Tuesday, October 8, 2019

A Season for Everything

My garden teaches me about a life embellished with journeys. Its a time table of the last 6 and a half years of living here. You've seen the pictures of my son and I planting a knee high tree that is now feet over our heads.

My garden also shows me that I don't have to leave home to be on a journey. In my wild imagination, I always considered a journey would be going somewhere else, like to the beach to scuba, or the mountains to hike. I'd have someone take my picture of these feats so I could post online. Lately, I've discovered most of my journeys I have taken in place. Inside my head and heart. My spirit. My garden. My interactions with others. I learn from it all.

Are you a person like me, worried about a situation one month and carefree the next? Perhaps, fretful over bad choices one day, while singing praises o thankfulness the next? Married for a bit, and then not? I am finding my equilibrium through these situations as I read Ecclesiastes, A Season for Everything.

A time for this and a time for that. A time to be short on cash and a time of plenty. A time to date and a time to be alone. A time to eat and a time to fast. A time to be with others and a time alone.


Leaves are the touchstone of seasons. In the spring, buds burst into green leaves, then in the fall the leaves turn orange, red, brown, yellow, and cascade off limbs. They change. We change. Nothing stays the same, certainly not our life pathway. We are caterpillars emerging from our cocoons and inching our way through life, until we become a butterfly and take flight.

Fall has a great affect on my mood. Summer was too long and the heat did not help, but just yesterday, the Texas air turned cool. Breezes wandered through my house windows and open doors. "Ah, I remember you. It took you a while, but here you are again." It turned my mood peaceful in the knowledge that God walks us through seasons of our life.

Nothing lasts forever. Winter teaches us that, brutally at times. But that too has its own beauty.

My apologies. I am a bad blogger. I mean to blog each week. Want to blog each week. But then the week turns into weeks, and adds up to a month, or two. And, it seems in my retirement, I cannot blog if I don't feel inspired, kinda like the feeling I get when I need to clean the house. "Oh, I think I can wait another day, or two." Its not at all like brownies that demand they be made right then and there.

Going forward, I will try to be better, but not promising a thing. There are lovely things outside that pull me to it, and my dogs need cuddling, and my hair needs combing, and my bed looks so comfortable, and there is a book that needs finishing and another book that needs starting, and there is a new program on TV that appears really interesting.

I used to be spot on with deadlines. Behold, that's when I worked, and my days were all scheduled and organized by a calendar. Since I am 'off the clock', for 5 days a week now, all that needful stuff has floated away as my mind drifts on the wings of birds and the spinning of leaves with each puff of wind. I will be better, perhaps. Maybe. Someday.

By the way. The last blog story is true, for those of you can even remember what that story was. All who guessed are one hundred percent correct.

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

True, or NOT True. You Decide. Story #1The Teacher Reflects

The backend of my most loved career was spent teaching 32 years for LISD. There, I spent a fair amount of time as a First Grade Reading teacher. The specialized program was designed by me and funded by my school district. CHIRP (Creekside Has Individual Reading programs) helped struggling students who academically fell between the cracks; they didn't  qualify as 504, or special ed. Fondly, I remember a particular group of  cute short legged kids. After their first lesson in my class (broom closet), they returned to their peers proudly announcing, "We are reading!"
 'I can see', 'See, I can.' Certainly it wasn't a novel, but it was a beginning.

We began with mini lessons. We sang rhyming songs while doing motions to help with motor skills. I had a pink glittery wand that I touched on student's shoulders when it was their turn to talk. Those years were enjoyable, but I did finally tire of repeating the names and sounds of letters 5 times a day.

Ten successful years later, I said goodbye to that school and my little sweethearts, when I accepted a study skills position at a low socio economic middle school. Never did I learn so much.

Through the student's eyes, I saw how utterly frightened they were at the sight of a white van slowly bumping down their neighborhood street. The rest of the day was a wash, as they cried and bit their nails, wondering if their parents would be home when they got there, and if they weren't, would they ever see them again? Comparing it to my privileged childhood, my heart broke seeing their terror, uncertainty. How could anyone learn when their existence was in jeopardy?

One of the most important workshops I attended was by noted author Ruby Payne, Understanding Poverty. "Middle-class understandings of children and adults in poverty are often ill-suited for connecting with people in poverty and helping them build up resources to see rise out of poverty and into self-sufficiency." It was life changing. Being at this school with such a dedicated staff, and teaching such vulnerable students with a principal who treated us as colleagues, was certainly the high point of my career.

But nothing stays the same. We never stay in the same place. We can never go back to another. We keep moving forward.

And I found JJAEP (Juvenile Justice Alternative Education Plan) where I spent the last 11 years teaching wayward students and while wearing many hats. Half way through those years, when I was assisting in the English high school classroom, one long legged, blond headed, young teen, looked at me and asked,"Did you used to have a pink glittery wand?"

 I hadn't gone backwards. I had moved forward. But in a moment that teen looped me back to First grade when life was simpler/safer for us all.

True? Or NOT True?
Leave a comment and find out the answer next week.

Friday, July 19, 2019

The Fairy Tale Changes

Like so many, I believed in the Happily Ever After' premise that if properly followed, surely produced a blissful life to one loving partner, forever. Amen. The Cinderella myth became my vision. My prayer. My goal. Like, who doesnt want to be loved and cared for? (I see no hands). We all need it.

 Once upon a time, at the very young age of 6, I dreamed a dream to be carried away (by horse, taxi, car, or bike) with Prince Charming. The thought of what happens after being carried away, never entered my 6 year old mind (I was too mesmerized by visions of wearing a flowing white gown, and the golden jeweled crown on my head). In fact, it didn't enter my adult mind during my engagement, when I should've known better. "I'll fix that about him," I figured, as I am sure he was figuring, "I'll fix that about her."

Backing up a few years, after high school, I thought my 'happily ever after' was at college. The scripture I hung on my dorm wall, To Thine Own Self Be True, I missed in translation. Mister Prince Charming didn't show up during college. Onto and into the workforce. I figured I'd meet him 'on the job', something like on the job training, or student teaching, but adult dating. I was headed in the direction of finding a mate but not the right direction.

There are classes for English Lit, math, science. Why not for doing taxes, balancing your budget, and how to find  mate? These are thoughts that once kept me awake at night.

As I dated, I'd study him to uncover the type of woman he wanted then twisted myself into that image. Naturally, it never worked. Not much of a surprise there, but it did always catch me off guard and each time ended tragically with me crying, or him crying. Either he decided not to date a copy of himself, or I decided I didn't like the person he was. So on I went,  just bumping along instead of seeking God's image. Don't snicker gals, I know many of you are/were like me. You guys, too.

It took years for me to come to the conclusion that I was okay. It took longer to discover how that looked.  My mother used to make me repeat these words: Who am I? Where am I going? How will I get there?

These days, I am here in my happily ever after phase of my life, no longer seeking a person to fulfill me. I seek moments. A chattering yard squirrel dubbed Chester that torments my 3 rescue dogs. Watching a seed I placed in the ground emerge into a beautiful flower. Listening to the giggles of my grandsons. Getting an unexpected phone call from my daughter. Spending time with my son on the back porch. A friend who unexpectedly calls and invites me to a movie, or dinner. Simple mundane events. And knowing myself.

My fairy tale has changed. Age and facial lines with very unattractive, drooping body parts might have helped come to this conclusion. But, I do feel peaceful about it all.

And if someone lovely comes along, he will be welcomed. But I no longer stand at the gate waiting. I am on an adventure.

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

"Life is Beautiful. I Just Cannot Expierence it."

The above title is a quote from my adult son Matthew who is suffering from a mental health condition along with extreme anxiety. He has been on disability for 3  years now, and is with MHMR, sees his medical doctor, psychiatrist, and counselor regularly. Although he is on meds, nothing has touched the extreme anxiety he experiences.

Matthew's place of calm and peace is, here, at home. His perfect place is on the back porch, enjoying the day and the critters that the Lord brings to the yard. It hurts to see him so isolated. Once upon a time, he was social and out with his friends, leading a very normal life. Then his neurons started misfiring in his late twenties. It changed him irrevocably.

After years of struggle,  a miracle. A friend gave Matthew a bottle of CBD to try. Its hemp, natural, FDA approved, and water based for 94% absorption. Within 15 minutes of placing a dropper full under his tongue, he felt a change. Now, Matthew takes the CBD faithfully each day along with his doctor prescribed meds.

After a month on this product, Matthew decided to try stepping out and seeing the beauty of the world with 2 hour rehab interview for the workforce. He was a bit jittery but he made it through it just fine, and came out with hope and determination.

Yesterday was the start of a 3-day vocational evaluation. Driving there, Matthew turned to me and said, "Mom, I am not even nervous." I looked at him and indeed he appeared calm. No throwing up. No red face. No sweating. Not begging me to turn the car around and go home. Not the usual panic. I watched him walk into the building and now I had butterflies, not unlike the ones I experienced on his first day of kindergarten, but he was no longer 5. He was 34. No longer I could protect him in the same ways I did back then. Now, Matthew was an adult. He had to learn to function and be brave without me.

At noon we met for lunch at Pizza Snob. I asked how things were going. With a lift of his shoulders he answered, "Great. There's two other people besides me, and the teacher. I've been taking tests all morning and I know I did really bad on math."

"I'd be bad on the math, too," I admitted.
"No, Mom. I did really bad, but that's okay. I think I did good on most of the reading. Getting the results will help me find a skill I can do. I would like a part time job to supplement my disability. I want to be around people again. I want to feel useful. Maybe I can be a janitor."

I dabbed at my eyes. My heart was full. This is a dream. A prayer answered because Matthew had hope and was ready to take risks.

Yes, he is just half way through this testing. More hurdles to go over, more challenges to meet. But he is trying.

Our backyard is a beautiful place to be, but its not out in the world living the life he needs to have.

This is the site where I get his CBD oil. Not only does this really help with his anxiety but its helped so many people. I am a distributor. If you have questions please contact me. I want to help you and others.


Sunday, June 23, 2019

Weeping may Endure for a Night. Let's Hope Joy Arrives Soon

As a young girl, I loved Sunday School. The stories about Jesus feeding the thousands, turning water into wine, and calling the children to come to Him, filled me with joy. However, my favorite was Jesus finding the lost sheep. The powerful image of Him returning to the flock with the errant animal carried on His shoulders took my breath away, and remains one of my favorites.

I knew I loved Jesus forever. In that pocket of my world, the world that I knew, nothing could go wrong.

And then, I began to grow up. I left the soft padded seats of a stained glass church and began attending tent meetings where fire and brimstone, along with an angry God was the theme of the day. Fear of failing God entered turned my faith inside out.

My beloved Jesus of mercy suddenly became a God of anger and judgment. To fit in, I nurtured a critical spirit. I tried to pray. Apparently there were certain words I had to use in order for God to hear me. I was told I prayed wrong. No matter how I searched for the correct phrasing, they were always wrong. I didn't learn until later, that it wasn't the words of my mouth, but the attitude of my spirit.

And then finally I could take judging people any longer. Adrift at sea, I no longer connected with God and turned inward.

On social media I read words of anger and hatred toward certain sects of faith and people. "Wait!" I wanted to scream at these church goers. "Jesus died for these people." But now the Bible was being cherry picked.

 If someone was sick, I was told it was because they had committed a sin. Or, if your faith had only been enough, if you had prayed harder, this could have been avoided. Or, if you really gave your soul to God, your life would be better.

How had I come to this moment, allowing others to define what I believed?

As Christians, aren't we to show mercy and love? And yea, where did my faith go? It was here just a moment ago. Or 5 years ago? Or, 30 years ago.

I began to change. Many said I was no longer a Christian. I spent hours wondering the same. I read and reread the New Testament. I felt life within me. The excitement of loving God and His word.

Where am I today? Rediscovering my faith. The faith and Jesus of my childhood.

I don't have all the answers, nor will I. This I do know; Jesus does feel our pain and grief.  For He has delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears, and my feet from falling, even when I went away, even when I couldn't pray. I still don't use a prayer formula, I just speak from a broken spirit, one who is willing to be His servant.

In this world we have tribulation, but be of good cheer for He has overcome this world. "The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it."

Weeping may endure for the night, but joy comes in the morning. Hold on to Him.

Be merciful. Be kind. Forgive. God hears your prayers. Its a heart condition. Words don't matter, our love toward Him and being His feet and hands on earth do.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

On the Street Where You Live & Mrs. Steffy *Chicago Life in 1950*

Maybe it comes with age. At least with my age it does.

When I am in a quiet state of mind, the past comes back on small running feet.

Thats what happened again this morning.

It was 1956 and I was 6 years old, living on Wellington Avenue, in Chicago, Illinois; just down from Wrigley Field, and blocks from Lake Michigan.

I really loved living on that street, among all the fashionable brownstones and greystones closed in by old iron Fleur de Lis fences, our house was the only tutor. We also had a backyard that was bigger than anyoe else's.

But the object of my attention was the green house with the wide front porch directly across the street. A two story cottage was the dwelling Mrs. Steffy called home.

I suppose her husband had passed. He wasn't around and it didn't seem peculair to me that he wasn't. She lived alone. On occassion one of her children would stop by for a visit.

Mainly I'd sit in a wicker rocker on her porch and we'd chat. Mrs. Steffy had long grey hair threaded with shades of brown which she wore in braids pinned together at the top of her head. She was a slight woman who always wore a simple cotton dress covered with a fresh apron.

Rarely was I granted entrance into the cottage where I ached to go to have a look around.

But on one particular occassion, Mrs. Steffy said I could come inside with her if I remained on the first floor and did not go up the steps to the second floor.

As I stepped into the dark, narrow hallway of the cottage, I was charmed by the steep steps and curve of the banister that led upstairs; the place I was forbidden to go. Tucked into the side of the stairs was a huge, old grandfather's clock. I remember reciting 'Hickory Dickery Dock' on the spot.

The living room was to the right, the dining room after that, and in back the kitchen. For some reason they held no interest for me, most likely because I had seen them before....but the upstairs was where I wanted to go. But I had agreed I wouldn't.

I knew I was faster that sweet, elderly Mrs. Steffy. And up I went on the steep steps and made it to the second floor within seconds. Mrs. Steffy ordered me back downstairs. I ignored her and opened door after door of the bedrooms to see what they looked like. I even pulled open each dresser drawer before my mother was called over to get me.

Yanked from the house by the arm, I was sent to bed soon after the dinner dishes were washed, dried, and put away.

Mrs. Steffy passed about the same time we moved to Delavan, Wisconsin, 8 years later. Sadly her house was knocked down in order to enlarge the street.

On the rare occassion I get to Chicago, I take a cab and walk down Wellington Avenue. After looking at my former childhood home, I turn about to see Mrs. Steffy's house. And for just a moment I am surprised to see it gone. I think of all the houses that are long gone along with the people we still love.

We have such treasured memories within us. In time we learn its more important what we have in our hearts than what we hold in our hands.

Do I regret racing upstairs to Mrs. Steffy's dismay?

I only wish I remembered the inside of Mrs. Steffy's house and those dresser drawers.

Monday, May 23, 2016


Welcome Ane Mulligan! 

Ane is with me today and we are chatting about her latest book. In order to be entered for a FREE book or e-book (winner's choice), please leave a comment at the bottom of this blog, or in the comment section on FB to be entered. 

Before we discuss your book, Ane, there is something we must know. What is your favorite dish that you enjoying serving to your family? Recipe please. 

Shepherd’s Pie, but I don’t cook that much anymore. I have a chef for a son, and he cooks a lot. But Hubs and Chef Son love my Shepherd’s Pie. I use been shanks, cross cut, instead of hamburger. 

Mulligan’s Best Shepherd's Pie
Ane Mulligan

Serves 4-6 but can be expanded easily

3-4 cross-cut beef shanks
1 small onion (or ½ large one), diced
olive oil
1 – 4 cloves of garlic (depends on tastes. Can one have too much garlic? Nay, say I.)
1 (14 oz) can of corn, drained
8 oz fresh mushrooms, scliced
1 C frozen peas, defrosted
1 (14 oz) can of tomatoes, drained and crushed (I use my hand & squeeze 'em to death)
3 – 4 potatoes, cooked and mashed

Pre-cook the cross-cut beef shanks in a crockpot all day, covered in water with a Tbls of Better Than Bullion brand Beef Base. 

About 45 minutes before you plan to eat, remove the meat from the crockpot, break into small pieces. Set aside. Peel and cut potatoes into 2” pieces and boil. When ready, mash and set aside.

Brown the onion and garlic in some olive oil. When it's slightly caramelized (5 minutes or so) add the mushrooms and cook till brown. Add the corn , mushrooms, peas, tomatoes, and cooked beef. Cook for 5 minutes.

Put the meat mixture in a baking dish, top with the mashed potatoes and bake for 20-25 minutes at 350°

This is an old family staple, a one-dish meal. It's also cheap. Serve it with bread rolls. It's the kind of thing you simply throw together. I guessed at the amounts. You can adjust them to your tastes.

I bet Hubs love it. Ah dear 'Hubs'. How did you two meet? 

We met on a blind date, and my date was the other fellow. We switched halfway through the evening, and the rest is history. We’ve been married for 45 years. I still can’t figure out the math on that since I’m only 35.

What fun! I bet he's a romantic, am I right?

You’re kidding, right? My hubs is a Brit. They’re not notoriously romantic. Which is pretty funny if you think about it. He married a writer! Poor guy. But perhaps the special thing he has done for me is paint the artwork used for my Chapel Springs series. He had to pull an imaginary town out of my head and get it on canvas, but he did it!

Do you have a piece of jewelry that is special to you? 

I had a heart shaped locket covered in seed pearls that was my adoptive grandmother’s baby locket. When I met my sisters, one of my nieces has a daughter whose name is the same as my grandmother’s, Anna. I gave the locked to my grand-niece. I love tying the two families together like that.

I bet you have a guilty pleasure. Do tell!

M&Ms. But they’re not a guilty one. Chocolate is one of the major food groups. Chocolate, Coffee, Protein, Bread and Pasta. Those are the 5 major food groups.

Let's get to what we all want to know. Tell us about your latest book.  

This is the book of my heart. It’s about a woman who gets connected with her birth sisters. Her story doesn’t go like mine. My birth sisters welcomed me with open arms. As for Claire, she’s up to her eyeballs in a contested election for mayor and finding out who or what is haunting the old theater.

What is the take-away message?

God is faithful with out dreams. He will make them come to pass if they will bring Him glory.

Now you have me wondering: Do you ever become your heroine? 

Oh my yes. Claire is a klutz. She got that from me. Just today, I was meeting a friend for lunch. It’s been raining, and I forgot I was wearing flip flops. I entered the restaurant, moving too fast, and my left foot hit the polished concrete and zipped out from under me. Down I went. What an entrance. So now you see where Claire gets her “move without thinking” MO.

And do you write about any real life problem from your own experiences?
(We won't tell)

Absotootinglutely! Chapel Springs Revival came from an overheard conversation about marriage. (Yes, I eavesdrop, so be careful what you say). Chapel Springs Survival was inspired by our eldest son getting himself a 21st Century mail order bride. And Home to Chapel Springs is from my own story of finding my birth sisters. Your readers can read that story on my website under My Adoption Story.

Home to Chapel Springs

A homeless author, a heartbroken daughter, and a theatre ghost. There’s trouble in Chapel Springs.

There’s always someone new in Chapel Spring, either coming home or stirring up trouble.

Bestselling author Carin Jardine’s latest book is a flop. While the reviewers are happily skewering her, her racecar-driver-husband walks out on her and she’s evicted, because he hasn’t paid the lease on their condo for the last three months. Then she discovers he also he drained their bank accounts. Homeless and broke, she and her little boy have no choice but to retreat to the house she inherited from her nana in Chapel Springs—the house that’s been gutted. Then, a stranger knocks on her door. One that will change the course of her life.

After the residents thwarted Howie Newlander’s plans for a Miami-style resort on Chapel Lake, he’s running for mayor and spreading rumors about diverted water and misused taxes. The Lakeside Players want to remodel the town’s old theater, but it’s rumored to be haunted. When Newlander and Mayor Riley go head-to-head, Claire gets caught in the middle.

Claire’s youngest daughter is in love with a young man whose daddy is none other than Mayor Felix Riley…the man who man who blames Claire for every wrong in Chapel Springs. Having him part of her family isn’t in Claire’s plan. The years of her heartache should warn her daughter off this boy. So far, her daughter’s heart isn’t hearing the warnings.

With hearts pulled in all directions, will they find a home in Chapel Springs?

Here is a lovely book review:

From Donna’s BookShelf, writer Donna Mynatt said:
Ane Mulligan has written a book that just can’t be denied! Once you pick it up and begin to read — you’re hooked — to the very end. And it’s not because aliens are taking over the planet . . . or super heroes are saving the planet. There are no time travelers, no vampires, no diseases. What there is — is a great story about normal people!

Well, Ane did have to throw in some really cool characters, like a racecar driver and a best-selling author. But here’s the catch. They really are normal people — with normal problems. The racecar driver walks out on his wife, taking all her money — and leaves her with nothing but heartache, bills, and their son. And that’s just a small part of the book!

I love reading books by Ane Mulligan, because she writes about life — the good, the bad, and the ugly. But even when I find myself identifying with her characters, I also find myself laughing at them. And my life — my problem — seems a bit easier to bear.

Thanks, Donna! Your check’s in the mail.

While a floppy straw hat is her favorite, novelist Ane Mulligan has worn many including pro-family lobbyist, drama director, playwright, humor columnist, and novelist. She firmly believes coffee and chocolate are two of the four major food groups. Ane writes her Southern-fried fiction in Sugar Hill, GA, where she resides with her artist husband, chef son, and a dog of Biblical proportion. You can find Ane on her Southern-fried Fiction website, her Amazon author page, Google+, Facebook, Goodreads, Twitter, and Pinterest.