Everyday Heroes

Fourth of July

I’ve had the good fortune this week of crossing paths with several every day heroes, or angels, if you will. Average, run-of-the-mill people who are motivated by the desire to make a difference in the lives of others. And at a time when we celebrate commemorating the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, what better time to mention the people who’ve made an impact on my life.

The Special Olympics Unified Relay Across America came through my hometown, and my husband, being the Chief of Police, was honored to carry the torch with the County Sheriff. (My husband is the one on the right.) Special Olympics Torch RunAs this group of runners (below) made their way to the end of their run to pass the torch to the men in blue (wearing red :) ) above, I felt like I was in the presence of dignitaries. These people, even one in a wheel chair, made me embarrassed that I can find a single thing to complain about in my life. To say they were happy is an understatment. Their enthusiasm for life was contagious. They are true heroes.

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And last, but certainly not least, is the Brighton police officer, Nick Struck, who comforted a small child by holding her and singing Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star , after she was involved in an automobile accident that killed her father. At a time when the media seems to be looking for and shining the media spotlight on the less than admirable police behavior across the country, it’s important to remember the hundreds of thousands who put their lives on the line every day for peace, order, and unity. And the ones, like Officer Struck, who take the time for that one small child who needed him more than anything at that moment. Nick is perhaps one of the most humble people I know.

Nick Struck

Enjoy this Fourth of July holiday with family and friends, loving and appreciating one another, and giving thanks. For each other as well as all those who serve.

Carpe Diem

Morning Glory

This brilliant sunrise is what greeted me on my morning run. What a glorious way to start the day!

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And this mama bird protecting her babies, still unhatched, as I marveled at the maternal instinct of all God’s creatures.

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Carpe Diem

Seize this day with gusto, my friends! Life is a gift. :)

 

Prayer in Numbers

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It started, as my ideas usually do, on a morning run. Typically I like to listen to music or audio books when I’m running, but there are times I enjoy simply basking in the sounds of nature or beautiful silence. And there are times I go on a prayer run.

This was one of those mornings.

There are a lot of people in my life that are in need of prayer right now, and as I was running, and praying, it occurred to me how many people out there in the universe, people outside of my small circle, that need prayer.

What would happen if I prayed for one person every day for 30 days. Someone that I came across in my daily routine. A daily routine that often becomes a rut that we continue mindlessly.

BUT…

If I prayed for at least one person, it would force me to live mindfully while I searched out the person God leads me to. The person who needs prayer that day.

And then it was placed on my heart to call my sisters to join in this challenge with me. Both who enthusiastically agreed to join.

From there, I took it to my job–going as far as I could without crossing the whole line of church and state since I work for a government office–and invited several people to join the cause, also all who enthusiastically joined.

Yesterday my person was someone I spoke with on the phone. He’d received a head injury years ago while serving in the navy, later had a stroke at a much-too-young age, and recently had become a victim of a second degree assault. My job as an advocate is to help make sure medical bills are taken care of. This man, after all he’d been through, told me before we hung up, “I just give it to the Lord.”

Wow!!

And when someone yells and cusses at me over the phone, what better salve for the heart than to pray for them rather than what would normally come to my mind–and lips–causing destruction all the way around.

Lesson learned – Prayer helps the prayed for as well as the one doing the praying.

Why thirty days? While experts claim it takes two weeks to create a new habit, I’m a slow learner. It takes me a very long time to break a bad habit. Sometimes months. So doubling that two-week theory of the experts gives me needed extra time. :)

Do you want to join our prayer challenge party?

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Birthday Blessings

Seize the Day

I’ve heard people talk about 50 as being “over the hill,” “half of a century old,” “on the downward slide,” etc.

When I woke up this morning, having turned 50 myself, the first thing that came to mind was:

I AM SO BLESSED!

I got out of bed, got dressed and headed out the door for an early morning run. As I ran, I reflected on my life. What a better time than a milestone birthday, right? And as I strolled down memory lane, my heart nearly exploded with gratitude. I am, at 50 years of age, at a place in my life that is the best it’s ever been. The heart breaking moments and tragedies of years past are a direct connection to where I’m at now. If every one of those crises hadn’t happened, my life literally would not be what it is today. I think of all the prayers I’ve prayed, disappointed when they weren’t answered, only to realize that they were answered. Thankfully not the way I had hoped for at the time.

So today, at 50 years old, let me share with you some of what makes me the richest woman in the world.

First of all, the people who have been placed in my life by God, at the exact time and in the exact role that He knew I needed exactly when I did.

  • An amazing husband, Clint, who has given me the marriage, friendship, and partnership in life that I’ve always dreamed of.
  • Two amazing boys, Ben and Alex, who have taught me the true meaning of unconditional love and acceptance.
  • A granddaughter, Zoey, who brings unmatched joy to my life, and a chance to experience part of her father as a little one all over again.
  • A step-daughter, Jennifer, and five step-grandchildren who have accepted me into their lives, my life all the more beautiful because of them.
  • A step-daughter, Becky, who enriched my life with her kindness, sparkle and beauty–inside and out–who has gone ahead to greet me at the gates of heaven when I’m called home.
  • Parents who gave me the gift of life and the foundation of family and faith. It took me a while to catch on, but I eventually got it. :) And while they waited, they taught me patience and perseverance.
  • Sisters, Sandy and Brenda, my best friends chosen by God for me to share life with from beginning to end.
  • My grandma Cielinski and my Uncle Earl who helped carry me through some of the most difficult times of my life.
  • Mr. Rude, my high school English teacher, who made such a difference in the life of this high school student with a love of writing.
  • My “Brighton Group” (you know who you are), who have accepted me exactly as I am, broken and flawed, who have taught me how to live a clean life, honest and true, how to love, and how to be a friend.
  • A Church and Church Family that lifts me up.
  • A blogging community with which I’ve grown as a writer and as a person.

And beyond these angels in my life, I’m blessed with and grateful for:

  • A job in which I’m blessed to serve victims of crime. Since I was a victim of crime at one time, I’ve come full circle, blessed to use my tragedy for good.
  • The ability to sponsor three kiddos from Africa (Togo, Burkina Faso, and Tanzania) through Compassion International, helping to release them from poverty and give them hope. Alex, Amede and Mamounata have taught me compassion, that the gift of giving blesses the giver, and the power of prayer.
  • The ability to be a sponsor to Amazima Ministries in Uganda, furthering the work of Christ as he reaches the unreachable.
  • The ability to be a donor to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. I mention these things because it is not me or my money that helps in these areas, it’s all because of an amazing God who has laid these passions upon my heart and has given me the resources to be able to do so. And it’s this giving that has changed my heart as nothing else could ever do.
  • The gift of writing, which brings me so much joy and satisfaction. I published a book last year, The Inheritance, a dream I’ve had as far back as I’ve been able to dream, and another book, Shear Madness, due out next month.

And the blessings just go on and on. Go back to my thirties? Not a chance. Not even my forties. My best days, my best life, is right here, right now.

And as a side note, at the end of my run, still dancing on my pink cloud, I nearly stepped on not one, but two, squished flat as a pancake, messy toads. If that was the enemy’s way of bringing me down from my high, it didn’t work. It simply made me drive more carefully than ever to work. Just in case… :)

Carpe Diem

 

 

A Little of This, A Little of That

My novel, Shear Madness, Book One in The Melanie Hogan Mystery Series, gets shipped off for a final edit this week. The planned release is in July. :) The rest of this month I’m going to focus on the revision of Book Two, Shear Deception. And then July 1st it’s off to Camp again for Camp NaNo, where I plan to “pen” the first draft of a YA mystery series I have tumbling around in my brain.

My morning run was spent absorbing not only the wisdom by Sol Stein in his audio book Stein on Writing (The chapter on dialogue is among the best I’ve ever read/heard) but also absorbing the brilliant warm sunshine and nature’s beauty. Thought I would share a couple of snapshots with you.

In our not-yet-acknowledged secret garden lie the seeds of some of our best not-yet-written stories.” -Sol Stein

Have a beautiful week, my friends. Seize each moment of every day, and make every one count!

Carpe diem

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Running is Cheaper Than Therapy

Running

I’ve posted in the past that running is my therapy. And a whole lot cheaper! Running in the early morning is when my mind churns out ideas for my novels or short stories, or brings to light an answer to something I’ve been praying for. However, that being said, this typically only happens when I’m running outside in nature, not on a treadmill or on the track at the gym where I feel like a hamster on a wheel. This was my lesson this morning:

When I think I’m certain of what God is telling me, it’s important for me not to be so certain I’ve heard the message that I miss what He’s really telling me. In other words, when I think I’ve heard the message, listen further and don’t walk out of the room while He’s still talking.

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The last several weeks I’ve been promising myself that I am going to work on staying tuned in to His presence throughout my day. That usually lasts until I walk through the door at work when busyness, deadlines, the phone ringing, and constant chatter around me transports me far away from Him. Without realizing it, I allow the noise of the world around me to drown out the One who brings me peace in the midst of chaos.

Which brings up the importance of mindfulness even in the small things. While I was running this morning I mentally mapped out the route I would take, a different path from the one I typically enjoy. When I got to the crossroads that would take me on my preplanned route, I was so busy thinking about the day ahead of me, my mind miles ahead from where I was physically at that moment, that I automatically and mindlessly turned onto the same path that is routine. I was certain the message was to pay attention. And while that is a good thing to work on, it was just the surface of what went so much deeper.

That happens all too often in life every day. What has become habit in our lives is what we tend to do naturally, and if we aren’t mindful of the present moment, our thoughts and behaviors fall into the habit rut. The only way to create a new, more positive habit is to be mindful of what we’re doing and thinking in the present moment. And the only way to make mindfulness a natural activity is to mindfully practice mindfulness.

Had I not kept my mind and ears open, I would have walked out of the room at the “pay attention” part of the conversation, figuratively speaking, which was a very small brush stroke in the whole picture. I would have been blessed by the sun but would have missed out on the beauty of the entire landscape.

Another thought that came to me during my run? An entire scene for one of the books in my mystery series. I would say it was a pretty productive day before I even left my house for the office.

Rather than morning coming too soon, I’m already looking forward to my morning therapy session to see what gems He will bless me with. :)

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Remembering Our Heros

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Remembering always, but especially today, our heroes who have fought for our freedom, for all the privileges we have because of them, many literally giving all they have to be sure we have a safe place to raise our children. May we honor those who have sacrificed all and gave their lives that we may live ours.

“I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country.”–Nathan Hale

Happy Memorial Day!