How are You Handling the Changes in Your World?

Hello Everyone,

I want to spend some time sharing some things that I am doing to keep my sanity while spending most of my time at home due to Covid-19 and the stipulations our government has put into place to protect us.

First, people reacted with panic, rushing to the stores and buying up all the toilet paper, paper towels, Clorox, and other items they could get their hands on. It was worse than Y2K. Either the panic has calmed, or because the stores have gotten a better handle on things and are limiting quantities of certain things people can buy, things are better in he grocery stores.

Now our government has shut down many, many businesses, allowing only “life-sustaining” businesses to continue operation. Grocery stores and any type of business related to the medical field are still operating. Even restaurants are operating on a “drive-thru” or “takeout only” basis. We are not currently free to meet friends at a coffee shop or go out with friends and family to dine in a restaurant. We have been told to remain at home as much as possible. Some people are fighting against this idea as well, saying things like, “the government can’t tell me what to do”.

I, however, choose to listen to what my government is asking. I may not agree with everything, but I do understand they are trying to keep us safe and prevent more deaths than necessary to this virus.

It is not easy to be housebound for the most part. I enjoy getting together with my friends as much as anyone, but I also do not want to become sick and need hospitalization or worse. I have been in the hospital for things in the past, and, though I am grateful that we have good hospitals with good medical staff, where I can get good care when necessary, I don’t want to deliberately that may land me in the hospital.

So, what am I doing to keep busy and not lose my head or become depressed?

  1. I am enjoying reading. I have so many wonderful books that have been waiting for me to pick them up and get lost in their pages.
  2. I am participating in online writing activities. Reedsy is a great site for writers and they recently offered an online “write-in” where three of their employees appeared live on youtube to lead three writing sprints. It was a lot of fun and made me feel less isolated because I could see these three people and listen to them talk and see them write for a little over an hour.
  3.  I signed up to take a self-paced flash fiction course, which I am enjoying. I have been writing flash fiction here on my blog on Fridays for quite some time, but I’m always looking for ways to improve my writing.
  4. I also signed up for a webinar that will take place next month. Sadly, so many things have been canceled due to Covid-19, but one of the speakers who was scheduled to speak at a writer’s conference I was registered to attend next month, has decided to teach one of the seminars he was to teach at the conference online. I am thrilled to be able to still have access to this seminar!
  5. I spend time each day on Twitter interacting with the #Writing Community.
  6. I watch a movie a couple nights a week.
  7. I play games with my son or the family.
  8. I am working on revising my WIP, I am writing posts for this blog, my critique partner and I continue to critique for each other via email on a biweekly basis.
  9. We, as a family, watch our pastor preach on Sunday mornings on the internet. He will also be doing a Wednesday morning Bible study, and our associate pastor is doing a couple devotion times each week. This helps us to stay in God’s word and helps to keep our faith strong and to know that God is in control of all this, and we will be fine, and we will get through this.

Something I don’t do is spend too much time on Facebook or watching a lot of news. I do not want to hear about Covid-19 and all of the rumors all day long. I only want to hear the stuff of importance and the truth, which can be hard to determine, but I don’t want to dwell on the situation, for that only brings feelings of unease, concern, and worry — things I don’t need and that won’t help me during this time.

So, what about you? What are you doing during this difficult time as we all wait for this Covid-19 to pass?

Modern Day Heroes

On Saturday, October 29, 2018 I had the privilege of attending a banquet with the theme “The Courage to Stand”. There were four speakers, three of which were deemed “Modern Day Heroes” by a young friend of mine because they are embroiled in court battles because they are standing up for what they believe in.

*Note: You may disagree with this post or find it offensive. If you are and you choose to leave a comment, be sure to be respectful or it will not be posted here.

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The girl in the gray dress is my young friend, (I attended the banquet with her parents and her), who, after hearing about these court cases and being impressed with the courage of these three people, deemed them “Modern Day Heroes”. The girl in the middle is a young woman who has gone through quite a few struggles in her life, and then one day in high school, after it was determined “that boys who identify as girls can use the girls’ bathroom and locker room”, entered the girls’ bathroom in her Pennsylvania high school and saw the reflection of a young man in the mirror. She quickly left the restroom and went to speak to the principal, who showed no care or compassion for this young lady’s safety and privacy. So, her case is waiting to go before the Supreme Court, and the incident happened about three years ago.

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This gentleman was fired from his job as a football coach at Bremerton High School because he prayed on the fifty yard line after every game. At first he did so alone. He didn’t ask anyone to join him, but when some of the players noticed, they chose to join him. Eventually that grew until the entire team joined him and then they started inviting the opposing team that often joined them as well. Coach Joe Kennedy was then asked to stop praying on the field after games. Then one day he prayed on the 50 yard line alone, no players or anyone else on the field and he was fired from his job. His case is also waiting to be heard by the Supreme Court.

After we took this photo, Joe and I found that we have something in common. Do you see his belt buckle — it’s a Batman insignia and I have a Batman cellphone ring holder on the back of my phone. Yes, it turned out we both love “Batman”.      🙂

 

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This gentleman is a good example of strength and courage as he is the Masterpiece Cakeshop proprietor who was sued by a gay couple for refusing to make their wedding cake, and after five years had finally won the case in the Supreme Court only to be targeted the very next day by the same organization involved in the  suit against him the first time. This time he refused to bake a cake for a transgender who wanted a cake made for his celebration of his seventh year as a female.

Seriously, there are lots of bakers out there. These people could have easily gone to another baker. Jack Phillips has had boundaries in place since he started his business. He doesn’t only not make cakes for gay or transgender people. He doesn’t make cakes for other things that go against his beliefs either and has never been sued for those.

I have to agree that my young friend labeled these people very appropriately when she referred to them as Modern Day Heroes, and I will be praying for these people.

We Are Diverse; We Are the Same

We Are Diverse; We Are the Same
by Kelly F. Barr

Walking down a city street
I’m intrigued by all the diverse faces;
Some white, some tan, some yellow, some black, some brown,
All attached to diverse bodies:
Some tall, some short, some thin, some fat, some soft, some muscular.

When I talk to people,  no matter their skin color, I find diversity
In the music they listen to, the books they read,
The activities they take pleasure in,
The causes they defend, their passions,
The things that get their dander up, and their beliefs.

Some see the diversities as the people themselves.
Some appreciate and respect the diversities; Some fear and abuse the diversities:
The rich kid who looks down on the poor;
The bully in the schoolyard harassing the quiet, unassuming child;
The gangs in the city streets fighting and killing those of different ethnicities.

The racists who see themselves as superior
Verbally and physically attack people of different colors;
The parents who disown their child for converting to a different religion
Or for loving someone whose skin is a different color;
The elderly woman who trembles in fear when a young man with a nose ring walks by.

Despite the diversities, we are all the same;
We are all human. When cut, we bleed the same blood,
When a loved one dies, we all grieve.
We face the same fears and temptations.
We are all born and we all die.

Walking through the hospital E.R., I see
Two gang members who lay bleeding, one black, one Hispanic.
In the maternity ward two moms scream in labor, one white, one Chinese.
In the cancer ward white, tan, yellow, brown and black all on chemotherapy.
I question the doctor. His response,”We’re all the same biologically.”

Yes, we all laugh, we all cry.
We all face challenges and bask in victories.
We all need human interaction so why don’t we reach out a hand
To help one another no matter our skin color?
Together, let us celebrate that, though we are diverse, yet we are the same.

A Thursday Tribute

I have never done this before, but I really feel like I need to do this.  I want to pay tribute to two people who mean a lot to me because of their support and/or contributions to my writing life.

First of all, my husband.  I just have to say how much I appreciate the way that he shows his support for my writing.  How does he do this?

He never complains about my attending all of the monthly LCW (Lancaster Christian Writers) meetings that I want to attend, which is all of them, (smile).  In reality, I usually end up having to miss one or two because of family things that come up that take priority.  He also never complains when I find a free or inexpensive one-day writing event that I want to attend, and he doesn’t mind when I leave two, sometimes three evenings a week for two or three hours to get together with other writers for critique group or to write, brainstorm and encourage each other along our writing paths.  He doesn’t complain that I spend so much time writing and participating in writing related things and yet am still not adding to the family income.  He understands that it is a long process.  I am blessed to have a husband who quietly supports me and I greatly appreciate him.

The second person I want to pay tribute to is a fellow writer who has become a very dear friend and is moving to the other side of the country, Laura Zimmerman.  I met her at LCW but our bond of friendship began when she and I both attended a one day writing workshop in the private home of a complete stranger.  We were surrounded by strangers, and I think, because we recognized each other’s faces and knew we were both part of LCW, we both felt more comfortable and we sat together for the workshop and had some time to talk a bit and start to really get to know each other.

Then when I started the weekly writing group for those of us homeschool moms who often struggle with finding time to write without interruptions in our own homes, Laura soon became a regular part of that writing group, Scribes Oasis.  She has rarely missed a night of Scribes.  Laura also encouraged me in my ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) membership, as I was debating renewing my membership.  You see, ACFW is a national organization, and though we have a local chapter, most of the best resources of ACFW happen online, and for the first entire year, I didn’t really get involved in that online community.  Again, lack of time, as family takes priority.  Laura encouraged me because she was involved in a couple of the things that the online ACFW community offered.  So, I renewed my membership and have jumped into getting involved with both feet, and I’m loving it!

Through all of these wonderful writing groups, Laura has also encouraged me in my writing.  She has offered me great advice on my writing.  She has gotten excited about stories I have written or am writing.  She has helped me talk through some issues that came up in my writing that I wasn’t sure how to improve or write well.  Laura is a little bit ahead of me in the writing world, as this year, she obtained an agent and she has submitted three story proposals to this agent already.  He has already gone over the first one and told her what she needed to do to edit the story and improve it, and she literally pulled her story apart and put it back together again, and she believes it is better than the original.  It broke my heart to see her go through that, but her positive attitude through the whole thing and the happiness she shared about the finished edited product was quite an inspiration to me.  Also, the fact that she is a homeschool mom who still homeschools three children and still finds time to crank out stories, and now, devotionals and articles, amazes and inspires me and makes me believe that I can obtain those things too.  I just need to keep working.

So, when Laura leaves after Memorial Day weekend, I will miss her so much, but I am so thankful for today’s technology which will help us to be able to remain close friends who will still be able to encourage and help each other in our writing.  Thanks Laura for your friendship and your encouragement and support in my writing.  I know God has good things in store for you and your family wherever He leads you.

How about you?  Who is a big support and encouragement to you in your writing journey?

A Just Man by Helen Daniel

I received a free copy of A Just Man by Helen Daniel in eBook form to write an honest review for BookLook Blogger.

A Just Man follows several generations of the Matthews family through farming, shipbuilding, the Civil War and other circumstances.  I enjoyed the characters, though I think they could have been a bit more developed, as stories with well developed characters who face sad issues never fail to make me cry, and the sad issues in this story tugged at my heart but brought no tears.

I liked the story and the characters.  I found the book very simply written and easy to read. The story was sweet and enjoyable, although I found it a bit unrealistic.

A Just Man is also very clearly written in third person with a narrator.  The story is mostly told by the narrator rather than shown by the characters’ thoughts, dialogues, and actions.  After reading for a while, however, this became less noticeable to me, as I enjoyed the story.

It was mentioned either on the back cover or in a Preface that Helen Daniel had written stories to illustrate Sunday School lessons, and that is exactly what the chapters of this story reminded me of.  They are sweet stories of generations of one family and their struggles, as well as their faith.

I would recommend this book to anyone who is looking for something about faith in God that is easy to understand.  I would recommend this to parents who want a good, faith building, encouraging  story to read and discuss with their elementary age children.  I would also recommend this story to anyone who enjoys a good, family friendly, easy-to-read book.

Introverted Me

Many writers and artists, as well as other people, are introverts.  Are you an introvert?  I am, though some people do not believe me.

Webster’s Dictionary defines introvert as:  to turn inward or in upon itself;  to concentrate or direct upon oneself; a reserved or shy person; a quiet person who does not find it easy to talk to other people.

I find these definitions a bit simplistic and, to a degree, they miss the mark.  I agree that an introvert is a person who does not find it easy to talk to other people.  However, what this definition neglects to explain is that it takes effort and great energy for an introvert to be around people and to have to interact with them, and after spending time putting forth the effort and energy to interact with others, an introvert needs quiet time alone to regain energy.

Why do some people not believe me when I tell them that I am an introvert?  Because when I am comfortable with a person or small group of people, I enjoy talking to them and sharing thoughts and ideas that we have in common.  Most people seem to assume that introverts are always quiet and don’t like to talk, and so the fact that I, as well as other introverts, actually enjoy conversations with people we are comfortable with seems to puzzle them.

As a homeschool mom, I have stepped out of my introverted comfort zone many times to do things for my children’s benefit and/or education.  I have spoken in front of groups of people — for me, this doesn’t bother me too much if the group consists of children and teenagers, but if the group includes adults, it ranges from being scary to terrifying, and sometimes I don’t even know what the level of fear will be; like the time I had collected monetary gifts from the parents of the homeschool high school soccer team and had to stand before a group of both teens and adults to express our gratitude and present the gift to the coach.  I still do not know why I became so terrified doing this that my hands shook, my voice and lip trembled and I was nearly in tears before I was finished.  I was never so glad to sit down and hide in the crowd as I was after presenting that gift.

However, people see me standing before these groups and talking or loudly cheering for my boys at their sports events or introducing myself to new homeschool moms or new couples and/or families visiting our church and think I have to be an extrovert, when, in fact, I have simply learned how to force myself out of my introverted comfort zone when it seems necessary to do so.  All of the things listed in this paragraph and those above require a lot of effort and energy for me, but I also find that all of these things can be blessings as I reach out to welcome or encourage others, and as they are blessed by my actions, it becomes a blessing to me, but it still requires a lot of effort and energy for me to do so.

Even as much as I love my husband and three children, I sometimes need some quiet time by myself to recharge my battery to prevent myself from becoming impatient and easily frustrated with them because of being so tired of having to deal with people and the energy it requires to be with them and to do things for them.

As I find myself getting older and my children growing up, I am finding that I am craving more quiet time to recharge my energy and regain my peace of mind than I used to.  I feel a stronger need, maybe because I am writing again and writing requires a lot of mental time and energy, for more solitude — yes, solitude is what I really need.  You see, as an introvert, I am not bored when I am alone and I do not become lonely within a day or two.  On the contrary, being alone allows me to revel in the quiet, spend time reflecting and thinking, and, even more importantly, speaking to and seeking my Lord, and this refreshes me and renews my spirit and energizes me so that I can enjoy my loved ones and they will find my company more enjoyable than after an entire week of having to be with people.

Also, I remember as a teen, not really minding doing things with friends that required being in a large crowd.  However, as I get older, I prefer to avoid large crowds, except on rare occasions, like when I have the opportunity to go to a Toby Mac concert.  But, being in a large crowd doesn’t necessarily take a lot of effort and energy from me because a person can be alone in a crowd.  As an introvert, I can easily blend into the background and not be noticed and, therefore, not have to interact with other people in the crowd.

So, what are my favorite activities?  Yes, they are all introvert, things people do alone, activities:  reading, listening to music without interruptions with earbuds in place, writing, or coloring in those new artist coloring books, although I enjoy having others color in coloring books around the same table with me as well.

How about you?  Are you an introvert?  What are your introvert tendencies? I know even we introverts are not all the same.

The Big House on Adams Street by Alberta Sparks

I received this ebook free from BookLook Bloggers in return for my honest review.

The Big House on Adams Street by Alberta Sparks is a wonderful book about one man’s dream.  There are many characters in the book who are easy to love and care about, many who have experienced hardships, some who have cause hardships for others.

Fritz, whose birth could have been considered an abomination, grew into a Godly man who had a dream; a dream for helping others.  He traveled by boat to America in hopes of fulfilling his dream, and on the way, met some people who took an interest in his dream and expressed a desire to help him.

In America, he built The Big House on Adams Street, otherwise know as “Huber Haven”.  Not long after the house was finished, it’s first occupants arrived, and Fritz assigned rooms to them.  He explained is plan for those who live in the house to work together to run the household.  Everyone must do their part.

In no time at all, “Huber Haven” had established a wonderful reputation, and in just a few short years, the house was filled with adults, children and babies.

I encourage you to read The Big House on Adams Street by Alberta Sparks if you enjoy heartwarming stories about family and people with struggles who overcome and people who have a heart for helping others.  You will find all of those things between these pages.  I assure you that by the time you are finished reading this book, you will have a desire or, maybe even a longing, for a place to live — a place to belong — like “Huber Haven”, or, maybe you’ll want to create your own “Huber Haven”.  This story touches both the heart and the soul.