Category Archives: Blog

BLESSED ARE THE POOR IN SPIRIT

Some of the most beautiful words in the Bible are found in Matthew 5: 1-12. In fact, they are called “The Beatitudes” because of their beauty.

The first Beatitude is “Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” I have struggled to understand exactly what it means to be “poor in spirit.” Being poor means being without financial means. But how can we be poor in spirit and why does Jesus call us to be poor in that way?

According to Billy Graham, being poor in spirit means to have a humble spirit. That makes sense, but later in the Beatitudes, Jesus says “Blessed are the meek for they will inherit the earth.” It seems to me that meek and humble have the same meaning.  That leaves me still wondering what it means to be poor in spirit.

There is a story I have heard in church about a man who was asked to give God a gift. The gift had to be something that was totally of his own making. The man offered many things to God, but each one was rejected because it was not totally of the man’s own making. Each gift had required the man to use raw materials and skills that God had provided. Finally, in desperation, the man brought God his sin. That was the gift that was accepted by God. It was the only thing that was totally of his own making.

I think that is what it means to be poor in spirit. It means to recognize that there is nothing we have or will ever have that is not from God–except our sin. It is the only thing that is totally of our own making. God wants us to come to Him in our weakness and sin, recognizing our unworthiness. And he will take that gift and make it something beautiful.

Bluesky Familes

I grew up watching television shows like Leave it to Beaver, Make Room for Daddy, and Father Knows Best. Every week the family would be presented with a problem. In the course of the thirty-minute show, the issue would be resolved. The parents always seemed to know what to do and the children always responded in a way that helped them see the error of their ways. In reality, family life is so much more complicated.  Things were a little simpler when I was growing up, but even back then, we dealt with serious issues.

In writing the Handy Helpers books, I wanted to present strong family values. My families share meals together, pray, go to church together and genuinely care for each other. They go on picnics, have game night,  ride bikes and spend quality time together.  Accomplishing these things can certainly be more difficult in the fast-paced world we live in today. But creating a cohesive, loving family environment is worth the effort it takes.

My friend, Teresa, had this to say about the Handy Helpers books:

“I just love how the Handy Helpers get to experience all the things that kids their age experience. When they make wrong choices, they have to suffer the consequences. When they make the right choice, they get the good rewards that come with making good choices. It is so neat to see them learning and growing with each new turn in their lives. I also love that the parents play a big role. I believe the author wisely depicts the role that God meant for parents to have in training and guiding children to do and make right choices. As an adoptive parent I relate to Gus and his heart to help these three children, who so greatly need him, to become a whole family. I highly recommend the whole series of the Handy Helpers.”

You can now purchase Handy Helpers books at 50-60% off directly from handy-helpers-books.com

 

All Saints Day

Today is All Saints Day. It is a feast day to celebrate all of the saints who don’t have their own feast days.  When I was confirmed, I chose St. Teresa of Avila to be my patron saint. She lived in Spain during the Spanish Inquisition. She was very spiritual as a child. In her early teens, she lost her mother. Her father was very strict and when Teresa began choosing a more worldly life, he sent her to a convent school.

At school Teresa began to follow a spiritual life again and became a Carmelite nun. Shortly after that, she became very ill and experienced intense pain. In order to bear the burden of pain, she surrendered completely to God.

Later, Teresa would experience scrutiny due to the Spanish Inquisition which was suspicious of any deviations from orthodox religion. Teresa complained to God, who told her, “That is how I always treat my friends.” To this Teresa replied, “That must be why You have so few friends!”

Teresa’s prayer experiences were so intense that at times her body would spontaneously levitate. Not wanting a public display, she would have other nuns sit on her so she wouldn’t float away.

Believing that being a Carmelite did not allow her to develop the prayer life she desired, Teresa founded her own order. She traveled all over Spain, setting up convents. She died at the age of 67.

Teresa was a writer and poet. The following is one of her poems.

“God alone is enough.”

Let nothing upset you,
let nothing startle you.
All things pass;
God does not change.
Patience wins
all it seeks.
Whoever has God
lacks nothing:
God alone is enough.

Citation : Pettinger, Tejvan. “Biography of St Teresa Avila “, Oxford, UK – www.biographyonline.net . 12th Jan. 2013. Updated 26 June 2017

Book Four is Live!

  The Handy Helpers, Not a Happy Camper is now available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Xlibris. It is not available as an ebook yet.

I hope you will take a few minutes and check it out. According to my young reviewers, it is the best one yet. You’ll find out what happened to the Cole children after they were rescued from the forest fire. Spike deals with another bully. Melissa hopes to strike it rich, panning for gold in Fox Creek. Beth Anne makes a huge sacrifice. And so much more. You won’t want to miss it. I’m hard at work on Book Five. Hopefully, it won’t take me so long to finish this time.

Hiking Spree 2017 is underway!

This is the tenth year of the Hiking Spree. With twelve hikes to choose from for each year, that’s 120 hikes in or near Prescott, AZ! You can get maps for all the hikes at the Highlands Center for Natural History website.

I’m hiking alone this year, as my husband is no longer able to make the treks with me. And since my time away from home is limited, I’m taking the shorter hikes. That doesn’t mean they aren’t spectacular. That was the case with Willow Lake, north. I thought I had explored all of the trails around Willow Lake, but apparently, this is a new one. Although I had a map with me and there are maps posted periodically, I still managed to miss the trail.  To help assure that you don’t miss it, I took this picture to show the white dots. When you reach the end of the approach trail, follow the dot on the left. Bear left as you proceed across the granite rock. Soon you will find yourself in a secluded canyon. Following the Canyon Trail a short distance, you will come to the Apex Trail.  It is a short, steep trail that will give you great views. Returning to the Canyon Trail, proceed to the James Trail, another short trip to another great view.

One great feature of the Canyon trail is that It is flatter than most of the trails in Willow Lake. The entire loop is only two miles but it is an amazing hike!

The Handy Helpers, Book Four–The End–At last

I have said so many times that I am almost finished with Book Four, I wanted to wait until that was actually true. Last Friday, the completed manuscript was emailed to my publisher for copy editing. So I think I can safely say that it is finished.

This is the story of Beth Anne’s quest to go to summer camp with her friends. Her parents want her to go to a camp for children with special needs. Thinking it is because they are worried for Beth Anne’s safety, she and her friends plead their case. Finally, Beth Anne’s parents admit that it is because they don’t have the money for the registration fee–the special camp is free.

That’s when the Handy Helpers devise a plan to raise the money. Registration check in hand, everything seems set for Beth Anne to go to camp. But Beth Anne shocks her family and her friends when she suddenly changes her mind and wants to go to the special camp after all. The reason for her change of heart is a story in itself.

Some other surprises in Book Four:

  • The outcome of the forest fire that took place in Book Three is revealed–the fire damage and what happened to the Cole children.
  • Logan’s dad–absent more than ever–shows up with someone he wants Logan to meet.
  • The history of the Clawson sisters is revealed, along with the history of Bluesky.
  • A big change is coming for Beth Anne’s family and she is excited about it.
  • In Book Three, Spike learned a lot about dealing with Bullies. At camp he encounters another bully and has to put his skills to the test.
  • At camp, Laura and Melissa’s friendship is stretched to the limits. Amber, who is put in the middle, must act as peacemaker.
  • Chris faces one of his fears and works to overcome it.

I hope you are excited about reading Book Four. I’m already at work on Book Five. Hopefully it won’t be so long before it is ready.

Check out my author page and order books on Amazon.

 

Day Four: The end of the trail

Indian Gardens is a lush oasis halfway down the canyon. It is surrounded by steep vermilion walls. A small creek flows through the campgrounds leaving the trail muddy in spots.

We pitched our tents under a large willow tree. After a nap and lunch, I  was ready to hike to Plateau Point. It was only me and the boys, as everyone else elected to cool off in the creek. The trail to Plateau Point is relatively flat but totally exposed. We were hiking in ninety-degree heat, but without our packs it wasn’t so bad.

When we reached Plateau Point, we could look down at the Colorado River. From another vantage point, we could see much of the trail we had hike that morning. While we were enjoying the view, we encountered an Asian couple who asked us to take their picture. In return, we asked them to take ours.

As we hiked back, we caught up with the couple. She asked, “Grandma, how old?” I told her that I am sixty-eight. She said that she is sixty-two, but her grandchildren are much smaller than mine.

Back at the camp, a ranger came to tell us that she would be giving a talk in the amphitheater. Mike and I decided to check it out. Had I known the topic–Canyon Night Life–I might have skipped it. As I listened to her talk about the creatures that come out at night, all I could think about was that I would be hiking in the dark. Rattle snakes, skunks, scorpions, big horn sheep, and mountain lions are all out there for me to encounter. The rattle snakes in the canyon are pink. We had already seen one in the campgrounds

Still, I decided to stick with my plan to get up early. After dinner, I got my pack ready and then did my best to sleep in spite of the wind that was trying to carry me away in my tent like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz. At three o’clock, I was up and getting ready. This time no one else stirred. The entire campgrounds was still except for me scurrying around like a large squirrel.

At four o’clock I was hitting the trail and by five I had reached the Three-Mile rest stop. After a brief pause to have a snack, I pressed on. I had passed the One-and-a-half-mile rest stop before I could reach anyone on the radio. Mike and Vikki were the last to break camp and they were on their way out. I had just over a mile to go before reaching the rim. “If you can’t find me, check in the Bright Angel Lodge. I’m going there for breakfast,” I told Mike.

The last part of the trail is the most challenging. Hikers were coming down the trail, but I was the only one going up.  Just as I was nearing the end of the trail, I encountered two rangers. “Where’s my banner and confetti?” I asked. “I’m the first hiker out of the canyon today.” They were impressed that I had hiked out in only four hours. I was elated that I had made it all by myself. As I told Mike I would, I headed for the lodge and ordered a huge breakfast. Real coffee and food that had not previously been freeze-dried was all I could think about.

After breakfast, I still had an hour to wait before the rest of my party began showing up. Loaded in Mike’s truck, we headed for home and a much-deserved rest.

I had done it! I could check this one off my bucket list.  That first night in Bright Angel Campgrounds, Mike told me that if I ever got another one of these hair-brained ideas , they weren’t in. I would like to say that I now have it out of my system, but the truth is I can’t wait to do it all again. Who will go with me? Maybe I’ll go it alone this time. I guess I’ll just have to wait and see.