Tuesday, November 18, 2014

All About Grammas and Grammar

“The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry.”  That pretty much sums up my life. It probably wouldn’t be as much of a problem if I wasn’t a procrastinator. And exactly what kind of plans do mice make anyway?

I love everything about this time of year – Halloween through the New Years – especially Thanksgiving and Christmas. But my family is so huge that I usually work myself into a frazzle. After cooking, baking and planning a big family celebration for my husband, Jeff’s, 50th birthday this past Sunday, I decided this week I would drag in the tubs from the garage and sort through them. I mean, that shindig on Sunday didn’t wear me out enough, right?

These tubs contain gifts I’ve collected all year because my gift-giving list for Christmas is enormous. But I get a text Sunday night asking can I watch my five-year-old granddaughter, Jocelyn, because she’s sick and can’t go to pre-school. Jocelyn thinks my purpose on earth is to entertain and play with her every minute she’s here.

Yesterday amidst making cookies with Jocelyn (her idea, not mine), I get a phone call from Miranda asking can I pick up my five-year-old great-granddaughter, Ariana, from school. Uh, sure! I mean, I am Super-Mimi and I seriously do love all my kids, grandkids, and great-grandkids more than words can say.

Between the chaotic mess of two little girls – who aren’t all that sick – and mystery tubs scattered around, my house looked like a tornado hit it by the time my husband, Jeff, got home from work yesterday. And I looked like the tornado was still sweeping over me.

This whole process with Jocelyn and Ariana is repeated today. My morning consists of, “I don’t want Fruit Loops like Jocelyn. I want Coco Puffs” – “What are you making, Mimi? Pumpkin pies? Yay, can we help? How come? Then can we make cookies?” – “Can we have marshmallows? This isn’t too many" (said through giggles and chipmunk-cheeks stuffed with marshmallows). – “I’m still hungry after marshmallows. Can I have M&M’s? Why not? No, I’m not hyper, Mimi.” – “Can we go outside and jump on the trampoline?”

Today is officially Jeff’s birthday, so despite the chaos, I decided to send him a mushy text in the manner of that book Love You Forever. My text:  “Happy birthday to my precious, wonderful husband. I’ll love you forever, I’ll like you for always, as long as I’m alive, my husband you’ll be.”  After hitting send, it was back to pie making. I heard my phone ding. Jeff: “I love you, too. Who’s Alice?”

Alice?  Stupid autocorrect changed alive to Alice. “As long as I’m Alice, my husband you’ll be.” Stupid autocorrect also recently changed my facebook post from, “We’re on our way to the RWA (Romance Writers of America),” to, “We’re on our way to Rwanda.”  As if I have time for foreign travel.

Back to pie making. Seriously, whose idea was it for ME to bake a pumpkin pie to celebrate Joy’s birthday at our blog group tomorrow? Not me. Or maybe it was me. Anyway, then on to overseeing Jocelyn and Ariana as they rolled out, cut, baked then decorated cookie dough. Oh, and can I pleeeaaase help them built a house with Legos. And please take our picture on the trampoline. I should feel so good when I’m sick. I can barely jump on the trampoline when I’m well.

What’s a Mimi to do, huh? Well, for now, I need to get a birthday gift together for Joy, fix myself up so Jeff and I can go visit some friends, then to dinner with the hunky birthday man. That is, after these adorable girls get picked up.

Just call me Alice. Maybe her plans never go awry, I think, as my gaze travels over these darn tubs.


Tuesday, November 11, 2014

I Could Be A Reality Star

Do you watch reality television shows? I could be a reality star. Honestly, it seems it doesn’t take much to be on reality television nowadays. You can even have your own reality show. In the 1960’s I missed my chance, I guess. Teen mom – that was me. Teen Mom on MTV seems to be fairly popular. Who knew back then?

Those girls have nothing on me. I had my third baby when I was nineteen years old. My first, Tammy, was born when I was sixteen, a month before my seventeenth birthday. I guess I was kind of unique in that I was married and was not pregnant when I got married. I was….a virgin when I got married.

Somehow I survived – my babies did too – without much help from anyone except for friendly advice and the occasional offer to babysit. You know what else? My friend, Sande, did too. We were both teen moms with three babies.

We had no idea that what we were doing could someday be viewed as a potential for stardom. We spooned baby food into tiny mouths, rinse and washed soiled diapers (there wasn’t such a thing as disposable diapers), rocked cranky or sick babies, went without sleep, did laundry that we hung outside to dry, and juggled schedules while keeping our sanity.

We did it because we wanted to be mommies. I can’t imagine being a teenager and doing all of those mother things in front of a television camera. I value my privacy. I can’t imagine, either, that anyone behaves as they normally would without a camera recording it all.

I had two more babies – five children total – by the time I was twenty five. I did it all without a – television show. And that’s not the only reality show my life could fit. I am – was – a cougar before I even knew there was such a thing. I recently celebrated my twentieth anniversary to Jeff, who is sixteen and a half years younger than me – a second marriage for both of us.


But that’s a story for another time. 

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Pecans and Pumpkins or How To Waste Not

What is a poverty mentality? If I didn’t coin the phrase, I should have. My definition of poverty mentality as it pertains to me is that I can’t stand to waste anything.

I grew up poor, only I didn’t realize we were poor. Mom was the queen of recycling – before it became popular – and resourcefulness. She made use of everything, either for our own needs or to sell. Fortunately or unfortunately, I am like her. Fortunately, because I can stretch a dollar until it rips, or unfortunately, because I find it hard to throw anything away. I am a smidgen of a hoarder. Think of that reality television show Hoarders. NO – that is not me.

I was recently in Stephenville, Texas visiting family. There are pecan trees all over Stephenville. Pecans lay in yards and on sidewalks and streets. Many people use them but many pecans go to waste. People step on them without giving it a thought. Think of fingernails on chalkboard. That was me, cringing whenever a pecan was stepped on.

I did come home with a big bag of unshelled pecans, compliments of some friends there.  But it was all I could do at times to keep walking over pecan lying on the ground or sidewalks. I wanted to holler, “Stop! Wait!” to my family while I scooped pecans into my purse. All I could think of was how much I pay for walnuts and pecans, especially this time of year when I do so much holiday baking. To see pecans wasted caused me to hyperventilate and have heart palpitations. I thought I’d swoon just like Scarlett in Gone With The Wind.

I made it home without having heart failure.

I bought three LARGE pumpkins before Halloween. I’ve never done that before, but I needed them for my Trunk R Treat theme at church. Well, Nifty-Thrifty me can’t let those pumpkins go to waste.

I discovered I am not a pioneer or pilgrim woman. My shoulder is sore from carving those pumpkins to cook. My kitchen floor had more than one disaster of spilled cooked pumpkin. I swear pumpkin seeds are like insects – they just crawl off and end up all over the place. I made six pumpkin pies today and that was just from one pumpkin. I cooked another pumpkin today. Ugh! I have one more pumpkin to cut and cook. Maybe I’ll throw it away.

NO, I won’t. My poverty mentality won’t let me. There are starving people in other countries – even in my country. God bless the USA!

And why am I bothering with pumpkins? I am knee deep in NaNoWriMo – National Writing Month. I have a word count to meet. Pumpkins or writing? Grrrr. I'm so torn.  

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Lone Star State

Texas! I think if I had to pick another state to live in besides my beloved Arizona, it would be Texas. Perhaps it is my misconception, but it seems friendlier to the gospel (more church signs and billboards about God/Jesus/faith/Christianity). For the most part, the landscape is beautiful.

My dad, God rest his soul, was from Texas. I love the Texan accent. I think I’ll write a a book based in Texas. Oh, wait, I am doing that already.

We are currently in Texas in a smaller town of Stephenville. We’re visiting our son, Jason, his wife, Danielle, and granddaughter, Kate. We stay at Danielle’s grandparents’ bed and breakfast. I’m not a bed and breakfast kind of person, but Marlene and Ed have become great friends.

This is all the perfect setting for a novel. Are other writers like me? I view everything now through the eyes of novel settings. On our trips to Stephenville, we fly into the Dallas airport, rent a car and drive to Stephenville. To get to Stephenville, we pass through the small town of Tolar, population 681. It looks like a town that has endured hard times, at least from the appearance of abandoned, dilapidated buildings on the main street. All I think about when we pass through is the possible story plots.

Or how about the current Ebola threat in America? On our flight from Phoenix to Dallas, the passenger aboard the plane in the seat directly in front of us was wearing a particle/germ mask over his mouth and nose. I whisper to my husband, “Is he afraid of catching something or spreading something?” All the possible story plots from that alone are endless. Besides the fact it truly did concern me.


Keep your eyes and ears open, and a notebook handy for jotting notes. Story plots are around us every day and everywhere. I love to get story plots from the sermons our pastor preaches. I’m constantly scribbling during Sunday services. 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

When The World Spins Out of Control!

Everyday there is something in the news that causes fear among the people of our nation. Diseases, terrorists, economics, political battles, special interest group agendas, and the list goes on. 

As Christians now is not the time to let down on our prayers. We should be praying and bombarding heaven as never before. But do we? I'm as guilty as anyone of allowing "things" to distract me. Some days I just can't seem to muster the energy or time to pray.

God forgive me!

I have a large family. Yes, I know I've said that before. But in a family my size, there will always be a crisis, circumstance, or a need that needs God's intervention. Often we don't even realize what's going on. 

BUT! God, the Holy Spirit, always knows. Have you ever been praying and begin to weep and travail without understanding why? I do, frequently! Probably because my family is so large and the Spirit is prompting me to pray for something I'm unaware of. Sometimes I weep in prayer over things I am aware of. 

Romans 8: 26 (NIV) In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.
Philippians 4: 6 (NIV) Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

In 1 Thessalonians 5:17, we're told to pray without ceasing. Of course we can't pray 24 hours a day, but God is instructing us to always be in an attitude of prayer as we function throughout our normal day activities. You can breathe a prayer or pray in your mind at any time and anywhere. 

Please, during these troublesome times, I encourage you to not let down your prayer guard. We need to be praying like never before. 


Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Overcoming Failure

Reading a book isn’t like watching a movie. You get a visual image in a movie, but in a book, the writer strives to create a visual image for you through words. In a movie, you see facial expressions, what a person looks like, whether it’s day or night. A writer has to tell you those things.

So much can be determined about a person’s state of mind by their body language, the things they say, their facial expressions, and their eyes.

He gave so much away by all the things I just mentioned. It was easy to detect the despair he felt, the hopelessness. He was a co-worker when I worked at Teen Challenge – an international faith-based ministry that helps individuals with drug, alcohol and other life-controlling issues and addictions.

Although I wasn’t one that had, most employees are those who have previously gone through the rehabilitation program. This young man had come to be on staff in Arizona after completing a Teen Challenge back east.

A nice young man, he did very well for awhile. Then he was gone, just took off and no one knew where he was.  After several days, someone reported seeing him in a dive motel across town. Some of our guys went to rescue him. He had fallen – fallen to the lure of prostitutes and drugs. When they brought him back, he was a mess.

Teen Challenge is all about restoring people with God’s help, but this young man could not overcome the shame of his failure. It was a cloak he put on himself. Everyone was showing him love and compassion. I’d pass him several times a day. The slump of his body, his countenance and demeanor said it all. He was ashamed and discouraged. He kept his head hung and wouldn’t look you in the eyes when you spoke to him.

One day I said, “Why are you allowing your failure to beat you down like this? God forgives and restores. Accept that. We all love you. Others here have fallen. You're not the only one.”

Unable to overcome his shame, he left. Weeks later, our director received a phone call from a motel manager up the street. This young man had been found in his room dead from a drug overdose. He had been dead for a few days before they discovered him. I had already gone home for the day when another co-worker called to tell me. I laid my head on the kitchen table and sobbed.


Failure isn’t the final say in our lives unless we allow it to be. Are you discouraged? Do you feel defeated, ashamed, humiliated, desperate, hopeless? God is able to bring hope and joy and peace into your life. It might not be instantaneous, but if you allow Him to help you, it will come. 

There but for the grace of God go any of us. 

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

To Fear or Not To Fear

I was at a church women’s conference recently (AZWI Retreat) and the speaker asked us to think of what our fears are, then take them symbolically into our hands and offer them to God.

I had to really think on that for a moment. What do I consider a legitimate, debilitating fear in my life? I have normal fears, or I guess concern is a better word. I don’t want one of my loved-ones to die before me. I don’t want to suffer a painful or slow agonizing death, nor do I want a loved one to go through that. I don’t want to suffer poverty to the point of being hungry or homeless. I don’t want my husband to stop loving me and leave. I don’t want someone I love to hate me.

Some basic fear is good. It’s what causes us to take fight or flight when danger threatens. But what do I really fear? And is that fear healthy? I finally concluded that I fear that when I’m gone, who will stand in the gap for my family in prayer. Who will carry the burden and longing to see that everyone makes it to heaven?

I also concluded that there are so many things out of our control. For those things we can’t control, we have to trust God. And use the knowledge and wisdom He’s given us. If I’m walking in the woods and see a bear in the distance, I don’t keep walking towards it because.....well, I’m trusting God. I turn and walk or run in the opposite direction. Maybe that’s a silly analogy, but you get my point.


Other than God, family, and friends, my focus at this juncture in my life is my writing. I do care and have a concern that my writing will fail to bear fruit. But that is definitely when I need to trust God. 

Do you have a fear? Is it a normal fear, or an obsessive one?