A Fly Went By . . .

I WISH!

The children’s book by Mike McClintock was one of my favourites.

Book Cover (Fly Went By)

However . . .

Fly

. . . this is not one of my favourites.

Not in my kitchen.

Not landing on my arm while I’m trying to work at my computer.

Yep, they’re flitting around, driving me just a little cuckoo.

And then another scenario crossed my mind.

I thought about the pictures of impoverished communities, mothers holding their sick children, not even bothering to shoo the flies from their little ones’ faces.

And that reminded me of all the reasons I have to say . . .

Thank You 2My children are, for the most part, healthy. And when they’re not, we have access to doctors and medicine.

We have shelter from the elements . . . and most of the pests.

I have the means – or access to the means – to get rid of the flies that have made my home their own.

I am well aware that any annoyance I may have is definitely a first world problem . . . and not really worth mentioning.

My condition is not because I am any more deserving than anyone else.

It is because of God’s grace.

So does that mean He loves me more?

No

It means He holds me accountable to share the blessings He has poured out.

So I guess those pesky little flies aren’t so bad after all . . .

Not if they reminded me that 1) I am blessed and 2) I have the means to bless others.

Feel free to ask me if I’ve deliberately sought to be a blessing today – or any day.

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Craziness for a New Week

Rock Climber

Today

It heads my way

Wonderful craziness

I see it on the horizon

Coming

* * * * * * * * * * *

And now for my ROW80 Crazy Check-In . . .

Editing Craziness

This particular craziness is temporarily on hold.

I recently completed a major editing job. YAY!

There are one or two more jobs coming down the pike at some point.

Writing Craziness

I have two or three articles to write this week.

I also want to write three or four guest posts and at least one, if not more, posts for here and my website.

I hope to write three to five devotionals for the book I’m working on.

And maybe, just maybe . . . I’ll write a new picture book manuscript.

Reading Craziness

I want to devote large chunks of my Sundays to reading, but I have to add reading to my Action Plan for other days as well.

I’m re-reading Cathy West’s Yesterday’s Tomorrow. I’m enjoying it even more the second time round.

I’ve also added a couple of books to my To Be Read pile (and ten articles from peer-reviewed journals) that are part of the requirements to maintain my labour doula certification.

I am also puttering away at a number of other print and ebooks.

And we won’t even talk about the articles and blog posts I would love to read online.

Fitness Craziness

The weather is perfect for walking, sunny with a nice breeze. I’ve done more walking this year than maybe ever before. I hope to keep it up as long as the weather permits.

While I haven’t been putting in long workouts, I have kept moving. I have ten- and five-pound weights in the living room that I use from time time time while watching TV. I do a number of bodyweight exercises each day while at the computer.

I’m losing the enthusiasm for healthy eating, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to stop.

As the weather cools down, it will be more challenging to drink enough water, but I will keep plugging along and will, perhaps, add more caffeine-free herbal teas.

Household Craziness

I suggested to my hubby that we spend at least one hour each Saturday decluttering the dungeon (aka our basement). We’ve made a start and I hope to maintain the momentum. It’s the whole “out of sight, out of mind” scenario.

Once we make some headway with the decluttering process, I’m sure I’ll be inspired to branch out beyond the basement.

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I am a Christian . . .

Lonely Woman. . . but I’m not always happy and worry-free.

I have much to be thankful for. And, of course, it helps to focus on those things and on the good that I can see around me if I take the time to look, but sometimes the darkness is too insidious to ignore.

The death of comic actor Robin Williams . . .

The slaughter of men, women, and children simply because of their nationality and/or faith . . .

A sense of hopelessness, even among young people with their lives before them . . .

Yes, sometimes the darkness seems to close in from all sides.

Depression, despair, and despondency are realities of life – even for the Christian, but digging into God’s Word (or even reading just a few uplifting verses) and accepting His invitation to commune with Him in prayer reminds us there is Light when all we can see is darkness.

Because I’m a Christian, I believe in Reality with a capital “r.” I believe in the Eternal. I believe that because God commanded me to keep my eyes on the Founder and Perfecter of my faith – His Son, Jesus Christ – He will enable me to do so (Hebrews 12:2). I believe what it says in Ephesians 2, that in some way that only He fully understands, I am already seated in the heavenlies with Christ.

Now, does that mean I’m evidence of the cliche that says “She’s so heavenly minded, she’s no earthly good”?

I certainly hope not.

I likely have 10, 20, 30 more years – maybe even more – to walk this earth. While I do so, I have two directives: 1) to bring God honour and glory and 2) to bless those He brings into my life

So, if I’m going to shine light in the darkness, I have to look into it long enough to see those who are wandering around with no sense of which way to go. Plus, I must do my part to allow God’s light to shine through me, a light that will guide me – and by extension, those with whom I come in contact – out of the darkness. The Bible speaks of the foolishness of hiding our light under a basket. I do not want to be guilty of doing so.

Sidebar – No matter how many times I’ve read that verse, it has never struck me before that light isn’t noticeable when it’s surrounded by light, only when it shines in the darkness. Hm, food for thought!

I must allow myself to weep with those who weep (Romans 12:15) As I more fully get to know the God of All Comfort, I can bring that comfort to others.

As I have opportunity, I must be deliberate in my endeavours to share His love. (See my post “What Can I Do?”.)

I saw the following on Facebook. I want to be this kind of friend. How about you?

“Friends pick us up when we fall down, and if they can’t pick us up, they lie down and listen for a while.”

Categories: Ponderings, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , | 4 Comments

ROW Check-In

Red Pencils

EDITING

as much of the manuscript I’m working on as I receive from the first editor

the most recent post for the pro blog I am now moderating (I will also be working to improve the appearance of past posts.)

Fountain Pen Pic

WRITING

1-2 seniors’ living articles

1-2 posts for SNEI

1 post for stephbethnickel.com

1 post for Christian Editing Services (writing prompts)

1 post for Kimberley Payne (health and fitness)

1 post for UTCOP (prayer)

Girl on Stack of Books

READING

Finish Christian Mama’s Guide to Having a Baby

I also hope to read a significant amount of the newest issue of Writer’s Digest and a friend’s novel that is being re-released.

Dumbbells

EXERCISE

5-6 days: walk for at least 30 minutes

3-4 days: resistance training

Salad

HEALTHY EATING

Goal: 5-6 days out of 7

cleaning supplies pic

CLEANING

Daily: meal prep and dishes

Three days: something extra

 

 

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What Can I Do?

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me’” (Matthew 25:34-36 ESV).

The news has always focused on the pain and heartache that surrounds us, but with the advent of the Internet and social media, that pain and heartache seem closer than ever. The situations in Israel, Palestine, and Iraq, the suspected suicide of comic actor Robin Williams, etc., etc., etc.

While these situations – and others like them – sadden me, there are many things I can’t do anything about (beyond prayer, which I know is vital), but I won’t be held accountable for those things.

But here are some of the things I will be held accountable for:

Bread

Feeding the Hungry

I am not a government official. I don’t make policy. I don’t have the financial resources to make any kind of significant difference on a global scale. But I can afford to alleviate the suffering of just one person. Though the Big Picture may be too overwhelming, I can allow my heart to be stirred for that one individual – or more.

Water Glass

Giving Drink to the Thirsty

I take it for granted. I go to my kitchen and get clean, life-giving water anytime I want to. Amongst our First World complaints is the fact that we have to pay for water – at least in the city where I live. But – Wow! – what a complaint! I may never travel to an impoverished part of the world and dig a well, but I can support those who do – even in some small way.

Man on Bench

Welcoming the Stranger

We spend so much time teaching our children to be wary of strangers that sometimes we instill fear in ourselves. We become content to spend time with family, friends, and coworkers, forgetting that a simple gesture like a smile or a hello can make a huge difference in someone’s life. And we probably all remember the feeling of being excluded at some point in our life. It’s no more fun for an adult than it is for a child or a young person.

Homeless

Clothing the Naked

Most of us don’t have to venture very far from home to encounter those who would cherish what we toss away without a second thought. I’m well aware of the “teach a man to fish” philosophy – and I agree with it. But sometimes before we can do that, we have to offer that same man food to fill his stomach, drink to quench his thirst, and clothes to cover his nakedness. Then we can go about the business of teaching him how to fish.

 

Head in Hands

Visiting the Sick

I’m not a doctor or a nurse. I’m not a nutritionist or a naturopath. I can, however, spend time with those who are sick, both in person or online. I was asked just this past weekend if I thought social media actually took away from that personal connection. As I explained, it can add another layer of distance for some, but for me, it is just one more way I can connect with other people. And as you know, I’m all about relationships.

 

Prisoner

Going to the Imprisoned

This may mean visiting an actual detention centre, but there are many forms of imprisonment and many reasons someone finds him- or herself isolated from others – or at least feeling that way. This may not be apparent from someone’s appearance or interaction with others. However, if we take the time to get to know someone – to really know them – we may realize they are lonely even when they’re not alone. And that kind of imprisonment is around us every day.

Beyond Physical Needs

It is important to do my part to meet the physical needs of those around me, but each one of us has spiritual needs as well.

Who are the spiritually hungry, thirsty, naked, sick, and imprisoned? Who is the spiritual stranger?

The Bible says, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied” (Matthew 5:6 ESV).

It is my responsibility to pursue righteousness – and by doing so, teach others to do the same.

Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh” (Romans 13:13-14 NIV).

This doesn’t mean that the physical life isn’t important or that it is something to be shunned, but it does mean there is a godly way to make provision for our physical needs. This takes a lifetime to learn and again, the best way for me to teach others is to do so by example.

“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified” (1 Corinthians 9:24-27 ESV).

As I mentioned above, imprisonment can manifest in many different ways. The same is true with sickness. Those who are physically or mentally ill need the appropriate treatment. Those who are spiritually ill need the spiritual health that comes from a right relationship with God.

After the apostle Paul encountered the Lord Jesus, he spent his life making Him known no matter what obstacles he faced, including physical imprisonment. He never again, however, experienced spiritual imprisonment.

And who is the stranger the Bible speaks of?

Many of us know the story of “the good Samaritan” from Luke 10. Despite what preconceived ideas I may have of someone else, if I see them in need, it is my responsibility to show Christ-like love.

Why should I care for others?

“And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me’” (Matthew 15:40 ESV).

And when asked what the greatest commandment was, Jesus answered . . .

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 22:37-40 ESV).

It isn’t that I believe in a gospel of good works (we can never be good enough to earn a place in heaven), but good works will overflow from a life surrendered to the King, Jesus Christ.

(Thanks to pixabay.com for the photos in this post.)

Categories: Ponderings, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , | 6 Comments

On the Clock

Alarm Clock

Deadlines . . . they are a very good thing.

Editing Deadlines

I have signed on to edit three manuscripts with imminent deadlines. Am I a little crazy? Maybe just a little. However, it felt incredibly good to motor through several pages yesterday. The finish line for Project #1 is in sight.

Note: I may have another project to begin this week. Maybe I am a tad more than a little crazy.

Writing Deadlines

I have four 700-word articles re: seniors’ living to write this month. I want to get at least one or two written before next Sunday.

I am a little ahead of schedule with my guest posts for Kimberley. Yay!

I am on track with my posts for Christian Editing Services.

I must, must, must get busy writing for this site and for stephbethnickel.com

Reading Deadlines

For the time being, my reading involves the Bible and grammar and writing style books.

Fitness Deadlines

I have made a declaration that I will limit my sugar intake and not eat desserts until next Saturday (I would like to limit desserts to the weekends).

I also hope to get three resistance workouts and five walks in before next weekend.

I am drinking more water and want to keep up with my new good habit.

Household Deadlines

My around-the-house goals have been shelved, but I am doing better at the day-to-day stuff.

I am participating in a challenge for wives and am keeping up with that. It’s fun to look for ways to encourage my hubby.

How about you? Do you do better with a deadline – or does it just stress you out?

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Facing Challenges

Stopwatch and Track

In July I completed Kimberley Payne’s new fitness challenge. (You can sign up for the next session that starts in September by following the link.) This challenge came at exactly the right time to give me the boost I needed to eat better and exercise more.

I followed up by signing on for Rob and Jillian Tafeen’s 7-Day No Sugar Challenge on Facebook. It was a great educational experience. (Sugar hides in many unexpected places.) It was also a great week of self-discipline. The Tafeens also run more in-depth 60-day challenges you may be interested in. You can find them on Facebook.

This month I’m participating in Pam Farrel’s challenge for Christian wives. I just began today but am looking forward to the next month. If you’re interested, you can still sign up.

I had planned to begin working through The Artist’s Way this month, but I think I will leave it for September or October, depending on how my schedule looks.

As you can tell I like to challenge myself. And doing so with a group of like-minded individuals keeps me accountable and allows me to encourage a whole new group of friends, something this extrovert revels in.

That’s one of the main reasons I love participating in A Round of Words in 80 Days – even though I don’t always get my check-ins posted on time. (This one is either late for Sunday or early for Wednesday. It’s all a matter of perspective.)

ROW LogoSo, here are my goals for this week, writing-related and otherwise:

Editing Goals

I completed a project a day early so I can power through the first of three major projects that have come my way. (I will spend much less time than usual on social networks this week.)

Writing Goals

In John 14:15, Jesus is quoted as saying, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (ESV).

While this is not limited to the words He spoke while on earth, for many years, I have wanted to do a study of those particular commandments.

Instead of doing so exclusively for myself, I am now working on a devotional that I may self-published titled “If You Love Me.”

* * * * *

I may or may not write one of the four articles re: seniors’ living that are due at the end of the month.

* * * * *

I will write two guest posts this week, but I’m not sure if I’ll get any posts written for my website or anything more written to post here.

* * * * *

I won’t likely have the opportunity to work on any children’s picture books this week, but I hope to get back at it next week.

Reading Goals

I hope to finish Proofreading Secrets of Best-Selling Authors and Grammar Girl Presents the Ultimate Writing Guide for Students by the end of August.

Fitness Goals

I want to follow through with the momentum I’ve developed over the last five weeks.

Therefore . . .

I will walk for 30 minutes total each day (M-F).

I will do two upper body workouts and two lower body workouts.

I will eat well at least five days this week.

I will drink at least 2L of water each day.

Miscellaneous Goals

I will prepare supper from scratch at least five days.

I will wash the dishes every day.

I will do at least one household chore I’ve been putting off.

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Knife – Book Review

Knife Cover“You’ll be sorry.”

Yep, that was the warning a bookstore staff member gave me when he asked if I had only one of R. J. Anderson’s books.

Guess what!

He was right on the money.

Though it took me awhile to get into the book (I had a lot of other things on the go), the more I read, the more I liked it and became anxious to find out how the author would tie everything up.

Knife is written for a YA audience, but I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys reading fantasy – whatever their age.

I can’t say that I’ve read stories about faeries before, but I would imagine the author has come at the subject from a unique perspective.

I will say again – for the umpteenth time – that I am relationship-driven and, therefore, I enjoy stories with well-defined characters I come to care about. And Knife most certainly delivers. Even less prominent characters are well-crafted and believable.

This character development culminates in the final chapter, which is definitely my favourite. Why?

It includes . . .

- wonderful plot twists

- a farewell to characters I will truly miss

- a cathartic, believable ending

Speech Bubble

And quotes that are just too much fun . . .

“Of all the gnat-witted things to do . . .”

Followed by . . .

“I love you too, Thorn.”

“We’re wasting time . . .”

Followed by . . .

“Then do me the courtesy of not interrupting when I speak!”

“I can’t see worth a squashed berry.”

“All I know is that the dark-haired one said she’d stab my eye out if I didn’t take good care of you . . .”

“But where else will I find a faery who love me enough . . .”

Followed by . . .

“‘Not here, that’s for certain,’ came an irritable voice from below.”

“This is a fine mess of hedgehog droppings if ever I say one.”

And though not “fun,” this is such a great phrase . . .

“. . . her heart crushed between hope and misery.”

Yes

You were right, Brian; I do want to read the other books in the series.

(Read more about R.J. Anderson’s books.)

Categories: Book Reviews | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

Just Keep Working

Workers

Well, it looks like I’m working on a series of posts and I wasn’t even aware of it until now. (grin)

A young woman I know has a job cleaning a shopping mall. She had no idea that she would be getting as many hours as she is. This is a good news/bad news scenario. It’s always good when payday rolls around. Plus, doing the job well and enjoying your co-workers (most of the time) is always good. However, when you get a talking-to for something you’re sure you didn’t do and your supervisor threatens to fire you, it bums you out.

Young or not so young, this isn’t fun, but there are some things we can do about it when work is just plain . . . well, work.

I look to my hubby as a great example of how to handle this scenario.

Commitment to the Job

Dave has been working at the same maintenance job for almost 30 years. Despite the fact that he has his Masters in Church Music, he gets up every morning and shows up for work at least half an hour early. He figures if he’s going to do a job, he’s going to do it well.

Not too many people would lose sleep over replacing a toilet or tearing out carpet, but my hubby’s mind works a mile a minute and he has trouble turning it off even when he heads to bed.

It isn’t that he’s a workaholic. We, his family, are his motivation.

Commitment to the Family

Sure, over the years he has applied for several jobs in the field of his first love – music. The doors, however, have not swung open. Because we had three children to raise and because we both felt it was important for me to be home with them, he has stuck with “his temporary job.”

Even now, he is committed to keep on working as long as it is necessary. And might I add, he has never resented me or the kids. Incredible!

Commitment to the Church

Since moving to St. Thomas, we have attended the same Baptist church. Dave has served as the music director to varying degrees since 1984. He has played organ and piano, led worship team and choir, prepared and transposed music, acted in dramatic presentations and helped with children’s ministry – as well as performing countless other tasks. This coming September his role will be changing, but he is still committed and will graciously take on his revised role with every bit as much commitment and dedication. It’s who he is.

Commitment to the Faith

Dave best expresses his love for the Lord through music. It’s amazing to watch. Could he have quit fixing leaky taps and snaking drains? Could he have developed a successful teaching business? Could he have pushed open the doors to a job in a church or school? Well . . . he doesn’t know for sure.

One thing he does know . . . he will do the job the Lord provides to the best of his ability – whether it’s putting a cupboard door back on its track or playing an intricate piece on the organ.

My husband is committed.

Commitment to Learning

So, what can this young woman – and others like her – learn from my hubby?

- to do whatever is at hand to the best of your ability

- look to the future when you will have a place (and maybe a family) of your own

- don’t give up on your dreams; pursue them while remaining committed to the work at hand

- keep trying the doors; you never know when one may swing wide

- discover what and who is really important to you

- realize it’s more about attitude than the job; there are people miserable in the most amazing jobs and others who are upbeat and positive in the most menial of tasks

- to maintain a positive outlook, take the time to mentally itemize the things you have to be thankful for (i.e.: sight, the ability to work, the means to pay the bills, hearing, etc.)

- even if you can’t earn a full-time living at it, don’t shelve your dreams; pursue them as you are able

What is one thing you are thankful for despite less-than-ideal work conditions?

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Just Keep Swimming

Blue Tang

You may recognize Dory from Finding Nemo as a Blue Tang like the one pictured above. (Thanks to Public Domain Pictures for the use of this image and thanks to Pixabay for the image of the swimming pool at the end of this post.)

I chose one of the character’s most quoted lines as the title of today’s post – and the theme of this week’s pursuits.

Swimming in Words

I have written 17,185 words toward the 20,000 I set for myself this month. Camp NaNoWriMo looks like it’s going to be a success.

I plan to write . . .

- at least six blog posts this week for myself and others

- at least one new children’s picture book manuscript and submit work to at least two or three agents or publishers

I may or may not work on my novel. It depends on how the week unfolds.

I also plan to finish reading one novel and make significant headway in two others.

Lastly, I want to finish reading Proofreading Secrets of Best-Selling Authors by Kathy Ide.

Swimming in Good Food

I have joined the 7-Day No Sugar Added challenge on FB. No artificial sweeteners or healthier options allowed, but naturally-occurring sugars in fruits and veggies are fine. I began Saturday after lunch and can’t say I’m missing sugar at all. I do have to read every label, however. You’d be surprised where sugar is “hiding.”

Since tomorrow is the last day of the 30-day fitness challenge, I’m looking forward to continuing the good habits I’ve developed.

I must keep lots of fruits, veggies, and lean meat on hand. If I do, the bad-for-me options aren’t really a temptation.

Swimming in Physical Activity

Our poochie has tummy troubles, so I won’t be walking him very far for the next few days. Plus, the week looks very rainy here. I will have to be disciplined to get my walking in.

I plan to do two upper body and two lower body workouts between now and Saturday.

Swimming in New Opportunities

The lady who put together the 30-day fitness challenge invited me to a Google+ Hangout today. We will be discussing three fitness myths. If all goes well, it will be uploaded to YouTube . . . my debut appearance (grin).

I may have mentioned that I am now a monthly blogger at InScribe.

I’ve also entered four pieces into the InScribe fall writing contest. I’ll find out in September if I won. It was fun to stretch myself – and the entry fee was very reasonable.

I have decided to offer workout development and demonstration to those who want it.

I will be speaking at a ladies’ event with my co-author in September. I will likely do it mostly off the cuff, but I do want to jot down a few things I want to be sure to include.

I hope to line up some doula clients. There have been some nibbles but no follow-up from potential clients.

Swimming in Household Tasks

Although The Year of the Great Declutter hasn’t shaped up as expected, I have added “household chore” and “procrastination item” to my Monday-Friday schedule. Plus, I hope to spend an hour in the basement with my hubby each Saturday attacking the clutter down there.

Time to swim in these waters too.

Swimming

What are you swimming toward this week?

Categories: ROW80 | Tags: , , , , , | 3 Comments

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