl in her locker and pull the door shut, but instead she just looked at her feet and tried hard not to cry.  Not one person came forward to meet or befriend her, not one single classmate said hi. 

That day, and all those that followed, Violet sat all alone on the bench with  her lunch bag, and said nothing in classrooms but what teachers required. She had hoped at least one or two girls would befriend her, but any that might have quickly thought better of it when they saw how the in-kids tormented her, making fun of her every move.  Better not to get involved, they reasoned, not wanting to attract that kind of attention to themselves.

Weeks passed by slowly, Violet walking to school and back home alone; spending her time in her room when she got there, claiming to have much homework to do.  Her mama was worried, this wasn't like her sunshiny Violet. She hoped that with time things would surely improve... but they didn't. 

Quieter and quieter Violet grew, getting thin from just barely eating, and sleeping so poorly that circles formed under her eyes.  Trying to stay out of sight, and avoid the line of fire when at school, she'd hide in a stall in the bathroom, and sometimes she'd sneak out the door to the alley and be gone for the rest of the day. 

Little by little, Violet was shrinking from life, slipping away to a place deep inside.  No one took note; it appears there was no one who cared.  It came as no real surprise then, when one day Violet just disappeared.

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Head on over to Brenda's place and see what others are Pondering today!

The Message


The alarm on Stephanie's cellphone went off at 6 AM. Exhausted from a another night of too little sleep and too many nightmares, she rolled over, hit the snooze button, and pulled the blanket over her head to block out the early morning light filtering into the room.
 
Ten minutes later the alarm rang again and Stephanie groaned. Sliding her finger across the face of the phone to turn off the noise, she laid there with her eyes shut trying to find the motivation to get  up and begin another day.  Depression rolled over her like a heavy fog as she thought about the events of recent weeks...

Her husband of nine years sat at the breakfast table one morning and just told her straight out that he wanted a divorce, that he'd found someone new he liked a whole lot better. Still reeling from that announcement and him moving out, she learned that the business where she'd worked for years was downsizing, and either she or the other senior person in her department was going to be let go.  The other person just happened to be the boss's nephew.  Add to that the fact that she was just barely managing to cover the bills and the mortgage payment was past due, and it was more than Stephanie could bear.  Tears began to slip from the corners of her eyes as she realized she had no idea what she was going to do.  It all seemed so pointless... so hopeless.

Just then Stephanie's cellphone signaled an incoming message.  Surprised that someone would text her this early in the morning, she picked up the phone to find the following message:

Stephanie... I just wanted you to know that I'm thinking of you. 

The ID showed the caller was "UNKNOWN".  Stephanie wondered if maybe her ex had gotten a new number and was having a change of heart.

Huh? Who is this? she texted back.

I am the one who loves you.

Yeah right, nobody loves me, not anymore. 

I have always loved you, Stephanie, and I always will.  I know what you're going through right now. 
 
Intrigued, Stephanie sat up in bed. 

What would you know about what I'm going through?  Nobody has a clue. 

I know about your husband leaving, and that you're afraid that you're going to lose your job.  I know you're having money problems, and car problems too.   More importantly, I know how sad you are, and that you're thinking about some pretty scary ways to end the pain you're feeling.

Stephanie was stunned.

Nobody knows that, I haven't told that to anybody.  You're scaring me now!  WHO ARE YOU?

Don't be afraid Stephanie, I am the one who knows everything, who sees all.  I am the one who created you.

You are my father?  That's not funny.  He died a long time ago.

I am the Father of all life, Stephanie, I am the one you call God. 

Stephanie stared at the screen in disbelief.  Was this someone's idea of a sick game?  But what if.... if God can do all things, could he really text her?  Would he?  She didn't know how to respond.  She held her breath and waited.

There is something important I want you to know, Stephanie.  I know that right now it feels like everything is falling apart in your life - your marriage, your job, your finances, even your car.  But there's a reason these things are happening, and it isn't all bad like it seems.

What reason?  How could there be anything good about any of this?  It's horrible!  I feel so lost and alone, and I don't know what I'm going to do. 

This was all too much.  Stephanie found herself sobbing.

Sometimes people can't see when changes are needed in their lives, Stephanie, when the place where they are is no longer good for them.  They get stuck in a pattern of life and stop growing.  When that happens I sometimes use life events to get them moving in a new direction, one where they will come closer to the light, closer to what I have created them to be.

So are you saying that these things are happening so that I will move, go somewhere else? 

I'm telling you that sometimes you have to close doors so that I can open new ones that will lead you to better places.   I can do that Stephanie, I can guide you on a journey that will lead you closer to me, and to more happiness and love than you have ever thought was possible.

I want to believe that, I really do... God.. but how do I know it's true?  Tell me what is going to happen. 

If I told you everything that I have planned for your life it would be too much for you to comprehend, but I can tell you that you will soon receive a job offer in a place you've often dreamed of living.  Take that offer Stephanie, it's the first step on  the journey.  The rest will all unfold in good time. 

OMG, Stephanie texted. Then she realized what she had just said and gasped, embarrassed. 

You mean I'm going to move to Denver, near the mountains that I love so much? 

:-)  God responded with a smile. 

Trust me, Stephanie.  I am with you every moment as you go through these changes.  It isn't going to be easy, but you don't need to be afraid.  Walk with me, come to me often with your prayers.  Take it step by step, and I will show you the way.

Thank you!  Thank you, God... I... I don't know what to say!

Your thankfulness is enough, Stephanie.  I love you more than you could imagine.  I created you with love, and I will love you always.  Nothing will ever change that.

Stephanie felt herself surrounded by an incredibly warmth, like she was being wrapped in love.  An amazing sense of peace filled the empty space in her heart.

One more thing, Stephanie... get up and go to work with a smile on your face.  The end of your time there is near, but the end is a new beginning.  I want you to know that you are going to be ok, much more than ok... because I love you.

With that the cellphone screen went blank.  Stephanie bounded out of bed and headed for the shower.
 
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This story was written for Two Shoes Tuesday
where the theme choices this week are text and trail.
If you enjoy writing, come and join us!
Two Shoes Tuesday

Two Shoes Tuesday #77 - Text or Trail

Two Shoes Tuesdsay
Welcome to Two Shoes Tuesday...  a place for those who love to write!

There are two word prompts to choose from... you can use whichever one inspires you. You are not required to include them both. You do not have to include the prompt word, but please use it as the theme for your post. You are welcome to write a post for each prompt word, if you like. Posts unrelated to either word prompt will be deleted from the link list.

Your contribution must be in the form of an original poem, essay, or short story (fiction or non-fiction), and it must be a new piece - not something drawn from your other writings or archives.

Your link must go directly to your post for Two Shoes Tuesday, and somewhere in the post you must provide a link to Two Shoes Tuesday.  It doesn't need to be big or fancy, just a text or logo link at the end of your post will be fine. You can add a link anytime through Saturday night. 

Please take some time to visit as many of the other TST participants as possible during the week, we all love feedback on our efforts!  Feel free to email me at jts.2000@yahoo.com if you have any questions.

The May 6th writing themes to choose from are text and trail

Sharing the Love

While I don't post awards to my blog, I accept them humbly as a gift of recognition.  Today my delightful young friend from India, Judy Girl,  nominated me for the Liebster Award on her blog Diary of The Sunday Visitor, and I so appreciate her kindness in doing so. 

What I enjoy about this award is that it provides an opportunity to learn a little bit more about a fellow blogger.  Judy Girl is awesome, and wise beyond her years.  Go and read what she had to say about herself, and while you're there check out some of her wonderful A-Z posts!  I actually met her during last year's A-Z, the best blessing to come from that experience!

I've written so much about myself in the past that I doubt there is much more to tell you, or that you want to hear, but I'll give it my best shot :-) 

The Rules:


1. Link back and thank the blogger who nominated you in your post.

2. List 11 facts about yourself.

3. Answer the 11 questions asked by the blogger who nominated you.
4. Pick 5 - 10 new bloggers (must have less than 300 followers) to nominate.
5. Ask them 11 new questions. Do not re-nominate the blogger who
    nominated you.
6. Go to each blogger's site and inform them of their nomination.

Eleven Facts About Me : 
1. I turned sixty years old recently. That means I've most likely lived 3/4 of my life.  I am still coming to terms with that. It definitely changes one's perspective.
 
2. I have been married four times.  I plead temporary (but long-term) insanity in the first three cases, it's the only plausible excuse.  Fourth one is the charm, Papa Bear is my  hero, my knight in shining armour, my happily ever after.  I believe that we were meant to share this stage of our lives. Sometimes God does indeed save the very best for last... when you will appreciate it the most!
 
3. I have two grown children that live in the Nashville area.  One is an air-traffic controller for the Dept. of Defense, the other is a Registered Nurse at a large hospital. Neither one is married.  I have no grandchildren of my own, but I have happily adopted John's seven amazing grandkids, and now we have two amazing great-grandsons as well!
 
4. I was born in South Dakota, and grew up with a Midwest mentality and accent (or so people tell me), I last lived there when I was 22.  I don't think I sound like a character from the movie Fargo, but sometimes they say I do. :-) I was happy to leave those bitter cold, icy winters, and giant mosquitos, but I will always call Dakota home. My two sisters and their families continue to reside in the Midwest. 
 
5. I have lived in 38 different residences, in eighteen different cities in eight states.  I listed them in this post: The Road I've Travelled. I also spent two-and-a-half years living in Germany. My son was born there!
 
6. I am a crazy cat lady... or I would be if I didn't have a husband who was a bit more sensible, but also loves cats as much as I do.  We presently have four, all long-haired. Our house is soft and furry. :-)  Toby, the baby was given to me by Papa Bear for my 60th birthday.  He is the gift I asked for, and he is so very sweet... and naughty, as only a kitten can be!  He is six months old now and growing by leaps and bounds.
 
7. I love stuffed animals too, in fact Papa Bear would tell you that I love anything furry, including him! :-)  I have a collection of over 100 Beanie Bears, and assorted stuffed critters.  I am not beyond begging for new ones I fall in love with when I am out with Papa Bear, and he tends to indulge me.  Though I keep them small, since our house is small.
 
8. I am a chocoholic... I love it in all shapes and forms, and would probably eat chocolate covered ants if they were offered to me.  I hear they are crunchy. :-) My favorite form of chocolate is fudge.  When we go on trips I search out local fudge shops.  My latest treat is orange sherbet with Hershey's dark chocolate sauce... it tastes exactly like those chocolate oranges and is so cool and refreshing. Try it!

9. People tend to think I am anti-social or reclusive because I really detest social functions and making polite chit-chat with superficial people.  The truth is that I love to go out and do things, and meet people... if we can be one-on-one or in small groups and have meaningful conversations.  Then I can talk  for hours and hours... a good conversation is like an infusion of joy!

10.  I am overweight... I am fat.. I am obese.  Our society finds that unacceptable.  Thankfully, my husband truly loves me as I am... real love is like that. I have lost all the excess weight twice in my life.  It is far easier to get it off than it is to keep it off.  I lead a very sedentary lifestyle.  I sit in an office chair eight-plus hours a day.  When I get home I am tired, and I sit more.  I know it is unhealthy.  So are my eating habits.  I will probably die as a result of this. We all die somehow, someday.

11.  I love to go on road trips.  In less than three weeks we are headed on a road trip to Memphis, Tennessee to attend our grandson's highschool graduation just across the river in Arkansas, and then to spend three wonderful days with my own two kids who are coming to meet us at a nearby resort area in Mississippi, complete with gambling casinos.  I will come home rich... from spending time with them, even if I don't win two cents!  I rarely get to see my kids more than once a year. I wish we lived where they do, they wish we did too!
 
Eleven Questions to Answer:
1. If not for your current profession, you would have chosen.....?  I do not have a profession or a career.  I am an office clerical worker and have been that for most of my life.  At one time I aspired to become a nurse, then a teacher, then a social worker.  I did not stay in college long enough to complete any of those plans.  Not finishing school is my greatest regret. "I could have been a contender."  That's why I stress to young people how important it is to make good choices in our lives. Every choice we make will either open or close doors in our future!
 
2. What is the first thing that you see in people?  I look for signs of kindness, compassion, and intelligence.  I look for a smile and the light in their eyes!
 
3.What superpower would  you like to possess?  To be able to heal people who are hurting, not just physically but emotionally, those with invisible hurts and scars.
 
4. If you had to invite three famous people (dead or alive) for dinner who would they be ?  Jesus of Nazareth, Mother Teresa, and The Dali Lama. Can I please invite the new Pope too? Can you imagine what the table conversation would be like?  Mind-blowing!

6. What is the one lesson that you wished you learned earlier?  Not to be a doormat for people who will take advantage of you, mislead you, or abuse you; to distance yourself from such people and form relationships with those who encourage and uplift you!
 
7. What is your favorite way to pass the time?  Blogging!  I could do it 24/7, taking time out only to eat and sleep... and scoop the litter boxes of course :-)
 
8. Five things on your bucket list.  I don't really have a bucket list, because I've learned that life rarely goes as we hope or plan, but God gives us some amazing opportunities and experiences along the way that we never anticipate.  Things I once wanted no longer interest me as much, and things I'd love to do are beyond our financial reach.  If I could dream big and make it come true, it would just be to have some years to spend with Papa Bear where we didn't have to work anymore, or at least not so much, and could travel together or just enjoy spending our days together doing whatever we wanted.  That kind of freedom doesn't come with a price tag, it is priceless!  My favorite place to be with him... walking barefoot on a beach in the moonlight... there is nothing more peaceful or romantic than that!
 
9. Your favorite childhood memory.  A specific one doesn't come to mind, maybe because that was so long ago!  Great times were when we would take our toboggan (a long snow sled that seat several people) and inner tubes out to a hill north of  town and go sledding in the winter cold, then come home to warm up with hot chocolate!  Summertime fun was spending a day or an overnight at one of the lakes near us.  When we got older my parents owned a cabin at the lake. I loved it there, and had my own canoe. :-)  I miss lakes, trees, and green grass to walk my bare feet on terribly!
 
10. A random fact about you. I like to have my fingers and toes painted in bright, sparkling colors.  Bright colors make me smile!  It is such a contradiction to my very simple manner of dressing and wearing my hair that it makes me laugh.  Laughter is good for the soul. It makes other people smile too... as they note the old lady with the bright purple... or blue... or green nails! :-)
 
11. Do you believe in rebirth? If yes, what would you like to be reborn as?  I think it is very possible that some souls choose to return for another life, perhaps human, perhaps not. We come here to learn and to help guide others.  All created things have spirit.  I would like to be reborn as a very pampered cat! :-) Seriously... I would like to be reborn as someone who could lessen the suffering of others.  That would be the most meaningful thing to be!
 
Whew, did I wear your eyes out reading all of that? :-)  While I won't be passing this award on to anyone specifically, if you feel inspired to tell us a little more about yourself, please feel free to accept my nomination and go for it, use the same questions I did.  I'd love to learn more about you!

Thankful Thoughts - May 4th

Another week has rolled by.  It's Sunday morning here, and time to count my blessings...

1.  I completed the April A-Z Blogging Challenge - Yay me!  It went a lot easier this year, and definitely got me back in the groove of frequent posting, though I would have loved more time to keep up with all the amazing blogger friends who participated, visit more new blogs and reply to all the wonderful comments.  I am away from home ten hours a day, so that only gives me evenings to fit in everything else, and time is short.  I'm thinking it would be nice to have the month of April off work each year so I could focus entirely on the fun of A-Z... well, it's a nice fantasy anyway! :-)

2.  I am delighted that the number of visitors to my blog was the highest it's ever been in the nine years I've been blogging.  That was a definite reason to smile each day!  Obviously, that doesn't mean anybody read anything while they were here; and if they did read, that they liked it.  I wish there were easy "like" buttons for Blogger.  Why doesn't some techie brain invent the Gadget for that?!  I also do blog reading when I am just too tired to type out comments, but I for sure would hit "Like"! :-)

3.  I'm loving the longer hours of daylight each evening, nearly to 9 PM now.  Funny, how it feels like there is more time on those days, and it's just more cheerful all around.  I wish the hours of daylight never changed, not to mention that silly Daylight Savings Time thing.  Anyone with half a brain knows we can't save time! ;-)  Why is Arizona smarter than all the other states, when it comes to this?

4.  I so appreciate Leon's flower photos.  Leon is a wise and wonderful retiree in California who goes out for daily walks and always snaps a picture of some beautiful flowers or greenery to post to his Facebook page for us to enjoy.  Considering that I live in the very dry, very brown desert Southwest, nothing makes me smile more than green stuff and colorful flowers.  I miss them from days when I lived in more hospitable places.  Leon's simple little act of sharing delights so many of us.  Never say you can't do anything to brighten other lives... this is a great example!

5.  I am thankful for the pure pleasure of watching the new little white calf that was born nearby.  He stays pretty close to his mama, but also loves to run and play in the pen.  Babies of any species have such a beautiful sense of joy! 

6.  I am so glad to have my car parked in the nice warm sunshine, so that when I leave our frigid office at lunchtime I can warm up!  For some crazy reason our floor of the building is cooled to about 64 degrees many days, while other floors will be too warm.  Apparently there is way to regulate it evenly.  We wear sweaters and jackets and wish for mittens and caps.  I wouldn't want to pay their utility bill!  The cold and I don't get along well, it's hard on my hands that are constantly on the keyboard, so I really look forward to getting out in the nice warm car.  (Note that when the days hit 100 and more, which isn't far away, I'll be complaining about it being too hot outside. :-)  I clearly need to live on a nice tropical island with  powerful WiFi service.  :-)

7.  Speaking of our office, I work on the 9th floor of the thirteen story building.  We have a great birds-eye view of the city  up there.  It's fun to watch children who come to building as they experience the elevator ride (fairly uncommon out this flat spread-out city), and then peek out the big glass windows at the world down below.

8.  I am thankful for our attorney/supervisor who is the same as my son, and is so friendly and easy to get along with.  He's intelligent too, and always has time to explain points of law and specific cases to us.  I have worked for more miserable bosses than good ones, and it can make all the difference. He still has a little bit to learn about supervising staff, but he's getting there, and it's a pleasure to be blessed with someone so nice.  Right now the dynamics of our little group is great... hugs sigh of relief!

9. I am happy that I was able to spend the time yesterday to finally merge many old blog posts from a previous incarnation of my blog into this one.  It took hours to sort through the posts, and there is still a lot more cleanup I want to do, along with adding posts from my original blog way back.  Then I will begin the arduous task of printing out a hard copy of the entire thing to keep in the safe for my children to have some day.  As I was reading some of my earlier, more personal work, I was amazed at the length of my posts each day... and it all sure brought back memories of life before I met John.  It seems like forever ago now!

10.  I am so very grateful for my beloved Papa Bear.  I could easily spend all ten thankful thoughts on him each week and never run out of things to say.  Every day I am amazed by the kind of person he is... so patient, loving, caring, and fun!  I am especially thankful this week that he understands my extreme dislike/discomfort with large group social functions involving women who converse on superficial levels if at all.  Unless it's something extremely important, I am most often excused from attending.  Bless him!
 
I miscounted and ended up with eleven, but they are all things that make my life good, so the next  one is a bonus on my list of thankful thoughts for this week. :-)

11.  I've said it before, but I want to say it again, because I am so continually reminded of it... how blessed I am with the friends who share blogging with me here and posting with me on Facebook. To connect with such wonderfully amazing and supportive people is one of the greatest gifts in my life. I grew up thinking that I was an oddity, maybe from another planet, because no one I knew viewed life as I did, or cherished the written word as much. Lo and behold, when I joined the Internet and become a blogger I discovered that I have "family" all over the world...  I treasure each and every one of you more than you will ever know!
I'm linking up with Lizzi at Considerings for Ten Things of Thankful ... 
drop by, check out the awesome posts, and add a list of your own!
Ten Things of Thankful
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If you enjoy creative writing and want a place to share your efforts,
 join me for Two Shoes Tuesday this week!

The Paradox


As I was reading the Facebook pages of some of my young friends I found this amazing poem.  I had to share it with you...
 
The Paradox

When I am inside writing,
all I can think about is how I should be outside living.

When I am outside living,
all I can do is notice all there is to write about.

When I read about love, I think I should be out loving.
When I love, I think I need to read more. ...


I am stumbling in pursuit of grace,
I hunt patience with a vengeance.

On the mornings when my brother's tired muscles
held to the pillow, my father used to tell him

For every moment you aren't playing basketball,
someone else is on the court practicing.

I spend most of my time wondering
if I should be somewhere else.

So I have learned to shape the words thank you
with my first breath each morning, my last breath every night.

When the last breath comes, at least I will know I was thankful
for all the places I was so sure I was not supposed to be.

All those places I made it to,
all the loves I held, all the words I wrote.

And even if it is just for one moment,
I will be exactly where I am supposed to be.


 —Sarah Kay

Sarah Kay is a 25 year old American poet. Known for her spoken word poetry, Kay is the founder and co-director of Project V.O.I.C.E.  To find out more about her and her work go to her website at www.kaysarahsera.com/ or to her Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/kaysarahsera.

Friday Four Fill-In Fun - May 2nd

Feeling Beachie
This week I'm joining Hilary at Feeling Beachie for Follow Friday Four Fill-In Fun.  Hilary provides four statements with blanks for us to fill in and share on her blog-hop. Come join the fun! 

Today's Statements:
  1. I really ____________ in the early a.m.
  2. I wish the ____________ would always stay ____
  3. ________ is my favorite place when I am _______
  4. If I hear _______ one more time, I will ______
My Answers:
  1. I really try to suffocate my alarm clock with my pillow in the early a.m.
  2. I wish the evenings would always stay light and warm like they are now.
  3. Anywhere in nature is my favorite place when I am needing to find peace.
  4. If I hear the phones at work ring one more time, I will fantasize about cutting the cord. :)