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16 Jan

Jared repairing his broken XBox 360







   give up.”

  ~ Winston Churchill


Excuses, Excuses

14 Jan

Well, I made it twelve days without breaking my New Year’s resolution of posting every day about something that makes me smile. But then Friday the 13th did me in.

I did post yesterday, but it was not about a smile. In fact, what I posted was actually quite depressing to write. I get a little too deep into my characters sometimes, and that character in particular tends to suck all the happy right out of me. I could come up with a million more excuses — I was cleaning my disaster of a house, I had a headache, work has been draining my brain — yadda yadda. All of it true, but none of it a reason not to smile.

I probably did smile yesterday. Once. I think. I don’t remember for sure. I was pretty crabby.

My house is still a bit of a disaster, the kids are exceptionally loud, the television in the background even louder. I missed supper because I got called into work. Blake Shelton’s in town and I’m not within kissing distance. Yeah, I’m still kinda cranky. But when I look at these two furry faces, both of them stubbornly refusing to get out of my chair, I can’t help but roll my eyes at how damn cute they are.

And smile.


Smile #12 ~ Generations

12 Jan

     “Generations pass like leaves fall from our family tree.

      Each season new life blossoms and grows,

     benefiting from the strength and experience

     of those who went before.” ~ Heidi Swapp

Smile #11 ~ INFP

11 Jan

The more I write, the more I have come to realize that one of my greatest challenges is consistency of character. As I go through and edit, I find I have inserted my own personality into my characters’ thoughts, their actions, their emotions. Even their dialogue. My workaholics become procrastinating coffee-addicts. My girly-girls poo-poo their heels and start lounging around in jeans and flip-flops. My tough guys cry. It would be easy (and awesome!) to write a novel full of little mini-mes, running amuck in my imaginary land, but one personality living in harmony with itself does not make the world go round. In all honesty, if I ever happened to find myself surrounded by a whole bunch of me, it would probably be far from harmonious. I can be a bit of a handful sometimes. It takes a personality like my husband’s to balance me out and keep my world on an even keel.

The best thing about people is how different we are from one another.  We see different. Taste different. Speak of different things in different languages. We hold different beliefs, want for different things, act and re-act in different ways. We love one another because of these differences. Unfortunately, our difference are also why we fight with one another. We don’t understand different. Different can be scary, especially when one who is different than us tries to strip away our differences and turn us into something that more resembles them. We go to war to make countries of mini-mes because ‘I’ am not scared of ‘me.’ I understand me. I find comfort in me. It is you who is different, so it is you who must change.

But is change even possible? According to the experts, personalities are already established at birth. Society can influence you, but not completely alter you. We have to embrace our differences and learn to live together.

In order to better understand the differences between myself and others, I must first better understand myself. And, by knowing who I am, I can identify which of my fictional characters’ personality traits are true, and which are mere reflections of myself.  At least that was my reasoning when I sat down to take The Keirsey Temperament Sorter personality test this afternoon. Seventy, quick, easy, painless, multiple-choice questions…. “Is it better to be (a) just or (b) merciful”… “Waiting in line, do you (a) chat with others or (b) stick to business”… It took about ten minutes to answer the questions, another ten to tally up the score, and then I was off to the Myers-Briggs website to look up what the heck INFP meant! This is who they say I am:

“Idealistic, loyal to their values and to people who are important to them. Want an external life that is congruent with their values. Curious, quick to see possibilities, can be catalysts for implementing ideas. Seek to understand people and to help them fulfill their potential. Adaptable, flexible, and accepting unless a value is threatened.”

Cool. But I needed more. A lot more. I wanted to truly understand what makes me “Me.” According to Keirsey, INFP translates to Healer:

“Healers live a fantasy-filled childhood…”

“They have a gift for interpreting stories, as well as for creating them, and thus often write in lyric, poetic fashion….”

“Healers are adaptable, welcome new ideas and new information, are patient with complicated situations, but impatient with routine details….”

“Healers have very high standards. Consequently, they are usually hard on themselves, and don’t give themselves enough credit….”

“Healers can be both extremely romantic and extremely independent. They are likely to want a mate who won’t shrink from their expansive imagination…..”

*cue dramatic music, beam of light* Ahhhhh!

Finally, someone managed to explain me! I felt as though I was reading my biography. I tried showing it to my husband, “See? See? This is why I do what I do! Why I am who I am!” But he wasn’t interested. He says personality tests are no different than horoscopes, written to mimic just enough of everyone so they apply to all who read them. Hrmp! Maybe he’s right, but I’m a compassionate, adaptable, accepting, devoted, and imaginative Pieces, and proud of it!

“I know there is strength in the differences between us. I know there is comfort where they overlap.” ~Ani DiFranco

Smile #9 ~ A Full Pantry

9 Jan

Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. James 2:15-17

A few short months ago, the shelves of the food pantry in the church basement were almost bare. The summer was hot, the need was high, and donations were few and far between. We had canned corn and green beans coming out of our ears, but the stores of canned meats, canned fruits, paper products, personal hygiene items, dried beans and rice were all but depleted. On any given day, we didn’t even have a jar of peanut butter to hand out. For every box of cereal that came in, we had three hungry families in need of one. Sure, there was always the option of writing out a voucher for the local grocery store, but a voucher does not stretch as far as a box of food does. Not even close. Every voucher written takes away from the funds used to assist with utility bills, rent, emergency shelter for transients, and those coffers are extremely slow to replenish.

The Food Pantry in the church where I work is a joint venture of the local Catholic, Lutheran, Methodist and Presbyterian churches, and serves a county with a population of just under 10,000 people. If every person in the county donated just one dollar a year, the shelves would never be bare. The lights would never be out. The heat would always be on. We could very easily have kept each other fed, sheltered, but we didn’t.

It took a class of kindergarteners to remind us how to care for one another.

At the beginning of the school year, the kindergarten classes at the local elementary school organized the mother of all food drives. The entire school participated, calling on parents, friends, family, neighbors and strangers, encouraging them to donate whatever they could spare — a can of peas, a box of granola bars, a tube of toothpaste. Anything. The response was overwhelming. Carload after carload of food paraded into the pantry, filling the shelves that had been bare for way too long.

But it didn’t stop there.

Whether inspired by the children, or by something inside themselves, organizations, businesses, and individual families all pitched in and donated like they never have before. Throughout the fall and into the holiday season, heavily laden boxes of food, warm winter clothes, and monetary donations came into the pantry. They are still coming in. Just today I received another call from another family asking, “What do you need? We would like to help.”  For as long as those calls continue to come in, I will continue to smile, knowing we are all in good hands.

Suggested items to donate to your local Food Pantry:

Canned tuna, canned chicken, soups and stews, chili, canned or dried beans, peanut butter, canned nuts, canned vegetables and fruits, dried fruits, spaghetti sauce, fruit juice, powdered milk, applesauce, rice, canned pasta meals, dried pasta, whole-grain crackers, cold cereal, oatmeal, baby food, formula, dried milk, pudding mixes, baking goods (flour, sugars, oils), pancake mixes, bread mixes, graham crackers, diapers, personal hygiene items, household cleaning supplies.




Smile #7 ~ Happiness Is…

7 Jan

“Happiness is like a butterfly.

The more you chase it, the more it eludes you.

But if you turn your attention to other things,

It comes and sits softly on your shoulder.”

~ Henry David Thoreau

Smile #5 ~ 68 Degrees… in January!

5 Jan

My post is going to be really short and sweet today because amazing weather like today’s happens… well, never! At least not in January in Nebraska! The sun is shining, wind is calm, and the high for the day was 68 degrees. SIXTY-EIGHT! Our average high on Jan 5th is 34 degrees. I’ll spare you the math, but that’s double the average high.  Time to break out the shorts and tan up my blinding-white winter legs. Ha ha! Just kidding. I’ll wait until April to unleash these pasty puppies on the world. I did open the windows the instant I can home from work though. Love fresh air!

Of course, the weather was a hot topic of conversation for everyone, but this was the best line I heard all day:

“A day like this truly is a gift from God.”

“No, I have a feeling someone else had a hand in it — You wouldn’t believe all the trouble I’ve been itching to get into since I’ve stepped outside!!”  🙂

Even if this day is the devil’s doing, I hope you all are enjoying a little bit of  sunshine and warmth wherever you are!