Celebrating 80 Years

When a significant family birthday falls on your regular posting day, there is really only one thing to do:

happy 80th (1024x696)


happy grandma

Mom enjoying the day with her granddaughters.

Like most people, I learned an awful lot about life from my mother. Important stuff like brushing my teeth, being polite, and doing laundry. She also taught me a lot about how to approach, appreciate and navigate life…

Some valuable things I learned from my Mom:

  • Food should be savored.
  • Food doesn’t have to be complicated or exotic to be delicious. It just has to be done right.
  • A good story is a powerful thing; it can teach us many truths about life.
  • Live theater, well directed and well acted, is better than any movie.
  • A story should always be read in such a way that you bring the words to life.
  • Sometimes feeding the body feeds the soul. This is why you should always be ready to spontaneously invite people to dinner.
  • Family is a valuable thing; never take it for granted.
  • Do everything you can to eat dinner together as a family.
  • Recipes are only guidelines.
  • You don’t need to be afraid of pie crust.
  • The sound of silence is a beautiful thing.
  • The dining room table makes a great work surface for projects.
  • There is no such thing as too many cookbooks.
  • There is no such thing as too many books.
  • Your children will not die if you don’t attend every game.
  • Sometimes God calls you to do something you don’t know how to do. Do it anyway and watch God make it happen.
  • Sometimes slower is better.
  • You can always find a good reason to celebrate.


Thanks, Mom, for all you’ve been in my life. Love you!

Celebrate the Small Successes


Sometimes we get so focused on reaching a big goal that we forget to notice the smaller goals we’ve met along the way—and that’s a mistake.  If we remember to celebrate the small successes that come along, we will have more confidence to keep striving, and get a lot more enjoyment out of life. Continue reading

To Parents of Introverted Children

She's a loving mom

From time to time I find myself listening to a friend expressing concern over a child who, they fear, spends too much time alone, doesn’t have many friends and has no inclination to participate in social events. Is something wrong with this child?

Probably not. The child they describe typically sounds like a perfectly normal introvert. Continue reading

Does Vacation Leave You Drained or Energized?

vacation stuff

Photo Credit: V.H.S. via Compfight cc

Sometimes it feels like you need a vacation to recover from your vacation.

You’ve had vacations like that, right? You came home exhausted and then had to face the pile of laundry, the damp tent that will mildew if you didn’t get it up and dried out, all that gear to put away, not to mention the ecstatic dog who refused to leave your side for the next two days, the yard work you’ve neglected and the phone messages and emails awaiting your attention.

You stare at it all and wonder if it was worth it. Continue reading

13 Ways to Enjoy a Rainy Camping Trip

rainy camping

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I am looking forward to a week of camping at the beach, but the way this summer has been going I suspect we may not be enjoying perfect beach weather. And so, anticipating a bit of dampness in the forecast, I have been working on a list of ways to enjoy a rainy day, so my camping trip will be fun, no matter what. Continue reading

The Importance of the Moment Before

the moment before

What is she thinking right before she opens the door? Does it matter?

That was my inspiration for my latest Almost An Author post, which applied the acting concept of the moment before to maintaining emotional continuity as you write a novel.

What is the moment before?

Continue reading

When Plans Fail


It’s been a busy weekend of family togetherness, good food and a special birthday. Oh, and it was also the Fourth of July.

Which reminds me of another July Fourth family picnic …

As dusk fell, the menfolk prepared their launch area, making sure the rockets would land clear of any hazards. Most of the family clustered on the driveway. My mother settled into a chair on the porch. We oohed and ahhed as the rockets climbed, sparking and hissing, before bursting into showers of colored sparks. It was a wonderful evening …

Until one firework hit the electric line and ricocheted towards the house. We watched in horror as the flaming tube landed on the lawn a few feet from the porch.

My mother suffers from various orthopedic issues. She was not going to leap from her chair and run to safety. There was nothing anybody could do but watch. And pray.

Fortunately, the firework sputtered harmlessly on the grass.  Nothing caught fire. No one was hurt.

Despite our best intentions, things sometimes go awry

No one expected a firework to hit that one electric line, but it did. Stuff happens. Continue reading this post at Putting on the New

Something New

A3 button

From time to time I encourage my readers to get out of their ruts and try something new. That’s what I did recently, by becoming a columnist in a new blog called Almost An Author, or A3.

Unlike Lisa’s Musings, my columns at A3 will be writing-related. My particular column is called Talking Character, which is about–you guesses it–character development and characterization. This is my first small step as a writer from writer-in-training to teacher. It’s both scary and exciting.

Why is it called Almost an Author?

Almost an Author was created to help aspiring writers improve their craft and become published authors. A3 consists of over 30 writer/author columnists posting on a monthly basis to encourage and equip aspiring writers. In addition to regular columns, A3 will host two annual writing contests and feature a different bestselling author each month.

Check out the blog’s grand opening by reading this interview with award-winning suspense writer DiAnn Mills. (I’ve heard her speak. She’s a great encourager!)

Or you can read my first column here.

So, what have you done lately to push yourself outside your comfort zone?

Need a Little Monday Motivation?

lazy dog

I can’t face another Monday!

Some Mondays it’s hard to find the motivation to get moving.

Perhaps we know the week holds challenges we’re not ready to face. Perhaps we’re still weary from what has come before. Perhaps we’ve just had too much weekend. Whatever the case, if you’re struggling to find the motivation to keep going, here are a few quotes to inspire you and help you on your way.

Finding the right attitude

  1. “Promise me you’ll always remember: you’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.” ~ (Christopher Robin to Pooh)  A. Milne
  2. “The only place where success comes before work is in the dictionary. ~ Vidal Sassoon
  3. “The most pernicious aspect of procrastination is that it can become a habit. We don’t just put off our lives today: we put them off till our deathbed.” ~ Steven Pressfield
  4. “How we spend our days is how we spend our lives. What we do with this hour and with that one, is what we are doing.” ~ Annie Dillard
  5. “Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities have crept in – forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day. You shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
  6. “I cannot do all the good that the world needs, but the world needs all the good that I can do.” ~ Jana Standfield

Taking the next small step.

  1. “The scariest moment is always just before you start.” ~ Stephen King
  2. “Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.” ~Vincent Van Gogh
  3. “Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day-in and day-out.” ~ Robert Collier
  4. “If you are going to achieve excellence in big things, you develop the habit in little matters. Excellence is not an exception, it is a prevailing attitude.”~ Charles R. Swindoll
  5. “Big shots are only little shots who keep shooting. ~ Christopher Morley
  6. “The majority of us lead quiet, unheralded lives as we pass through this world. There will most likely be no ticker-tape parades for us, no monuments created in our honor. But that does not lessen our possible impact, for there are scores of people waiting for someone just like us to come along; people who will appreciate our compassion, our unique talents. Someone who will live a happier life merely because we took the time to share what we had to give.” ~ Leo Buscaglia

Facing challenges

  1. “To be successful you must accept all challenges that come your way. You can’t just accept the ones you like.” ~ Mike Gafka
  2. “You may have to fight a battle more than once to win it.” ~ Margaret Thatcher
  3. “Sometimes painful things can teach us lessons that we didn’t think we needed to know.” ~ Amy Poehler
    “Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved.” ~ Helen Keller
  4. “If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.” ~ Martin Luther King Jr.
  5. “If you are hurt, whether in mind or body, don’t nurse your bruises. Get up and light-heartedly, courageously, good temperedly get ready for the next encounter. This is the only way to take life – this is also ‘playing’ the game!” ~ Emily Post
  6. “Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths. When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength.” ~ Arnold Schwarzenegger

And one more for good measure…

People are often unreasonable and self-centered.
Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of ulterior motives.
Be kind anyway.
If you are honest, people may cheat you.
Be honest anyway.
If you find happiness, people may be jealous.
Be happy anyway.
The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow.
Do good anyway.
Give the world the best you have and it may never be enough.
Give your best anyway.
~Mother Teresa