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While doing some research for a writing project I started looking for quotes from famous American women. There were MANY but these four jumped out at me.
Each one inspires me to keep on going regardless of the challenges that life brings. I hope they will drop a bit of courage and hope into your life too.
I’ve been writing since the mid-70s and here I am decades later still plugging away.
I started on a Royal typewriter that my parents gave me for a high school graduation present–so I’d be ready for college.
Today my college-age grandchildren receive feather-weight laptops. Oh how things have changed.
I went from the manual typewriter to an electric typewriter to a word processor to a clunky computer to the laptop I work on today.
Technology gets ahead of me and then just as I catch up, it takes another leap. And on it goes. This is probably true in your life too.
But as I reflect on the writing gift I’ve been blessed with I’m humbled and so grateful. I’ve been able to write and teach for a living–skinny as that ‘living’ was at times, to share my ideas, thoughts, and observations and enjoy a faithful readership over the years.
Thank you for being my readers, however much or little you’ve read of what I’ve laid down. Without you my career would have crashed! Because of you and the grace of God I am thriving even as I’m at 40+ years and counting.
“My purpose is to give you life in all its fullness.” (John 10:10)
P.S. What is your special gift? And how have you used it to bless others?
“Karen, the dryer won’t shut off!”
I rushed out of the bedroom, down the hall, and into the laundry room. “What are you talking about? This is a brand-new machine.”
“I’m telling you,” shouted my husband Charles, “the darned thing keeps going and going. I don’t know what happened. I tossed in a load of clothes and now . . . well, listen for yourself.”
I opened the door of the dryer. The drum was still. No motion whatsoever, and yet I could hear a peculiar soft hum in the background. How unnerving. One more thing to handle in a week that was already bulging with problems and challenges as we moved into our new home.
Charles looked at his watch. “Too late for a repair call now. We’ll have to get on this ﬁrst thing in the morning. It’s a good thing it’s under warranty.”
“Wait!” I snapped my ﬁngers. “The circuit breaker box. Let’s try to shut it off by tripping the breaker. At least that way we won’t be in any danger from something overheating or shorting out.”
“Great idea!” Charles opened the metal box and ran his ﬁnger down the names of appliances and rooms. When he reached “dryer” he clicked the switch to OFF. But nothing changed. The faint hum persisted.
I felt my pulse jump. It was nearly 10:00. We were about to go to bed for much-needed sleep and now this. I tapped Charles on the arm. “Let’s pray about this. We need Holy Spirit wisdom to get through the night.”
We prayed and then slipped into bed. But ﬁrst Charles propped open the door to the dryer in case it might overheat while we were asleep.
The next morning, after a ﬁtful night of getting up and down checking to see if I smelled smoke, Charles called the appliance company. The service rep was confounded. She’d never heard of a dryer not shutting off, especially when someone tripped the breaker. She made an appointment for a technician to come out right away because this was an emergency.
That afternoon a young man in a blue work jacket with the name Jason sewed to the front pocket showed up at our door. He pulled out the dryer, checked all points, and tinkered with this and that while Charles and I stood aside, nearly holding our breath.
Then he stood up and shook his head from side to side. “This dryer is in perfect condition,” he said. “I don’t know what to tell you. I hear the noise too, but it’s not the dryer, you can be sure of that.”
My voice bumped up an octave. “No, we can’t!” I blurted. “I’ve been up half the night with worry. You can’t leave till you help us. What are we going to do? I have company coming next week, and we’ll have extra laundry for days.”
Jason breathed a sigh, and then brushed his hand over a set of switches next to the counter on the right side of the dryer. Click! Click! Click! The moment he touched the third one, the whirring noise ceased—just like that.
“What did you do?” Charles asked.
“Amazing!” I exclaimed.
“Looks as if this third switch is a fan of some kind,” the young man said. “Not sure where it goes, but it doesn’t have anything to do with the dryer.”
I slumped against the wall behind me. “Thank you. I’m totally embarrassed but completely thankful too.” My face turned pink.
“I’m the culprit,” Charles admitted. “Guess I bumped the switch this morning when I opened the cabinet above.”
The three of us had a good laugh as Jason packed up his toolbox. “There’s no charge,” the young repairman said. “It seems this fan is there to cool off the dryer as it spins. But it’s not from our company.”
I sighed in relief. Apparently it came with the house!
Charles reached into his pocket, pulled out a five-dollar bill and pressed it into Jason’s free hand. “Have a coffee or a Coke on us,” he said. “We’re heading back to bed for a good day’s sleep!”
Make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge (2 Peter 1:5).
I’ve made a few U-Turns in my life, and I imagine I’ll make a few more—and not just at a stoplight. But I’m concerned with a different kind these days. I call them You Turns. I notice as I grow older that I’m more concerned with ‘you’ than I am with myself. What a refreshing observation that is. I’m sure if my mother were still alive (It’s the anniversary of her birthday today!) she’d like knowing that. I remember a time in high school when she said with conviction, “The whole world doesn’t revolve around you, Karen. You just might want to focus on others for a change.”
Now why didn’t I think of that? Probably because I was 15 at the time and really did believe the whole world revolved around me.
Today it’s fun to see how many You Turns I can make.
I feel good when I make You Turns. And I can tell that others like it when I do. One You Turn can lead to another and another until suddenly it becomes a habit to move from self-centered to selfless. I think I’ll stay the course. I like this new direction. My life is becoming brighter and I see the love of Jesus brightening the lives of those around me.
“We love because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19).
I shop for some of my groceries at Nob Hill Foods. Sometimes I refer to it as Snob Hill because the prices are a bit higher than Save-a-Lot, but I love the atmosphere, the wide selection of organic produce, and the many familiar health food brands that I favor.
Some time ago I pulled into the parking lot in front of the store, in a hurry, as usual, and did not make a note of the space I chose. I simply dashed in, bought more than I came for, what else is new, and rushed through the check stand. As I wheeled my cart out the front door, a young man headed me off. “May I help you to your car?”
I smiled but waved him off. “It’s okay. I can manage. Only two bags. No problem.”
He took the cart right out of my capable hands.
“I insist. Besides, I like getting out in the fresh air.”
I tried to talk him out of it, but he’d have none of my persuasive chatter.
Then my heart pounded—FAST! I had forgotten where I’d parked. Darn! If only I’d stop and pay attention this wouldn’t happen so often. I was caught. As the man waited for me to direct him to my car, I admitted my memory lapse.
“Good,” he said. “It will take longer.” Then he winked and nudged me with a shoulder. “Is that why you didn’t want me to help you out?”
“No,” I lied. “I just didn’t want to take you away from your work.”
He smiled—knowingly. I guess he’d heard that line before—from other grayheads like me. “What does your car look like?”
Look like? It looks like it’s lost—that’s what!
I pasted a smile on my face. “Gray, like my hair. A wagon with a rack on top.”
He spotted it and within a moment he packed my bags in the trunk, my face returned from red to white, and I was on my way. Drat! No wonder I’ve had no trouble writing for the over-50 crowd. All I have to do is live my life, take a few notes, and presto, I have a book! Help, Lord! I’m Having a Senior Moment and many more.
They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green (Psalm 92:14).
I stepped outside my house. It was time to face reality. I had to hire a contractor to tear out and replace the worn wooden railings and banister and steps with a fresh look and new materials.. But oh the cost!
I had put off the job for over a year but now I faced increasing dry rot in the corners if I didn’t act now!
And so I did. I found a company whose workers I liked. The price was within my budget and the owner’s vision for the final outcome lined up with mine.
Next came the task of deciding on the kind of wood and stone to use. That got my heart pounding. I’d rather write an entire book than face decisions that required knowledge I didn’t readily have.
Where was Charles when I needed him? Oh that’s right–in heaven. 🙂 I pressed on, learned a ton about wood and stone and style and durability and a whole lot more. The original builders had used reclaimed wood so it was definitely showing its age.
And so I forged ahead and below is the result. I am more than happy. I’m thrilled! Not only does my front porch look lovely but I walked through a minefield of decisions and came out all right.
God was my partner as I sorted out what to do, what not to do, and how to manage my anxiety. After this experience, I feel even closer to our Lord who never leaves nor forsakes us.
I realize that not every woman would react as I did. We each have our own threshold of worry and fear but the point is that God meets us where we are and leads us from that point on. We serve an awesome God. And I have a beautiful new front porch as just one example.
“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
I will counsel you with my eye upon you.” (Psalm 32:8)
“Peachy desserts,” boasted the sign in the window of a local coffee shop. I couldn’t resist. Fresh peaches are among my favorite fruits—especially during peach season, which is all summer long where I live in California. I walked in, sat down at the counter, and reached for the dessert menu. My mouth watered just reading the list.
I wanted to sample every one of them. But I reined in my desire and settled for the top of the list—peach pie. Hmmm! With a cup of hot tea it would be just what I needed after a long morning at my computer and the prospect of more work to do all afternoon.
“Hi, I’m Sandy,” said a bright young woman with a ponytail swinging down her back. “I’ll be your server today. What can I get you?”
I looked up and smiled. “A slice of peach pie.”
“Good choice,” she offered. “This is the best season for peaches in a long time.” At that point I considered making it a double—or adding cobbler or crumble to my order.
“Warm or cold?” she asked.
“Warm sounds wonderful.”
“Plain or a la mode?”
“A la mode!”
“Ice cream or whipped cream?”
“Cinnamon and nuts?”
“Sure. The works. Why not?”
I giggled nervously. Oh my. Too many choices, I thought. I came in for a single piece of pie. I’d wanted to forget decision-making and just dive into a luscious dessert.
Sandy nodded and off she went. She returned a couple of moments later with a massive slice smothered in fresh whipped cream, which melted down, in, and around the warm pie. Cinnamon and bits of pecans dotted the high, white mound. I rolled my eyes. This was a bit of heaven to be sure.
I put a forkful into my mouth and savored the mixture of tart and sweet, crisp and creamy and savory—all at once.
“This is living,” I mumbled under my breath. Then I laughed aloud at the wisdom of my remark. It is living. In fact, eating pie is a whole lot like living. God serves up a slice of life every day and then asks us how we’d like it. Will we order it warm or cold, plain or a la mode? Something to consider, isn’t it? Will we enjoy life with His love and topped with His sweet presence or will we take it plain and miss the extras He so generously offers: peace, patience, and joy? I want all He has for my life. How about you for yours?
Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap (Luke 6:38).
I looked up from my computer and realized I had been sitting for three hours without a break. My water bottle was empty, and my tea was down to the last drop. I walked into the kitchen and pushed a button on the refrigerator door. Clear, cold water gushed into my glass. How easy it was to satisfy my thirst.
As I walked back to my desk I thought about my Kurdish friend Amina who stood in line for hours in freezing temperatures in a refugee camp in Turkey waiting for a small ration of water each day for her family of six. And I remember my daughter telling me about the women she met in Zaire, Africa, who walked each day to the river to ﬁll their jars.
As for baths and showers, they’re rare among millions of people around the globe. Yet I can take two a day in hot weather if I wish to. I can swim at the local pool, water my lawn, play tag in the sprinklers with my grandkids, and freeze water into cubes to cool a drink.
Such showers of blessings! Blessings I often take for granted because I’ve never been without them. With such abundance can come complacency. How easy to overlook what God provides so conveniently—even to overlook the Lord Himself in my rush to get back to business.
Like the woman at the well, we may have our eyes on water to quench today’s thirst or to refresh our bodies so we can return to our chores or our playtime. But Jesus says that if we ask Him for a drink, He will satisfy us forever with living water, with Himself. How foolish we would be to pass up such an invitation!
HAPPY FOURTH OF JULY, EVERYONE, WHERE SHOWERS OF BLESSINGS ARE OURS HERE IN THE LAND OF THE FREE AND THE BRAVE! May we never take our freedom for granted.
If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water (John 4:10).
Today I walked around the block a few times for exercise as I do everyday. But I saw something new–a pile of boxes and papers and books and furniture strewn all over the driveway and open garage of the house of one of my neighbors who had moved into our community the same month I did, when the homes were built eleven years ago. I knew something was wrong. I wondered if she was moving or cleaning house or worse case–had died.
I stopped to talk to a young man coming toward his car and he told me Pat had passed away a month ago of cancer. He was one of her employees. Then I knocked on the front door and introduced myself to Pat’s sister who was taking stock of all the belongings and having to make the difficult decision of what to keep, to sell, to give way.
As I strolled home I was struck by how close you can be to someone in terms of location and yet so far away day to day. Pat and I had been walking buddies for several months when we moved to this area but then life took over–work, family, travel, stuff! We drifted apart and several years went by when we didn’t even run into each other.
Then suddenly about two months ago Pat was pulling into her driveway while I was walking by and we stopped and caught up, though she did not reveal her illness. She invited me to stop by sometime and maybe we could walk as we once did. I agreed. I’d watch for her car.
After that I never again saw her car in the driveway so I assumed she was away. She probably was–at a doctor’s appointment or a chemo treatment, but of course I didn’t know at the time.
I’m left today with a sad heart. Pat and I were not close friends by any means, but still she was an older woman living alone as I am now and she was a nice person to meet and share a few walks with when we were both new to the area.
How strange life is sometimes. People come and go in our lives and we come and go in theirs. We never know when it will be over–till it is!
I’m going to try to be more present to the neighbors I still have, and while I still can spread a little love around.
“Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.”
On a recent Saturday I woke up to a blue sky, soft breeze, and warm sunshine spilling through my bedroom window. I knew then it was the perfect day to do what I’d been putting off for weeks. I grabbed a bite of breakfast and headed to the local nursery. I was going to bring home some lovely flowers for my garden and a new plant for my bedroom.
“The earth laughs in flowers.”
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
I was amazed at how happy and well I felt after putting my hands in the dirt, plunging the small plants into the soil and then topping them off with some fertilizer and water. They are coming to life as I write this and each morning when I look outside I feel like doing a happy dance!
“The lovely flowers embarrass me,
They make me regret I am not a bee. ”
~Emily Dickinson, 1864
“I must have flowers, always, and always.”
~ Claude Monet
How wonderful it is to have flowers and plants as friends and neighbors.
They give so much and take so little.
“And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin;”(Matthew 6:28)
To God be the glory!