Category Archives: Blog

What are you hungry for?

foodIt’s late at night. You can’t sleep. You’re hungry. What is it you want?–a donut with icing and sprinkles, a burger and fries, maybe some ice cream.  It’s not likely that you will give in to those cravings, but they are still there.

In his book, Resisting Happiness, Matthew Kelly tells us that we are all hungry for something. “Figuring out what we are really hungry for is one of the great spiritual quests of life. ” We may think we have figured out what it is we are hungry for, only to find out that we are really hungry for something else. Of course, Matthew Kelly is not talking about a hunger for food. He is talking about a hunger for completeness. We yearn for it, long for it and seek it in many ways.

Sometimes our hunger leads us in the wrong direction. Sometimes we use our hunger to avoid doing what we should to achieve happiness. But God speaks to us through our hunger. He uses it to lead us to Him.

Whatever it is you are struggling with, know that through your neediness, God is reminding you that what you are really hungry for is His love.

 

 

The Geometric Jungle

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THE GEOMETRIC JUNGLE

by Rosemary Heddens

Captain Angus T. McNarrie

Went deep in the jungle on safari,

Searching for creatures geometric

With his guide and companion Sedrick.

For twenty years they traveled through

From Zanzibar to Timbuktu.  

Returning to the United States,

With empty boxes, vacant crates.

When asked by reporters to explain

Why his efforts were in vain,

He said, “There is nothing more to say,

But that the creatures got away.

Once we caught a hypotenuse,

But we were forced to turn it loose.

Though we were able to trap-a-zoid,

We let him go when he got annoyed.

And the rare reticular rhombus

Died of an unhealthy fungus.”

Although visitors would gladly pay

To see such creatures, I must say,

That it is surely sad but true,

You’ll never find them in the zoo.

Happy New Year to All

happy-new-year-hi  I hope you had a wonderful Christmas with lots of time for friends and family.

I’ve heard a lot of talk about 2016 not being a great year. I’m not exactly sure why. For me, personally, it was a fairly good year. We were able to travel a little. There were some big milestones this year. At the beginning of November, Craig and I attended our fiftieth class reunion from Washington High School in Phoenix, It was lots of fun reconnecting with old friends and finding out what they’ve been up to.

At the end of November, we celebrated my mother’s ninetieth birthday. While not everyone was able to make it, we did have a good representation of family members as well as many of the residents where my mom lives.

On a sadder note, we had some dear ones leave us. My Uncle George–whose family moved him from Chino Valley, AZ to Kansas City, MO a few years ago–passed away. He was my mother’s youngest brother, leaving my mother as the last sibling. At the end of October, I lost a very dear friend, Norma Bennett. Then on the last day of November, my father-in-law passed away. While they will be greatly missed, we have fond memories to carry with us.

This is the time of year when we may feel moved to make resolutions. I haven’t really made any. As part of my preparation during Advent, I made a dream list that I think should give me enough to work on during this coming year.

Whether you make a list or not, I think we can all benefit from these words from author, Jon Gordon:

  • “Stay positive. You can listen to the cynics and believe success is impossible or believe with God all things are possible.
  • Each day when you awake, complete this statement:  ‘My purpose today is ______.’
  • Take a morning walk of gratitude. It creates a fertile mind for success. You can’t be stressed and thankful at the same time, and when you combine gratitude with physical exercise you give yourself a double-boost of positive energy and natural antidepressants.
  • Instead of being disappointed about where you are, think optimistically about where you are going.
  • Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a college kid with a maxed-out charge card.
  • Believe that everything happens for a reason, and good things come from challenging experiences.
  • Don’t waste energy on gossip, past issues, negative thoughts, and things you can’t control. Invest in the positive, present moment.
  • Mentor someone and be mentored by someone.
  • Live the 3 E’s: Energy. Enthusiasm. Empathy.
  • Remember there’s no substitute for hard work.
  • Zoom focus: Ask yourself, ‘What are the three most important things I need to do today?’
  • Implement the ‘No complaining’ rule. Complaining is like vomiting; afterwards you feel better, but people around you feel sick!
  • Read more books than you did last year.
  • Get more rest. You can’t replace sleep with a double latte!
  • Before bed, complete these statement: ‘I’m thankful for ___.’ ‘Today I accomplished ___.”
  • Think of your mind like a garden. If you weed the negative and feed the positive for one day it doesn’t do much, but when you do it every day you create a magnificent garden.”

That is quite an extensive list, but I’m sure we can all find a few things we would like to make a part of our daily lives.  Happy New Year to everyone.

Be happy this Christmas.

christmas-tree-man-happyThis has been called “The most wonderful time of the year.” While many would dispute that–especially parents trying to make the budget stretch–it is a time ripe with anticipation.

It is a busy time as we go in search of the perfect gift for everyone on our lists,  wrap and bake and decorate. When it is all said and done on December 25, will we be able to say “Merry Christmas” and truly mean it?

Since I can’t shop for all of you, I offer this as my gift to you.  I tore it from a devotional I read everyday, and now it serves as a bookmark in my Bible. I read it often, as a much-needed reminder:

Jesus said, “Stop allowing yourself to be . . . unsettled” (Jn 14:27) .  You’re doing it to yourself! Learn to “let go” and work on developing the fruits of the spirit in your own life. Letting go doesn’t mean you don’t care. It just means allowing others to learn in their own way and through their own experiences. It calls for focusing on Jesus rather than obsessing on the other person’s behavior. “You will keep in perfect peace. . . all whose thoughts are fixed on you” (Isa 27:3). Fix your thoughts on God, not others. Letting go means caring about instead of care-giving. It means stepping out of the middle and not trying to influence the outcome by fixing, judging, nagging, scolding, arguing, criticizing, and regulating. It’s about facing each day with God’s help and cherishing each moment. It’s about realizing the only person you can “change” is yourself. It’s about fearing less and trusting more. And it’s the only way to be happy.

Have a very merry and blessed Christmas.

A Happy Thanksgiving to all.

img_0672Today is my mother’s ninetieth birthday. Sunday we celebrated with a big party. While we didn’t have the entire family there, it was well represented. My sister, Shirley, flew in from Washington. Her husband, Curt. had surgery a few weeks ago and wasn’t released to travel, but was there in spirit. My brother, Rick drove down from Pine, Colorado. That meant that my mother had all three of her children with her for her birthday.  Shirley was accompanied by her daughter, Tara. My brother’s daughter, Andrea, drove up from Phoenix with her two daughters–Danyka and Rachel.( I’m always thrilled to see Andrea who followed in my footsteps and became a special education teacher.) Tara and Andrea, together with my two children, Mike and Kirstin, accounted for half of the eight grandchildren.  Danyka and Rachel, along with my grandson, Chris, represented the eleven great-grandchildren.  Mike’s wife, Vikki, and Kirstin’s fiancé, David, and my husband, Craig, rounded out our family group.  We were also joined by many of the residents of my mother’s home who wheeled themselves into the dining room. They helped us sing happy birthday, ate cake and ice cream with us, and watched my mother open her presents. After an hour of celebrating, she returned to her room for a much-needed rest.

I insisted that our out-of-state guests stay at my house so we wouldimg_0673 have time to visit. It was the first time the three of us had been together in more than a decade. We had not slept under the same roof for over forty-seven years. So many miles and so much living separated us, and yet we found we shared a great deal of common ground. My sister and I observed that although my son and her daughter had grown up a thousand miles apart and had only seen each other on rare occasions over the years, they are very much alike. Both are confident, successful adults with high-stress jobs. Together they were a kind of tag team, taking turns entertaining us with their outlandish stories and their knowledge of football.

The miles, we discovered, are just geography, and the years seemed to melt away as we talked and discovered our bond as a family is stronger than ever. We all felt fortunate to be able to come together for a happy occasion. We know full-well, that at other times in the future–hopefully the distant future–we will come together for not-so-happy occasions. It was a wonderful time together and I will cherish it forever.

I have a rule to never venture into a store on Black Friday. This year I will be going on a 6.8 mile hike around Goldwater Lake with Mike and Vikki. But for those of you who must, I wish you well and offer this bit of advice. As you sit around your Thanksgiving table, plotting your daybreak assault, just remember that there is nothing in those stores that is remotely as wonderful as what you already have–your family. Embrace them. Tell them you love them. Reach out to those who are far away. Cherish those blessings that we so often take for granted.  Have a happy, blessed Thanksgiving.

Remembering our Veterans

remember-our-veterans-1Last year I wrote a post with ideas for helping children celebrate Veterans Day. I thought it was worth posting again this year. I hope you find the suggestions useful.

 

 

Helping Our Children Remember Our Veterans

Many of our communities have parades or some other special event to honor our veterans. Attending one of those is a great way to help our children recognize the tremendous sacrifices made for us and our freedom.  But Veterans Day is not a day off for everyone and though children are home from school, parents may still have to go to work. In that case, there are many other ways to honor our veterans. These are just a few suggestions:                                            memorialday6

  • Pray for veterans and their families, especially those who have died or are wounded. Pray for those on active duty defending our freedom.
  • Make cards or write notes and deliver them to veterans hospitals or veterans groups in the community.
  • Adopt a veteran in your neighborhood, especially if there is someone without family nearby. Invite your adopted family member to Thanksgiving dinner.
  • Create an online memorial for a veteran–a family member or friend. There are many websites available that will host your memorial. Here are a few: forevermissed.com, remembered.com, Last-Memories.com.
  • Display the American flag on Veterans Day. With your children read the rules for displaying a flag. Make sure that you follow the rules carefully to show proper respect.
  • Donate to a veterans organization such as Wounded Warrior Project,  Disabled American Veterans, or Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW). Have all family members contribute by doing extra chores or doing without something.
  • Play patriotic music or sing patriotic songs. Challenge your children to learn the words to our national anthem, “God Bless America,” or “America the Beautiful”–all the verses.
  • Watch a movie that shows sacrifices made during wartime. Saving Private Ryan, Windtalkers are excellent movies, but their R rating makes them inappropriate for children. Warhorse, Pearl Harbor, U-571, Behind Enemy Lines, and Unbroken are all rated PG-13.
  • Read the Gettysburg Address and discuss it’s meaning.
  • Green light a vet. Change one of your outdoor lights to green in honor of veterans. The green light represents hope and well-being.

I would love to hear how you celebrated Veterans Day. Please tell me by leaving a comment.

My thanks to those of you reading this who have served our country. You will forever be in my heart. And to those who have family members on active duty, you are in my prayers.

 

A Shout Out to Quiet Kids

shy-kidThere’s an old expression, “Children should be seen and not heard.”  Fortunately, by the time I was growing up this expression was more of a punchline than a practice. I do remember one time when we were visiting my stepdad’s family in Kansas. We were going to the home of a great aunt who was very boisterous in her dislike for noisy children. As we drove there, my mother cautioned us about being polite and quiet. Once we arrived, my sister and I sat on the sofa with our hands folded in our laps while my baby brother fell asleep on the floor at my mother’s feet. After our visit, the aunt told all the relatives what wonderful children we were, even though we never said a word.

Under most circumstances, parents hope their children will be confident and able to speak up for themselves even in unfamiliar situations. But for many children, that can be a challenge. In my day, we were called “shy.” I was one of those shy kids.

I don’t remember too much about first grade, but one experience sticks out clearly in my mind. As I recall,  I rarely ate in the cafeteria. On most days, my mother packed a cold lunch for me in my lunchbox. Students who didn’t buy a cafeteria lunch had to eat outside on picnic tables. On this one particular day, the grass in the picnic area was being irrigated.  There was a announcement about it, but I didn’t fully understand what we were supposed to do. Being shy, I didn’t ask anyone. At lunch time, I went to the picnic area as usual, but it was all wet. So I wandered around the school yard, hoping to find the other kids. Unsuccessful, I returned to my classroom. My teacher asked me if I had eaten my lunch. When I shook my head no, she took me inside the classroom. It was obvious from her tone and demeanor that she was not happy with this extra duty.  She opened my lunchbox,  took out my peanut butter and jelly sandwich and handed it to me. When my classmates returned from lunch, the teacher made it quite clear exactly why they had to remain outside. But my humiliation wasn’t over yet.  Instead of filling my thermos with milk that day, my mom had filled it with a soft drink.  The soda had been bounced and jostled as I walked around the school. Now, when my teacher opened the thermos, the contents exploded all over her.

I know my shyness caused my mother a great deal of frustration and at times, embarrassment. For me, it was a source of fear and feelings of inadequacy. Nothing my mother tried–yelling, punishing, forcing–made any difference. It wasn’t until I became an adult and chose to be in situations that required me to overcome my shyness that I was able to get it under control and eventually eliminate it.  I wouldn’t call myself an extrovert, but I am on that side of the midpoint. I like to think of myself as bold and confident.

To those kids out there who are uncomfortable speaking and don’t like unfamiliar situations, I say be happy with who you are. Quiet kids are deep thinkers. They are cautious and think things through.  For that reason, they usually make good decisions. Quiet kids are okay working alone, which makes them self-reliant. They are creative and come up with good ideas.

To parents of quiet kids I offer some suggestions. First of all, don’t worry. Most children outgrow or learn to manage their shyness as I did. Focus on the positive aspects–those things you child does well. Don’t push. Your child will come out of her shell when she is ready. If you feel it is necessary, talk to your child’s teacher for help. Relax and enjoy your wonderful child.

It’s hikin’ time again in Prescott, AZ

dscn0317The 2016 Hiking Spree is underway at the Highlands Center for Natural History. For our third hike, we chose the spectacular Constellation Trail. It is located at the site of the 1959 crash of a Lockheed Constellation. A memorial to the five men who died there can be found atdscn0301 the beginning of the trail as well as pieces of the wreckage.

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The trail is west of Highway 89, just south of Highway 89-A. You can park in the lower parking lot at Phippen Museum and use the tunnel to go under Highway 89.  The Constellation is actually made up of small loops inside a large loop. This allows hikers to plan short and long hikes. But you’ll want to allow plenty of time. No matter what my plans, I always end up spending more time than I expect. I get caught up in the wonder of it all.

dscn0304It had rained hard the day before leaving water along the way, but most of the trail was dry.  We began our hike on the North 40, which goes along the base of the large granite formations. Then we took a newly added loop called Ham and Cheese. The trail wove through the granite rocks as if they were made of Swiss cheese, making us feel like we were part of the sandwich–Does that mean the hikers are the ham?dscn0310 Next we took a trail called the Hully Gully. A walk across the face of granite rocks (the Hully) led us to a flower-lined gully.  Our next leg of the hike was the Lost Wall. This part was steeper than the other parts of our hike. I was envious of the lizards that made it seem so easy to go  up the granite boulders. But then they do have four feet instead of two and a much lower center of gravity.

dscn0318The lost wall is part of what was probably a sheep pen,  built more than one hundred years ago.  We skipped the Hole in the Wall loop that goes steeply up through a crack between the rocks. We have done that trail before and it is a fun one. Returning back to the trailhead via the Rock Wall Trail, we were treated to picturesque views of the Dells along with unbelievable rock formations.dscn0322

I hope you have the opportunity to explore this amazing trail. Don’t rush–You’ll want to stop often to enjoy the scenery that makes hiking the Granite Dells a unique experience.

 

Meet the Cole Children

img_0163While helping built a trail in the forest, Spike encounters the Cole children living in a lean-to. Jeremiah, the oldest brother, is suspicious of Spike at first, But Spike earns his trust by keeping their secret. He aides them by bringing food and supplies. Later, when a fire breaks out and threatens their safety, Spike convinces his friends to rescue the two younger children–Daniel and Rachel.

In Book Four, the Coles become the foster children of Gus Farley. Daniel and Rachel love their new home and their new foster dad, but Jeremiah has learned to distrust strangers. He tries to keep his brother and sister from getting to attached.

Here’s their story:

The story of the Cole children was a sad one. Three years ago, their mother died of cancer. Their father, Charles Cole, moved the family to Harrison, a small mining town south of Bluesky. He rented a tiny house and they were getting settled in their new home. Charles enrolled the boys in school. Rachel was only four, so he found a neighbor to care for her while he worked in the copper mine. Jeremiah adjusted quickly to the new school, but Daniel struggled. Some of the children teased him, and the teachers complained because he was disruptive. Charles tried to explain that the jerky movements and noises Daniel made were due to a condition called Tourette’s syndrome. There was nothing Daniel could do to control the movements or the sounds. Putting him under stress only made them worse. The teachers seemed sympathetic, but said they had other children to consider. Daniel had to remain quiet or he would be removed from the classroom. Daniel continued to have problems, so when Charles was offered a job as a wrangler on the Morgan ranch, he took it. Mr. Morgan gave them a little cabin to live in. Like the Morgan children, Jeremiah and Daniel were enrolled in an internet school since the nearest town was too far away. When she turned five, Rachel started kindergarten, going with her brothers to the big house every day to work on the computers. School was going well for all of them. It seemed that everything was looking up and then tragedy struck again. While riding the fence line, Charles was thrown from his horse. It was a day later when he was discovered. By that time, it was too late to save him.  

            Mr. Morgan didn’t want to, but he knew he had to let the authorities know about the children. Jeremiah was sure they would be placed in foster homes, and probably separated. That would be bad enough for him and Rachel, but he knew Daniel would never survive it. They had to leave the ranch. His only hope was to hide out with Daniel and Rachel. When he turned eighteen in nine months, he could get a job and raise his brother and sister himself. The night before someone from Child Protective Services was coming to the ranch, Jeremiah packed up his brother and sister and ran away.

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Adventures in La La Land

scan_20160907This past week, we traveled to Southern California to visit Universal Studios and Hollywood. Our hotel was within walking distance of Hollywood Boulevard, and though it was old, and a little strange, we enjoyed our time there. I remember walking along Hollywood Boulevard as a child, looking at the names on the stars. Of course, so many have been added since then, it is impossible to see them all. What I don’t remember is the stars beingimg_0170 covered with dirt and grime. But then, the amount of foot traffic on that street has certainly increased as well. I was tempted when I saw that someone with a sharpie had added his own name to an empty star. I recalled an episode of I Love Lucy, where she and Ethel stole John Wayne’s star. I guess she managed to put it back, because we found it there along with her own star.

There are two things I noticed that California drivers use more often than drivers where I live. The first is their horns. Apparently there is no grace period for drivers with out-of-state licenses to learn the ropes. I was honked at early and often while trying to navigate their bumper-to-bumper traffic which seems to last all day. The second thing they use consistently is the turn signal. People in my home town are much more casual about changing lanes and tend to just mosey on over in front of me. This, of course is very annoying. I discovered how  valuable my flicker is when I had to make it across four lanes on the freeway within one mile. With my turn signal on, drivers held back and allowed me to move over again and again even though traffic was heavy. California drivers–I tip my hat to your courtesy!

At Universal Studios, I paid a hundred and ten dollars for the privilege of being spit on by spiders, lizards, frogs, dragons, dinosaurs and robots. I half expected Homer Simpson to plant a big loogie on me, but fortunately, that didn’t happen. Instead, I was swallowed by the Simpson baby, Maggie, who had grown to enormous size after crawling into a nuclear reactor. She did have a pleasant baby powder smell.

Universal Studios are definitely the masters of motion simulation. We were plunged to the bottom of a crashing roller coaster ride, placed on a long conveyor belt where we were turned into minions,img_0161 trapped in an earthquake, and  drafted as participants in a quidich  match.  Everyone’s favorite was the Harry Potter ride. Hogwarts has been reproduced in detail, including talking pictures on the walls. The ride is quite realistic. One ride that was a little to real for Kirstin and David was the Walking Dead. It is actually not a ride, but a walk-through complete with real zombies–maybe too real.

After spending thirty-two dollars for four hotdogs, we opted to take our appetites out of the park and dine at restaurants in the nearby CityWalk. There we found many excellent choices with reasonable prices. My personal favorite was the LudoBird.  For just ten dollars you can get a buttermilk fried chicken sandwich, fries and a drink. The fried chicken is the creation of chef Ludo Lefebvre’s and it is fabulous.  Another outstanding restaurant in the CityWalk is Camacho’s Cantina, where I enjoyed the best cheese enchilada I’ve ever had.

Compared to Disneyland, Universal Studios offers fewer rides and attractions, but, as a trade-off, lines are very short. In fact, we never waited in line once–even though we did not pay extra for “front of the line,” tickets. We spent two days there, but you could easily do everything in one day.

Finally, enjoy the video of Kirstin and David dancing with the Minions.