“O Be Careful, Little Tongue, What You Say”

“Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things. See how great a forest a little fire kindles!” James 3:5 NKJV

As parents, we choose beautiful or meaningful names for our children. As writers, we choose words that fit our purpose and express our passion.

Words are a God-given means of communication. As with other forms of communication, we can use our words for good or for evil, to heal and to edify, or to wound and to tear down. The words we use, and the way we weave them together, can reveal truth or support lies.

“A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.” I love the imagery of Proverbs 25:11. Good words are precious, a treasure. Wisely used words are of great value, a beautiful work of art.

Spoken or written, the words we use, and the way we put them together, make a difference.  Venues like social media offer an opportunity for great good. We can encourage one another, become aware of each other’s joy or pain, just stay in touch. We are each responsible to control our tongues and/or our pens, or what we say and how we say it.

As a Christian writer, I want my words to reflect God’s beauty, wisdom, and glory. The harsh reality is that we live in a world subject to sin’s corruption. The truth isn’t always pretty, but I want my readers to know the hope that is in Jesus Christ, who gives life and light to the world.

“Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart/Be  acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer.” Psalm 19:14 NKJV

 

 

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To Live Is to Learn

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Learn – “To get knowledge of (a subject) or skill in (an art, trade, etc.) by study,          experience, instruction, etc.” ( Webster’s New World Dictionary of American English, Third College Edition, New York, 1988)

Even before birth, while still in our mother’s womb, we learn to respond to sounds or other stimuli. After birth, we learn from the people around us and our environment.

As long as we’re alive and conscious of the world around us, we continue to learn.

We learn to recognize our parents or our caregiver. We smile. We learn to like and dislike certain foods. We learn to creep, to crawl. and to walk. We coo and babble, imitate sounds, and learn to talk. We communicate and interact with people and our world. We learn right from wrong.

Have you ever heard someone say, “Experience is the greatest teacher.” We learn by doing. I love to read books, not just for enjoyment, but for the information they contain. I appreciate help from another person, who can tell me and show me how to do something. When I learned to sew, my mother and my 4-H leaders were my instructors. They taught me the terms I needed to know, how to follow patterns and instructions, how to use a sewing machine, how to sew seams, make buttonholes, turn up hems.  I, in turn, taught my daughters.  Once I learned how, I learned even more by sewing on my own. Experience helped me improve my sewing skills.

Some learning experiences are not pleasant. Learning about pain and suffering through illness, loss of income, death of loved ones, and the untrustworthiness of people is not enjoyable. But the painful side of learning is necessary for survival in our world. Life is tough. It’s often unfair. God’s perfect creation was marred by sin and its curse when Adam and Eve chose to disobey God in the garden of Eden.

We learn in school by instruction, study, and experience. Good reading material and the example of other couples can help us to face the challenges of marriage. Because each person is different, and each couple relates differently, we learn from experience. And parenting. How many of us have wished for a manual that could tell us the how-to’s of parenting before we actually become parents?  We love our children, but we make mistakes. We sometimes fail our children.  Even the books on parenting and the advice of other parents don’t assure our success.

Writing is communication. I have enjoyed writing for many years. Through the years I have learned English grammar and how to put words together to form coherent sentences, paragraphs, and compositions.  I have taken courses and attended writers conferences to learn from the experts. I’m still learning the art of writing well.

My first published novel, Meadowsong, will be released on November 20, 2018. I’m now learning about editing, publishing, and promoting. How to interest the reader, how to sell my book. It might have been easier to learn all this earlier in life. Not that I’m old.

Since I became a follower of Jesus Christ at the age of eleven, I have learned much about faith and depending on God. I still have a lot to learn. Life doesn’t always bring us what we expect. There are many “bumps in the road,” many disappointments,  many sorrows. Being a Christian doesn’t mean that life will be perfect or that I’ll always do everything right. I’m God’s child, but I won’t reach sinless perfection until I reach heaven. God, however, is my dependable heavenly Father.

I’ll continue to learn as I live.

adult-education-3258944_640

 

 

 

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To Live Is to Learn

 girl-3038974_640

Learn – “To get knowledge of (a subject) or skill in (an art, trade, etc.) by study,          experience, instruction, etc.” ( Webster’s New World Dictionary of American English, Third College Edition, New York, 1988)

Even before birth, while still in our mother’s womb, we learn to respond to sounds or other stimuli. After birth, we learn from the people around us and our environment.

As long as we’re alive and conscious of the world around us, we continue to learn.

We learn to recognize our parents or our caregiver. We smile. We learn to like and dislike certain foods. We learn to creep, to crawl. and to walk. We coo and babble, imitate sounds, and learn to talk. We communicate and interact with people and our world. We learn right from wrong.

Have you ever heard someone say, “Experience is the greatest teacher.” We learn by doing. I love to read books, not just for enjoyment, but for the information they contain. I appreciate help from another person, who can tell me and show me how to do something. When I learned to sew, my mother and my 4-H leaders were my instructors. They taught me the terms I needed to know, how to follow patterns and instructions, how to use a sewing machine, how to sew seams, make buttonholes, turn up hems.  I, in turn, taught my daughters.  Once I learned how, I learned even more by sewing on my own. Experience helped me improve my sewing skills.

Some learning experiences are not pleasant. Learning about pain and suffering through illness, loss of income, death of loved ones, and the untrustworthiness of people is not enjoyable. But the painful side of learning is necessary for survival in our world. Life is tough. It’s often unfair. God’s perfect creation was marred by sin and its curse when Adam and Eve chose to disobey God in the garden of Eden.

We learn in school by instruction, study, and experience. Good reading material and the example of other couples can help us to face the challenges of marriage. Because each person is different, and each couple relates differently, we learn from experience. And parenting. How many of us have wished for a manual that could tell us the how-to’s of parenting before we actually become parents?  We love our children, but we make mistakes. We sometimes fail our children.  Even the books on parenting and the advice of other parents don’t assure our success.

Writing is communication. I have enjoyed writing for many years. Through the years I have learned English grammar and how to put words together to form coherent sentences, paragraphs, and compositions.  I have taken courses and attended writers conferences to learn from the experts. I’m still learning the art of writing well.

My first published novel, Meadowsong, will be released on November 20, 2018. I’m now learning about editing, publishing, and promoting. How to interest the reader, how to sell my book. It might have been easier to learn all this earlier in life. Not that I’m old.

Since I became a follower of Jesus Christ at the age of eleven, I have learned much about faith and depending on God. I still have a lot to learn. Life doesn’t always bring us what we expect. There are many “bumps in the road,” many disappointments,  many sorrows. Being a Christian doesn’t mean that life will be perfect or that I’ll always do everything right. I’m God’s child, but I won’t reach sinless perfection until I reach heaven. God, however, is my dependable heavenly Father.

I’ll continue to learn as I live.

adult-education-3258944_640

 

 

 

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Remembering Rylen

On March 14, 2017, people in the Northeast were digging out from a huge snowstorm. (Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?) My husband, older daughter and I missed that snowstorm. On the Friday before, we had flown to Texas to be with our younger daughter and her husband at Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth, where our grandson Rylen lay dying.

From his mother’s arms into Jesus’ arms, Rylen passed away on March fourteenth of last year.

We first met Rylen on November 15, 2011. Born with hydrocephalus, we didn’t expect more than a hello and a goodbye. But God had other plans.  For nearly five and one-half years, Rylen grew and learned. He loved trains and electronic devices with buttons. He loved going places and being with people. He loved his family and Jesus. He started school in January. He loved that.

And his million-dollar smile lit up the world.

Rylen and his parents faced the challenges of a special needs child with faith and courage. He is gone from us, but his fragrance still lingers.

                       

I have made patchwork quilts for all my grandchildren. Last January  (2017) I began to put Rylen’s quilt together. His quilt became a memory quilt. It includes fabric left from clothes I sewed for him, a train on an orange backing (orange was his favorite color), and a white, black, green, and blue logo with the words “Donate Life.” Rylen’s legacy includes organ donation to six people, children and adults.

Frank and I are now registered organ donors in New York State. Each state has it’s own registry. Perhaps you would consider becoming an organ donor.

On March 14, 2017, the organ donor flag flew between the American flag and Texas flag at Cook’s. We said our goodbyes to Rylen. We miss him, but we know he is well and happy in heaven. And we cling to the hope of seeing him again one day.

 

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A New Destination

Do you remember the first time you said, “When I grow up, I want to be…”?

I wanted to be a nurse, or a teacher, or a singer. God has given me the privilege of being a wife, a mother, and a grandmother.

I nursed my family through illnesses. And I’ve learned to appreciate the care and skills of professional nurses.

I taught Sunday School classes and Bible Clubs, and I homeschooled for twelve years.

I used musical skills in church.

For many years now I have been a writer. I love the sound of words. I love to put words together in a meaningful way.  I have been rewarded with publication a few times.

I want my words to glorify God and help others.

This year marks a new turn in my life journey. On November 20 my first romance novel, Meadowsong, is scheduled to be released by Mantle Rock Publishing out of Benton, KY. Wow!

I want to thank agent Jim Hart for taking me on as a client. And thank you, Kathy Cretsinger for accepting my manuscript for publication.

I still have much to learn.  I’m sure the road will be bumpy at times. But with perseverance and by God’s grace, I will reach my publication destination.

From the sheepfold I’d like to share my life’s verse with you:

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.” Proverbs 3:5,6 NKJ

  

 

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Making Cookies with Mom

My mother has always loved to make cookies. Delectable, homemade cookies where a staple in my childhood home. Even after we all left home, she made cookies. Each cookie on the tray would be exactly the same size. Chocolate chip cookies,thumbprint cookies, chocolate cookies, peanut butter cookies, M&M cookies, sour cream cookies, Christmas cookies. She would provide cookies for every family reunion, and at Christmas she would send out boxes of cookies as gifts. Everybody in the family knew about Grandma’s cookies. She always had cookies in the freezer to serve her guests.

My mother, now 103 years old, is no longer able to make her cookies alone. I’ve had the privilege of helping her. Mostly I do the making and she watches. I can tell how much she wants to do it. She turns on the oven and greases the pans, but her body no longer has the strength to mix the dough.

One day, under her watchful eyes, I mixed up a batch of M&M cookies according to the recipe (I thought). I placed them on the cookie sheets and put them in the oven
for the allotted time. Eek! What happened? We don’t know, except they flopped. I’m not sure whether she ate them or threw them away.

I’m glad to say that we made a batch of sour cream cookies recently that turned out perfect. Many people have never tasted a sour cream cookies. They are melt-in-your- mouth delicious! A family favorite. In honor of my mother, I’m going to share the recipe with you.

SOUR CREAM COOKIES    (bake at 400 degrees F. for 8 minutes) Makes about 4 dozen
1/2 c. butter      1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 c. sugar     1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 eggs                 1 c. sour cream
3 1/4c. flour       1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt

Grease baking pans. Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs and beat. Combine dry ingredients.  Add alternately with sour cream and vanilla. Sprinkle tops with colored sugar, decors, or cinnamon sugar. Bake. Cool. Remove from pan.

ENJOY!

 

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A Home for the Heart (a holiday story) by Beth Westcott

Part 6 (conclusion)

Miranda walked to church on Christmas Eve. She shivered in the nippy air. Last-minute shoppers scurried in and out of shops on Main Street. Greetings of “Merry Christmas” and “Happy Holidays” passed from person to person.

If only the spirit of joy and friendliness could happen every day, she thought. Miranda had loved Christmas as a child, but she hadn’t experienced this kind of joy for a long time.

She wore a forest green velour dress with a cranberry-colored belt and a string of cranberry-colored beads. Her choir robe covered the dress, but she wanted the occasion to feel festive. She sang from the depths of her heart, praying that someone might find God’s love and joy through tonight’s beautiful Christmas music and tomorrow at The Shepherd’s Kitchen.

Several people asked her about Duncan and wished her a Merry Christmas. The choir director and pastor thanked her for singing. She pulled her coat from the hanger, debating whether she would ask a couple she knew for a ride back to her apartment. As she began to slip one arm into a sleeve, someone’s hands took the coat from her.

“Grandpa said a young woman shouldn’t walk home by herself after dark,” said a low voice close to her ear.

“Nate?” Miranda whirled around. “You’re here!” She threw her arms around him. She backed away, blushing. “Oh, I’m sorry.”

Nate smiled and shook his head. “I’m not,” he said softly. “You look lovely tonight.”

“I-I thought–I didn’t expect to see you. I thought you….”

“I went home, but Grandpa was so worried about you and the fact they had to do Christmas dinner at Shepherd’s without him, he convinced me to come.”

He held her coat so she could put it on. As he settled the coat on her shoulders, he let his hands rest there briefly. “I wanted to come. And, by the way, the choir sounded good.”

“Thank you. I love to sing. ” Breathlessly she asked, “Your parents let you come?”

“They were disappointed when I decided to leave.” He chuckled. “My dad thought you were Grandpa’s elderly friend. He thought you had a very young voice for someone so old.”

Miranda might have laughed at his words, but they didn’t fully register to her muddled brain.

The pastor turned off the lights and stood by the door. Miranda buttoned her coat and put on her gloves.

“I think the pastor wants to leave. We’d better go.” They said good night and Merry Christmas to him as they went out.

The cold blast of air made them both shiver

“I have my car, so I’ll drive you home, if that’s okay with you,” Nate said.

She nodded. “Are you going back tonight?”

He tucked her hand under his arm. “No, I got permission to stay in Grandpa’s apartment for a couple of days. And I have orders to bring you home with me over the weekend. Mom and Dad are quite interested in meeting you, especially since they learned you were a young woman. And Grandpa would like you to come.”

Duncan was a safer subject than the meaning of an invitation from his family. “How is your grandfather?”

“He still has a cough, although he’s much better. He’s going crazy because he’s hardly allowed to move from the lounge chair in the living room. But he loves seeing everyone again. And I’m sure he’ll finagle a way to help with Christmas dinner tomorrow.”

He helped her into the car, then he got in the driver’s seat and rubbed his gloved hands together. “Brrr, cold!” He started the engine. Miranda shivered as cold air blasted through the vents. “Sorry about that,” he said, turning the knob to a lower fan setting. “It will get warm in a minute.”

Miranda nodded. Their eyes met and held.  He took her gloved hand. “I’ve wanted so much to see you again. I almost called you, but….”

She sighed. “I wish you had.”

“Grandpa’s neighbors at his apartment house have invited us for breakfast in the community room tomorrow. Will you go with me?”

Her heart beat faster. Nate came and wanted to spend time with her. She nodded. “Yes, I’d be glad to go with you.”

“Will it be all right if I pick you up at seven-thirty?”

Miranda’s heart sang. “Yes, I’ll be ready. I have to be at The Shepherd’s Kitchen by ten to help with set-up.”

“Me, too,” he said.”

#

“Miranda.” Her name sounded like music. “I’d love to spend more time with you tonight. But there’s not a deli or coffee shop open, at least not one where I’d take you. We could take a walk, but as cold as it is, I think it would be better to wait until tomorrow.” She nodded. He shifted a little closer to her. “You haven’t given me an answer yet.”

She tipped her head as she searched his face. “Did you ask me something?”

“Remember I said Mom and Dad wanted me to bring you home for the weekend. So…? He looked into her eyes, hoping.

She looked down, rubbing one gloved hand against the other. “I…Do you want me to go home with you?”

He lifted her chin with his fingers. “More than anything.” he reached for her hand. “Grandpa said a girl like you is a treasure that shouldn’t be lost.” He held his breath, willing her to say yes.

She pushed her hair back from her face. “I’ll go with you, as long as I won’t be intruding.”

He breathed again. “My parents want you to come. You’re highly recommended by Grandpa, you know.”

Miranda relaxed and a smile lit her face. “I like you, Nate MacAllister, a whole lot. You and your grandfather are two of a kind.”

He touched her cheek. “I consider that a compliment, Miranda Winters.” He smiled. “I’d better get you home. We’ll spend tomorrow together.”

“Yes, tomorrow,” she whispered.

THE END

 

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