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Archive for the ‘Gratitude’ Category

Captain Cavedweller and I were driving home Easter Sunday and happened upon a wreck. Due to the lack of any emergency personnel there, we assumed the one-vehicle accident had just occurred.

From the flattened reflective markers on the left side of the freeway and the skid marks across both lanes, it appeared the driver had gone off the road to the left, over-corrected and crossed both lanes of traffic before flipping upside down in a grassy area to the right side of the road.

We would have stopped, but there were already several cars parked on the side of the road with people all around the injured occupant of the vehicle. Lights flashing in the distance indicated emergency vehicles  were drawing near.

Hand in a hand

The thing about that accident that stayed with me is the outpouring of humanity I witnessed in that moment.

No one cared what color the driver’s skin was or where the driver was from. Political opinions, religious preferences and gender made no difference. The fact it was a holiday and people had places to be and things to do played no part in the outpouring of care we saw.

In a world where it often seems all the news is filled with horrible, ugly, hateful, tragic things, it was incredible to see so many people stop to help a stranger.

Moments like that truly restore my hope in humanity and help me keep life in perspective. They also fill my heart with gratitude that there truly is good in the world.

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I absolutely love the above quote.

After the past week, my cup is overflowing with gratitude and my heart is full to the top with joy.

It always amazes me how kind, supportive, encouraging and uplifting you all are when I have a new release or a book sale or a Facebook party. And when all three happen at once – you make me feel so loved and appreciated and special and I can’t even come up with the words to properly express my thanks.

Thank you for pouring out your kindness and friendship on me. You mean the world to me and I appreciate you so much!

Love and hugs! ❤

 

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books and barnwood

Months ago, I submitted Capturing Christmas to a magazine that features, among many things, book reviews.

Recently, a review for the book was published. For the most part, the review was quite flattering, but…

(Here’s where you roll your eyes and ask yourself why I’m reading more reviews and palavering about them – but bear with me a moment.)

I got marked down for a scene the reviewer didn’t find realistic. Her exact words were:

“One incident when she couldn’t be wakened pushed the limits of plausibility. Other than that, the writing was sharp, and the dialogue crisp and engaging.”

The scene in question is when Celia’s truck breaks down and she’s sick. Kash finds her and takes her to his home, but by the time they arrive, she’s incoherent. He and his father put her to bed and it is hours later when she finally wakes up.

I realize to some that might seem far-fetched, but the truth is that I know it’s entirely realistic because it happened to me.

The day before Captain Cavedweller and I were going to start the drive home from our honeymoon, I got sick. Really sick. CC had to pack up everything and help me to the car the next morning. A few hours into the drive, we came to a fork in the road. One way would cut several hours off our trip, the other would add about four. (This was back before GPS and cell phones with maps – and being young and stupid, we didn’t think to bring along a printed road map. And the smart thing to do would have been to stay where we were at until I was better, but did I mention we were young and stupid?)

Since I’d been on that stretch of road before, CC somehow managed to wake me from my passed out state long enough to point to out the right direction. To this day, I have no recollection of arriving at a hotel late that afternoon, or CC carrying me to our room, or him running out to get me juice and soup, or the very nice manager bringing a bottle of sparkling cider to our room when he discovered we were newlyweds. I was pretty much out of it until the following day when I finally regained my senses about an hour from home.

I truly was just that sick.

So for someone to say a scene based on something I actually experienced isn’t plausible made me a little miffed. (Okay, a lot.)

I indulged in several minutes of fuming before a thought struck me – one that brought my internal rant to an immediate halt.

What if the reviewer had lived such a bland-flavored life, her realm of what is plausible is extremely limited?

I will readily admit I may have had more than my share of adventures, mishaps and strange occurrences in my lifetime. Because of that, I tend to believe if you imagine a crazy scene or entertain a wild idea, it’s probably actually happened to someone. I can think of a dozen oddball,  weird, highly improbably things that have happened to me right off the top of my head that some people might find completely unbelievable.

So my irritation and frustration with the review quickly turned into a feeling of pity for someone who has such a limited, narrow view of life.  Someone who has clearly not reached out into exciting possibilities or experienced grand adventures.

grace adventureSo, if I could send the reviewer a message, the above image is what it would be.

May your days be filled with grand adventures, wonder, and most of all – grace.

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gratitude challenge

As some of you know, I spent 2015 doing  Gratitude Challenge. Back in October, things got a little crazy and I ran out of time to do my weekly gratitude posts.

Then thing got even more hectic and I fell further behind.

Here it is the last Monday of the year and I need to catch up on this or I’m officially out of time. So, here goes:

Week 41 – Hobbies I’m grateful for… There are several hobbies I enjoy and they help relax me when I need to unwind. At the top of the list is reading (no surprise there, right). I love to bake (if you haven’t discovered it yet, I have a food and entertaining blog at savvyentertaining.com and it has been even more neglected than this blog the last few months). I enjoy puttering outside in the yard with my flowers (not so much this time of year). I have a hot glue gun and am not afraid to use it! I enjoy doing simple crafty projects, but if they are going to take more than an hour or two, I’ll pass. On rare occasions I enjoy sewing. I used to do it all the time, but most projects take more than an hour or two! I also really enjoying photography. In fact, I have many, many photos I’ve taken recently I need to share with you, so don’t give up on me yet. A few people know this – but I love to wrap packages. I even did it as a side business a few times during the holidays. And if singing in the shower counts as a hobby, I’ll claim that one, too!  I’m thankful for all this things that broaden my horizons and give me something enjoyable to do.

Week 42 – My favorite possession… There are two:

1. I have a Bible that I’ve used since I was a young girl. It’s held together with duct tape and determination, but it’s the one I use every day. Through the years, I’ve underlined verses, scribbled little notes in it, and it’s used state means just that… it’s been used. It went away with me to college then thousands of miles away to my internship. It’s been through 22 years of marriage with me. The pages have soaked in many tears but also witnessed many smiles and peaceful sighs. I have a “nice” Bible I take to church with me, but this one is the one turn to every day.

2. My wedding ring. Captain Cavedweller and I were young and clueless and without a lot of money when we wed. We purchased the best wedding bands we could afford at the time,  but they were very simple and serviceable. Over the years, CC has offered to upgrade my ring, but I don’t want anything different than the golden band he slipped on my finger all those years ago. To me, it isn’t the flash and sparkle of the ring, but what it stands for that means so much to me. And the simple band with the sparkling little diamond reminds me of our humble beginnings when CC was still in college and worked nights while I got started in my journalism career.

Week 43 – Mentor/Teacher… It’s going to hard to choose just one because I’ve had some really great mentors and teachers through the years, but I’m going to choose my first grade teacher. I was so painfully shy, going to school every day was an ordeal for me. Mrs. Eddy was so friendly and kind and welcoming – she made me feel like a part of things. She made learning fun, didn’t tolerate any bullying, and was one of the most encouraging teachers I ever had.

Week 44 – My favorite holiday… Christmas! Hands down, no doubt about it, Christmas it my favorite holiday. What do I love about? The sounds of the season – the carols, the crunch of snow beneath my boots, the hum of shoppers in the stores. The smells – Christmas trees, hot chocolate laced with peppermint, ham baking in the oven, spicy candles. The sights – of twinkling lights, crackling fires, freshly fallen snow, beautifully wrapped packages, bright red poinsettias, and the smiles on the faces of family and friends. The spirit of the season – the reminder of Jesus’ birth in a lowly manager. I like to think about Mary and Joseph – ponder what they would have been feeling and experiencing with the birth of their beloved son.

Week 45 – What I do for fun… Some of this overlaps with my list of hobbies, but I also like to travel with CC. We enjoying seeing a variety of sites and places and is something we both look forward to. I love to shop when we are in a bigger city. Also, for fun, I sometimes dust the keys off our old piano and play. Lunch with girlfriends is fun or a day spent lollygagging with CC  is also on my fun-meter.

Week 46 – Technology… I’m grateful for my computer, my cellphone and my laptop – even if there are days I’d like to throw them all out the window! On days when they aren’t operating like I think they should, I’m extra grateful for the days when they work properly! You probably wouldn’t believe me if I told you how long I avoided upgrading to a smart phone, but when I finally did two years ago, I absolutely loved it. I don’t know how we lived without them as long as we did! And since a computer is vital to my ability to work, I’m extremely and incredibly grateful to have one! And a fast Wi-Fi connection!

Week 47 – Opportunities I’ve been given… Wow! There are so, so many, so I’ll pick a few highlights.

  • The opportunity to marry my best friend and enjoy the past 22 years with him. Such a blessing!
  • The opportunity to begin writing – first as a newspaper journalist, then a freelancer writer, and finally a romance novelist.
  • The opportunity to leave my day job and write full time. I’m grateful for this every single day.
  • The opportunity to stretch outside my comfort zone by trying and learning new things, like co-chairing the WWW conference this fall.
  • The opportunity to help others by sharing my experiences and limited skills with them.

Week 48 – Your job… easy-peasy! I LOVE my job! Every morning, I get up excited to work on something I love so, so much – and get paid for it! I never imagined I’d be able to stay home and write full time and sometimes I feel like I’m living in a dream. However, the reality is that I feel incredibly blessed and overwhelmingly grateful to have the gift of being able to do this full time.

Week 49 – Things I like about winter… Once Christmas is over, I’m ready for spring, but here goes: I like freshly fallen snow, a heavy frost that coats the world in glistening white fragments of sparkling light, the scent of woodsmoke in the air from our neighbor’s fireplace, snuggly blankets, hot chocolate, a pot of homemade soup with hot bread right out of the oven, the birds who hop around in our backyard eating the seed CC puts out for them, thick coats on the animals, warm sweaters, and being tucked away all warm and snug in our home.

Week 50 – Lessons learned this year… Oh, this is a good one. CC and I have actually had a few conversations about this topic  this fall when I spent several weeks working at a frenzied pace. Lesson one – do not expect more from myself than is humanly possible. Lesson two – do not over commit myself with obligations and still expect to meet my self-imposed deadlines (see lesson one). Lesson three – learn to give myself measures of grace. Life happens and sometimes I need to accept the fact things are happening beyond my control. Lessons four – the world will not end if I don’t meet one of my self-imposed deadlines. I had to abandon one book project entirely and a second is running about a month behind where I wanted it to be, but amazingly, the world didn’t tilt off it’s axis or any similar tragedy! Lesson five – the more you are grateful, the more you have to be grateful for.

Week 51 – 1oo things to be thankful for. Good golly! Well, here goes – in no particular order:

  1. Captain Cavedweller
  2. Faith
  3. Love
  4. Hope
  5. My family
  6. Friends
  7. Strangers who smile at me
  8. Children’s laughter
  9. A baby’s giggle
  10. The heavenly fragrance of a baby
  11. People who’ve supported me
  12. People who’ve challenged me
  13. People who make me think
  14. People who’ve told me I couldn’t do something
  15. People who’ve shown kindness when I needed it most
  16. Sticky baby kisses
  17. Sunshine
  18. The scent of roses
  19. Soft summer breezes
  20. The cheeriness of blooming flowers
  21. Green Grass
  22. Blue skies
  23. Robins
  24. Blossoms on apple trees
  25. Tulips
  26. Bulbs bursting to life in the spring
  27. The smell of a just-mowed lawn
  28. The smell of just-cut hay
  29. John Deere tractors
  30. The heinous cat
  31. Friendly dogs
  32. Horses
  33. Cattle
  34. Our vehicles
  35. A roof over my head
  36. My home office
  37. Technology that allows me to work from home
  38. The opportunity to work from home
  39. The gift of doing something I love every day
  40. The ability to write
  41. The ability do graphic design
  42. My smart phone
  43. My computer
  44. My camera
  45. The new lens for my camera that allows me to take such better photographs
  46. Rodeos
  47. The smell of leather
  48. Grace
  49. Forgiveness
  50. Mercy
  51. Salvation
  52. A sense of humor
  53. Determination
  54. Tenacity
  55. Laughter that makes my eyes water
  56. Words of encouragement
  57. A sense of smell
  58. New hearing aids
  59. Cute glasses (if I have to wear them)
  60. That I am relatively healthy
  61.  The ability to see all the vibrant colors in the world
  62. Rainbows
  63. The scent of the air after a rainstorm
  64. The crunch of fall leaves beneath my feet
  65. The pristine world after a newly fallen snow
  66. A warm, comfortable home filled with things that bring me joy
  67. Chocolate
  68. Yeasty bread, fresh from the oven
  69. Cinnamon rolls
  70. Peppermint tea
  71. Nectarines, ripened  by the summer sun
  72. Fresh pears
  73. Butter
  74. My oven
  75. An endless assortment of recipes
  76. That I enjoy baking and cooking
  77. To be creative
  78. Letters and cards in my mailbox
  79. To earn an income doing my dream job
  80. Surprise gifts
  81. Lunches with someone special
  82. Visiting new places
  83. The ability to travel
  84. Starry nights
  85. Harvest moon
  86. Fireworks
  87. Declaration of Independence
  88. Love of country
  89. Soldiers – past and present who keep us safe and safeguard our freedoms
  90. A lazy day to sit and watch the snow fall
  91. Hugs
  92. Soft hearts
  93. Tender smiles
  94. Redemption
  95. Honor
  96. Imagination
  97. Dreams
  98. Clean water and clean air
  99. Honesty
  100. Books

Week 52 – Did this challenge change you? I would definitely say it did. It made me more aware of all the many things in my life for which I can be grateful. When you make an effort to be grateful, not just once in a while, or once a week, but every day… it’s just amazing how much you realize you have to give thanks for.

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gratitude challengeI’ve fallen far behind in my weekly gratitude challenge posts so it’s catch up time!

Week 37 – something I created… I haven’t had much time for craftiness lately (although I did make something fun right before Amanda’s wedding and I’ll share that another day) but I am grateful to have a few skills when it comes to graphic design. It makes my life as a writer so, so much easier because I can create my own book covers, design brochures, flyers, bookmarks, etc.

Here’s a look at my new brochure. I really, really like it.

brochure front 10-15

Week 38 – Music I love… I love a lot of music and I’m grateful for the ability to listen to it in so many ways and places. It helps me keep focused when I write, provides entertainment while I’m in the kitchen, and makes my fingers tap on the steering wheel when I drive.

I listen to country music the most. My all-time most favorite country singer is John Michael Montgomery.

Why? I’m so glad you asked, because now I can share a sappy moment or two:

Reason #1  His song I Love the Way You Love Me debuted when Captain Cavedweller and I were dating and it quickly gained sentimental value for me.

Reason  #2 Our wedding song was I Swear. I made CC beg the local radio station to give us a copy of the song because it hadn’t yet released as a single, but they kindly let us have a copy when he explained it was for our wedding.

And for those who think I’m locked into music of a few decades ago, you’ll be glad to know I also have some favorite songs from current stars like Brett Eldredge, Justin Moore, and Chris Young.

I also like jazz, big band music, and even classical music.

The majority of the time, though, you’ll find me listening to country music.

Week 39 – My Heritage… I’m assuming this refers to ancestry bloodlines. I’ve got an interesting mix that has rendered me as an official “mutt,” so to speak. If I were a dog, I’m pretty sure I’d have two different colored eyes, floppy ears and a variety of colors in my coat. My family tree includes ancestors who were English, Irish, Scottish, German, and Native American. I’m grateful for this mix because it gives me an interest in many different nationalities and makes me feel unique.

Week 40 – My Greatest Accomplishment… I kind of hope it hasn’t happened yet – like there is some big grand endeavor I haven’t yet discovered. But for now, one of my grandest accomplishments was being able to quit my day job so I could write full time. That was made entirely possible because I have the best husband ever. I’m grateful every single day for this opportunity to pursue something I love doing so much. And I’m grateful every single day for my beloved Captain Cavedweller who encourages and supports me so completely.

 

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The gratitude challenge for today is to find something I’m grateful for about my home.

Super easy!

I love my home – not so much because of the foundation and walls and roof on it (although those are all great!). To me, that’s a house.

And I do love my house. It’s warm in the winter and cool in the summer. We have beautiful new windows to look outside and enjoy the sight of apples ripening on the tree or an adorable puppy playing next door or horses blatantly ignoring me in the back pasture. When we walk inside our house after being gone, a feeling of comfort and relief often floods over me to be back in the place where we live. I truly do love our house – even if the yard doesn’t look like I want it to and it still needs some trim painted outside.

A home… well, that’s where my heart resides and it hangs out in a pretty great place with Captain Cavedweller.

I’ll try to rein in my sappiness this morning, but I am truly blessed to be married to such a warm, caring, supportive man who encourages me to chase down my dreams and reminds me what really matters in life. Truthfully, I’m “home” whenever I’m with him, regardless of where we might be.

And before I tamp down all my sappiness today, I have to say thank you to all my wonderful friends and family for their incredible outpouring of love and support last week.

2015 Reader's Favorite Award CrumpetsIt came as a big surprise to me to find out I’d won a Silver Medal in the Romance – Christian category in the Readers’ Favorite 2015 book contest.

Admittedly, this isn’t a big award, but it’s important to me because it’s my first writing award. Excited, I posted the news on Facebook and the next thing I knew, my mascara was running from all the wonderful, kind words you shared.

In case I haven’t mentioned it before – I appreciate you so, so much and can’t thank you enough for your ongoing encouragement and support. It means the world to me.

Many thanks to you all.

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gratitude challenge

Time to get caught up on my gratitude challenge (again!).

Week 34 is to list things I like about fall.

Does it count if I just write “Everything!”?

Some people might even say it’s my favorite season.

So here are a few of the things I love about autumn:

• The tangy aroma in the air – a blend of wood smoke, ripened apples, drying leaves and the earth settling in before it’s long winter sleep.

• The orange glow of a harvest moon and the vibrant sunsets.

• Cozy sweaters and pretty scarves.

• That it’s cool enough to wear my boots once again without my feet frying inside like they do during the summer months!

• Crisp mornings followed by warm, sunny afternoons then wrapped up by cool evenings.

• Pumpkin – bread, pie, cookies, roll, cake and the special pumpkin spice tea CC found and brought home enough boxes to get me through the season! Also, I love pumpkin scented-candles, piles of pumpkins stacked around doors, and pumpkin decorations (have you seen velvet pumpkins? So awesome!).

• Apple and cinnamon scents filling my home as something yummy bakes in the oven (or even simmers on the stove top).

• The leaves – I love the changing colors of the leaves, hearing them crunch beneath my feet, seeing their glorious hues spread across the landscape.

• A deeper sense of gratitude. I think the fall season gives us a more profound awareness of all we have to be thankful for (far beyond just being thankful Thanksgiving Day).  It is a time to count our blessings as we prepare for the winter months ahead.

• I’ll even add football to the list, because CC loves it so and it makes him happy, so that makes me happy.

***

Week 35 Challenge is to talk about my neighborhood.

We live out in the country, but we do have some nice people around us. On one side of us, we have some new people moving in we haven’t yet met. On the other side, we have a young couple with an adorable baby and puppy who distract me to no end when I see them playing from my office window. The father of one of my dear friends lives just up the road. He has been such a blessing to us because anytime we need to be gone, he watches over the house and makes sure the heinous cat is fed and watered.

I like that we live in the country. Across the road from us, there’s an apple orchard which is currently full of ripening red apples.

IMG_3044

Behind our house is a huge pasture with big open sky that makes a perfect place to take photos. Especially of the horses currently grazing back there. They are a little on the wild side. They ease up to the fence and let me think today will be the day they’ll stand still long enough I can pet them, then they race off across the pasture at the last second – just before my fingertips connect.

For the most part, we have a quiet neighborhood  – one that is peaceful and it’s a wonderful place to call home.

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