Clarice James

Smart, Fun, Relatable Fiction


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Helping My Husband Find His Ministry

Our Unique Gifts & TalentsWe have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach, if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully. ~ Ro 12:6-8 (NIV)

I’d been praying about using my spiritual gifts in a more effective way, but I wanted to be sure I had them right. The pastor’s sermon on Romans 12 was the confirmation I needed.

Though the gifts are present in several Scripture passages, I’ll stick to the seven gifts listed in Romans 12:6-8: Prophesy, Serving, Teaching, Encouraging, Giving, Leading, and Showing Mercy.

My primary gift is Encouragement; my secondary gift is Service.

In years past, I may have coveted other gifts like Prophecy or Leadership. But 33 years of walking with Christ has shown me two things: I’m no prophet and to be a leader you need followers. I have none—and I don’t think God counts Twitter.twitter-follow-achiever

Now that I had my gifts in order, as any good helpmate would do [good may not be the correct word, but meddling doesn’t sound as nice], I decided to help my mate find his.

My husband is not  joiner, nor is he as social as I am. He’s pretty much a homebody; therefore you can see why he would need my wisdom in this area.

After church, over breakfast, I brought up the sermon. “So what do you think your gifts are?”

“Not sure,” he said, as he took a sip of his coffee.

I announced, “Mine are Encouragement and Service.”

He put his coffee down. “Sounds right.”

banner-prophetic-declarationsI pushed on. “Well, do you ever feel like you have a Prophetic Word for people—besides me, I mean?” I confess I knew the answer all ready.

“Nope.” He took a forkful of scrambled eggs.

“Okay, what about Service? You’re always doing things for me like shopping, running errands, laundry, and helping me with my computer stuff.  Service could be your spiritual gift.”

He swallowed his bite and washed it down with juice. “Could be.”

“Wait. Let’s look at Teaching. You know how you’re good at explaining things to me– like on my blog or website or around the house– maybe you could teach others? You’re smarter than anyone I know.”

“Not so sure about that.” He bit into a sausage and said, “Hmm. Jimmy Dean?”

“Hey, perhaps we have the same gifts. You’re always telling me to do things that I don’t think I can do. Maybe you’re an Encourager.”

“Could be.” He wiped his mouth. “Can you please pass the jam?”

“Don’t panic, we’re not in a jam. We still have Giving, Leading, and Showing Mercy left. We’re not rich, but you give to many different causes, right? I’m always getting sidetracked, so I  certainly look to you to lead us. And we both know you have a lot of mercy.”

“Why do you say that?”  He got up and refilled our mugs.

“For starters, you’re patient with me when I’m sick. Me, with you, not so much.”

“Let’s not worry about all this right now,” he said. “God will reveal my gifts in His time.”

“I know, but this is important! We need to know what your gifts are so you can plug into a ministry.”

2014-10-20 -300-150Determined to solve this mystery, I mentally reviewed what we’d learned so far.  Suddenly it struck me. I looked at my husband and said, “Uh, oh. I think God just gave me a revelation.”

He finished clearing the dishes and sat down. “And what might that be?”

“I think He told me that your ministry is ME!”

My husband smiled and patted my hand.

I think he knew that already.

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Breakfast at Epiphany’s 

Congenial conversation—what a pleasure! The right word at the right time—beautiful! ~ Proverbs 15:23 (MSG)

The breakfast conversations between my husband and me often sound like this.

ME, cheerful as always in the morning: “Do you want banana-pecan pancakes or your usual oatmeal?”

DAVID, laughing: “I take it a banana’s gone bad?”

ME, hiding the brown banana: “Maybe. I can throw it away or make you the pancakes—your choice.”

DAVID, making a snap decision: “Pancakes.”

ME, smiling sweetly: “Wise man.”

[THE PANCAKES ARE ON THE TABLE AND GRACE HAS BEEN SAID.]

ME, resting my chin in my hand: “Do you know how to bail someone out of jail?”

DAVID, looking at his stack of pancakes: “Does this have anything to do with my getting pancakes on a Tuesday?”

ME, befuddled: “What? No. Dee’s son Zach got arrested for drug possession. I don’t know how to post bail.”

DAVID, even more befuddled: “Why do you need to know? He’s Dee’s son.”

ME, sighing loudly: “Yeah, but I want to know how to do it first.”

DAVID, scrunching up his face: “What are you talking about?”

ME, holding my hands up to emphasize my point: “She doesn’t know how to begin to find out about bail. And she’s just not the type of person who’d leave her son in jail for any length of time.”

DAVID, taking a bite of pancake: “Okay …”

ME, narrowing my eyes at him: “What’s that supposed to mean? Would you leave one of our kids is jail?”

DAVID, thinking: “Depends on the charge—and the kid.”

ME, ignoring his wise remark: “Oh, and another thing, I’ve changed my mind on the white cabinets for the kitchen.”

DAVID, turning to look in the kitchen: Our kitchen?”

ME, giving him a duh look: “Who else’s kitchen would I be talking about?”

DAVID, trying hard to get a grip: “Oh, I don’t know, maybe Dee’s.”

ME, waving his comment away like a pesky mosquito: “Anyway, I wanted all white, but now I decided maybe a light grayish-brown wood would look nice with the stainless steel appliances.”

DAVID, again looking in the kitchen: “What stainless steel appliances?”

ME, dreaming about how it will look: “The ones we’ll be getting with the new cabinets.”

DAVID, rolling his eyes: “And how do you plan to pay for all this?”

ME, rolling my eyes back at him: “I already told you. Out of my $7,000 a-week-for-life winnings from Publishers Clearing House.”

DAVID, nodding: “Good to know you’ve got a solid plan in place.”

ME, pushing my dream aside to get back to reality: “Now, about Zach. How do you think Sergeant O’Neil knew he had drugs in his car?”

DAVID, one eyebrow raised: “Who’s Sergeant O’Neil?”

ME, surprised he doesn’t remember: “She’s the cop who works with Kyle.”

DAVID, both eyebrows raised: “Who’s Kyle?”

ME, wondering what he was doing when he wasn’t listening to me: “You know, Charlie’s friend, Sarah’s husband? Remember, I told you about Sarah being Juliette’s best friend?”

DAVID, sighing loudly: “You did? Juliette? Sheesh, I can’t keep track of all the people you know.”

ME, crossing my arms: “They’re not people I know, silly, they’re people I’ve made up.”

DAVID, kneading his face with his hand: “Are any of the things you talk about real?”

ME, astonished he would even ask: “Duh, yeah. You’re eating pancakes, aren’t you?”

DAVID, poking the stack with his fork: “Am I? Then I think I’ve earned some sausage to go with them.”

ME, taking a long slow sip of my coffee: “I’ll get right on that. As soon as my new kitchen is in.”

And oh, my dear Timothy, guard the treasure you were given! Guard it with your life. Avoid the talk-show religion and the practiced confusion of the so-called experts. People caught up in a lot of talk can miss the whole point of faith.Overwhelming grace keep you! ~ 1Timothy 6:20-21 (MSG)

 


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Meet Author Christy Brunke

In the winter of 2015, I met Christy Brunke at the Writer to Writer Conference in Hershey, PA.  I was smitten by her smile, enthusiasm, and sincerity. We were both finalists in the Jerry Jenkins Operation First Novel Contest. I thought, “Lord, I guess I wouldn’t mind so much if she won.” The Lord was gracious! We both won book publishing contracts that year–along with our soon-to-be-friend Linda Brooks Davis! 

CJ:  When did you know you wanted to be a writer? Who first supported you in this dream? 

CB: When I was born, my parents named me Christy after Catherine Marshall’s bestselling novel. You might say Marshall and her famous heroine were my first inspirations. As long as I can remember, I’ve loved reading, especially inspirational fiction.  

As a little girl, I was always dreaming up stories. I remember going into a patch of woods near our house and pretending I was the queen of a small kingdom. When my brother Jeremy was born, I was disappointed he couldn’t walk or talk. My solution? Create an imaginary friend named “Eremy.” In sixth grade, I won a short story contest and was rewarded with a Butterball turkey. From then on, I dreamed of writing novels, memoirs, and children’s books.

My mom, another avid reader, was the first to suggest I write novels. But I probably inherited by creativity from my dad. A former singer and songwriter, he helped me plot Snow Out of Season.

CJ: What did you do before you became a writer?  

CB: Penning Snow Out of Season was an incredible experience, but, before that, the Lord led me on other adventures. I completed a bachelor of arts in English and moved to China to study Mandarin and teach at a university. When I returned to the States, I attended seminary and taught drama and music.  

Then God called me to Chicago to work at a multi-site church where I fell in love with a zany youth pastor. After we got married, a story grew in my heart, one I felt compelled to share. Now was the time to pursue that long-delayed dream.  

snow-out-of-sesasonCJ: Tell us a little bit about your debut novel Snow Out of Season.

CB: Two pregnant women separated by time . . . Are they more connected than they know? 

Shannon Henry is just starting to put her life back together after the death of her infant daughter when she discovers she’s pregnant again. When her doctor presents her with the choice of either raising a child with Down syndrome or terminating the pregnancy, Shannon is torn. 

Leslie Gardner is a high-school senior in 1979 who dreams of becoming a professional ballerina, but discovers she is pregnant. If she has the child, her chances of a dancing career and college are over …

CJ: What inspired you to write this particular book? 

KB: As a teen and young adult, I longed for a God-scripted love story. I devoured books like Elisabeth Elliot’s Quest for Love: True Stories of Passion and Purity. Realizing my Creator knew me better than anyone, and knew every man as well, I asked Him to choose my husband.  And He did.  

Mark complements me perfectly and has been an incredible blessing to me and many others. But when his mom was pregnant with him, her circumstances would have led many women to have an abortion. I started wondering what my life would have been like if she’d made a different choice. 

So began Snow Out of Season, the dual stories of two women of two generations who struggle with the same questions. Is the child each carries worthy of life? What will it cost to keep the child? What will happen if each decides not to? 

CJ: How have your readers responded?

CB: Fiction lovers, book reviewers, and other novelists have blessed me with their reactions to Snow Out of Season. 

  • The Library Journal called it “. . . an astonishing tale with a gratifying ending . . . completely engrossing.” 
  • Award-winning author Brandy Vallance said Snow Out of Season is . . . a beautifully poignant and much-needed story.”  
  • Bestselling author Sandra Byrd said, “The story caught me with characters so real I feel I might see them on the street, and it held me with breathtakingly clever storytelling.” 

Amazon readers have encouraged me greatly with their 5-star reviews, including: 

  • “Best book I have read in years.” 
  • “Great New Author!” 
  • “Couldn’t put it down!” 
  • “I cried!”
  • “Fantastic  – A Must Read!!!”

CJ: What writing projects are you currently working on? 

CB: During this season of my life, I’m focusing on book events, blogging weekly, and writing articles for online newspapers. In 2017, I hope to begin writing my next book. Between novels, creative nonfiction, and children’s picture books, I have over a dozen ideas. 

On my website, I plan to share teasers for my best tales and ask readers to help me decide. Subscribe to my blog at ChristyBrunke.com, so you can tell me which one you’d like to read next!

christy-brunkes-author-photo

MORE ABOUT CHRISTY: Three months after her second daughter was born, she entered her manuscript in the Operation First Novel contest. In January 2015, Jerry Jenkins announced her story was a winner. In November, the Library Journal named Snow Out of Season the Christian Fiction Debut of the Month. By January, it topped Amazon bestseller lists. Christy Lives in Maryland with her husband, Mark, and their two adorable daughters. When she’s not at church or with her family, you can often find her blogging, writing articles, or dreaming up her next story.

Click HERE and scroll down to order all three winners of the last Jerry Jenkins Operation First Novel Contest: The Calling of Ella McFarland by Linda Brooks Davis, Double Header by Clarice G.  James, and Snow Out of Season by Christy Brunke.


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Soup, Pitiful Soup

After a full day in Boston visiting my husband at Brigham & Women’s hospital, followed by an hour and a half sleepy ride home, I stopped at my local grocery store to get something for supper. It’s hard to cook for one—especially when you’re tired, hungry, and decision-challenged.

Sweet Potato Soup with Quinoa & Coconut Milk by A Veggie Venture 2010-400

Soup, glorious soup!

As I entered the store, I had a soup flashback. A few months prior, I’d taken a chance on a concoction I’d never had before from the store’s soup and salad bar. It was quite tasty. I’d enjoyed it a few times since.

That night, driven by the memory of its flavor, my taste buds tingled and my stomach growled. Gripping the cart, I plowed through Produce and past Bakery, the thrill of the hunt spurring me on.

On the way, I questioned my fervor. At what point had soup become exciting to me? How long had this craving been simmering? Was it a by-product of age, maybe a post-post-menopausal thing? I still had all my teeth, so that couldn’t be it. Was I excited about all soup or just this particular soup?  (Research for another day, perhaps.)

Ooh, maybe it was a spiritual metaphor of some sort–but what sort?

Arriving at the soup bar, I skidded to a stop. A man about my age was checking things over, making it impossible for me to read the labels on the pots. I pushed my carriage closer. (I barely  bumped him, really.) “Oops, so sorry.”

He looked up. “No problem.”

When he lifted a full ladle to his nose, I recognized the soup and said under my breath, “That’s it! My soup!” I had to stop this interloper before he sniffed-up all the aroma with his sizable schnoz.

nose man

The nose knows.

I inched forward. “Take my word, it’s delicious.”

“Oh.” He reached for an empty pint container.

“Actually, that soup’s the very reason I’m here.” I held fast to my cart and didn’t budge, blocking his view of the quart containers. “They don’t make it often, and when they do, they don’t make enough.” I stared him down. “Like tonight.” Despite my subtlety, I hoped he got the hint and wouldn’t deplete the supply.

He half-filled his pint container, which made it easier for me to be pleasant. “Usually, I buy a full pint and eat half one day, then half the next, you know, never sure when they’ll have it again. Makes cooking for one easier. Have you tried their angus beef chili? That’s pretty good too.”

Despite our riveting, albeit one-sided, conversation, I needed him to hurry it up. I was so hungry, for the first time I could sympathize with Esau’s poor decision.

The man placed a top on his container. “My wife will enjoy it. Yeah, my wife likes soup. I’m bringing some home to my wife right now.” [Emphasis on wifehis.]

Now, I’d been single before, so I knew what he was thinking. And this wasn’t it.

I had a parallel retort in mind: “My husband would enjoy it. Yeah, my husband likes soup. I’d bring some home to my husband right now if my husband wasn’t in the hospital for a stem cell transplant!  How about that Mr. I’m-Married-So-Stop-Hitting-On-Me-Lady?”

But I didn’t say any of that. It would’ve resulted in pity soup–which shrivels the taste buds, constricts the throat, and hurts going down. Besides, eating pity soup would do nothing to expedite my husband’s discharge from the hospital.

Instead I smiled. “Hope your wife enjoys it.” (But not that much.)

By now many of you may be asking, “What kind of soup is it?” and “Where can I find this delightful ambrosia?”

My answer, of course, is, “No way. I’m not telling. NO SOUP FOR YOU!” (Sorry, I’m tired, it’s late, and that was way too easy.*)

soupnazi

“No soup for you!”

Once when Jacob was cooking some stew, Esau came in from the open country, famished.  He said to Jacob, “Quick, let me have some of that red stew! I’m famished!” 

Jacob replied, “First sell me your birthright.”

“Look, I am about to die,” Esau said. “What good is the birthright to me?”

But Jacob said, “Swear to me first.” So he swore an oath to him, selling his birthright to Jacob.

Then Jacob gave Esau some bread and some lentil stew. He ate and drank, and then got up and left. So Esau despised his birthright. ~ Genesis 25:29-34 (NIV)

*Sweet Potato, Quinoa, & Black Bean from Hannaford Supermarket. Enjoy!


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Through a Glass Darkly: The Quilter

As an author, here’s how I see things vs. how they really are. Sort of.

The way I imagined it . . .   

Jeff ConwayRecently, while walking through the Mall of New Hampshire, I noticed a man, probably in his mid-forties, with his hair rolled into a slick pompadour like Jeff Conaway as Kenickie in Grease. He wore a royal purple  satin jacket with knit collar and cuffs. Embroidered in gold on the back were the words “Perth Amboy Foreign Autos.”

A short, sandy-haired woman dressed in a flowered turtleneck and denim jumper held his arm and clogged along loudly beside him. She looked nothing like Stockard Channing as Rizzo.

While the happy couple admired the display of miniature hand-blown glass animals at a kiosk, I “found” them a family.

A trio of tittering pre-teens, windowshopping outside Claire’s, seemed perfect for the role of their daughters. I named them Sephira, Solara, and Sienna.

A 15-ish square-built boy, looking bored near the escalator, became their son. The crotch of his jeans was almost level with his kneecaps. Crippled by this ill-advised design, I dubbed him Yugo.Yugo

They’d traveled all the way up from Perth Amboy, New Jersey for the “Happy to be Scrappy” Ladies of the Lakes Quilters Triennial Quilt Show. It had been held over the weekend at Kingswood High School in Wolfeboro, where “Mrs. Kenickie” had taken first place.blue-ribbon

The family planned to return home directly after the judges’ decision in time to phone friends and family before the news got old. They would’ve, too, but for the nuisance of a dragging muffler on their 1992 Chrysler Town & Country mini van.

Rather than pay for an extra night at Motel 6, they hiked to the mall about a mile from the mechanic’s garage. Before they entered, their kids watched as their proud dad pinned the blue ribbon to their mom’s jumper.

The family whiled away the hours, not bothered by their car trouble, just pleased to be together to celebrate this milestone occasion.

The way it was . . .   

John Travolta hairThe couple, Hank and Betty Dutra, hailed from Raymond, NH. Hank combed his hair this way because twenty-seven years ago Betty told him he kinda looked like John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever.

Hank bought the royal purple satin jacket (practically brand new) with the Perth Amboy logo for $5.00 at Goodwill because he’d never owned anything from Australia before. Betty hated it. He wore it today mainly because she’d made him come to the Mall.

Despite Hank’s jacket and hard-headedness, Betty wanted this day to feel special. That’s why she’d exchanged her comfy sweats for a proper jumper. After all, it was Mall of New Hampshire in Manchester, not Dollar Tree in Raymond.

Used to her everyday sneakers, she clung to Hank’s arm, unsteady in her dress clogs.clogs

As they passed by the kiosk filled with miniature hand-blown glass animals, Betty  whispered to Hank, “Who on earth would pay these prices?”

Hank answered, “Who knows? Maybe the kind of people who live in Hollis and Bedford and Exeter.”

They listened to a trio of girls cackling outside Claire’s and witnessed a teen boy’s jeans slip down to his knees.

Hank shook his head. “Aren’t you glad we have dogs?”

“Don’t forget the chickens,” Betty said. “They might cackle but at least they keep us in eggs.”

flex-seal-liquid_1000After a few hours of browsing, they bought some Flex Seal Liquid Rubber (as seen on TV) so they could repair the used truck bed liner they purchased for their 2016 double cab Ford 2500.

The blue ribbon on Betty’s jumper? It was there when they left the house. She’d taken first place in the “Happy to be Scrappy” Ladies of the Lakes Quilters Triennial Quilt Show held at Kingswood High School in Wolfeboro that weekend.

And Hank made sure everyone in the Mall of New Hampshire knew it.

For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. ~ 1 Corinthians 13:12 (KJV)


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No Steamer Trunk or Man Servants Needed

Before my husband, David, was officially admitted to Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston for treatment for AML (Acute Myeloid Leukemia), his doctor said, “You’ll like the rooms. They’re quite nice.”

Even the nurse doing the pre-admission test agreed. “The doctor’s right. You can decorate any way you want, too.”

That’s all I needed to hear before I started packing everything he and I would need to make it a home away from home. Not that I was silly enough to imagine the Ritz Carleton, but I did wonder whether the style would be more Marriott or more Hampton Inn. Didn’t matter; I was sure I could work with either.

When David realized my intentions, he eliminated the second suitcase and scaled down from an extra large to a medium. By the time he was through, we could have used the small one but for his size 15 slippers.

“I’m going to the hospital,” he said, “not on a fancy cruise. I don’t want to walk in with a steamer trunk and two man servants, saying ‘Nurse! Show me to my stateroom!'”

Davd and Man Servants

I’ve gotta say the medical staff’s idea of a “nice room” is a bit different than what I had envisioned. Everything is white, off white, or gray. Not a pop of color anywhere. Unless you count the red blood cells bag hanging on the rolling pole—which I do count, but not as décor.

I played with the idea of asking my friend (who’d made my matching toaster and mixer covers) to make some stylish covers to hide those unattractive, beeping machines attached to the IV poles. Maybe some throw pillows would be nice. Dumb ideas, I know, but these are the things you think about when you don’t know what to do when someone you love is sick. (Okay, these may be the things I think of, not you.)

Pop & FloSince my husband isn’t allowed to receive flowers, I offered to hang his get well cards up around the room to make it more cheery. He was not interested. Instead he keeps them stacked nearby on a bench near his (white) paper towels. When he wasn’t looking, I was able to rearrange his Pop Tart boxes and Flonase package on his dorm fridge to give the space more color and balance.

Instead of me taking care of David, it’s still the other way around. It took me a few weeks to feel comfortable driving into the city and finding the parking garage. He instructed me on the simplest route, and I’ve stuck with it. I pray daily, “Get thee behind me detours!”Detours

Since I get to park free in the Dana-Farber garage, I have to traverse the maze of additions, bridges, and hallways that connect to Brigham and Women’s.  For the first two weeks, I got lost every day.   Thankfully, I’ve been blessed with a natural dumb look, which alerts security I’m in need. “May I help you?” Presto! I’d be pointed in the right direction! (I’m gonna use that look more often.)

Finally, it was David (the guy who’d been wheeled in on his back on a gurney) who searched online for maps of both hospitals, overlaid and spliced them together, and drew red arrows from one place to the other. When even that seemed overwhelming for me, he gave me a simplified cheat sheet to help me on my way in and another one for my way out. It’s been three weeks now, and I still cheat.

My sense of direction isn’t my only deficiency. It’s the little things I have to remember now because he isn’t with me. The first night back from Boston, I locked myself out of the house. Fortunately, David had thought in advance to give my neighbors a key. More than once, I’ve gone to bed with the TV on because it was his job to shut it off. And, if I wanted a working radio and CD player on my trips to visit, I had to learn to drive the Venza, since that was “David’s car.”

[Speaking of the Venza, did you know you can’t put a desiel hose in its gas tank? I tried, I really did. Those gas station pump people are pretty smart, I tell ya.]

When I thought I lost the Venza fob (keyless thingamabob), David called valet parking and asked them to search for it. In the light of day, I found the little bugger. It had blended into the black-carpeted floor of the car—along with the black gloves and black earmuffs I thought I’d lost the week before. He also apologized to them for me.

And, as you may have guessed, I needed David to do the Photoshop job of himself in actor Michael York’s ensemble from Murder on the Orient Express, and the one of our friend, Jeremiah Peters, as one of his man servants.

I’m all set now because I have a list which I review before I leave the house:

  • David’s clean laundry Check!
  • David’s snacks Check!
  • Lunch for me Check!
  • Phones – both my old dumb one and my new smart one (which I don’t know how to use yet) Check!
  • Fob Check!
  • Sunglasses Check!
  • Electronic parking pass (which I wave randomly at anything bolted to the concrete wall until the gate goes up) Check!
  • Cheat sheet Check!
  • House keys Check!

Before I headed out yesterday, I mentally reviewed my list. Satisfied I had everything on it, I opened the door and stepped into the garage. Something didn’t feel right. I looked down.

I was in my stocking feet.

On a more serious note, even though the effects of chemo are extremely unpleasant, David is coping well emotionally and spiritually. He says of his time in the hospital, “I liken it to my stint in the Navy. I’ll follow orders and do my time until I get discharged.”

As for me, I prefer not to compare David’s hospital stay with his time in the Navy. Why? They kept him for four years! Can you imagine the damage I’d do in that time?

Car in parking garage

Thanks for your well wishes and prayers! Shalom. 

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. ~ 1 Peter 5:7 (NIV)

You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you. ~ Isaiah 26:3 (NIV)

 


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Chances Are I Didn’t Do It

My Christmas Letter: I’m amazed at all the things I DIDN’T do last year.
Winter:

snowvids1I DIDN’T shovel an ounce of the 105 inches of snow we got in the Northeast. It’s hard to shovel snow when you’re in Cancun. Not that I was in Cancun, mind you. But I do live in a condo community with stand-alone homes and low HOA fees–snow removal included. Close enough for me, by golly.

I DIDN’T finish the portrait of my husband I never started. “Why not?” you ask. The answer is simple. We don’t have a fireplace, so where would I hang it? And then there’s this: I can’t draw, not even a short straw.

I DIDN’T dance the cha-cha-cha. Unless you count the mornings I had too much coffee.

Spring:

I DIDN’T quite finish my Fall cleaning.

Not by bicycle.

This is not my bicycle.

I DIDN’T let the strong crosswinds affect me on a 30-mile cycle trip on the Kancamagus Highway. I DIDN’T have one sore muscle. That’s a lie. I did have a few sore muscles, but that was from sleeping on our old mattress. Never been on the Kancamagus myself. Don’t even own a bicycle, and slow speed is too fast for me.

I DIDN’T spit out the car window–not one time. Mainly, because both times the window was closed. [Note to my friend Kellie Parham. You know I’d never do this, so relax.]

Summer:

I DIDN’T go camping. At all. What a shame. (Again, lying here. No shame at all.)

I DIDN’T have the problem of critters spoiling my organic garden. I chose to pay the whole price at Whole Foods and save myself a whole lot of grief.

Prize HogI DIDN’T win a blue ribbon at the fair for my prize hog, Ham. I DIDN’T even go to the fair. Ham and I lounged by the pool that day.

Fall:

I DIDN’T do a scrapbooking page for each of the things I DIDN’T do.

I DIDN’T smack a single person upside the head. (Of course, the year’s not over yet.)

I DIDN’T win the Publisher’s Clearing House Sweepstakes. I felt kinda bad about that for a while. The feeling passed when I realized people might expect me to do exciting stuff with all my money. Like sit and sweat in Cancun. Ride or, worse, hike the Kancamagus. Go camping. Or show off my hog, Ham, at the county fair.

More things I’m thankful I DIDN’T do: 

I DIDN’T give up on getting my first book published–and it happened.

I DIDN’T get sick.

I DIDN’T stop being thankful for my family.

I DIDN’T stop loving and appreciating my husband.

I DIDN’T lose a loved one.

I DIDN’T stop praying.

I DIDN’T stop believing that Jesus Christ is Lord and Savior of the world.

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” ~ Luke 2:8-12 (NIV)

Merry Christmas! Happy New Year!

CJ 02056