After Friday’s darkness Monday’s Motivation

How do we find motivation after Friday’s act of darkness? I don’t know about you, but I’m having a hard time.

Bob Mayer’s FB status on Friday suggested: “Just mourn. No politics, agendas, rants. Losing a child is an exclusive club you do not want to be a part of. Trust me on that.”

This is not going to be a rant or a political statement. I don’t have an agenda.

What I have is a hurting heart.

My family lived near Newtown at one time. I have an undergraduate degree from Western Connecticut State in Danbury. One of my daughters graduated from New Fairfield High School. Our other daughter took piano lessons from a teacher in Newtown. Somehow, these connections made what happened more real.

I’ve been restless, perplexed, sidetracked by tears of anger and sadness all weekend. How do we make sense out of senseless?

I’m wondering how  God can let things like the massacres in Newtown and Aurora , the rampage in Tucson and Virginia Tech happen?

Seeking answers I emailed  my son, a minister with a Ph.D. in Theology. I share his thoughts with his permission.

It is in times like these that our faith meets sight. It is easy to walk by faith when things make sense. It is when our reality is rocked by some inexplicable and incomprehensible event that faith must really kick in.

 Because I believe that God has revealed Himself to us in His written Word, the Bible, and because I believe the Bible contains everything we need for life, my mind turns to Scripture to seek an answer.  

The crux of the matter in cases like this comes down to “how/why does God allow evil?”  

It is really a question of sovereignty versus free will. If I could solve that, I would be famous indeed.

By its very nature, the sovereignty/free will issue is an antinomy—something that cannot be explained in human terms, to human satisfaction. Scripture reminds us in Isaiah 40:13-14 that God’s knowledge is unique to Him. And Proverbs 21:30 confirms that there is no wisdom, or counsel or understanding higher than His. 

So we are left to trust Him and Him alone as knowing what is best.

For many people, this approach to the question of evil in the world is inadequate and trite. I understand.  

That’s why eschatology is not just a hobby or whimsy of mine. It is the key cog in my worldview. I could not survive in a world where everyone is under the sway of the wicked one (1 John 5:19) if I did not believe that God wins in the end. 

When I see things like what happened in Newtown I get angry and crave God’s divine intervention more than ever. I, too, question why does He wait to claim victory? 

 But I take comfort in knowing that ultimately, God will intervene. A better day is coming. A day of complete justice when Satan and all of his human and demonic envoys will be judged once and for all. It is that promise of Scripture that allows me to keep going when things don’t make sense in the present world. 

So, to summarize: The unspeakable events of Friday are incomprehensible apart from a biblical worldview that promises (1) God is in control even when evil seems to triumph; (2) All evil will be recompensed; (3) Justice will prevail; (4) God wins.

I believe,  like my son, God wins the final victory. But until that THE END happens, I will hug my children more, tell teachers I appreciate them more often, and offer prayers of comfort for the families and victims of these tragedies.

And most important, as a writer, I will write.

So should you.

I love Emma D. Dryden’s suggestions in her blog.

Create something precious for the world that might help to replace the precious the world’s lost. Write, paint, sing, dance, walk in nature, breathe deeply, and love fiercely. As we reach out to friends, to family, to others, so too must we reach inside to be gentle with ourselves. And we must remind ourselves we do carry the light necessary to light the dark corners, vanquishing one shadow at a time.

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Chickens and Holiday sweaters: Miller Farm Blog

We interrupt our regularly scheduled Chicken Wrangler emails for today’s seasonal email titled

Don We Now our Gay Apparel

Exactly nineteen years ago, my parents gave me a Christmas sweater. It was something they knew I would never buy for myself but would love. They were absolutely right. I wore that sweater for many years. In fact, I wore it in our Christmas picture for our daughters first Christmas.

Christmas 1993

This very same daughter, nineteen years later, has borrowed this sweater not once but twice to enter in “tacky Christmas sweater” contests.

I would be offended except for two years running, it has won.This year, she wasn’t even the one wearing it.

I think I deserve at least some kind of prize for having held on to that sweater long enough for college kids to think it is tacky.

Today was the first really cold day of the season so I pulled out my Christmas sweatshirt. It is even older than my tacky sweater.

I got it from my music class after my first Christmas program (which was several years before our first daughter was born). It has the name of the Christmas musical – “The Town Hall Christmas Tree” – on the front and all the kids’ handprints in red and green on the back and down the arms.

front of sweatshit

 

Sara's sweatshirt

This morning my son looked at me as I was putting on my shoes over my Christmas socks so I could take him to school and said, “I’m glad you are not getting out of the car.” 

I almost got out and gave him a big hug just for spite.

Later I was at the doctor for my annual check -up and as I stepped on the scale (a frightful thing in and of itself) the nurse said, “What a cute sweatshirt. Are those the handprints of your grandkids.” 

I texted my son later and said “Maybe I should have stayed in the car.”

I laughed and laughed when I received this email from Chicken Wrangler Sara. What fun to remember all the times like she described when she or her teenaged siblings asked me to wait in the car or wouldn’t let me out of the house because what I had on didn’t suit them. We call her sister Stef the fashion police even today!

I love Christmas and have multiple Christmas sweaters. Depending on the occasion, I select which one to wear. And, like an actress take on different persona depending on which I’m wearing.

For fun, casual parties and gatherings, especially those with sweater contests I wear this one. btw, it was purchased at the same time we bought CW Sara’s in 1993.  

O

For more glitzy affairs when I need bling and swing, I choose this one:

O

And for conservative affairs, my Ralph Lauren angora. With a long skirt or jeans with high boots, I’m styling.

O

But the most fun comes from wearing the homemade variety. My girls will probably kill me for this one, but I loved the year I made us all red sweatsuits with appliqued Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer. The suits are long gone, but oh what fun Christmas memories!

christmassweatshirts

CW Sara has carried on the tradition of creating crafty Christmas garments.

O

We have wreaths with children’s finger and handprints, wall hangings of hand prints/foot prints, and one years she managed to collect ALL eleven grandkids for a handprint Christmas table cloth. Unfortunately, due to the tipping point decision, that tablecloth is packed in storage awaiting our move to Colorado so I can’t show a picture.

YOUR TURN: Do you have any special handcrafted Christmas items?

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Easy, Easy Monday Motivation

Best way to kick start your writing this week. Simple. Easy Monday Motivation.

typewriter-write something

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Does quail chasing=chicken wrangling? – Miller Farm Friday

Bella was staring intently into the small chicken yard this afternoon. I figured she was just willing one of the smaller chickens to come out and “play.”

O

When I went out to check eggs, I saw what had her mesmerized.

A quail was eating from the chicken feeder. I thought to myself “That looks like one of our quail. What’s he doing in the chickenyard?”

So I turned to look at the long quail cage and discovered I had left the door open when I fed the quail earlier.

Now if I were in charge, I would fire me. Unfortunately, I’m not sure I could find a replacement. 

After a quick inventory of the quail still in the cage, I realized the one eating from the feeder was not the only escapee. There were five or six others missing.

I debated briefly about simply closing the cage and letting those outside retain their freedom.

Then I recalled we’d paid money for these quail so I probably should attempt to recapture our investment.

I set the egg basket down and began creeping up on the quail roaming the chickenyard. They weren’t that hard to catch as they did not have much flying experience.

I did learn that I can only hold one at a time as they are wriggly little critters.

I managed to catch all I could find on our side of the fence. One had escaped into the neighbor’s yard, but I chose not to go retrieve it.

Remember, the neighbors already think we are strange after seeing me in my bee bonnet. In their backyard, in my bee bonnet, rounding up quail might prove grounds for a call for the patty wagon!

I suppose “quail wrangler” can now be added to my “chicken wrangler” title making me Sara Chicken/Quail Wrangler Extraordinaire.

I wonder. CW Sara may have chased down some quail, but is that the same as daily wrangling chickens? Enough to earn her a new title?

What do  you think?

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Tipping Point Phase 2 – Tossing and Turning Loose

I may have lied in my first phase Tipping Point blog. This is HARD!

If you read that blog, then you know we decided to simplify our lives, which meant tossing and turning loose of our stuff.

Since my last post, we’ve sorted. Tons and tons of emotions whirled as we weeded through treasures. 

We are not hoarders. Yet we found ourselves with so much.

Partly because as you age you simply accumulate stuff. That and we got lazy about cleaning out the stuff.

Mostly because we’ve lived here so long. Previously, we’d rarely stayed in a home more than five years. To be here in one place thirty years meant lots and lots of STUFF.

Fellow WANA Tribe blogger Sherry Isaac has also been in what I call the TP (tipping point) mode. In her blog Shedding & Shredding the Stuff, she shared a hilarious observational comedy video by George Carlin.

If you’re not familiar with Carlin (I wasn’t), think Seinfeld. Btw, the definition of observational comedy is humor based on commonplace aspects of everyday life. Carlin’s routine STUFF fits perfectly what happened to us.

For a full two weeks, we organized. We gave away. Passed to children and family. Shredded.

And, yes, we kept things. Some treasures we just couldn’t part with and some furniture we’ll use in our new place.

Finally, we held our garage sale. What fun talking with all the folks who stopped by.

We heard some great stories. (You’ll find parts of some of those stories in future Judythe Morgan manuscripts.) I loved the smiles on the faces of those who took away our treasures and made them theirs. Our stuff had found happy homes.

The house is mostly empty now. The rooms echo. The walls are bare.

The woodwork and floors clean and polished. I can’t praise Liquid Gold enough. Windows glisten thanks to Windex. Easy Off turned our originally installed ovens into shiny clean.

I am feeling like a heavy burden has been lifted, but the process involved lots of physical labor and emotional drain.

Onto the next phase now. The house is up for sale.

O

We’re waiting for the perfect person to buy the home we’ve loved and cherished.

Next time I’ll share how this new phase of our transition progresses.

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Wanta be a better writer? Monday Motivation

It’a not hard.

Actually it’s quite easy.

Follow these ten SIMPLE steps…

10 Steps to Becoming a Better Writer
Like this infographic? Get more content marketing tips from Copyblogger.

Now go be a better writer

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Rush, Stress, and Busyness – Blogs last month you might have missed

NaNoWriMo 2012 has ended. (btw, MAJOR congratulations to those who stayed the course and wrote 50,000 words. I’m so impressed.)

Today’s December 1st. The holiday season is upon us and closing in like a speeding bullet.

ticking clock

If you’re like me, you’re skimming and skipping on social media sites and blogs. 

Here are some blogs with writerly news or information I thought you’d want to know about:

Fictionwise is Now on Life Support – They’re Pulling the Plug in 3 Weeks’ Time

  •  Digital Reader advises now would be a good time to go download any ebooks you still can.  After December 21, 2012,  you will not be able to access any of the ebooks you bought from Fictionwise sites (including Fictionwise.com, eReader.com and eBookwise.com).

Very latest on Fictionwise’s demise:

What People Talk About When They Talk About Bad Writing

  • Writer/agent Nathan Bransford’s take on a definition of bad writing.

Why is your second novel so important?

  • Agent Chip Macgregor discusses the biggest pitfalls in a second novel.

Sell More Fiction by Activating the Power of Book Clubs

  • How to employ bookclubs and discussion questions to increase your   book sales.

6 Common Myths About Book Reviews

  • Debunks common misconceptions about book reviews

How Twitter Hashtags Help Authors Find Readers

  • Loved this list of handy hashtags to connect with readers

Your-e-reader-is-watching

  • Interesting discussion about trackers in eReaders: Your data profile shows when you read and when you don’t. Will it soon determine what you read? 

YOUR TURN to SHARE: If you’ve found a blog, you think I may have missed, tell me about it in your comment.

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Missing Books and Memories: Miller Farm Friday

Before the school year started, I alphabetized my books in my classroom to make it easier to find what I wanted for each class. 

 Imagine my consternation when I went to pull “Six Little Ducks” and it was not nestled right next to “Silent Night” in the “s” section. I thought perhaps I had loaned it out and would need to track it down. 

I chose another duck book, “Little White Duck,” and went on with my teaching.

Well yesterday, I wanted to read “Ten Little Indians.” It was time to start my Thanksgiving songs. It was also missing! 

My first thought was “Now I’ve lost six little ducks and ten little Indians and the craziness of the holiday season has not even began. Not a good sign!”

I had to walk away from the bookshelf to collect myself. 

Upon returning and carefully searching through the entire alphabet of books, I discovered that “Ten Little Indians” was actually titled “One Little Indian.” 

 Silly me.

 Very relieved, I looked once again for “Six Little Ducks.” 

 I discovered the title of that book is actually “Five Little Ducks,” and it was right shelved right where it was supposed to be – after “Fire Truck.” 

I slept much better last night knowing that every book and everything was in their proper spot. 

Including the black hen in the chicken yard who apparently still has flashbacks to the possum episode and tries to sleep on top of the quail cage.

Have a great weekend.

Before anyone gets excited over CW (Chicken Wrangler) Sara using Ten Little Indians to kickstart Thanksgiving, I have to tell you that she grew up where Mama (me) made sure the “real” Thanksgiving celebration wasn’t forgotten.

(Image from: www.azgop.org)

The first Thanksgiving feast was to thank the Indians for their contribution to the Pilgrims’ survival.

To reinforce the concept, I wore an Indian squaw dress custom-made for me by an Apache seamstress on the White River Arizona Reservation.

I’m sure CW Sara told her young students all about a Mama’s custom.

I do wonder if she tells her classes about how I embellished the Five Little Duck story by having the Mama Duck (NOT the Daddy Duck) call the duckies back in the song’s punch line.

I’d tell her and her siblings that disobedience to Mama Duck meant the five little duckies might not have a happy ending.

On second thought, CW Sara probably doesn’t tell that story. That would be like the black hen’s flashbacks of the possum episode—recalling unpleasant memories.

YOUR TURN TO SHARE: 

Any Thanksgiving traditions?

Or unpleasant possum memories?

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Turkey Pitching Day

Last Thursday many in the U.S. sat down at tables loaded with enough food to feed a third world country for a week.

And we had leftovers.

The best part of Thanksgiving to me.

I love the smell of the striped carcass simmering with onions and celery in our traditional turkey rice soup on Black Friday. We add brown rice before serving with whole wheat cornbread. Yummy!

This year I also found great, nutritious ideas from

Turkey Taco

Click the picture for the link.

Turkey Sliders

Click the picture for the link.

Are you still moving leftover turkey or dressing or sweet potatoes around in your fridge? You need to pitch ‘em today.

Why?

Foodborne illness – Isn’t that a lovely way to say food poisoning?

In years past, I remember sitting around the table for hours talking and visiting with the food still there. Or, worse yet, moving the serving dishes to the stove top or counter so everyone could nibble all afternoon while we watched football.

Once we figured out what was causing our tummy problems, we stopped that foolishness.

Happily, most cases of food poisoning can be prevented with proper food handling.

How did you handle your leftovers? Did you refrigerate perishable foods quickly?

According to Mayo Clinic nutritionist, Katherine Zeratsky, R.D., L.D. your goal is to minimize the time a food is in the “danger zone” — between 40 and 140 F (4 and 60 C) — when bacteria can quickly multiply. Meat, poultry, fish, dairy and eggs shouldn’t sit more than two hours at typical room temperature or more than one hour at temperatures above 90 F (32 C).

Because the bacteria doesn’t typically change the taste, smell, or look, you can’t tell until the bacteria attacks your digestive tract.

But leftovers can be kept for three to four days in the refrigerator before the risk of food poising increases.

There weren’t many leftovers at our Thanksgiving feast and what there was went quickly. If you still have leftovers after today, my advice:

PITCH IT.

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Raiding Possums, Scary Times at the Miller Farm

I have a confession to make.

Sometimes, especially if it is raining, we do not close the door to the chicken coop at night. The chickens don’t know the difference and some nights we are just too tired to walk out there.

This has all changed after last weekend.

I was getting ready to get into the shower on Sunday morning when I heard a lot of racket coming from the chicken yard. I’m accustomed to hearing the roosters and can, in fact, distinguish which rooster makes each “cock a doodle doo.”

This was, however, a hen making the racket. She sounded very distressed so I knew something was amiss. I grabbed a flashlight, put on my muck shoes and headed out to the chicken yard.

As soon as I left the garage, I knew there was trouble.

A large number of the birds lined the fence looking very scared (at least I’m guessing it was a scared look on their faces.)

Something had gotten into their coop and they were trying to get away.

Had it not been 5:45 a.m. and my brain still foggy, I might have thought more about rushing into an unknown situation. All I could think about, though, was my poor chickens and how I had left them vulnerable by not closing the coop.

As I approached, I could see the announcer hen still squawking at something in the corner.

A possum and it was eating a chicken!

Not wishing to add “possum wrangler” to my titles or face-off with a possum and his breakfast, I headed back to the house for my husband. He reached for a hand gun, but I reminded him it would be illegal to fire in the city limits. He grabbed a BB gun instead, and we went back outside.

Fortunately, possums do not have a “flight” instinct and in fact will freeze when they are frightened (think deer in the headlight look). So when we got to the coop, Raider Possum was still there.

Beekeeper Brian was able to put enough BBs into him that he will not be eating any more of our chickens nor will he be able to tell his friends where to get a free meal.

As we retold our morning adventure, we did get asked several times if we were making a meal out of the possum. (The answer is a resounding “no.”)

With the danger eliminated, we coaxed the chickens back into the coop. They may have bird brains but they remembered there was something scary in that coop and balked when we tried to herd them back inside the chicken yard.

We picked each one up and placed it gently into the coop. As we lifted them, they cried out what sounded like “Ouch, Ouch.” We got as many as we could back into the coop and shut the door until the sun came up.

The chickens seem to have no recollection of the events and have gone back into the coop every night since. All except for one black hen who slept on top of the quail cage for several nights.

Now, every night, we shut the door to the coop and tell the chickens:

“Good night, sleep tight and don’t let the possums bite.”

I had to laugh over her caution to the chickens. You see, when she was little we often sent her off to bed with “Sleep tight and don’t let the bed-bugs bite. 

Strange saying, but evidently founded in the fact that bedbugs were once real threat  and have recently made a comeback.

All I meant was for her to have a good night’s sleep, which worked for Chicken Wrangler Sara and her siblings. I hope it works for the Miller farm fowl.

It has been a rough week at the Miller Farm. Chickens facing raider possums. Thanksgiving Turkey’s roasting. The fowl must have felt like they were watching a horror movie.

YOUR TURN: How do you pick yourself up after a horror movie week or day?

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