Some JFF Photos to Start off the Week!

Happy Monday everyone–hope all is well with you! Don’t know what happened to me last week. Had a post all set to go on Thursday then realized I accidentally scheduled it for next month. Had a wedding on Friday–if there is such a thing as a dance hangover I definitely  had one! Then the weekend got away from me so I’ll just start all over again.

Thought it would be fun to change up the theme for summer and share some photos from the garden and all the beauty I’m surrounded with these days. EVERYTHING is a month early but nothing seems to be suffering because of it. I just keep wondering how the flower situation will work itself out come fall.

This  little hydrangea peek-a-booed its way right through the fence. Wouldn’t have happened if I’d wanted it to!

There’s ‘peek-a-boo’s’ parent plant on the inside of the fence. The antique lantern on the left is from one of the cottages from my “Little House” in the PA woods. Hubby restored the lantern with lots of love!

(Had to move the gazebo so that roofers could do their job.) Here’s the annual wall of sunflowers as it makes its climb. Blooms started today. One plant is already 9 feet high. Squirrels and birds will start their seed-fest early this year.

Planted these gorgeous shasta (?) daisies last year and forgot all about them until a few days ago! Love them 🙂 Can’t believe some of my mums already bloomed.

My neighbor buys too many plants every year. These he gave me two years ago. They’re spreading nice and wide and helping give me less to plant every year. Loving those perennials!

Hunny’s zucchini and tomatoes, watched over, coincidentally, by the sunflower sentinels he coaxed to border his veggie haven. Peppers and string beans are on the other side.

The third and fourth fruits of hubby’s garden. (Zucchini blossoms and one zucch took first and second honors.) Those string beans look awesome!

Later this week I’ll be posting a round-up of some resources for writers. I’m sure there will be something for wordsmiths of every level. Hope to see you then!

Have a great day,


Clay Court’s King Stakes SEVENTH Claim on His Reign!

So psyched about Rafa Nadal’s win at the French Open Tennis Championships Monday! Rafa fans know, that boy NEEDED to show the awesome Djok  the world’s current Number Two player hasn’t gone away yet. I am so interested to see what the following two slams will bring! (Can you imagine to what level each of these guys will be lifting their game assuming their ‘rivalry’ continues?? Whoof!)

Congrats to both champions–I hate that someone has to lose but so glad Rafa won! And both winners were gracious as always in their post-game interviews, pure class acts. (Rafa’s language barrier is definitely decreased, too.)

Photo courtesy

Thanks so much for indulging me! And VERY special thanks to those of you  kind enough to SHARE. So much appreciated!

Have a great day–I certainly plan to 😉


Because You Just Never Know

Where you’ll meet your next online friend!

Happy Wednesday, friends and followers-hope all of you are doing well and finding your hearts and minds in a peaceful place during the hump of the work week!

I pick up books pretty much anywhere. That’s how Gary Chapman‘s Love Is A Verb wound up in my hands. As I read through, I came across an essay (Just Call Me Babe), which I enjoyed to the point I had to contact the author and let her know. I looked up today’s guest, reached out, heard the fun from her essay  echo through her email responses and asked her if she’d like to join me here. Voila! Post #233 was born! 🙂

A quick bio: Donna Smith, a retired secondary English teacher for Altus, Oklahoma, Public School District and for Wayland Baptist University on campus at Altus Air Force Base, now edits and publishes Victory Herald. She has also taught Sunday school classes in Tipton First Baptist Church, Tipton, Oklahoma, for 60 years. Donna (a.k.a., “Babe”) can be reached at

Donna’s inspirational articles have appeared in various publications, such as Bible Advocate, Home Life, Guideposts, Mature Living, Mature Years, Journey, Open Windows, A 6th Serving of Chicken Soup for the Soul, Good News, Education Matters, Christian Social Action….and I’m guessing…others.  

So I asked Donna the following questions:

What do you love best about writing?

It is a means of sharing inspirational messages with others.

What got you started?

A high school dropout, married at 17 and the mother of four, I spent what little spare time I had in reading book after book. One day while in the city post office, an older friend, the city newspaper editor, asked me if I liked to write.

I laughed, answered, “No! I don’t know how to write!”

She asked, “Do you like to read?”

“I read every minute I can.”

“Well,” she said, “if you can read you can write. I’m starting a writer’s group and I want you to attend.”

I attended, worked with a critique group, and shortly thereafter became a published author. That achievement and my husband’s encouragement led me to take the GED. I passed, was accepted into college, graduated with a language arts major and taught secondary grammar/comp and British literature for 23 years. For 5 years, I taught comp classes at the nearbyWaylandBaptistUniversitysite on Altus Air Force Base.

Now there was a ‘different’ way to be off and running, Donna. What keeps you writing?

The responses I receive from the publishing of my monthly ezine, Victory Herald, as do the requests I receive from so many others asking for help in editing their materials.

How has writing impacted—or significantly changed—other aspects in your life?

Over the years, I became a speaker at several seminars for English teachers. Too, I spoke at two state writers’ conferences. One of the greatest impacts, however, was that after I retired from the classroom, for several years, I served as a feature writer for five area newspapers. I was newsletter editor for the Public Oklahoma Educators association. Writing has made my life, formed my life, and now having been twice widowed and living alone, writing keeps me going.

Where do you get story and character ideas?

Personal experience, studying Scripture, and perusing lists. In fact, I’m a collector of books of lists.

Kindly elaborate on what kinds of books and lists you collect, and how they inspire you. 


Included in my collection of books for ideas are The New Ecyclopedia of Christian Quotations, Draper’s Book of Quotations for the Christian World, and 14,000 Quips and Quotes for Writers and Speakers.


Books of lists include Major Bible Themes, Meridith’s Big Book of Bible Lists, The Christian Book of Lists, The Treasury of Bible Lists, Lists to Live By (1,2,3,4).


I also clip and save lists that appear in magazines, newspapers, and that appear on my computer screen.

Wow, Donna. You really like lists, lol. Current, past, and future projects?

Currently, I’m under contract with Union Gospel Press for writing a testimonial feature. My work has been published in a variety of markets: Guideposts; Love Is a Verb; 6th Serving of Chicken Soup for the Soul; Standard, Mature Years; Mature Living; Teacher; Teaching Today; Education Matters; Christian Social Action.

Three ways you find most effective to promote your work:

(1) editing for others;

(2) publishing Victory Herald;

(3) sharing my work and ideas with members of my Sunday school class.

So there you have it. My newest online writer-friend, who has inspired me with her energy and accomplishments! Please take a moment to share a thought with our guest and maybe even click on a SHARE button, too. 😉

Have a great day and catch y’all later this week, friends. I’ll be running a JFF (Just For Fun) post on a random topic that struck me the other day.



Wedding Anniversary Seventeen and Blog Post 230

#230: A WordPress milemarker. Ironically enough it’s on commitment. (Go figure.)

Meant to get this up and ready to go last night but hubby and I got back MUCH later than expected from our anniversary dinner. We even got to do a little dancing. Spent part of the AM in church and am now finally getting some time to get caught up.

This post recently ran over at fellow Liberty States Fiction Writer Chris Redding’s blog. Thought it appropo to run today. If you missed it, here’s your chance to catch up. If you’ve already read it–and hopefully liked it–please feel free to SHARE the thoughts! 😉

The other morning, hubby I were hanging out in the kitchen. It was one of those fresh, sunny spring days, the kind that really brings to light how bright my kitchen is. Hubby was in a good mood—think we both were—and I noticed how his backlit green eyes really popped against the backdrop.

And it occurred to me how much I enjoy and love him these days. Or, as he would say, I was “peaking.”

Got me to thinking: We’re married seventeen years April 29. Hard to believe sometimes, but yep, that’s what it is. Most of the time, things are pretty even keel. Like others (I’m sure) we get our up days and down days; days we like each other and days we wonder, “What were we thinking?” (Hubby says we weren’t. ;)) Fortunately, the percentage of the latter tends to outweigh the former.

I thought a little more. Last year, right around this time, some ‘stuff’ that had been building hit its climax. Hindsight may be 20/20, but until you’re far enough away from a situation to actually have that perspective (and maybe to even see how ‘stuff’ was a set-up or segue to a greater good), surviving ‘stuff’ is a choice one makes. Sometimes one does so a day at a time; sometimes an hour at time or whatever it is those involved can handle.

We’ve gotten through other ‘stuff’ too—again, via a conscious choice to do so. We’ve drawn lines in the sand and made up our minds to agree to disagree on certain subjects. We’ve learned to joke about topics that were very hot a few years ago (not that we agree on them either and probably never will).

But we have chosen to accept each other the best we can for exactly who we are. (And learning, over the past nineteen years—we dated about eighteen months before marrying—that we’re kind of polar opposites but can OPT to make this work between us. And those lovely moments I peak? Those are the payoff for hanging tough through the times that feel tougher.

Brings me to the topic of commitment and writing. (Feel free to substitute whatever you like in place of the underlined word. Sometimes I’ll fill in the blank with exercise, day job, kids—almost anything applies.) Rather than get into a long-drawn out discussion on that I’ll simply direct you to my posts (The Big C—Parts One and Two).

These days, I feel as though I’m going through ‘stuff’ with my writing. There are so many changes in the writing world; so many opportunities, yet so much to do and a gazillion possibilities. I suppose, like the opener to Charles Dickens’ classic, A Tale of Two Cities, it is “the best of times (and…) the worst of times.” Time itself is always an issue and, lately so is my focus. (It kinda sucks. There. “I said it; yes I did,” as syndicated radio host and author Michael Baisden is wont to say.)  Story issues. Confidence (or lack of it). Things I’ve yet to learn and others I know I should be putting in motion. Fear of failure. Fear of success.

I hang in there, though, just like I have with my marriage. When I think about it, any (and almost every) relationship I’m part of is like that, right? Same with my writing. Time to make some conscious choices, beginning with a detailed plan of action, a few self-imposed deadlines, etc. If that current work-in-progress (wip) just isn’t working, maybe it’s time to turn my energies to another wip or begin a new one altogether. I’ve taken steps back to learn parts of the craft where I feel weak. I’ve reached out for help from fellow writers. (Now I’ve got to take the plunge and accept some of the offers— What?! Expose that disaster of a document I call ‘scratch pad’? Let people see how truly convoluted my grey matter is, lol? Nah. I’ll take fingernails being dragged down the chalkboard for $200, Mr. Trebec.”)

Then I remember one last thing, something the inspiring Ms. Jody Hedlund alluded to in a recent post at her blog. She talked about my unique writer’s journey and the pace I may be meant to keep. How I translate that to apply to me: I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be (in God’s plan for me, or so I choose to think). If that’s the case, then all I need to do is hang in a little longer, keep taking steps in positive directions and, like these days with hubby, enjoy peaking during a much-welcomed moment of payoff.

So what are your thoughts on these topics? What gets you through the stuff of life and what payoffs have you been blessed to experience? Are you following the pace that’s right for you? Do you feel as though you’re where you’re meant to be at this very moment in time?

Have a great day,


Discipline V. Control (Part 3): The Fruits of Discipline

Happy Tuesday, friends! Hope this week is treating you all well so far. For those of you catching up with this particular series, here are links to the preceding posts. I’m hoping you don’t get sidetracked and remember to come back! 😀

Discipline V. Control–Part 1

Discipline V. Control–Part 2

Back to the fruits of discipline, I recently got to watch first-hand a great example of how my son and his friends are utilizing their current repertoire of fishing skills. As many of you know from previous posts, kids are often at my house and usually hanging out in the kitchen when I’m getting dinner ready or cleaning. We often engage in conversation and I take every opportunity I can to teach. (One can hope I do so without being preachy and/or without showing surprise, shock or disapproval for all the stuff kids know nowadays that I had probably just begun learning at their age. They keep coming back, so maybe I’m doing something right? I also happen to love middle-school and now, high-school-aged kids. If they don’t feel judged, they’re very open and a whole lot of fun to have around.)

Anyway, I had my older son’s ‘core crowd’ over on a Friday evening. One of the boys grabbed his coat too when his ‘girlfriend’s’ mother (the one whose dad is said to be strict) came to pick her up. He wanted a ride to a party to which he’d been invited by another friend who wasn’t present at the moment. Because he was in my house, I went into mother-mode and started asking questions.

In short, this boy couldn’t come up with the better responses any parent hopes to hear when a kid is off to a high-school party. The boy who invited the dude at my house was reported to have met the party host, a senior, earlier that day—and the inviter is not known for sound judgment up front.

Mind you, I’m dealing with freshmen. I also was not in a position to tell the invitee he couldn’t go, which I made clear to him as I plied him with queries for details of where he was headed.

The core crowd of kids at my house chimed in, advising this guy to not go (for all the right reasons, too). He put on his jacket anyway and left with his girlfriend. He was back in five minutes’ time, having opted to hang out at my house for the rest of the evening. (He’s recently joined the wrestling team and voices liking how it keeps him out of trouble by being busy after school.)

Could I have asked for better? No way. This was peer pressure at its most positive. My older son’s core crowd of friends is far from perfect, but that incident shows me they’re—fingers crossed—on their way to making more sound decisions as time goes on. Makes me feel good too, to know these are the kids my son is with outside the house. I also realize this is a just-for-today moment, but can pray that more of these will string together on their road to adulthood.

At least this post turned out a little shorter, lol. Your thoughts? Experiences? I’d love for you to take a moment and share yours here. We parents and guardians are on an immensely challenging journey of raising kids to face a world far bigger and menacing than the one with which our parents had to deal.

One final request: if you like what you read here, would you kindly take a second and click the  Facebook, Twitter or any of the share buttons below? Reblogging is nice too, and helps get word out to others in cyberspace. By working together, we can each get our content and our names out to that many more people. Thanks so very much!

Wishing each of you a joyful day,


Discipline V. Control–Part 2

Welcome back! Hope you’ve had some time to digest last post’s discussion. (If not, take a few minutes and read it now but don’t forget to come back!)

Are you ready to delve in a little further? Awesome. Just one quick thing: please remember, these are nothing more than my thoughts on these concepts, based on my parenting experiences to date. By no means do I consider myself an expert.

I ended last time with this thought: Respect for my children—and for children and teens in general—is something that helps guide me in the process of discipline.

Back to Respect has multiple definitions, but I chose those that apply to this essay.

As a noun, it refers to (1) esteem for or a sense of the worth or excellence of a person, a personal quality or ability; (2) deference to a right, privilege, privileged position.

As a verb: (1) to hold in esteem or honor; (2) to show regard, or consideration for (i.e., someone’s rights); (3) to refrain from intruding upon or interfering with (i.e., a person’s privacy).

I won’t declare I’ve always practiced respect in all my parenting decisions. I can’t aver that I inherently understood what it means to show regard for my children’s needs. I am, however, blessed by having internalized early on that a little person does have feelings that need to be considered, something that hit me very clearly one day when my older guy was about eight months old.

We were on some multi-errand run and probably on, at the very least, our sixth stop. This means the little guy had already been dragged in and out of his car seat eleven times. Now mind you, this little guy had always been fine with being in the swing or bouncer or stroller for as long as I needed him to be or was willing to go. (He’s still pretty cool that way.) As I strapped him in for time number twelve, he started crying. Chances are, I was initially irritated with his reaction, but luckily, compassion clicked in and it hit me: This guy is tired. He’s had enough and shouldn’t be subjected to his mother’s inability to slow down.

I’d read parenting books—God knows, they abound— and then beat myself up over not being a ‘good mom’ because I couldn’t make the ideals depicted in those books happen. Lucky for me, a close friend (and mom) would remind me that if there were ONE most effective means, there’d be a lot fewer books on the topic. (My favorite: Kid Cooperation: How to Stop Yelling, Nagging, and Pleading and Get Kids to Cooperate, by Elizabeth Pantley. Currently, I’m browsing through George M. Kapalka’s Parenting Your Out-of-Control Child: An Effective, Easy-to-Use Program for Teaching Self-Control. Came across that one at a case manager’s office at school, and thought I could glean some wisdom for dealing with my younger, somewhat anxious, reactive and much-more-of-a-challenge son. BTW, if anyone is interested, he’s be available through Lent. I’m giving him up to the first willing taker. ;))

Okay, now that I’ve gotten sidetracked almost beyond repair, I learned, by reading those parenting books, that discipline is a form of teaching, as well as a form of living. My job is not to make the kids do what I say (controlling), but to guide them to the best choice available at any given moment (discipline).

Hopefully, they’ll exercise good judgment up front. When they don’t, one could hope they take advantage of the ‘opportunity to learn,’ assuming the consequences of their action(s) aren’t overly devastating or life threatening in any way. (Elizabeth Pantley deals with how to use natural consequences—or create logical ones—very nicely in her book.)

This segues me to the old adage, Give a man a fish and he’ll eat for a day. Teach him to fish and he’ll eat for a lifetime. When I fight for my way or that instant response to what I tell my kids to do for no other reason beyond I want my way (Gasp! Controlling again!), I’m not teaching them to fish. By guiding them to make wise choices today, I can only hope they’ll be laying out a foundation to make even wiser choices as they get older, and especially when they’re in a position to make (big) decisions without someone more experienced at their side.

We’ll pick up next time with the fruits of discipline.

So what are your thoughts on all this so far? What have you learned on your journey relative to authority and kids? No, you don’t have to be a parent to join the discussion. All kinds of interactions count (i.e., those of teachers, psychologists, baby sitters, siblings, grandparents, etc), so don’t be shy!

One final request: if you like what you read here, would you kindly take a second and click the  Facebook, Twitter or any of the share buttons below? Reblogging is nice too, and helps get word out to others in cyberspace. By working together, we can each get our content and our names out to that many more people. As always, I thank you!



Coffee and Because I’m Slow On the Uptake

Hey friends and followers,

Happy final Friday of 2011! Can’t thank all of you enough for all the ways you’ve made this blog such a happy place for me. You may have contributed a post or a comment, told somebody else about it or simply clicked LIKE and/or FOLLOW; maybe you just read or happened by via search engine. No matter what, you’ve touched me whether you know it or not! Please know how precious you all are, whether I know you by name or not.


Now, since I forgot to announce this on Wednesday (that’s the ‘Slow on the Uptake’ part of the this post’s title–the ‘Coffee’ woke me up ;)), I’m inviting y’all to Calisa Rhose’s Chit-Chat space for a cup of virtual coffee and discussion on why sittin’ and chillin’ has gone wayside in today’s digitally-driven, insanely busy world. Plus, her first published historical romance, HOME, debuted this week, on her birthday. And being the kind soul she is, she reminded me (during her recent virtual visit here) that I celebrated NO MATTER WHY‘s second anniversary this month too.

So, if you can spare a few, come on down!

A safe and happy new year to all (though I’m thinking this is my 199th post–why not close out the year with Number 200?),

Lotsa luv,