Update on the Jack Books

Jack is in control!
Jack is in control!
Jack surveying his dominion
Jack surveying his dominion

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doggie powwow. Hope, Twig and Jack
doggie powwow. Hope, Twig and Jack

Some time ago, I mentioned I would be writing a series of books for children starring our dingo,Jack. I finally decided I would independently publish these books , but that was about as far as it got. Well, I now have an editor and an illustrator. I am really getting very excited about it.

I have started a Kickstarter project, however, it has not gone live yet. If you are not familiar with Kickstarter, it is a funding venue. Several people donate to your project to help make it come to pass. In return, the donors will receive rewards- such as signed books , postcards with a Jack photo and autograph- things like that.As soon as I make my video, my project will be up and running. So, look for it to go live here soon.If you’ve never heard of it, check it out here.

The series focuses on Jack discovering, learning, and being curious about all kinds of things. I intend on having stories that affect children every day – from bullying to learning to grill food. The books are fun, lighthearted and test out at about a third grade level. They are intended to make reading enjoyable and help sort out problems at the same time. I hope once they come out, you will check them out for your children or even your grandchildren.

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The Onslaught Begins!

Now that Thanksgiving is almost over, the onslaught of Christmas advertisements will begin in full force. The commercial that was cute the first 5 times ceases to be cute long before Christmas comes. Are you ready for it? I suppose I am- only time will tell.Sometimes, companies will forego new ads for this year and play one from long ago. Oh my gosh! I hate that. The commercial is dated and everyone was sick of it by the time Christmas came the year or years before when it premiered in the first place! Resist the temptation to succumb to such tom foolery! It’s hard, hard to resist such cutitity. Alas, we must!

By the time Christmas comes along, I hope to have kept and maintained a list of the advertisements I liked and the ones I quickly got tired of. I’d love to hear some of yours too. I guess I am easily amused because I have, from an early age mocked commercials-first at the dinner table with my parents-enacting Excedrin commercials in the 60’s. How they would laugh-encouraging more and more enactments and morphing into reading the Sunday comics – Snuffy Smith in particular-giving everyone in the comic a different voice. I was also known as the jokester – going from one hair dressers station to another’s telling jokes and making folks laugh. I fear they only laughed because I was the bosses daughter. But, I digress into my memories.

Back to the original thought. I’ve always believed that the Christmas season was not official until the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade’s Santa Claus appeared.It always seemed as if once he appeared, so did the advertisements.I believed that as a child and now, as an adult! Funny how our early memories of Christmas and other events shape our adult ideas and thoughts. I can’t wait to share more of this with you.

Until then… watch for the fallout!

just one of the season's  adverts.
just one of the season’s adverts.

Holidaze

I’m not sure how to feel about the holidays coming up. No, I didn’t misspell my title. I feel weird about them tonight. I guess I am feeling some sort of identity crisis- maybe I’ve lost whatever I thought the holidays are supposed to be.

You see, growing up, my house (well, my mom and dad’s house) was full  of relatives. Thanksgiving? My mom’s family over for dinner, which was always at noon-one o’clock should there be late-comers. (there were always latecomers.) After my mom’s family left, the next day or so , my dad’s family would come. Maybe not for dinner, but at least to visit. Needless to say, I’ve always associated the holidays with a full house of family and friends.

Last night, my husband found a video of a Christmas spent, as usual, with my mother. Just our family- my family of origin and our extended families around the Christmas  tree. My four grandsons-still just little boys, my daughter and her husband, Sean (now deceased, sadly), my sister and her family and my mother. How wonderfully bittersweet it was to see everyone together. There was my mother, complaining about having her photo on the video and Sean saying the new jacket would fit if he could lose ten pounds. No one was aggravated, there was lots of laughter, it was great to hear their voices again and see their faces. It was a reminder to me that we don’t know what tomorrow will bring. I have felt pretty solemn since I saw the video. All of us laughing, having fun, being surprised – just being a family. We were oblivious to anything bad or sad. Within about two years of that video,,my husband’s mother and  my mother went to be with the Lord and then so did Sean. Our family forever changed.

Now, I have my kids, all married- going their own way this Thanksgiving – and I’m happy they are able to do that. So, it will be me, Stephen and Father Charlie this year for Thanksgiving. Maybe David will  come. I hope so. Even though it is family, I’m a bit dazed and confused since the house will not be full to the brim. I am so thankful, though that each of my children have spouses who love them and feel good about being able to go to their other family’s houses for Thanksgiving.

What a great time to find a long lost video- just as we all celebrate our gratitude, I was able to see and hear the voices of those I loved so much. While I am celebrating my living family members, I will celebrate the fact that God gave me other people who have gone on to His house before me.

So, while you are celebrating gratitude, remember to tell your family and friends how much they mean to you-how much you love them. I don’t think we can ever say it too much. Happy thanksgiving!

The Rain in Spain Stays Mainly in the…. Oh Well

I’m not in Spain, but in Texas and the weather has been -well, completely un-Texan! With a low in the 20’s last week and a high today almost 70, it’s been like a teeter totter. Up and down, down and up. We even had a light dusting of snow , for heaven’s sake- in November! Almost unheard of. You know what they say, “If you don’t like the weather, just wait a minute.” And it is more true of Texas than anywhere I’ve ever been.

Today was a beautiful springlike day and tomorrow? Well, it’s going to be raining and then Saturday, we are scheduled to have severe thunderstorms with high winds and, of course, a tornado or two cannot be ruled out.

Never a dull moment here, that’s for sure. With the amount of animals we have, storms are often something that has to be prepared for. For example, I have to sort out the horses, put them in the barn before the storms really start – or not. I have to be able to determine if time in the barn would be beneficial. My Tennessee Walking Horse, Licorice, doesn’t care to be cooped up in the barn with miniature horse Houdini. Houdini makes Licorice nervous. It is not unheard of for her to begin to gallop around the stall area (it’s a big rectangular area).

me and my Licorice
me and my Licorice
Mr. Houdini if you please
Mr. Houdini if you please

I may have to put a wall up so they will each have their own stall. I’ve only  just finished this design. Rethinking it is not really a problem- just a lot of work.

I was to go out of town this weekend- a retreat for church. But, with the impending storm, I feel like I need to be home for the animals and make sure they are all okay. For some, that may sound stupid, but I really feel that God put these animals in my care and it’s my job to make sure they are well taken care of. Sadly, the retreat will have to wait til next time we go out there.

I guess we shall see what we shall see, but in the meantime, the rain in Texas stays mainly whereever it wants to.

Another Sunday Rolls Around

Back in the day, I went to church and it was okay. It was never anything special until my husband, Stephen and I began going to The Gathering in downtown Dallas. The Gathering is a church for the “unhoused”. The homeless. The Gathering has changed our lives in so many ways. It has certainly changed the way I worship God and my attitude towards others.

The first time we went to The Gathering, it was the first or second week in September 2013. I admit I was a bit skeptical. No other church had really captured my heart. But, it wasn’t just the church I was skeptical of- I’d never been around “unhoused” people. I’d seen them on the street, sometimes hanging out by a 7-11 or similar store hoping to catch some change to get a cup of coffee or maybe even a meal. I  had never really spoken to any homeless people and like so many – I didn’t really even look at them- I had no money I could share and I didn’t want to feel guilty about not giving them anything.

That first Sunday we went to worship with the folks at The Gathering- well, it was just amazing- that’s the only word to describe it. The people, the folks I had never looked at, were welcoming, loving, grateful, happy and worshipped God with a fervor and an appreciation I’d never seen before. All at once, I was inspired to worship in the same way. I wanted the happiness and love they had found. I know what many are thinking- “they are happy, because they are addicts and/or mentally ill.” While some are addicts and some are mentally ill, that is not the happiness I’m talking about. It’s a high, but right then, that Sunday, it was a “high on God” I was witnessing.

My Sundays have been transformed from a “meh” kind of worship to an amazing kind of worship that lasts all week. I saw that even though many of the people worshipping have nothing, they are happy to worship with all their hearts each Sunday. This is what worship should be. God gives us the joy to worship Him this way. We just have to find it in order to do so.

I hope everyone has a place like The Gathering to call their own. There is no better feeling than to worship God on Sunday and have it last all week. Nothing better.

many unhoused people, much joy
many unhoused people, much joy
Father Charlie brings the sermon
Father Charlie brings the sermon

Not in Control

“He’s just going to die- there’s no cure,” a doctor told , explaining my son has cystic fibrosis.Imagine someone saying that after giving birth 9 weeks prior. Not just anyone,either, but a doctor – one who is used to delivering this kind of news and apparently finds it an easy task after all these years diagnosing children. Perhaps he had become immune. I don’t know.

Thus began my journey to keep my son from dying. Never stopped

Micah today- doing well and happily married .
Micah today- doing well and happily married .

to think it was not in my power to keep Micah from dying. It was God’s deal. Why did he choose me? Why did he choose Micah? Why did I wonder that? I was so angry with God. So angry that any child would be diagnosed with any disease and the parents having to hear what the doctor god had to say- hearing the death sentence pronounced on a helpless, innocent baby.

I call him the doctor god because he came across as if he knew everything about everything. He made pronouncements about our baby- about other’s babies. Condemning them to death, perhaps  because he really felt helpless to do anything for him. But, it was never his deal. It was God’s deal. It still is.

Cystic Fibrosis (CF) is a disease of the lung and endocrine system . The mucous found in all of our bodies are usually thin and slippery. In a child with CF, this mucous is thick, sticky and loves hanging out in the lungs of these kids. Pneumonia is rampant and scar tissue forms. The pancreas, seemingly lazy, is just really not equipped to digests fats in the diet and digestive enzymes are needed to digest food. Breathing treatments must be employed to keep the lungs clear and mucous free. Some kids have low lung function, making it difficult to breathe and sometimes gasping instead.

My baby boy was very sick the first year of his life. I was told on his birthday the first year the doctors had not thought he would live that long. Not even a year! The life span used to be 10 years old. Then 16. Now, the life span of a child with CF may be over 35 years. I knew a man who was about 80 when he passed away. He had not been diagnosed with the disease until he was in his 30’s. CF is unpredictable. Some kids may not live long at all, some may live a long, almost symptom-free life. It’s still God’s deal.

I began to explore my thoughts about why God allows these things to happen. I believe things happen for a reason. For me, I came to the conclusion this baby was sent to teach me how to take the the spotlight off me because it’s not all about Paula. He was sent to teach me patience and acceptance and love – real, unconditional, frightening, risky love. Risky. The risk of losing my boy was all too real. I knew that the love would never be lost even though I was afraid to put my heart on the line for him. How could I not love him- he drew me in- and I couldn’t help but love him .

I am grateful God sent me this amazing young man. It’s been hard at times, but my son has lived and thrived when they said he wouldn’t.  He graduated elementary, jr. high and then high school. He’s funny and smart and funny some more. He’s taught me to loosen up, lighten up and enjoy every minute of life. Most of the time now, I can do that. I did not do that before him.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again- God puts people in our lives – loans them to us- to teach us things we may not otherwise bother to learn. Sometimes, it takes dire circumstances to learn the things we must, the things we should . It was so for me.

Thank you God for giving me a sweet reminder of You in my son, Micah.

Funny Little Gadgets -Men

“The chickens need checking on, ” I told my husband after dinner.  “They haven’t been laying and so I didn’t check on them,” I continued.

“Ok.” he answered, heading over to the coat, tack, and miscellaneous rack by our front door, grabbing his little head light. He loves his head light. It’s got an elastic band so that he can put it on his head and has a very bright light and a red light. The bright white light I get. The red one? Not so much. I get a kick out of him and his gadgets. He told me he liked it because then he doesn’t have to carry a flashlight and of course should he get attacked or something, well, he has two free hands instead of one. I burst out laughing at the mental image I got while he was explaining the reason he loved this little head light so much.

I must be a real girl or something because when I tried it on, it didn’t do a thing for me. I didn’t look cool, I did have another hand- two free hands (in case of attack) . I couldn’t even find the switch to turn it on. I love that guys are so attached to their “toys.”  It gives me a good deal of satisfaction to know that should he laugh at my things, I can laugh at his.  He does and I do on occassion. It’s fun and laughter is always good medicene- but have you ever noticed how amused guys are when they use their tools to fix things? It’s an almost macho kind of way they swing their bodies around when using said tools. It’s kinda like them beating their chests, you know. Now, I’m not comparing them to our hairy friends, the apes . I’m just sayin’.

Of course, we girls have our crafting toys, paints, makeup, clothes and high heels, purses, jewelry and countless other things we like to play with. We just don’t beat our chests when we use them. Just thinking that makes me hurt! But, men are so proud when they fix something or do something with their tools or lights or -oh here is a good one- tape measures- the metal kind.Guys always like to measure and use levels and screwdrivers and all manner of electrical things- saws, weedeaters, things of that nature. Riding lawn mowers- now there is a “beat my chest toy”  every man longs to have- yard or not. A real status symbol.

It’s funny because the way I was brought up- well, there were girl toys and boy toys. A lot of people don’t do that anymore. My boy cousins had G.I.Joes, I had Barbies. They had Rock’em Sock’em Robots, I had Chatty Kathy. A world of difference yet the same result. Entertaining and a sense of pride. Always a plus in any book- feeling good about yourself and having fun at the same time. Works for me.

not my husband and not exactly the same light, but you get the idea!
not my husband and not exactly the same light, but you get the idea!